Wenger-style dynasties now harder in football

first_img NOT ALWAYS GREEN The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and Wenger reminded Arsenal fans of that. “Even if I go, Arsenal will not win every single game in the future,” Wenger said, facing up to elimination for the seventh successive year in the round of 16 of the Champions League. The Champions League now often determines the fates of the elite managers in a way it didn’t in the pre-1992 format where only the national champions made the European Cup. Louis van Gaal was fired by Manchester United after two seasons despite lifting the FA Cup in May because he failed to secure a top-four finish to make the Champions League. Successor Jose Mourinho will survive in the job if his sixth-place side misses out again but patience will eventually wear thin at Old Trafford where Alex Ferguson ruled for more than 26 years until his retirement in 2013. LONDON (AP): Arsene Wenger is the last of a dying breed, the football coach who can establish a long-standing dynasty at a club and seems to be able to decide for himself whether or not he leaves. In the 21st year of his Arsenal reign, Wenger is the longest-serving manager in a leading European league. Whatever pressures counterparts face, Wenger seems to emerge largely unscathed within the hierarchy regardless of the setbacks on the pitch, of which there have been many during his second decade. The succession of silverware – which peaked when the “Invincibles” side went unbeaten throughout the whole season in the 2003/04 campaign – has been replaced by a cycle of capitulations, the latest a 5-1 humiliation in the Champions League at Bayern Munich. The ownership is more forgiving than the fans, rigidly standing by the Frenchman who was once a trailblazer but who has now been overtaken by a new generation of more tactically-flexible, innovative coaches. “We are all very high on Arsene,” Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke said in a rare interview with The Associated Press recently. And for all Wenger’s shortcomings he has delivered Champions League qualification in every season in charge, guaranteeing the comfort blanket of the UEFA windfall for Kroenke by finishing in the Premier League’s top four. But how healthy is it for any business when an employee appears able to set his own departure terms rather than his bosses calling the shots? “No matter what happens I will manage next season … is it here or somewhere else?” Wenger said yesterday, toying with Arsenal and asserting his power. Perhaps he’s just waiting to be begged to stay. There’s often a convenient array of stories linking Wenger with leading jobs, including Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain in recent years, whenever the pressure from fans starts to intensify, showing he’s a man in demand.last_img read more


first_imgYoung and old will be able to do their bit for the Irish language when RITH 2016 kicks off in Kildare on March 4th – and comes all the way to Donegal.Coinciding with Seachtain na Gaeilge, the eleven-day All-Ireland relay run will promote the language in an athletic in a lively fun-filled manner.A message of hope to the people of Ireland, signed by President Michael D Higgins, will be carried by a baton-holder at the front of the run as it winds through every county. The baton will be opened when the run reaches its closure at Trinity College on March 14th and the President’s message about the language read out.One man is unlikely to be phased by the challenge. For Lucan man Dáithí Ó Murchú, no race in Ireland can be too daunting.When you have run from the eagle plains in the Yukon through the Arctic Circle and over to Tuktuk in the Arctic Ocean in average temperatures of around -30 degrees, the Irish language promotional event is just another step.Gael Linn festivals and Gaeltacht football tournaments were always an opportunity to bring the Irish language community together and he sees RITH as further opportunity. “Events such as RITH 2016 give the Irish language community an opportunity to come together for the good of the language. Between young and old, there is an opportunity to take part in a national event and this year, and as we commemorate 1916, everyone has a chance to take part in something historical for the language during Irish language week,” he said.For Dáithí, this will be a more relaxed occasion after the gruelling efforts he ran in such freezing conditions last year. When he talks about the incredible challenge he faced, he talks about the spiritual, physical and psychological aspects of a challenge, only ever completed by eleven others.“It’s very hard to say what inspires someone to do this but sometimes you feel inside that you have to do something. But it was the right time, the right place and the right ultra (marathon) to do and that what’s happened …. every decision you make is life and death.“When it goes to minus 30 or minus 45 and minus 50, the freezing ice comes in, the snow starts to fall and you really are trying to keep the mind going but the hallucinations are something else.“When you start to hallucinate, you can’t tell the difference between reality, surreality, what is and what is not. They are the dangerous times. Then you are walking on frozen oceans…. the challenges are on every single level,” he says. When he participates in RITH 2016, he will be combining his passion for running with his another love, the Irish language.His family was, he says, “always sympathetic” to Irish and he received post-primary education through the native language.A Limerickman, he also helped establish two Gaelscoils, Gaelscoil Ó Doghair and after that Gaelcholáiste Uí Chonba in his native county.You only need to write into google or youtube the words “running and health” to see the enormous effects which athletics can have on people’s health. Quoting the Irish proverb, Is fear rith maith ná drochsheasamh, Dáithí explains in simple terms the benefits of running. At “every level”, he says, sport is important. “It adds much to the spirit of the soul and your body. There is no doubt that sport helps a person on every level. I am always running and absorbing the beauty of the world on the roads, on mountains, on hills and in isolated places all over the world. “There is no doubt that running adds to the health of a person, not only in the body but also in the soul and in the head. If something is annoying you, put on your runners and go out walking or running in the air.” As a retired school principal, he freely admits that he doesn’t mind being away from the stress involved in teaching. The creativity of the children of the country is something he occasionally misses but now he has more time for running. And sometimes he now trains twice a day.Daithí Ó Murchú will be taking part in RITH 2016. Thousands are expected to take part in the relay-fun-run that will go through every county in Ireland from March 4th-14th as part of the national 1916 centenary commemorations.For more information on RITH 2016, see www.rith.ie.THOUSANDS OF RUNNERS SET FOR RITH 2016 was last modified: February 17th, 2016 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Hunch is Houston wins it

first_img “If you think this city would go crazy when Michael Jordan’s Bulls won a world title, I’m fearful what’s going to happen if the White Sox win the World Series,” said the taxicab driver as he drove me Thursday afternoon from Midway Airport to my Michigan Avenue hotel. “You gotta understand that there’s not many people alive in these parts who were around the last time a Chicago team won a World Series. The White Sox last did it in 1917 and the Cubbies. Oh Lord, they haven’t done it since 1908.” Will the Great Chicago World Series Jinx finally come to an end in the upcoming days when the White Sox face a newcomer to these October test matches, the Houston Astros? CHICAGO — This great Midwest metropolis which long has adored the Cubs suddenly has been seized by White Sox hysteria. Everywhere you go, you see signs hailing the White Sox and hear people discussing the team that until this season had been immersed in obscurity in the shadow of the Cubs, who find themselves being upstaged by the South Side baseball ballclub that qualified for the World Series for winning the American League pennant for the first time since 1959. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week The oddsmakers in Las Vegas say it will, as they’ve installed the White Sox a slight betting favorite to emerge victorious in the best-of-7 debate that commences tonight at U.S. Cellular. And they certainly deserve such status, since they led the AL in victories during the regular season with 99 and since they swept the Boston Red Sox in the divisional series and since they impaled the Los Angeles Angels in five games in the ALCS. They storm into this World Series with an overwhelming amount of momentum generated by the route-going performances of their starting pitchers, Jose Contreras, Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia, against the Angels. They have been hitting with a flourish and fielding with consistency, and their colorful manager, Ozzie Guillen, has been pushing all the right buttons. They play with a maddening determination, have a few guys you’ve heard of like Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye and A.J. Pierzynski and a lot of guys you haven’t like Joe Crede, Juan Uribe, Scott Podsednik, Aaron Rowand and Tadahito Iguchi. center_img But the White Sox just might be facing an opponent that has a greater sense of destiny than themselves in the Astros, who became the first team in the franchise’s 44-year existence to make it to the Fall Classic and did it in a most impressive fashion. They somehow were able to overcome the emotional nightmare of that Monday night Game 5 meltdown to the St. Louis Cardinals when Albert Pujols drilled a two-out, game-deciding, ninth-inning, three-run homer off Brad Lidge that left them 5-4 losers and kept them from winning the National League pennant. Such a harrowing setback usually devastates a team, as the 1986 Angels found out after Boston’s Dave Henderson’s famous home run and as the 1988 Oakland A’s found out after the Dodgers’ Kirk Gibson’s memorable home run. But the Astros survived the trauma of Pujols’ heroics, and went on to St. Louis Wednesday evening where they coolly beat the Cardinals by a 5-1 score behind the overwhelming pitching of Roy Oswalt, who looked like a right-handed Sandy Koufax as he silenced the St. Louis bats with a mid-90 mph fastball and a bewildering curve. This is a strange Houston team that seems to be at its best when it’s been dispatched to the mat and is on the verge of being knocked out, as was the case when it started the season 15-30 and as was the case Monday night when Pujols’ blow should have torn out its heart. But these Astros have a resilience that’s astounding, and they will be forced to display that trait once again as well as receive stout pitching once again from Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and Brandon Backe if they’re to survive against the White Sox. I have a strange feeling they will, even though so often my strange feelings in regard to the outcome of sporting events turn out to be wrong feelings. If the Astros can so blithely put aside the depression of Pujols’ home run, then the hunch here is that they will be able to withstand whatever adversity engulfs them against the White Sox. The White Sox looked terrific in dismantling the Red Sox, but the Boston pitching staff was weak and only faintly resembled the one that won the World Series a year ago when Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and a healthy Curt Schilling were a part of it. The White Sox looked dominant in bringing down the Angels especially their starting pitchers but I can’t envision the Astros batsmen being similarly feeble. Houston is not exactly renowned for its hitting, but I’m willing to wager anyone my favorite photo of a Darin Erstad home run oops, one doesn’t exist that neither Craig Biggio, nor Lance Berkman, nor Morgan Ensberg, nor Jason Lane, nor any other hitter in the Houston batting order will go 1 for 20 as Vladimir Guerrero did against the White Sox. As good as the White Sox starting pitching is, the Astros have a strong trio in Roger Clemens, who opens tonight against Jose Contreras, Andy Pettitte and Mr. Oswalt, who has been untouchable during the postseason. “I’m picking the Astros to win the series because I think their top three pitchers are better than Chicago’s,” said Tom Lasorda in the lobby of the Chicago Hilton Friday afternoon, as he joshed around with veteran umpire Joe West. The Astros also have an extraordinary bullpen, irrespective of Brad Lidge’s choke job against Pujols. Lidge normally is as dominant as the New York Yankees’ Mariano Rivera and he’s backed up by Chad Qualls and Dan Wheeler, both of whom have performed nobly during the playoffs. The former Long Beach State star and Millikan High graduate, Mike Gallo, a left-hander, also has been effective in getting out left-handed hitters. Both managers, Ozzie Guillen of the White Sox and Phil Garner of the Astros, aren’t afraid to take risks and aren’t afraid to make unconventional moves. For sure, one despairing athletic vacuum will come to an end soon. Either Chicago will be celebrating its first world baseball title since the early part of the 20th century, or Texas will be celebrating its first one, period. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more