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Saturday 3 December 2016

Carrzone: Will European ties help Mourinho and Rodgers?

Behind the headlines

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Rory McIlroy returns to action this week hoping to retain his world number one status

How are Premier League managers Jose Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers likely to viewed after their respective mid-week European ties?

Currently just one place off the drop zone, champions Chelsea look to be in trouble. It's the club's worst start to a season in 29 years. Chelsea's next Premier League match is on Saturday when they host Arsene Wenger's Arsenal.

Tonight's Champions League clash with Maccabi could help get Mourinho's side back into form. Home advantage is doubly important considering Arsenal have to travel to Dinamo Zagreb tonight.

Wenger and Mourinho didn't shake hands after Arsenal's 1-0 Community Shield win. Liverpool, whose Europa League match is in Bordeaux tomorrow, play Norwich at Anfield on Sunday. Across the top four divisions in England last season, 47 managers lost their jobs.

So far this season three managers (at Peterborough, Doncaster and Oldham) have been sacked. Poor League performances this weekend would pile more pressure on Mourinho and Rodgers.

 

There's more than just a cup at stake in Sunday's final

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“We’re expected to win the All-Ireland every year and if you’re not doing it, you’re a failure,” says Kerry selector Diarmuid Murphy.

Former Kerry manager Jack O’Connor (right) explained why football is so important in Kerry. “Everything else is mixed up in it,” he said. “Life and death. Blood and soil.”

On average, Kerry have won one in every three All-Ireland titles since the Championship began. But on Sunday they meet a Dublin side that’s the product of a decade-old development plan that successive management teams that have built on.

Paul Caffrey, Pat Gilroy and, currently, Jim Gavin have created structures and a winning mentality that encourages self-belief. Two All-Ireland senior football titles in four years and a manager who coached the Under-21s to two All-Ireland titles, is evidence that Kerry will be tested. Veteran of 14 campaigns, impact sub Alan Brogan (33) played ten seasons with the team before an All-Ireland win. No wonder champions Kerry insist Dublin are favourites.

McIlroy says he wants to make up for lost time

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Rory McIlroy, who tops the world rankings from rival Jordan Spieth by just 0.023 of a point, is planning a competitive end of the year to make up for the time lost due to the ankle injury he picked up playing football with his mates.

This weekend he'll play in the BMW Championships in Illinois, the third of the FedEx Cup play-offs. Next month he'll compete in the Turkish Airlines Open, an event which became part of the European Tour in 2013.

McIlroy played in 2012 when it was an exhibition event and admits, "I didn't perform my best." The Turkish Open, won by American Brooks Koepka last year, has a prize fund of over €6 million.

"Now that I'm fit again, I'm looking forward to ending the year strongly," says Rory, who's competitively eyeing points in the Race to Dubai and November's season-closing World Tour Championship.

 

Contador plans exit victory

Marco Pantani, in 1998, was the last rider to complete the Giro d'Italia - Tour de France double.

This year's Giro winner Alberto Contador (32) tried but was disappointed to finish fifth in Le Tour. Now he's already targeting next year's Tour as a probable career-ending highlight, prior to racing in the Rio Olympics. "The focus will primarily be on the Tour," he says. "I've always wanted to retire at the highest level."

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