Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Kenny Dalglish”

King Kenny exits the castle

Kenny Dalglish is out as manager of Liverpool, just 16 months into his second stint in charge of the club that he once starred for.

John Henry, Liverpool’s principal owner and chairman Tom Werner made the decision after meeting with Dalglish in Boston earlier this week.

“Kenny came into the club as manager at our request at a time when Liverpool Football Club really needed him,” Werner said. “He didn’t ask to be manager; he was asked to assume the role. He did so because he knew the club needed him. He did more than anyone else to stabilise Liverpool over the past year and a half and to get us once again looking forward. We owe him a great debt of gratitude.

“However, results in the Premier League have been disappointing and we believe to build on the progress that has already been made, we need to make a change.”

In some ways it is not that surprising, as Liverpool finished the season in eighth in the Premier League, four points behind in-town rival Everton, 17 points behind fourth place Tottenham Hotspur (the final Champions League spot) and a whopping 37 points behind league champion Manchester City. It was their worst finish in 18 years and the lowest point total since the 1953-54 season.

Read more…

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These things tend to work themselves out

It was just a little over a week ago that Cavs fans found themselves in quite the contretemps: would it better if the team made the playoffs, even as an eighth seed, or would the Cavs benefit more from another high lottery pick?

Well, as what generally happens in these situations, things worked themselves out, as first Kyrie Irving went down with a concussion that has forced him to miss the past three games, and now Anderson Varajeo will miss at least a month after fracturing his wrist Friday night against Milwaukee.

So, for the foreseeable future, we will get a steady diet of Semih Erden, Ryan Hollins and Samardo Samuels in the pivot, starting Wednesday night when Erden gets the start against Indiana.

“I gotta give him a chance,” Cavs coach Bryon Scott told The Beacon Journal. “I think (Hibbert) is a great challenge for him. I’m hoping that last game was one of those where he felt (depressed) for Andy, because a lot of our guys did. And this game he’ll look at as ‘I’ve got a golden opportunity here. I better try and take advantage of it.’ ”

Good times!

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Indians feeling the Motown blues

Well, that was a waste of a weekend.

The Cleveland Indians limp home after being swept by the first-place Detroit Tigers, and how sit 4.5 games behind in the AL Central.

It’s nice that the Tribe battled back on Sunday after falling into a 7-0 thanks to “ace” Ubaldo Jimenez (more on that in a bit), especially since they couldn’t do that Saturday night after No. 5 starter David Huff finally pitched like a No. 5 starter in putting the Indians into a 5-0 hole in just 2.1 innings of work.

But feistyness alone isn’t going to win the division; and going 2-4 on road trips through the division doesn’t help either.

Travis Hafner, who left Sunday’s game with an injury, killed the Tribe on the swing through Chicago and Detroit. Hafner hit .160 (4-for-25) from the No. 4 spot with 11 strikeouts.

Asdrubal Cabrera didn’t help much either in the No. 3 hole, hitting .208 (5-for-24) on the trip.

Hafner and Cabrera picked a bad week to hit a slump, as Shin Soo-Choo and Carlos Santana, who hit No. 2 and No. 5 most of the trip, had a solid swing through Chicago and Detroit. Choo hit .393 on the trip while Santana was at a .321 clip.

None of it really matter, though, as the starting pitching let the Tribe down over the weekend.

Josh Tomlin, Huff and Jimenez combined to go 0-3 with an ERA of 12.41 in the three games against Detroit.

As bad as Huff was Saturday night, Jimenez was even worse on Sunday, primarily because he was sold to the fan base as being an ace when the Indians acquired him at the trading deadline.

In four starts for the Tribe so far, Jimenez is 1-1 with two no decisions. He’s worked just 21 innings, has an ERA of 7.29 and a WHIP of 1.47.

“The difference between this year and last year is my command,” Jimenez said after the game. “Last year I was ahead of almost every hitter. This year I’ve been pitching from behind.”

We tuned into the game in the midst of the Tigers’ seven-run third inning to hear announcer Tom Hamilton talking about how, before the game, Indians manager Manny Acta was stressing how Jimenez needs to control his pitches better.

We are beyond tired of hearing that about Jimenez. You’re not an ace if you can’t control your pitches; it’s the control that makes you an ace. Or something like that, we’re still upset about the weekend and are starting to ramble.

In any event, so far the evidence seems pretty strong that the Tribe severely overpaid in this deal.

Luckily the Indians still reside in the AL Central, so no matter how bad it seems they are never out of it. The Tribe now has an 11-game homestead against Seattle, Kansas City and Oakland, who are collectively 57 games under .500.

The Tigers, meanwhile, hit the road for seven games (Tampa and Minnesota) before coming home for four games against Kansas City. Those three are collectively 27 games under .500.

So the opportunity is there over the next week and a half for the Indians to make up for this weekend.

The question, as always, is are they up to the challenge?

***

Luckily the weekend wasn’t a total loss as Liverpool finally beat Arsenal at the Emirates, the first time that has happened in 11 years.

Luis Suárez and Raul Meireles found the back of the net after coming on in the second half to give Liverpool a 2-0 win in a game that wasn’t pretty.

“We just about deserved to win,” Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said. “We have a stronger squad than last season and, when you have two substitutes of that quality to bring on, they deserve the chance to make a difference. It wasn’t easy, but at least our season is up and running now. It was a better performance than last week and we didn’t concede a goal. The new players have had a week to settle in and we are beginning to see what they are capable of.”

While it’s nice that Liverpool finally walked out of the Emirates with three points, they need to come up with an offense that includes more than just lobbing the ball into Andy Carroll and hoping that Carroll will head the ball in. Being predictable ain’t gonna get it done.

For now, we’ll just be happy to take the three points and get out of town.

(Photo by The Detroit Free Press)

Reds, Browns & Wahoos – oh my!

Huge sports day today around these parts.

The day kicks off with the opening of the 2011-12 Premier League season. Despite the ongoing violence in London and other parts of the country, six matches are still on tap for Opening Day, starting with Liverpool taking on Sunderland.

The Reds and manager Kenny Dalglish open their first full season under the ownership of John Henry and Tom Werner, who have taken on a data-driven approach to rebuilding the former kings of English football.

Liverpool have been active in the transfer market, spending $30 million each for Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson; $13 million on midfielder Charlie Adam; nearly $40 million for forward Luís Suárez; and a record $57 million for striker Andy Carroll, now the most expensive English player ever.

The club’s moves have all been an attempt to create more scoring opportunities – the baseball equivalent of getting more men on base – which, in theory, will result in more goals.

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Where is our soccer superstar?

In anticipation of Sunday’s Gold Cup game vs. Jamaica, The Wall Street Journal asks an interesting question: Why can’t the U.S. build a soccer star?

The article notes that the U.S. has won more than 1,000 Olympic gold medals. It has produced 26 British Open champions, 14 No. 1 tennis players and two winners of the Tour de France. It’s the birthplace of swimmer Michael Phelps, volleyball legend Karch Kiraly and chess master Bobby Fischer.

But no soccer players that have been superstars on the international level.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Tommy Smyth, the television analyst, in the article. “I go to my local park and there’s 10 games going on all day on a Saturday, and you mean to tell me you can’t find one jewel in there?”

Smyth noted that his native country, Ireland, has produced plenty of top players (Shay Given and Roy Keane among them) even though it has a population of just six million.

Then there are countries like Trinidad (home of Manchester United’s Dwight Yorke), Togo, (Real Madrid’s Emmanuel Adebayor), Cameroon (Samuel Eto’o) and Ivory Coast (Didier Drogba).

With an estimated 15 million kids playing soccer in this country, you’d think someone would have broken through by now.

It’s not that the opportunities aren’t there. Of the 23 players on the roster for the U.S. team at the Gold Cup, 16 play at the club level internationally, at places like Everton, West Ham, Aston Villa, Rangers, Fulham, Blackburn and Wolverhampton.

Sunil Gulati, the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, said he would have expected a U.S. player to become a stalwart for one of the world’s top clubs by now, but that he’s not “shocked” it hasn’t happened. “There are so few players at that level,” he said. “I believe it’s something that will happen over time.”

In some respects, Gulati is probably correct. When you think that soccer has only been a viable American sport for what, 30 years or so, while it is firmly in the DNA of almost every other country, it’s pretty impressive that the Americans have had the kind of success they’ve enjoyed.

***

Only 57 more days until the start of the Premier League season and what we hope will not be the only football we will be watching this fall.

Liverpool opens at home against Sunderland as the Reds look to continue the momentum they had from last season under manager Kenny Dalglish.

Manny being Manny a winner

It’s easy to love this Indians team.

They have the best record in baseball at 29-15. The largest division lead by far in baseball – seven games. What’s not to like?

But it is more than that.

It’s the team never quitting, especially at home.

It’s a different player coming through seemingly every night.

If it’s not Travis Hafner hitting a game-winning home run against Seattle, it’s Travis Buck hitting a late-game homer against the Reds or Asdrubal Cabrera going 5-for-5 on Sunday to lead a sweep of Cincinnati.

It’s a starting rotation that has 19 wins against only 10 losses. And a bullpen that is the best in the American League.

And it’s manager Manny Acta.

We admit we were neutral when the Indians hired Acta last year. We don’t follow the National League – their snootiness about pitchers hitting and over-exaggeration on the “nuances of the double-switch” make us ill – and Acta had managed in Washington so we didn’t know much about him.

But we like his approach to the game. He takes things day to day – not in the soul-less “grind it out” way of Eric Wedge – but more of a “let’s take care of today” mentality. He worries about what he can control and deals with the rest when he has to.

The injuries to the pitching staff are a perfect example. While some were worried about what the team would do when Mitch Talbot was ready to come off the disabled list, Acta knew things would work out.

It’s unfortunate that the decision was made for the team as Alex White is now out for the next three months, but the fact that Acta kept the team focused on each day’s game – just worrying about what they can control – fills us with confidence that the Indians have the right guy in charge.

Just another reason to like Manny being Manny.

***

The Premier League season came to an end on Sunday, with Blackpool and Birmingham joining West Ham in being relegated in the closest race in league history.

And after putting on such a strong run since Kenny Dalglish took over in January, Liverpool lost its last two games of the season to miss out on European play for the first time since 1999.

“The end of the season has come at a good time for us,” Dalslish told the Daily Mail. “I’m proud of the players and the way they turned it round. It’s been a long time since this club hasn’t been in Europe but we have to get used to it. This club didn’t build its history and tradition on losing games. We don’t want that to be a habit.”

If the team can add a few more players and pick up next season where they left off this one, that shouldn’t be a problem.

“The squad only needs tinkering,” Dalglish said. “If people want to see the best players and assets of the football club wearing a red shirt, that’s what we want to try and provide. We want to get the highest quality of player in that we can. That’s what position we have been put into, and that’s what we will try to do.”

Sounds good to us.

***

Had some quiet time this morning at Red Right 88 headquarters, so we put on the DVD of the Browns 1989 opener against Pittsburgh and a couple of things stood out to us.

The Browns starting backfield was Tim Manoa and Keith Jones. No wonder the Browns drafted Eric Metcalf for that season.

Who didn’t love the Bubby Brister era in Pittsburgh? In that game, Bubby was 4-of-8 in the first half for seven yards and two interceptions. Even Derek Anderson mocks those numbers.

We forgot how much fun it was to watch Webster Slaughter, Brian Brennan and Reggie Langhorne abuse the over-rated Rod Woodson twice a year.

The Browns defense, at least that first year under Bud Carson, was really good. Guys swarmed to the ball, hit people and made things happen. We haven’t seen that around here for a while now.

Long live King Kenny


The king is dead. Long live the king.

In the same week that LeBron James tried to justify his decision to ride Dwyane Wade’s coattails in Miami, we found a new king to embrace at Red Right 88 headquarters.

Liverpool finally did the expected, signing Kenny Dalglish to a three-year contract to manage the team. King Kenny took over a dispirited club in January that was languishing in 12th place in the Premier League table and turned things around, with the Reds on the verge of clinching a spot in Europe for next season.

The night before, after Miami eliminated Boston in the second-round of the NBA playoffs, James “apologized” for kicking Cleveland in the collective yam bag last summer.

“I knew deep down in my heart, as much as I loved my teammates back in Cleveland and as much as I loved home, I knew I couldn’t do it by myself against that team,” James said. “The way it panned out with all the friends and family and the fans back home, I apologize for the way it happened. I knew this opportunity was once in a lifetime.”

What James doesn’t get – really what he never seemed to understand – is that he never had to do it alone. The owner, the team and the fans always had his back – probably more than any fan base in the history of sports. Think about it, who else ever was loved the way we once loved James?

Does he really think he’ll ever get a reaction like this from the fans disguised as empty seats in Miami?

Luckily, Dalglish has stepped up to take the sports throne that James so willingly abdicated last summer.

“It was obvious to us very early on that the atmosphere surrounding the club had been transformed by his presence,” Liverpool owner John W. Henry said. “No one else could have produced such a response.”

“Both John [W Henry] and Tom [Werner, chairman] have taken their time to assess what was best for the football club and bring in the people they wanted to take the club forward,” Dalglish told The Guardian. “They are both winners, but understand what the supporters want from a Liverpool side and the way that we should go about things. This is a unique football club and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to help build something special here again.”

“We’re not going to shout our mouths off and say, ‘we’re going to win this’ and ‘we’re going to finish here.’ We are just going to work and do the best we possibly can, because a lot of people care an awful lot about this club,” Dalglish told The Daily Mail. “We’ve got to prove we feel the same way.”

So instead of running from a challenge, Dalglish decided to stay on and build “something special.” Too bad he wasn’t around to talk to LeBron last summer before free agency hit.

On the day that Dalglish signed his contract, the first song that came up on our iPod shuffle at the gym was You’ll Never Walk Alone.

It’s too bad LeBron never heard that one – things may have worked out differently if he had.

Apparently, the Browns had a monster draft

We were very happy with what the Browns did on draft weekend a few weeks back.

Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard and Greg Little, and the rest were all solid picks, filling holes along the roster.

But if their former coaches are to be believed, our enthusiasm was unnecessarily muted.

Little’s receivers coach at North Carolina is convinced that his former star can make an impact as a rookie – and beyond.

“Greg made it his mission to the get the NFL, and now that he’s there, he’s going to have to continue to work at it,” Charlie Williams, Little’s coach at UNC, told The Plain Dealer. “How hard he works during the off-season and season will determine how long he stays in the league.

“If Greg had played his senior year, he would’ve had big numbers. I don’t know where he would’ve stacked up with (A.J. Green and Julio Jones), but I truly believe if Greg had played his senior year, he would’ve had a chance to be a first-rounder.”

And the Browns final pick, safety Erig Hagg, was the “steal of the draft” according to his position coach at Nebraska, Carl Pelini.

”Truthfully, as we look at our personnel for next year, trying to replace Eric is probably our most difficult task because he was such a versatile player,” Pelini told the Beacon Journal. ”He’s a long safety who was physical in run support, and yet he was as good a cover guy as any of our corners.

”In my mind, Eric was probably our defensive MVP for the last two years. You can use him in so many different ways and in so many different roles. Guys like him don’t come along very often.”

It bears mentioning that Hagg played on a defense that featured Prince Amukamara and Ndamukong Suh, both first-round draft picks, and six other Cornhuskers who were drafted this year.

Now it’s true that the coaches are probably over-selling the players a bit, but right now they know them better than anyone else. And it’s good to know the Browns selected players that come so highly recommended.

Let’s hope we have a chance to see them on the field this fall.

***

How much would not having the Browns play this season hurt Northeast Ohio?

No one’s really sure, but it won’t be pretty. Estimates on how much the Browns mean to the local economy range from $34.6 million to $63 million, according to The Plain Dealer.

However, that number may be a bit inflated.

“Browns weekends are very good weekends downtown, there’s no doubt about it,” said David Gilbert, President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. “But the economic impact from sports teams and sporting events is driven by out-of-town visitors, people who come in from out of market and spend their money in market. The vast majority of fans at games are locals. So, from that standpoint, I’d say [a lockout] hurts, but is not devastating.”

There’s no question, though, that Berea will take a big hit if the lockout wipes out or shortens training camp.

Restaurants, gas stations and coffee shops, among others, will feel a bite if the 10,000 or more fans who visit training camp each year don’t have anything to watch.

The Browns are Berea’s biggest income-tax contributor, providing more than a quarter of the city’s income-tax base – that was $2.49 million in 2010.

It’s going to be bad enough if there is no football to watch. The economic impact will just make it worse.

***

How amazing has Liverpool’s run been since Kenny Dalglish took over as manager?

The Reds made it 13 goals in their last three games and Maxi Rodriguez completed his second hat-trick over the same period, as Liverpool rolled over Fulham, 5-2, on Tuesday and tightened the noose around Tottenham Hotspur.

This from a club that was sitting in 12th place when King Kenny took the helm in January. Since then, Liverpool has taken 33 points from a possible 48 to overtake Spurs for fifth place.

Tottenham Hotspur has a game in hand, which comes Tuesday when they take on Manchester City. Lose, and Spurs are two points back of Liverpool with two games to play.

And they face the prospect of heading to Anfield on Sunday with the winner almost certain to grab the all-important fifth spot and a place in Europe next year.

Should be one heck of a game.

What if the Browns had hired Rex Ryan?

While watching this weekend’s playoff games we decided to put on our Hindsight Hat and wonder:

What if the Browns had hired Rex Ryan as coach in 2009? Would it have made a difference?

After Saturday’s victory against Indianapolis, Ryan has now led the Jets to three road playoff wins in two seasons. By comparison, the Browns have won two road playoff games in franchise history: the 1955 NFL Championship game against the Rams and a 1969 playoff game against Dallas.

That’s it.

The Jets have also won 20 games over the past two seasons. The Browns haven’t won 20 games in a two-season span since the 1987 and 1988 seasons.

There’s no doubt his personality would have fit in here; just look at his brother Rob, the Browns defensive coordinator. And the two Ryans working together on the Browns defense certainly would have produced positive results.

Rex Ryan talks a big game and he gets his players to back it up.

But would the Browns be in a better situation than they are right now? That’s hard to say. We still would have liked to see Mangini come back for another year of working with Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert.

Even if the Browns had hired Ryan over Mangini, the team would still have had to hire a general manager. Would that have been Tom Heckert? Seems doubtful and we like what we’ve seen of his work so far.

Same with Mike Holmgren. If the Browns had played better in ’09 then owner Randy Lerner may not have felt pressure to bring in someone like Holmgren.

And they would still have needed a quarterback, wide receivers, etc. The situation was still one that couldn’t be fixed over night.

That’s the thing when you play the “what if” game, there are so many variables involved that there is really no way to come up with a definitive answer.

There’s one thing we are sure of, though: things would be a lot more interesting. Of course, not everyone would agree.

***

ESPN continues its campaign to dump on Cleveland as much as possible.

***

First came the news that Anderson Varejao will miss the rest of the Cavs season with a torn tendon in his foot; then today word comes down that Christian Eyenga is in a walking boot.

No word, though, on if Eyenga picked up one of the Browns spare boots for his injury.

***

Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is in town to interview on Tuesday for the Browns coaching job.

***

King Kenny brings hope to Liverpool even in defeat. Dude, we could use a big shot of hope around here right about now.

***

Athletes and Twitter are always good for a laugh.

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