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Solskjaer’s arrival at Man United has led to more goals by in-form forwards

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Manchester United are not just winning games, they are doing so by scoring freely; the team that netted just 11 times in seven games before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho as manager has scored 17 goals in the six played since then.

But while once shot-shy forwards have been praised — most often by their new boss — issues remain. Poor form saw Romelu Lukaku lose his place in the team; injuries mean Alexis Sanchez has played only 27 minutes of the five league games on Solskjaer’s watch; Jesse Lingard, who hit two in the Norwegian’s managerial debut at Cardiff, has not scored since.

Therefore, this is not a finely tuned machine, but rather one that is gradually cranking back into action, with some parts performing better than others. Across the board, though, confidence is up.nike cheap nfl jerseys

Marcus Rashford has become the main striker, vindicating Solskjaer’s faith by scoring in four of five league games having managed three in 14 and becoming deeply unhappy under Mourinho, when he wasn’t used in his favoured central role.10

Anthony Martial, meanwhile, has also started regularly and his mood is better than at the start of the season when he wanted to leave. His fellow Parisian Paul Pogba has scored four, set up four and been United’s best player since Solskjaer took charge, which bodes well for the upcoming Champions League last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain.

Andy Cole, who spent six years at the club and was a teammate of Solskjaer, still lives in Manchester, watches every game and considers himself a United fan. As a scorer of 121 goals while at Old Trafford, he is well qualified to evaluate the current crop of strikers.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“Romelu has got to find his mojo again,” Cole says of Lukaku. “He has come off the bench and scored two in two, but that mojo comes from confidence. I watched him this season under Jose and I could tell, as a former centre-forward myself, that he was low on confidence. The first thing which starts to go is your movement. Romelu wasn’t moving.

“You stop making the runs because you stop believing in yourself. I’ve been in that position and I’d watch him making hand gestures about where he wanted the ball to go, but psychologically you don’t really want the ball. It’s all about confidence and when his returns he’ll start scoring.”

Rams QB Jared Goff is really funny … if you’re paying attention

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There’s sometimes a smirk or raised eyebrow. And it’s often coupled with a sly, dry barb launched at a reporter or aimed at a teammate.

Take Week 14, when a reporter asked, innocuously enough, how would the Rams quarterback prepare to play a defense that had intercepted a league-high 21 passes?

“Try to throw it to our guys,” Goff deadpanned.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The response drew a chuckle from the small media contingent, and that smirk appeared on Goff’s face. It was another unexpected zinger from Goff, who is routinely dull in his delivery but chooses his spots wisely.

Goff’s humor is dry and nonchalant. He’ll deliver a one-liner, then continue like it never happened. If you’re not paying attention, or simply aren’t around Goff frequently, his jokes might go undetected.9

“He’s really good at poking the bear,” Rams receiver Cooper Kupp said. “If he can find something that kind of can get you, he’ll sit there as innocently as possible and just little pokes here and there, just to see how much of a rise he can get out of you.”

It’s also part of a budding, and almost unexpected, boldness off the field, where the Northern California native has shown more of a willingness to engage his personality as he adapts to shouldering the responsibilities of leading the NFC’s No. 2 seed against the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round Saturday (8:15 p.m. ET, Fox).nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“As time goes on you become more comfortable in your role and I think that’s no different with [being a leader],” said Goff, who received an $18.5 million signing bonus as a rookie. “Just being able to be the leader I want to be, the teammate I want to be, the person I want to be, and just continue to mature and grow and be the best I can be every day.”

In his third season as a pro, and his second under coach Sean McVay, Goff has improved his timing, accuracy and decision-making. The proof is in his results. Goff has passed for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions, while completing 64.9 percent of his throws. He also has rushed for a touchdown.

Solanke transfer, like Neymar deal before it, could permanently distort the transfer market

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This may be the only time you will see Neymar’s and Dominic Solanke’s names appear in the same sentence, but the two forwards actually have something in common: Both men may have distorted the transfer market with their fees.

At £198 million, Neymar’s world-record move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2017 was a moment of financial folly that sent shockwaves through the game. The transfer was over £100m more than the previous record of £89.3m — set by Paul Pogba’s 2016 switch from Juventus to Manchester United — and it triggered a domino effect of similarly inflated deals. PSG went on to negotiate a £166m deal for Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe, following an initial 12-month loan period. Barcelona dipped into their Neymar cash by spending a potential £135m on Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele and then, six months later, splashed out a further £142m on Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

In a game flush with money at the top end of the market, those transfer fees were perhaps an inevitable consequence of the riches flowing through Europe’s biggest clubs. In fairness to the players involved — even Dembele and Mbappe, teenagers at the time of their big moves — they had all shone in the Champions League before making their moves. Even Bayern’s repeated bids for Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi, an 18-year-old with high potential, look reasonable given the Bundesliga giant’s need for young talent, as does Chelsea spending nearly £60m for Christian Pulisic, a player with a track record in Germany and a skill set that will help the Blues over the long term.8

Yet Bournemouth’s move for Solanke feels significant in a different sense. It’s not unusual to see teams completing surprisingly expensive deals, but the Cherries’ £19m move for a player with one Premier League goal and just five starts since his Chelsea debut in 2014 feels significant for all the wrong reasons.nfl nike jersey cheap

Solanke cost Bournemouth less than a tenth of Neymar’s world record fee but it’s still a major outlay for a club of their stature; it could yet rise to an eventual £25m if the former Chelsea youngster is able to trigger £6m worth of incentivised add-ons.

The deal means that Solanke becomes the third-most-expensive English striker of all time behind Andy Carroll and Wayne Rooney. Carroll ultimately flopped at Liverpool after his £35m move from Newcastle in January 2011, but he had at least proven himself in the Premier League at St James’ Park — Carroll had scored 33 goals in 90 league games for Newcastle — prior to his transfer. Rooney, who was just 18 when he completed a £30m move to United from Everton in August 2004, was a star for club and country before swapping Goodison Park for Old Trafford. He was also clearly a prodigious talent.

However, Solanke makes the top three on the list having scored just one Premier League goal during his time at Liverpool and Chelsea. The 21-year-old started five league games in a season-and-a-half under Jurgen Klopp at Anfield (also making 16 substitute appearances) and did not appear at all in the Champions League. At Chelsea, he never kicked a ball in the Premier League and became a symbol of the club’s failure to promote its highly rated youth-team prospects.

Siakam, Leonard lead Raptors to a huge road win in Milwaukee

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The Milwaukee Bucks’ campaign to clinch the regular-season series against the Raptors fell short on Saturday. The Raptors were able to hold off Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 43 points and 18 rebounds, including three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and pull out a 123-116 win after trailing by as many as 10 points in the first half.

“We had a double-digit lead,” Antetokounmpo said after the game. “We gave it away. Then, we came back in the third quarter. We didn’t play hard. We didn’t move the ball. Not rotating defensively.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

It was the first time the Bucks had lost at home to an Eastern Conference team this season and the first time they lost to the Raptors; Milwaukee won the first two matchups.
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After the game, a shirtless Antetokounmpo soaked his feet in a large ice bucket and stared at his iPhone for upwards of 20 minutes — his routine after losses. No Bucks player has had a 40-point, 15-rebound game since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975, but still the loss nagged at him. Every few minutes, he would look up and mention a certain play to Thon Maker before returning to scrolling.

“This night is not going to change who we are,” Antetokounmpo said. “We still feel like we are one of the best teams in the NBA.“nfl cheap jerseys nike

The Bucks and the Fiserv Forum crowd held up their end of what could become a playoffs rivalry. Fans donning white, green and yellow Bucks jerseys stood shoulder to shoulder in Fiserv Forum’s standing-room-only sections, craning their necks to watch Eric Bledsoe steals and Antetokounmpo dunks over their Eastern Conference foe. They vehemently booed Toronto center Serge Ibaka after he blocked an attempted dunk from Antetokounmpo.
In the first matchup between the Bucks and Raptors, Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard did not play. It was a back-to-back for Toronto, and Antetokounmpo was in the league’s concussion protocol. Backup power forward Ersan Ilyasova led seven Bucks in double figures with 19 points in a 124-109 October win in Milwaukee. The second time the teams saw each other, Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry missed all five shots in a 34-minute, scoreless performance that saw the Bucks escape with a 104-99 December road win.

In this third matchup, the Raptors were without Lowry (back) and backup center Jonas Valanciunas (dislocated thumb). Milwaukee maintained control of the game for the first quarter, but by halftime, their once-double-digit lead had been whittled down to just one point. Sterling Brown’s 3-pointer ignited an 8-0 run to bring the Bucks back within four before a quick five points from Siakam pushed the Raptors’ lead back to nine. Toronto shot 56 percent from the field after Milwaukee took a 47-37 lead with 5:41 left in the first half.

Warriors, Kings set 3-point record in ‘incredible offensive display’

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The Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings combined for an NBA-record 41 3-pointers during Saturday night’s 127-123 Warriors win at Golden 1 Center.

It marked the first game in NBA history in which both teams made at least 20 3-pointers; the Warriors went 21-for-47, and the Kings went 20-for-36.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr was happy with the result and said his team knows that shooting from distance has become the new normal around the league.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The Warriors and Kings eclipsed the previous mark of 40 3-pointers, set in a February 2018 game between the Minnesota Timberwolves (19) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (21).9

Warriors star Kevin Durant said he did not believe the 3-point barrage the league has seen in recent years will continue much longer.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“It’s fast,” Durant said of the current pace. “I’d rather play inside the 3-point line, but you got to adapt. I think a lot of players have adapted their games and changed how they play. But I don’t see this lasting too much longer.”

Why not?

“Just the volume of 3s,” Durant said. “The way the game is played, pick-up style. It will cease here in a second, but I think a lot of guys are just adjusting their games to the times. It’s fun for the fans, it’s fun for us at times. But it’s also tough to watch and tough to play against. But hey, that’s what we signed up for.”

The Kings, whose 20 3s set a franchise record, fell short down the stretch in a game that had 18 lead changes.

On fast track: Lamar Jackson set to become youngest QB to start in playoffs

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Now, Jackson not only is suiting up for a postseason game in his eighth career start, he’s making NFL history: He will become the youngest quarterback ever to start an NFL playoff game.

The fact he will be the first quarterback to start a playoff game before his 22nd birthday has seemed to impress everyone except Jackson himself.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“I’m here to play football. I was 21 all year,” Jackson said. “So, it’s another game for me.”

Jackson will start Sunday’s wild-card game between the Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers at 21 years, 364 days. He will surpass Bernie Kosar, who was 22 years, 40 days old when he started for the Cleveland Browns and threw his first touchdown pass in a 1985 postseason game to Ozzie Newsome (who drafted Jackson 33 years later).

Young quarterbacks have recorded mixed success in the postseason. Since 2001, only four quarterbacks 23 years old and under have won a playoff game (Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Flacco and Mark Sanchez). Over that span, quarterbacks 23 and younger have a 10-11 record (.476) in the postseason.9

Jackson shows his youthful exuberance on the field, from dancing in the huddle to somersaulting into the end zone. But the Ravens don’t think too much about Jackson’s age. Players and coaches have praised Jackson for his poise in going 6-1 as a starter this season.

“Lamar’s maturity has impressed me greatly,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Players see it when he walks around. He’s very comfortable with who he is. That’s a sign of maturity, for sure.”

In comparison, Jackson will be making his eighth career start, while Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will be starting in his 10th postseason game.

When Jackson and Rivers, 37, square off, it will be the third-largest age gap between starting quarterbacks for an NFL postseason game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Jackson was only 7 years old when Rivers threw his first NFL pass, against the Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 2, 2005.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

But Jackson appears unnerved by his whirlwind season. At this time last year, Jackson was playing in the TaxSlayer Bowl. He’s now three wins from reaching the Super Bowl.

“It’s just a name — ‘the playoffs,'” Jackson said. “You’re trying to get the championship now. It was for us to get in it, and we’re in it now, so we want the big thing. We want the big thing now.”

Popovich exercising patience as Spurs navigate uneven start to season

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So when the embarrassing San Antonio Spurs losses stacked early in December the way the sweaty jerseys piled on the floor of the locker room after their 108-101 setback Saturday at the hands of the Houston Rockets, the organization seemed almost flippant in not displaying even the slightest hint of frustration.

Step 2 in this process involves the players justifying Popovich’s faith by continuing to make strides toward achieving continuity through trust in one another and familiarity from time spent together on and off the court. Despite the loss to the Rockets, the Spurs believe they’re getting there.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

With 10 new players on the roster (counting two-way players), San Antonio appears to be trending toward its consistency of old.

“We’ve gotten better for sure,” LaMarcus Aldridge said after finishing with 18 points and six rebounds. “We’re playing a better brand of basketball. I think we’ve learned how to play with each other.”8

Until the third quarter of Saturday’s game, that certainly appeared to be the case. San Antonio built an early seven-point lead in the second quarter, and led at intermission 43-41 despite shooting just 38.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from range.

But Houston changed the complexion of the game in the third quarter with a high-powered display from long range. Houston knocked down nine 3-pointers in the third quarter, which ranked as its most long-range connections of any quarter so far this season. The Rockets drained 69.2 percent of those attempts, outscoring San Antonio 43-26 in the quarter to go up 84-69 at the buzzer on Gary Clark’s 25-footer. Houston jumped out to an 18-9 run over the first six minutes of the quarter.

Eric Gordon then handed Houston its largest lead of the night (17 points) just 15 seconds into the fourth quarter on a driving layup.

Still, San Antonio found a way to cut through the deficit to go up 97-96 with 3:03 left to play on a Rudy Gay 3-pointer off an assist from DeMar DeRozan.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

“We stayed in it and fought,” said DeRozan, who led the Spurs with 28 points and eight assists. “We had a chance. It came down to a couple of rebounds. I thought we could’ve taken advantage of the one-point lead. We fought. We’ve got to be happy about that. But we can’t have the start in third quarter like we had.”

The Spurs also can’t afford to be outworked on the boards the way they were in this one. Houston held the rebounding edge 58-43, but where that showed up most was in second-chance scoring. The Rockets scored 26 second-chance points to San Antonio’s seven.

How Germany helped flip the NFC Pro Bowl fan voting

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San Francisco 49ers linebacker Mark Nzeocha isn’t a household name. At least not in America.

But in his home country of Germany, Nzeocha’s name is starting to ring out like the most famous German professional athlete in American sports: legendary Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

For proof of Nzeocha’s blossoming fame in his home country, look at fan voting for this year’s Pro Bowl. Amid the usual suspects topping the ballot, there sits Nzeocha as the leading vote-getter in the NFC for the special-teams spot.

Fan voting ended Thursday with Nzeocha racking up 183,150 votes, most among all special-teamers. According to the NFL, roughly 80 percent (146,520) of Nzeocha’s votes came from Germany. Nzeocha had support from all over Germany, not just his tiny home municipality of Neusitz. Unless, of course, every person in Neusitz voted for Nzeocha roughly 71 times.9

“Honestly, it means the world,” Nzeocha said. “The football community in Germany is so small and it’s such a tight-knit group, it’s just like if one of us makes it, everyone is behind him. Which is super, super cool to see. … It’s still a new sport in Germany and the interest is growing, which is really cool to see. I guess they have shown all the Sunday games on free TV now and more and more people are really getting into the sport, which honestly can only help the sport in Germany and it helps the NFL, too, just expanding the platform. It’s a great thing.”

According to Motzkus, the broadcast for each week’s games featured reports on Nzeocha and the network’s website featured information on Nzeocha and Pro Bowl voting. Beyond that, RanSport and NFL Deutschland made regular use of their social media channels, putting out tweets that could be retweeted by fans, which would count as a vote for Nzeocha. One such tweet from RanSport on Nov. 29 garnered 805 retweets, good for as many votes.

“Mark gets the support of the whole football nation in Germany,” Motzkus said. “We are very proud to have a player in the best football league of the world. He has a lot of supporters in his homeland.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Among them is the German fan organization that specifically supports the 49ers, known as “The Niners Empire Germany.” That group also did extensive work to get out the vote for Nzeocha.

Orioles looking to new manager Brandon Hyde to help lead rebuild

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Hyde takes over for Buck Showalter, who was fired after Baltimore finished 47-115 — the worst record in the majors. This will be Hyde’s first stint as a major league manager.

Hyde, 45, was selected by general manager Mike Elias, who began an extensive search for Showalter’s replacement after being hired last month to replace Dan Duquette.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” Elias said of Hyde.

Hyde worked as Chicago’s bench coach this year under manager Joe Maddon. He was in the second of three seasons as Cubs first-base coach when the team won the World Series in 2016.9
Prior to joining the Cubs, Hyde spent nine seasons in the Miami Marlins organization. He was Miami’s bench coach from June 2010 through the end of the 2011 season.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and major league coaching — most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a world champion — has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process,” Elias said.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Elias and Hyde will seek to develop a team that shifted into rebuild mode last July under Duquette, who traded away many of the team’s stars — most notably Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman — for 15 prospects and international bonus pool money in moves that cut payroll from $151 million to $136 million.

On the day he was introduced by Baltimore, Elias spoke about the significance of landing the right manager to shape the Orioles into a team that can be competitive in the AL East.

“This is an important hire,” Elias said on Nov. 19. “… It’s not something you rush. We want to get the right person for this time.”

Cubs tender contract to Addison Russell amid 40-game domestic violence ban

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The Cubs on Friday tendered a contract to suspended shortstop Addison Russell, who is eligible for arbitration.

Russell, 25, will miss the first month of the season after accepting a 40-game suspension late in 2018 after his ex-wife Melisa Reidy accused him of domestic abuse in a blog post. From the start, the Cubs have said they want to see Russell get help while also being a positive force on the issue.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Although the Cubs tendered him a contract for next year, it still doesn’t mean Russell will suit up for them again. The move before Friday’s deadline simply prevented Russell, who made $4.3 million last season, from becoming a free agent.

“While this decision leaves the door open for Addison to later make an impact for us on the field, it does not represent the finish line nor rubber-stamp his future as a Cub,” team president Theo Epstein said in a statement. “It does however reflect our support for him as long as he continues to make progress.”10

The Cubs also tendered six other players: Kris Bryant, Kyle Hendricks, Carl Edwards Jr, Mike Montgomery, Kyle Schwarber and Javy Baez

They nontendered Ronald Torreyes, whom they just traded for on Wednesday, as well as pitchers Justin Hancock and Allan Webster.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Russell issued a statement Friday offering his “heartfelt apology” to his family, his ex-wife and the team for “letting them down” with his past behavior.

“Since accepting my suspension, I’ve had time to reflect on my past behavior and think about the next steps I need to take to grow as a person,” Russell said. “… I am just in the early stages of this process. It is work that goes far beyond being a baseball player — it goes to my core values of being the best family man, partner, and teammate that I can be, and giving back to the community and the less fortunate.

“While there is a lot of work ahead for me to earn back the trust of the Cubs fans, my teammates, and the entire organization, it’s work that I am 110 percent committed to doing.”