Ben Grogan Fires Back at Angry Fan

first_imgDuring the Oklahoma State game in Ames on Saturday, Ben Grogan missed what was virtually a chip shot and caught some grief from some fans who weren’t too pleased.Fortunately for Ben, it didn’t end up costing the team the game, and he showed some humor in his response in the postgame.Screen shot 2015-11-14 at 8.22.42 PM The lesson in all this? Don’t mess with the ice pirate.AdChoices广告 While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img read more

Vincent Taylor Might Leave For NFL Draft If Grade Is Right

first_imgWhile you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. There was a little nugget buried in a post by Robert Allen recently about Piesman finalist Vincent Taylor, and it caught my attention. Taylor, who was voted All-Big 12 first team recently, is a junior but said he would enter the NFL Draft depending on the circumstances.Taylor has four blocked kicks to lead the nation, and he has 44 tackles, 27 unassisted, 12 tackles for loss, six sacks, a pass broken up, two quarterback hurries, a fumble recovery, and two fumbles forced. He is a very strong and disruptive force inside. I think the NFL will also advise Taylor to stay in school. It is unusual for a defensive tackle to get a first- or second-round grade as an underclassman, but Taylor is thinking it. “He told me that if he gets the grade that he’s going to go,” said a teammate commenting off the record. [Scout]“The grade” is a reference to how the NFL absorbs college talent. Up to five underclassmen from each school can ask for a grade from the NFL between now and when they have to declare for the NFL Draft to help them make decisions.“We want the kid to make an informed decision,” said NFL Executive VP Troy Vincent. “Use our resources, make an informed decision. Each institution has those resources for every prospect and every head coach. The numbers and the facts speak for themselves.”The other change is in how players will be graded. In the past, there were five categories: As high as the first round; as high as the second round; as high as the third round; no potential to go in the first three rounds; and no potential to be drafted. The league has cut that down to three categories — first round, second round, and neither, which will equal the board advising the player to stay in school. [NFL]I presume Taylor would want a first round or second round grade. If not, he stays at OSU.CBS Sports projects Taylor as a top 80 prospect but bordering on pick in the first two rounds. Mel Kiper Jr. does not have him as a top 10 defensive tackle (he’s No. 9 on CBS Sport. Underclassmen like Taylor (and Mason Rudolph and James Washington, for that matter) have until January 16 to officially declare for the 2017 NFL Draft.This would be bad but not devastating for Glenn Spencer’s defense. It’s a unit that is already losing Jordan Sterns, Jordan Burton, Lenzy Pipkins, Ashton Lampkin and Devante Averette. It’s true that defensive tackle is probably the deepest spot on the defense, but losing an All-Big 12 DT from a defense that finished No. 67 in the country in points per drive given up would not be great.This will probably be the most interesting of the three NFL decisions. I would be shocked if Rudolph and Washington left because I think they have a lot to gain by coming back. Taylor might not be currently rated as high as those two on NFL Draft boards, but I think he also has less to gain by returning.Stay tuned.last_img read more

All-Sports Roundup: Tennis Rolls, Cowgirl Basketball Rocks Senior Night

first_imgThanks again for all the fun this weekend @NutterClassic we enjoyed our time in California! #okstate pic.twitter.com/Nz2tvAUQc3— Cowgirl Softball (@CowgirlSB) February 26, 2017Next up, the Cowgirls head back to the friendly confines for their home opener against Arkansas on March 1st. Welcome back to this week’s all-sports roundup featuring the non-revenue sports like tennis, women’s hoops, and softball. Thanks for reading.Cowboy TennisDebuting in the top-10 for the first time this season, the No. 8 Cowboys headed north to take on a pair of Big Ten teams. The Cowboys began the weekend series defeating No. 25 Minnesota 5-2 in an extremely tight matchup in which 3 out of the 6 singles matches went a full 3 sets. Strong comeback performances by No. 18 Julian Cash and Tristan Meraut lifted OSU past the Gophers who had just made their top-25 debut.#okstate knocked off No. 13 Northwestern for the second time in nine days to improve to 10-3 on Sunday.READ: https://t.co/lGLfcXiu5W pic.twitter.com/xbZwAVQQZu— OSU Cowboy Tennis (@CowboyTennis) February 26, 2017To finish off the weekend, the Cowboys continued their Big Ten carnage by defeating No. 13 Northwestern 4-1. Strangely, this was their second time facing the Wildcats as they had already met in the 1st round of the ITA Indoor Championships where they bested the Cats 4-2.The Pokes narrowly won the doubles point and rode the momentum into singles play where they dominated. The Cowboys (10-3) have now won five top-25 matches in the young season and currently are undefeated on the road.Up next for the Pokes is a top-10 heavyweight battle against another Big Ten foe, this time No. 9 Michigan next weekend.Cowgirl BasketballThe Cowgirl hoopsters continued a terrific OSU sports weekend with a close 67-63 senior night win against the Lady Mountaineers in Gallagher Iba. Terrific performances from the underclassmen propelled the ladies to their 3rd win in four games and gave the seniors one last winning moment in Stillwater.Postgame autographs are much sweeter following victories! #okstate pic.twitter.com/nR85SfOu3f— Cowgirl Basketball (@OSUWBB) February 26, 2017The Cowgirls lost in Ames on Monday night but will start Big 12 Tournament play this weekend in OKC. Thank you Cowgirl Seniors!It’s official. March 3, #okstate will be the No. 7 seed and take on No. 10 Kansas at 8:30 p.m. in OKC.— Cowgirl Basketball (@OSUWBB) February 28, 2017 Cowgirl SoftballThe Cowgirl softball team ventured out west participate in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Spring, California. The ladies played five games scoring wins over Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara, and New Mexico State, and falling to No. 21 California and San Diego State.All-around, it was a pretty solid weekend for the Cowgirls which included a timely 7th inning rally to down New Mexico State on Saturday.Also if you haven’t noticed this yet, the OSU softball team has some sweet threads.Watch out California, there’s a ❄️❄️❄️ coming through! We’re busting out our #Ice uniforms for Sunday! pic.twitter.com/o0WADFn380— Cowgirl Softball (@CowgirlSB) February 25, 2017center_img While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img read more

Look: Photos From Oklahoma State Spring Practice No. 1

first_imgMike Gundy Keondre Wudtee Hey, we have a photographer and a credential now, and here are some photos from Day 1 of Oklahoma State’s spring practice. Awesome work by Jackson Lavarnway getting some good shots of new and old faces on Monday in Stillwater. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. QB1 Jerel Morrow [PFB] Cornerbacks working out Tyron Johnson Rob Glass doing work Bryce Brown Tre Flowers and Co. Kasey Dunnlast_img read more

Conference Call: Road to the Playoff Long for the Big 12

first_imgBut somehow onlookers make these kinds of conclusions.Chip Brown compared Shane Buechele to Colt McCoy. The Kool aid is getting dangerously strong in Austin.— Carson Cunningham (@KOCOCarson) August 21, 2017The Saga ContinuesBaylor’s legal issues continue to unfold.Federal judge orders Baylor University to release underlying documents in Pepper Hamilton sex assault investigation with limited exceptions— Paula Lavigne (@pinepaula) August 11, 2017The ruling came in a Title IX gender equity lawsuit filed against the school on behalf of 10 women who attended Baylor and claimed that school officials failed to properly respond to and investigate their reports of assault.“This is another very positive step in getting all the truth and information out there,” attorney Jim Dunnam said. He said the judge’s ruling compels Baylor to turn over the “information and the data” that the school gave Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, which was hired in 2015 to examine the school’s response to sexual violence. “Now we can hopefully determine specifics about who did what and the specific failures.” [ESPN]So Pepper Hamilton’s carefully chosen footnotes aren’t enough.Quick HittersThree Big 12 players made the preseason All-American teamTexas’ starting right tackle underwent ankle surgery and their starting tight end is done for the yearStoops isn’t opposed to a spot on the CFP committeeK-State’s starting center foregoing senior season for health-related reasonsTexas Tech o-lineman is going full Gabe Lindsay – seeking eighth yearThe Big 12 is basically a NFL-farm system for undersized skill players.Had Great talk with the G.O.A.T @DarrenSproles, it’s amazing feeling to finally meet someone that you idolize as a kid. #HeartOverHeight pic.twitter.com/84srzKjqCx— Jakeem Grant (@_TheDreamIsHere) August 22, 2017TCU is on the doorstep of the rankingsTCU, Utah and Notre Dame were the top vote-getters outside the Top 25. pic.twitter.com/eS2GO9FUSj— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) August 21, 2017Briles has surfaced, informally. “I think it’s a bad move. You don’t want to associate yourself with Art Briles right now” @LauraMRutledge pic.twitter.com/5Q02q1KLVZ— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) August 22, 2017And now more formally.https://twitter.com/Ticats/status/902187937382768641 Let’s take a look at some news from around the league over the last week or two.Playoff-Sized ProblemSo what does it take to make sure the Big 12 is viable in the playoff-age?In order to improve its chances at being selected for the CFP, though, the Big 12 must also improve upon its 5-8 record against nonconference Power 5 opponents. Oklahoma has to beat Ohio State. West Virginia has to beat Virginia Tech. Texas has to win at USC.“If the Big 12 wants to kind of up their image,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said, “those types of games need to be won.”There are no guarantees with the selection committee, however. The Big 12’s new championship game has to feature more than its two best teams. At least one of them has to be one of the nation’s top four teams. Only then does any conference championship game matter. Just ask Penn State. [ESPN]And that’s what’s a challenge in setting up the league’s structure (scheduling requirements, champ game, how many league games, etc.) It just comes down to 13 guys in a room saying what they think and not an objective criterion to lean on.But here’s a pretty solid breakdown on the chances of the top teams for the playoff.TCU has finished with a losing record three times under Gary Patterson, most recently last season. What happened the past two times? A year later TCU won its conference. That’s in play for the Horned Frogs in 2017. Quarterback play and the performance of the defensive line are my two biggest concerns.Kansas State resembles a vintage Bill Snyder-coached team, especially if the secondary bounces back from a miserable season to finish in the top third of the Big 12 in the key categories – yards per attempt, opposing completion percentage and turnover margin, most notably. No one will enjoy playing the Wildcats in 2017.Oklahoma State is locked and loaded … but what about this offensive line? And the secondary? A wonderful quarterback, an explosive offense and a just-good-enough defense will put the Cowboys on a course for a New Year’s Six bowl, but the potential sticking points are numerous enough to have me questioning this team’s ability to lose just once during the regular season.That leaves Oklahoma. This isn’t a perfect team, either. There’s a hole at running back. No clear go-to receiver. The Sooners are more experienced on defense, but much does depend on the health of the defensive line. Still, this is the strongest, most cohesive roster in the Big 12; it doesn’t hurt to have the league’s best player in Baker Mayfield. [USA Today]Texas-Sized ExpectationsFinally, someone has a really reasonable perspective on Texas.I will not buy Texas as a top 25 team until I see it. The quarterback play has to get better. The ranking is based on the reputation of new head coach Tom Herman.If we are being honest, last year’s Houston squad underachieved because they didn’t win their conference. Houston didn’t win the division or a bowl game. The September game at USC could be a time where Texas can show us they are different. [SportsDay]Herman managed some blue-chip QB’s masterfully at Ohio State and groomed a blossoming QB at Houston in Greg Ward. If he can do something with Buchele at Texas, they could be poised to be a Top 25 team in 2018. But not today.Sounds like a dude who’s all in on his QB.Here is what Texas football coach Tom Herman said about Shane Buechele starting. Definitely a caveat pic.twitter.com/QtOWrrLyp0— Anwar Richardson (@AnwarRichardson) August 21, 2017center_img While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img read more

Dortmund boss hoping to avoid Arsenal

first_imgArsenal Dortmund boss Stoger hoping to avoid ‘curious and funny’ clash with Arsenal Ronan Murphy Last updated 1 year ago 18:40 23/2/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Arsene Wenger Peter Stoger composite Getty/Goal Arsenal Borussia Dortmund UEFA Europa League BVB are one of 16 teams left in the Europa League, but their head coach is eager to be drawn against someone other than the Gunners in Friday’s draw Borussia Dortmund head coach Peter Stoger believes that facing Arsenal in the Europa League would be “curious and funny”.Both clubs overcame shocks in their second legs to earn their places in Friday’s last-16 draw, with Dortmund scoring a late equaliser against Atalanta to advance on a 4-3 aggregate score.Arsenal held a 3-0 lead from their first leg with Ostersunds, but two first-half goals from the visitors put Arsene Wenger’s side under pressure before Sead Kolasinac sealed their progression. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp The Gunners broke their club transfer record to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng from the German side during the January transfer window, and Stoger is hoping that the two clubs will not meet in the next round of the Europa League.It would be the first time since the 2014-15 Champions League group stage for the pair to meet, with both clubs recording 2-0 wins in their home grounds that season.In the early part of the decade, the sides seemed to be constantly drawn against each other, facing off in the 2011-12 and 2013-14 Champions League group stage as well as in 2014-15.Stoger believes it would be interesting to face the Gunners again, but would prefer a different name to be drawn from the pot, telling Sport1, it would be “curious and funny, but there are certainly other clubs that we would rather have now.”The Europa League last-16 draw takes place on Friday, February 23 at 12:00 GMT and is being held at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon. It is an open draw with no seeding, meaning any of the 16 teams could face each other.last_img read more

Kante & Chelsea buoyed by Barcelona draw

first_imgChelsea Kante and Chelsea taking confidence from Barcelona draw to Man Utd Nicholas McGee 19:22 25/2/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) KanteSuarez-Cropped Getty Images Chelsea UEFA Champions League Manchester United v Chelsea Manchester United Premier League Barcelona v Chelsea Barcelona The Blues were disappointed to be held in the Champions League, but attention has now switched to a challenge for second place in the Premier League N’Golo Kante believes Chelsea can take plenty of confidence from their performance in the Champions League against Barcelona. Chelsea largely controlled the first leg of their round-of-16 tie on Tuesday and appeared poised to take 1-0 lead into the return fixture at Camp Nou.However, a mistake from Andreas Christensen allowed Lionel Messi to net a crucial away goal for Barca, leaving the Spanish giants favourites to progress. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp The Blues will look to build on that display when they face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, and midfielder Kante feels Chelsea can be buoyed by how they competed with the Blaugrana as they eye second in the Premier League.Kante said: “Second place is still possible, we have to fight for this and see what we can do at the end of the season. It’s very tight. We play in Manchester and if we win we will have the same number of points. “We have to keep winning and hopefully be in the Champions League next season.”For sure this kind of game gives us confidence for the second leg and also in the Premier League.”We played well. We were compact throughout the game, we tried not to give them a lot of chances and we did well in that. We hit the post two times, we scored and to finish 1-1 is a little bit disappointing.”But it’s like that, we have to go in two weeks and play to win. We showed we have the ability to do something against Barcelona.”The Premier League is another competition and this is another opponent but it’s important, we are fourth in the table and if we want to be at the top of the table and play Champions League next season we have to win these kind of games [against United].”last_img read more

City & Arsenal set club records in Carabao Cup final

first_imgLeague Cup Arsenal hit record new lows as Man City set club best in Carabao Cup final Goal 03:18 26/2/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Manchester City lift Carabao Cup Getty League Cup Arsenal v Manchester City Manchester City Arsenal Premier League Both sides made history on Sunday, though Citizens fans will be far happier with how they’ve entered the record books… Pep Guardiola lifted his first trophy with Manchester City on Sunday, with his side setting a new club record due to the impressive margin of the victory over Arsenal in the Carabao Cup final.The Gunners, meanwhile, set a a few records of their own, though it will make for grim reading for fans of the London side.The final saw City continue with the same stunning form they’ve showed all season, condemning their opponents to an embarrassing defeat at Wembley, with Arsene Wenger’s charges seemingly at a loss as to how to cope with the onslaught from Guardiola’s men. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Goals from Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva secured a 3-0 win for the Manchester side, their best-ever result in a cup final, while the opposite is true for Arsenal – it’s their biggest ever loss in a cup final.It’s widely known that Wenger has never won the Carabao Cup (also known as the League Cup), but followers of the Emirates side will be aggrieved to know that Arsenal have lost six of their eight appearances in the final of the competition – including each of their last three.In fact, the Gunners are the first side in the history of the tournament to lose in three successive appearances in the final, with Wenger having led his squads to the ultimate match in 2007, 2011 and 2018.And with the French manager having it all to do again against City in the Premier League on Thursday – and Champions League football looking increasingly unlikely – fans will no doubt be wondering when significant changes will be made in order to restore some of the storied club’s former glory.last_img read more

Matuidi: Neymar wanted me at PSG

first_imgBlaise Matuidi Matuidi: Neymar wanted me to stay at PSG Dom Farrell 20:03 3/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) BlaiseMatuidi - cropped Getty Images PSG Neymar Juventus Serie A Ligue 1 UEFA Champions League The midfielder spoke to various members of the Parisians’ squad before making his decision to leave for Turin in the summer – and he has no regrets France midfielder Blaise Matuidi would never have swapped Paris Saint-Germain for Juventus had Neymar had his way.Matuidi ended a six-year stay at Parc des Princes when he joined the Serie A champions for an initial €20 million in August, just over two weeks after PSG smashed the world transfer record to sign Neymar from Barcelona.It meant a three-minute substitute cameo against Guingamp was the sum of the time Matuidi spent on the field with the Brazil superstar in PSG colours, but Neymar was well aware of his quality. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp “Without going into details, I had a discussion with Neymar,” the 30-year-old told L’Equipe.  “I talked a lot with Dani Alves too, with Thiago Motta.”In short, they all wanted me to stay, because, beyond my qualities, I spent six years in Paris and I know this club very well.”But my choice was made and I would have been frustrated at the end of my career not to try to play abroad. And what an experience, it is beautiful.”While PSG boast a commanding 11-point lead at the top of Ligue 1, Juventus are embroiled in a gripping scrap with Napoli in pursuit of a seventh consecutive Scudetto.Maurizio Sarri’s men lead by four points, although Juve’s postponed match against Atalanta last weekend gives them a game in hand.last_img read more

Hazard entitled to question Chelsea future

first_imgEden Hazard Hazard is entitled to ask himself: What am I doing at Chelsea? Peter Staunton Click here to see more stories from this author Chief Correspondent Last updated 1 year ago 16:00 5/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(4) Eden Hazard Chelsea Getty Images Eden Hazard Chelsea Manchester City v Chelsea Barcelona v Chelsea Manchester City Barcelona Premier League UEFA Champions League Opinion The jig appears to be up for Antonio Conte and the Blues have a summer of rebuilding ahead of them, meaning their playmaker might consider moving on The warning signs were there before kick-off. The presence of N’Golo Kante for Chelsea in a game like this is non-negotiable.Although he travelled with the squad – and was seen coming through the bowels of the Etihad Stadium with the rest of his team-mates afterwards – the France midfielder was unavailable to face Manchester City on Sunday through illness.With him in the side Chelsea can play both ways. Antonio Conte can ask his side to get on the ball and he can rely on the simple but tempo-setting passes of Kante in midfield. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp If they decide to surrender the ball and play on the counter, well, Kante can be the ideal man for that too.Conte prepared a game plan for Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 and assumed that he could deploy a similar set up against Pep Guardiola’s side.That would make sense if Kante was available. He wasn’t.Danny Drinkwater and Cesc Fabregas are an inadequate pair for a side of Chelsea’s profile in a game of this circumstance. The ex-Leicester captain appears to be a forgotten Chelsea Sporcle quiz answer-in-waiting such has been his lack of impact at Stamford Bridge.His signing, and that of Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud in January, as well as Antonio Rudiger, Alvaro Morata and Davide Zappacosta in summer, hint at a much deeper problem. Transfers have not been on the required level.Chelsea were crying out for improvements last summer when Nemanja Matic, Diego Costa and John Terry were leaving. To that trio you can add David Luiz who has become persona non grata around West London under Conte. That is the heart and soul of a Premier League title-winning team.Antonio Conte ChelseaChelsea’s recruitment department did not step it up and give their first-teamers something to think about. The Blues have regressed and regressed badly. Alarm bells should have been ringing as early as the Community Shield in August.Kante can do plenty to paper over the cracks as he is a one-man midfield. Without him this plan was doomed to fail.In it Eden Hazard is expected to work selflessly as a false centre forward. His role in an attacking sense is limited to instigating counter-attacks whenever possession-heavy opponents lose the ball.That might be fine if Chelsea had a little more ambition. But they were routinely coming forward with only three men – Hazard, Pedro and Willian – while a fourth in an off-key Victor Moses got forward only intermittently.Hazard’s best qualities are sacrificed in a team like this. He does not work well with his back to goal. Fans prefer to see him take possession somewhere high on the left, cut in and take shots or provide through balls.To willingly nullify your best attacking player requires the ultimate payoff of the result. It came against neither Barca – albeit unluckily – nor City.”I think the target was to be solid until the end and then try to put one in at the end,” Olivier Giroud said of the tactic. “Obviously, when you concede just after half-time, it is a kick in the leg a little bit but we still thought we could come back at the end. It was not enough but City deserved to win.”It is always easy to say that after the game but if Eden had an opportunity to score, we could have said it was the best choice. Obviously it was difficult today. I am not the coach and the coach makes the team. We have to respect that and give our best no matter who is on the pitch.”Pep Guardiola Bernardo Silva Manchester CityIf the Barca draw convinced Conte that the system could be tried again then this disgrace of a showing should see it consigned to the dustbin unless they are playing Barca again. Even then it will come with no guarantees.This was a performance of such limited quality and ambition that Chelsea found themselves on the bad end of a couple of Premier League records. No team has ever completed more passes than the 902 City managed here. No player has managed more touches than the 174 by Ilkay Gundogan. How jealous Hazard must have been of those figures; he hit 20 passes on the day. Courtois, his goalkeeper, made 45. Some of those City passes and touches were delivered too easily. One unforgivable passage of play in the 75th minute saw Chelsea filter back into their defensive shape slowly, allow passes to be interchanged at will in front of them, before finally approaching their adversaries in possession at walking pace.Sky commentator Gary Neville raged against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup final last week for their walking football. He won’t be the only one unimpressed by Chelsea’s efforts on Sunday.Maybe that’s just how good Guardiola is. He reduces otherwise decent teams to the role of jobbers. No team has a good plan for City other than to dig in, soak it up and hope for the best. You’ll get lucky every now and again as Wigan proved recently. But it’s not enough. It’s certainly not enough for a team like Chelsea and a player like Hazard.He is 27 now and has a few more seasons at his peak. There remains significant disquiet at the Bridge over their playmaker’s new contract. What he was asked to do at the Etihad – and the standard of his team-mates at present – should have him think twice about his next move. Indeed he did not shake the hand of his coach Conte when finally replaced late on. There is clearly more upheaval and more new arrivals imminent at Chelsea this summer. It would be amazing if Conte lasted through to August at this rate while a clear-out on the playing side can be expected. Hazard might well look at that mess coming down the line and think his interests are better served elsewhere.Although he’s got a couple of league titles to his name, he has not been part of a dominant Chelsea team – an era-defining team like Jose Mourinho’s back-to-back title winners or the 2012 team that won the Champions League.He has played his part in their big recent successes but there is a lack of a plan, a lack of identity and a lack of promise at present. If Hazard decides to leave he will not be short of suitors. One thing is for sure, he would be forgiven for thinking that he deserves better.last_img read more