Archive for June, 2019

Snowballs pose new defensive problem for Larsson

By admin | 苏州美甲

Times may have changed for the former Swedish scoring machine but as the manager of small-town Falkenberg, he seems very content with his current position – for now.


“Go on! Go on! Be brave!” he calls to the kids as he makes his way to the clubhouse, rolling back the years with a trademark jinking run to elude them.

“Everything changes in life. It took some time to get used to, but you have to adapt to the situation,” Larsson later told Reuters in the warmth of that clubhouse as he explained the twists and turns of his time in management so far.

“If you can’t adapt to the situation you shouldn’t get into this line of work.”

Larsson’s coaching career could hardly be more different from his stellar spell as a player, in which he won league titles with Celtic in Scotland and Barcelona in Spain and played 106 times for his country, scoring 37 goals and winning a bronze medal at the 1994 World Cup.

“It’s different. As a player I played for top clubs but as a manager I’m here at my second club, a team where nobody apart from ourselves believes we can do something,” he said.

“That is a challenge for me as a coach, and for me that’s something that I thrive on. You learn a lot about yourself when things aren’t going well. It’s always good to be the underdog.”

Just a few weeks after he announced his retirement as a player at Helsingborg, Larsson got his first coaching job at second-tier side – and Helisingborg’s bitter rivals – Landskrona, in 2009.

He spent three eventful years there learning the ropes, but never managed to get them promoted to the top flight before departing in 2012.

“I had three good years there, I learned a lot, not only about the football, but about the way a football club works when you are a manager. It was a great experience.”


While studying for his coaching badges, the 42-year-old worked with fourth-tier side Hogaborg, the club that fostered him and that now has his son Jordan on the playing staff.

Larsson even laced up his boots again to play a couple of competitive games, lining up in attack beside his son.

The former Golden Boot winner may have been kept scoreless, but he enjoyed finally having the chance to play with his son.

“We kept them (the defenders) busy,” he says with a wry smile.

In December 2013, newly-promoted Falkenberg announced that Larsson would take over as manager. Sweden’s Cinderella club won the Superettan (second tier) in 2013, gaining promotion to the top flight for the first time in their history.

It is about as far as you can get from the Champions League, which Larsson won as a player with Barcelona in 2006, and the town’s 20,000 inhabitants would fit into the Camp Nou almost five times over.

But though money is tight and the playing staff small, Larsson is optimistic.

“What brought me here was the opportunity to work with a club, newly promoted, the opportunity, the challenge,” Larsson said.

“Everybody here in Sweden expects us to go straight back down to the Superettan, but hopefully we can surprise everyone.”


He says he will stay true to the kind of football he enjoyed as a player, but that Swedish fans expecting to see him replicate Barcelona’s style might be disappointed.

“Tiki-taka? No, there’s only one team that can really do that, maybe two. I don’t have that quality here that I can play that game.

“We have skilful players here, but we have to be a bit more clever. We’re going to try to play a passing game, and I’m going to try to make them even better.”

To do so, Larsson is keen the players learn themselves, rather than him simply telling them what to do on the pitch.

“I think it’s important not to give them the answers, it’s important to ask them, to make them aware of what they can change in order to get a better result.”

As for his own development, Larsson says he has absorbed ideas from coaches he worked under such as Martin O’Neill, Frank Rijkaard and Alex Ferguson, but that none has had a dominant influence on him.

“I think I learned a lot from everybody – the good ones and the bad ones – and I’ve tried to mould them into something that fits my persona. I can’t be Martin O’Neill, I can’t be any of the other coaches – I have to make my own way.”

It is unlikely any of the coaches he worked with had to deal with some of the daily challenges that Larsson now faces, such as making sure the training pitch is cleared of snow in time for training.

It appears that Larsson and his team are something of a priority for the local council. A thick layer of snow coats some of the roads leading to the training ground, but the pitch itself has been ploughed clear to allow the team to train.

(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Rex Gowar)

Santander players hold firm on Cup boycott threat

By admin | 苏州美甲

The entire team and coaching staff made the threat on Monday in protest over unpaid wages and the way the unpopular Levin and his team are running the financially troubled club.


Santander are 3-1 down from last week’s first leg at Sociedad’s Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian and their chances of making the last four and setting up a meeting with record winners Barcelona are remote.

“The squad decided on something on Monday which they announced publically and they still think exactly the same way,” Luis Rubiales, president of Spain’s players’ union (AFE), told reporters after meeting with the players on Thursday.

“If the current board has not resigned by the time of the match (2000 GMT) they are not going to play,” he added.

Rubiales warned the players that refusing to play could have legal consequences but said they had the union’s full support.

“The players have more than enough legitimacy. I do not have words to describe everything they have had to put up with and how this inept board has got them into this situation.”

Levin has shown no sign of bowing to the players’ demands and was quoted in local media on Thursday as saying he intended to be in the VIP tribune for the match.

“We will try to find a consensus between all parties so that the game can go ahead,” he added.

Santander have fallen on hard times since they were taken over in January 2011 by Indian businessman Ahsan Ali Syed.

Ali Syed promised to invest in the squad and said Santander could become a “third force” in Spain to challenge Real Madrid and Barcelona.

However, they were relegated from La Liga at the end of the 2011-12 season after finishing 10 points adrift at the bottom.

Ali Syed disappeared from view and the club’s crisis deepened as they dropped down to the third tier (Segunda B) at the end of last term.

The future looked bleak after a capital increase in October designed to save them from ruin flopped and had to be abandoned and they remain in bankruptcy proceedings.

(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Justin Palmer)

Serbia Davis Cup captain defends absent Djokovic

By admin | 苏州美甲

With world number two Djokovic resting in Serbia’s skiing resort of Mount Kopaonik, the Swiss will be strong favourites to advance after former world number one Roger Federer joined Australian Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka as a surprise late inclusion.


“Novak is exhausted and made it clear he needs to recuperate for what will be a gruelling season on the ATP Tour,” Obradovic told a news conference after the draw pitted Federer against world number 268 Ilija Bozoljac in Friday’s opening singles rubber.

“He has played so many great matches for us, his priority this season is to recapture the number one spot on the ATP tour (from Rafa Nadal) and our fans need to understand that he is still a part of this team.”

With Janko Tipsarevic sidelined with a long-term heel injury and Viktor Troicki suspended after missing a blood test last April, 2010 winners Serbia require what would amount to one of the biggest shocks in Davis Cup history to eliminate the Swiss.

Federer said he would have liked Djokovic to join the party but also made it clear Switzerland were looking forward to the prospect of taking full advantage of his absence.

“We were all hoping Djokovic would be here but we understand that he has good reasons not to be and we all know how much he has done for his country,” said Federer, who often skips Davis Cup ties himself due to the competition’s scheduling.

“It would have been more exciting and more difficult for us but what we have to do now is take this opportunity to try to win the tie.”

Asked whether he plotted a late arrival in Serbia to outwit Djokovic, many of whose fans had hoped the world number two would have a last-minute change of heart and turn up to boost Serbia’s chances, Federer said: “The press hypes a lot of things up because they want top players to hate each other, but my relationship with Novak is good.

“We’ve had a tough and fierce rivalry at times but away from the court we are friendly and do a lot of things together, like charity.”

Wawrinka, who showed few signs of jet-lag and fatigue in Thursday’s practice with Federer after a long-haul flight from Melbourne, was excited ahead of his clash with Dusan Lajovic on Friday.

“I feel great after winning a grand slam during two fantastic weeks in Australia,” he said. “It’s going to be tough to play straight after those exertions but I am enjoying the moment.”

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Italy’s Molinari targets Europe top-50 return after Dubai delight

By admin | 苏州美甲

The former Ryder Cup player, who was part of Europe’s victorious 2010 team, has plunged down the world rankings from a career high 14th that same year to 274 today.


Now largely injury free, the 32-year-old sunk five birdies on his opening eight holes of Dubai’s Majlis course before a bogey at his ninth dragged him back to four-under at the turn.

Molinari then chipped in from 35 yards to eagle his 11th hole and picked up one more shot to end two strokes behind leader Rory McIlroy’s 63.

The last time the Italian scored 65 was at the Andalucía Open in March 2012 and on Thursday he credited swing coach Sean Foley for his resurgence.

“I have been working with Sean for more than a year and I think my driving is the best it’s ever been – I’m very confident … every hole is a birdie hole,” Molinari told reporters, having reached 12 out of 14 fairways from the tee.

He had surgery on his left wrist in June 2012 before another operation on his left thumb last August. The two injuries were unrelated.

“The thumb is probably 90 percent, it still bothers me sometimes, but I haven’t been taking painkillers for 3-4 weeks now – it’s very hard to be patient, but that’s another big help from working with Sean, he’s helped my game and my attitude on and off the course,” said Molinari, whose younger brother Francesco is the world number 43.

“In the last two years I haven’t been able to play much, so the first goal will be to play a full season. If I make it back to top 50 in Europe that would be satisfying.”

Molinari was one of the few players on Dubai’s first-round leader board to tee off in the afternoon and on Friday the schedule will be reversed, which the Italian believes could be an advantage as he gets to play on the softer morning greens before the desert sun bakes the turf.

“The greens will be firmer and firmer as the week goes by,” he added.

(Reporting by Matt Smith, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Curling: Canadian curlers ready to rock Sochi

By admin | 苏州美甲

With nearly one million registered curlers in Canada, more than the rest of the world combined, the sport enjoys a high profile in the country with competitions routinely attracting sold-out crowds and top television ratings.


But along with that popularity come expectations.

Only the Canadian men’s and women’s ice hockey teams in Sochi will be under greater pressure than the curlers to bring home gold.

Since curling was added to the Olympic line-up at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, Canadian rinks have won medals at each edition in the men’s and women’s events.


On the men’s side Canada has been the dominant force, taking silver in Nagano and Salt Lake City and gold in Turin and Vancouver.

The torch has now been passed to Brad Jacobs who will try to skip Canada to a third straight gold in Sochi while Jennifer Jones will bid to put the Canadian women on top of the podium for the first time since Nagano and end a run of silver and bronze medal finishes.

Jacobs’s fist-pumping foursome head to Russia as the title favourites having marched through the Canadian Olympic trials – considered by many a higher quality competition than the Olympics – undefeated, including a victory over reigning Olympic champion Kevin Martin.

“We’re a confident group of guys right now and there’s no reason not to be after winning the Olympic trials out of Canada,” said Jacobs.

“You win that and you should be very confident that you can bring back the gold for Canada and we’re looking forward to getting out there and hopefully strutting our stuff and playing like we did at the trials.”

The Canadians, however, certainly won’t be the only rink strutting their stuff at Sochi’s Ice Cube Curling Centre.

Thomas Ulsrud’s Norwegian foursome, silver medal winners in 2010, are back and ready to turn heads again with more of the outrageous, eye-popping outfits that turned the quirky rink into instant cult figures.

The fun-loving Norwegians became social media darlings in Vancouver with their harlequin-patterned pants and have promised more sartorial surprise in Sochi.

Niklas Edin’s Swedish foursome may not be as flashy as the Norwegians but will fancy their gold medal chances having beaten Jacobs’s Canada rink on their home ice in Victoria, British Columbia, to win the world championship.

Britain will not lack experience in their push for a podium with double world champion skip David Murdoch joining forces with Tom Brewster’s rink to form a Scottish dream team, that flashed their potential with a bronze medal placing at last year’s worlds.


Over in the women’s draw, Anette Norberg, who skipped Sweden to back-to-back golds in Turin and Vancouver, will not be in Sochi, leaving it to Margaretha Sigfridsson’s European championship rink to make it three in a row for the Tre Kronor.

World champion Eve Muirhead and her Scottish foursome could be Britain’s best shot at Sochi gold while China will look for a return to the podium following a breakthrough bronze in Vancouver.

“We would be happy if we get a medal,” said Sigfridsson. “We know we have the ability to play for gold as well but we know it will be very tough and we are willing to do our best there and the team that has the best week will of course win.”

Curling itself could be the big winner in Sochi.

With each Olympics the sport has seen its profile raised attracting more and more fans, among them rockers Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi who reportedly have on occasion rented ice time and picked up the brooms.

The world’s most famous curler, however, could well be Homer Simpson, the beer-swilling, doughnut-guzzling cartoon character who chased his Olympic dreams in an episode ahead of the Vancouver Winter Games by curling.

(Editing by Julien Pretot)