What is Joe Schmidt’s next job and why’s he leaving Ireland after Rugby World Cup? – The Sun

JOE SCHMIDT has coached his final Ireland match – but it wasn't a nice finale.

The New Zealander watched on as his six-year reign ended in a 46-14 defeat to his home nation in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final.

Former England coach Andy Farrell will take over from Schmidt.

What is Joe Schmidt's next job?

There are not many bigger jobs in international rugby for Joe Schmidt to move into – and he is swiping those away as well.

The 54-year-old New Zealander ruled out taking over the nation of his birth in January and even told that he has no interest in getting another job for 12 months after the World Cup, as reported by The Irish Times.

Schmidt has also insisted he would go for the British & Irish Lions role with fellow countryman Warren Gatland retaining the job for the 2021 tour.

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Why is Joe Schmidt quitting?

The Irish head coach had been looking to move back to New Zealand once his left the job, in a bid to move nearer to his family.

But, as reported by the Irish Sun, he will remain in Ireland with his wife Kellie and four children settled in the country.

Schmidt said: "We'll probably stay in Ireland for some time. We're pretty settled there.

"A big motivator for me to get back was family and unfortunately we lost our mum recently, so on the back of that we'll take a bit of a breath and make some decisions beyond that."

What is Schmidt's Ireland record?

Joe Schmidt has coached Ireland through one of their most successful periods, winning three Six Nations – including the Grand Slam in 2018, picking up the World Rugby Coach of the Year title in the same season.

In his six years there, he has guided them to 50 wins in 69 matches prior to their World Cup campaign.

That figure includes an impressive two victories over reigning champions New Zealand – but the last World Cup in 2015 saw the Irish kicked out in the first knockout round by Argentina.

But it was not a final hurrah at Schmidt saw his Irish side lost 46-14 to the All Blacks in the RWC 2019 quarter-final.

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Cavalry fails to arrive with Harris, Warner in box seat for first Test

When the Ashes ended, Australia's opening pair of David Warner and Marcus Harris looked as if they would have a precarious time holding onto their positions for the home Test summer.

Instead the duo have firmed to reprise their roles against Pakistan at the Gabba next month, with the pressure yet to be applied from those with serious aspirations to take their places.

David Warner (left) is dismissed by Sam Rainbird during day two of the Sheffield Shield match between NSW and Tasmania at Drummoyne Oval.Credit:AAP

Warner missed out for the Blues in their Sheffield Shield clash against Tasmania at Drummoyne Oval on Saturday, nicking one to his Test captain Tim Paine for one.

But he had done most of the damage the week before with a resurgent century against Queensland at the Gabba. His 125 should be good enough to end the debate about whether he will be first cab off the rank, even though he has backed it up with a duck and one.

Harris also started the Shield campaign with a century and the Victorian doubled down with 69 in the first innings against Western Australia. His struggles against the new ball in England have evaporated on more familiar home tracks.

Even if the duo had failed to find form, the suitors have struggled to make inroads. Cameron Bancroft started with 30 and 0 in the first Shield round and desperately needed runs against the Vics at the WACA Ground in Perth.

Instead, Test quick James Pattinson had him nicking to Harris for 10, leaving him in need of bulk runs in the coming weeks to throw his name back in the ring.

Joe Burns has plenty of admirers and the Queenslander had a chance to put his name up in lights during a rain-affected clash with South Australia at the Gabba.

Many thought the right-hander should have been given an opportunity in England but he failed to make a point in the first innings against the Redbacks, getting a start only to depart for 39.

Former Test opener Matt Renshaw was another desperate to return to the baggy green but, like Burns, was unable to make a statement a month out from the first ball of the Test summer.

He went for 18 in the Bulls' run chase and was soon followed by Usman Khawaja, who was trapped in front for two. That adds to scores of one and 24 in the first round, and his return to the top order is no formality.

But while a few of the Queenslanders failed to make their mark, seamer Michael Neser continued to press for a Test debut, backing up his strong opening round with more wickets at the upcoming Test venue.

Neser picked up five wickets against NSW in the opener before running through the SA top order to finish with 5-56. The pace bowling line-up will be difficult to crack but Neser's effectiveness on his home track could be the difference when the final XI is pencilled in by Justin Langer.

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Steeped in Astros’ and Yankees’ Ways, Joe Espada Is a Hot Commodity

Before Joe Espada took over as the Yankees’ third base coach in 2015, he spent the 2014 season as a special assistant to General Manager Brian Cashman. The position was ostensibly a pro scouting role, but it also allowed Espada the opportunity to work with the front office and learn the organization’s philosophy — a coaching residency of sorts.

After three years on Manager Joe Girardi’s Yankees staff, Espada was hired as the Houston Astros’ bench coach, to work alongside Manager A.J. Hinch. Espada replaced Alex Cora, who had been hired as the new manager of the Boston Red Sox. Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow thought finding another up-and-comer was a good fit for the staff, effectively making the bench coach position an apprenticeship.

“That model continues to be the right model for us, to have a managerial prospect in that seat, and that’s essentially what he’s been for us,” Luhnow said. “He’s been terrific.”

Espada, 44, is rare connective tissue between the two like-minded, analytically inclined organizations that established themselves as the American League standard-bearers this season. (The only player on the teams’ current rosters to have spent time in both uniforms is Yankees outfielder Cameron Maybin, who logged 21 games with the Astros in 2017.)

Espada also embodies the evolving role of the modern coach, balancing responsibilities as a conduit to the front office with the traditional task of developing players. His aptitude and experience in both areas explain why he has been linked to so many managerial job openings — interviewing for several open posts last winter and at least one, with the Cubs last Monday, for next year. (Espada declined to be interviewed for this article because of his status as a managerial candidate.)

“Joey asks a lot of questions,” said the Phillies bench coach Rob Thomson, who held that role with the Yankees when Espada was the third-base coach. “When he first started with us, what he didn’t know or didn’t realize, he asked the questions, and he figured it out. The true beauty of this job is to be able to balance the analytics with what you’re teaching and how it applies to that player, this team, this situation.”

And Espada was able to produce results internally. Defensive overshifting in the infield is now common throughout the majors, but that wasn’t the case as recently as four years ago. The Yankees, in particular, had seen mixed results.

In early 2016, Girardi went so far as to say he would recommend banning the use of the shift (while conceding he would use it as long as it remained legal). As infield coach, however, Espada not only advocated the shift but also worked with the analytics team to help improve its algorithms and then communicate the plan to the players.

“He was a big reason why we were able to be transformative eventually with the shift,” Cashman said. “When he was in charge, it was still something that was resisted by our players, by our field staff. Other people were constantly poking fun at it, questioning it, whether it was our media, our radio broadcast team, whether it was the fans, the YES Network broadcasters.

“Whenever it failed, there was a lot of tension, a lot of animosity from all involved, including the pitchers, so he was on the front line having to push it.”

The Astros, one of the earliest and most faithful adopters of the shift, had already committed to it by the time Espada arrived, but he was charged with unifying the team in other areas.

“We use a lot of information to help our coaches do their jobs,” Luhnow said. “He’s very receptive to it. He pushes us when he doesn’t agree, but ultimately he’s responsible for making sure everybody — all of our coaches and players — are following the plan that A.J. sets.”

But beyond internal politicking and understanding the nuances of analytics, the modern coaching job still demands long hours of technique instruction. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa described arriving early to spring training camp every day to work on his defense with Espada. “I think he’s one of the best infield coaches out there,” Correa said. “It’s unbelievable how much I’ve learned from him.”

Those who know Espada praise his preternatural understanding of the game and say he has been prepared to coach his entire adult life. As a young shortstop at the University of Mobile, an NAIA program where he holds the school record for career batting average at .442, Espada not only knew what he should do in every situation but also “where everybody was supposed to be,” said Mike Jacobs, the school’s longtime baseball coach. “That was even as young as 18, 19 years old,” he added. The very first time Jacobs saw Espada play in a high school tournament, he took the field with an Ozzie Smith-style back flip.

Espada and Hinch were drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the second and third rounds, respectively, of the 1996 draft, and both remained in that organization through the 2000 season. Espada never got to the majors, reaching as high as Class AAA over nine years of minor league ball. In 2004, Espada signed with the Pensacola Pelicans in the independent Central League, where he was reunited with Jorge Hernandez, a former Mobile assistant working on the Pelicans’ staff.

“He just came to end his career, and he wanted to get into coaching,” Hernandez said.

Espada joined the Marlins’ coaching ranks in 2006 — and Hernandez followed a year later on Espada’s recommendation — as hitting coach of the Class A Greensboro Grasshoppers. Brandon Hyde, who now leads the Baltimore Orioles, was his manager then, later becoming his landlord and then his brother-in-law.

Espada was living in a unit behind Hyde’s house in 2007 when he met Pamela Dearth, the sister of Hyde’s wife, whom he later married. (Hyde no longer remembers if Espada paid rent, saying with a laugh, “I should have charged him more.”)

Hyde and Espada worked together again in 2010 and ’11 on the Marlins’ big league staff. They lived near Jupiter, Fla., and carpooled the hour each way to Miami, discussing the sport and their players the whole way.

“Very prepared. Very detailed. Passionate about sports. Passionate about teaching,” Hyde said. “He communicates extremely well with players. He’s just a baseball guy. He loves the game. He’s very interested in other ideas. We would just talk the game a lot over the years.”

Cashman, who hired Espada away from the Marlins in 2013, emphasized that what he looks for are “collaborative, open-minded people” and said the Astros targeted Espada with good reason.

“He was one of the better coaches I’ve had,” Cashman said. “And I’ve been here a long time.”

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9pm Tottenham news LIVE: Kane ‘favours Madrid move’, Spurs Amazon doc, Coutinho ‘Premier League return’ – The Sun

SPURS will look to get their season back on track when they face Watford this Saturday.

It's been a tough campaign so far for Mauricio Pochettino – but former Spurs assistant Clive Allen has revealed his explosive encounter with ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

Get all the latest Spurs news here…

  • TOTTENHAM have suffered a 2-0 defeat against Leicester.

    The visitors doubled their lead thanks to a strike from George Hirst.

  • SPURS are a goal down against Leicester!

  • SPURS striker Harry Kane has reportedly asked his agent to assess his options should he decide to leave the club.

    Reports in Spain via Sports Mole claim the 26-year-old favours a move to Real Madrid.

    They state that the England skipper is unhappy with Tottenham's start to the season.

    And they add that Spurs would want over £100million if they would ever sell their prized asset.

  • JERMAINE JENAS has branded former club Spurs a “shambles.”

    Tottenham have been terrible this season, failing to sign good players to improve their squad.

    And the current crop aren’t faring any better after losing last season’s Champions League final to Liverpool.

    Jenas told Express Sport: “You have a goalie who makes constant mistakes. The right-back situation is a joke.

    “They let Kieran Trippier leave. I don’t care what sort of season he had, he was injured the whole year.

    “Who at that football club had a part in it? They’ve allowed a top right-back to leave and left themselves with Serge Aurier who should not play again because he is a liability.

    “I watched Brighton and I said look at Erik Lame, Son Heung-Min, Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Eric Dier. All players who have been there for years. They have just gone stale.

    “When I was there, David Beckham came from LA Galaxy to train with us. Even things like that raise the level. Kane knows he is playing week in, week out. He is not being pushed, he needs someone snapping at his heels.

    “Spurs should be like Man City, who have got Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus pushing each other. They have all got to take the blame. Mauricio Pochettino has to take responsibility because he is sulking.

    “Then you look at Daniel Levy. He is on the NFL pitch thinking ‘brilliant, we are making loads of money’.

    “But the team is a mess, a shambles, and they probably won’t make top four, although I still think they’ll sort it out.”

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Manu Tuilagi was an illegal immigrant before he became an English rugby hero and supports cross-dressing brother Julia – The Sun

WHEN England take to the field against Australia on Saturday at the Rugby World Cup, they will be looking for centre Manu Tuilagi to dominate the midfield.

The 6ft, 17st 28-year-old is one of first names on the Lions team sheet when he's fit, and is a hero among fans at Premiership giants Leicester Tigers.

But a life in England looked like a pipe dream when he was just 13.

Arriving on our shores from the small beach village of Fatausi-Fogapoa, on the Samoan island of Savai’i initially on a six-month tourist visa, he faced deportation the moment his career was about to take off.

Tuilagi also grew up with a cross-dressing brother Olotuli, who now goes by the name of Julie.

He fully supports Julie's decision, even buying her make-up and handbags.

"It’s just the way he is. He was born like that and he wants to dress up as a woman," Tuilagi said.

"But not just dress up, he lives the life of a woman – he has the eyelashes, eyebrows, has make-up done and wears a bra. It doesn’t matter. He’s our brother and a great guy. He is just different."


Tuilagi grew up with five rugby-playing brothers, including his eldest sibling Fereti (better known as Freddie) who went on to play for Samoa and have a career in Rugby Union and Rugby League.

"My brothers inspired me to be better than anyone. I had to live up to their standards. You've got to be harder and tougher than anyone. When you're on the pitch you want to win. You go into that zone," he told the Daily Mail back in 2013.

That meant Tuilagi received some rough treatment from opponents because of his talented siblings.

"They would say, 'Oh, your brothers are playing for Samoa; we’re gonna smash you,' he revealed. "I was like, 'All right.'”


The family moved to the UK when Freddie, now 48, was playing for the Cardiff Blues.

Tuilagi joined them when he was 13, and continued his rugby education with Rumney FC in Wales.

"I played for a club in Wales as well. I remember going on for the first time and saying, 'How can you play in this weather?'” he recalled.

"My hands were frozen. I was on the bench but I came on and I scored. So that was good."

The Tuilagi brothers all moved to Leicester Tigers, with Manu joining their academy when he was 15.

His talent was beginning to shine through, but trouble was only around the corner.


Tuilagi starred for his school and county, and eventually was picked by England's youth teams.

However, his illegal immigrant status threatened to derail his promising career. The problem was, Tuilagi entered the country on a holiday visa and had over-stayed his welcome by six years.

"I came to this country on a six-month holiday visa and I stayed," he said. "I didn’t know anything about it at the time."

The family hatched a plan to have Freddie, who had established himself in the UK, adopt his younger brother.

However, they struggled to complete that legal process before the Home Office decided they wanted to deport Tuilagi.

"For a month I was just waiting for the police to knock on my door and arrest me," he said.

The turning point came in 2009. Manu had the chance to show his mettle against the Springboks in a televised match.

Leicester beat South Africa 22-17 and Tuilagi was one of the stars of the show. His solicitor managed to secure a court order to prevent his arrest and won the right to appeal.

Then, fans started a petition on Facebook with three MPs lending their support to Tuilagi's case.

In the summer of 2010, the UK Border Agency granted Tuilagi leave to remain.

They "considered Mr Tuilagi’s case on its own merits and in light of further representations", as well as looked at "factors such as his age, length of residence and family ties in the UK."


In the UK Julie would be described as a cross-dresser, but in Polynesian culture she is fa’afafine, or third gender.

The term translates as 'in the manner of woman', which is why she dedicated her life to helping her parents around the house, behaving like a dutiful daughter, while her brothers chased their rugby dreams.

Tuilagi and his brothers have always been supportive of Julie.

"It’s his choice to dress like a woman, have long hair and lipstick, and we accept it in the family," Freddie said.

"It’s part of him. He’s a good kid. He looks after our mum and dad, who are back in Samoa now."

And Julie is equally as respectful when she talks about them.

"My relationship with Manu and my brothers is fine. We enjoy being together and they respect me," she told the Daily Mail.

"They buy me designer handbags on my birthday, like Chanel or Gucci. Manu got me a big box of cosmetics from Dior. He also gave me Dolce and Gabbana perfume and some handbags."

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Sterling Shepard not ready for Giants return yet

Sterling Shepard will miss his second consecutive game on Sunday when the Giants face the Cardinals at MetLife Stadium.

Shepard remains in the concussion protocol, and even though he is feeling better – and participated a great deal in practice this week, wearing a yellow non-contact jersey – the Giants will be cautious with their top wide receiver, The Post has learned.

Shepard experienced his first concussion of the season in the opening-day loss to the Cowboys and missed the next game, a loss to the Bills. Getting hit with a second concussion so close after the first one is an alarming sign, and the Giants were not going to put Shepard back into a game until a certain period of time goes by.

Shepard hosted a dinner and viewing party for last Thursday night’s game against the Patriots, with Saquon Barkley (ankle) and Evan Engram (knee) as invited guests. The Giants lost to the Patriots 35-14. Barkley and Engram have overcome their injuries and will return to action this weekend. Shepard will not.

“Certainly player safety is on the front-burner for us,’’ coach Pat Shurmur said this week.

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Peter Wright back on form with his uber-successful darts that 'do his nut in'

Peter Wright is back in fine form ahead of the Champions League of Darts and it is down to picking up the arrows that bring him so much success, but also ‘do his nut in.’

Snakebite is renowned for changing between sets of darts, throughout the season, mid-tournament, he has even suggested using different darts for hitting doubles and swapping mid-leg.

The 49-year-old cannot seem to settle on a set, which is strange when one seems to be so much more successful than any others.

Over June and July Wright won four tournaments using one set of arrows, he then put them away until this week when he picked them up again to hit a world record average for a broadcast match and then win his first event since he last used those darts.

It seems an absolute no-brainer to on-lookers that Snakebite should stick with these missiles, but he still does not think that is likely.

‘I’ve just gone back to my diamond darts, that’s all,’ Wright told Metro.co.uk of his recent form. ‘I picked up the darts that I won two Pro Tours back-to-back with and the World Cup and the German World Series.

‘That’s what I used, because I hadn’t used them since, I thought I’d pick them up again and I did okay.

‘I just don’t like using them, I just go off them, over-analyse stuff, they do my head in, I get to the stage where I hate picking them up.

‘The less I use them the better. I’m using them this weekend but I haven’t picked them up. I had 15 darts with them yesterday and 15 the day before and that’s it. As long as I don’t use them too much and get them out on special occasions they should be okay.

‘It’s the way they go in and start going in silly angles, some straight, but then others not, it does my nut in.

‘The results do cheer me up and my family keeps telling me to stick with them, but I just can’t, but if I just pick them up now and again it seems to work.’

The Champions League of Darts this weekend is set to be one of those special occasions as Wright keeps hold of his magic arrows and tries to go one further than last year when he lost in the final.

The World Cup winner is desperate for more silverware at the business end of the season as, despite winning five titles this year, he sees 2019 as a bad 12 months of his career.

‘It’s been about 5/10 this year, too many lows, far too much inconsistency.

‘I was up to number two in the world, I’m down to number seven now, too many ups and downs, but we should be alright for the rest of season.’

Wright is in Group B of the Champions League which sees him take on Rob Cross, Daryl Gurney and Gerwyn Price in the round-robin ahead of Sunday night’s semi-finals and finals.

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Patrick Mahomes injury draws unsettling reactions from Chiefs teammates: 'It looked deformed'

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Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was among those who appeared to be left unsettled after his teammate and reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes reportedly dislocated his kneecap during Thursday night’s game against the Denver Broncos.

Mahomes suffered the injury in the second quarter of the Chiefs’ 30-6 blowout of the Broncos. Video appeared to show the team’s medical staff popping his dislocated kneecap back into place.

Kelce was asked about the injury after the game.

“His knee didn't even look like a knee. It was all out of whack,” he said, according to ESPN.

Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif relayed to reporters what Mahomes was saying when he went down.

“He was saying, ‘It’s out, it’s out,’” Duvernay-Tardif said. “Nobody really understood what he meant at that time and then we saw it. That's when we started panicking."

Adam Reiter, the team's center, had Mahomes on top of him during the play.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) is helped by trainers after getting injured against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Denver. 

"I think I was just yelling, 'Get off me,' but I didn't realize it was him," Reiter said. "And everybody's telling me, I'm hearing from the refs, 'Just stay still, stay still.' And I'm just laying on my stomach face down. I just had to listen to the refs and not move. As soon as I realized it was his voice, I was like, all right, I'm not moving an inch."

According to the Kansas City Star, Tyreek Hill screamed into the air and took off his helmet in frustration while Demarcus Robinson had to get away from the scene as quickly as possible.

"It looked deformed," Robinson said, according to the Star.

Mahomes is expected to miss at least three weeks with a dislocated kneecap, the NFL Network reported Friday. There is reportedly “real optimism” he will be able to play after those three weeks. He is set to undergo an MRI at some point on Friday.

It’s unclear what the Chiefs will do at quarterback at this point. Veteran Matt Moore is the team’s backup.

Mahomes let fans know he remained optimistic after the injury.


“Awesome team win! Love my brothers! Thank you for all the prayers! Everything looking good so far!” he tweeted.

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Winter is suddenly calling the running-on-fumes Yankees

By the time they cued up Sinatra, Yankee Stadium looked like one of those games in mid-May when the rain has chased everyone away, when only close friends and family remain in the seats, huddled against the misery. For even the fiercest, most faithful members of the flock, as midnight came and midnight left, it was best to simply make a quick escape, to the Deegan or the Macombs Dam Bridge or the 4 train.

The chill that swirled around the ballpark all night, and especially at the end, had felt a little too much like winter.

Suddenly, it is the bottom of the baseball season for the Yankees, after 169 games and 107 victories. Suddenly, the Yankees’ toes are tickling the edge of the abyss. The Astros pounded them 8-3, but the Yankees beat themselves plenty, too, picking the worst possible time to turn in their worst fielding game of the year (four errors). And one more time in this series, the offense continued to sputter like a ’57 Chevy on a cold February morning.

“We played poorly, there’s no other way to explain it,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “We need to flush this immediately. We need to get over this and put our best foot forward and need to play a cleaner game.”

They are down 3-1 in games in this best-of-seven American League Championship Series, and facing some awfully unfriendly odds. If they are going to buy themselves another day of summer, get themselves booked on an airplane bound for Houston, they’re going to have to beat Justin Verlander, who is either going to finish first or second in the AL Cy Young vote.

And even if they do, Verlander’s running mate, Gerrit Cole, will be waiting for them once they get to Texas. It is a most disagreeable task awaiting the Yankees, who for the second straight home game could muster very little, this time against an off-his-game Zack Greinke and a gaggle of Astros relievers.

Twice — bottom of the first, bottom of the fifth — they had the bases loaded and a chance to flex the offensive muscle that had defined so much of this journey through the 2019 season. They did scratch out a run in the first when Greinke walked Brett Gardner on four pitches, then struck out Gary Sanchez to strand three.

Four innings later they chased Greinke and had the sacks juiced and the 49,067 shoehorned into the Stadium juiced even more. But Ryan Pressly struck out Gleyber Torres and Edwin Encarnacion, the Astros exploded in their dugout, a celebration easily audible in the suddenly silent Stadium.

Soon enough, it was 6-1, and despite Sanchez’s two-run blast that finally provided proof of life for the Yankees catcher, the deed was done. The rest was garbage time. The folks fleeing to the exits had seen enough, and it was impossible to blame them.

“Stranger things have happened,” Boone said. “Much stranger.”

It is precisely the message he has to sell to his team. There have been other teams that came back from a 1-3 deficit, and for all the overwhelming successes that’ve written the Yankees’ history books, an essential part of their heritage is that 3-0 lead they blew 15 years ago to Boston. It is a black mark on that history but a reminder that their manager’s words aren’t just Pollyanna pap.

Stranger things have happened. That’s fact.

Can they happen again?

“Our guys are studs,” he said. “They embrace the challenge. I can’t wait to see us go out and play our game.”

Still, his guys are running on fumes, leaking oil, and need to find a whole lot of answers in a short amount of time. Verlander awaits Friday. A year ago, more than a few of the Yankees grumbled at having to see the Red Sox celebrate their victory in the ALDS on Yankee Stadium soil, having to hear the muffled roars leak down the hallway from the visitors’ clubhouse. Now they are in danger of enduring the exact same thing, hued in orange rather than crimson.

As an old October Yankees hero named Yogi once put it: It’s getting late early out there.

“Our backs are to the wall,” Boone conceded.

They are. Traces of winter were everywhere at the Stadium on Thursday, and it will shadow the proceedings Friday night, in what could be the last gasp of baseball season in New York City, and another sporting season ending shy of the Canyon of Heroes, added to a mounting heap of championship futility. Boone said stranger things have happened?

Well. They’d better start happening. Now.

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Arsenal boss Unai Emery urges Mesut Ozil to prove he deserves a return – The Sun

UNAI EMERY has challenged Mesut Ozil to prove that he still deserves regular Arsenal action.

Frustrated Ozil claims that he has been made the scapegoat for all the team’s shortcomings despite hardly playing any more.

Of the 26 players selected by Emery this season, only Hector Bellerin and Emile Smith Rowe have accumulated fewer than Ozil’s 142 minutes of first team football so far.

But the former German international has made it clear that he won’t be forced out of the Emirates before his £350,000-a-week contract expires in 2021.

And Emery maintains that the door is still open for Ozil to reclaim the regular starting role which he once took for granted under Arsene Wenger.

He says: “I didn’t close the possibility for Mesut to play but first I want him to be ready and available for training with a good feeling every day.

“He has had a difficult start to the season. He worked well in pre-season and he was playing in the games, but then the problem he had along with Sead Kolasinac stopped him.

“After that he was sick for one week and then he lost a lot of training to keep his fitness.

“When I said the other week that others players deserved it more to be in the team, maybe it was because at the moment they were in front of Mesut physically and with more rhythm.

“But in the last two to three weeks, Mesut has improved with us in training and now I am feeling better with him every day.

“He has very big skills and a quality we will need in the next matches. I am really happy now and my idea is to use every player. He is one player more in our squad.”

Ozil, who celebrated his 31st birthday this week, insists he has completely recovered from the trauma of the attempted car-jacking when he was driving with his wife Amine and team-mate Sead Kolasinac.

But he has managed just one Premier League appearance all season and complained: “If we don’t do well in a big game, it’s always my fault. But if that’s true, how do you explain our results when I’m not involved?

“I know people expect me to offer more and to dictate play, but I’m not the only player in the team and don’t forget that some of our opponents are simply better than us.

“I have a contract until the summer of 2021 and I will be staying until then. You can go through difficult times like this, but that is no reason to run away and I’m not going to.”

Yet Emery refused to be drawn on whether Ozil will be involved in Monday’s trip to Sheffield United as Arsenal look to consolidate their place in the top three.

He said: “Mesut Ozil is important for us but that could be by playing, by being on the bench or by preparing for the next match.

“This is the mentality for all the 25 players in our squad and we all need to be positive.

“We can all be frustrated with some moments in our past but in the present we need to be consistent in our mentality and in our work.

“We have different players with different qualities so every selection depends on the style and the game plan I want to use.”

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