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Silva, Pellegrini fight for survival after Arsenal sack Emery

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Everton manager Marco Silva faces a tricky run of fixtures © AFP/File / Glyn KIRK

LONDON, United Kingdom, Nov 28Arsenal’s decision to sack Unai Emery turns a harsh spotlight on Everton boss Marco Silva and West Ham’s Manuel Pellegrini, who are running out of time to save their Premier League jobs.

Emery was dismissed after a winless run of seven games, with a 2-1 Europa League defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday proving to be the final straw.

The Spaniard was the third Premier League manager to lose his job this season after the dismissals of Watford’s Javi Gracia and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino.

But who is next in line for the chop?

Everton, according to reports, have held board-level discussions about Silva’s position while Pellegrini has gone two months without a win in any competition for his misfiring Hammers.

Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores may be in trouble just weeks after returning to the club while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could come under pressure if Manchester United fail to climb the table.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the managers fighting for their lives in the Premier League this weekend:

Everton search for Silva lining

Silva’s Everton are just two places above the relegation zone with seven defeats from their opening 13 Premier League fixtures — and they have a hideous run of matches coming up, starting with a visit to Leicester on Sunday.

Everton splashed the cash in the close season, recruiting Fabian Delph from Manchester City, Alex Iwobi from Arsenal and Moise Kean from Juventus, but they have struggled, scoring just 13 goals all season.

There have even been suggestions of a possible return to Goodison Park for former boss David Moyes.

Former Everton player Michael Ball tweeted this week that there was no way back for 42-year-old Silva, with games to come in the next few weeks against Liverpool, Chelsea and both Manchester clubs.

“Silva knows he’s going, Players do, the fans do,” he wrote.

“Yes it’s difficult to bring someone in with that nightmare run of games but the fans need hope. Players need a fresh start & ideas to give us a slight chance to pick up points.”

Pellegrini’s Chelsea test

Pellegrini’s side have not won in any competition since September and have plummeted down the Premier League table after a bright start.

West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini © AFP/File / Adrian DENNIS

The fourth-bottom Hammers face a challenging test this weekend against in-form Chelsea. Frank Lampard’s young side have won six of their past seven league matches.

“We don’t talk about that,” the 66-year-old former Manchester City boss said on Thursday when questioned about his future. “You have to very clear what you must do, game by game.

“Football changes all the time. We are working to try to beat Chelsea and after that, we will see the result.”

Watford woes

Watford are rock bottom of the Premier League table following a 3-0 home defeat by Burnley.

It was a club-record 11th consecutive home league game without a win as well as a seventh league defeat of the season.

Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores has struggled since returning to Vicarage Road © AFP/File / Glyn KIRK

Flores finds himself under scrutiny despite having only returned to Vicarage Road at the start of September, but remains determined to focus on the bigger picture.

The Spaniard, who has enjoyed just one Premier League win since his return, against fellow strugglers Norwich, maintains there is a regular dialogue with the club hierarchy.

“We are making a big mistake talking about me and about my job, my position. Finally, the situation is not about my position, a coach.

“You are talking about the happiness of a lot of people. This is the most important thing. The happiness of the fans, the future of the club, the future of the squad, (we should be) talking about that.”

Solskjaer at risk?

Is Solskjaer safe at Manchester United?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under pressure at Manchester United © AFP/File / Paul ELLIS

The Norwegian has overseen a moderate revival at Manchester United but the team are languishing in ninth spot in the Premier League, nine points off fourth-placed Chelsea.

United’s rollercoaster 3-3 draw at Sheffield United last week brought to an end a run of five wins out of six games in all competitions.

But United look short of quality and ill-equipped to close the gap on the top four despite their desperation to qualify for the Champions League again.

Fixtures

Saturday (1800hrs unless stated)

Newcastle v Manchester City (1530), Burnley v Crystal Palace, Chelsea v West Ham, Liverpool v Brighton, Tottenham v Bournemouth, Southampton v Watford (2030)

Sunday

Norwich v Arsenal, Wolves v Sheffield Utd (1700), Leicester v Everton, Manchester United v Aston Villa (1930)

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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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