England manager Gareth Southgate was candid about where his team is in football’s pecking order after an unconvincing 1-0 win over Slovenia sent them into the World Cup finals on Thursday.Until skipper Harry Kane struck in the fourth minute of stoppage time there was every chance England’s confirmation of a place at the Russian showpiece next year would have been greeted with boos from a frustrated Wembley Stadium crowd.A young England team again lacked guile — a common criticism throughout a qualifying campaign that has been comfortable without ever stirring any real optimism.Yet Southgate, who took over from Sam Allardyce after one game in Group F and has sealed top spot with a game to spare, said the only thing that mattered, for now, was that England had completed their first task of making it to Russia.“Tonight highlighted where we are,” he told reporters. “Was it the performance or the night we wanted? No, absolutely not.“I think people want to come and see goals and be entertained. It’s blindingly obvious we could have played better. You know what you would like and what is realistic.“Are we are going to become Spain in the next eight months? No we’re not. They have a squad full of players who have won Champions Leagues and league titles. We haven’t got players who have proved themselves on that stage.“But now they have a chance to play on that stage at the World Cup. That was why it was imperative we got there.”EXCITING TALENTIn the likes of Kane, with 11 goals in 22 internationals, Manchester United’s young striker Marcus Rashford and Kane’s Tottenham Hotspur team-mate Dele Alli, who was suspended on Thursday, England do have exciting talent in their ranks.There are other hopeful signs of an England resurgence in the younger age groups, but Southgate said patience was needed.“They are young players and are giving everything for the shirt and they will improve in the next few years,” he said.“They are suffering the consequences of 25, 30 or 40 years (of failure in major tournaments) and that’s not their fault,” he added, with England having disappointed since their only major tournament win at the 1966 World Cup on home soil.“In certain areas maybe there are young players who won’t be ready. My desire and ideal way of playing and what we need to do over the next year are maybe two different things.”While the quality of the performances has left a lot to be desired, England have developed a knack of scoring late goals throughout the qualifying campaign — namely a last-ditch winner away to Slovakia, a late Kane equaliser in Scotland and now the England captain’s last-gap intervention at Wembley.“We are having to find ways to win by being a bit more savvy because things are not flowing,” said Southgate. “But we have got goalscorers. We are a side that scores late goals not concede them, which is becoming a bit of a theme.”While the England manager can look forward to a World Cup next year his Slovenia counterpart Srecko Katanec said after the match that he would stand down as national team coach with their World Cup qualification hopes in tatters.
SYDNEY, Australia (AP): Former Test cricket umpire Darrell Hair has avoided conviction after pleading guilty to stealing from his employer in what a magistrate called “a monumental fall from grace”. Hair, who stood in 78 Tests and is remembered for calling Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing in a Test in Melbourne in 1995, pleaded guilty in the Orange Local Court on Monday to one charge of embezzlement and one of stealing. A fact sheet said Hair stole AU$9,005.75 from D’Aquino’s Liquor in Orange between February 25 and April 28. He blamed a gambling addiction. The lawyer for the 65-year-old Hair, Andrew Rolfe, described the offending as “an aberration” in a lifetime of service. Magistrate Michael Allen did not record a conviction, but sentenced Hair to an 18-month good-behaviour bond, noting that he repaid the money and was in counselling.
Burke has about $5 million to work with under the league’s $39 million cap as the Ducks (18-16-7) fight to climb from 11th place in the Western Conference and into playoff contention. A.J. Perez, (562) 499-1338 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “I’m not much on what guys did before they got here,” said Burke, the Mighty Ducks general manager, in a conference call with reporters. “This business, fortunately or unfortunately, is based on what can you do for me today. I felt the goal production to date certainly didn’t merit the salary paid to date.” Sykora, 29, was in the final year of his contract that pays $3.1 million, the third-highest salary on the Ducks. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson Kondratiev, 22, switched American Hockey League jerseys as he went from the Hartford Wolf Pack to the Portland Pirates, two teams that happened to be playing each other Sunday. The Russian played 29 games with the Rangers and four in Hartford this season. Burke said he eventually sees the 6-foot-1, 194-pound Kondratiev as a solid fourth defenseman in the NHL. The move comes nearly two months after the Ducks traded former Hart Trophy winner Sergei Fedorov and a draft pick to Columbus for little-known defenseman Francois Beauchemin. With the trade of Sykora, the Ducks have none of their top four scorers from the 2003-04 season left on the roster. The Ducks enter play tonight against the Kings at the Pond tied for 26th in the league in scoring. “Does this mean in some way we don’t consider ourselves a playoff team?” Burke said. “Absolutely not. Nothing can be further from the truth.” It didn’t take an abacus for Brian Burke to surmise that another former All-Star on the Mighty Ducks’ roster was expendable. Petr Sykora’s seven goals and 13 assists, Burke said, just didn’t jive with his contract – and that’s why the right winger found himself bound for the New York Rangers along with a fourth-round pick for minor-league defenseman Maxim Kondratiev on Sunday.