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Author Archive for James Riach

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Jürgen Klopp searches forlornly for solution to halt Liverpool’s dismal rut

Liverpool have won once so far in 2017 – against League Two Plymouth – leaving Klopp looking for answers to their lack of energy and defensive frailties

Jürgen Klopp cannot have seen this rut coming and his mood after Liverpool’s latest weary performance was bleak. There was no anger, only tired exasperation. He had already discharged his rage at half-time as his side toiled at Hull City and, although Liverpool improved after that impassioned team-talk, they could not halt their dreadful start to 2017. Afterwards Klopp suggested it was time for some home truths. From the team’s mentality to Simon Mignolet’s latest error, he was blunt – facing mistakes head-on would be a priority before Saturday’s game at home to Tottenham Hotspur.

“Again that’s another thing where we have to show a reaction,” said Klopp when asked about Mignolet’s confidence, the goalkeeper having flapped at the ball in the buildup to Alfred N’Diaye’s opening goal at the KCom Stadium. “That’s causing problems. That’s how it is. For sure he was not alone around the goal but of course he nearly had it in his hands. We cannot ignore this is true and we will not. We don’t lie to ourselves.

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Andrea Radrizzani vows to fix Garry Monk’s contract situation at Leeds

• New co-owner also wants to ensure Charlie Taylor is not sold in January
• Radrizzani will explore possibility of club buying back Elland Road

The new Leeds United joint-owner, Andrea Radrizzani, has vowed to fix Garry Monk’s contract situation and ensure that the left-back Charlie Taylor is not sold during the January transfer window.

Radrizzani spoke officially as a 50% investor in Leeds for the first time on Saturday, hours after Monk’s side produced an emphatic performance to beat Derby and strengthen their standing in the Championship play-off places.

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Andrea Radrizzani vows to fix Garry Monk’s contract situation at Leeds

• New co-owner also wants to ensure Charlie Taylor is not sold in January
• Radrizzani will explore possibility of club buying back Elland Road

The new Leeds United joint-owner, Andrea Radrizzani, has vowed to fix Garry Monk’s contract situation and ensure that the left-back Charlie Taylor is not sold during the January transfer window.

Radrizzani spoke officially as a 50% investor in Leeds for the first time on Saturday, hours after Monk’s side produced an emphatic performance to beat Derby and strengthen their standing in the Championship play-off places.

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The Fancy Bears leaks shouldn’t tar all athletes with the same doping brush | James Riach

The cyber hackers are trying to conflate athletes’ therapeutic use drug exemptions with Russian state-sponsored doping. They do not amount to a ‘licence to dope’

We live in an age when many Olympic and elite sporting feats are greeted with suspicion. Consciously or not, when something spectacular is achieved, there lingers scepticism. The seed of doubt has already been sown in the minds of many observers thanks to the misdemeanours of those that have gone before.

Incidents of doping become conflated. Some perceive that everyone must be cheating. Arguments are made in favour of doping deregulation: scrap rules regarding banned substances and permit a free-for-all, to ensure a level playing field across sport.

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Barnsley’s ascent is checked but Heckingbottom still looking upwards | James Riach

The Tykes were bottom of League One in December, but could have gone top of Championship on Saturday. Instead, Reading won a pulsating game 2-1

With Jaap Stam on the touchline and Roy Keane watching in the stands, Barnsley felt like a place to be, even if their fine start to the season stuttered with a 2-1 defeat by Reading.

“Big names, big clubs, big players on the pitch, big crowds. It’s what you want,” the Barnsley head coach and local boy, Paul Heckingbottom, said after a match that included a penalty, two excellent goals and an amusing red card. “We’re enjoying it greatly.”

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Mo Farah given rough ride on Twitter before Great North Run

• Double Olympic champion again faces myriad remarks about doping
• Lynsey Sharp defends her comments about Caster Semenya

Mo Farah insists he is not fazed by personal criticism after an online question and answer session descended into farce in the run-up to his Great North Run title defence.

Farah, the double Olympic champion who is still basking in a golden glow after successfully defending his 5,000m and 10,000m titles in Rio, will end his season at the Newcastle to South Shields half marathon this weekend but the buildup took an unfortunate twist when a Twitter Q&A with the athlete saw the subject of doping raised by users.

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Mo Farah given rough ride on Twitter before Great North Run

• Double Olympic champion again faces myriad remarks about doping
• Lynsey Sharp defends her comments about Caster Semenya

Mo Farah insists he is not fazed by personal criticism after an online question and answer session descended into farce in the run-up to his Great North Run title defence.

Farah, the double Olympic champion who is still basking in a golden glow after successfully defending his 5,000m and 10,000m titles in Rio, will end his season at the Newcastle to South Shields half marathon this weekend but the buildup took an unfortunate twist when a Twitter Q&A with the athlete saw the subject of doping raised by users.

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Injured Jack Butland out of England’s opening World Cup qualifier

• Stoke goalkeeper hurt ankle during training for his club
• Butland out for a few weeks but injury not as bad as first feared

The Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland will not be available for Sam Allardyce’s first England squad after sustaining​ an ankle problem in training.

Butland was absent during Stoke’s 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough on Saturday with Mark Hughes, the manager, admitting the injury “knocked us sideways” during training the previous day.

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Leeds manager Garry Monk: if you worry about the sack you’ll never take any job

The new manager at Elland Road is unconcerned by the short self-life of his predecessors under the owner, Massimo Cellino

Not long ago Garry Monk was being touted as a possible England manager. It is strange how much can change in a year, a peripatetic period for Monk bookended by Swansea City’s highest league finish and his appointment as the seventh head coach of Leeds United since the spring of 2014.

Swansea City and Leeds form a curious juxtaposition. One has gone from obscurity and the brink of financial ruin to Premier League stability as the other has taken a darker path. Yet Monk, who played an integral role in Swansea’s ascent as a player before being sacked as the club’s manager last season after 11 matches, saw an opportunity at Elland Road where others viewed only trouble.

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Wales wait for Ashley Williams to lead resistance against Belgium

• Captain expected to recover from shoulder injury against Northern Ireland
• Chris Coleman says Wales have nothing to fear in Euro 2016 quarter-finals

Wales expect Ashley Williams to be fit for their quarter-final against Belgium on Friday despite the captain’s sustaining a shoulder injury in the closing stages of the victory against Northern Ireland.

Wales finished behind Belgium as runners-up in qualifying for Euro 2016 but Chris Coleman’s side have not lost against their upcoming opponents – ranked No2 in the world by Fifa – in three attempts.

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Albania coach Gianni De Biasi: ‘I don’t want us to be tourists. Fairytales can happen’

Experienced Italian coach has guided Albania to first major championship despite the fallout from infamous brawl in abandoned game against Serbia

Gianni De Biasi must be the only Italian who has been offered Albanian citizenship by the country’s president. Such a gesture speaks volumes for his achievement, with Albania gripped by Euro 2016 fever caused by reaching their first major championship​.

De Biasi’s and Albania’s story is a remarkable one. The 59-year-old took charge four and a half years ago and the Eagles’ progress has been drastic. They finished second bottom of their qualification group for Euro 2012 having lost to Luxembourg but defied Denmark and Serbia to end the recent campaign as automatic qualifiers for the 2016 tournament behind Portugal.

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Dan Cole predicts big England future for new Leicester signing Ellis Genge

• Uncapped Leicester prop tipped to shine by club-mate
• Steve Borthwick also praises ‘incredibly competitive’ Genge

Dan Cole believes his club-mate and new England call-up Ellis Genge has “an edge” to him, saying he has been impressed with the new Leicester signing’s attitude and physicality.

Leicester confirmed the ​permanent ​signing of the 21-year-old prop on Thursday, with Genge having previously been on loan at the Tigers from Bristol. The Leicester director of rugby, Richard Cockerill, described him as a great prospect and Eddie Jones ​recently ​named the forward in his England squad for the Test with Wales on Sunday and the summer tour of Australia.

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14 Russians guilty of doping at Beijing Olympics, suggests state media

• Majority of positive samples come from track and field events
• News casts further doubts over Russia’s participation in Rio

Fourteen of the 31 athletes found to have doped at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing are Russian, according to the country’s state media.

A report by Tass suggests that the majority of those 14 individuals compete in track and field events, putting Russia’s athletics participation at Rio 2016 in further doubt. An International Association of Athletics Federations taskforce has already been set up to decide whether Russia’s athletes will be allowed to compete in Brazil following revelations of state-sponsored doping in the country, with a decision to be made on 17 June.

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England’s Tottenham contingent show no sign of fatigue, says Harry Kane

• Claims of tiredness because of club training and end-of-season results denied
• Spurs striker lauds Marcus Rashford’s inclusion in provisional Euro 2016 squad

One golden boot won, another to go. That is the ambition for Harry Kane, who has barely stopped scoring since his remarkable breakthrough last year, as he approaches the final weeks of a campaign that ended in disappointment at Tottenham Hotspur but could yet finish with a summer to remember with England.

Related: Jack Wilshere out to prove Roy Hodgson right and history wrong for England | Owen Gibson

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Andros Townsend hopes to repay Roy Hodgson by cementing England place

• ‘Even when I wasn’t playing much Roy Hodgson always had faith in me’
• Newcastle striker determined to merit being in final squad for Euro 2016

Andros Townsend is determined to ​make the most of his place in England’s ​provisional ​squad for the European Championship after enduring one of the most difficult periods of his career with Tottenham.

The 24-year-old was not in England’s thinking earlier in the season and was some way from Mauricio Pochettino’s first-team plans at Spurs, playing with the club’s under-21s and resigning himself to a summer watching Euro 2016 rather than playing in it.

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Yannick Bolasie: FA Cup final is chance to show world what I can do

The Crystal Palace winger has designed a pair of boots that chart his journey, from his mum’s house in Willesden to Wembley a stone’s throw away. Victory over Manchester United would be a perfect birthday present for her

Yannick Bolasie could see Wembley Stadium from his bedroom window as a kid on Cup final day, not that he cared too much. Back then he was more interested in playing “Wembley” – the goalmouth game needing only a ball and two posts – with friends on the estate, while thousands of supporters descended on his London borough.

This year will be different. On his mum’s birthday, Bolasie will lead Crystal Palace’s hopes of a first FA Cup, against Manchester United. The gilded edge on the Eagles’ wing has been one of the more dynamic attacking forces in English football this season, and he is ready for the biggest game of his career.

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Nicola Adams targets full gold-medal set before doubling up in Rio

Flyweight is desperate to fill the one gap in her gold-medal collection at the world championships this week but it’s the thought of winning a second Olympic gold that really makes her smile

Britain’s ebullient Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams has her sights firmly set on Rio de Janeiro but there is one title that has eluded her during a career of ample success – and the 33-year-old is determined to hold a full set of medals.

Adams has yet to win gold at a women’s world championships, despite European, Commonwealth and Olympic dominance. The flyweight will have a chance to rectify this at the fourth attempt this week in Astana, Kazakhstan, when she hopes to end a run of three silvers in the competition since 2008.

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Jazz Carlin excited by GB prospects at European Aquatics Championships

• Freestyler qualified for Rio Olympics in April following trials in Glasgow
• British medal hopeful relishing racing in London after 2012 disappointment

Jazz Carlin believes there could be some unexpected performances by Britain’s swimmers at the European Championships, which she describes as a first step on the team’s Olympic journey.

Carlin, who will compete in the 400m and 800m freestyle at the Aquatics Centre this week, qualified for the Rio Olympics at Britain’s trials last month, having missed out on London 2012 following a bout of glandular fever. She is a key member of Britain’s Games squad, of which there are high expectations after a disappointing medal haul four years ago.

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Wada insists laboratory bans will not affect testing before Rio Olympics

• Bloemfontein becomes fourth lab suspended by Wada
• ‘There is a very robust pre-Rio anti-doping programme in place’

The World Anti-Doping Agency has insisted that testing in the run-up to the Rio Olympic Games will not be adversely affected despite four accredited laboratories now being suspended.

On Tuesday the Bloemfontein laboratory in South Africa – the only Wada‑accredited lab in Africa – was added to a list that includes Lisbon and Beijing. The Moscow laboratory’s accreditation was revoked last year following revelations of state‑sponsored doping in Russia.

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Mousa Dembélé could face lengthy ban after violent conduct charge

• Spurs midfielder had appeared to rake Diego Costa’s eyes
• Chelsea and Spurs charged with failing to control players

Mousa Dembélé could face a lengthy ban after being charged with violent conduct for appearing to eye gouge Diego Costa during the ​heated 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Tottenham, with both clubs also facing sanctions following the mass brawl at Stamford Bridge.

The FA said of Dembélé that “it is alleged the player’s behaviour constituted violent conduct in circumstances where the standard punishment of three matches that would otherwise apply is clearly insufficient. The player has until 6pm on Thursday to respond to the charge.”

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