Chosen One MK II
May 20th, 2014
11:43 AM ET

Why 'Only One' Louis van Gaal is perfect for Manchester United

It’s his way. Or no way.

Simply put, Louis van Gaal doesn't suffer fools gladly - and as Manchester United’s star-studded squad is about to find out, no-one’s immune!

The Dutchman’s appointment as manager on Monday truly marks the end of the glorious Alex Ferguson era. Never again will we see that kind of longevity or continuity. Ferguson had ruled Britain's biggest club with a rod of iron from 1986 to 2013, winning everything in sight including 13 English Premier League titles and two European Champions League crowns. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Football
‘A bonny horse who loves to race’
California Chrome, ridden by Victor Espinoza, crosses the finish line to win the 140th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
May 6th, 2014
05:58 PM ET

‘A bonny horse who loves to race’

All too often we see a favorite endlessly hyped up before a race only to disappoint on the big day.

Well, that certainly was not the case in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

California Chrome, the flashy chestnut colt, was the focus of intense pre-race attention in the week leading up to the Derby not only because of his impressive credentials but also because of his story.

Everybody loves an underdog and this bargain basement horse, in the purple and green “DAP” silks with a green bucking donkey motif on the back, belonged to two regular guys enjoying their first foray into the complex world of horse breeding.

Photo by Felipe Barral

Steve Coburn and Perry Martin each bought a share in a relatively inexpensive filly racehorse, Love The Chase, who won one race in six starts.

When the partnership decided to cut their losses and sell the sweet but slow filly, Coburn and Martin opted to buy out their partners for a value of $8,000 and send her to the breeding barn.

Selecting a stallion to “cover” your mare is often a labor intensive, almost mathematic process depending on what type of horse you are trying to produce.

For reasons best known to them, the pair settled on Lucky Pulpit for a fee of $2,000, himself an adequate racehorse who never fulfilled his maximum potential due to illness.

Eleven months later, out came the foal that would come to be named California Chrome - the name was pulled out of a hat of suggestions made by the owners and their families. Seabisquik was also in the mix.

Photo by Felipe Barral

When they sent the horse, now a three-year-old, to veteran trainer Art Sherman, the rookie owner-breeders told the ex-jockey that this would be his Kentucky Derby winner.

To cut a long story short, under the watchful care of his veteran trainer, this bonny horse who loves to race progressed so well that he wound up an unlikely favorite for the most famous race in the world.

And then he won it.

Going back to the colors worn by his Mexican jockey Victor Espinoza, the DAP stands for Dumb Ass Partnerships - so named by Coburn and Martin when those around them said only a "dumb ass" would buy California Chrome's mother Love The Chase.

While it's probably not the classiest name around, it does prove that for all the money and time spent on trying to breed the perfect racehorse, sometimes it's just down to luck.

Neymar - Too cool for school?
CNN World Sport's Amanda Davies sits down with Neymar, the star of the Brazil team.
April 30th, 2014
10:55 AM ET

Neymar - Too cool for school?

So much has been said and written about Neymar Jr, the 22-year-old from Santos being billed as the next Pele – particularly since his controversial move to Barcelona, it's difficult not to head into an interview with preconceptions.

Big money move and below-par form aside, he's one of the most photographed footballers of the moment, he was named the most marketable footballer on the planet by Sportspro and he has the haircut and model girlfriend to boot.

I'm pleased to say I'm not so long in the tooth that I don't get excited by sitting down to interview star footballers like Neymar. But there can be a certain amount of "take a deep breath, here it goes" ahead of sitting down with some of the current generation.

With the out-of-touch, overpaid, media-trained-within-an-inch-of-their-lives types, it can be a challenge. FULL POST

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Is Man Utd too big a club to manage?
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal is reportedly a leading candidate to succeed David Moyes as Manchester United manager.
April 23rd, 2014
12:06 PM ET

Is Man Utd too big a club to manage?

When former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson steps up to the lectern to deliver the first of his Harvard Business School lectures in May, he won’t be short of material.

He knows all about the art of building winning teams, how to deal with the pressure of the media and, of course, the secrets of time management, more commonly known in football circles as "Fergie Time."

Ferguson retired last May after claiming a 13th English Premier League title with United - the 49th and final trophy of an illustrious 39-year career in football management.

It’s a record of unparalleled achievement, but barely a year after the Scot stepped down it appears there is one gaping hole in the Ferguson management repertoire - successful succession planning. FULL POST

April 17th, 2014
06:05 PM ET

What's the secret to Mercedes' F1 success?

The Chinese calendar says it's the year of the horse. Some commentators were convinced it was going to be the year of the prancing horse when Kimi Raikkonen joined Fernando Alonso at Ferrari.

But they were wrong, 2014 is the year of Mercedes.

After a clean sweep of wins for the Silver Arrows in the first three races of the season, next up it's the Chinese Grand Prix.

The venue, the Shanghai International Circuit, is known as something of an engineering marvel - built on 40,000 concrete pillars to stop it sinking into the marshland.

But the circuit won't be the only spectacular feat of engineering on display this weekend. FULL POST

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Bubba Watson wins second Masters crown
April 14th, 2014
05:57 PM ET

How many majors can Bubba Watson win?

This was no classic Masters, but it was certainly validation for Gerry Watson, the 35-year-old golf phenom from Baghdad, Florida.

Called Bubba since he was a baby in the hospital, he backed up his playoff win of two years ago by dominating the 78th staging of the Masters, here at Augusta National.

Judging by his performance, which was both strategic and entertaining, he has the tools to win several more Green Jackets and there won't really be a way to Bubba-proof the course.

FULL POST

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Hillsborough disaster: 25th anniversary
April 14th, 2014
02:22 PM ET

Will Hillsborough scars ever heal?

For British football fans in the spring of 1989, it was our JFK moment.

Every one of us remembers exactly where we were and what we were doing on April 15, when we learned that over 90 Liverpool supporters had been crushed to death at an FA Cup semifinal. Along with many others across the country, I was listening to the game on the radio, quickly switching on the television to watch a disaster unfold in front of me.

This was a time before the Premier League, before the massive investment in all-seater stadia; football was very different back then.

Anyone who'd stood on a terrace and been herded like cattle into and out of a stadium could relate to what those fans must have gone through. Most of the time, standing behind the goal at a first division game was a lot of fun, the crowd ebbed and flowed with the action on the field, a crowd that was a vibrant, living entity and you were thrilled to be a part of it. FULL POST

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Can Man Utd dare to dream ahead of Bayern Munich tie?
Living on a prayer? David Moyes Man Utd are underdogs against the mighty Bayern Munich. (Getty Images)
April 7th, 2014
11:34 AM ET

Can Man Utd dare to dream ahead of Bayern Munich tie?

Sitting in block 225 of the South Stand at Old Trafford last Tuesday, just to the right of the bench and beneath the press box, my eyes were drawn to the banner that proudly hangs on the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand.

It reads “The Impossible Dream, Made Possible”. It’s a banner paying tribute to the former Manchester United manager and the ridiculous number of trophies he helped bring to the club - most notably 13 English Premier League titles and two European Champions League triumphs.

But seeing that banner while watching the post-Ferguson United take on the might of European champions Bayern Munich in a Champions League quarterfinal first leg – it made me chuckle. FULL POST

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Is there method behind March Madness?
The AT & T Stadium in Arlington Texas gets ready for the Final Four of "March Madness." (Getty Images)
April 4th, 2014
05:10 PM ET

Is there method behind March Madness?

Every March in the United States a number of words and phrases come back into use among millions of Americans – bracket, Cinderella, Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four and March Madness.

The men's college basketball tournament – a three week playoff between 68 teams that culminates in the Final Four – has become an obsession with sports fans and non-sports fans alike.

The tournament often sees favorites lose early and surprise "Cinderellas" make deep runs. The teams may feature a future NBA player or two, but for the most part, players are 18-22 years of age and enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime experience before graduating and moving on with their lives. FULL POST

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Filed under:  U.S. Sport
Olympic fever grips rugby sevens
Rugby sevens will make its Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro at 2016 Games.
March 28th, 2014
11:32 AM ET

Olympic fever grips rugby sevens

“Que?” says the boy as he takes the oblong shaped ball in his hands, a perplexed look on his face.

“Play,” we say. The boy shrugs, gathers his friends and does the first thing that comes naturally to a Brazilian with a ball - keepy-uppy.

But even these naturally fleet of foot local Sao Paulo boys soon tire of their kick-about with a rugby ball.

Handing back the oval-shaped imposter, they return to the spherical football they love so much.

While the majority of Brazilians may not be familiar with a rugby ball or have even heard of Rugby Sevens, come August 2016 this soccer-loving nation is set to transform the fortunes of the game when it makes its Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro.

FULL POST

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