It is true that neither Crouch nor Jones have ever been prolific, whilst Arnautovic is taking time to find his feet following his summer arrival from Werder Bremen. Yet Hughes is confident once they get on a roll the present problems will be forgotten. “It is a confidence thing,” he said. “That goes hand in hand with your strikers when they are not scoring. “Sometimes you need a bit of luck, something to fly off your ear. “Once you get one you are off and running. “The key to it is that you continue to work and do the right things in training. “At some point things will change for you and the team. Once they get off and running they will be fine.” There could be no better place to break the cycle than Old Trafford, where Stoke have such an abysmal record. They have lost on their last 10 visits and not recorded a win there since Alan Bloor scored the only goal in April 1976. The incentive could not be greater, although for Hughes it promises to be a strange day. For, after hundreds of visits to the stadium, as both player and manager, it will be the first time since he left for Barcelona in 1986 that he will not see Sir Alex Ferguson staring down from the home dug-out. “I am sure it will feel a little bit strange not to see him walking down the touchline waving to the crowd like he has always done,” said Hughes. “He is still in the background. I was at the Real Sociedad game on Wednesday night and I had a few words with him. “He was always going to leave his post at some point and I think he is comfortable with the decision he has made. “He has left them as reigning champions so they’re not in bad shape.” Press Association The Potteries outfit head to Manchester United desperate to improve the worst scoring record in the Premier League. City have managed just four goals in their eight league matches so far and drawn four blanks in their last five games. None of their recognised strikers have found the net, with defenders Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron amongst the players who have. It is a puzzle Hughes has tried to solve in a variety of ways. But the answer is proving elusive. “I have looked at a number of combinations,” said Hughes. “Peter Crouch has had a run of games, so too Kenwyne Jones and Marko Arnautovic has played up top as well. “It is a question of settling on one combination we feel works for us and will carry us through the vast majority of the season. “At the moment we have not quite found it.” Hughes insists he does have faith in his attacking stars. Mark Hughes has admitted he is still searching for the right striking blend to get Stoke firing.
“I watched him play over the years and always thought he was good enough to be knocking on the door for more honours with Munster and Ireland, but it never came. “So for him to get the Barbarians call was great. “It’s an honour to be thought good enough even to be in the room with players of this calibre frankly.” O’Callaghan admitted the weight of Barbarians tradition brings him out in a cold sweat when he considers doing justice to the greats to have sported the black and white since 1890. The 94-cap Ireland lock said he will be happy to emerge from Sunday’s clash with the respect of his world superstar team-mates. “You feel the pressure to perform as well, that you owe it something,” he said. “That’s a weight on your shoulders. “The big thing is trying to win the respect of the dressing room when put alongside world superstars. “The onus is on us playing now: we have to really put value on it in our time when we get a shot. “It’s an incredible club when you think about it: the Barbarians have more wins over New Zealand than Ireland. “That pressure gives me sweaty palms straight away. “And that’s what makes you play better in matches, you need that.” Teetotal O’Callaghan admitted he is not in the free-running Barbarians mould, but has no intentions of winding down despite his advancing years. The 35-year-old has not given up on forcing his way back into Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad for Rugby World Cup 2015, as well as setting sights on more Munster glory. “Two of the big values you need for the Baa Baas I might not have had: I’m a non-drinker and I’ve spent my career hitting rucks and mauling!” he said. “So I’ve been getting a bit of stick from the Munster lads for that, they’re saying I’m not really cut out for it. “I’m as competitive as ever, I love it, I bounce out of the bed to Munster in the mornings, it means an awful lot to me. “If I wasn’t enjoying it I would gladly step away. “Munster means so much to me it’s easy to go in every day. “I’ve two more years on my contract and I want Munster to have success and win trophies in that time. “Semi-final defeats are scars that hurt more months down the line than they do on the day. “I’ve been involved in 11 Heineken Cup semi-finals and only grabbed two. “You have to be a little selfish when it’s your time and grab as much as you can. “Munster’s my main focus, but I do still have ambitions with Ireland especially heading into the World Cup year. “I might need the rub of the green but I’ll be honest my mentality’s no different for cap number 95 as number one: I would chew up the road for it. “People might say that’s delusional, but I’ll keep thinking it!” The Munster and Ireland lock broke his 101 Greatest Tries video as a youngster playing and replaying Gareth Edwards’ classic 1973 Barbarians score against the All Blacks. O’Callaghan’s older brother Ultan won Barbarians selection to face the Combined Services in 2002, and now the British and Irish Lions second row admitted delight at following suit. “We were a rugby-mad house growing up,” said O’Callaghan after winning selection in a line-up boasting more than 700 caps. “We had the 101 Greatest Tries video, and I remember after about three months you couldn’t watch the 1973 try against New Zealand any more because the tape was so worn, from just rewinding over and over. “Growing up with three older brothers, when we played rugby in the garden it was always the Baa-Baas versus Ireland, because no-one ever wanted to be Scotland or England! “Even back then you threw the ball around when you did it. “That’s the tradition. “When rugby’s getting so professional it’s so heartening to see the amateur values that we have to hold onto. “I’m delighted: I was ready to swim over when I got the call. “My brother beat me to it, but the family pride when he was selected was amazing. Donncha O’Callaghan will realise a childhood family dream when he makes his Barbarians debut against the England XV at Twickenham on Sunday. Press Association
No games have been played in the Premier League for six weeks and the competition is not likely to resume until at least June due to the national lockdown and social distancing.Arsenal says the reduction in annual earnings by the players and coaches will take effect next month.The club says in a statement that “if we meet specific targets in the seasons ahead, primarily linked to success on the pitch, the club will repay agreed amounts. We will be able to make those repayments as hitting these targets, which the players can directly influence, will mean our financial position will be stronger.”Arsenal has 10 games remaining and is eight points from fourth place with a game in hand on Chelsea as it chases Champions League qualification.___ ___The Professional Fighters League has canceled its upcoming season because of the coronavirus pandemic and plans to resume in spring 2021.The mixed martial arts promotion was expected to begin competition in May. The competition format includes a regular season, a postseason and a championship event, making it unique in MMA. Last year, the promotion staged six regular-season events, three playoff events and a championship event on New Year’s Eve.CEO Peter Murray says the PFL will pay its fighters a monthly cash stipend to help support them and their families throughout 2020.The 2021 season will be distributed on ESPN platforms in the U.S. and to 160 countries by the league’s international media partners. The PFL said it will produce new programming across ESPN and PFL platforms for the rest of this year. Fritz Keller writes in Kicker magazine “we guarantee that resuming play … will not cause a burden for the healthcare system.”He adds that “there will be no use by sportspeople of testing capacity which would be missed elsewhere.”No top league games have been played since March 11.The German league has been more bullish than other major European competitions about the chances of resuming in May or June with widespread coronavirus tests for players. That push is partly driven by fears that several clubs face financial collapse without TV and sponsorship money.German state and local officials could potentially veto games in their areas. Keller says unified rules for soccer around the country would help clubs “quickly and without bureaucracy.” New York and New Jersey residents Zygi, Mark and Lenny Wilf announced Monday that the bulk of the money has been earmarked to support health care workers, the elderly, food banks, social service organizations and Jewish philanthropic causes in New York, New Jersey, Minnesota and Israel.Among the organizations receiving help are United Way Worldwide, the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, RWJBarnabas Health, Jewish Federations of North America, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, Second Harvest Heartland, Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund for Coronavirus and Vikings.1rmg.com.“We are focused on trying to provide as many resources as possible to meet their needs and assist some of the most vulnerable populations during this unprecedented time,” Vikings owner/chairman Zygi Wilf said.The family made an initial donation of $500,000 last month.United Way Worldwide is one of six national charitable organizations recommended by the NFL as part of its Draft-A-Thon fundraising campaign tied to this week’s NFL draft. Purdue says the father of freshman men’s basketball player Brandon Newman has died of complications from the coronavirus.Chicago police say 59-year-old Officer Ronald Newman died early Friday. He was a decorated officer, with 137 awards in his 19 years on the force. Newman spent the bulk of his career in the department’s 4th District on the city’s South Side.In a statement, Purdue said athletic department officials were “deeply saddened” by the death and have reached out to the Newman family.___Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, his coaches and players have agreed to a 12.5% pay cut for the next year to help the club deal with the financial impact of the coronavirus. April 20, 2020 Aguero hasn’t played a competitive match since March 8 because soccer is shut down in England and across most of the world during the outbreak.___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6 Packers officials say $500,000 in grant money has been established for organizations supporting Milwaukee County residents dealing with the effects of the pandemic. Future grants through the fund will be announced later.The grants given so far are designed to address hunger concerns, human services, health and wellness plus assistance to domestic violence victims and help for the elderly and the homeless.The Packers relief fund is providing $1.5 million overall, and $1 million is being directed to Brown County organizations through the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation. A portion of those funds already has been distributed to 10 Brown County nonprofit groups for food and hygiene concerns, housing assistance, transportation, medication and other basic needs.___Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and his wife, J.J., have donated $150,000 to a local fund providing personal protective equipment for health care workers along with lab supplies to expand testing amid the coronavirus pandemic. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says there is a chance for large public gatherings later in the summer, which could lead to games at Yankee Stadium and the Mets’ Citi Field.De Blasio announced Monday that parades and city-permitted events had been canceled through June because of the novel coronavirus but said progress in fighting the pandemic will determine what is allowed after that.“For all of us sports fans, we’re asking this question, can our leagues come back in 2020, at all? I think this is an area where we don’t know yet,” he said during a news conference. “I’m taking what I think is a cautious, steady approach to how we reopen New York City. And we have to always plan on the worst-case scenarios. We have to protect ourselves. But there’s also better-case scenarios that could come along and could get proven that might open up possibilities for later on, late in the summer, going into the fall. There may be opportunities.”___The family that owns the Minnesota Vikings has increased its donations to COVID-19-related causes to more than $5 million. The Latest: Big Ten announces members of disease task force The NFL and the Players Coalition are donating more than $3 million to seven areas significantly affected by the new coronavirus.As part of the league’s Inspire Change program, a donation of $3.05 million will be sent to health systems, individual hospitals, and nonprofit organizations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Washington, and impacted regions of Florida and Louisiana.“We know that during this difficult time, our minority and low-income communities are struggling disproportionately with the impact of COVID-19,” said Players Coalition co-founder and former NFL star Anquan Boldin. “Communities in Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore and more are getting hit hard right now, and we want to do our part in ensuring these areas have even the basic needs. We are glad we can partner with the NFL to support the organizations who are on the ground providing for these families.”___Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim and football coach Dino Babers are taking voluntary pay cuts to help the university cope with the drain of financial resources due to the new coronavirus pandemic. Also taking the voluntary 10% pay cuts are women’s basketball coach Quentin Hillsman, men’s lacrosse coach John Desko, and women’s lacrosse coach Gary Gait. Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud announced the austerity moves in a letter Monday morning to students and faculty. He said the university has been hit with more than $35 million in unplanned expenses and unrealized revenue.All new capital projects also have been placed on hold, except for the renovation of the Carrier Dome. The $118 million project includes a new permanent roof for the home of the school’s football, basketball, and lacrosse teams.___Regional government officials in Germany have discussed sports and the coronavirus pandemic on a conference call and say soccer could resume in mid-May. The Memphis Grizzlies are buying lunch each day this week for workers at a COVID-19 testing site.The Grizzlies are feeding approximately 50 workers each day through Saturday at the Tiger Lane testing facility outside the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium at the Memphis Fairgrounds.Coach Taylor Jenkins is providing lunch Thursday, and coaches for the Grizzlies and the G League Memphis Hustle have Tuesday. Forward Jaren Jackson Jr. has covered two days, while the Grizzlies are picking up the other two.___The Green Bay Packers have distributed the first round of Milwaukee grants to 16 nonprofit organizations as part of the Packers Give Back COVID-19 Community Relief Fund. A summary published by the city of Bremen says “continuing play in the soccer Bundesliga … is considered justifiable from the middle or end of May as per the current state of discussions.”Bremen senator Anja Stahmann chaired the call. She says resumption would require “the strictest hygienic and medical conditions.”The last top-level soccer game in Germany was played on March 11 but clubs have been pushing to resume the season in empty stadiums.Clubs are facing financial shortfalls without revenue from broadcast deals and sponsors.___ Associated Press University of Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel has volunteered to reduce his salary by 5%. School president Mark S. Schlissel announced the cost-saving move as part of the institution’s plan to cut costs due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Schlissel says the school may have to endure losses as much as $1 billion through 2020.Manuel, who was hired four years ago, had a $990,000 salary in 2019. Schlissel says he decided to cut his salary as school president by 10% for the rest of the year, starting on May 1.___ Dalton, who has one year left on his contract with Cincinnati, told medical professionals in a video that “it’s a true honor for us to help support you all in this fight” by contributing to the University of Cincinnati Health Crisis Response Fund.Dr. Richard P. Lofgren, the president and CEO of UC Health, said the Daltons’ support “lets these health care heroes know that the community is behind them.”— Joe Kay reporting in Cincinnati___The company that makes Louisville Slugger wood baseball bats has closed its factory, furloughed 90 percent of its employees and shut its popular museum. Hillerich & Bradsby Co. says it has continued to cover all health care benefits for its 171 furloughed workers. The remaining 10% of employees have taken 25 percent pay cuts.The wood bat factory closed on March 19, three days after the Louisville Slugger Museum shut. The 120-foot bat outside its headquarters now a banner across the barrel reading “Flatten the Curve.”The 165-year-old company produces about 2 million wood Louisville Slugger bats a year at its downtown Louisville plant, with around 50,000 going to Major League Baseball.H&B CEO John Hillerich IV told The Louisville Courier Journal that if the company doesn’t soon crank up its Pennsylvania mill — and MLB has no timetable to start its season — then some of the set to become bats might spoil.___ The T20 World Cup is scheduled for Oct. 18-Nov. 15 in Australia. It is cricket’s biggest global tournament this year and hasn’t yet been called off.ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney says the organization is continuing to “take advice from experts and authorities” about the T20 tournament.Sawhney says there is a need to “share knowledge and … build a deep understanding of what it will take to resume international cricket.”___The president of the German soccer federation says resuming league play will not mean taking resources away from healthcare workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. Government officials and the presidents of the league and the federation met for nearly eight hours this weekend.The government says the league and the federation have agreed to use part of the money from soccer television rights to help other sports in Spain. It says they will also create a contingency fund of 10 million euros ($10.8 million) to aid more vulnerable athletes.___Contingency planning for the men’s Twenty20 World Cup will be among the topics for discussion when the heads of the top cricketing nations hold a specially convened meeting this week about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the sport.The chief executives of the International Cricket Council’s 12 full members and three associate representatives also will discuss the rescheduling of series, the program of future tours and the key factors behind the resumption of international cricket on Thursday’s conference call. Chairing the group is Chris Kratochvil, the University of Nebraska medical center’s associate vice chancellor for clinical research and professor of psychiatry and pediatrics.The task force was initially formed March 7 at the request of Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren. The group includes one representative from each of the Big Ten’s 14 member schools.The task force is designed to provide counsel and medical advice to ensure the safety of the Big Ten’s students, coaches administrators and fans.Among other members of the group are: Edith Parker, dean at Iowa’s college of public health; Boris Lushniak, dean of Maryland’s school of public health; Preeti Malani, Michigan chief health officer; and Susan Koletar, director of Ohio State’s division of infectious diseases. ___ Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___The Big Ten has announced the membership of its task force for emerging infectious diseases. ___Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has been using some of his spare time in lockdown to teach British kids how to speak Spanish.The Argentina international has been signed up by the BBC as part of its home-schooling initiative while educational establishments are closed during the coronavirus pandemic.Aguero is teaching kids how to count in Spanish. His lessons became available on a day kids in Britain would have usually returned to school after the Easter holidays.Aguero says “it’s a tough time for children at the moment, and also for parents trying to keep them focused on their education from home.” ___The Spanish government says it has reached a deal with the country’s soccer league and federation for teams to return to practice.The government has not provided a timetable or given any other detail about when practice would resume. It says it will depend on the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic and on decisions by health authorities.The government says strict protocols will have to be followed when teams begin training again. The Spanish league and the federation have created health protocols for the return to training.The league says the competition is not expected to resume until the end of May at the earliest and games will be in empty stadiums at first.