Thursday, May 26, 2011

Real Madrid sack director general Jorge Valdano

Real Madrid sack director general Jorge Valdano

Jose Mourinho and Jorge Valdano Mourinho and Valdano together in happier times in May 2010
Real Madrid director general Jorge Valdano has been sacked after a board meeting at the Bernabeu stadium.
"We have decided to end the contractual relationship with Jorge Valdano," said Real president Florentino Perez.
Valdano's removal is part of a Real reorganisation that strengthens Jose Mourinho's position at the Madrid club.
The pair fell out after Valdano queried Mourinho's request for another striker as cover for the injured Gonzalo Higuain earlier in the season.
"The experience of this just completed season demonstrated a need for more autonomy, including within the coaching unit," said Perez.
"Mourinho demanded an autonomy on the sporting side like that which works with English clubs. I think for the sake of the institution that this is a reorganisation that has to be done.
"We signed the best coach in the world, so we want to be sure that even when he leaves one day and we sign another of the world's best, the structure is there."
At a later media conference, Valdano revealed that he and Mourinho had not spoken "for a long time".
"I am not the one who turned Real Madrid into a battlefield," said the Argentine. "All my efforts this season were directed toward restraint.
"It has been a long time since I have spoken personally to Mourinho. We greet each other politely, but he sought to deal with people other than me.
"My responsibilities with the first team were reduced. I did not feel comfortable in that situation."
Real won its first Copa del Rey trophy in 18 years in Mourinho's first season in charge after an 1-0 extra-time win over rivals Barcelona.
But Barca claimed a third successive La Liga title and also knocked Real out of the Champions League in the semi-finals.
"I believe Jose Mourinho staying on is good for a club that's been unstable in the past," added Valdano.
"It needs to settle for a reasonable period of time. He's done a good job, I believe he is a good coach and I find it normal that he stays on."
Valdano, who played with Diego Maradona in Argentina's 1986 World Cup-winning team, coached Madrid to the Spanish league title in 1995 and played for several seasons at the club.
The 55-year-old had two years on his current deal to run.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Serena Williams powers into Sydney semi-finals

Serena Williams
Williams is preparing to defend her title at the Australian Open

Serena Williams made swift progress at the Sydney International with a crushing win over Russia's Vera Dushevina in the semi-finals.

The world number one swept to a 6-2 6-2 victory that sets up a clash with Aravane Rezai in the last four.

France's world number 24 defeated Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-3 6-0.

Elena Dementieva saw off world number two Dinara Safina 6-2 6-3 and next faces sixth seed Victoria Azarenka, who beat Slovak Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 7-5.

Asked about her early-season form, Williams said: "I always try to get there usually around the semi-finals and finals of the Grand Slams.

"I'm just doing the best that I can now to get there. Hopefully I have a long way to go, which I think is always good."

In the men's event, home favourite Lleyton Hewitt remains on course for a fifth Sydney title after beating Italian Andreas Seppi 6-0 6-2 to reach the last eight.

"I could see in the early stages that conditions were going to be tough for all players out there today, and it always does get a little bit windy here at Homebush anyway.""It was perfect today, it was just what I needed," said Hewitt.

Fellow Australian Peter Luczak upset second seed Tomas Berdych 1-6 6-4 6-2, and Frenchman Julien Benneteau beat third seed Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3 5-7 7-6 (7-2).

There were straight-sets wins for Richard Gasquet and Marcos Baghdatis over Benjamin Becker and Viktor Troicki respectively.

Ferrari out to beat Michael Schumacher and Mercedes

Michael Schumacher and Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali
Domenicali (right) is using Schumacher's return as extra motivation at Ferrari

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali says Michael Schumacher's return to Formula 1 has fired up the Italian outfit and new recruit Fernando Alonso.

Schumacher, who won five world titles with Ferrari, is returning in 2010 with Mercedes, who won both titles in 2009 under their former guise, Brawn.

But Domencali insists Ferrari have him in their sights, saying: "Michael's return is inner motivation to our team.

"Fernando is the only driver to defeat Michael and he wants to win."

Schumacher's renewed rivalry with Alonso, who beat him to the 2005 and 2006 championships when driving for Renault, is one of the most anticipated match-ups of the new season, alongside 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton's first competitive meeting with Schumacher.

Relationships between the seven-time world champion and Alonso soured during their championship battle in 2006.

One flashpoint was when Schumacher deliberately crashed his car at slow speed to stop the Spaniard snatching pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Schumacher has never admitted to deliberately blocking the track but he was found guilty by race stewards and put to the back of the grid.

It was Alonso's turn to be furious at the Italian Grand Prix later that year when he was demoted five places for allegedly holding up Schumacher's team-mate Felipe Massa in qualifying.

Alonso has now arrived at Ferrari as Massa's team-mate for 2010 and he donned the famous red kit for the first time this week at the team's annual winter sport's event at Italian ski resort Madonna di Campiglio.

Domenicali is relishing the battles ahead between his new Ferrari line-up and former employee Schumacher.

"Michael's return is further stimulus within our set-up," Domenicali added. "It has also triggered new interest and that is good for racing.

"We have two Latin drivers and it's a gush of fresh air which brings a sparkling, new environment. This will stimulate team work and has a positive impact on the group."

More to follow.