Di Maria learns money doesn’t always talk in Premier League

In that process much is expected of Di Maria, who was sold by Real Madrid to United for a British record 59.

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7 million pounds and who showed a few flashes of his undoubted talent on Saturday.

But United, yet to win this season, again looked disjointed and lacking in confidence against a determined Burnley, who earned their first point since returning to the Premier League.

For the Argentine midfielder, who was a Champions League winner with Real last season, his Premier League debut was a reality check.

Naturally he was heralded by United’s travelling support among the wooden seats in the Cricket Field stand at Turf Moor, but his first misplaced pass was greeted with jeers from the Burnley fans and later mistakes led to mocking chants from them of “What a waste of money”.

The 26-year-old can expect plenty more of that in the coming weeks as his transfer fee will generate the kind of attention that he rarely received at Real, where he was often viewed, perhaps ungenerously, as a supporting actor to the bigger name stars in the Bernabeu stadium show.

The spotlight will shine the brightest when Di Maria faces the title-chasing teams from the top end of the table but the Argentine will have learnt on Saturday that even the most modest clubs in the English top flight will not roll over – as he discovered when he left the field after what his manager called a “kick to the calf”.

Only 35 miles separates Burnley’s Turf Moor home from United’s Old Trafford stadium, but in every other sense the clubs are worlds apart.

United, the face of the globalised Premier League, are a multinational brand with business offices serving fans around the world. They boast American owners, a Dutch manager and a team recruited for millions of dollars from around the globe.

NUMBER SEVEN

Burnley, based in the centre of a former textile industry town of 87,000, were founder members of the Football League and the smallest town to win it. They are what English clubs used to be – owned by local businessmen who are fans of the club, with an English manager and a real rarity – an all-British squad of players.

In this transfer window, so far, United have spent 132 million pounds on new players – Burnley have invested four million.

In fact, Burnley’s combined transfer fees from the club’s entire 132-year history do not tally up to what United manager Louis van Gaal invested in Di Maria on Tuesday.

Much has been made of Di Maria’s choice of shirt number and his predecessors in the number seven at Old Trafford – George Best, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo among them.

Saturday’s game offered a reminder that money talked long before the Premier League was created – back in the 1960’s United lured away Burnley’s fine ‘number sevens’, John Connelly and Willie Morgan, as the East Lancashire club, champions in 1960, started to find it hard to keep hold of talent.

But on Saturday, Burnley showed that, sometimes at least, for 90 minutes, the working class can match the super rich.

Burnley midfielder Scott Arfield, who plays a similar role to Di Maria, was signed for nothing by Clarets manager Sean Dyche after Huddersfield Town released him just over a year ago.

Dyche is hoping to find a couple more bargains by the time the window closes on Monday, while United acquired another big money player, this time signing Ajax’s Dutch international Daley Blind for 17.5 million euros (13.85 million pounds).

The difference in resources between the two clubs will show in the end – as will Di Maria’s quality.

But on Sunday, Arfield will wake up with his adrenalin still pumping in pride while Di Maria will have a sore calf as a reminder of his first trip to East Lancashire.

(Reporting By Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Iraq crisis: Australia to provide weapons to Kurds fighting IS

 

Extended coverage: Iraq crisis

“The United States government has requested that Australia help to transport stores of military equipment, including arms and munitions, as part of a multi-nation effort,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement.

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“Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster aircraft will join aircraft from other nations including Canada, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and the United States to conduct this important task.”

The announcement came as Australia joined the US military in dropping humanitarian aid to the besieged Iraqi town of Amerli, where thousands of Shia Turkomen have been cut off by jihadist rebels from receiving food, water and medical supplies.

Australian Defence Force chief Mark Binskin said at a press conference that 15 pallets of food, water and hygiene packs – enough for 2,600 people for a day – were dropped by a C-130 earlier Sunday.

He added that the delivery by Australia of arms and munitions “from Eastern Bloc countries” to the Kurdish peshmerga would take place “in the coming days”, and in their case would involve handovers on the ground rather than airdrops.

“We want to make sure that we know where the arms… and the munitions go when we deliver, so at this stage there won’t be a drop. We’ll be landing and handing them over to officials from the peshmerga,” Air Marshal Binskin said.

Albania, Croatia and Denmark have also committed to providing Kurdish forces with arms and equipment, the US said Wednesday.

Abbott said there was a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Iraq and Australia was working with other countries to alleviate it and “address the security threat posed by ISIL”.

Amid criticism by the Greens Party over the country’s increased involvement in Iraq, the Australian leader stressed that “there is no role envisaged for combat troops on the ground”.

“None of us want to get involved in another Middle Eastern war. But it is important to do what reasonably can be done to avert potential genocide,” Abbott said.

“Any military activity by Australia over and above the humanitarian airdrops and the military airlift that we’ve talked about now will be… along with allies and it would be at the request at the government of Iraq.

“But no specific request has been made, no specific decision has been made.”

Australia was also involved in airdrops earlier in August to refugees in northern Iraq to deliver humanitarian assistance.

The Iraqi government is struggling to retake large parts of the country after a lightning militant offensive led by the IS, also known as ISIL and ISIS.

The jihadis seized Iraq’s second city Mosul in June and swept through the country’s Sunni heartland as security forces fled.

The US military said Saturday it had launched fresh attacks against IS forces in Iraq, with fighter aircraft and drones used to carry out strikes near the Mosul dam.

Lewandowski scores but Bayern held at Schalke

Despite having new signing Xabi Alonso in the Bayern team 24 hours after he joined on a two-year deal from Real Madrid, they looked far from their best as Schalke got their first point to snap a two-game losing run with a gutsy second-half performance.

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“At this moment in the season it is not possible to play over 90 minutes the way we played in those first 25 minutes,” keeper Manuel Neuer told reporters.

Lewandowski opened his account when he flicked in a pass from Sebastian Rode in the 10th minute as Bayern dominated.

“I think those first 20-25 minutes were outstanding,” Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said. “After that we started losing possession and that turned out to be the problem.”

The visitors, despite missing half a dozen players through injury, overran their opponents in the first half with World Cup winner Alonso, who had more touches than any other Bayern player, confidently dictating their game from the back.

However, Bayern took their foot off the gas in the second half, with Schalke pressing higher and earning a deserved equaliser when captain Benedikt Hoewedes bundled the ball over the line after Alonso tried to clear.

Bayern’s players protested that Hoewedes had touched the ball with his hand but television replays showed Alonso kicking the ball off the line and on to the charging Hoewedes.

The draw put Bayern on four points from two games.

NOT HAPPY

“I can’t say I am happy after this game,” said Bayern midfielder Thomas Mueller. “It was a tough game but we had no more chances after the 20th minute. I am frustrated that we did not manage to hold on to our lead.”

The draw eases the pressure on Schalke coach Jens Keller, after they were knocked out of the German Cup by a third-tier side and then lost their league opener to Hanover 96 last week.

“Our commitment and our passion should be like that every week,” Keller said. “We did not react to that early goal well early on but gradually fought our way back.

“In the past 21 months (since my arrival) we have repeatedly shown that we support each other and we pull ourselves out of difficult situations.”

Bayer Leverkusen are top on six points after conceding an own goal and twice coming from behind to beat Hertha Berlin 4-2 and make it two wins out of two games.

It was a terrible afternoon for former European champions Hamburg SV, who were crushed 3-0 at home by newcomers Paderborn and are still looking for their first win of the season.

Another promoted side Cologne also enjoyed the afternoon by snatching a 2-0 win at VfB Stuttgart while VfL Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt shared the points in a 2-2 draw.

Borussia Dortmund edged Augsburg 3-2 on Friday.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Kvitova joins upset list in loss to Krunic

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova joined a long upset hit-list at the hands of little-known Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia, while Wimbledon winner Novak Djokovic led an unfettered charge of seeded men into the fourth round.

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The third-seeded Kvitova was ousted in the third round by 145th-ranked qualifier Krunic, becoming the tournament’s fifth victim among the top eight women’s seeds.

The 21-year-old Serb fell onto her back in celebration after a last groundstroke by the Czech sailed wide for the final point in the 6-4 6-4 shocker.

Krunic might have stayed down in part to recuperate from her dashes to all corners of the court in thwarting twice Wimbledon winner Kvitova in the latest Flushing Meadows stunner.

Kvitova, outsteadied by the quick-moving Serb, joined Simona Halep (2), Agnieszka Radwanska (4), Angelique Kerber (6) and Ana Ivanovic (8) in being shown the exit.

The diminutive Krunic, a blur as she sprinted and slid into splits stretching for returns, was as surprised as anyone.

“It was an honor for me to be on the same court as Petra, who is a great champion,” Krunic told the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd after the 98-minute match. “I watched both of her finals matches at Wimbledon.

“Going to play against such a champion meant to stay on the court as long as possible. Of course, I didn’t expect to win. Of course, I hoped to. I’m very happy.”

Krunic joined Italy’s Flavia Pennetta, the 11th seed, into the fourth round. Pennetta advanced with a 6-4 6-0 win against American wild card Nicole Gibbs.

MEN’S ACTION

On the men’s side, top-seeded Djokovic took another routine step in his bid to reach a fifth successive U.S. Open final by beating American Sam Querrey 6-3 6-2 6-2.

World number one Djokovic needed just 85 minutes to reach the round of 16 in Arthur Ashe Stadium and has yet to lose a set.

Djokovic will next meet either another big-serving American, 13th seed John Isner, or 22nd seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.

In contrast to the battle-scarred women’s draw, there has yet to be a casualty among the top 10 men’s seeds.

Also advancing early in Saturday’s day session were fifth-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic and 10th seed Kei Nishikori of Japan.

Raonic relied once again on his booming serve to win in straight sets determined by three tiebreakers against Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos.

Nishikori booked his berth in the round of 16 by beating 23rd seed Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-4 6-2 6-3.

KRUNIC ECONOMICS

Krunic, who aims to graduate from university in Serbia this year with a degree in economics, calculated her chances were best by concentrating on keeping the ball in play against the Wimbledon champion and she followed the plan with precision.

Extending rallies with bursts of speed that often took her from the forehand corner to the backhand border, Krunic drew 34 errors from the left-hander while committing just 14.

Kvitova tried to seize control, unleashing 33 winners to only 17 from Krunic, but too often failed in the big moments against a determined opponent with nothing to lose.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Kvitova. “I think she played really unbelievable tennis and she put a lot of balls back. Almost all of them.

“It was very difficult just to play only on the winners. I did mistakes and I was really trying everything that I could. I was trying to fight and fighting every point, but it was so difficult. She played really great tennis today.”

The three wins at Flushing Meadows were the first three posted by Krunic in a grand slam. Her second-round victory over 27th-ranked American Madison Keys marked her first win over a top 30 player.

Krunic’s victory ensured the Singidunum University student a payday of at least $187,000, more than triple her tennis winnings of $45,000 this year.

Krunic, rated fifth among Serbia’s women players entering the year’s last grand slam, will next play two-times Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka of Belarus for a berth in the quarters. Azarenka, the 16th seed, defeated Russian Elena Vesnina 6-1 6-1.

(Editing by Gene Cherry)

Cabin boy from Hindenburg crash dies at 92

Werner Franz, believed to be the last surviving crew member of the German airship Hindenburg that crashed 77 years ago, has died.

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He was 92.

Franz was a 14-year-old cabin boy when the hydrogen-filled Zeppelin caught fire and crashed in Lakehurst, New Jersey, on May 6, 1937.

The disaster was captured by waiting photographers, film crews and a radio broadcaster on the ground, making it one of history’s most iconic air accidents.

Luck and quick thinking meant Franz was able to jump out of the Hindenburg as it fell burning to the ground, said historian John Provan, a long-time friend.

“Werner survived the crash without a scratch on him,” Provan said.

Franz returned to Germany and served as an aircraft technician during World War II, and was a roller and ice skating coach in later life.

He spoke freely about his experience, said Carl Jablonski, president of the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society, who last met Franz at a 2004 event commemorating the disaster that killed 35 of the 97 people on board and a Navy crewman on the ground.

Provan confirmed a report by German news agency dpa, quoting his widow Annerose, that Franz died of heart failure August 13 in his hometown of Frankfurt.

Franz came to be on the Hindenburg by chance, Provan said.

“His older brother worked at a fancy hotel in Frankfurt where the passengers and the captain stayed overnight before the airship took off early in the morning,” he said.

“One of the captains said they were looking for a cabin boy and (his brother) heard about it.”

Franz completed three journeys to South America and one to North America before the disaster.

The huge airship – as long as three football fields and 15 storeys tall – was considered the most luxurious means to cross the Atlantic at the time.

Its loss – widely attributed to static electricity that ignited leaking hydrogen – was a heavy blow to the image of a resurgent Germany that the Nazis wanted to project to the world.

“Werner was most fortunate because he was in the officers’ mess cleaning up,” said Provan.

“Above him was a large tank of water that burst open and drenched him, which protected him a bit from the flames and the heat.”

Franz was able to jump out of a cloth supply hatch onto the ground below and made the wise decision to run into the wind.

“He didn’t make the mistake of going in the other direction or the flames would have caught him,” Provan said.

Jablonski said three other survivors of the disaster are believed to be still alive – Werner Doehner and Horst Schirmer, who were both passengers aboard the Hindenburg, and Robert Buchanan, a member of the ground crew that was waiting to moor the ship.

Poyet gets ready to work the phone lines

After watching his side, who narrowly staved off relegation last season, lose 1-0 at Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League on Saturday, the Uruguayan recognised he was running out of time to secure reinforcements.

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“This not my squad. There are not enough (players). We know the numbers I want to work with are not the numbers that we’ve got,” Poyet told reporters at Loftus Road.

“I don’t know what you are going to be doing the next few days, I am going to be on the phone all the time,” he added before the transfer window closes on Monday. “It’s supposed to be a day off tomorrow, but it’s not going to be.”

Poyet took over at the Stadium of Light last October, replacing controversial Italian Paolo D1 Canio, and signed a new two-year contract in May after leading the club to a 14th place finish.

Sunderland have been busy already in the transfer market, with signings including England midfielder Jack Rodwell from champions Manchester City as well as Dutch international Patrick van Aanholt.

However Poyet has also been frustrated by missing out on other targets.

“We were close a few weeks ago to a couple, but not close enough,” he said. “We are going to do something because there are important positions to fill.”

Poyet gave no names or details, having spoken earlier in the week of his frustration at leaks to the press about what Sunderland were up to.

“You do all your work, you get in contact with the club, you get in contact with the player, you research if he has the right mentality, if he has any problems, everything that’s important for you,” he said at the time.

“Then the name comes out in the Press, another club gets involved, another one offers more money, another one, another one and at the end of the day, he is not coming, so I am sorry, but no names.

“It’s been a very difficult summer.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

Remy set to become Torres replacement at Chelsea

Manager Harry Redknapp said QPR’s west London neighbours had secured a bargain in their efforts to sign a replacement for AC Milan-bound Fernando Torres.

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“He’s got to be the cheapest buy of the century because when you look at what strikers are going for at the moment… everybody’s eight million, nines, 11s, 12s,” he told reporters after his side beat Sunderland 1-0 at Loftus Road without Remy.

“But there’s nothing we could do about it. He had a buyout clause.”

A QPR official confirmed the buyout clause was 10.5 million pounds, a figure that brought a smile to Redknapp’s face.

“That’s better than I thought, I thought it was eight-point something,” he grinned.

Redknapp said he left the 27-year-old out of his starting lineup, for what turned out to be the promoted club’s first Premier League win of the season following two defeats, because he felt he had no choice.

SPANNER IN WORKS

“We had a spanner thrown in the works at 12 o’clock today when I got a phone call to say that Loic is leaving which was a massive shock to me, I didn’t expect that at all,” he explained.

“He worked yesterday with the team and I never had any idea that he might be leaving.

“It wasn’t a case of him refusing to play. He came in, and I had a chat with him. I said ‘Look, Loic, it may be difficult. I need 11 out there today whose heads are completely on playing for QPR.’ So I took the decision,” said Redknapp.

The manager understood the player’s position, with Remy signing a buyout clause when he first joined QPR before they were relegated in 2013, and he spent last season on loan to Newcastle United.

“I’m not criticising him. He’s gone to Chelsea, Champions League and whatever… it’s a fantastic opportunity for the boy and it’s difficult to turn down,” said Redknapp.

With Torres expected to join Milan on a two-year loan deal, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho wants another striker to compete with Diego Costa and Didier Drogba.

FAILED MEDICAL

Remy scored 14 goals in 26 league games at Newcastle and seemed to be heading to Liverpool earlier in the transfer window but failed a medical.

Redknapp said at the time that he could not understand Liverpool’s reasoning and that there must be another one because “you couldn’t meet a fitter lad”.

After Chelsea’s 6-3 win at Everton on Saturday, Mourinho told Sky Sports: “We’re trying since yesterday – since we knew Nando was leaving – to get Remy. We have a fantastic doctor and I trust him completely so for sure they will identify any problem.”

“The information we have from specialists in the various areas is that he doesn’t have a problem playing football.”

Remy’s imminent departure leaves Redknapp looking for a replacement, in a side light on firepower, with little time remaining in the transfer window and even Championship strikers commanding eye-catching fees.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)