LISTEN: Full script of Episode 107 of Spodcast where we discuss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's appointment, Anup Kumar's retirement from kabaddi and more
Today, we discuss the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker manager of Manchester United, India's legendary kabaddi captain Anup Kumar's retirement from the sport and more.
Welcome to Spodcast, the daily sports update on Firstpost where we look at the big sports headlines of the day.
Following the sacking of Jose Mourinho from the role of manager for Manchester United, the club selected Ole Gunnar Solskjaer caretaker manager until the end of the current season. The Norwegian, a former United striker, will take charge of the first team with immediate effect and will be responsible for the team while United searches for a new full-time manager. He had retired from football in 2007, before which he appeared 366 times for United, and scored 126 goals during a successful period for the club. His most famous moment was the 1999 Champions League final when he scored the winner for United against Bayern Munich.
Solskjaer will be joined by Mike Phelan as the first-team coach, working alongside Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna. After the announcement, he said, “Manchester United is in my heart and it's brilliant to be coming back in this role. I'm really looking forward to working with the very talented squad we have, the staff and everyone at the club.”
United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said, “Ole is a club legend with huge experience, both on the pitch and in coaching roles...he lives and breathes the culture here and everyone at the club is delighted to have him and Mike Phelan back. We are confident they will unite the players and the fans as we head into the second half of the season.”
Even Norway’s prime minister weighed in on the matter. PM Erna Solberg confirmed Solskjaer's appointment, tweeting, “Great day for Norwegian football. Good luck keeping control of the Red Devils.”
Mourinho was, of course, sacked after two-and-a-half years as manager of the richest football club in the world. The 20-time English champs are having a pretty ordinary season - they are way behind in sixth place in the Premier League, 19 points behind leaders Liverpool.
AFP reported on Wednesday that Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane are among the bookmakers' favourites to take the United job by the end of the season.
Speaking of Jose Mourinho, the ousted Manchester United manager told the media Wednesday that he was proud of his time at the club but refused to delve into the issues that played a part in his exit.
In a statement shared with the press, United’s former manager made it clear that that chapter is now closed, and he wanted to move on. Mourinho said, “I have been immensely proud to wear the badge of Manchester United since the first day I arrived, and I believe all United supporters recognise this. Just as was the case with my previous clubs, I have worked with some wonderful people and I believe that some will be my friends for life. I know that you are all aware of my professional principles. Each time a chapter is closed I show my deepest respect and I don't make any comments about my former colleagues.” He added, “I keep the good things and I don't speak about anything that happened in the club. We could speak about so many good things. It's finished.”
An update from the Carabao Cup
Tottenham moved a step closer to their first trophy since 2008 after beating their North London rivals Arsenal 2-0 to book a place in the semifinals. Meanwhile, defending champions Manchester City will face off against League One Burton.
It was an eventful match for Tottenham – Dele Alli was hit by a bottle from the crowd during the Spurs’ 2-0 win yesterday. Son Heung-Min scored Tottenham’s first goal while Alli netted the second. Last night’s win was the first time Tottenham won at Arsenal’s home ground in 10 visits dating back to 2010. Unfazed by the bottle incident, Alli said “It is what it is. It made the goal even sweeter, and the win.” However, Tottenham manager Pochettino wasn’t in as forgiving a mood. He demanded Arsenal find the “stupid person.”
Earlier this month, a Tottenham fan was banned for four years after being found guilty of throwing a banana skin at Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Tottenham will face Chelsea in the semi-final. Chelsea defeated Bournemouth 1-0 in the quarterfinal, thanks to Eden Hazard’s 84th minute strike.
Veteran kabaddi player Anup Kumar, one of the most impactful kabaddi players to have played for India, announced his retirement with immediate effect yesterday. 35-year-old Anup had an illustrious 15-year career that included two Asian Games gold medals, a Kabaddi World Cup title win in 2016 and a Pro Kabaddi League title win with U Mamba in 2015.
Bidding goodbye to his fans Anup said, “When I started playing kabaddi, it was a great hobby and over the years a hobby became the most important part of my life. The day I took to playing kabaddi professionally, I had one dream, to represent my country and bring back a gold medal. I am one of the few lucky people who had the opportunity to accomplish the most important dream of my life. Today, with the Pro Kabaddi League, the magnitude of the sport has grown by leaps and bounds and I could not be happier...to watch and grow and be a part of this journey...if there is anything I am confident about, it is knowing that I will always want to be connected to the sport.”
Pro Kabaddi League Commissioner Anupam Goswami said, “This is a great decision by a great player from a great stage of kabaddi. Anup has been a senior player and a role model athlete for this sport.”
The interviews for India's new women's cricket coach will take place today as the shortlisted candidates appear before the BCCI selection panel comprising ex-cricketers Kapil Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy.
The shortlisted candidates who will be interviewed include Gary Kirsten, Herschelle Gibbs, Ramesh Powar, WV Raman, Venkatesh Prasad, Manoj Prabhakar, Trent Johnston, Mark Coles, Dimitri Mascarenhas and Brad Hogg.
The Kirsten angle is interesting, to say the least. IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore’s coach, and former India coach, Gary Kirsten is also being considered for the role of women’s team coach. But he was earlier deemed 'ineligible' for the post. According to a Cricketnext report, Kirsten was not ready to forfeit his role as coach of RCB. However, the BCCI has opened the scope for discussion with Kirsten on the matter as there is no issue of conflict of interest. The only concern that remains is that Kirsten won't be available for the Indian women's cricket team in the two months of IPL.
The Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), comprising chairman Vinod Rai and former India captain Diana Edulji, do not agree regarding the selection process. While Edulji wants former coach Ramesh Powar to continue at least till the New Zealand tour next month, Rai instructed the BCCI top brass to invite fresh applications.
Powar, of course, has been at loggerheads with veteran player Mithali Raj as reported previously, which could work against him despite backing from captain Harmanpreet Kaur.
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