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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the tag “Liverpool”

Pair of defeats puts hole in Liverpool’s top four aspirations

liverpool loses two in rowTwo games. Two defeats.

That is all it took to undo almost three months of work and put Liverpool on the outside of a top four Premier League finish and a coveted Champions League spot for next season.

Liverpool followed up a disappointing home loss to Manchester United on March 22 with an even more dispirited loss on Saturday against Arsenal at the Emirates. The pair of defeats leaves Liverpool seven points back of fourth-place Manchester City with just seven games remaining. (Although they caught on break today when City lost to Crystal Palace.)

“It’s frustrating that we got ourselves in a position over the last three months, very close, to then come up short in the past two games,” manager Brendan Rodgers told The Guardian. “But I look at Arsenal and their bench, the world class players on the field with big talent and it shows the continual work we have to do.”

There was a common thread that ran through both defeats, dating back to Dec. 14.

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From the editor’s notebook …

pettine and farmer

It is starting to sound more and more likely that the rest of the country will get an insider’s look at the Cleveland Browns as Cleveland’s undisputed No. 1 team is reportedly HBO’s top choice for this summer’s edition of Hard Knocks.

Well, ain’t that going to be a party?

In actuality, it may not be all that bad, as the show will give everyone some glamour shots of Cleveland, some really good Mike Pettine moments, and some pretty decent story lines, including:

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From the editor’s notebook …

conflicted on the cavs

We were talking with some friends over the weekend about the current state of the Cleveland Cavaliers and wound up at the end of the night not really sure how we currently feel about the team.

Make no mistake, the Cavs are once again one of the most entertaining teams to watch when they have everything working. And you can’t really feel bad about the 20 wins in the past 25 games run the team is currently on.

The Cavs also looked so good when they took apart Golden State a couple of weeks ago and when they had a big road comeback against Toronto last week.

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Philippe Coutinho helps keep Liverpool on track

liverpool beats cityDude, how good is Philippe Coutinho?

We were left wondering that Sunday morning after Coutinho stuck it to Manchester City for the second consecutive, striking the winning goal in Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat of City. He also set up Jordan Henderson’s opening goal, one that was almost as pretty is Coutinho’s game winner. (And the fact that both goals came at the expense of defender Vincent Kompany should offer fans of the U.S. Men’s team a measure of satisfaction.)

In case you missed Coutinho’s goal in his last seven matches, we’ve got you covered.

“(Philippe) is a very selfless player and a very humble young guy who would rather create for others,” manager Brendan Rodgers told The Guardian. We are encouraging him to shoot more often. He has a wonderful body movement around the box, he doesn’t need many touches to shift it and shoot, as you saw with the phenomenal shot to beat Joe Hart at that angle. His technique is at a high level so he is going to score more goals. He is now arriving into the right areas more often. He is starting to get success and that encourages him to shoot more.”

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Liverpool needs buy in from Mario Balotelli

Liverpool-v-BesiktasLiverpool will look to continue its solid form when it travels to Southampton on Sunday for a surprisingly key Premier League matchup.

Since its last loss, on Dec. 14 against Manchester United, Liverpool has captured 21 points out of a possible 27, pulling the Reds to within four points of a coveted top four spot in the table.

Not only will the match see the return of Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert to St. Mary’s, but Southampton is currently sitting in fourth place, making Sunday’s match so enticing.

Liverpool has found its form thanks to manager Brendan Rodgers’ efforts to continually fine tune the lineup until finally hitting on a successful 3-4-3 formation. He also wasn’t afraid to put Jordon Ibe onto the pitch in key situations.

It’s taken time, but the club has finally started to more closely resemble last year’s squad that challenged for the league title.

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From the editor’s notebook …

johnny breaks cleveland 1With today’s news that Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel has entered a treatment facility, we have reached the point where we no longer know what to think, feel or do in regard to Johnny Football.

The one thing we do know is, just like Josh Gordon before him, we hope that Manziel can find a way to chase away whatever demons are plaguing him.

We also sincerely hope that Manziel is taking this step because he truly wants to getter better, either mentally or physically, and he’s not doing this because his handlers believe this move will help his image. We know that sounds cynical, but that’s not the way we mean it.

And just like Gordon before him, we hope that general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine are working hard to figure out the quarterback situation and are going into the upcoming off-season with no expectation that they can count on Manziel.

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5 Questions – Liverpool FC edition

Nrendan-Rodgers_AP_2900575bLiverpool opened the 2014-15 Premier League season in August with high hopes for a promising year.

The club was coming off a second-place finish in the previous season’s campaign, had once again made Anfield a site that opposing teams feared, and were returning to Champions League play after a four-year hiatus.

While Luis Suarez had taken his talents to Spain, confidence was high that Daniel Sturridge would slide into the No. 1 goal scoring spot, with Raheem Sterling making a similar progression as Sturridge’s sidekick.

The club was active over the summer, bringing in Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic, Emre Can, Alberto Moreno and Dejan Lovren, adding youth and depth to the squad, and Rickie Lambert for experience. And just after the start of the season, Liverpool added the mercurial Mario Balotelli to bolster the offense.

One of the biggest advantages was the continued guidance of manager Brendan Rodgers, who rarely made a misstep as Liverpool battled Manchester City down to the season’s final game in 2013-14.

As the calendar turns to 2015, however, things are not going as planned at Anfield.

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From the editor’s notebook …

eurofinal-2005-champions-league-uefa-steven-gerrard-captain-liverpool-fc-englandWhen you follow a particular team or player as a fan you know that, eventually, father time will be the ultimate winner.

Such was the case this week with the surprising and disappointing news that Steven Gerrard will be leaving Liverpool at the end of the Premier League season and plans to finish his career with a club in Major League Soccer.

“This has been the toughest decision of my life and one which both me and my family have agonised over for a good deal of time,” Gerrard said in announcing the move. “I am making the announcement now so that the manager and the team are not distracted by stories or speculation about my future.”

While Gerrard is obviously not the player he once was, it will still be strange to see him in another club’s kit after wearing Liverpool red for 17 years.

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Johnny Manziel right where he needs to be – on the sidelines

johnny manziel frustrationCleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine caused a bit of a kerfuffle during his press conference today by mentioning that he senses that rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel if “frustrated.”

“Well, I just think that he’s quiet. I just think you feel it,” Pettine said. “I’d be shocked – maybe I’m imposing it on him – but you feel it because you know what kind of competitor he is. Here’s a guy that’s gone from the past how many falls being out there making plays to standing there and having to watch. The competitor that he is is one of the biggest reasons we brought him here. So if he didn’t feel that way, I’d be shocked.”

On a basic level it’s probably good that Manziel is frustrated – that shows he’s not willing to just hold a clipboard and collect a paycheck. But on a bigger level we’re not sure why this is still a topic of discussion among the media and certain segments of the fan base.

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From the editor’s notebook …

jd martinez indiansIf the Cleveland Indians come up short this season in their quest to return to the playoffs, there will be plenty of moments and miss opportunities for Tribe fans to point to as they review the season.

The biggest one may be J.D. Martinez of the Detroit Tigers.

Friday night, Martinez had a three-run homer and a triple as the Tigers beat the Indians for the fourth time in the past five meetings. On the season, Martinez is batting .327 against the Tribe, with six home runs and 18 RBI.

It’s not just the Indians that Martinez has been tormenting as he has clearly taken a liking to the American League Central. He’s batting .432 against Kansas City, with five home runs and 15 RBI; .324 against Minnesota; and .319 against the White Sox.

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