Ashley threat was ‘tongue in cheek’

first_imgNewcastle owner Mike Ashley has denied he was being serious in saying manager Alan Pardew could lose his job if the Magpies lose to Stoke on Monday. “Dead. Finished. Over. One more game then that’s it.” According to the newspaper, which said the discussion was held outside a London pub, Ashley added: “That’s all I’m prepared to say about it and now that I’ve said it, it’s out there. You can do what you want with it. There’s only so much I can take.” The same report quoted a lawyer for Ashley, who said the billionaire owner of retail chain Sports Direct was humouring the reporter. Ashley has rarely discussed Newcastle affairs in public during his tenure. “Mr Ashley responded, tongue in cheek, that Mr Pardew had two more games before being sacked,” the lawyer was reported as saying. “To put this into perspective, over the past few weeks certain reporters have stated that they believe that Mr Pardew has two more games before being sacked. Mr Ashley was therefore ‘humouring’ your reporter.” Pardew is two years into an eight-year contract with Newcastle, who currently prop up the Barclays Premier League table after a winless start to the season. The Independent newspaper reports that the comments concerning Pardew’s future were made in conversation with one of its reporters, with a lawyer for Ashley later stressing they were intended as a joke. “He’s got one more game,” Ashley was quoted as saying. “If we lose against Stoke on Monday night then he’s gone. I have had enough. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Couture, USC hope to get back on track

first_imgUsually on Tuesday afternoons, baseball starting pitcher and senior Kevin Couture would be the very last option for USC coach Chad Kreuter.Another shot · Senior starter Kevin Couture will get a chance to start a second game after his previous start lasted just two-thirds of an inning. – Avi Kushlan | Daily Trojan However, Couture also usually makes it through the first inning in his Sunday start. Since he didn’t last weekend, when USC faces the Pepperdine Waves today, Couture will get the rare opportunity to start consecutive games.“We want him to go ahead and get back on the horse,” Kreuter said. “He needs to rebound and give us six strong [innings] similar to his first start [of the season].”The Trojans (5-6) will take to the road to try to end their recent struggles, having lost five of the last seven games, including Sunday’s 16-7 blowout by New Mexico to give the Lobos the 2-1 series win.But Sunday’s game, in which Couture pitched only two thirds of an inning, allowing seven hits and four runs, was an anomaly this season, as the starting pitching has usually kept USC close only to have the bullpen falter.“We’ve not pitched well in spots, particularly the first couple of innings Sunday and throughout the year in the bullpen,” Kreuter said. “Our pitch selection has to be better; our location needs to improve, and our pitchers need to pitch around situations better.”Kreuter also said that when relievers enter the game they need to either succeed or learn how to make the adjustments when they are struggling.He noted junior Chris Mezger as a model of a pitcher that has learned from his mistakes in his first outing of the season (one-third of an inning, two hits, one run) to be productive since (seven innings, no earned runs).The Trojans pitching staff could find reprieve in facing a Waves’            (4-7) lineup that is in a funk itself. Pepperdine is batting only .275. Instead of big boppers, the lineup features four partial or full-time starters batting at or below .200.Joe Sever and Torrey Jacoby are the only two Waves that have produced consistently, batting .362 and .351, respectively.USC’s bats will try to build on their last week of play. The Trojans averaged more than six runs in their four games led by Alex Sherrod’s six RBI and the play of sophomore first baseman Ricky Oropesa, who appears to be escaping his early-season struggles.Oropesa scored seven runs last week and went 4-8 in Sunday’s doubleheader, knocking a pair of doubles and a line-drive home run that jetted out of the ballpark like a missile.Dealing with some key injuries, Kreuter said he plans to continue to experiment with lineups in an attempt to find one that will maximize Oropesa’s production.“When Mike Greco was hurt two days before the season started, it really changed the dynamics of the lineup,” Kreuter said. “We expected him to be a power bat that could protect Ricky in the middle of the lineup.”In addition to Greco, Kreuter is currently without the services of his most productive hitter this season after junior infielder Matt Hart had to leave Sunday’s first game with what Kreuter described as impingement in his throwing shoulder. Hart, who had been one of Oropesa’s protectors, was evaluated by team physicians on Monday.“I have to figure out some way to protect [Oropesa], whether that be with him leading off or batting third and us trying to stack the deck around him,” Kreuter said. “But the bottom line is that we need to pitch better. That’s the key to us winning.”last_img read more

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