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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “King Kenny”

Reds leave Chelsea feeling blue

Time for a quick look around the football world.

Liverpool came up big on Sunday at Stamford Bridge, handling Chelsea a 2-1 defeat. Glen Johnson’s goal at the 87-minute mark extended Liverpool’s unbeaten run in the league to seven matches and lifted the team above Arsenal into sixth place, level with Chelsea at 22 points.

“It’s not easy to collect the points, but we’ll keep doing everything we can,” Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said after the game. “If we do have a secret, you can guarantee one thing, it’ll not be announced.”

While the Reds have been on a nice run, we still that they have left too many points on the pitch that they will need later in the season – most notably at home to Swansea City, Norwich City and Sunderland, but also even against Manchester United and Stoke City.

Hopefully they can roll out the secret again on Sunday, when Manchester City, currently resting comfortably at the top of the table in the Premier League, visits Anfield.

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Congrats to David Beckham and the Galaxy for winning the MLS Cup on Sunday night.

We like Beckham as a player (we wish we could have seen him in his prime at Manchester United) and winning a title was a nice way to close out the final year of his contract with the Galaxy.

Beckham wants to continue playing and it seems likely he will make a return to Europe after the first of the year as he has been linked to Paris St. Germain, which currently sits at the top of the table in Ligue 1.

“I have a decision to make and I haven’t made it yet,” the 36-year-old Beckham told The Daily Mail. “I’ve got options, which is amazing at my age. A couple of big European clubs are after me. I need to decide what’s best for me.

“Whenever a big club comes in for you it’s a temptation. At 36, to still have a big Euro club after me means a lot.”

It will be interesting to see if Beckham can make the transition back to top-flight football in Europe. We’re still on the fence about the quality of play in the MLS, which seems the equivalent of AAA baseball compared to the top leagues in Europe.

And when you consider that Beckham, at 36, and Thierry Henry, at 34, were named to the league’s Best XI squad this year, we wonder about the overall talent in the league.

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The group stage of the Champions League is nearing an end, with Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Benfica all punching their tickets to the knockout stage on Tuesday.

The news isn’t so bright, however, for the two Manchester Clubs.

Because of its 2-2 draw with Benfica, Manchester United needs at least a point at Basel in its final game to advance to the knockout stage for the sixth year in a row.

Meanwhile, Manchester City is in a tough spot following its 2-1 loss at Napoli. Now, Napoli only needs a win at Villarreal to grab the second spot in Group A and leave City on the outside looking in.

“I think we have a 30 percent chance of going through but if we don’t, we will make do with the Europa League,” Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini said in published reports. “Our life does not finish if we don’t go through. I’m disappointed with the result, but not the performance.”

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Finally, if you are an NBA fan wondering how to fill your time with no games being played, why not check out the Premier League?

Is the bloom off of King Kenny?

Following their ugly 4-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday at White Hart Lane, the new penny shine has worn off for Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool.

After last season’s late run under King Kenny, Liverpool opened the season on a high note, punctuated by their first win at Arsenal in 11 years. But back-to-back wins over Arsenal and Bolton have been followed by consecutive shut out losses to Stoke City and now Spurs, leaving the team in a bit of a mess.

And just as importantly, Dalglish has only two more points from the first five league games than Roy Hodgson had in 2010-11.

“The boys are upset and so they should be,” Dalglish said after Sunday’s embarrassing loss. “The football club expects more than that.”

The club was active in the off season, with the data-driven signings of Stewart Downing ($30 million), Jordan Henderson ($30 million), Charlie Adam ($13 million); Luís Suárez (nearly $40 million); and a record $57 million for striker Andy Carroll, now the most expensive English player ever, but so far the results have been mixed.

Suárez has two goals, but at times seems more interested in flopping than scoring; Adam has come as advertised with his crossing skills, but he was sent off against Spurs; and Carroll hasn’t done much of anything so far this season.

The team could just be biding its time waiting for captain Steven Gerrard to return and, while he will certainly help, we have to wonder how much the 31-year-old Gerrard, who has the groin of an 80-year-old, can have an impact.

Gerrard, who hasn’t played since March, is reportedly working toward the midweek Carling Cup game with Brighton & Hove Albion to make his return, but Dalglish hasn’t confirmed that.

“He’s fine,” Dalglish said. “We’ll try to get over this before we start worrying about something else. I’ve said all along, he’s done fantastically well to get where he is. We’ll just monitor him and pick the right moment for him and us before we get him back.”

The good news is that, unless you play in Manchester, there’s no team really playing lights out this year. Only three points separate Liverpool from third-place Chelsea, with Newcastle, Stoke, Aston Villa and Everton – not exactly the cream of the crop, between the two.

Having an emotional leader at the top can be a good thing and Dalglish gets high marks on that end. But now is the time for him to focus on the tactical end of the management spectrum.

The Premier League is a marathon, not a sprint, which gives Dalglish time to get the squad settled down. Getting things going this weekend against Wolves would be a good start, especially with the derby with Everton looming on the horizon.

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It was nice to read that Fox did a good job with Sunday’s telecast of the Manchester United vs. Chelsea game.

But we are a bit puzzled by their strategy. Showing a game on tape delay (how very 1970s of them) or, in some markets not at all, against NFL games on Sunday seems like a strange way to draw viewers.

Fans already had watched the game on Fox Soccer in the morning or, at least, probably knew the score. Casual fans were watching NFL games.

We’re glad that Fox is making an effort to grow the game, but this seems like a strange way to do it.

(Photo by Getty Images)

Spanning the globe

Oh sure, now the NBA may want to add a franchise tag for players.

According to The Sporting News:

“The franchise tag is something the owners will bring up in the collective bargaining agreement, but now you’re going to have to get that by the players’ association, get them to buy into it,” said NBA TV analyst and former Timberwolves GM Kevin McHale. “It is an interesting concept – there is something to that. It would give the team that drafts a guy, develops a guy, more of an opportunity to hold on to the player. … Having the talent distributed all throughout the NBA is much better for the NBA, and the health of the game depends on having competitive teams in all different types of markets.”

Great. They couldn’t have figured that out before LeBron left town?

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Too bad Liverpool couldn’t give Kenny Daglish a win in his first match in Europe as Liverpool manager, as the Reds drew 0-0 with Sparta Prague in the Europa League.

“It is special but every time you go into the dugout for this club it is special,” Daglish said in published reports. “It is a club with fantastic tradition and pride and to get a first opportunity to take the club that I served as player and manager before into Europe was fantastic.

“It was an honour for me because of the history this club has in Europe. Tonight was a bit of a milestone for myself because it was the first game in Europe I’d been in charge of the club.

“It was a difficult game for us. We would rather have been more offensive but circumstances dictated the way we played with the players we had available. Nil-nil is not the best result we could have got but it is not the worst either. Next week you can anticipate it being a different game.”

The return leg at Anfield certainly will be a different story as the Reds should advance. And this year’s experience will pay off in the team’s inevitable return to Champions League play.

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We guess, when it comes to Alabama, it’s true that “stupid is as stupid does.

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Finally, a home-schooled Iowa high school wrestler defaulted on his first-round state tournament match rather than face one of the first girls to ever qualify for the event.

Because rolling around on a sweat-stained, germ-infested mat is OK when it’s with another guy, but girls are icky or something.

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