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Classy Cavani no longer looks like a ‘panic buy’ at United | Football News

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MANCHESTER ( England): When Edinson Cavani joined Manchester United on transfer deadline day in October it was widely described as a “panic signing” with the 33-year-old’s arrival viewed as a desperate deal by a club who had failed to get their main targets.
But after his outstanding performance at Southampton on Sunday, coming on at the break to create one goal and score two, including the late winner in a 3-2 comeback, the Uruguayan looks far from the washed-up player some suspected he might be.
His goals were superbly taken, his movement in the box won plaudits from his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and many observers and, even though it had only been 45 minutes, he looked far from a player past his sell-by date.
“For me, he’s one of those strikers that can smell the goal, as you saw twice,” said United midfielder Bruno Fernandes.
“He smelt the goal, you need to have this feeling to score these two goals. As I said some weeks and some months ago, Edi will help us and he is helping already.”
The question marks over Cavani were certainly justified though.
He was available on a free transfer and had been throughout the close season and many wondered why, if he really was a player United wanted, they had not signed him shortly after he left Paris St Germain.
The suspicion was that after failing to get Norway striker Erling Haaland in the January window and then ultimately being unable to pull off a deal for his Borussia Dortmund team mate Jadon Sancho, United had, at the final hour, called Cavani’s agent just to add a forward of some kind to Solskjaer’s squad.
But for a United team that has plenty of attacking options with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood, but no real classic, out-and-out centre forward, Cavani looks much more than a useful option.
“They had Rashford and Greenwood there in the first half,” said BBC pundit Alan Shearer. “They may well end up being centre forwards, but that’s exactly what they lacked in the first half a proper number nine.”
PERFECT TIMING
Solskjaer, a goal-poacher under Alex Ferguson at United, has worked hard to get his young strikers to make the right runs in the box to find the crucial positions to score but he now has a player who needs no instruction in that art.
“Edinson has been around the block and scored so many goals and played football for so long. He’s been between those posts so many times, he’s seen this game before, he’s scored that goal before,” said Solskjaer.
“He knows exactly where to move and his best friend in the box is what Sir Alex always used to tell me: ‘Your best friend in the box is space’, and he gets into that space with perfect timing.”
Cavani, who scored 138 goals in 200 Ligue 1 matches for PSG and has 51 in 118 for Uruguay, has been given time to get up to speed after missing out on pre-season preparations but United skipper Harry Maguire was not surprised by his impact on Sunday.
“I am so pleased for him. He has been without a club for a few months so he is coming in and catching up. He’s a great professional, he’s great to have around the place, he’s great in the dressing room and you saw today what he brings to the club.
“His movement when the ball is wide is to a level that not many strikers can reach. He’s always on the move, always getting across people and that’s why he has always scored goals.”
Now Cavani must hope an FA investigation into his deleted social media post, which included a word with racial connotations, does not result in the Uruguayan being forced back to the sidelines.


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Afridi asks former Pakistan greats to follow Dravid’s footsteps in grooming young talents | Cricket News

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KARACHI: In awe of the work being done by Rahul Dravid in grooming talented Indian players, former captain Shahid Afridi has called on Pakistan greats to take a cue and nurture the young cricketers of the country.
Speaking at a function in Lahore, Afridi urged former cricketing stalwarts of the country to follow in the footsteps of Dravid, who served as head coach for the India under-19 and India A teams from 2016 to 2019.
Afridi noted that Dravid, who is currently heading the National Cricket Academy (NCA), had done a lot of hard work with the young Indian players at the under-19 level.
“I think as it is we are facing a shortage of quality talent so what is coming through needs to be groomed properly by our former greats. They can do a lot with these young players,” he said.
He noted that greats like Inzamam-ul-Haq, Younis Khan and Muhammad Yousuf can do a lot in shaping and polishing the young cricketing talent of Pakistan.
Deliberating on the Muhammad Amir issue and his refusal to play under the coaching of Misbah-ul-Haq and Waqar Younis, Afridi said this was an old problem in Pakistan cricket.
“Even in my time bowlers had problems with the coaches. My issues with Waqar are well documented. I think this can only be prevented when the board (PCB) opens up and listens and talks to disgruntled players,” he said.
Amir, who retired from international cricket recently, had said that he will not take back his decision until the present management of the Pakistan team is in place.
Afridi urged the PCB to speak to Amir and resolve the issue as the left-arm pacer still has a lot to offer to the country.
Afridi also took a dig at Pakistan head coach Misbah, insisting that he had learnt as an international cricketer that one can’t survive and perform with a chicken heart at the top level.
“Players need to be encouraged to be aggressive and play with a big heart, then only results will come,” he said.


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Moeen Ali back in England bubble after clearing COVID test | Cricket News

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GALLE: England all-rounder Moeen Ali on Saturday entered the team’s bio-secure bubble here after clearing two COVID-19 tests, thus joining his mates after spending 13 days in quarantine.
Ali, 33, tested positive for COVID-19 with mild symptoms upon arrival in Sri Lanka and was isolated from the rest of the touring party.
He was originally expected to be in quarantine for 10 days, which was later extended by three days following the Sri Lankan government’s reservations over the new UK strain of the deadly virus.
“It’s great to have Mo (Ali) back,” said Sam Curran after stumps on Day 3 of the ongoing opening Test.
“When we walked into the changing room (at tea) we saw Mo and there were smiles on everyone’s faces. He’s obviously had a really tough couple of weeks and no one wants to get into the situation he was in.
Thankfully he got through that OK. We’re all really excited to have him back in the group to play cricket again, because we all know what an awesome player he is, and to be around.
“The guys are really happy. Hopefully it doesn’t happen to anyone else, because no one wants to have players leaving the group and isolating for a couple of weeks,” he added.


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Andreescu coach says he tested positive on Australian Open’s Abu Dhabi flight | Tennis News

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PARIS: Sylvain Bruneau, the coach of 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, said Saturday he tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving for the Australian Open, a result which sent 23 players into a two-week hotel lockdown.
In all, 47 players have been barred from practising in Melbourne after it was revealed that passengers on two charter flights — one from Abu Dhabi and one from Los Angeles — tested positive.
“I am deeply sorry to share that I have just tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival after travelling from Abu Dhabi,” Bruneau wrote in a media statement.

“I am extremely saddened and sorry for the consequences now on everyone’s shoulders sharing my flight.
“The rest of my team is negative and I sincerely hope that any further disruption is kept to a minimum.”
Bruneau said that he had tested negative within 72 hours of the flight’s departure from the Gulf and “felt perfectly fine when I boarded.”
He insisted he had followed all the protocols while in the Middle East.
“I have no idea how I might have contracted this virus.”
The 47 players will not now be allowed out to practise and train for the five hours each day agreed to as part of their build-up to the opening major of the year, Tennis Australia said.
The Australian Open is due to start on February 8 after being moved from its usual January slot.


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