20 Sep
2020

Allardyce has sympathy for Pearson

first_imgWest Ham manager Sam Allardyce believes the Football Association were wrong to charge Leicester boss Nigel Pearson over his argument with a fan, and feels more can be done to stop tempers boiling over behind the dugout. Press Association Pearson has accepted an FA charge of using insulting words towards a supporter but has requested a personal hearing. A video has emerged of the incident during his side’s 3-1 home defeat to Liverpool on December 2. The Foxes boss had refused to apologise for the altercation, which Allardyce, himself the target of boos from some West Ham supporters during a difficult spell last season, feels is now all too commonplace. Allardyce, speaking ahead of Saturday’s clash between the teams at Upton Park, said: “I think it is wrong, personally. I think he should get a warning about his future conduct, because he hasn’t stepped out of line, but the FA are just as scared as everyone else about being politically correct. “It depends on what position you are in at that moment in particular time and if somebody has baited you as much as that fella did (with Pearson) then if you get a reaction, you get a reaction. “We are all human beings aren’t we? When you lose your rag, what do you do? Do you stay calm? No, so we cannot be angels all the time in this badly politically correct world we have. “This politically correct world drives you up the wall – we will be shutting the door too hard soon, it will make too big a noise for somebody and that will upset.” While it remains to be seen what the outcome of Pearson’s disciplinary case will be, Allardyce feels his former assistant coach during their time at Newcastle will emerge stronger from the saga. Allardyce explained: “It is one isolated incident, I can’t remember Nigel Pearson ever doing anything like that before. I worked with him at Newcastle for seven months and he is a guy who has got great morals and great standards. “He takes those standards into the way he is managed since he left Newcastle, that is why the football clubs he has been at have been successful. The Foxes are three points adrift at the foot of the Barclays Premier League after four successive defeats but Allardyce said: “Nigel has had a little blip and there is always a big fuss made about it – but it hasn’t happened before and he probably regrets it, but you have got to move on.” On the clash at Upton Park, Allardyce accepts the visit of the struggling Foxes, without a win in 11 matches, will be key, given what other matches lie ahead. “The most important thing is trying to get three points against Leicester because on paper, it is a more winnable game and we have got to focus and make sure that is the one we do win,” he said. “But it is only on paper because sooner or later, they will win a game. “Nigel Pearson’s team are so close to winning matches, they have just failed with their chances, but never really got hammered. “So we have got make sure we are on song and not the ones that they turn the corner by gaining the victory against us.” David Nugent is set to return for Leicester after missing last week’s defeat to Manchester City with a calf injury. He will be assessed before the game while goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is out after breaking a metatarsal last week which will rule him out for at least five more weeks. Matt Upson is close to a comeback after a long-standing foot injury but will not be risked as he returns to full fitness. Pearson has eased fears over Leicester’s transfer plans – despite the sacking of director of football Terry Robinson. The Foxes acted this week after an 11 game winless run left them bottom of the Barclays Premier League. Robinson has been replaced by academy director Jon Rudkin ahead of Saturday’s vital trip to in-form West Ham. Pearson is already hunting a goalkeeper after losing Schmeichel for at least six weeks with a broken foot but insisted he is not worried about the January window. He said: “Whether it does or does not affect my transfer plans is irrelevant. We always work to get the outcomes we think are best for us and I remain very much a part it. We’ll try and achieve the outcomes we’re looking for. “What happens internally at the club is important. There are certain questions that people have the right to know but I’m not the person to ask. “I fully understand my sphere of influence in terms of my authority.” last_img read more

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17 Sep
2020

Braun: NCAA Tournament lock for Bo’s squad

first_imgFor you few avid Point-Counterpoint followers, you would know that a couple weeks ago, I predicted that the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team would make the NCAA Tournament.You probably all would have laughed in my face, considering the Badgers couldn’t buy a win at the time. They were in the midst of a six-game losing streak and blew lead after lead.Now, four wins later, including two big home wins over then-No. 23 Illinois and a tough Ohio State squad, I think I can safely say that the Badgers are NCAA Tournament bound. This time, though, I don’t think I would get ridiculed for saying so.Whatever was plaguing the Badgers during their six-game losing streak seems to have gone away. Saturday’s game is a perfect example to show how Wisconsin has put its rough stretch out of its mind.For those who watched the game Saturday, it seemed like the Badgers wouldn’t be able to pull out the victory. I mean, if you saw the way they played two weeks ago, you would just figure that they would find a way to lose the game. They couldn’t beat Iowa or Northwestern, but they would be able to pull out a win over a very talented Ohio State team?Well, I guess the Badgers are back.Before the game on Saturday, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi had the Badgers as one of the last four teams in the Big Dance. Now, with a big win against the Buckeyes on the nation’s center stage, getting to the tournament shouldn’t be much of a problem.UW has two home games and three road matches remaining on its schedule. Although it might be presumptuous to say the Badgers will beat Michigan State or Minnesota on the road, they should be able to win the rest of their home games quite easily.First, Wisconsin heads to Indiana to take on Tom Crean’s joke of a basketball team. The Hoosiers have only beaten one team in the Big Ten, and with the Badgers playing as well as they have of late, a loss at Assembly Hall seems a bit far-fetched.After they face Michigan State, the Badgers come home to play Michigan and Indiana again. If you remember the way Wisconsin’s defense manhandled the Big Ten’s leading scorer in Manny Harris in the teams’ first match this season, a win at the Kohl Center shouldn’t be too far out of reach.That would leave the Badgers at 10-7 in the Big Ten going into their last game of the season (assuming they beat Indiana twice and lose to Michigan State), a tough road game against Minnesota at The Barn.The first time Wisconsin played the Golden Gophers, it blew a 14-point lead, something that reoccurred time after time during the Badgers’ losing streak. Now, though, the Badgers have a swing of confidence that they didn’t have earlier in the season, especially during that streak.With the season winding down, these aren’t the same Badgers that were NIT bound just two weeks ago. They’ve been doing what they’ve had to do to win their last four games.They’ve been able to allow an opponent to shoot over 50 percent from the field and still get a win.Jason Bohannon can shoot 1-for-8 from 3-point range and the Badgers can still pull it out.Trevon Hughes can miss eight of his nine shots, but it won’t really matter throughout the course of the game.Simply put, everything that wasn’t working then is working now.With only five games remaining, it won’t take so much for the Badgers to get a bid. As Bo Ryan put it after the win against Ohio State, “You have to just find a way.”If the Badgers continue to follow that slogan, then getting to the NCAA Tournament won’t be much of a challenge at all.Jonah is a sophomore majoring in journalism and Hebrew and Semitic studies. Still don’t think the Badgers will make the NCAA Tournament? Can Bo Ryan make it 11 straight seasons for Wisconsin? Send him your thoughts at jbraun@badgerherald.com.last_img read more

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28 Aug
2020

FRYER: Dear Liverpool, Firmino’s the gem you’ve been waiting for

first_imgRupert Fryer guest blogs about the man everybody’s talking about, whether it be transfer-mad English fans or Copa America spectators.With three defenders closing in, Neymar darted through space and in on goal. It was time to step up.After five consecutive victories since their disastrous World Cup exit, Brazil’s defence had been breached for the first time. Tied with Austria at 1-1, Dunga needed a saviour.His captain just needed the ball. With nothing but clean air between him and the Austrian goalkeeper, Neymar peered over his shoulder at the gangly kid with ball at his feet and braced himself. He needn’t have bothered. With little space for the pass, the kid ignored his team’s on- and off-pitch leader and fired an unstoppable drive into the top corner.Dunga had has win.And in instant Brazil wondered if it had found its no.9, even if it was someone they’d never heard of. When the 23-year-old Roberto Firmino was named in the squad for the first time in October last year a significant portion of the Brazilian media were scrambling to answer the question on everybody’s lips: Who?Both may have tales from their respective childhoods substituting a ball for a teddy bear at bed time but while Neymar was looking around the Real Madrid facilities as a 13-year-old, Firmino was surviving poverty and enduring failed trials with the likes of Sao Paulo before moving east to begin his career with the less fashionable Figueirense club in Florianopolis.No over successOne of the scores of Brazilians who left his homeland having barely made a splash in the local pond, he was plucked from the second-tier by German club Hoffenheim for around €4.5 million in 2010.   He was no overnight success: after a tricky start during which the club wondered if the move would prove a costly mistake, he overcame ails of indiscipline and poor punctuality before settling down and bulking up to adapt to the increased physicality of European football.His breakthrough season arrived in the 2013-14 campaign as he hit 16 goals in the Bundesliga, adding 12 assists. A ‘nine-and-a-half’, he can operate as a traditional centre-forward or drop off to help build the play and work in the pockets of space around onrushing colleagues.Time and again he’s displayed his ability to shoot from range and has also improved in the tight confines of the penalty area as a poacher. He graduated from a promising attacking midfielder to an all-round forward far away from the often parochial gaze of his compatriots.But he’s certainly no stranger now.He returned to the Brazil squad for the next set of friendlies in March and again came off the bench to score a winner, this time hitting the only goal of the game against Chile in London to exhibit his ability to time his runs and show a cool head in front of goal. “He can play for any club and with playing for Brazil that comes much easier,” Dunga said after that match-winner.Liverpool’s new manHe’s had to work for it, but Liverpool fans needn’t worry too much that he began the Copa America behind Diego Tardelli – a complete unknown to most European viewers – in the pecking order for Brazil’s false no.9 role – the introduction of which was intended circumvent Brazil’s lack of striking options and bring the best out of Neymar.Tardelli has lightening pace and roams from his position much more, leaving greater space for the Barcelona forward exploit (as he did for the equaliser against Peru last week). Neymar’s best post-World Cup performances have arrived when partnered with Tardelli.But with Neymar no more, it’s Roberto Firmino who looks to have won the battle to lead Brazil’s line after once again proving a match-winner as his goal gave the now Neymar-less Brazil a winning start in the 2-1 victory over Venezuela on Sunday. A shy and affable character when in front of the microphones or walking the hotel lobby, the Brazilian media have grown fond of his awkwardness in front of the cameras.Not that he’s afraid to stand up and be counted on the pitch, proving only too happy to take responsibility and unleash long-range drives at goal.  Schooled in Europe, the transition to the Premier League shouldn’t pose too many problems.Neither should another step into the limelight. He announced his arrival in international football by showing a willing to upstage the posterboy, captain and world-renowned ‘craque’.   “I think the time has come to take the next step,” he said this week. He’s been taking giant ones in recent months. Roberto Firmino has decided games for his country, and is certainly capable of doing the same at Anfield.–Rupert Fryer is a freelance journalist who has covered South American soccer for The Guardian, The Observer, The Score, Goal, ESPN, Fox Soccer and more. Graphics by courtesy WhoScored.last_img read more

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