Ten Hag intent on ending Man Utd’s trophy drought

Ten Hag intent on ending Man Utd’s trophy drought
Manchester United’s head coach Erik ten Hag gestures during their Premier League match against Arsenal at Emirates stadium in London on Jan. 22, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 24 January 2023

Ten Hag intent on ending Man Utd’s trophy drought

Ten Hag intent on ending Man Utd’s trophy drought
  • United have not won any silverware since the League Cup and Europa League in 2017
  • "It's the best feeling you can have winning a trophy," said the Dutch manager

LONDON: Erik ten Hag has pledged to do everything in his power to end Manchester United’s worst trophy drought in 40 years ahead of their League Cup semifinal against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday.
United have not won any silverware since the League Cup and Europa League in 2017, when Jose Mourinho was in charge at Old Trafford.
The English giants have reached at least the semifinal stage of various competitions on six occasions since then, losing the 2018 FA Cup final and 2021 Europa League final.
Ten Hag said United’s six-year wait for a trophy — a relative drought last experienced between 1977 and 1983 — was “too long.”
“It’s the best feeling you can have winning a trophy,” said the Dutch manager, who won the Eredivisie with Ajax last season.
“I had the luck in my career to win some trophies and it’s magnificent, especially for the fans. It’s so great and I think the fans here have some experience, especially the older ones.
“But now it is a period Manchester United didn’t win trophies and it is too long ago. We are aware of that fact and we have to do everything to bring a trophy in.”
United are looking to get back to winning ways in the first leg of the tie at Forest’s City Ground after two frustrating Premier League trips to London.
Michael Olize’s late free-kick rescued a 1-1 draw for Crystal Palace last week and Eddie Nketiah struck at the death as table-topping Arsenal triumphed 3-2 on Sunday.
“We left it behind,” Ten Hag said of the Emirates Stadium loss that led him to criticize some aspects of his side’s defending.
The United coach said defense was not an area of concern in general, pointing to the number of clean sheets his team had kept in recent weeks.
But he added: “When you concede three goals in a top game, then it’s really difficult to win a game. That’s what happens so that is one of the conclusions.
“It can’t happen. We set that conclusion, we talked about, we showed them, we have to learn and to take this lesson.”
Casemiro returns from suspension against Forest, but Anthony Martial, Diogo Dalot and Jadon Sancho are still absent.

World No. 9 Belinda Bencic makes winning start at Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open

World No. 9 Belinda Bencic makes winning start at Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open
Updated 09 February 2023

World No. 9 Belinda Bencic makes winning start at Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open

World No. 9 Belinda Bencic makes winning start at Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open
  • Chinese youngster Zheng knocks out fifth seed Ostapenko after a straight-sets victory at International Tennis Stadium, Zayed Sports City
  • Thursday’s schedule will see top seed Daria Kasatkina open her campaign in the last-16 stage against Jil Teichmann while Karolina Pliscova will take on Elena Rybakina in one of four matches at Stadium Court

ABU DHABI: Second seed Belinda Bencic got her campaign up and running with a victory to progress to the quarterfinals of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open, presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, on a day in which China’s rising star Qinwen Zheng stunned fifth seed Jelena Ostapenko.

At the International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City, Bencic was made to work in her first match of the tournament, winning 6-4, 7-5 against Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk.

Bencic made the perfect start to the match, taking the first set 6-4 and led early in the second set. However Kostyuk rallied to go 5-3 up before Bencic levelled the score at 5-5. The Swiss then broke again to go 6-5 and held her serve to win 7-5.

Speaking after the match, she said: “It was a good first match of the tournament for me and it was tough for me. I’m happy with how the match went and there are some things that I think I can improve on but it’s nice to get into the next round.”

Earlier in the day, 20-year-old Zheng produced a strong display to beat World No. 12 Ostapenko 7-6, 6-1 to book a last-eight clash against either top seed Daria Kasatkina or Jil Teichmann.

Ostapenko raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set, but Zheng showed why she is a bright prospect as she converted a break point and later held her serve to bring to level the scores. Both players continued to play impressive shots, forcing a marathon tie-break in which Zheng finally prevailed 10-8 in a set which lasted 1 hour and 18 minutes. Zheng maintained her form, dominating the second set to seal the victory.

Speaking after her match, Zheng, the world No. 29, said: “I didn’t start the match well as I was 3-0 down but I fought back to earn a tie-break. It was a close set and I was happy that I withheld the pressure to take the opening set.

“I like to play in difficult moments and in tennis you always need to play good in tough moments to become the best player. Today was the longest tie-break game that I have played and I am happy to have won the match.”

In the other singles match, fourth seed and world No. 11 Veronika Kudermetova breezed past Elise Mertens to win 6-1, 7-5. The 25-year-old will now meet Liudmila Samsonova or Barbora Krejcikova for a place in the semifinals.

Fourth seed Kudermetova said: “It was a very good match for me and I started the first set really well and was happy with my all-round performance. She then played a little bit better and although I had chances to win the match at 5-2, I’m overall pleased with how I played over the two sets.”

In the doubles category, Luisa Stefani (Brazil) and Shuai Zhang (China) advanced to the last-eight following a 6-7, 6-3, 10-5 win against Kazakhstan’s Anna Danilina and Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Kichenok.

Desirae Krawczyk and Giuliana Olmos ran out 6-1, 6-2 winners against Tereza Mihalikova and Yifan Xu while Nicola Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez were knocked out by Shuko Aoyama and Hao-Ching Chan after losing 7-6, 7-5.

Meanwhile, spectators will have the chance to see world No. 8 and top seed Daria Kasatkina for the first time in the tournament on Thursday where the 25-year-old will take on Teichmann in the last-16.

The match is one of four singles that will take place at Stadium Court which features Krejcikova against Samsonova and former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova will come up against third seed Elena Rybakina. The last match of the day will be between sixth seed Beatriz Haddad Maia and Yulia Putinseva.

Carnival’s 6th meeting ideal prep for Dubai World Cup hopefuls

Carnival’s 6th meeting ideal prep for Dubai World Cup hopefuls
Updated 09 February 2023

Carnival’s 6th meeting ideal prep for Dubai World Cup hopefuls

Carnival’s 6th meeting ideal prep for Dubai World Cup hopefuls
  • A win for White Wolf at Meydan on Friday would give him a chance of being Saeed bin Suroor’s Dubai World Cup contender

Meydan Racecourse stages another top-class card on Friday, when the sixth meeting of the Carnival should give us some pointers toward runners for the Group 1 Al-Quoz Sprint, UAE Derby and Dubai World Cup on March 25.

The Al-Quoz prep is the Group 2 Blue Point Sprint which is hugely competitive and features the last two winners — Lazuli and Equilateral. Lazuli is squarely the one to beat, having form figures of 1-1-3 over this straight 1,000-meter course (the third, incidentally, was behind Equilateral) but this time he does not have the best of the draw, and maybe the winner can come from elsewhere.

I’m a big fan of the Czech-based sprinter Ponntos who has a good draw here in 11. He was only a length and a quarter behind Lazuli last time and, having had that run, could go a lot closer. He’s the interesting one here for me, while Acklam Express, who always runs well at Meydan but is yet to win there, is another to consider.

The Curlin Handicap, race four, drops down from Listed status this year but there’s no doubt that Hypothetical, a Group 1 winner, is using it as a World Cup prep. His trainer plans to run here and on Super Saturday before heading to the big one, so he’s not fully fit for this first start since March. Best to look elsewhere for the winner, then, and White Wolf is the intriguing one. Well-regarded by trainer Saeed bin Suroor, the 4-year-old was beaten by a whisker on turf from a bad draw two weeks ago.

He switches to dirt here for the first time, and winning would give him a chance of being a Dubai World Cup contender. On pedigree, being by Invincible Spirit out of a Rock Hard Ten mare, he should be just fine. But in case he’s not, I’ll point you in the direction of Ajuste Fiscal, who has run well in better races than this one recently, for the winner of this race.

We have a strong G3 UAE 2000 Guineas this year, with US trainer Doug O’Neill pitching in Tall Boy, who drops down in grade from running in a Grade 2 last time. They think he could be Kentucky Derby material, in which case he should be winning this, although Doug Watson also has high hopes of his Meydan maiden winner Shirl’s Bee, who he reckons could be the best 2-year-old he’s trained. It’s hard to pick between these two, but Shirl’s Bee did well to win after not settling early on last time, so he gets my nod here.

A few other picks for you — Falling Shadow wasn’t beaten far last time out and looks the one to beat in the opening Palm Jumeirah Handicap, while Quality Boone should move forward from his seasonal reappearance last time in the second race, the Dubai Islands Handicap.

Al-Dasim has no penalty for hacking up over course and distance three weeks ago, so he’s the one to be on in the Dubai Trophy, while the final race, the Listed Business Bay Challenge is super competitive, but can perhaps go to the grade-dropping I Am Superman.

The Desert Vipers beat the Gulf Giants to reach the DP World ILT20 final

The Desert Vipers beat the Gulf Giants to reach the DP World ILT20 final
Updated 09 February 2023

The Desert Vipers beat the Gulf Giants to reach the DP World ILT20 final

The Desert Vipers beat the Gulf Giants to reach the DP World ILT20 final
  • Despite finishing top of the table in the round robin stages, the Giants fell short in the playoffs

In the brutal world of T20 franchise cricket, finishing top of the table after the round robin stage does not guarantee a place in the final.

The Gulf Giants finished top but had to play second-placed team, Desert Vipers, in the first qualifier, the winner of which would go straight through to the final.

In their 10 matches, the Gulf Giants had lost only one match, won seven and had two abandoned by rain. The Desert Vipers won seven of their 10 games and lost three, two of which were to the Gulf Giants, both at Dubai. The portents seemed to be with the Giants, who won the toss and chose to bowl.

Rohan Mustafa adopted his normal aggressive approach, striking Sanchit Sharma for two towering sixes through mid-wicket and behind square leg. Another six for Mustafa took the score to 28 after three overs, the high scoring Hales being very quiet by comparison.

Mustafa’s early charge was halted by the first ball of David Wiese’s first over which was drilled straight to mid-on to be expertly caught low down by Chris Jordan. Two more wickets fell quickly. Hales, trying to give himself space to force Brathwaite through the offside, was undone by a ball which moved in to hit the top of leg stump. Munro attempted to take on Jordan but got an edge so thick that the ball spiraled to a great height before the wicketkeeper safely caught it. At 36 for three after six overs, the Vipers were in trouble.

Sam Billings and Wanindu Hasaranga set out to rebuild the innings, before resuming attacking intent, taking the score to 93 for four in the 12th over when Hasaranga was out. The Vipers’ scoring rate was not high enough and, when Sherfane Rutherford, in taking a quick single, pulled up in obvious distress with what looked to be a pulled hamstring, their cause looked to have suffered a fatal blow. Rutherford received lengthy treatment before being carried off, seemingly to take no further part in the game.

The Giants continued to squeeze the run rate. When Luke Wood was sixth out at 126 after 16.3 overs, there was widespread shock to see Rutherford hobbling out to the wicket. He smashed his first ball for four, the second for six and then a single, limping up the pitch. On occasions such as this, the lawmakers’ decision in 2011 to disallow another player from acting as a runner for an injured batsman seems to lack common sense.

David Wiese returned to bowl, spreading the field deep behind him in front of the pavilion. Rutherford pummeled the second ball for six over long on into the first tier. Then, he lined Wiese up to punch over long off for six, followed by another six straight and hobbled single. Cricket can be a great leveler. Wiese took five for 20 in his previous match. Here he went for 20 in a single over, taking the score to 157 for six off 18 overs. Tom Curran took over the scoring mantle, reaching 29 in a total of 78, which looked unlikely until Rutherford’s courageous blitz.

James Vince and Chris Lynn slowly got into their stride. At 53 for no loss after six overs, they were set fair. This changed with the introduction of Hasaranga. His first ball, a googly, bowled Lynn. Curran then bowled Vince with a ball of perfect line and length and a hint of movement, a key wicket. Shimron Hetmyer gave a difficult, early chance to slip before over number 10, bowled by Hasaranga, who further served up two lbw appeals. The first, against Grandhomme, was rejected but given out on appeal. The second, against Wiese, was given out, confirmed on appeal.

Hetmyer decided to attack, especially against Hasaranga, bludgeoning three sixes over the legside boundary to push the score to 100 after 13 overs. Trying to repeat the shot against Curran, he was very well caught on the square leg boundary. Despite some valiant shots from the remaining batters, the target proved to be too much, the Giants dismissed for 159, 19 runs short.

There can be little doubt that without Rutherford’s madcap resumption of his innings, the Giants would not have needed to score those 19 runs. Even that innings was not enough to win the Player of the Match award, which went to Tom Curran for his 29 runs and four wickets for 31 runs, a genuine all-round performance.

Kyrie Irving scores 24 in Dallas debut as Mavericks beat Clippers 110-104

Kyrie Irving scores 24 in Dallas debut as Mavericks beat Clippers 110-104
Updated 09 February 2023

Kyrie Irving scores 24 in Dallas debut as Mavericks beat Clippers 110-104

Kyrie Irving scores 24 in Dallas debut as Mavericks beat Clippers 110-104
  • The eight-time All-Star was traded to the Mavs on Sunday from the Brooklyn Nets
  • Damian Lillard had 33 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds as Portland rallied past Golden State to win 125-122

LOS ANGELES: Kyrie Irving scored 24 points in his Dallas debut and the Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 110-104 on Wednesday night.

The eight-time All-Star was traded to the Mavs on Sunday from the Brooklyn Nets. He was part of a 13-0 spurt early in the game, scoring eight points on a jumper and back-to-back 3-pointers.

Irving had four rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes of what amounted to a dress rehearsal before injured Luka Doncic returns to give the Mavs a powerhouse backcourt.

Reggie Bullock scored 15 of his 18 points in the first quarter against his former team. All five Dallas starters reached double figures.

Norman Powell had 24 points for the Clippers.

CELTICS 106 76ERS 99

In Boston, with three of Boston’s regular starters out — and Jaylen Brown soon to join them — Malcolm Brogdon and Derrick White scored 19 points apiece to lead the Celtics over Philadelphia.

Jayson Tatum had 12 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for Boston, who won for the fourth time in five games to improve the NBA’s best record (39-16). The 76ers (34-19) are second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference, having lost both matchups with the Celtics this season.

Joel Embiid scored 28 points and James Harden added 26 points and 11 assists for the Sixers, who lost their second in a row. They had won nine of their previous 11.

Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III and Al Horford all missed the game with injuries. Blake Griffin got the start and hit five 3-pointers for a season-high 15 points, and Grant Williams had 15 points and eight rebounds.

Brown, who missed the previous game with an illness, exited after colliding with Tatum under the basket when they were both going for an offensive rebound.

Brown appeared to take Tatum’s elbow in the left side of his head. The team announced at the start of the third quarter that he had a facial contusion and would not return.


In Portland, Oregon, Damian Lillard had 33 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds as Portland rallied past Golden State.

Jordan Poole scored 38 for the Warriors, who played without injured guard Stephen Curry. Klay Thompson added 31 points on his 33rd birthday, including seven 3-pointers.

A three-point play by Jerami Grant gave the Trail Blazers the lead down the stretch and he added another layup with 1:54 left to make it 119-114.

Lillard hit free throws to seal it, and Grant finished with 22 points.


In Miami, Bam Adebayo tied his season high with 38 points, Jimmy Butler added 25 and Miami held off Indiana.

Gabe Vincent had 17 points, Tyler Herro scored 15 and Caleb Martin finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat, who snapped a two-game slide.

Buddy Hield scored 29 points for the Pacers, who have lost 13 of 15. Myles Turner had 23 points and 11 rebounds.

Tyrese Haliburton had 10 assists for the Pacers, but was held to 11 points — 32 fewer than he scored at Miami on Dec. 23. His 3-pointer with 10.5 seconds left got Indiana within three, but Adebayo sealed it with two free throws.


In Cleveland, Jarrett Allen scored 20 points, Evan Mobley added 19 and Cleveland topped Detroit for their fourth straight victory despite resting its starting backcourt.

All-Star starter Donovan Mitchell (groin) and Darius Garland (thumb) got the night off to heal some nagging injuries, but the Cavaliers barely missed their top guards.

With Allen and Mobley doing inside damage and combining for 21 points, Cleveland built an 18-point lead after one quarter. The Pistons hung around and got within two in the third before the Cavs opened the fourth by outscoring Detroit 26-4 over the first seven minutes to put it away.

Allen added 14 rebounds as the Cavs outrebounded the Pistons 48-32 and held them to their lowest point total this season.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15 points for Detroit. The Pistons have dropped nine of 11 and have the worst record (14-42) in the Eastern Conference.


In Toronto, Pascal Siakam had 37 points and 10 rebounds, Fred VanVleet scored 16 and Toronto handed San Antonio its 10th consecutive loss.

Chris Boucher added 18 points and 11 rebounds off the bench in Toronto’s third straight win. Gary Trent Jr. scored 15 for the Raptors, who have won their past five meetings with the Spurs.

Keldon Johnson had 22 points for San Antonio, who haven’t won since Jan. 17 against Brooklyn. It’s the second time this season the Spurs have dropped at least 10 straight.


In Houston, De’Aaron Fox scored 31 points, including three free throws with less than a second left, to lift Sacramento over Houston.

Fox was fouled by Eric Gordon on a 3-point attempt with 0.3 seconds to play, setting up the game-winning free throws. Fox, who also had 11 assists, made consecutive baskets to get the Kings within one with 42.2 seconds to go.

Jalen Green scored 41 points and Alperen Sengun finished with 18 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds as the Rockets dropped their fourth straight.

Domantas Sabonis added 22 points with nine rebounds for the Kings.


In Salt Lake City, Anthony Edwards scored 31 points and Jaylen Nowell added a career-high 30 to lead Minnesota over Utah.

Playing loose, the Timberwolves set a season high with 79 points in the first half and led 107-80 midway through the third quarter, helped by 64 percent shooting from the field and 61 percent from 3-point range.

Luka Garza had a career-high 25 points and the Timberwolves made 23 3-pointers at a 54 percent shooting clip, tying their highest output of the season.

Lauri Markkanen scored 21 points and Collin Sexton added 20 in Utah’s worst home loss of the season.


In Washington, Kristaps Porzingis scored 36 points and matched a career high with eight 3-pointers as Washington beat Charlotte to stop a three-game skid.

Deni Avdija had 20 points and 13 rebounds and Bradley Beal added 17 points and 10 assists for the Wizards, who handed the Hornets their fifth straight loss.

Porzingis scored 18 points in the third quarter and finished with nine rebounds.

P.J. Washington had 20 points and Terry Rozier scored 19 for Charlotte.

Lakers trading Westbrook to Utah in 3-team swap

Lakers trading Westbrook to Utah in 3-team swap
Updated 09 February 2023

Lakers trading Westbrook to Utah in 3-team swap

Lakers trading Westbrook to Utah in 3-team swap
  • Westbrook’s tenure with his hometown team lasted just 130 tumultuous games

LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Lakers are trading Russell Westbrook to Utah and reacquiring guard D’Angelo Russell from Minnesota in a three-team, eight-player deal, a person with knowledge of the trade told The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the teams hadn’t announced the major deal made ahead of the NBA’s trade deadline Thursday.

Los Angeles is also getting guard Malik Beasley and forward Jarred Vanderbilt from the Jazz, bolstering its core around LeBron James in a bid to jump-start their sputtering season. The Lakers fell to 25-30 on Tuesday while James set the NBA’s career scoring record, and they sit in 13th place in the 15-team Western Conference.

The Lakers are sending Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones and their first-round pick in 2027 to Utah with Westbrook.

ESPN and The Athletic first reported the trade. Those outlets also said Minnesota are getting Mike Conley and Nickeil Alexander-Walker from Utah, along with three second-round picks.

Westbrook’s tenure with his hometown team lasted just 130 tumultuous games. The 2017 NBA MVP never thrived with James and injury-plagued Anthony Davis for any significant stretch of time, struggling to mold his possession-heavy game into a more complementary role.

A move to the bench last fall led to minor improvements over a dismal 2021-22 season, but Westbrook still appeared profoundly uncomfortable with the Lakers, who are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight year. Westbrook averaged 17.4 points, 7.2 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 turnovers per game during his time in Los Angeles, where fans grumbled regularly about his poor shooting and turnovers.

The 34-year-old Westbrook is making about $47 million in the final year of his contract. Several months after the Lakers infuriated a large portion of their worldwide fan base by not trading Westbrook in the summer, they swapped him for Russell, who played his first two NBA seasons with the Lakers after they chose him with the second overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Russell was a rookie during Kobe Bryant’s final season, and the point guard was the most consistently entertaining part of two poor Lakers teams before Magic Johnson traded him to Brooklyn in 2017. Russell is now being traded for the fourth time in his eight NBA seasons.

Russell is averaging 17.9 points, 6.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds while hitting a career-best 46.5 percent of his shots with Minnesota in the final year of a contract paying him more than $31 million this season. His style on both ends of the court also could complement James and Davis better than Westbrook, although the Lakers will have little time to figure it out.

The Timberwolves courted Russell hard when he was on the market in July 2019, when Brooklyn ultimately landed on a sign-and-trade deal that sent Kevin Durant to the Nets and shipped Russell to Golden State. The Wolves eventually acquired Russell at the deadline in Feb. 2020 and teamed him with his draft-class pal, Karl-Anthony Towns.

The Russell-Towns pairing never really took off, in part because of injuries for each player that often kept them from being on the court at the same time. The Wolves drafted Anthony Edwards with the first overall pick in 2020, integrating another high-impact offensive player into the lineup whose value is minimized without frequent touches.

The Wolves made the playoffs in 2022, but only recently have Russell and Edwards truly clicked after coach Chris Finch made Edwards the primary ball-handler and moved Russell into an off-ball position to better maximize his shooting ability.

Russell is shooting a career-best 39.1 percent from 3-point range, having made five or more shots from deep in six of his last 17 games.

Conley is more of a pure distribute-first point guard than Russell, who has never been a tenacious perimeter defender, either. The 35-year-old Conley is averaging 10.7 points and 7.7 assists in his fourth season with Utah.

Beasley is a strong outside shooter averaging 13.4 points while hitting 35.9 percent of his 3-pointers for the Jazz. The 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt has averaged 8.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, excelling on defense and on the boards while starting 41 of his 52 games.

The Lakers began their roster overhaul last month by trading Kendrick Nunn to Washington for Rui Hachimura, who is fitting in well so far as a wing option. Los Angeles also took a swing at acquiring Kyrie Irving, but Brooklyn sent the controversial guard to Dallas.

Toscano-Anderson and Jones played almost no role after joining the Lakers in the offseason.