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Klinsmann quits as Hertha Berlin boss

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Former USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann has put up a post on social media to explain why he will step down as Hertha Berlin’s manager, effective immediately, after just 10 weeks in charge.

Hertha’s assistant coach Alexander Nouri will take charge for their trip to last place Paderborn this weekend.

Klinsmann, 55, took charge of the Bundesliga club on a short-term basis in late November and has led them to three wins from his nine games in charge with three defeats, two of which came against title-chasing Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

In a post on his personal Facebook page on Tuesday, Klinsmann explained why he will no longer be the coach at Hertha and as USMNT fans are accustomed to, he didn’t hold back.

“In this way, I say a big thank you to all players, fans, spectators, supervisors and staff of Hertha BSC for the support, the many encounters and the exchange in the past ten weeks. This time was extremely exciting for me and brought many interesting new insights. The Club and the city have grown even stronger to my heart.

“At the end of November, we met the wish of the club leadership with a highly competent team and helped it in a difficult time. We were on a very good way in the relatively short time, thanks to the support of many people despite mostly difficult games, we now have six points distance from the relegation place. I am firmly convinced that Hertha will create the goal.

“As a head coach, however, I also need the trust of the people acting for this task, which is not yet done. Especially in the relegation fight, unity, cohesion and focus on the essentials are the most important elements. If they are not guaranteed, I can’t take advantage of my potential as a trainer and can’t live up to my responsibility either. After long consideration, I’ve come to the decision to give up my position as head coach and return to my original long-term role on the supervisory board. The followers, the players and the employees have grown to my heart during this time and that’s why I will continue to fever with Hertha. I’m still looking forward to many encounters in the city or in the stadium.”

This reasoning is a little strange because Hertha were Europe’s biggest spenders in the January window after splashing out $83 million as they signed midfielder Lucas Tousart from Lyon for $27.5 million (then loaned him back right away), striker Krzysztof Piatek from AC Milan for $24.2 million and the duo of Matheus Cunha and Santiago Ascacibar as the Berlin club also spent heavily in the summer before Klinsmann arrived.

Given Klinsmann’s role as an advisor to Hertha, the club where his son Jonathan is currently a goalkeeper (out on loan at St. Gallen this season) and the team his father supported, it seems like he will still be heavily involved at the club but will take a back seat. Many who know Klinsmann best believe he is much better suited to a technical director role than a coach and majority investor Lars Windhorst will want him to stick around.

This was Klinsmann’s first coaching job since he was fired by as USMNT head coach in November 2016 and it has gone fairly well as he’s steadied the ship at Hertha and pushed them away from the relegation zone, even if they did cough up a 2-0 lead in the German Cup to lose 3-2 to Schalke last week.

The German national team legend primarily leaves in California and has often talked about how comfortable his life is there and there were some other issues with him not having his coaching licenses to hand.

All in all it seemed like Klinsmann was doing Hertha a big favor rather than the other way around.

We all know by now that it is Klinsmann’s way or the highway and his departure is probably more about Hertha’s hierarchy not wanting to do things his way rather than their huge spending in the transfer market to upgrade the playing squad. It would have been fun to see how it all played out and it will be intriguing to see if Klinsmann will return to management in the coming months as he’s dipped his toes back in the water with a smidgen of success.

Fernandes scores first goal, says Ronaldo backed Manchester United move

Bruno Fernandes Ronaldo
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It’s probably not a surprise that a young Portuguese player would fancy Manchester United given the heroics of Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford early his career.

Bruno Fernandes admits that those images danced through his head well before he signed with the Red Devils in January.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It’s also not a shock that United would turn to their former player for a take on the playmaker before buying him from Sporting Lisbon.

Fernandes says he’s grateful that CR7 endorsed BF18. From Sky Sports:

“I know some people asked Cristiano what he thought of me and what I was like as a player and a person,” Fernandes said. “I know he spoke highly of me and gave me a good reference, so I sent him a message after to thank him for his kind words.”

Fernandes has 19 caps and two goals for Portugal, while Ronaldo has a few more with 164 and 99.

He now has a goal and an assist in four appearances for United. Ronaldo finished with 118 goals and 69 assists in 292 appearances for the Red Devils.

Here’s the finish:

Eden Hazard suffers fracture ahead of Man City in UCL, El Clasico

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Eden Hazard is set to miss the Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League first leg against Man City with a broken fibula.

Hazard had only returned to the lineup for two matches following a three-month absence with an ankle injury.

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The 29-year-old has made just 15 appearances for Real since arriving in a big-money move from Chelsea, scoring once with five assists.

He has never appeared in less than 30 league matches over the course of his career, five times missing one or zero matches.

Of course, all of his absences show that Real is very comfortable playing and winning without Hazard. Zinedine Zidane’s men lost Sunday to drop behind Barcelona in La Liga, but that was just its second loss of the league season.

Real will be taxed in depth like its rivals, with Wednesday’s visit from Man City followed by an El Clasico at the Bernabeu on March 1. Barcelona hosts Napoli on Tuesday.

Whether you like the playmaker or despise him, there must be some sense of sympathy for his latest ailments (even if Man City and Barca fans will likely offer a Jerry Seinfeld-esque, “That’s a shame”).

Watch Live: Manchester United, Wolves host bottom three battlers

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A pair of Premier League basement dwellers face stiff tests in their bids to win another season in the top flight.

Manchester United hosts Watford on NBCSN while Wolves welcome Norwich City on CNBC as both home sides aim to improve the health of their top four hopes in 9 a.m. ET kickoffs.

[ WATCH: Man Utd-Watford | Wolves-Norwich ]

Lineups notes from both matches:

LINEUPS

Manchester United

Watford


Wolves

Norwich City

Three Serie A matches suspended due to virus deaths in Italy

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ROME (AP) Three Serie A soccer matches scheduled for Sunday in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto were suspended late Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the virus from China.

On orders from the Italian government, the games called off were: Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria, Atalanta vs. Sassuolo and Hellas Verona vs. Cagliari.

Three other matches in Genoa, Turin and Rome on Sunday are going ahead as scheduled.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown on Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the coronavirus from China, and a growing cluster of cases with no direct links to the origin of the outbreak abroad.

“The government is working on urgent measures to decisively confront and contain the cases of coronavirus contagion,” read a letter from Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora to Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago shortly before midnight local time on Saturday. “Those measures also include the sports world in order to prevent risks and to better take care of the health of those involved in the events and competition.

“Following measures taken by the cabinet for protective reasons and maximum precaution, on orders of the government I’m asking you to suspend all sports events of every level and discipline planned for the Lombardy and Veneto regions on Sunday.”

The secondary contagions prompted local authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, businesses and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and Masses.

The mayor of Milan, Italy’s business capital and the regional capital of Lombardy, shuttered public offices.

A 78-year-old man infected with the virus died in Veneto. A postmortem on a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy came back positive, though it wasn’t clear if illness from the virus caused her death.

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

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf