Sunday, December 27, 2015

FOOTBALL: Van Gaal on knife-edge as United tackle Chelsea

Van Gaal on knife-edge as United tackle Chelsea

Agence France-Presse

Manchester United's besieged manager Louis van Gaal could see his troubled Old Trafford reign put out of its misery on Monday with fellow Dutchman Guus Hiddink cast in the role of executioner.

United's 2-0 defeat at Stoke City on Saturday was their fourth loss in succession -- the club's worst run within a season since 1961 -- and reduced Van Gaal to a dead man walking in the eyes of the British media.

The Dutchman admitted afterwards that he could not be certain of the United board's support and raised the prospect that he could choose to leave Old Trafford of his own accord.

"I have said already in former press conferences that it is not always that the club has to fire or sack me. Sometimes I do it by myself," he said.

"But the scrutiny is all right for me, I am used to that."

Should United fail to win on Monday, they will end the year with their lowest points total in 26 years.

Chelsea dispensed with their own manager last week, Jose Mourinho paying the price for a calamitous start to the season, and the Portuguese is the favourite to take over at United in the event that Van Gaal departs.

Hiddink has replaced Mourinho as interim manager, reprising a role he previously performed in 2009.


Anderlecht miss spot kick but still win


Anderlecht squandered a penalty for the fifth time this season but still beat Westerlo 2-1 on Sunday to move second in the Belgian league, just two points behind champions Gent.

Anderlecht were awarded two spot kicks in the game, with defender Guillaume Gillet converting the first in his last game before moving to France but Matias Suarez missing out with the second when Anderlecht were already 2-1 up.

The win lifted Anderlecht to 41 points with Gent now in their sights after the champions suffered a surprise defeat at Mechelen on Saturday.


Former Salvadoran national soccer player Alfredo Pacheco shot dead


Alfredo Pacheco, a soccer player who played for the Salvadoran national side before being banned from the sport for life for his involvement in match fixing, was murdered on Sunday, the Salvadoran attorney general's office said.

Pacheco, 33, was with a group of friends chatting in a petrol station when an unknown assailant shot at the group various times, authorities said. Two other people were injured and were taken to a nearby hospital in the city of Santa Ana, west of the capital San Salvador.

Pacheco was a defender who played for the Salvadoran clubs Club Deportivo FAS and Asociacion Deportiva Isidro Metapan. He also played for the New York Red Bulls in the United States.


Garcia's FIFA corruption report must be published - Prince Ali


FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali bin al-Hussein has called for Michael Garcia's report into allegations of corruption during bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to be published immediately, the BBC said on Sunday.

Former United States Prosecutor Garcia resigned as the independent ethics investigator of world soccer's ruling body in protest at the way his report into the bidding for the tournaments in Russia and Qatar was handled.

"People need to know what has been going on at FIFA," Jordanian Prince Ali said.


Messi, Barcelona win big at Globe Soccer Awards

Agence France-Presse

Barcelona and star player Lionel Messi triumphed at the seventh edition of the Globe Soccer Awards in Dubai on Sunday, taking home the prizes for best team and best player.

Messi had travelled from Argentina to attend the ceremony.

"It's very nice to receive these awards, but I always say that the team makes it possible," said Messi. "It's been an extraordinary year."

Barcelona won five titles in 2015 -- the Spanish league title, the Copa del Rey, Champions League, European Super Cup and the World Club Cup.