Circus performers

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Manchester United vs Arsenal is no rivalry – just two mediocre teams in need of a win

first_imgRoy Keane and Patrick Vieira had many memorable Premier League clashes in midfield (Picture: Getty)Doubtless that the rivalry between Keane and Vieira will be a point of much discussion this evening, and perhaps they might even try to compare a similar battle in the midfield tonight. But is anyone really expecting Granit Xhaka and Scott McTominay to start a scrap in the centre circle or confront each other in the tunnel at half-time?And if they do, will either be able to back it up with a barnstorming performance on the pitch to gain bragging rights and an invaluable three points? It does not seem likely. Perhaps Matteo Guendouzi will briefly start shouting at someone. That is the best we can hope for.AdvertisementBoth sides have spent a decade trying to replace their antagonists in midfield, a decade failing. It is fair to say that the game has moved on and that the type of player they both were does not necessarily exist in the same way, but even the modern equivalent – the N’Golo Kante, whose running and covering is the new version of Keane’s no-nonsense tackling – has eluded them.Paul Ince said this week that he could dominate the game tonight – ‘I’d love to play against this Arsenal midfield, absolutely love it’ – while Dimitar Berbatov accused United of being ‘too soft’ in big games. Neither are wrong. How the mighty are fallen.Both teams can prove something to the other this evening, that they still have stomach for the fight. But will we be talking about this clash for years to come? Somehow, I doubt it. We probably will have forgotten it by Thursday.Who will win at Old Trafford?Arsenal0%Manchester United0%Draw0%Share your resultsShare your resultsTweet your resultsMore: Manchester United FCRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starNew Manchester United signing Facundo Pellistri responds to Edinson Cavani praiseEx-Man Utd coach blasts Ed Woodward for two key transfer errors Advertisement Comment Advertisement No fourth official relished separating Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson (Picture: Getty)It did not take long for the two to clash as Wenger questioned changes to the fixture list because it allowed ‘Manchester United to rest and win everything’. Ferguson responded that the newcomer from Japan – Wenger’s previous job had been with Nagoya Grampus Eight – should ‘keep his mouth shut’.United had been winning everything of course and Ferguson was unused to being challenged on anything, inside his own dressing room or outside, all of a sudden had a rival whose new-fangled ideas threatened his Premier League autocracy.Compare that rivalry to the two men who will shake hands on the touchline tonight at Old Trafford, Unai Emery and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.Both are interesting characters but hardly strong ones: Solskajer’s chief management policy appears to be publicly praise every player he possibly can, while contradicting those words with his selection and transfer strategy. Emery meanwhile relies on Freddie Ljunberg to make himself understood to the players and has five different captains, the leader of whom is perhaps his least reliable player in his squad.AdvertisementAdvertisementMore: Manchester United FCRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starNew Manchester United signing Facundo Pellistri responds to Edinson Cavani praiseEx-Man Utd coach blasts Ed Woodward for two key transfer errorsAnd that is part of the problem. Everything that gets flashed up during Sky’s two-hour pre-game – featuring Roy Keane in person – will be increasingly grainy footage of Keane himself getting angry in the tunnel, Patrick Vieira squaring up to anyone who will dare to stand his ground and Martin Keown celebrating in Ruud van Nistelrooy’s face. It will be an hour of men in their 40s reminiscing about times gone by, when football was football and men were really men.It is not an edifying prospect. In all likelihood, they will not spend that long talking about the game at hand – and who can blame them? Both teams sit in mid-table with three defeats and four draws between them already in the Premier League this season. Once upon a time, these two sides would have been aiming to end the season with figures like that next to their name.But instead, the modernity of Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and even Chelsea has seen them left behind.center_img James GrayMonday 30 Sep 2019 11:21 amShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link229Shares Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Unai Emery have little rivalry to speak of (Picture: Getty)Manchester United vs Arsenal used to be the one we all put into our diaries.When the fixtures came out, even if you weren’t a Red Devil or a Gunner, you would do anything you could to make sure that your partner had something else do, the kids had a play-date at someone else’s house and no-one was getting married – if they were, they’d better have Sky at the reception.The TV networks would create montages of montages, set to epic music with as many pop culture references as they could jam into 90 seconds, and the build-up to ‘Super Sunday’ or ‘Manic Monday’ or occasionally ‘Wild Wednesday’ would usually dominate proceedings for at least a week.AdvertisementAdvertisementThat, at least, has not changed. In an increasingly crowded sports entertainment market, TV companies will cling onto any semblance of rivalry or ‘beef’ in an effort to stand out from the crowd and draw more eyes.ADVERTISEMENTMore: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man CityThey always have, and we would tolerate it for United vs Arsenal because it was a massive game. Now, the hype surrounding the fixture is no more deserved than when Sky schedule Bournemouth vs Norwich for 4pm on a Sunday and insist that you need to stop whatever you are doing to watch it.The seeds of this rivalry were sewn in the enmity between Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.Ferguson had arrived at United with the express purpose of taking on the all-conquering Liverpool and ‘knocking them off their perch’. By the time Wenger strode into English football, the perch had been burned to the ground and United were dancing all over the ashes.The Frenchman brought with him a whole host of new ideas and new players, and frankly could not have been much more polar opposite to Ferguson, with his economics degree, his linguistic skills and his ideological football. It was old school vs new school, homegrown vs imported, fire and brimstone vs cunning and guile. Manchester United vs Arsenal is no rivalry – just two mediocre teams in need of a winlast_img read more

Women’s soccer: Wisconsin, Maryland end game in tie

first_imgOn Friday afternoon, the University of Wisconsin women’s soccer team left College Park, Maryland on a rather neutral note as they tied the Maryland Terrapins 2-2.This was the Badger women’s first tie of the season and brings their record to a still-impressive 8-2-1 overall and a 2-1-1 record in the Big Ten Conference.Sophomore star Dani Rhodes got the offensive action started early for the Badgers. She scored consecutive unassisted goals in the 23rd and 25th minutes of the game to put the Badgers up 2-0, but they were unable to keep the lead for much longer.Women’s soccer: Badgers fall to Michigan in overtime, ending seven game winning streakEven though the University of Wisconsin women’s soccer team managed to take the game into overtime, they would still fall Read…The Terrapins rallied back and answered with goals by Gi Krstec and Jenna Surdick in the 58th and 68th minutes, respectively. Badger goaltender Caitlyn Clem gave it her all for a solid 110 minutes of overtime action and managed to set three saves, but it was not quite enough to stop the Terrapins second half rally.After allowing just two goals in the previous seven games, the Badgers have now allowed two goals in each of their last two games — a telling explanation for the end of their win streak, at least for now.The Badgers will need to tighten up their defense once again if they want to remain relevant in the Big Ten and the NCAA as a whole. Their defense, as well as the youth-powered offense led by Rhodes and Rice, is what got this team ranked ninth overall as recently as last week. And that is what must return if the Badgers want to have a successful Big Ten season.After the tie, the Maryland Terrapins are now 7-2-2 overall and 1-2-1 in the Big Ten Conference. This was a solid showing for the Terrapins in a game in which the Badgers were considered to be the favorites. Although they did not win, they should be proud of their effort and will want to keep the goals coming when they host the Minnesota Gophers on Sunday afternoon.Women’s soccer: Badgers look to uproot undefeated Garden State rivalThe University of Wisconsin will attempt to hand Rutgers their first loss in a thrilling Big Ten matchup. After a Read…The Badger women move on to Rutgers University campus on Sunday afternoon at noon to take on the Scarlet Knights womens soccer team. The game will be available to watch on the Big Ten Network. Tune in to watch the Badgers attempt to get their win streak back on track.last_img read more

Wanted: New coach for Ivory Coast national team

first_imgThe Ivory Coast Football Federation (FIF) has advertised the national team coaching job as they look for a replacement for Herve Renard, an official source revealed on Thursday.The FIF will give candidates until June 15 to put their names forward before a committee puts a five-man shortlist to the federation’s executive committee to decide on who the chosen coach will be.In the meantime, Ibrahim Kamara will take interim charge of the team until the end of June.Frenchman Renard left the Elephants to take charge of Ligue 1 club Lille last month, with the FIF allowing him to end his contract early.Renard, 46, had signed a renewable two-year deal last August and led the Ivory Coast to glory at the Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea in February, their first continental title since 1992.Renard also won the Cup of Nations as coach of Zambia in 2012. The Ivory Coast are due to begin their campaign to qualify for the 2017 Cup of Nations against Sierra Leone in early September.They were drawn in qualifying Group I alongside their west African neighbours and Sudan.–last_img read more

Onyango’s Sundowns stun Zamalek, closer to remarkable African triumph

first_img“It is essential that we keep our feet on the ground,” warned Sundowns coach and former South Africa striker Pitso Mosimane as his players celebrated with the crowd.“I have been in football too long to take anything for granted. We should remember that Zamalek scored four goals at home against Wydad Casablanca of Morocco in the semi-finals.“What a beautiful sight this is,” he added, referring to a singing, dancing crowd that had crammed into the rudimentary venue west of Pretoria.“These wonderful supporters are enjoying history — this is the first time a South African club have won the home leg of a CAF Champions League final.”Sundowns quickly stamped their authority on the game and Laffor scored with a thunderous shot past Ahmed El Shenawy on 31 minutes after a millimetre-perfect Hlompho Kekana through ball.Langerman doubled the lead with a cross-cum-shot that dipped behind El Shenawy into the far corner of the net off the post.When Gamal turned another cross-cum-shot, this time from Percy Tau, into his net, the record five-goal winning margin for the first leg of a final appeared in danger of being eclipsed.But Zamalek did not wilt in the heat and 1,520-metre (4,995 feet) altitude and dominated second-half territory and possession while rarely testing Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango. Pretoria, South Africa | AFP | Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa moved closer to a fairy-tale CAF Champions League title with a 3-0 home victory over Zamalek of Egypt Saturday in the first leg of the final.Liberian Anthony Laffor and Tebogo Langerman scored in the first half of a lively match watched by a capacity 30,000 crowd at Lucas ‘Masterpieces’ Stadium on the outskirts of Pretoria.The home team moved three goals ahead less than a minute into the second half when Islam Gamal conceded an own-goal on an uncomfortably hot afternoon for the players.Continental success for the South African outfit owned by mining magnate Patrice Motsepe will complete a remarkable turnaround this year in the premier African club football competition.Sundowns were eliminated by V Club in the final qualifying round last April only to be reinstated when the Democratic Republic of Congo side were disqualified for using an ineligible player.The Pretoria team went on to defeat five-time African champions Zamalek narrowly at home and away in the group stage, but taking a three-goal lead in the final exceeds their wildest dreams.Should Sundowns be crowned champions after the return match in Alexandria next Sunday, they will become only the second South African winners of the competition after Orlando Pirates 21 years ago.History favours Sundowns as just one club, Mouloudia Alger of Algeria in 1976, have overcome a three-goal first-leg deficit in a final. Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more