Southampton set to hire ex-NHL coach Ralph Krueger as director

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Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr has only been formally in charge at St. Mary’s for a week, but the young owner is already working hard to surround herself with sporting leaders who can help lift the Saints onto the next level.

So, naturally, you’d expect former NHL coach Ralph Krueger to be on board…

Here’s the story from our colleagues over at ProHockeyTalk, as this rather bizarre appointment would raise eyebrows across the soccer world.

Krueger, 54, will act as an advisor to the Canadian Olympic Hockey team at the winter Olympics in Sochi, then head to Southampton next month for his new role. The former Oilers and Switzerland Hockey national team head coach is known for his motivational speaking and how to develop successful teams and environments. The German national details his own philosophy in his own self-help book, Teamlife: From Failure to Success.

On Wednesday news also broke that Southampton’s Chief Financial Officer Gareth Rogers will take over the role of interim Chief Executive Officer until the end of the season to give Saints owner Liebherr plenty of time to make the correct decision.

Following the resignation of Executive Chairman Nicola Cortese last week and the many rumors that spread, Liebherr is clean to clear all the indecision up quickly and get everyone back to talking about the on-field play of the Saints. But as the PHT guys explain, Krueger’s tactics and approach raised plenty of eyebrows as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers in the league’s shortened ’13 season.

Now he seems to be switching a hockey stick for a soccer ball in an advisory role at Southampton. Here’s more on Krueger from PHT’s Mike Halford:

Krueger went 19-22-7 in his lone year in Edmonton, briefly flirting with a playoff push during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign.

He’s known as an innovative thinker — last year, he raised some eyebrows by saying he and his staff were treating the shootout as a “third special team,” and had goalie coach Frederic Chabot scout opposing goalies for tips and strategies.

(MORE: Unraveling the mess at Southampton FC: Liebherr, Cortese, Pochettino and Saints’ future)

Earlier this week Liebherr penned an open letter to Southampton’s fans, who were used to a wall of silence from former chairman Cortese, outlining the position the club finds itself in under her new position as non-executive Chairman and her plans for the short and long-term future of the club.

We are now in the top half one of the most competitive leagues in the world, playing attractive football with a young and ambitious team, and poised to move into world-class training facilities. We have much to be thankful for. I am particularly excited that the Southampton tradition of nurturing and providing young talent with first team opportunities is set to flourish with the strong academy foundation we have put in place.

Off the pitch, my priority is to establish the proper running of the club at the top. I also have a strong team of advisers around me as we plan the way forwards. As soon as we have more news to share, we will do so.

Seems like the final part of that statement is beginning to come together, as Liebherr casts the net far and wide to get the people she wants to help Southampton continue their rapid ascent up the Premier League table and into European soccer.

One last thing, this isn’t the only time Saints have looked to another sport to give them a helping hand. Back in 2005 head coach of England’s World Cup winning Rugby team, Sir Clive Woodward, took over in a development role at Southampton to help the clubs academy. Despite never having any experience in soccer.

That experiment didn’t last long after much ridicule from across the soccer community. Here’s to hoping Krueger’s potential impact on the Saints is much more positive….

Xabi Alonso denies Spanish accusations of tax fraud

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The list of players pursued by Spanish authorities crying tax fraud is starting to resemble a pretty good team,

Call it The Longest Yard: La Liga.

[ MORE: Alonso, Pedro support Morata ]

Xabi Alonso is being accused of not paying taxes on his image rights while a player at Real Madrid, joining Radamel Falcao, Neymar, Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, and Cristiano Ronaldo as World XI-caliber players who’ve faced legal troubles in Spain.

Jose Mourinho even had to travel to Spain earlier this season to face accusations from a Spanish court. Those found guilty have found punishment other than jail time.

Alonso denies any wrongdoing, according to Sky Sports:

Prosecutors say he defrauded the Spanish state of £1.75m between 2010 and 2012 and called for the same sentence to be applied to Alonso’s financial advisor Ivan Zaldua Azcuenaga and the administrator of consultancy shell company, Ignasi Maestre Casanova.

Iraq hosts friendly tournament after 3-decade FIFA ban

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BAGHDAD (AP) Iraq is hosting a friendly soccer tournament this week, with Syria and Qatar.

It comes just days after FIFA lifted a three-decade-long ban on Iraq hosting international competitions.

[ MORE: Best PL summer buys ]

An Iraq-Qatar match is to start Wednesday evening in the southern city of Basra.

FIFA lifted the ban on Monday for Iraqi cities of Basra, Karbala and Irbil, considered to be the safest in Iraq – but not the capital, Baghdad, which still sees frequent militant attacks.

Iraq’s minister of youth and sports, Abdul-Hussein Abtan, congratulated the Iraqi people following FIFA’s move and said it would change how Iraq is viewed in the region and beyond.

While the ban was in place, Iraq was still able to host friendly games and tournaments.

$280m? Who cares? Salah is the rare “unsellable” player


The gossip reports are out there, with lofty claims that Real Madrid and Barcelona are willing to pay as much as $280 million dollars for Mohamed Salah.

Normally that figure triggers something in my brain that screams, “Sell! Sell! Sell before they realize what they’ve offered!”

[ MORE: Best PL summer buys ]

That’s not happening with Mohamed Salah.

This isn’t an inflated fee for a young English player like Ross Barkley or John Stones, nor is it a club throwing a lofty and desperate figure at a very good but supremely overvalued player like Philippe Coutinho. Even Raheem Sterling, who I advocated selling, has proven replaceable.

In the case of Salah, his Golden Boot figure is likely to dwarf any in the Premier League era. He’s at 28, three behind Luis Suarez’s 31. Cristiano Ronaldo has bagged 31 once Alan Shearer and Andy Cole hold the modern record with 34.

Salah needs six to tie Shearer. Here’s Liverpool’s run-in: Crystal Palace (A), Everton (A), Bournemouth (H), West Brom (A), Stoke City (H), Chelsea (A), Brighton and Hove Albion (H).

Five of those teams absolutely hemorrhage goals. Would you bet against Salah?

By the way, Salah has 10 assists, too. Sure Jurgen Klopp deserves credit for buying and deploying the Egyptian wizard, but

When Klopp argued that Liverpool was not a selling club, this is the exact example to follow. Selling Coutinho — again, not trying to poke the bear that is ornery overvaluing fan — is fine in a world where your club has Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah

But selling one of Europe’s leading scorers is almost never okay for a club challenging for a Champions League crown and with the clear caliber of a Premier League title hunter.

I’d argue that for this club, one who has sold Coutinho and Suarez, there is not a fee that meets Salah straight-on.  He’s 25 and living in the air just below Lionel Messi and Neymar.

The Messi comparisons I keep reading are fun but still unbelievably premature by every stretch of the imagination. By the time Messi was Salah’s age he had league seasons of 34, 31, 50, and was en route to a 46-goal mark. He posted 68 combined assists over those four seasons.

If this is somehow an aberration, and Salah cannot find this form ever again, well, that’s bad luck and a risk worth its weight in standard setting.

There is not a replacement player.

There is no fee.

Say it again now.

Dangerous playmaker Silva joins Montreal Impact (video)

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Alejandro Silva’s got a creative mind, and that’s something Montreal will welcome with open arms.

The Uruguayan signed with the Impact this week, joining Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taider as playmakers in Quebec.

[ MORE: Top PL summer buys ]

Silva, 28, is a right-sided and forward-playing attacker who can also play right back if necessary.

The Impact lost two of three to start the season, winning this weekend’s 401 Derby versus Toronto FC to put a number in the win column.

Lanus has been a fertile ground for Major League Soccer clubs in recent years, with Lucas Melano (Portland Timbers) and Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United) making the move to North America.

The South American club has also sent Gustavo Gomez to AC Milan and Oscar Benitez to Benfica.