Eagles ready to make return to state playoffs By Warren RappleyeaStaff Writer By Warren Rappleyea Staff Writer After opening with a pair of wins, the Middletown High School South boys’ soccer team appears well on its way to bettering last fall’s 7-11 mark. The Eagles opened with a 3-0 win over Howell and then downed Raritan, 5-0, on Saturday. Middletown South’s defense was superb, allowing just five shots on goal over the two matches. “This year the team has a completely different attitude and we’re more disciplined,” said second-year coach Sean Reid. The defense is led by sophomore goalie Brian Hessinger. Although Hessinger was not particularly busy during the first two games he made the saves when he needed to and is coming off of an excellent pre-season, Reid said. Junior sweeper Ryan Leahey is a key defender, along with senior John Butler and sophomores Chris Caldaro and Anthony Testa, a returnee who became a mainstay last season. Junior co-captain Tom Gray, who scored 19 goals and 15 assists a year ago, leads the offense from the midfield. Another junior, Bill Snyder, anchors the middle, with senior Eric Doehler and sophomore Tyler Kimball also starting at midfield. Up front senior co-captain Mike Campbell and versatile sophomore Thomas Campbell are the strikers. Both players scored five goals a year ago, while shuttling between different positions. “We have more people who can score this season and that should open the field up for Tom Gray,” Reid said. “That will also take some of the pressure off of our defense.” The Eagles have a deep bench as well. Seniors Harrison Fox, Joe Grosso and Pete Graffia, along with sophomore Mike Sica, provide depth up front. Junior Dave Kumm and sophomore Pete Farrari play the middle, and sophomore Chris Tromboli is a fullback/forward. Middletown South will be without junior midfielder Mike Cunningham, who is expected to be out at least until mid-October after suffering a broken clavicle during a scrimmage. “We miss Mike, but this team still has a lot of talent,” Reid said. “We want to compete for the conference championship and our other goal is to make the state tournament.” The Eagles were scheduled to return to the field yesterday, when they were to host Monmouth Regional. Their next game is tomorrow when they travel to Long Branch. From there, they will take on Red Bank Regional in Little Silver on Saturday.
Middletown Southgirls take fifth inGroup III championships By tim morrisStaff Writer Middletown South girls take fifth in Group III championships By tim morris Staff Writer Matawan’s Erison Hurtault ripped the Group II 400-meter field apart Sunday at the NJSIAA Group State Championships. The Husky senior won by a whopping 1.05 seconds, a huge margin for the 400 meters, with his 50.55 clocking over the 200-meter track at Princeton University. Hurtault then came back to anchor the Huskies to a second state championship in the 1,600-meter relay. Hurtault will now go for the state title at the Meet of Champions, also in Princeton, on Feb. 16. Hurtault will be the No. 2 seed at the MOC behind Group IV winner Lance Wigfall of South Plainfield, who was the only sprinter at the championship to get under 50 seconds with his 49.43. Wigfall in the defending champion. Hurtault has been one of the most improved 400-meter runners. He was sixth at the state Group II meet last year and 13th at the MOC. The Husky has been dabbling in the 800 meters as well this winter and finished seventh in 2:03.35. In the 1,600-meter relay, the Huskies nipped Manchester Township, 3:33.16-3:33.57 behind Hurtault. George Bruck ran the opening leg for Matawan, with Anthony Mapp and Neil Walling running the second and third legs. Led by their two state titles, the Huskies finished second to Manchester Township for the team championship, 27-24. Walid Ali picked up Matawan’s other points with a fourth place in the high jump (6-0). The state title went to Holy Cross’ Michael Murawski at 6-6. The first six individuals plus ties in each event qualified for the MOC. Raritan’s Chris Simone qualified in the 55-meter high hurdles, placing sixth (8.34), and Holmdel’s Leo Vignone took sixth in the 3,200 (10:05.79). In Group III, Middletown South’s Chris Sole picked up a third place in the high jump at 6-4. In this competition, Mike Morrison of Willingboro scaled a meet record 7-1. Middletown South’s distance standouts, Tina Morrison, Kolleen McCauley and Jamie Liberti, have extended their indoor track and field seasons to the MOC. The trio combined for 18 points Sunday at the Group III state championships to put the Eagles in fifth place. Willingboro won the team title with 67 points. The first six individuals plus ties in each event qualified for the MOC. Seniors Morrison (2:20.70) and McCauley (2:23.22) ran second and fifth behind the meet record 2:14.26 of Katy Trotter in the 800 meters. It was the fastest that either has run this year. Liberti, a junior, ran her best 1,600 meters clocking 5:14.95 in finishing second to Willingboro’s Brittnee Bynoe (5:12.26). Holmdel sprinter Owananewmi Briggs was third in the 55-meter dash (7.53). In Group II, St. John Vianney’s Jackie Christie was fifth in the high jump (5-0). The Group IV championships were held Jan. 19 at Princeton and area athletes also qualified for the MOC there, led by Middletown North’s Ron Bruer, who threw 49-3 to place fourth in the shot put behind Steve DiGiorgio of Bayonne’s 51-10. Christian Brothers Academy’s 1,600-meter relay team of Matthew Treharne, Dan McLeod, Paul Discepola and Chris Vuono ran a 3:31.58 to place fourth.
Fish On Return of winter stalls early striped bass fishing In search of the first striped bass of the year was not as easy as I thought. Opening day was Thursday, March 1. I searched as far south as Exit 58 on the Garden State Parkway. Bloodworms were the bait of choice, which was almost impossible to even find. One angler said he did get some at Scotts Bait and Tackle in Tuckerton. Clams were the second choice, and they, too, were tough to find – one angler improvised and went to Costco and picked up what they had. Water temps were in the low 30s – still a little too chilly for bass. I did speak to a few gentlemen who released a few shorts (under 28 inches) off the Route 9 bridge at the Forked River Power Plant discharge canal. They did mention if you fish on the West side of the Route 9 bridge, you are required to have a freshwater fishing license, so keep that in mind. Offshore: The Gambler out of Point Pleasant is still pursuing the deep water ling and hake offshore. The Gambler did come into some nice size sea bass and ling as well as a few mackerel in the mix. You have to applaud the crew; they worked it the entire winter, producing good numbers all along, including the Norma K lll, who had a good winter as well. Thanks, guys, for curing cabin fever for those of us with the need to fish. 2007 fluke regulations are in: The state Marine Fisheries Council voted Thursday for a 108-day fluke season, which will allow anglers to fish on both Memorial Day and Labor Day this year. Over 100 people attended the meeting at the Atlantic County library in Absecon, and, after an hour and 10 minutes of discussion, the decision was made. Fluke season is opening May 26 and running through Sept. 10 with an eight-fish possession limit and a 17-inch minimum size. Good luck and fish on. Every week I ask readers to send in their favorite local recipes to share with the rest of us. At the end of the year, I will post my three favorite recipes. Once we post them, you, the readers, will decide who will become the first annual “Fish on with Ron – Local Seafood Recipe Champ.” Please send your recipe and/or fishing report to me at firstname.lastname@example.org First place will receive their favorite fishing picture reproduced on a 2-by-2-foot gallery-wrapped canvas photo. If you need a centerpiece over your fireplace, this is it. Remember, your recipe should also tell us where you’re from and how you came about creating your culinary masterpiece. Our next recipe is very interesting; it comes from a fan reading the article on www.gmnews.com. Laura Mooney is from across the bay, a Staten Island native for over 50 years, and she read “Fish On” while at a friend’s house, Kevin Mckee of Middletown. Since she doesn’t receive the paper, she simply accesses it on the Internet. She claims to hold many blue-ribbon cooking awards and also enjoys any cooking contests she can enter. Laura was nice enough to e-mail this original masterpiece to share with us that can go with just about any fish you wish. Get the net: 5 out of 5 nets Comment: very diverse, healthy, excellent presentation, original Difficulty: simple Steamed fish with olives and capers Parchment paper can be used to cook fish. It creates steam and makes any thick fillet taste awesome Chilean sea bass Olive oil Olives Capers Cherry tomatoes Fresh parsley Fresh garlic Place fish on parchment paper (comes in box like waxed paper, available in supermarkets). Meanwhile, mix good virgin olive oil with sliced black olives, a handful of capers, about 10 cherry tomatoes, some minced garlic and chopped fresh parsley. Add all these ingredients to fish and seal up the paper. Place it on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. You can use any thick fillet for this. Chef: Laura Mooney, Staten Island, N.Y.
Lessee would ‘raze and level courts’ in exchange for 8- to 10-week academy BYMIKE DAVIS Staff Writer HOLMDEL — Township officials are looking to bring the Holmdel Tennis Center up to par.At its March 1 meeting, the Holmdel Township Committee unanimously voted to introduce an ordinance authorizing the lease of the Holmdel Tennis Center.“We got an alternative approach which would involve … just refurbishing the courts themselves and conducting a tennis academy for a period of eight to 10 weeks, and that would be the trade-off,” Township Administrator Andrew Katz said at the meeting.“They would do that work, and take care of just the courts. I think it’s a worthwhile approach to consider.“It’s kind of a no-lose for the township because even if it turns out that it doesn’t work out in the long run, the courts go back up,” he continued.The Holmdel Tennis Center consists of eight har-tru (clay) courts and is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, the township’s website states. Katz said significant work is needed at the Bailey Lane facility, such as repairing lighting and infrastructure.“They’re going to raze and level the courts, redo them with the correct playing material and fix the irrigation system,” Katz explained.By having the large amount of repairs done by a contractor, the township can then look at ways of making the tennis center a year-round facility, such as constructing an indoor bubble on the property. “From there you’d probably be able to build into the larger. It’d be one chunk of expense that somebody wouldn’t have to do,” Katz said.The bidder who approached the township intends to see a bubble come to fruition, he explained.“What they saw … was the opportunity that, if they’re not able to do the full thing, what could they do, with the idea of being able to build toward that,” he said.“They’re going to invest in fixing up the courts, but it gives them a year or two to see what the market really is and [a year-round club] is absolutely their intent. That’s what they do elsewhere. They do the full-blown operation.”Katz said the township had looked at leasing the club in previous years, but potential tenants could not weigh the cost of repairs to operation.“There’s been some efforts over the last couple of years to get a private concern to take over the tennis club, refurbish it and make it a going operation,” he said.“They tend to fall short because the businesses that are trying to do it … what happens is, the cost of refurbishing makes it so they just can’t quite get the financing. They can’t project a revenue stream that’s strong enough.”Katz estimated that the winning bidder would likely be awarded a one-year contract, with an option for a second year, under that arrangement.“A bidder can propose a premium, offer to start … [looking] at their costs and say, ‘For the first year and a half, I’m just recovering my costs, but in the second year I can afford to pay this, so I’ll offer this to be the winning bidder,” he explained.Apublic hearing on the ordinance will be held at the committee’s March 22 meeting. Contact Mike Davis at email@example.com.
By Ian RansomWrecking ball Mitchell Johnson laid further scars on England’s battered psyche with a stunning seven-wicket haul that skittled the tourists for 172 and put Australia in complete control of the second Ashes test after the third day on Saturday.The red-hot Queenslander unleashed a withering spell of pace bowling at Adelaide Oval to take three wickets in his second over after lunch, then cleaned up the tail before tea to leave England 199 runs short of avoiding the follow-on.With the luxury of a further two days’ play, Australia captain Michael Clarke sent his batsmen in to give his bowlers a rest and fired by an unbeaten 83 from opener David Warner, they pushed the lead to a mammoth 530 runs.Australia will make England sweat in the field until close to lunch on day four, which is forecast to be a sweltering 32 degrees Celsius, before their bowlers push for the win on a pitch showing ample turn and reverse swing.“We want to get them back out there in the field and keep cooking them a bit,” Johnson said.“It’s probably going to be a day five wicket out there tomorrow. You could see the amount of spin the two spinners out there were getting and that variable bounce has definitely come in and they got the ball to reverse really early, so it’s good signs for us.”No team has ever made more than 418 in a fourth innings chase, and England, improbably, are staring at a 2-0 deficit in the five-test series ahead of a trip to Johnson’s favourite hunting ground in Perth where England have not won since 1978.Only months after returning home from England in ignominy after a third straight Ashes defeat, Australia’s turnaround has been little short of astonishing, and the principal architect has been the man selectors snubbed for the northern series.Following nine wickets and a man-of-the-match performance to rout England in the series-opener in Brisbane, Johnson’s 7-40 was the best Ashes haul in over 100 years at Adelaide Oval and featured two hat-trick chances that ultimately went begging.Needing 371 to avoid the follow-on, England staggered to 116-4 at lunch, then walked into a fire storm after the break as Johnson kicked off one of the great spells of Ashes bowling by removing test debutant Ben Stokes leg before wicket for one, confirmed on review after initially given not out.Four balls later, Johnson had Matt Prior caught behind by fellow wicketkeeper Brad Haddin for a duck to continue his miserable series then sent the crowd of 36,000 into delirium when he bowled Stuart Broad with the next ball.Graeme Swann fended away the hat-trick ball, but the fired-up Johnson later took the spinner’s wicket when he slashed an edge to the slips where Clarke clinched a brilliant catch.Johnson then bowled paceman James Anderson for another first-ball duck, pegging back his middle-stump for a second attempt at a hat-trick.Playing a lone hand for England, Ian Bell survived the hat-trick ball and a review for lbw to raise his half-century with an elegant cut through point for four, and number 11 batsman Monty Panesar showed courage under fire to help his partner add 37 for the 10th wicket.Johnson eventually bowled Panesar for two to bring an early tea and leave Bell stranded on 72 and England reeling.England paceman James Anderson captured two quick wickets in opener Chris Rogers and Shane Watson but Warner and Clarke steadied the ship with a 61-run partnership.Clarke was bowled by Panesar for 22 with a delivery that turned sharply and would give plenty of encouragement to Australia’s spinner Nathan Lyon. Steven Smith (23 not out) added another 67 with Warner before stumps.England have not surpassed 179 runs in an innings in the series and Bell could barely conceal his displeasure with his team mates.“Obviously it’s another disappointing performance, really,” he told reporters through gritted teeth. “You can’t afford in test matches, certainly the first innings you have, to get bowled out for under 200 if you’re going to win anything.“In that dressing room, there’s going to be no excuses. It’s just not good enough.“We need to make sure we put that right, and we’ll have an opportunity second innings to at least show people we’re going to show some fight.”
By Martyn HermanGermany’s Marcel Kittel produced another show of raw power to win his second stage of this year’s Tour de France on Monday, storming down The Mall for a comfortable victory.With his Giant-Shimano team setting a searing pace at the front of the peloton as it snaked around some of London’s most well-known landmarks, Kittel burst to the line at the end of the 155-km third stage, a flat run from Cambridge.Slovakia’s Peter Sagan was second with Australian Mark Renshaw, Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s main sprinter in the absence of Mark Cavendish who crashed out on Saturday, third.While Kittel tightened his early grip on the sprinters’ green jersey, Italian Vincenzo Nibali will wear the yellow one as the race leaves Britain for France after one of the most memorable starts in its history.Nibali, one of the biggest threats to Britain’s reigning champion Chris Froome, finished comfortably in the pack to retain his two-second lead.Despite losing nearly 20 minutes in the overall standings during a brutal day of climbing in Yorkshire on Sunday, Kittel crosses the Channel with fond memories of Britain, having also won a bunch sprint in Harrogate on Saturday.With the chimes of Big Ben ringing out and thousands of people watching, many of them office workers enjoying extended lunch breaks, Kittel’s performance just around the corner from Buckingham Palace was impeccable.“My job was 500 metres long but the biggest fight was already over,” the 26-year-old, who took his total of Tour stage wins to six, said of the work of his team mates.“Because of the rain, everybody was scared. But I didn’t let myself be disturbed and it’s a great day for us.”After two dramatic days in the spectacular scenery of Yorkshire, Monday’s stage was a chance for the peloton to take stock and conserve some energy as the race meandered around the Essex countryside in pleasant sunshine.There were still incidents, though, and 2010 winner Andy Schleck crashed on the approaches to the city.“I was very unlucky, it was not even raining,” the Luxembourg rider, who is two minutes 24 seconds behind the race leader, said. “One guy moved from the left to the right and I could not really avoid him and went straight down at high speed.“I lost a bit of skin on the road. On the right side, on the arm, the hip and the ribs. I guess it was my own fault.”Frenchman Jean-Marc Bideau, who was in the sole breakaway with Czech Jan Barta, won the day’s intermediate sprint.They were both reeled in as the race reached central London.The Tour moves into France on Tuesday with a 163.5-km stage from Le Touquet to Lille.
By Rosie OgdenWALES Rally GB has announced that motorsport superstar Ari Vatanen, who is still remembered fondly by motor sport fans on the island for his exploits on the Cyprus Rally, which he won in 1979, will be the official ‘Rally Legend’ at next month’s concluding round of the FIA World Rally Championship (13-16 November).The ‘Rally Legend’ is a new annual honour being introduced in 2014 to celebrate the outstanding achievements of a past hero.The widely-admired Vatanen won the UK’s round of the WRC exactly 30 years ago in 1984 when competing in one of the revered Group B Peugeot 205 T16s, and he will be in attendance throughout this year’s rally to show his support for what he considers to be a second home event.“It goes without saying that it is a great honour to be the first person selected as Wales Rally GB’s ‘Rally Legend’,” admitted the 62-year-old Scandinavian, whose fearless swashbuckling style won over millions of followers right around the globe. “It proves the links I have with this event and this country are reciprocal. I have always had a very good relationship with the British people and the British fans. They made me feel at home and I hope I put on a good show for them. I have always been well received here and I am really looking forward to coming again in November.”Wales Rally GB managing director Ben Taylor said he was thrilled that Ari had agreed to be celebrated in this special way: “Wales Rally GB is known as the ‘Rally of Legends’ and I can’t think of a better example of legendary status than Ari to be the first past champion to enter what is going to become our very own ‘hall of fame’,” he enthused. “What’s more, the timing is perfect as it’s exactly 30 years since that terrific WRC victory here in the UK. I am sure that new and old fans will be delighted to catch up with him during what’s going to be a fabulous event.”Vatanen has been hugely popular with UK rally fans ever since he won the British Rally Championship in 1976 and 1980, wowing thousands of spectators in a splendidly sideways Ford Escort RS1800.The second of those British titles came with co-driver David Richards, (who sat alongside Vatanen on the Cyprus Rally), the man who later became chairman of both Aston Martin and Prodrive. Vatanen and Richards also combined in a Ford to win the coveted FIA World Rally Championship title in 1981.“I really loved the Escort,” he recalled. “I felt I could do anything with that car; it was the glove for my hands. I was still quite young and I was afraid of nothing. I was invincible a little bit.“Everything came to me, it all felt so natural and I would have that Escort completely sideways with the BDA engine making such a beautiful sound. There were so many near misses and if I could watch and see the people, then I would see them with their mouths open, simply gasping at what they’d witnessed. And if they could see me, my face behind my balaclava, they would have seen me smiling and laughing. I loved that car and I loved to compete in Britain.”Having joined forces with new co-driver Terry Harryman, Vatanen signed to compete for the ambitious new Peugeot factory team in 1984 winning five straight WRC rounds behind the wheel of the immensely powerful, mid-engined 205 T16, including a memorable victory in the fearsome British forests.“It wasn’t without its dramas as we rolled the car in Wales,” he grinned. “I thought it was finished; we seemed to have landed in some sort of swamp. Terrible. But then some people came and suddenly we could get the car over again. We could go again.“That win meant a lot,” he continued, “Having lived in Britain and competed in the British Championship so many times, it was special for me. Typical Vatanen, we almost threw it away, but in the end we earned it.”The following season he had an even bigger accident in Argentina which, although he survived, effectively ended his career at the pinnacle of the sport. He never won another WRC event but did add the classic Pikes Peak Hill Climb to his victory roster, go on to compete in more than 100 WRC events as well as several Paris-Dakar adventures. Even so, he still waxes lyrical about his beloved British fans and British forests.“Those legendary stages in Wales – particularly in November – have a special place I my heart,” he confessed. “I’m not sure why the British fans liked me so much; perhaps it was my blonde hair but it was probably my driving style. People love you if you’re fast and spectacular like Colin McRae was. Also, of course, if you make a few mistakes people can relate to you more – in real life we all blot our copybooks! What’s more I’ve always loved human contact. Cars are fantastic but you can’t speak to them.”There will be plenty of opportunities for fans to share memories with Ari on Wales Rally GB. As the event’s official ‘Rally Legend’, he will be fulfilling a number of different roles. He will be present at both the Ceremonial Start at Eirias Stadium and Ceremonial Finish in Llandudno. In between, Vatanen will be meeting hospitality guests and fans at the Sweet Lamb stage on Friday and both Chirk Castle and Kinmel Park.
By Gabriela BaczynskaScandal-plagued FIFA postponed the bidding for the right to host the 2026 World Cup on Wednesday and embarked on the search to find a replacement for outgoing President Sepp Blatter.FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said during an event in Russia that it would be “nonsense” to start the bidding process for the tournament for the time being.Meanwhile, FIFA said its executive committee would hold an extraordinary meeting in July to discuss “various dates options” for the Congress which will elect Blatter’s replacement.The FBI are investigating bribery and corruption at FIFA, including scrutiny of how football’s governing body awarded World Cup hosting rights to Russia, which won the bidding for 2018, and Qatar, which is due to host the finals in 2022.The extent of the turmoil engulfing FIFA was apparent in an emotional outburst by the usually composed Valcke, who said he was being destroyed by the media in his native France and gave a theatrical defence of his decision to sign off on a $10 million payment at the centre of the U.S. bribery investigation.Waving his pen in front of journalists, a visibly impatient Valcke asked: “You want me to take this pen and to hit my head and say ‘Hey! I have been stupid, I should have asked many more questions?”“You have decided that after Blatter I have to be next head to be cut?” Valcke said at a news conference in the Russian city of Samara, one of the 2018 host venues.Blatter tendered his resignation on June 2, four days after having been re-elected for a fifth term.He wants to remain in office until his successor is elected in order to carry out reforms at FIFA. But there have been widespread calls for him to step down at once given the gravity of the crisis facing the 111-year-old organisation.His announcement came less than a week after Swiss police staged a dawn raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich and arrested several officials on corruption charges filed by U.S. prosecutors in New York.On the 2026 World Cup, Valcke said: “Due to the situation, I think it’s nonsense to start any bidding process for the time being. It will be postponed.”The decision on who hosts the 2026 finals had been due to be made in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said he saw no threat to Russia hosting the Cup in 2018 and its bid was in line with the law.Valcke, Blatter’s right-hand man, said Russia’s plans were on track and there had been nothing in its bid to suggest it was not in line with the regulations.In Paris, UEFA president Michel Platini, holding his first news conference since Blatter’s resignation, welcomed the decision to postpone the bidding for 2026.“It’s normal. There was a process that was launched for a vote in 2017,” said Platini, who has become a leading critic of Blatter and FIFA. “There is no leadership at the moment, so it’s normal that it’s suspended. It’s good.”The German Football Association meanwhile came up with a radical plan for reform of FIFA that is likely to be resisted by many of FIFA’s members outside Europe.Its president, Wolfgang Niersbach, said Blatter was not doing himself or football any favours by staying on.Niersbach demanded a clean-up at FIFA, with an end to corruption and greater transparency. He also said FIFA’s voting structure should be based on the “size and sporting relevance” of its member federations.At present, each of FIFA’s 209 members has a vote, giving soccer powerhouses Germany and Brazil the same influence as tiny Pacific islands.On Blatter’s replacement, FIFA would not confirm a report by the BBC that the election would take place on December 16 in Zurich.Last week, Domenico Scala, head of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee and the man responsible for overseeing the election, said it could take place any time between December and March. Four months’ notice are needed for a presidential election to be held.“It requires an extraordinary Executive Committee that needs to confirm a date and agenda for the extraordinary elective Congress,” a FIFA spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.“This extraordinary Executive Committee will convene in July, the precise date to be confirmed within this week. For this extraordinary elective Congress (to elect Blatter’s successor) there are currently various date options for discussion.”Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, who lost to Blatter in the election, is tipped as a possible candidate while Chung Mong-joon, the billionaire scion of South Korea’s Hyundai conglomerate, is also weighing up a bid.In an early indication that the FIFA scandal is likely to have wider legal repercussions, the Dutch city of Eindhoven said it was considering suing FIFA to recover 1.5 million euros spent on the Dutch/Belgian bid for the 2018 Cup.A lawsuit could follow if the campaign is found to have been tainted by corruption, said spokeswoman Corine van der Putten.
By Simon Jennings Louis van Gaal does “nothing” as Manchester United manager but earns a lot because the most important job for a top-level coach is delegating responsibilities to his staff.Speaking at the League Managers Association (LMA) annual management conference, Van Gaal touched upon his philosophy, describing himself as an innovator who pioneered modern coaching methods.“Feedback is very important… but I have to say that because when I don’t say that then I’m arrogant,” Van Gaal was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.“I am also an innovator and I have changed a lot in terms of preparing for games. I was the first coach who was with a notebook. Now everybody is with a notebook. I was the first coach who used video,” he added.“I’m from a time where you (the manager) did everything. Now I’m the manager and I have a sports science department, I have a scouting department, I have a medical department, I have assistant managers, I have assistant coaches.“I don’t do anything… nothing! I delegate. I delegate and I earn a lot of money.”Former United midfielder Paul Scholes has been one of Van Gaal’s most vocal critics this season, accusing the team of lacking creativity and playing “boring” football.United are fourth in the table, two points adrift of leaders Manchester City, and went through a run of three back-to-back goalless draws in October.They have scored fewer league goals (17) than any side in the top six but also boast the meanest defence, having conceded just eight in the league.Van Gaal defended himself against claims that his team cannot play attacking football, citing his time in charge of Dutch side Ajax Amsterdam as proof that his teams learn how to attack once they absorb the basic tenets of his philosophy.“We (Ajax) won everything with very attacking football. I don’t say it too much because otherwise Mr Scholes will be very angry!” the Dutchman said with a laugh.“When you see my press conferences, I’m discussing a lot my philosophy.“It takes always a little bit of time to transfer the message. I’m training in the brain – a lot of things in the brain – because football is not a sport of legs, it is a sport of brain, and tactics. So, that takes a lot of time.”
The official countdown to this year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics began on Thursday when the torch was lit at the site of the ancient Games, with organisers hoping it will shift attention away from Brazil’s political and financial turmoil.On a glorious spring day with the sun burning hot above the ancient stadium in Olympia, an actress playing a high priestess lit the torch from the rays of the sun at the temple of Hera, using a parabolic mirror.Greek gymnastics world champion Lefteris Petrounias started the domestic relay after receiving the flame and Brazilian double Olympic volleyball champion Giovane Gavio was due to be the second runner.A refugee will also carry the torch during the Greek leg of the relay before Brazilian organisers receive it in a handover at the Panathenian stadium on April 27 in Athens, site of the first modern Olympics in 1896.Brazil will start its relay on May 3 in the capital Brasilia with the first of 12,000 runners, carrying it through 300 cities and towns in the 26 Brazilian states and ending in Rio on the day of the opening ceremony.Preparations for the first Games in South America, which run from August 5-21, have been plagued by problems and a shortage of cash for organisers as the country is experiencing its worst recession in decades.“The torch lighting brings a message that can and will unite our dear Brazil,” Rio Games chief Carlos Nuzman said in his speech.Brazil President Dilma Rousseff, who cancelled her trip to ancient Olympia, is facing impeachment and federal prosecutors are investigating Olympic projects for corruption.The crisis has paralysed the country’s ability to revive its economy from recession in the midst of a huge corruption scandal involving state-run oil firm Petrobras.“Despite the difficulties that Brazil is facing today, the flame is a timeless reminder that we are all part of the same humanity,” International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said.“Rio de Janeiro… will provide a spectacular to showcase the best of the human spirit. In just a few weeks the Brazilian people will enthusiastically welcome the world and amaze us with their joy of life and their passion for sport,” Bach said.Thursday’s ceremony marked the 80-year anniversary since the relay, which did not exist in the ancient Greek Olympics, was introduced by the Nazi organisers of the 1936 Berlin Games.