Harry’s Back: Redknapp named manager at QPR

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It seems like he’s been gone for a while, but in reality, new Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp has only missed four months’ worth of matches. Dismissed by Daniel Levy and Tottenham Hotspur this summer, the former West Ham, Portsmouth, and Southampton boss is back on the sidelines at Loftus Road just in time for a transfer window, a great service to Sky Sports News producers expected to shoot a deadline day Redknapp through a Benz’ window.

It’s all part of the surreal comedy that surrounds one of England’s best managers. Perhaps he’s not quite the coup that QPR’s release claims (after all, where there really any better options for him?), but he’s about as good as Rangers could have hoped to land. Judging by his success as Spurs, where he guided Tottenham to two top four finishes, he’s certainly an upgrade over the man they let go. Instead of being run by someone perpetually weighed down by a perceived lack of respect (and attitude that extends back to Mark Hughes’ playing days), QPR gets a man with clear shoulders.

They also get a bit of a media whore. And Redknapp’s sure to make bids for Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe in the January window. Now QPR fans are the ones that get to make jokes about `Arry throwing 11 guys out there and seeing what happens, though his self-proclaimed tactical agnosticism has long been debunked. The smarmy relationship with the press that creates a tabloid boardroom – it’s all part of his charm. Redknapp will give Rangers fans plenty to talk about off the field should he fail to change fortunes on.

Those fortunes have left QPR without a win, the only Premier League team that’s failed to claim three points all season. They have the worst goal difference in the league and are six points away from safety, albeit with 26 matches left in the season. It’s a record that leaves few questions about whether Hughes deserved to stay on; rather, it’s unclear what took chairman Tony Fernandes so long to make a move. As bold as QPR have been with their checkbook, they were far less so when it was time to make a change.

But that checkbook has left a stocked cupboard for Redknapp. It’s a team that can challenge for more than a mid-table position, but there’s no reason a squad with the likes of Julio Cesar, Ndeum Onouha, Jose Bosingwa, Esteban Granero, Alejandro Faurlin, Park Ji Sung, Adel Tarrabt, Junior Hoillett and Bobby Zamora should be in this position.

QPR’s main problem has been in attack, where they’ve scored only nine goals though 12 matches. Redknapp’s teams have always been capable going forward, so their dearth of goals should end soon, especially since the mere absence of Hughes should help. All season, Rangers have looked weak and dispirited, an extension of the cloud surrounding their former manager. For QPR’s attack, there’s as much subtraction going on as addition with this managerial switch.

That switch will take full effect on Tuesday when Redknapp mans the sidelines at the Stadium of Light. Today, at Old Trafford, he’ll be on the sidelines as his new squad faces Manchester United.

Redknapp’s managerial record:

Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Bournemouth 19 October 1983 9 June 1992 7002457000000000000457 7002180000000000000180 7002107000000000000107 7002170000000000000170 700139390000000000039.39
West Ham United 10 August 1994 9 May 2001 7002327000000000000327 7002121000000000000121 700185000000000000085 7002121000000000000121 700137000000000000037.00
Portsmouth 25 March 2002 24 November 2004 7002116000000000000116 700154000000000000054 700126000000000000026 700136000000000000036 700146550000000000046.55
Southampton 8 December 2004 2 December 2005 700149000000000000049 700113000000000000013 700121000000000000021 700115000000000000015 700126530000000000026.53
Portsmouth 7 December 2005 26 October 2008 7002128000000000000128 700154000000000000054 700129000000000000029 700145000000000000045 700142190000000000042.19
Tottenham Hotspur 26 October 2008 13 June 2012 7002198000000000000198 700198000000000000098 700150000000000000050 700150000000000000050 700149490000000000049.49
Queens Park Rangers 24 November 2012 Present 50000000000000000000 50000000000000000000 50000000000000000000 50000000000000000000 !
Total 70031274000000000001,274 7002520000000000000520 7002318000000000000318 7002437000000000000437 700140820000000000040.82

Cristiano Ronaldo could face tax-fraud charges in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Spanish prosecutors are considering whether Cristiano Ronaldo should face charges over allegations by the country’s tax agency that he defrauded the authorities of 15 million euros ($16.7 million) between 2011 and 2014.

Prosecutors said Thursday they have until the end of June to decide whether to charge the Real Madrid star, based on evidence from an investigation by tax officials.

The alleged irregularities were mostly related to money that Ronaldo had in the Virgin Islands.

Tax officials said Ronaldo adjusted his tax declarations and paid an extra 6 million euros ($6.7 million) in 2014.

Prosecutors said that if they decided to charge him, and if the Portugal captain was subsequently found guilty by a court, he would face a prison sentence of at least 15 months. However, it would be unlikely he would go to jail as a first-time offender.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi was convicted of tax fraud last year.

Terry: “I couldn’t care less” about 26th-minute farewell criticism

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John Terry is a man who… well, let’s just say, does things his way.

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For instance, remember the time Chelsea won the UEFA Champions League, by beating Bayern Munich, in penalties? Remember Chelsea’s post-game celebrations, which saw Terry, who was suspended for the final at the Allianz Arena, joyously jumping around with his teammates wearing his full kit, shin guards and all?

Was it over the top and a bit silly? Sure it was, but was anyone hurt or genuinely upset by it? Of course not. On Sunday, as Terry said goodbye to the only club he’s ever known (apart from a six-game loan spell at Nottingham Forest in 2000), he toed the line between what’s acceptable and what’s outlandish. Just like in 2012, Terry caused a minor uproar, and just like in 2012 he “couldn’t care less” — quotes from the Guardian:

“I couldn’t care less, I promise you. All I care about is celebrating with my Chelsea fans. Me and them have a wonderful rapport and have done for 22 years. Nothing that people write or say can ever get in the way of that.

“If that’s the way I want to go out, that’s the way I go out because I’ve been here 22 years, I’ve won so many trophies — so if I wanted to play one minute and come off, I would have done.

“I wanted to play 26 minutes because the shirt number means a lot to me and the supporters so as long as they are happy – and I was over the moon with the reception – I promise you I could not care less.”

“It was an unbelievable send-off from the supporters to help me to celebrate 22 years at the club.

“I’m very grateful to them, and it was something I will never forget. It was so emotional after the game, I was in bits.”

There’s something to be said about the success that Chelsea have had as a club, and the way its recency leads them to feel they are perceived by the outside world. Other clubs, “bigger,” most historic clubs — Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, for example — have been winning trophies pretty regularly for decades, while 70 percent of the major trophies (14 of 20) won in the club’s history have come since Roman Abramovich bought the club 14 years ago, in 2003. Chelsea is a 112-year-old football club.

[ MORE: Pogba, Mkhitaryan fire Man United to Europa League trophy ]

Chelsea’s players and fans are so clearly away of their bought-and-paid-for status, thus everything is celebrated on the grandest scale, almost as if to legitimize their accomplishments (which stand up just fine on their own two feet) and standing within the hierarchy of English football. “Contrived” (and admittedly so) is the word that comes to mind and best describes Terry’s send-off.

No one in this space is saying there’s anything wrong with that, but everyone connected to Chelsea must realize and accept that it looks silly to supporters of the aforementioned long-time giants, and they’re going to be pointed at and laughed at every time they do it.

FA Cup: Three key battles between Arsenal, Chelsea

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The FA Cup final usually brings out terrific entertainment for the fans, and this Saturday’s finale should be no different.

When Arsenal and Chelsea take the field at Wembley Stadium, it will be the last chance this season for some of the Premier League’s stars such as Eden Hazard and Diego Costa for Chelsea and Alexis Sanchez and Mezut Ozil for Arsenal to bring glory to their club.

[ MORE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

The match features two teams heading in different directions. Chelsea, the Premier League champions are in the ascendency after a one-year hiatus out of European competition, while Arsenal finished outside the top-four places in the Premier League for the first time in 20 years under manager Arsene Wenger.

In addition, there’s plenty of other storylines to watch on the field, from whether it’s Costa, Sanchez and Ozil’s potential last matches with their respective teams to how Arsenal will deal without two of its three regular centerbacks they’ve used this season.

Here’s a look at three key battles on the field ahead of the FA Cup final:


Arsenal’s centerbacks vs. Diego Costa

Diego Costa may be a thorn in Chelsea’s side off the field when it comes to the constant speculation of a move away from Stamford Bridge, but on the field this season he’s been brilliant. Costa scored 20 goals in the Premier League and another goal in FA Cup action, and he contributes off the ball as well, drawing the defense in towards him while opening up space for teammates including Hazard and Willian.

Heading into Saturday, it’s unclear who on Arsenal will be tasked with marking Costa. Laurent Koscielny was issued a straight red card in Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Everton and will miss the FA Cup final due to suspension while fellow centerback Gabriel left the field on a stretcher after suffering a knee injury. In addition, Shkodran Mustafi is still recovering from a concussion and is a doubt for Saturday.

That leaves Wenger with just Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding as healthy centerbacks, which could force Wenger to revert back to his usual four-man backline from the more recent three-man backline that’s been used.

Regardless of who Arsenal put out there, expect Costa to be at his best, attempting to physically dominate his opponent and get under their skin.


Nemanja Matic and N'Golo Kante vs. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez

Arsenal are at their best when they play through the middle of the field before finding runners out wide, setting up crossing attempts into the middle or perhaps another chance to play through the lines in the center of the field.

Standing in Arsenal’s playmaking duo of Mezut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez’s way are Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante. Kante, as Riyad Mahrez saw last year, does so much of the dirty work defensively that he allows his teammates including Matic and Hazard to bomb forward and either create or finish goal-scoring opportunities.

Kante will have his hands full dealing with Ozil and Sanchez in midfield, and Matic may need to sit a bit deeper to cut off the passing lanes, potentially taking him out of Chelsea’s counter attack.


Eden Hazard vs. Hector Bellerin

For all the speed that Hazard possesses on the ball, there’s at least one player on Arsenal who can keep stride pace-for-pace.

With Hazard likely lining up on the left wing, Arsenal’s right wing back Hector Bellerin will likely face Hazard up one-on-one at both ends of the field, setting up a fun encounter. With Bellerin’s speed and ability to track back, he may be open to a few 40-yard springs into space down the right wing, knowing that Hazard probably won’t be in hot pursuit.

But if Bellerin doesn’t end up with the ball and there’s an Arsenal turnover, Hazard on his own or against a centerback on the left wing could be a nightmare for Arsenal to deal with.

Man United, Man City come together to support terror victims

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The Manchester derby is known as one of the world’s fiercest rivalries, but in the wake of a devastating terrorist attack this week, both sides are joining together to support the city of Manchester and victims of the attack.

Manchester United and Manchester City announced Thursday they pledged together nearly $1.3 million into the We Love Manchester community fund. The fund was set up to assist the families of the 22 people who died and 64 people who were injured in the attack.

“The barbarism of Monday evening’s attack has shocked everyone,” Manchester United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said in a statement. “Our clubs are right at the heart of our local communities in Manchester and it is right that we present a unified response to this tragedy. The money will help of course but the work of the two clubs and their respective foundation and community scheme can build on the fantastic spirit that Mancunians have shown in the immediate aftermath.”

Folks who want to donate to the fund can visit http://www.redcross.org.uk/manchester or http://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/redcross/ManchesterEmergencyFund.

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