Has Guardiola lost the Midas touch?

first_imgLONDON (AP):In one dugout at Etihad Stadium tomorrow will be a manager enjoying a six-match winning streak with his second-place team. In the other, a manager reeling from the biggest loss of his career and down in fifth place.Few at the start of the English Premier League would have predicted it would be Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino with the edge over struggling Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola.But the top of the standings is confounding expectations in the second half of the season. City host Tottenham with Guardiola’s side trailing the second-place London club by three points and leaders Chelsea by 10 points.Having already ruled City out of the title race, Guardiola is now in a scrap just to secure Champions League qualification by finishing in the top four as he endures a difficult first season in English football.It was against Tottenham in early October when Guardiola experienced his first setback at City, with Pochettino ending the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach’s winning league start. Last weekend, he was humbled by a 4-0 loss at Everton, a career low for the Champions League-winning coach.Has Guardiola lost the Midas touch?”The coach has to adapt with the players, the players have to adapt with the coach,” Eric Abidal, who played under Guardiola at Barcelona, told The Associated Press yesterday. “Tactically, and the methodology of Pep Guardiola is methodology from Barcelona … he needs time. They will win trophies.”City racked up six successive wins in the league before losing 2-0 at Tottenham on October 2. Since then City have dropped 18 points, winning seven of their 14 games as the shortcomings of the brittle defence and shaky goalkeeper Claudio Bravo have been exposed.City’s attacking options have been reinforced with Gabriel Jesus completing his move from Palmeiras in time to feature against Tottenham.And for the 19-year-old Jesus, Guardiola played a big part in deciding his next destination.”He was the only manager who called me, so I was very pleased,” Jesus said. “One thing I’ve noticed is that, like me, he is mad about football. He lives football 24 hours a day. I’m like that, too.”Tottenham could move six points clear of City by completing the double over Guardiola’s side.And for Pochettino, it’s not just about securing a second successive season in the Champions League, but delivering the north London club’s first domestic title since 1961.”We have to try to show that we can be real contenders for the Premier League, that’s the real challenge,” Pochettino said. “It’s more important that we can show ourselves, rather than show Manchester City.”We need to show ourselves we are capable of dealing with that pressure, and to try to win games to achieve big things.”Tottenham have received more positive news on defender Jan Vertonghen’s ankle injury. After initial fears the centre back could be out for three months, Tottenham now expect him back in six weeks.AT THE BOTTOMTwo of the teams in the relegation zone have tricky trips to top-four opposition.Paul Clement takes Swansea to third-place Liverpool tomorrow for a daunting second league game in charge of the bottom-place team.”It does not look hopeless,” the former Bayern Munich assistant coach said. “We are one point behind the team outside the relegation zone and not far behind the teams just above that as well.”Sunderland, who are above Swansea on goal difference, are at West Bromwich Albion. Hull are a point further up the standings going into Sunday’s game at leaders Chelsea.THIS WEEKENDTOMORROW7:30 a.m.: Liverpool vs Swansea10 a.m.: Bournemouth vs Watford10 a.m.: Crystal Palace vs Everton10 a.m.: Middlesbrough vs West Ham10 a.m.: Stoke City vs Man United10 a.m.: West Brom vs Sunderland12:30 p.m.: Man City vs TottenhamSUNDAY7 a.m.: Southampton vs Leicester9:15 a.m.: Arsenal vs Burnley11:30 a.m.: Chelsea vs Hull Citypoints standings P W D L GF GA GD PtsChelsea 21 17 1 3 45 15 30 52Tottenham 21 13 6 2 43 14 29 45Liverpool 21 13 6 2 49 24 25 45Arsenal 21 13 5 3 48 22 26 44Man City 21 13 3 5 41 26 15 42Man Utd 21 11 7 3 32 20 12 40Everton 21 9 6 6 32 23 9 33West Brom 21 8 5 8 28 28 0 29Stoke City 21 7 6 8 27 33 -6 27Burnley 21 8 2 11 23 31 -8 26B’mouth 21 7 4 10 30 37 -7 25West Ham 21 7 4 10 26 35 -9 25S’hampton 21 6 6 9 19 26 -7 24Watford 21 6 5 10 23 36 -13 23Leicester 21 5 6 10 24 34 -10 21M’borough 21 4 8 9 17 22 -5 20Crystal P 21 4 4 13 30 40 -10 16Hull City 21 4 4 13 20 45 -25 16Sunderland 21 4 3 14 20 40 -20 15Swansea 21 4 3 14 23 49 -26 15last_img read more

Deadly ambush in Iraq

first_imgAn Iraqi army officer who was familiar with the search said he saw five badly burned bodies inside a Humvee at the site, suggesting the remains may not have been recognizable. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the information. He also said joint U.S.-Iraqi forces had sealed off the area and were conducting house-to-house searches, rounding up dozens of suspects. The military declined to comment on detentions but said troops were looking for suspects. The Iraqi officer said U.S. troops singled out seven suspects from as many as 50, including a wounded man who was hiding in a house and confessed to participating in the attack. He said most of the houses searched near the attack contained only women and children because the men had fled, fearing arrest. “I was in my cucumber field when I heard a big explosion followed by shootings. I ran toward my house because I was afraid that I would be arrested if spotted in the field,” Mizaal Abdullah, a 37-year-old farmer who was in the custody of the Iraqi army, said by telephone. “This is the third time that I have been arrested. Each time, the real attackers flee the area and innocent people like me get arrested.” The attack occurred at 4:44 a.m. about 12 miles west of Mahmoudiya, a town of about 65,000 in a Sunni area dubbed the “Triangle of Death” for the frequent attacks against Shiite civilians and U.S. and Iraqi forces. On June 16, 2006, two American soldiers – Pfc. Kristian Menchaca of Houston and Pfc. Thomas Tucker of Madras, Ore. – went missing after their Humvee was ambushed at a checkpoint near Youssifiyah, north of Mahmoudiya. Their bodies were found days later, tied together with a bomb between one of the victims’ legs. But the remains were not recovered until the next morning, after an Iraqi civilian warned that bombs had been planted in the area. A third soldier, David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass., was found dead at the scene of the attack. Five U.S. soldiers also have been charged in the rape of a 14-year-old Mahmoudiya girl and the killing of her and her entire family, and three have pleaded guilty in the March 12, 2006, attack, which was initially blamed on insurgents. Also Saturday, the military announced the death of an American soldier from a bomb attack Friday near Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad. At least 30 Iraqis were reported killed or found dead elsewhere in Iraq, including a Sunni physician shot to death on his way home from work in the northern city of Mosul. Seventeen bullet-riddled bodies showing signs of torture – apparent victims of so-called sectarian death squads usually led by Shiite militias – also turned up on the streets in Baghdad. All but two were found on the predominantly Sunni western side of the Tigris River that divides the capital where sectarian violence appears to be on the rise. More than 3,380 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. But few have been kidnapped, due largely to strict military procedures for those on patrol or at checkpoints. U.S. troops in Iraq travel in groups of armored vehicles, usually Humvees, and procedures are in place to keep track so no one is left behind. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BAGHDAD – U.S. and Iraqi troops searched house-to-house and combed fields with their bare hands Saturday after American troops and their Iraqi interpreter came under attack south of Baghdad, leaving five dead and three missing. The attack west of Mahmoudiya, in an area known as the Sunni “Triangle of Death,” was one of the most devastating against U.S. soldiers since the Bush administration began sending some 30,000 additional U.S. troops to help secure Baghdad almost three months ago. In June, two American soldiers were abducted in the nearby town of Yusufiya. Their badly tortured bodies were later recovered. The military said the patrol was struck in a pre-dawn explosion. A nearby unit heard the blast and the search was launched after communication could not be established with the patrol, the military said. Shortly after the blast, a drone observed two burning vehicles. An emergency response unit arrived at the scene and found five members of the team dead and three others missing. Checkpoints were established throughout the area, while helicopters and jets buzzed overhead. AP Television News footage showed Iraqi soldiers picking through cattails and other weeds as they searched fields and canals for clues. Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman, said the search would continue throughout the night. “A lot of our vehicles have thermal capabilities, which sometimes work better at night than they do during the day,” he said. The military refused to specify whether the Iraqi interpreter was among those killed or missing and would not give more details about where the bodies were found. last_img read more