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LEICESTER CITY VS SPORTING BRAGA

The foxes have impressed in the last few games and there was no letting up on Thursday night. What a pass from Tielemans in the build up the third goal from fellow Belgian Praet. Iheanacho, deputizing for the rested Vardy struck a brace to stake a claim for a starting berth but it will take some doing to depose Vardy in the form he is in. Braga on the other hand barely threatened Schmeichel’s goal. With competition for the top 4 places in the Premiership promising to be at an all time high, this competition may provide a route for Leicester into the Champions League. They need to sort out their consistency issues particularly after Christmas. Their over reliance on goals from Vardy may come back to bite them and may possibly need to dip into January market to find a player who can supplement him. No offence to Iheanacho and Slimani of course.

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PARIS MASTERS HIGHLIGHTS

Standout result on Thursday was Stan Wawrinka beating the in form Russian Andrey Rublev in 3 sets. Stan the man recovered impressively from losing the first set for just 1 game showing his younger upstart he has a lot in his 35 year old self.The key to his victory was winning his efficient conversion of break points(3/5) to Rublev’s (3/6). There was not much in it but it proved to be telling. Rafa Nadal celebrated a milestone 1000th win on the tour with a straight sets win over Australian Thompson. Thompson impressed me with my shot of the day when he was 3-2 up in the second at 0-15. Nadal is now ONLY behind Jimmy Connors(USA), Roger Federer(SUI) AND Ivan Lendl(CZE). He looked much settled after a shaky last match with Lopez.

MANCHESTER UNITED TAKEOVER:WHY THE QATAR BID MAKES SENSE

The Red Devils are up for sale. The unpopularity of the Glazer family is well documented and it seems at last they are willing to let go of their pot of gold. In a world which now has 2668 billionaires, suitors haven’t been scarce at all, in fact bids have come from everywhere with the main ones being Sir Jim Ratcliffe,¬†Elliott Investment Management(US FUND MANAGERS)and Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar the once I believe should be the one. The irony is that the one that makes sense is now the most controversial. Where is the controversy coming from? The Sheikh is a former politician in Qatar , having served as Prime Minister. That political connection has sent the sports washing conspiracy geeks on overdrive. That doesn’t outweigh the benefits of such a deal. Part of the gripe the United fans had with the Glazers was their penchant of declaring dividend(even in trying times such as the coronavirus pandemic) when it makes sense to reinvest the profits into the club so that funds are available for transfer market. Qatari owners of other clubs in soccer have been frugal when it comes to paying themselves at the expense of the club. Take the QSi consortium that owns PSG who poured over 1.4billion US dollars on players. The human rights and political issues are issues yes but for the good of the club, fans should be willing to accept that risk. Those socio-environmental issues have been so loudly presented by social activists(LGBTIAS+,etc) not only concerning this bid but other sports in which Middle Eastern power figures are involved such that FIFA is mulling introducing a Sustainability Manager to handle these issues.

What must be considered is that the cultures and religions of the West differs a lot from the rest of the world ,such as that tolerance and acceptance is needed if progress is to be achieved. Sir Jim Ratcliffe is the fan favorite and the emotional choice. It doesn’t necessarily mean his bid is bad. He is a life long United fan and will certainly have their long term interests at heart in his decision making. Here is where his bid falls short. He only bid 69% of the club which means he has to deal with whoever gets the other 31%. As you know too many cooks tend to spoil the broth, different agendas and motives may clash and guess who suffers? The Sheikh is bidding for the whole team 100%. On paper, at least my shiny paper, the Elliott I.G bid looks the weakest. Their bid comes in late which gives the impression that its hurried and unorganized. However Fund Managers have the unique advantage of having a large pool of wells to drink form, that is they have large number of big clients who have invested huge funds with them so the tap might not get dry if my drift is got. However like the Ratcliffe bid , these big clients may not want their money invested in risky projects(yes some don’t think investing in a sports team is a wise investment), like what happened with the pandemic, misalignment of wages with earnings which sends teams into administration. So putting aside the “human rights” issue, the strongest bid is from the Sheikh and United fans should excited when(oops if) he is successful.

ROTTERDAM OPEN:TSITSIPAS VS SINNER

Who was up for Stefanos vs Jannik part two for 2023? These guys are the next generation of superstars in men’s tennis, they produced a thriller in Melbourne last month , could they repeat? How disappointed was I from the Greek. Look when it comes to Stefanos expect the ups and downs in a season a stock price. The next hurdle will be to find that consistency , that unfortunately goes for Sinner as well , if the two are to land that illusive grand slam. Watch 1-1 first set deuce on the Stefanos racquet. That Stefanos’s forehand is class hasn’t been in question. An area of his game that doesn’t receive the necessary praise is his net play. The point was set up nicely by a forehand cross court although the smash volley wasn’t the easiest because of the height Sinner got on the backhand. Sinner edged out the first set more or less because the second serve accuracy wasn’t all there from Tsitsipas, just on the right side of 50%. Check out 4-4(30-40) break point. That nonchalant serve was too central and had no purchase on it to trouble the Italian. That’s the pressure a second serve puts on you, you be on double fault jeopardy such that you need a stronger return game to cover for a weak second serve. I believe that is Stefanos Achilles heel.

Stefanos’s telling stat for the match. No break point opportunities created. That is most telling because it shows how Stefanos was waiting for Sinner to make the mistake rather than go on the front foot especially when he got to 0-30,15-30 or 30-30 on the Italian’s racquet. Yes, in tennis there are two types of player, the timid ones are content with avoiding mistakes on their own , playing safe returns and hope for the unforced. The aggressive ones the Rogers and Djokovics attack almost from the off. Check out first point 0-30 Sinner on the Tsitsipas racquet. Stefanos heeds the aggression call by attacking the net but the lob was as close to perfection from Sinner as you can get. Point of the match, 2-1 Sinner (15-0). Sinner clearly targeting the backhand side of Stefanos the Italian having done his homework. The Greek’s backhand has improved in recent years(although there are areas of improvement especially footwork), what cost him the point here is his poor net coverage. He didn’t go central instead anticipating another return to the backhand side. Yes, the best man won this match no doubt. Jannik will face backhand master Stan Wawrinka in the last 8 today in another humdinger of a match in Rotterdam. The tournament keeps them coming.

UFC 284:MAKHACHEV VS VOLKANOVSKI

Nice to see the UFC down under for a change. The main event was magnificent to watch. Home arena advantage for Aussie Alex Volkanovski couldn’t push him to victory over the reigning Lightweight champ Islam Makhachev. Alex is also a featherweight UFC champ this made a fascinating contest, champ vs champ. A fight too close to call? Not necessarily. The fact that the judges saw it as a win for Islam after he was outpunched by an over 11% margin shows that judges were putting undue weight on takedowns. The bias stems from the fact that Volk didn’t have a single one all fight. I would like to think judges are former fighters as such they had their own style of fighting. I am willing to bet all of them were grapplers in their hey day. Apportioning appropriate weight to the moves is the best way to judge a fight. Volk countered the takedown attempts quite admirably from my point of view. Check out the first round , Alex spread his legs to get low center of gravity, getting close to the fence just in case Islam manages to get enough power.

Let’s face it anything that involves someone judging a performance, be it Idol, figure skating or MMA has an element of favoritism that the judge puts on that decision, especially in a close fight as this. Here is the scorecard as it was. White judge scored it 48-47, Green Judge 49-46, Yellow 48-47. Let’s focus on the Green judge who had the highest margin of victory for Islam. I must say it would be unfair to heap him with all the criticism when the other judges also gave it to Islam. What did Green judge see in round 3 that other judges didn’t see? He saw a weak round from Volk in the sense of a failed takedown attempt and failing to land any significant blows. Check out at 02:37 left, Volk was stuck on the fence for close to a minute under the waist from Islam before Alex countered with punches. It is funny no one is talking about the first two rounds which were scored unanimously against the Aussie which is were he lost the fight. It is a message to him to improve his arsenal, to work on the mat skills , work on getting the TKO not just land punches and hope for a decision.

CANADIAN WOMEN’S SOCCER NATIONAL TEAM FLAWED PAY ARGUMENT

The weirdest thing about the equal pay or equal anything argument to be broad, is that it is never about being rich and poor. It is more about jealousy and gluttony. The Canadian Women’s soccer national team has joined the bandwagon of liberal irrationality. The CWNT which did so well at the Tokyo 2020, have threatened strike action against their FA over what they deem unfair pay compared to their male counterparts. First, a little economics basics shall we. From my basic economics, labor is paid to PRODUCE goods and is paid in proportion to what value the employer perceives the worker. Let’s compare the two teams, the women’s and man’s national teams. The WNT’s calendar program is as thin as rail compared to the men’s. In other words they produce men get to work a lot more. The basis for the CWNT is that they “deserve” equal or more pay than their gender counterparts. It is born out of a socialist ideal that we are all equal no matter what we achieve individually. But is this reality? This is the reality. Equality is part of civilization. We can never be equal because , let’s face it, we have different DNA so John is bound to be more intelligent and more enterprising than me or vice versa.

This is to say that in this imperfect world, there are people who work harder than the next person (and smarter) so they are bound to accumulate wealth more than you and me. That is why Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest paid soccer player on the planet, that is why Rihanna(Super Bowl LVII here we go)is the highest paid musician in the world and Bill Gates can pay a third world country’s GDP and have change left. They can do things that most of us can’t phantom to do in our lifetime. So until CWNT can prove that they can do better than their male counterparts, they might as well be masked robbers trying to jack the Canadian FA. Money isn’t an infinite resource. Budgets have to be done, allocation of funds according to the greatest need. By forcing the Canadian FA to go above their budget forces them to take desperate measures. One of which is to take money from worthy causes such as junior teams or funding for developmental programs. All this to satisfy certain egos and make someone feel “important”. The Canadian players haven’t thought through this one at all. The players even if they manage to win their extortion war will let loose an uncontrollable spiral of events. The men are possibly going to demand more for their efforts, even the junior teams can demand more for appearances and a vicious cycle ensues. I hope they back down and get back to do what they do best, putting their country first and making them proud on the pitch.

TO SHOWBOAT OR NOT TO, THAT IS THE QUESTION

Like everything else, sports can take a political and divided approach to life. Depending on who you support or who you are affiliated to , you can be either pro showmanship or pro sportsmanship. It is either or, no middle ground from my observation. My focus today is on showboating, with Vinicius Junior the Brazilian attacker of Real Madrid being my main. Who is the most fouled man in soccer? According to this season’s stats BY BIG FIVE LEAGUE, Neymar is the man, Premier League it’s Wilf Zaha(with the number of times Jack Grealish hits the deck this is an upset) and finally La Liga it’s Vini. One school of thought is that Vini gets kicked a lot because he shows off like a clown therefore he baits his opponents to do so. Another says he is expressing himself artistically (like a Brazilian should), the client(the fans) enjoys the show everybody is happy. Here is my take. When you go to the boxing ring expect one of many things. Expect a punch to the face, expect more of them and expect high probability of a swollen face. When you go onto the pitch expect to be kicked or fouled. How many times doesn’t really matter, you paid for such. In a not so politically correct way I say man up.

Like everything in life nowadays , when all else fails don’t seek the all mighty, blame it on racism. In a twist, Real Madrid has come out publicly and accused the criticizing public of racism towards him saying it’s a La Liga problem. I get it the us against them narrative works wonders when you are under the cosh. The victim is always held in high regards and always given the sympathy. Is racism there? Yes. Is it the extent to which it is being put in the limelight the reality? Not on your life. Not condoning racist behavior. The main reason fans attack Vini in that way is that they view him as disrespectful when he does his party tricks. The fact that the Spanish authorities couldn’t identify the perpetrators should be clue that the problem isn’t as pronounced as they would like to make it out to be. Russell Westbrook, the new Utah baller, is known for not taking any prisoners when it comes to showboating. Last year, he got angry with Darius Bazley¬†of the OKC who robbed him of the ball and dunked it unguarded in the final secs of a game Russ’s team the Lakers blew a 26 point lead.”There are some things you just don’t do in sports” is what Russ said and right on he was. It’s about the old R.E.S.P.E.C.T Aretha style. Your opponent may be down but he is a professional just like you and you can also have a bad day in the office. Kind of like that annoying office guy you work with who always wants to put himself over by pointing to your mistakes. Showboating happens in a lot of sports, like tennis. So to showboat or not? Don’t. It’s dangerous to your health, physical and mental and creates enemies.