Smalling makes case for defence

first_imgChris Smalling thinks he and Phil Jones have proved they deserve to be the long-term centre-half partnership for Manchester United. Their performance was one of the plus points in an otherwise forgetful stalemate. Smalling believes the friendly, which his former United team-mate Paul Scholes described as a “waste of time”, was just a one-off and he is confident of seeing England put on a better show when they play the final Euro 2016 qualifier of the season in Slovenia on Sunday. “It was like we had lost the game to be honest,” Smalling said, reflecting on the Ireland friendly. “We felt we could have done a lot better. “But at the end of the day we did keep our unbeaten run going and we kept a clean sheet so we’ll try and take some positives from it. “We probably needed the game in Dublin given the time off we’ve had. We needed to get it out of the way and make sure that we train really hard this week.” Smalling and the rest of his England team-mates will report for duty on Wednesday to begin preparations for the game in Ljubljana. If they win, England will move nine points clear at the top of Group E with four matches to go. “We know if we do the job on Sunday, qualification is near enough there,” Smalling said. “And then we can go into the summer relieved and happy whereas if we don’t win this game it is a long break so I don’t think there will be any problems with people getting up for it.” United were left with a considerable gap to fill at the heart of their defence last summer following the departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. but they ended the season with the fourth best defensive record in the Barclays Premier League. Goalkeeper David de Gea deserves a large chunk of the credit, but Smalling and Jones, who finished the campaign as Louis van Gaal’s first-choice centre-half pairing, merit praise too. Smalling admits he was facing a decisive season at United last term and he feels he passed it with flying colours. “Yes, I think it was (a make or break season),” the 25-year-old England centre-back said. “When you consider the outgoings at centre-back, players had to step in and luckily I’ve been one of those who has had a good run, especially in the second half of the season. “I think we (Jones and I) have proven we can fill the gap. It’s one where it just builds over time and we’ve had our chance this season and now it is all about building on that next season.” It does not look like Roy Hodgson has plans to install the pair as his preferred combination at centre-back any time soon, though. After naming him vice-captain, the England coach clearly has plans to give Gary Cahill a prominent role over the next year. The 67-year-old remains fiercely loyal to Phil Jagielka too and there are John Stones and Calum Chambers to consider too once they have come through the European Under-21 Championship. Hodgson went with the Smalling-Cahill combination on Sunday for England’s dull 0-0 draw against the Republic of Ireland. Press Associationlast_img read more

Dread’s late 3 lifts No. 16 Penn State over Rutgers

first_img“He knows that I’m confident in him,” Chambers said. “He knows the players are confident in him. As soon as it left his hands I knew it was in.”But coming out of the huddle with his team suddenly trailing after a Geo Baker jumper, Dread didn’t know he would get the ball.The play was designed to go to Penn State’s leading scorer Lamar Stevens for an inside shot that Penn State hoped would send the game to overtime.When Dread was left alone behind the arc, however, Izaiah Brockington found him.“When the play’s designed for Lamar, and I come off and knock it down, that just goes to show how much my teammates believe in me,” Dread said. “If I don’t shoot, I don’t play.” Associated Press February 26, 2020 Dread’s late 3 lifts No. 16 Penn State over Rutgers But he appears to be nearing a return.Jones, who was averaging 14.1 points per game before going out of the lineup, warmed up with the team in shorts and a tank top and appeared to work up a bit of a sweat. He was 2-for-3 on 3-pointers over the final two minutes of the team’s shootaround. Chambers would only say Jones would play once team doctors clear him to do so.WHAT WAS THAT?The Nittany Lions turned a bizarre sequence into quick points late in the first. With just over four minutes to play, John Harrar rainbowed an inbounds pass over a Rutgers defender toward Jamari Wheeler. But before it reached him, the ball bounced awkwardly off Penn State’s glass and Wheeler had to scramble to prevent it from careening out of bounds.The speedy Wheeler calmly corralled it, fired it down the court to Stevens who made an easy layup. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditSTATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Patrick Chambers wants No. 16 Penn State to develop a killer instinct.He may want to show his Nittany Lions replays of Myles Dread’s effort from Wednesday night.Dread hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to lift Penn State over Rutgers 65-64 after the Nittany Lions blew a 21-point lead. Akwasi Yeboah missed a 3-pointer the other way and Dread was swarmed by his teammates who snapped a two-game losing streak.center_img Young, who entered the night averaging eight points per game, hit a layup with 14:45 left and added two more along with a dunk from Ron Harper Jr. and a layup from Myles Johnson to pull the Scarlet Knights within a point with 10:03 left.Stevens scored the next two baskets and Penn State got some more offense to go back up by 10.Both teams played sturdy defense early before the Nittany Lions edged ahead 13-10 eight minutes in. Stevens increased his team’s lead with a 3-pointer from the corner two minutes later. Stevens’ first make of the game sparked a 27-9 run to make it a 21-point lead.ILL SHOTPenn State’s second-leading scorer Myreon Jones missed his sixth-straight game with an undisclosed illness. THE BIG PICTURERutgers: The Scarlet Knights have had a season to remember, but most of the highlights came in the first half when they went 12-3 up until Jan. 7. Since then they’re 6-8.Penn State: The Nittany Lions have been coughing up big leads in the second half of the season. They needed to halt their skid and were able to do so, though coach Patrick Chambers still wants his team to develop a killer instinct to put teams away.UP NEXTRutgers: Hosts No. 9 Maryland on Tuesday. Brockington scored 16 points and Stevens added nine for the Nittany Lions (21-7, 11-6 Big Ten). Dread finished with 11 and a career-best seven assists.“That game could’ve got ugly and it didn’t,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “Our guys battled and stayed the course.”Trailing 40-19 late in the first half, the Scarlet Knights tied the game at 62 with 1:32 left on Geo Baker’s layup. His jumper gave Rutgers a two-point lead with 42 seconds remaining before Dread’s big shot handed Rutgers (18-11, 9-9) its third-straight loss.Jacob Young scored 13 points for the Scarlet Knights who rallied after Penn State led by double digits well into the second half.They cut it to 51-50 with a 15-2 run that began as Young found ways to penetrate Penn State’s defense. Penn State: Visits No. 18 Iowa on Saturday.last_img read more

Back from ‘hell’, Fury helping others fight their demons

first_imgBy Rory CarrollLOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) – Former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury said he “tasted death” during the mental health crisis that brought him to the brink of suicide but is back and on a mission to help others.The British fighter shocked the world in 2015 when he defeated long-reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko to capture the IBF, WBA and WBO belts.But he was stripped of those belts the next year after alcohol and drug use rendered him unable to compete.He ballooned in weight and few, including Fury himself, thought he’d ever see the inside of a ring again. But he rediscovered his love of boxing and the sport he walked away from proved to be his salvation.“I’ve been to hell and back and I’ve been given a second chance at life,” he told Reuters.“I turned my life around from 420 pounds and suicidal thoughts on a daily basis to getting back to the top of the heavyweight division,” he said. “To almost taste death and to come back to this level has definitely been a blessing.”Fury said he is passionate about helping others who struggle with mental health issues and has embarked on speaking tours in the UK and Europe to spread the word to those suffering that they can get better.“On the second return journey, I’m doing as much as I can to help others in needy positions and as much as I can to spread the word on mental health and smash the stigma because everybody deserves a second chance.” The response has been overwhelming. “People are flying in from all over to say thank you. You’ve saved my brother, my uncle, my cousin, my wife. One guy flew in from Malaysia to thank me personally and give me a hug.“So it means the world, it means so much to get the recognition for the help,” he said.Fury credits his own turnaround to the purifying effects of exercise, something he recommends but only up to a point.“Anyone in the midst of a mental health crisis should immediately contact a doctor,” he said.“I believe that if you do suffer from mental health, and I know a lot of people out there do, having a little training programme really works,” he said.“I don’t mean like a high-performance athlete, I mean just on a regular, day to day basis. What you can manage as an individual.“Whether it is a little 10-minute walk or a jog, whatever you can manage. And if you can maintain it like a daily thing, I think it really does help.”FEELING ‘FANTASTIC’ AHEAD OF UPCOMING BOUTSFury said he feels “fantastic” ahead of his September 14 bout with Otto Wallin and his highly-anticipated February 22 rematch with Deontay Wilder but said mental health struggles always lurk in the background.“There’s a great song the Eagles wrote called ‘Hotel California,’” Fury said while, appropriately, speaking to Reuters in a hotel room in downtown Los Angeles. “You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave,” he said.“I believe that’s mental health because you can get well – you can check out any time you want – but you can never leave it because you’re born with it.Fury, who in February signed a reported $100 million contract with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions to have his fights broadcast on ESPN, said he is now content to live in the moment. “I don’t have long-term goals, I only live day to day,” he said.“My long-term goal is to be happy and well and healthy. And anything after that is a real bonus. Nothing is guaranteed in life and nothing is promised.“We’re not even promised tomorrow morning so we’ve got to live and enjoy the moments we have in time, and that’s all we have – moments in time,” he said. “I’m making the best of every moment in time I have as of late.”last_img read more

Ismail Vali – Sweden: The survival of the fittest

first_img Submit Share Share Betsson outrides pandemic challenges as regulatory dramas loom July 21, 2020 Confirmation came this week that the licensing process for the new national gambling code in Sweden has been delayed until 1 August.SBC News took the opportunity to speak to industry consultant Ismail Vali about the number of operators he expects to populate the market, industry benchmarks for gaming legislation, and how to retain players when bonuses become non-permissible as a retention tool.SBC: At the recent Betting on Football Conference, you spoke about the rush to “get in before the gates close” in Sweden; how do you see the situation developing from the current position of around 500 casinos, and nearly 300 sportsbooks?IV: Sweden remains one of the world’s most attractive gaming markets, online and brick and mortar – that’s due to its status as a developed market with high disposable adult income. It has also acted as the Lone Star in the Nordics for many of the publicly traded gaming operators to be in, at least, to maintain the appearance of having “Nordic Operations”.Whilst regulation has been talked about for several years now, and the ex-monopoly operator, Svenska Spel, has done much to raise awareness, politically especially, about unfair competition and a lack of social responsibility from the “offshore operators” – both salient points to be fair – not much has, in fact, been done to legitimise and regulate the Swedish market.Many operators still labour under the misapprehension that offering betting and gaming to Swedish players, to date, was “illegal”. It is not and won’t be until active legislation is passed and enforced.Unlike the USA, there has been no discussion of “clean hands” operators, who did not offer service in Sweden prior to regulation, being the ones who will benefit from a future licensing regime. Many operators then went “all-in on Sweden” in the space of this regulatory vacuum, and offered all the products they could, via whatever media channels they could, somewhat regardless of costs, competitive advantage or any USP for being in Sweden.All this has combined to create the current free for all, prior to regulation, with a glut of operators across all products. The recently announced regulatory regime, with applications being accepted from August 1st, 2018, and enforced regulations from January 1st, 2019, now gives the market a clear finish line to cross, as the gates of gaming control are, clearly, about to close shut.This matters from a market presence and share perspective given the huge number of competing operators in Sweden currently. The period from now, until the end of the World Cup, itself just prior to the licence application date, means operators have to compete aggressively for players simply to prove their ability to stay in the Swedish market.Many firms, if failing in the imminent race to regulation, will not be given the internal sign-off to apply for regulated status in the market, especially since the discipline of being publicly traded means having to admit and forecast matters:How much of the market is aware of your brand(s)How much of the market you have gained, with what marketing budgetHow much you forecast to retain, for the next quarter, and how much you believe you can grow, beyond thatAt what profit margin are you running, with the added impact of taxation, and fees for regulation, compliance and social responsibilityThe costs for licence application in Sweden are not particularly high, which will likely encourage a glut of entrants by August 1st, in line with the huge number of current operators. This will, in my view, not be upheld over the long term, and the future regulated Swedish market. The gates will close, on New Year’s Eve this year, I believe, with a large number of operators, in the hundreds easily, for the first year of regulated Swedish operations.Thereafter? An amended marketplace, with advertising rules, fewer media channels openly available (via embedded deals for the big budget brands), and a brutal new discipline from bonus retention deals becoming unavailable, will, inevitably, lead to a thinning of the herd and a position likely by two years after regulation where the marketplace is populated by between 50-100 operators.In line with this, there will likely be a consolidated top 10 scenario for the operators who get the next eight months right, and succeed in being top of mind, and top of monetary performance, through adapting to the specific Swedish market conditions.SBC: Many countries have been inspired by Danish and UK models when enacting gaming regulation; how much of what we see in Sweden will be reflective of these regulatory successes?IV: Both the UK and Danish models have one unifying feature – listening to operators, respectfully.Of course, any imposed system, which needs to be mindful of player protection and social responsibility, is not going to be universally “admired” by the industry, but that is the historical position of our business since well before the online distribution channel emerged – we have to take regulation, taxation, player protection and social responsibility not just seriously, but to the heart of our business as usual approach to any market.In the short term, there is going to be a margin Impact – in my view, a good thing, since it returns the business to the historical constant of focusing upon ‘little but often’ revenue from your players and moves away from the boom/bust cycle of simply opening new accounts with unrealistic and disbelieved deposit bonuses.A hand-in-glove approach by regulators, where they work with the industry, to improve and perfect what become, I hope, industry benchmarks for operators is the ultimate goal of any of the new wave of gaming regulation – both the UK and Denmark have shown the path here, but much work remains to be done.SBC: What is your advice for retaining Swedish players without the promise of bonus money?IV: Many operators have been shocked by this draft legislation clause, stating that bonuses will not be permissible as a retention tool under regulation. That surprise is only a result, in my view, of our own me-too, copycat marketing efforts of recent years, as an industry.We all have the same games; similar or identical access to the marketplace for advertising and all copy one another’s offers, pretty much down to the terms and conditions.It is unsurprising that the audience respond to this as they did with banking – tons of offers for NEW customers lead to promiscuous account swapping; then impacting upon the retained base, who you need to then bonus to keep in the building.It’s no way to run a sustainable business.Coming from many years in the poker sector, with insane levels of competition from the early 2000’s when I experienced the shift from one operator – ParadisePoker – to hundreds in a matter of months, we learned to dedicate our marketing to as broad an audience as possible via “must play promotions” – similar to the concept of “must-see TV” that networks like HBO and Netflix have perfected.Analogous to US TV Networks, operators have to create in online betting and gaming, within their core markets, one of the biggest branded “TV Channels” around, in order to matter in the market and survive the post-regulatory shift.As an industry, what we need to focus upon now, I would suggest, is the quality and event status of our “shows” – in other words, our promotions are key.Every day, on every dot country variant of their sites, across all products, operators promotional offering needs to feature “must notice”, “must be able to find”, and “must play” potential, in the same way that shows like Game of Thrones are classed as “must watch TV”, and available across a number of platforms for viewing.Players have to feel they are, potentially, missing out on “something” by not locating, logging on, staying connected to, and playing with your brand.It’s not just about the cash they could win or lose…it’s about the culture they take part in by playing with your brand, and the cultural phenomenon you’re building with, and for, your growing audience.This commitment to the mass market, free to play offers and promotions to encourage awareness, trial and engagement, and segmented offers and incentives for the players once you had the data to really know them, was the only way to gain and retain “membership” of your brand, and target the top 10, and hopefully, the number one position, which with the teams and brands I had at the time I was Chief Marketing Officer, we were able to do with both ParadisePoker, and PokerStars, globally.I use the word “membership” deliberately – seeing the audience as just potential “customers” encourages the “get and go” attitude from many of today’s online gamblers, and our industry response to them as “new depositing customers”, valuable only for their first month’s activity, and largely seen as “lapsed or lapsing” thereafter. Seeing them as “members” of your branded entertainment offering, across all products, shifts the manner in which you meet, greet, gain and retain them.Ismail Vali can be contacted at [email protected] LeoVegas hits back at Swedish regulations despite Q2 successes August 13, 2020 StumbleUpon Related Articles Spelinspektionen reminds operators of AML responsibilities July 2, 2020last_img read more