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COVID spreads risk at art events

Despite taking all necessary precautions, a Geraldton-based events organizer has had to inform attendees at an art show she hosted last week that a third of the guests have now tested positive. (Author: Gardener)

GeraldtonErsilia Tarantino hoped her 50-strong event in the Western Australian region would be remembered as a celebration of the arts in Geraldton. Although she followed all recommended state government guidelines and asked guests to check in and provide vaccination certificates, she said she felt guilty. "Although people take their own risk to come to an event, you feel guilty that it is your event where they caught it, even though you did your best to keep people safe," she said. Ms Tarantino said while it's important to continue celebrating community arts, she would think twice before holding an event of a similar size in the near future. Sammy Jay, whose art was on display at the event, said she was incredibly disappointed to learn that so many attendees had contracted COVID. "It feels really bad," she said. After the localized outbreak, another local events provider pulled the pin and canceled Tree Sets - an event in Geraldton to showcase local musicians that typically drew around 100 people. Regional Sounds chief executive Alexia Parenzee said tears were shed this week as the nonprofit made the decision to cancel. "Many, many volunteer hours went into the production of this event," she said. "Knowing there has been a small spike in local COVID cases, we really felt it was in everyone's best interest to postpone or cancel for the time being." Ms Parenzee said it was an incredibly challenging time, to organize events. "We're only going to have conversations with the community and with our players in art and music - individuals who make up our scene," she said. Organizer of the Musicians Australia section of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance union, Thomas Freeman, said grassroots artists have been hit hard by the pandemic. "They're small community arts events — like a screening at a local art gallery or a band playing at the pub — they don't bring in big numbers," he said. As organizers weigh the future of their events, Midwest General Practitioner Network member Ian Taylor urged people to continue doing what they can to stop the spread. He said the localized outbreak in Geraldton could have been worse. "It is likely that - without masks and other rules - the transmission would have been even worse," said Dr. Taylor about the event.

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Everton remain with manager despite growing threat of relegation from Premier League

Everton are a point above the relegation zone after Wednesday's defeat at Burnley; The club hierarchy cleaves to Frank Lampard after two wins and seven defeats in his nine Premier League games in charge (Author: Gardener)

Premier LeagueEverton's hierarchy do not believe the sacking of Frank Lampard will improve their chances of remaining in the Premier League at this point, despite the growing threat of the club's first relegation from the top flight in 71 years. That's not to say Everton have decided to stay at Lampard until the end of the season, regardless of the results. There are genuine concerns over Everton's predicament at board level, Sky Sports News has been told, as the club have lost six of their last seven Premier League games. Rumors of Sam Allardyce's possible return are rife, Sky Sports News has been told. However, independent agents outside the club are believed to have been exploring other management options should Everton's board decide to make a move. In my relatively short managerial career, I spent 18 months at Chelsea, where I was always probably two games off. "I'm proud to be the coach here and to continue the history of this club in a positive way." The fans live and breathe this club. Should Everton be relegated they would find themselves in significant financial difficulties as very few members of the first-team squad have contracts that automatically reduce if the club finds themselves in the league, Sky Sports News understands. It shows just how dependent the club is on the cash injections of owner Farhad Moshiri, whose patience will be tried when Everton are eliminated from the top flight for the first time since 1951. Former Everton defender Alan Stubbs told Sky Sports after the Burnley defeat: "In terms of giving the players lift and some breathing room, it was a huge game. I said before the game Everton didn't care could afford to lose that game." Unfortunately after putting themselves in a really good position like many other games this season, they found a way to lose the game. "Getting into a losing streak is the same as winning. You don't think about it, but psychologically, when you lose, you doubt yourself more with every game and you make the wrong decisions. If an opposing manager says at half-time, that this team doesn't know how to win a football game away from home says all there is to know about the state of Everton."They had chances to win and they should have won the game but they have this season done on numerous occasions where they couldn't see games and their defense was of a really bad standard that let the opposition back into the games."As an Everton fan it's quite depressing when you watch the games - it's hard to say where the points will come from. Everton have had a result from scratch in the past so it wouldn't surprise me if it was on Saturday at home [vs Manchester United] they should get a result. Brentford home and Watford away won't be easy, so scratches your head For Everton to be in this position at this stage of the season it's incredibly digestible "There are a few fans who say Frank Lampard made a few decisions wrong but at the end of the day, these are the ones same players who were in the managers before him. It's not about getting rid of Frank Lampard now. "It's about the players trying to do whatever it takes to get a result and get Everton out of the mess they're in They're in. The managers have been blamed too much but there's so much wrong with Everton at the moment – ​​from the board level right through to the way onto the pitch.” g Find will and will to get Everton through this season and keep them in the league. It's the biggest fear I've ever had as an Everton fan.” If you score two goals away from home, you expect to win the game. When you're in a relegation battle you either expect your keeper to be crap, which he's not, or expect him to be man of the match every week - which he wasn't - so there must be positives." the negatives taken into account but we got 27 points for playing for and we have manchester united on saturday. As a kid you want to play against him to show what a good player you are. My heart tells me they'll stay up while my head tells me they'll fight. Dominic Calvert-Lewin will definitely score at some point and it's about relieving the players in training during the week. "The players have to remember that at the end of the season they have no regrets and put everything into the games.

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Liverpool manager says Man City manager Pep Guardiola is the best manager in the world

Jürgen Klopp: Pep (Guardiola) is the best coach in the world. If anyone doubts him, I have no idea how that could have happened; Guardiola also praises Klopp; watch Man City v Liverpool live on Sky Sports Premier League on Sunday from 4pm; Kick-off 4:30 p.m (Author: Gardener)

Man CityJurgen Klopp has called Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola the "best manager in the world" and says Liverpool will need a "perfect performance" to beat their Premier League title rivals when the two meet in Sunday's special meet from Sky Sports. Ahead of City's Champions League quarter-final game against Atletico Madrid this week, Guardiola joked he may have found the solution to the suggestion that he over-complicates his tactics in the big games: playing with 12 players. "I always think too much in the Champions League," said Guardiola. "I'm always coming up with new tactics and ideas and you'll see a new one. I think a lot, that's why I have very good results in the Champions League. It would be boring if my job had to play the same way all the time." Klopp expects a thrilling battle at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, live on Sky Sports, that will give his side a chance to go two points clear at the top of the Premier League with a win. But he felt obliged to defend Guardiola after his light-hearted comments were taken literally by some sections of the media. The Liverpool manager said: "It was ironic! If you want to talk to us then please do us a favor and help us. Pep said ironically: 'I think too much, and I like to overthink'." Pep is the best coach in the world. I think we all agree on that and it may be a coincidence that it hasn't worked out in the Champions League so far. Klopp reiterated that respect for Guardiola and his team in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports' Geoff Shreeves when asked what it takes to beat the Spaniard's sides. The German has the best record of any manager against Guardiola, winning nine of his 22 meetings, but says his team needs to be at their best to finish ahead at Etihad. "You need a perfect performance," said Klopp. “You have to defend at your absolute highest level. There is no system in the world that can defend them as a system. But you can cause problems for City if you have a good idea, a good plan, a good system and then top, top, world-class players. While City recently dropped points against a Crystal Palace side who had just 26 per cent possession and defended deep, Klopp is clear his Liverpool side will have their own game in Manchester this weekend. He believes it should make for another "intriguing" clash between the country's top two sides. "There were other games where City were struggling to win, they were still superior but couldn't break a low block and stuff like that. That's football," said Klopp. The spaces are getting smaller and you still have them same number of players to play against."We don't play like that, we'll try to create, we'll have our own periods of possession. City have the most possession in the league, we're not far behind. We have similar ones "Both teams are counter-pressing, wanting to get the ball back high, we might be pressing a little higher, against us they made us intervene a little more last time... It's interesting, it's fascinating, from a pure football fan point of view ." You have to look at it and the games against them were always interesting. I really like it." The stakes are high this time around - Champions City lead Liverpool, who have won their last 10 Premier League games, by just a point from meeting at the Etihad - but Klopp believes Sunday's encounter will hold "It doesn't happen very often that two top teams meet, but our match history has shown that it's an interesting watch as both teams really go all out," added the German, using momentum, using gaps and creating momentum want. We're both looking for gaps, so I'm expecting an interesting game."In sport, it helps the most to have a strong opponent. In the long run, that's what helps you the most. I'm sure that (Rafa) Nadal and (Roger ) Federer helped each other a lot." I can't say it's helpful [having City as a title rival] but it hasn't denied our development. We've learned to be in the game over the years, bute r after the Benfica game they knew it was city time and we will be prepared. We both played on Tuesday so we had enough time to prepare for the game and recover. City have had plenty of trophy experience in recent seasons, triumphing in a similarly close title race in 2019 when they won their last 14 games to overtake Liverpool by a single point. Sunday's game is the second of four games in an intense two-week streak that will see City triple-hunting and could make or break their campaign. This is followed by the second leg against Atletico in the Spanish capital next Wednesday and another high-profile clash with Liverpool in the semi-finals of the FA Cup over the weekend. So will Sunday prove crucial in the race for the Premier League title this season? "I can't decide what people think but we can just go through the possible outcomes," said Klopp. "If we win, we'll have a two-point lead. If we lose, we're four points behind. I'm sure City won't think like that. If we draw, we're a point behind.” With the season we've played so far, it qualifies us for a great game and I'm really happy that we can be there and a lot of people can see it. In his column for the Daily Telegraph, Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher claimed Liverpool's rivalry with City is the "greatest ever" in English football - he beat Manchester United's struggles with Arsenal and Chelsea in the 90s and 2000s because they they are “The Two Best Teams in the World”. Klopp was inclined to agree based on Carragher's point of view. I've seen a lot of football in my life and I know big rivalries. It's cool what's happened over the past four years as we've managed to speed things up. We managed to close the gap slightly with City and we pushed each other to incredible scores - madness - I didn't think that was possible in this league but the consistency both teams have shown was insane. "The closer you get, the more likely it is that you can overtake, but we know it's difficult. With no margin or the slightest mistake, Klopp knows the race is far from over, regardless of the Result on Sunday - especially like his." With games against Everton and Manchester United still to come before the end of the month, the side have the tougher run-in, meaning they face the short journey down the M62 with confidence as they attempt to claim their first league win at the Etihad since 2015, although they have won a European game there since then: "You have to prepare and then you have to show respect by the way you defend," Klopp continued, "there is no game in world football that you play with can compare." man city They don't have weak points, but it's football and the field is very big, so you have to use your chances and space to create. "All you can do is try to deny them as best you can. When you give space to the best players it doesn't make sense. There's a lot to think about but in the end I really hope I give the guys can help to have everything." the necessary information, but not too much: "You have to be yourself and enjoy the game." Klopp didn't think he could take his side to the level Manchester City were at when he arrived in the Premier League, but the The past four years have proved him wrong. In 144 games since the start of the 2018/19 season, City have won 108, drawn 14 and lost 22, amassing 338 points. Liverpool have won 104 times, drawn 25 and lost just 15 times, for a total of 337. It's massive," said Klopp. "If someone had asked me four years ago - 2018 or whatever - if that's possible and you're that close? I would have said, 'Ah, not really'. I would have said: 'Ah, not really'."They wouldn't have the points they have if we weren't there and it would be the same if it were the other way around. We obviously pushed each other well, that's the truth." best football team in the world and they got a point more than us - what does that say? I'm happy about that, but it would be better if we had 20 points more in that period than we would have won another title or more silver medals. That's the foundation we've laid, let's go from there. Guardiola, meanwhile, has refused to call Sunday's much-anticipated Premier League clash against Liverpool a title decider.Champions City are a point clear of Klopp's team at the top of the table.Guardiola said at his press conference: "I don't know. It will be be a hugely important three points but there are seven games left Klopp has called Guardiola the best manager in the business but the City boss was modest on learning of the compliment, saying: 'I didn't become a manager to do that To be the best, I'd like to say I'm the best, but I'm not." However, when it came to describing his team's strengths, Guardiol was a much more open. The Spaniard said: "I would say incredible things about my team. My team is the best. I'm happy to admit that my players are exceptional.” Guardiola also spoke of his admiration for Klopp. He said: "Jürgen makes world football a better place to live. I try to have a good relationship with all the managers he knows, we spoke together in Germany, the message and the way his teams play. He's a good guy and I don't have any problems with him.” Guardiola believes City's rivalry with Liverpool in recent years has been the toughest he's seen in his career. He said: “I admire what they do, how good they are . "When I retire and watch and play golf, I will remember that Liverpool was the biggest rivalry." Guardiola has claimed he is so happy at Manchester City that he can stay at the club "forever". The Spaniard's current contract at the Etihad Stadium runs until the end of next season. The 51-year-old has twice agreed new terms since taking office in 2016 and has now signaled he could be ready to do so. Guardiola dropped the hint while responding to reports claiming Brazil want to take him on as national team coach after this year's World Cup. "Not today, come on," he said when asked about the Brazil speculation at a press conference. "I won't stay forever (but) I would (like to) stay here forever. I don't know where it came from." In a special edition of the Essential Football Podcast, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher joins Ron Walker to discuss this weekend's thrilling title race, with leaders Manchester City hosting second-placed Liverpool live on Sky Sports Premier League this Sunday. Carra explains why the game still might not function as a title decider even with so little season left, why City and Liverpool are ahead in different parts of the pitch, why a draw could be a good result for both managers - and forecasts how the Etihad showdown will play out. Manchester City's big Premier League clash against Liverpool takes place on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports. With just a point between champions City and Liverpool at the top of the table, the result should have a major impact on the title race. Coverage at Etihad Stadium begins at 4pm on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event, with kick-off at 4.30pm. There will be a bumper line-up at Sky Sports Studio with Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Roy Keane and Micah Richards all in attendance. How to watch and follow the game on Sky Sports...

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Why Man City vs Liverpool could be the highlight of the Premier League

Frustration between the clubs has grown, as has the rift between the pair and the rest of the league (Author: Gardener)

Man CityAs the excitement surrounding the Premier League mounts, there are different emotions at Anfield and the Eastlands. The preparation for Sunday's title showdown has already been compounded by a lot of noise. There has been ridiculous debate on the Liverpool side over the appointment of referee Anthony Taylor. There have been complaints on the Manchester City side about "the timing" of another damaging story told by the Mirror. 'Must be a big game' was a frequent remark, as if reputable German newspapers were Liverpool supporters. The reality is absolutely none of this affects players. Figures like Kevin De Bruyne and Jordan Henderson don't allow that. Circumstances may have adjusted as we prepare for the biggest Premier League game of all time and certainly the biggest in a decade. As prone as the competition may be to overdoing it, that doesn't seem to be the case here. Consider previous games of this magnitude. In the 30 years of its existence, very few Premier League games have ever had the title at stake. City are aiming for the true treble as they also aim for the long-awaited Champions League. Liverpool are aiming for an unprecedented quadruple as well as a record-breaking 20th domestic title. Add to that the fact that they meet in the FA Cup semi-finals next week and are on course for the ultimate clash in the Champions League final. None of these showdowns between previous title contenders who are ranked way below comes close to any of that. We could well be talking about a pinnacle for the Premier League and maybe European football. The latter is why this likely tops Manchester United's rivalry with Arsenal. More of their games from 1996 to 2005 had more ferocity, sure, but that emotion overlooked an unavoidable reality. Until 2004, Arsenal never came close to a Champions League competition. The two did not meet in Europe, nor in many truly momentous league games in the postseason. We never talked about the two best teams in Europe together, about a track like that. Not even Chelsea-United 2008 reached that level considering how much else was going on. We're seeing something from 2009 to 2019 that equates to a decade of Clasicos where the game is clearly the highest level of football in the world. Much of that comes from both the best and worst in the sport, further fueling the rivalry. Many stakeholders, certainly on the City side, feel the worst emotions stem from the objects being thrown at their bus ahead of the 2017-18 Champions League quarter-final first leg. “The rivalry grew and they became our No. 1 team to beat. None of us sat on that bus and said we were scared, but it was very uncomfortable and should never have happened. I think that incident changed the way many neutrals viewed Liverpool. It certainly changed the way City looked at her, but of course there was another element. A sense of righteous anger served Pep Guardiola's side as they began to resent suggestions Jurgen Klopp had figured them out. That thunderous 3-0 victory at Anfield was the second of three consecutive Liverpool victories, the first of which was a commanding 4-3 win in the top flight that ended City's aspirations for an "invincible" season. The rivalry, which of course started with the arrival of Klopp and Guardiola, had previously been friendly. It changes when Guardiola starts losing. "He's not that friendly," says a top European manager. Klopp is not a big loser himself. He just didn't have to suffer that much against Guardiola's City. Klopp has lost to them just four times in 14 games, against five wins and another Community Shield win on penalties. However, the problem wasn't beating City in individual games. It beat her over a season. That seemed a feat too far for Liverpool for a while. A low point was reached in the title race, which led to the greatest heights. In 2018-19 Liverpool somehow pushed themselves to 97 points - only for City to get a point more. The January game, in which City won 2-1 thanks to an inch-perfect shot on goal, was as symbolic as it was crucial, serving as a metaphor for the season and how the Manchester club always had more. This added to Liverpool's frustration with City's increasing cash flow and what they were as a club. It wasn't just Liverpool versus City, after all. It was Fenway Sports Group versus Abu Dhabi, venture capitalists versus a state. They point to a further dimension of the connection between Abu Dhabi and City and consequently explain why the club - and this game - are where they are. Klopp himself has commented on this. The Liverpool hierarchy was furious. There were times when they felt almost helpless, horrified that they could do almost everything right and end up with nothing left. It didn't help that there were long-term tensions around recruitment and even young players. Guardiola almost seems anxious to play him at home against Liverpool, where he's excelling compared to Anfield. City only got it in 2015 because they could pay more. Multiple sources say FSG "hated and feared" City from the start. John W. Henry often expressed his confusion as to how the acquisition came about. The outcome of the Court of Arbitration for Sport is still galling and influenced Liverpool's moves in both the Project Big Picture and the European Super League. This points to the other side of the problem. While it is obvious that states should not be allowed to control clubs and that this will almost inevitably lead to ominous inequalities, it is an indictment of football's leadership that such takeovers were necessary to even contend with traditional powers to be able to compete. Very few clubs have Liverpool's international profile. Every regulation in football encourages and multiplies this like no one else can. You only have to look at the upcoming “reforms” of the Champions League. City have always been irritated at the failure to point this out and constantly felt that 'the favourites' were over-hyped by Liverpool. It's just a little rich if the Big Six voting bloc - not to mention the Super League - proves that City are now an integral part of that cartel. A state's wealth means it strains the game's competitive balance even more, not only disrupting it but destroying it, all for the most questionable ends. Liverpool, for all their own failings among venture capitalists, have had to maximize every virtue just to keep up. That's why Klopp has done a tremendous job, especially with this 2019-20 title. If it weren't for that, we'd be talking about five consecutive championships for City. This points to another difference between the clubs. While City had the resources to ensure everything was set up for Guardiola's appointment, it seems nothing could have happened at Liverpool without Klopp. Klopp has pioneered the process of ensuring every area of ​​the club is maximised. This season, through patient building, it has resulted in a squad to rival City and a first XI. Everything follows Klopp, just like everyone follows him. So they can return to those points. So they could compete with City for so long. Since August 2018 and when Liverpool put the “last slice” in a title-winning side with the signing of Alisson, the points records have been remarkable. City have 338 out of a possible 432, Liverpool 337. That's 73 more than the next best at Chelsea. While that shows real sporting greatness, it's not necessarily great for football. This is not like before, when it was all about the will of such historical managers. Great managers could regularly take teams to 80 points. Pass by so often that more is asked for. Liverpool are pretty good at pointing out how they've excelled on that landscape, but the gaps don't look that big from other angles in the Premier League or Europe. To anyone outside of the elite, these are still just two superclubs that have the immense resources required to compete. One is the richest, with a lot of intelligence. The other is the smartest, with lots of wealth. That's also why Sunday's game is all the more massive. All comparisons of the remaining games show that these teams are too good, both in the 2018/19 season and this season. That run-in three years ago was simultaneously the highest quality and least dramatic title race. It looks like something similar could happen now. The story of this race is not that City stumbled as they only dropped points to four clubs. It's that Liverpool have been promoted. They have returned to an unrelenting level. They have now won 10 straight in the league to match City's previous run of 12. It is very likely that both will win all their other games after this one. That puts all the more pressure on Liverpool to win this, to seize this opportunity. You sense that something is happening. However, there shouldn't be any concern of a Klopp side attempting to grab it. That's one of the great things about this device that makes it so alluring. Both managers will be ready to get involved. Just as they've hardly faltered in terms of points, they've hardly faltered in these games. So many of these games were played at high speed yet in the highest quality. At least two, if not more, could easily be called the greatest Premier League game of all time. It's no coincidence that the most subdued came amid Covid football. Sunday will see roaring crowds adding just one more element: the right kind of noise. It's the pinnacle of modern football, with both sides pushing themselves to the limit. On the sidelines we have two great managers who are completely trusted to come up with ideas to win. On the pitch we have two finely tuned teams that are fully focused on the most intense game. They shape the game so much that both naturally influenced each other. Bernardo Silva or Joao Cancelo storm forward just as suddenly as any Klopp team these days. Liverpool, meanwhile, are just as likely to retain the ball as any Guardiola side. This is a classic case of the best of the best clashing and driving each other to become less distinguishable but all the more compelling. Such was the tone as Klopp and Guardiola shared one of their many friendly moments following the 2019 Champions League final. That was shown when Guardiola called Klopp to congratulate him and they "promised to kick each other's butt again next season". This season is already looking like a repeat of 2018-19, except on a different level. It comes from a lot of disgust and many reasons for concern about the game. It also gives us the ultimate in the game and so much to admire.

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Barcelona's teenage magician: 'Pedri Potter' brings Messi-esque magic back to Camp Nou

Pedri is already Barcelona's best player and perhaps the best midfielder in the world despite being just 19 years old. The Spanish star has brought the magic lost with Lionel Messi's departure back to the Camp Nou (Author: Gardener)

BarcelonaIn the months following Lionel Messi's painful departure, the Argentinean has been conspicuous by his absence from FC Barcelona. Of course he was; Messi was the best player the club had ever had and was still the best player in the team until the day his contract expired. Messi was the name on everyone's lips as Barca suffered defeats to Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Rayo Vallecano, Bayern Munich and Benfica. Barcelona were lifeless, dying under Ronald Koeman, and after the Netherlands coach was replaced by Xavi Hernandez in November, the side began to stir. Xavi's team was more recognizable but still far from their best. They drew against Osasuna, Sevilla and Granada, lost at home to Real Betis and were eliminated from the Champions League after a 3-0 defeat at Bayern. They beat Atletico Madrid four in an impressive performance in February, then they did it again against Valencia - and Athletic Club - and Napoli - and Osasuna - and, most impressively, at the Santiago Bernabeu against Real Madrid. There are several reasons for their resurgence, from new signings Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ferran Torres to the restoration of high press along with Xavi's other tactical improvements. But a big, underestimated factor is the return of Pedro Gonzalez - or, as you may know him, Pedri. While Messi's absence was mourned, Pedri's absence went under the radar. After appearing in the first few games of the season - including a 4-2 win over Real Sociedad - he suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him until January. Barcelona missed not only their talisman and all-time all-time goalscorer, but also the teenager who took La Liga by storm in his debut season and hasn't stopped improving since. Pedri's return from an injury that immediately returned to the remarkable level he had shown both last season and with Luis Enrique as a key player in Spain's run to the Euro 2020 semi-finals has propelled Xavis Barcelona forward. He is a key catalyst for their resurgence in La Liga and their hopes of winning the Europa League, where they meet Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of the quarter-finals on Thursday. "Pedri, Pedri, Pedri" chanted the fans - and the front pages of the newspapers Diario Sport and Mundo Deportivo. Pedri has become a fan favourite, Camp Nou's new wizard to fill in Messi's big footsteps, albeit from a different position, closer to a new Andres Iniesta, a comparison drawn relentlessly even by Xavi. 'Pedri Potter' memes adorn social media and Barcelona have honed in on the pop culture reference, selling their kit with a special label in the club shop. It's a fun idea, and there's some truth in it, as Pedri increasingly reveals that he has magic in his boots that few possess. His nutmeg against Athletic Club's Mikel Balenziaga in February had fans on their feet and hands on their heads, but he also excels in less spectacular facets of the game. Of course, the big moments make the headlines. His waltz into the box to score against Galatasaray in the Europa League was something special. He displayed an otherworldly calm in a fiery atmosphere in Istanbul, and he showed the same trick again against Sevilla to give Barcelona a 1-0 win on Sunday. "When I see legs in front, I cut them back," said Pedri, simply explaining something that stunned over 76,000 fans at the Camp Nou. If he lacked one thing last season it was goals, scoring just four in 52 games. He has four out of 19 this season and it would have been five if his rocket against Valencia hadn't been brushed en route to the Aubameyang game. Pedri is already one of the world's best midfielders, and maybe even the best. "Pedri gives us composure, he doesn't lose the ball, he should be outstanding," said Xavi. "There's no talent in the world like Pedri and he's only 19." Kevin De Bruyne, who scored for Manchester City against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday, might disagree, but at 30 his is approaching Time at the top of their final years, while Pedri's has just begun. "He commands space and time to perfection," said Xavi, prompting Radio Marca show La Pizarra de Quintana to compare him to Doc Emmett Brown and his DeLorean, rather than Harry Potter. It works too, as Pedri plays - and sometimes speaks - like a 35-year-old Barca player who has reached the end of his career, returned to puberty and is starting from scratch again with all his skills on the bench. Maybe there was a photo of Rakitic and Diego Carlos on the floor somewhere in the Grays Sports Almanac and so Pedri knew exactly what to do against Sevilla. What used to be 'Messi's Garden' is now called 'Pedris Garden' and the chants fans have for him are sung with the same reverential intonation. They see him as the leader of this new generation, the best player in this current squad and a key figure in the Barcelona project for the next five to 10 years. "I don't think I'm the leader, we all are," Pedri said after the 4-1 win over Valencia.

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Women's rights activist says leaving Met boss made her 'physically ill'

The outgoing Metropolitan Police Commissioner received a guard of honor as she left Scotland Yard on Friday (Author: Gardener)

MetA prominent suffragette has criticized the reception Dame Cressida Dick received when she left Scotland Yard for the last time as Metropolitan Police Commissioner on Friday. Dame Cressida, who will serve her last day in office on April 10, received a guard of honor as she exited the Met headquarters. She was greeted with cheers and applause as she made her way through the crowd before hugging a colleague's son. Activist Patsy Stevenson, a vocal critic of Dame Cressida's leadership, said the expression of gratitude for the commissioner's service made her sick. "I get sick when I see people saluting and clapping Cressida Dick on her way out. London Mayor Sadiq Khan made it clear he had no confidence in Dame Cressida before she announced her resignation in February. Speaking at a Labor local election event, Mr Khan said he would not "hide from the fact" that he had lost confidence in her. The latter part of Dame Cressida's tenure was mired in controversy. After a series of scandals and incidents, two investigations are underway into the culture within the Met. These include the murder of Sarah Everard by then-acting police officer Wayne Couzens; the detention of two officers who photographed the bodies of murdered sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman; Criticism of how the force handled the "Partygate" scandal and the Daniel Morgan Report, which blasted the Met's failure to fight corruption. Despite the criticism and scrutiny, Dame Cressida said in her last letter to London that she would "always look back with pride at what I have achieved as Commissioner". Addressing critics but trying to reassure Londoners, she wrote: "We hear the criticism, know not everyone trusts us to provide a good service when they need us and have seen among us those whose horrible actions have left you all and us, down so horribly. “We listen and act on what you tell us so we can change for the better. Just this week we launched our 'violence against women and girls' plan, informed by the views of hundreds of Londoners." The outgoing Met boss also suggested the "current politicization of policing," which she says "doesn't pose a threat only for policing, but for trust in the entire criminal justice system". The official last day of Dame Cressida is April 24th. Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House will act as Acting Commissioner on an interim basis while the recruitment process continues.

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No negative points for Boro as Djed Spence is named Player of the Month

Djed Spence is a huge asset to Middlesbrough even though he is currently away from the club (Author: Gardener)

Djed SpenceNo demerits for Middlesbrough as Nottingham Forest loanee Djed Spence is named Player of the Month Our daily newsletterSomething went wrong, please try again later. Thank you for subscribing!We have more newslettersShow meDjed Spence was awarded March's Championship Player of the Month today. It's another feather in the cap of an impressive season for the Middlesbrough loanee as his time at Nottingham Forest grows stronger. Forest is in the race with Boro to reach the playoffs this season and is actually fifth ahead of Boro as of Friday night before the final round of play. It could be easy to look at that and criticize the situation where a player of Spence's quality looks elsewhere when signed to Boro. Such opinions regularly surface from pundits, particularly after a televised match, but they smack of the short-term that Boro is trying to move away from. That's not to say that Boro doesn't want to make the playoffs or achieve promotion this season. But looking at the bigger picture there are no negative aspects to Spence's situation which currently sees him thrive at a promotion rival. But of course that was before the proper appearance of Isaiah Jones who, already exciting at this point, has taken those levels to another level since the Boro boss arrived in November. And that was the main reason Spence wasn't recalled in January as well as why there are no negatives for Boro with Spence currently playing his football at Forest. Had he returned in January, would he realistically have affected Boros' current standing that much? Indeed, in that regard, I can't imagine how Spence, being here, would have done anything other than either limit Jones' playing time or leave him on the bench, where the argument would be weakening a promotion rival . With such high standards, however, Wilder will want to reach the May play-offs based on the performance and performance of his side, not because they removed a player from a rival's roster to weaken him. Considering that if Boro missed this season and Forest made it, any talk of Spence being the difference would not wash up on Teesside, nor would it serve the many other talented Forest players who contribute to their current standing. And that's where medium to long-term thinking comes in, too, as leaving Spence at Forest has significantly increased his value from Boro's perspective when he returns this summer. With Forest's FA Cup run and Spence's overall form, the value continues to rise and Boro can expect to earn comfortably in excess of £10m from the sale of the full-back this summer should he decide to do so, as is widely expected. Wilder was just speaking today about how, in an ideal world, he would want a direct replacement for Jones in his squad next season and Spence, who has another two years on contract, would fit that bill. But the club's finances are also important and the sort of fee Boro should be getting from the sale of the 21-year-old this summer certainly makes that too good to turn down. At this point, the Player of the Month award is unlikely to add any more value to Spence's name. A few more goals or assists wouldn't hurt until the end of the season, mind you. In any case, allowing Spence to stay with Forest after signing a 12-month contract extension was nothing but positive for Boro. Jones is thriving and his game is evolving, and Spence has continued to impress and become a sought-after asset. Boro can't lose in this scenario because Spence won't make the difference between them making the playoffs or not. To get the latest Boro news straight to your inbox, sign up for our free football newsletter here.

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Europa League quarter-finals, first leg – how it came about

Minute-by-minute report: Tanguy Ndombele struck out Jarrod Bowen's opener for West Ham after Aaron Creswell was sent off in the first half (Author: Gardener)

Europa League quarter-finalsThis website uses cookies for analytics, personalized content and ads. By continuing to browse this site, you agree to this use. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience. West Ham 1-1 Lyon: Europa League quarter-finals first leg - how it happened Minute by the minute: Tanguy Ndombele canceled Jarrod Bowen's opener for West Ham after Aaron Creswell was sent off in the first half. Related: West Ham struggle with Lyon for a Europa League draw after Creswell's red card Jarrod Bowen, the captain for West Ham, speaks to BT. What did he think of the red card? "I thought it was cheap, if I'm honest he [Dembele] walked away from goal. Only watched it live though, didn't look back.” What was Moyes' message at half-time? "Keep your head, stay in the game." Bowen adds: "We weren't at our best tonight but we're still confident." The Guardian's match report comes from Jacob Steinberg at the London Stadium so that's my cue to good ones to say night. Thank you for your business, your correspondence and your learned references to the Rolling Stones, J-M Jarre and Smash Hits. All Europa League quarter-finals (first legs) took place in binary. Three of them ended 1-1, including Barcelona's game in Frankfurt, but there was one result - poor old Rangers lost 1-0 at Sporting Braga. "There was more jumping in this match," says Nora Mulcahy, "than I've ever seen in a swimming pool!" Everywhere! And West Ham have a draw that feels like a win. Nothing happened for 47 minutes, then it all happened in one moment when an inexperienced referee showed Aaron Creswell a straight red for a minor foul. West Ham's ten men reacted great to take the lead, blew it through an easy goal but then rallied to get the tie. David Moyes allows himself a smile before thanking the crowd with his usual courtesy. His team showed a lot of character. 90+8 mins: Two more shots from Lyon – one saved by Areola, the other blocked. 88 mins: Antonio goes in too hard on Ndombele, slams it up and gets a legitimate yellow. 90+7 mins: A through ball finds Dembele - but Dawson finds an old-school tackle which the crowd greets as if it were a goal. 90+4 min: David Moyes had to think so much in this half, he didn't use any more subs. 90+6 mins: Bowen booked for shoving Emerson when the ball (and both) went wide. 90+5 mins: One of those crosses eludes West Ham centre-backs but Dembele can't contain his header. 90+3 mins: Lyon are now throwing their crosses in the air which is a surprise as Dawson and Zouma had air superiority the whole time. 90 min: There are EIGHT additional minutes. Just as they were playing so well, West Ham, just as a sub, allowed Tete to squirm into the box and cross. Fredericks stands in his way but can only give Ndombele a tap-in. Tottenham loanee Tanguy Ndombele equalizes for Lyon. Photo: David Klein/Reuters 83 mins: When they fold, West Ham are stacking players up front in a bold but risky move. Maybe they're counting on Lyon continuing to build up slowly. Photo: Andrew Boyers/Action Images/Reuters Photo: Andrew Boyers/Action Images/Reuters 85 mins: West Ham charge forward again with Antonio and Bowen doing the work of three men - after which some idiot runs onto the pitch. 80 min: Another save from Areola, this time more confident as Emerson shoots hard and low. I do it 3-3 for shots on target; after shots it is now 17:5 for Lyon. They push in a through ball to Demebele, but he's flagged for offside. "If Iron Maiden are West Ham's favorite musicians," says Kári Tulinius, "who would play the same role for Lyon? Jean-Michel Jarre, The Iron Maiden of the Rhône. Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty Images 78 min: Paqueta shoots straight at Areola but hits so hard that the keeper saves. "Half-time greetings from the London Stadium," said Ian Sargeant a while ago. This red card hit me like the news that Yazoo is breaking up. 69 minutes: Antonio is up again, giving his all as always, but Lyon have fresh legs on both flanks. 64 min: "West Ham looks more menacing at ten than eleven," says the commentator, and he's not wrong. 62 min: Antonio has moved to the right wing, once his natural habitat. Bowen leads the line even after scoring his 14th goal of the season. Bowen gets off properly on the left and does well to cross for Antonio, who either misses the ball or deflects his shot as he presses on the keeper. 60 min: The game stops for the right reason as Fredericks needs some attention after a headbutt with Dembele. 55 min: Thanks also to Pablo Fornals who did a good job of half forcing Boateng's error by pressing high and hard. 57 mins: Another long-range effort from Lyon - better than most as Ndombele whips a drive wide of the post. 53 min: It was a mistake by Boateng that let the ball stroll through to Bowen. The crowd, feeling very sorry for itself, has come alive again. 46 mins: West Ham were already playing a low block so not much has changed yet. But their problem is that when they cough it up Antonio, he now has no one to buckle it to. West Ham are eliminated early in the second half. Ben Johnson replaces Creswell and Benrahma was sacrificed which is a shame as he played well. The wink has already been shown about six times. Several times a player from Lyon had gone down softly or stayed down implausibly. "I want West Ham to win," says Adam Berry, "but I don't see the controversy surrounding this sending off. Creswell has his eye on the man, Dembele has him under control, Creswell pulls his shoulder clearly and if it had happened in the middle of the pitch it would be a clear foul and a yellow card. In my opinion the right call. "I have to say," says Nick Jones, "if that was an all red, then I'm a banana. Pretty crazy.” Are there any Lyon fans in the house? Dembele was gone, Creswell got a hand touch but the red card seems very tough. Aaron Creswell gets a highly controversial red card for a move at Dembele. “I thought,” he says, “it was THE LAW that all musical references in West Ham MBMs had to be Iron Maiden related. Or maybe we've just entered a brave new world.” You wait 45 minutes for something to happen and then it's a shock. As Creswell got his clear red, a camera zoomed in on Moussa Dembele - who winked. This match could have been ruined before it even started. 45+5 mins: Lyon misses the free-kick but takes a corner. It was a long two minutes. 45+1 min: We're in the first of two extra minutes. 45 mins: West Ham spend a minute in the Lyon half and get their reward when Bowen wins a free-kick on the right wing. Lyon clears it up easily enough. 36 mins: There is a delay as Jerome Boating is treated for what appears to be a cramp, strange as it may sound. Photo: Andy Rain/EPA Photo: Andy Rain/EPA 41 min: Declan Rice makes a mistake! He heads into the ground from behind and doesn't get enough of it, allowing Lyon to take another of their long shots - which only earns a corner. West Ham breaks with Benrahma down the left. He thinks he's won a corner too, but the referee gives a goal kick. 30 min: A third of the game somehow slipped by. Lyon had twice as much possession as West Ham but also conceded the only shot on goal. "I suppose the West Ham and Rolling Stones fans think it's just the Europa League, but they like it." Ha. "Now that you mentioned the Stones played that ground, I'll be keeping a close eye on Declan Rice as he approaches the Lyon box. If he goes down too easily, I'm forced to crack a Tumbling Rice joke. In any case, it's nice to see the visitors playing with gusto.” You can't always get what you want as Said Benrahma shoots from wide. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP 39 mins: Lyon return to the patient build-up that seems to be their standard. West Ham escape with the long ball. "I'm watching the Eintracht Frankfurt-Barcelona game - since you didn't ask: 0-0, but Piqué is already injured and Frankfurt should be up 2-0 - and keep the game West Ham-Lyon in mind about your MBM. I saw the photo at the top of the page and it got me thinking: why do teams change kits for European competitions? West Ham's shorts are usually white at home, but here they're claret (I think Leicester do the same with blue), and Manchester City have their weird digital numbers on their Champions League kits. Inquiring minds (read: my mind) want to know.” I'm not sure! 32 min: We still have a shot on goal! By Declan Rice not falling but participating in a corner routine at the training ground. He has to take it with his left foot and it's the opposite of that shot from Ndombele: precision without power. West Ham then wins another corner only to have nothing to do with it. 18 mins: Lyon have a promising attack but end up with West Ham running short. Rice, cleaning up after a poor cross, takes out Antonio, who switches on and then puts the ball back down the inside right channel. Mikhail Antonio goes narrow for West Ham. Photo: Adam Davy/PA 28 mins A free kick for West Ham which is chipped into the box but it only results in a free kick for Lyon as Gusto goes down. 26 min: Lyon knocks around again. 26 min: Lyon knocks around again. Eventually Ndombele gets bored and has a slam from 25 yards – all power and no precision. 23 min: Suddenly it's over when Lyon answer another long ball from West Ham with their own. As usual, nothing comes of it apart from a feeble appeal for a penalty when Fredericks stops Auouar in his tracks. 14 min: The game has developed a pattern: patience and a grid pass from Lyon, long balls and high pressing from West Ham, neither cutting edge. Said Benrahma and Lima Lucas Paqueta fight for the ball. Photo: Adam Davy/PA 20 mins: Dembele runs on a through ball and he's probably on the side but Areola, aware of the danger, gets a booming clearance. 16 min: West Ham comes alive! It's another long ball, but a pinpoint one from Dawson. Benrahma controls it on the run and gets a solid shot away, but the angle is too tight. 9 min: One shot! By a Lyon player - about 30 meters away, immediately blocked. But they warm up and play their first threatening cross, whipped in from the left and well defended by West Ham. 8 min: You know how some games start at a thunderous pace? 7 mins: Lyon make it into the penalty area, Dembele holds the ball up well, Lukaku style but the last ball is bad again. 5 min: Gusto, Lyon's fast right winger, has plenty of time to get a cross but he misses it. 3 min: Lyon becomes more leisurely, West Ham more direct. Antonio gets a punt from Areola with his head but can't quite find Bowen with his flick-on. London Stadium is rocking like it hasn't rocked since the Rolling Stones played there a few years ago. Come on you iron! 1 min: Lyon gets the party started with some nice little passes. Declan Rice bangs his fists with Lyon captain Moussa Dembele. Rice needs to avoid yellow if he wants to play in the second leg. West Ham have won their last four at home in all competitions, their best run of its kind in a decade. But then Lyon have won their last six away games in the Europa League. David Moyes speaks to BT and sounds calm. "A slightly different game," he says, "it's the first leg. We'd love to win but it's undecided tonight.” He says he picked Ryan Fredericks (instead of Ben Johnson) partly because of the pace of Karl Toko-Ekambi – who, he doesn't add, is on the bench . Good evening everyone and welcome to West Ham's biggest European game since... It didn't go so well: after progressing to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup they lost 4-1 at home to Dinamo Tbilisi . And that's now that they've just beaten Sevilla, who pretty much own the Europa League. David Moyes isn't just looking down on United in the league table: he's still in Europe and they're not. At 538.com, Nate Silver's prediction engine, West Ham are favored to make it through this round, but only by a 55 percent lead to 45. Lyon stormed through their group, winning five games and losing none. When they last came to Britain in September, they beat the mighty Rangers. They are unpredictable in Ligue 1, where they are ninth, but efficient in the European Championship, beating Porto 1-0 away in the last round before drawing 1-1 at home. It could be the loudest night at the London stadium since the Sevilla win. Kick-off is at 8 p.m., so I'll be back with the teams just after 7 p.m.

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Will Ibrox help Rangers overcome Europe deficit?

BBC Sport Scotland examines the pros and cons for Rangers of their Europa League quarter-final first-leg defeat in Braga. (Author: Gardener)

IbroxFour hours before Rangers stepped into a cauldron of noise in Braga, Alfredo Morelos sent a tweet that turned out to be the exact portent of what was in store for his team-mates in the Europa League quarter-finals. It's a message that will be remembered by 10,000 Rangers fans upon their return from Portugal. They lost 1-0 in Braga, allowing the Portuguese favorites to reach the semi-finals. The reigning Scottish champions were second-best for the first three quarters of the game at the stunning Municipal Stadium and a late bounce gives hope that the side have more in them for the return to Ibrox next week. But what chance do Rangers have of meeting either Atalanta or RB Leipzig in the semifinals? Statistics can, of course, be manipulated and the numbers of Thursday's defeat in Braga suggest in many ways that Rangers played well. Their expected goals (XG) were slightly higher, they had more shots inside the box, more possession and passes with better accuracy, not to mention more crosses and corners. It's all the more frustrating for Rangers supporters knowing they haven't even managed to get a shot on goal, let alone a goal. It was the first time in almost 13 years in a European game that Ibrox's side failed to test a goalkeeper. Morelos has netted just once in his last nine games - in a 3-0 win over Red Star Belgrade in the preliminary round - but the way he draws defenders, wins fouls, works an entire defense and brings people into play was key to Rangers' success in Europe. Against Braga, with Ryan Kent and Scott Arfield behind them, Fashion Sakala struggled to make the same impact. There was a shot in the first half where a bit of composure could have punished the hosts. In total, Sakala had 20 touches, just four in the opponent's penalty area, with two shots off target. Winger Kent, the match-winner when Rangers were last on the field here, was naught after an early commitment with just two appearances in the last third and no shots, while right-back James Tavernier's 13 deliveries came in with no final result. "A big part of Rangers' game is getting crosses into the box," former Rangers defender Richard Foster told BBC Radio Scotland. Tavernier should get the ball into the penalty area with his quality. "In defence, Rangers looked shaky in the first half. This is now just one away game in their last 10 European games, despite winning 11 tackles against Braga three has made more than twice as many interceptions. The Portuguese celebrated bravely with their fans final score, but there is still a long way to go. Another plus is how Rangers finished the game."We know he [Morelos] is out for the rest of the season, so we have to do it differently," said Manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst told BT Sport. "We have a great squad, maybe different qualities than Morelos, but we have to continue with the squad we have now ." Rangers will also be hoping for their chances in front of their home crowd. At the Municipal Stadium in Braga, the locals were sensational but a rockin' Ibrox brings another dimension to Rangers' game The only team to beat Rangers in Govan, Borussia Dortmund held the lead m to a draw but all other teams from Alashkert onwards were defeated. There are also four goals conceded, along with three games with a winning margin large enough to turn this tie around. "I don't think it will be the same game - I think we can create more chances than here," midfielder Arfield told BT Sport. "It was always a difficult game. It's only half-time and we're confident we can do the job." While Arfield admitted that Morelos "is a big player for us", he emphasized that "it's up to other players to come in and take their chances". "Mode worked tirelessly tonight with no clear chances," he added. "Kemar showed last season what a fantastic player he is. There's no point in talking to him because he can't help us now - we have to start scoring goals. We didn't win the game, we wanted to, but we made it." Set it up for a cracker next week." It was a very bad game for me. A difficult game to get excited about. The Rangers are expected to be deep in all competitions. Six of these players are up to it started with the same figure two years ago, they have the experience. Rangers struggled a lot tonight [in ninth place]. We watched the game and thought, 'This is an average side'. Individually, they have some decent players, but As a team I thought they were average tonight. That says everything about Rangers' performance. After watching Braga play tonight I think a 1-0 loss is a real disappointment. I understand the logic but if If the Rangers don't pull through, they'll think they could have done a lot more How many times have they tried something that didn't need to be tried?

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Do rangers have a closer for openers?

Rangers guarantees, irrational Cowboys Mavericks standards and a reminder to hug your friends, all in this week's DFW Sports Notebook. (Author: Gardener)

Cowboys MavericksWhether you're at the end of your coffee, your day, your week, or even your rope, welcome to Whitt's End... *Better late than never, it's opening day for your Texas Rangers, and I have two guarantees for the 2022 season: 1 You won't lose 102 games; 2. You won't hit the fewest runs in the American League. Not sure about a pitching staff with Jon Gray as ace and a Matt Bush-Greg Holland-Joe Barlow combo record as closer. Rangers hit just 167 homers in 2021; Semien reached 45. Not that March matters, but Texas led the Arizona Cactus League in runs scored. *Norms. Especially when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys. I bid Mike McCarthy did as good a coaching job this season as Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks. After the Cowboys' playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, fans wanted McCarthy fired. Before the Mavericks even get into the postseason, fans are clamoring for Kidd to be considered for NBA Coach of the Year. Mind you, both were portrayed as jaded picks at the time of their hiring. But look at her performance and there's no justification for kidd-over-McCarthy. After a 6-10 season, the Cowboys won 70 percent of their games (12-5) and went 10-plus for the eighth time in 25 years. Without a Most Valuable Player nominee, they greatly improved their defense, won a division championship, and earned the right to host a playoff game. The Mavs? After two victorious playoff seasons and armed with MVP nominee and superstar Luka Doncic, they have won 62 percent of their games. Granted, they also drastically improved their defense and posted their best regular season since the 2011 championship run, but it wasn't as if the closet was empty and their new coach embarked on a crude rebuilding project. In their recent seasons, both McCarthy and Kidd have led their teams to significant improvements. Then why is McCarthy mocked and Kidd praised? standards, therefore. *With the rise of recent matchplay champion and current Masters contender Scottie Scheffler, Highland Park must be the only high school to have an MLB MVP/Cy Young (Clayton Kershaw), an NFL Super Bowl Champion quarterback (Matthew Stafford ) and a world golfer No. 1 (Scheffler). I've tried to add an NBA player to that rich legacy, but all I could dig up for the Scots is Bill Henry, who averaged nine points a game with the Fort Wayne Pistons in the late 1940s. I'm not sure old Bill will get a seat at Mount Sportsmore in Highland Park. * Remember how angry and discouraged you were after the Cowboys lost the Wild Card Playoff game to the Niners. Now consider this reality: you are a worse team today than you were on January 16th. They don't lose Randy Gregory, Amari Cooper, Cedrick Wilson, La'el Collins and Keanu Neal and pretend to be improved. Especially if your main complement is... Dante Fowler or maybe James Washington? The Cowboys are counting on Fowler to soften Gregory's exit, for Washington to pick up on some Wilson weakness and for 2021's fourth-round Jabril Cox to be a better version of Neal. But as owner Jerry Jones tries to calm the criticism by claiming it's "just the first quarter" of team-building 2022, the obvious answer is "maybe, but you're already 21-3 behind." *The 1998 Mavs were a mess. After documenting each of their games for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, I witnessed the disaster. They started 4-12 when general manager Don Nelson fired coach Jim Cleamons and ... hired himself. Nellie changed the style — from "Triangle" to "Wild-Ass Up-Tempo" — but not substance, playing the remainder of the 16-50 season to cap off a totally unforgettable 20-62 year leading up to conscription by Dirk Nowitzki in the following led Summer. Never in a zillion years would I have imagined that on that rattle-trap roster would be two future head coaches who would lead schools to college basketball's National Championship Game. But actually, Kevin Ollie and Hubert Davis both served in Dallas in '98 just to go to greener pastures at the college level. Ollie won the Connecticut title in 2014 and Davis' North Carolina team lost by three points to Kansas in the title game this week. Come to think of it, Scott Brooks was a good head coach who also played as a backup guard on a hide ous Mavs teams. * Hug your friends the next time you see them because one day they might be... gone. I do an annual field trip for boys to play golf and watch baseball at spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona. I joined the group five years ago, but the core six have been friends for over 20 years. Until this year, that is. Swear this is a true story: On day 3 of our 5 day trip last month we were planning to drive two vans to the Waffle House for breakfast. One guy decided to shower “quickly” but after 10 minutes the drivers in the last van got impatient and he was left behind. The journey is always full of jabs, jokes and, yes, pranks. We would bring him food to our house. But he never called to order or to complain. Instead, he called Uber. We - again guys who have been friends with him since 2001 - haven't heard from him since. It couldn't have been the isolated incident at the Waffle House. A few weeks later I had lunch with an old radio friend who had recently had a close friendship that similarly broke up after 11 years. No real explanation. Hug your friends while you still can. *You can get excited about Tiger Woods playing on one leg in The Masters. I'm still intrigued as to why his February 2021 car accident is being kept secret. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva called the wreckage that nearly forced Woods' right leg to be amputated "a pure accident," while the golfer claims he has no memory of being behind the wheel, let alone the accident. In 2017, Tiger sought help dealing with prescription drugs at a clinic following a DUI charge in his home state of Florida. Fallout from his one-car accident? No explanation. Something tells me law enforcement is in cahoots, not only to protect the story, but to protect the star. *Former Mavs coach Dick Motta — who deserves a BBA for my money — offered me a “true record” theory in the 1990s that still works to this day. "Look at a team's away wins versus their home losses," said Motta, "and you'll see the real value." Using the Motta method, the Mavs at +11 (23 wins away, 12 losses at home) trail only the Phoenix Suns (+23), Memphis Grizzlies (+16) and Miami Heat (+12). For what it's worth, they were +19 when they went to the 2006 NBA Finals and +16 when they won the title in 2011. * Ran into two old friends this week who I hadn't seen in person in almost four years. It was a random interaction in a surprising setting, so why was my first reaction, "Oh crap, I'm in trouble"? And yes, I hugged them both. *If your neighbor or the guy who rents the chair at the end of the bar complains that the cowboys are "mentally challenged," just shrug and consider the source. But when iconic stars from past Super Bowls agree, you consider the source and squirm. In recent months, Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith have each questioned the Cowboys' psychological flaws. Not sure how to fix this. *More reasons to believe this year's Rangers will be better than last year's historically awful Rangers: House. Only one player -- first baseman Nate Lowe -- remains a starter from the opening-day 2021 lineup, and only two others (Eli White and Nick Solak) remain on the list. *Surprise, Dallas has its first ever Poet Laureate. Shocker, Joaquín Zihuatanejo's fancy title comes with... nothing but a fancy title. *Wait, Mavs owner Mark Cuban says baseball is a perfect match for TikTok? Considering the Warriors have 21.7 million followers (compared to just 3.9 million for the Cowboys and 694,000 for the Rangers), I'm pretty sure basketball belongs on Instagram. *Further proof that Jones isn't in it for the money, as his critics often claim. He's made more money than he or the next three generations of his family could ever spend. And in this tumultuous off-season, he's faced a cheerleading voyeurism scandal that led to a $2.4 million settlement and the departure of one of his right-hand men (Rich Dalrymple), the death of his longtime executive assistant (Marilyn Love) , an embarrassing case led to the lawsuit of a 25-year-old woman claiming to be his secret daughter and his son-in-law's ugly divorce from his daughter for over 30 years (Shy Anderson). For Jones, it's not even close. His desire to win another Super Bowl -- and bathe in the glory that comes with it -- burns so hot he's impervious to all other heat. *Don't buy the homer narrative that the Mavs have been a 34-12 team since their 16-18 start. But lean on it: They're 17-7 since Kristaps Porzingis traded on Feb. 10, highlighted by victories at playoff teams Miami, Golden State, Cleveland, Boston, Brooklyn and Milwaukee. *I will try the Rangers this season. *Cool that Dirk was named to the NBA's All-Decade Team in the 2010s. Even cooler that he defeated two of the other four on the roster – then-Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and James Harden – on his way to the 2011 championship. The former Cowboys All-Pro was Tyron Smith, Erik Williams and Larry Allen, who was just 30 years ahead of his time. On Friday we're giving Big Brothers Big Sisters, little brother Ja, a front row seat for Mavs blazers. Saturday let's play tennis in 85 degrees of sunshine. Let's watch the final round of The Masters on Sunday.

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