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….

Dortmund hammer Freiburg but gain no ground on Bayern

Patrick Seeger/dpa via AP
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Borussia Dortmund moved back within one point of Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich with a 4-0 win against Freiburg on Sunday.

[ LA LIGA: Real Madrid win to stay within striking distance of 2nd ]

Dortmund went ahead in the 11th minute when 19-year-old Jadon Sancho scored from the six-yard box after a run by Marco Reus. It was Sancho’s 11th Bundesliga goal this season.

Dortmund added three after the interval with goals from Reus, Mario Gotze and Paco Alcacer with a penalty.

[ MORE: PSG crowned Ligue 1 champions with five games left ]

In the day’s other game, Hertha Berlin was held 0-0 at home by bottom side Hannover, which ended an eight-game losing streak.

On Saturday, Bayern beat Werder Bremen 1-0.

With four rounds left, Bayern leads with 70 points, Dortmund has 69 and Leipzig is third with 61.

La Liga: Real Madrid win to stay within striking distance of 2nd

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: PSG crowned Ligue 1 champions with five games left ]

Real Madrid 3-0 Athletic Bilbao

Karim Benzema bagged a hat trick (WATCH HERE) — his 19th, 20th and 21st goals of the league season (second-most, 12 behind Lionel Messi) — to send Real Madrid to a comfortable victory over Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu. The result also keeps Los Blancos within four points of capital rivals Atletico Madrid in something of a battle for second place behind runaway leaders Barcelona.

Benzema has scored 10 goals in his last seven La Liga appearances, a run in which Madrid have complied a 5W-1D-1L record. Benzema failed to score in Zinedine Zidane’s re-debut as Madrid manager, but has scored eight goals in five games since.

Sunday’s game marked the 300th league appearance for midfielder and 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric in a Real Madrid shirt.

Getafe 3-0 SevillaWATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Sevilla’s hopes of returning to the UEFA Champions League following a one-year hiatus took a serious hit on Sunday, as Pablo Machin’s side was hammered by Getafe, the side which now occupies fourth place, two points ahead of them. Getafe continue to enjoy their meteoric rise through the Spanish ranks, as they were competing in the second division this time two years ago.

Two of the three goals the scored on Sunday came from the penalty spot, as Jaime Mata and Jorge Molina converted in the 35th and 45th+4′, respectively. Molina completed the scoring eight minutes into the second half.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-2 Valencia
Levante 2-2 Espanyol
Villarreal 2-1 Leganes

PSG wins French league after 2nd-place Lille fails to win

AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain clinched the French league title without kicking a ball as second-place Lille could only draw 0-0 at Toulouse on Sunday.

Lille had to win to have any chance of catching PSG, but PSG is now 16 points ahead of its only rival with five matches left after this weekend.

After failing to clinch the title in the past three matches, drawing one and losing two, PSG can celebrate the eighth title in its history ahead of its home game against Monaco later Sunday.

It is PSG’s sixth title in the last seven seasons, with only Monaco in 2017 breaking PSG’s dominance.

Although the title was long expected from a side scoring 92 goals in 32 games so far, it took longer than it should have.

PSG could have won it three games ago, but drew 2-2 at home to Strasbourg when a win would have clinched it.

Then PSG needed a draw at Lille last Sunday, only to lose 5-1 in the club’s heaviest defeat since Qatari investors QSI took charge of the club in June 2011.

A win away to Nantes would have sufficed, too, on Wednesday night only for PSG to lose 3-2 .

The 10 goals conceded in those three games made for PSG’s worst defensive record during a three-game spell since 1985.

Also Sunday, striker Kalifa Coulibaly scored twice as 13th-place Nantes beat 17th-place Amiens 3-2.

Later, Saint-Etienne needed a draw at Reims to move above Marseille and into fourth place.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Klopp hails Liverpool mettle in face of “proper banana skin”

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Jurgen Klopp knows that more than a few clubs would’ve slipped up Sunday at Cardiff City, given the hosts’ desperation and the visitors’ midweek triumph, but his Reds stood up to the test.

[ RECAP: Cardiff 0-2 Liverpool ]

Liverpool beat Cardiff City 2-0, scoring a pair of second half goals to go back atop the Premier League before Manchester City plays its final match-in-hand of the season in a midweek Manchester Derby.

“It was prepared to be a proper banana skin and we knew that, the boys were unbelievable,” Klopp said after his team kept a second consecutive clean sheet.

He insists that he’s not feeling pressure as Liverpool may need to win every one of its matches and get help to capture its first Premier League crown.

“I only know about me and I didn’t feel it (the pressure) we have to do it like we do it. We cannot change it. The boys try really with all they have, we only speak about the things we have to do. Their attitude is outstanding and it’s a tough season but a very positive one as well.”

Liverpool has two banana skins left, a visit from Huddersfield and trip to Newcastle, closing out the league slate with Wolves at Anfield.