Monk

Garry Monk named permanent manager, handed three-year deal at Swansea

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Swansea City made it official on Tuesday. Taking the interim tag off the man who stepped in for the fired Michael Laudrup, Swans rewarded Garry Monk for achieving the sole objective: Premier League survival. Now, with a new, three-year deal, the 35-year-old will get a chance to address the deficiencies that placed Swansea in peril in the first place, with the club having seen enough to convince it the long-time Swan deserves the permanent job.

“We are delighted to confirm Garry as our new first-team manager,” club chairman Huw Jenkins said, via the team’s site. “As a Board of Directors we carefully considered our next step because it was a very important decision for our football club. But having gone through that process, we unanimously agreed that the timing was right for Garry to be offered the job on a permanent basis.

“As we look forward to our fourth season in the Premier League, we all agreed that we needed to get back to basics and reinforce the principles that have brought us success in recent years. ”

There may be no person more familiar with those basics, as they relate to Swans, than Monk. The recently-retired defender spent 10 seasons with the club, his 226 appearances covering all four levels of the Football League. He’s been with the team through the tenures of Roberto Martinez, Paulo Sousa, and Brendan Rodgers — managers who’ve helped shape the current incarnation of the club. The principles they instilled (particularly, Martinez and Rodgers) likely make up those basics, with the man who served as team captain since the club’s time in League Two the natural successor to their legacies.

“It is the proudest moment of my career,” Monk said, via the club’s website. “I’m honoured the club thinks so highly of me to give me this chance. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime – and one I fully intend to take. ”

“I have been at this football club for 10 years and I know what Swansea City means to everyone in the community – and beyond. That’s what will drive me on to produce a successful team that plays attractive and attacking football. I want everyone connected to this club to be proud of the team.”

When Swansea hired Michael Laudrup, the motivation seemed to be ambition: hiring a big name who had experience in La Liga and with a big club in Russia. For a club aspiring to continue its climb, it seemed like the right, progressive move.

Hiring Monk seems to be about consolidation. Rather than bringing in somebody from the outside to fit a pattern of growth, Swansea’s going to stick to what they know. They’re going to return to what worked. They’re going to trust that the principles that fueled their rise  can continue to push the club forward.

WATCH: Walcott compares Wenger speech to Pacino

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What if Tony D’Amato of American football was Antoine Dumond of the world’s game?

Theo Walcott says Arsene Wenger inspired him to make that comparison after a recent pregame speech, a fiery number that convinced the Arsenal attacker how badly his manager wanted to win the Premier League.

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Speaking to Arsenal TV for a series of questions on former and current teammates — and Wenger — Walcott shared a pretty funny tidbit:

“The manager did a speech the other day. I won’t be able to do the speech because it was that good.”

“It genuinely reminded me of the film ‘Any Given Sunday’. I actually said that to him, and I was little bit embarrassed.’ You remind me of that film, that speech,’ I didn’t know if he had seen the film.

“Just showing the passion and how hard, and how long it’s been as well. He really wants it, like all of his players.”

Here’s the thing, though: Walcott doesn’t give us the answer as to whether Wenger has seen “Any Given Sunday”. And how about you, Theo, do you see yourself in Willie Beamon or Cap Rooney?

CAS rejects Serbia’s challenge to Kosovo joining UEFA

Supporters of Kosovo's national soccer team raise Kosovo flag during their international friendly soccer match at Adem Jashari Stadium in Mitrovica, Kosovo on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Kosovo host Turkey for their second friendly match of the country's national football team. Turkey won the match 6-1. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Serbian soccer federation’s appeal against Kosovo joining UEFA has been rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The court ruled that Kosovo met the standard of UEFA entry rules because it is “recognized by the majority of the United Nations member states as an `independent state.”‘

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Serbia argued that Kosovo, which joined European soccer’s governing body last May despite not being a U.N. member, should be blocked.

CAS decided that because “there is no formal recognition of countries by the U.N.,” then acceptance of Kosovo’s statehood by most countries was valid for the soccer application.

European soccer federations voted 28-24 in favor of Kosovo’s entry to UEFA after Serbia led opposition to its former province.

Serbia and its allies, including Russia, have not recognized Kosovo since the Balkan republic declared independence in 2008.

UEFA’s decision led to Kosovo joining FIFA one week later, and being fast-tracked into a 2018 World Cup qualifying group.

Still, Ukraine hosted Kosovo in neutral Poland in October, because its government also does not recognize Kosovo’s statehood.

Dempsey returns to training after second heart procedure

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 28:  Clint Dempsey #2 of MLS All-Stars chases after the ball up field against the Arsenal FC during the second half of the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium on July 28, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Many were concerned about USMNT and Seattle Sounders attacker Clint Dempsey‘s future when he underwent a pair of heart procedures in 2016.

The 33-year-old Dempsey took another step to allay those fears when he hit the pitch for Seattle’s first day of preseason camp.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

The Sounders won the 2016 MLS Cup despite the absence of Dempsey, and his return would further strengthen the side. General manager Garth Lagerwey said Dempsey won’t be rushed, but could be nearing a return.

EFL Cup second legs preview: Liverpool, Hull City aim for comebacks

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Divock Origi of Liverpool battles with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (L) and Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Manchester United and Southampton are 90 minutes from Wembley Stadium.

Hull City and Liverpool would prefer to change that.

After first legs a fortnight ago, the EFL Cup semifinals play out on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Feb. 26’s final at Wembley.

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First up is Southampton‘s trip to Liverpool, with the Saints nursing a 1-0 lead from the first leg at St. Mary’s. The Wednesday kickoff sees Saints hoping the Reds’ poor run of form will continue at Anfield. Liverpool has one win 2017, and that was an FA Cup replay victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Southampton boss Claude Puel knows the Reds will be ornery:

“We know Liverpool. They lost against Swansea at home, and I am sure they will want to react against us, but it’s important to keep all of our focus about our play.

“We know they are fantastic, a great team, with great players, but you saw in the first leg we have the ability to produce a strong game against them. It will be important to make a strong game – a perfect game – I think.”

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United got a terrific result in the first leg at Old Trafford, scoring twice and holding Hull City from scooping up a valuable road goal. Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini scored the goals in the 2-0 win, but the KC Stadium will be rocking on Thursday as the Tigers look to reverse the result.

United midfielder Michael Carrick says the Red Devils will play as if they are starting from scratch:

“It’s definitely not over, we all know that. We are telling ourselves that. I think we’ll be pretty much full strength and will approach the game like it’s a 0-0 and starting from scratch.

“It’s dangerous when you go in there defending a lead to tell yourself this result will do or that result will do, or we can afford to do this or that.”