Hope for Hoffenheim under new coach

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Hoffenheim’s new coach enjoyed a winning start as his team beat Fortuna Duesseldorf 3-0 today to keep alive their faint hopes of avoiding relegation.

The German club booted coach Marco Kurz and general manager Andreas Mueller on Tuesday and brought in Markus Gisdol, a 43-year-old who used to coach their reserves.

Kurz replaced former Germany, Liverpool and Bayern Munich defender Markus Babbel at the helm in January but lasted only ten matches, collecting just two wins and two draws. When he left, Hoffenheim were nine points adrift of safety. Thanks to this afternoon’s victory, they’ve cut the gap to six as Duesseldorf sit fifteenth, one place outside the drop/relegation play-off zone. But Hoffenheim have only six matches left.

Left back Fabian Johnson started for Hoffenheim but his fellow U.S international, midfielder Daniel Williams, was left out of the line-up.

Relegation after five seasons in Germany’s top tier would close the chapter on a remarkable rise that’s both romantic and routine.

The club from near scenic Heidelberg in south-west Germany were minnows playing fifth-level soccer as recently as 1999-2000, and everybody loves to see an underdog thrive. But how much of an against-the-odds tale is it? After all, much like Wigan Athletic in England, the club has been bankrolled and cultivated to a size far beyond its natural limits by a generous benefactor. In Hoffenheim’s case, that’s Dietmar Hopp, one of the founders of software giants SAP.

Ferguson still being asked about Moyes: “We chose a good football man”

David Moyes Alex Ferguson
AP Photo/Martin Rickett/PA
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In some ways absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it seems Sir Alex Ferguson‘s life after Manchester United has been filled with second guessing.

Whether the sales of Paul Pogba and Gerard Pique or the appointment of David Moyes, “Fergie” apparently can’t rest on his title-winning laurels.

[ MORE: Tax evasion charges dropped against Messi, but not his father ]

One thing that seems to bug him more than anything, though, is the idea that he hand-picked David Moyes to be his successor, and should be responsible for his failings.

In a new documentary, Ferguson both defends the appointment of Moyes and explains the process behind his choice.

From the BBC:

“I don’t think we made a mistake at all. I think we chose a good football man,” Ferguson says. “Unfortunately it didn’t work for David.

“Jose Mourinho was going back to Chelsea, Carlo Ancelotti was going to Real Madrid, Jurgen Klopp had signed a contract with Dortmund, Louis Van Gaal was staying with Holland for the World Cup.”

The article also makes another key point, according to Ferguson: the manager claims he only gave United a few months notice that he’d be stepping down. That certainly didn’t provide a lot of lead time to secure a big boss.

What do you make it of it? If your answer is, “When can we stop talking about Moyes and United?” I tend to be with you, but it’s a talking point.

Tax evasion charges against Messi dropped; Case vs father continues

FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2013 file photo, Barcelona F.C. star Lionel Messi, left, arrives at a court to answer questions in a tax fraud case in Gava, near Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona prosecutors are calling for the arrest of Messi's father in a tax fraud case. Prosecutors have cleared Messi of wrongdoing but are seeking an 18-month prison sentence for his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, for allegedly defrauding Spain's tax office of 4 million euros ($4.5 million) in unpaid taxes from 2007-09. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File)
AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
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Lionel Messi will not face charges that he and his father defrauded the government in millions of unpaid taxes, though his father is not so lucky.

Messi’s father, Jorge, could face 18 months in jail and an approximate $2.25 million fine despite a voluntary payment of $5.5 million in 2013 to “correct” the missed taxes.

[ WATCH: Hilarious spoof pegs Messi, Ronaldo as “Friends” ]

The Barcleona star had plead ignorance to the charges, something that failed to impress prosecutors. But, it apparently worked out in his favor on Tuesday.

From the BBC:

Prosecutors allege that Jorge avoiding paying tax on his son’s earnings by using offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay between 2007 and 2009.

Messi’s lawyers argued that the player had “never devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analysing” the contracts, El Pais newspaper reported.