Mark, Ewe are fantastic, man

FIVE-WAY FINISH: Jockey Mark Ewe steering Fantastic Man (No. 1) to beat Dreamcatcher (No. 2) by a short head in Race 1 at Kranji on Sunday, with Flying Winner (in black and white) third, a nose away. Captain McCaw is fourth, a short head behind and Cannon King (obscured on the inside) fifth, a head away.
Jockey Mark Ewe.
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Weak case for defence

England's attack looks promising but there is room for improvement at the back

POOR JUDGMENT: Joe Hart (jersey 
No. 1) rushes out to charge down Volkan Sen, but the Turkey midfielder beats the sliding England goalkeeper to the ball and crosses for Hakan Calhanoglu to sweep home from close range for the equaliser.
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England can count on Kane and Vardy, says Neil Humphreys

Kane and Vardy can deliver for England in France, but only if used properly

READY TO STRIKE: Jamie Vardy (right) and Harry Kane (left) both found the net for England against Turkey, showing signs of a promising partnership.

ENGLAND 2

(Harry Kane 3, Jamie Vardy 83)

TURKEY 1

(Hakan Calhanoglu 13)

Deep within the bowels of the Etihad Stadium, almost invisible to the naked eye, there was the hint of a trophy-winning double act.

There was a solution to England's silverware shortcomings.

But it was a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside the enigmatic woolly head of Roy Hodgson.

Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane represent the Three Lions' most potent attacking threat since the Shearer and Sheringham roadshow at Euro 96.

Vardy remains the tongue-flapping greyhound pup forever in search of a stick.

Kane is the all-round penalty box Action Man with no obvious weaknesses.

Together, they are an early, pre-retirement gift for their England manager.

And yet, Hodgson has unwrapped a silk purse and uses friendlies against Turkey to wonder how he can turn it into a sow's ear.

Both forwards scored yesterday morning (Singapore time) as the Turks suffered their first defeat since November 2014, but the suspicion persists that Hodgson is bending Vardy out of shape to accommodate Wayne Rooney at Euro 2016.

LEFT WING

The Leicester City striker spent an hour on the left wing. He might as well have been left in the dressing room.

The role only negates his speedy strengths and magnifies his weaknesses.

Vardy isn't a winger any more than Rooney is a No. 10 at international level, but there's a concern that Hodgson may seek to prove otherwise.

The England manager argued that the Three Lions kicked off with a conventional 4-3-3, a formation that had served the side well during an undefeated qualification campaign.

But Danny Welbeck often occupied the left-sided role, a forward more suited to the nimble nature of flank play.

Vardy's invigorating willingness to dash between centre backs doesn't lend itself to idle work on the touchline.

His title-winning exploits at Leicester made the 29-year-old a refreshing throwback to uncomplicated centre forwards stalking the last defender, knowing that they could prevail in a foot race.

Only when Hodgson altered the restrained formation in the second half, by pushing Vardy closer to Kane, did the fabulous Fox begin to irritate back-pedalling defenders.

Kane's missed penalty was earned after Vardy's characteristic "kick and rush", slicing through Turkey's spine and stealing a spot kick from Mehmet Topal.

But a coach known for his regressive tendencies seems reluctant to return to a 4-4-2 line-up that maximises England's resources.

It's not a 4-4-2 in the traditional Hodgson sense, with two banks of four dug in with the defensive stubbornness of wartime trenches topped with rusty barbed wire.

It's a pair of strikers ahead of a polished diamond.

Thanks entirely to Mauricio Pochettino, the Three Lions now boast two confident, attacking wingbacks in Danny Rose and Kyle Walker who can compensate for the obvious lack of width that comes with a midfield diamond.

In the second half, the formation teased with glimpses of real potential. Dele Alli served Kane.

Substitute Danny Drinkwater did likewise with Vardy as Hodgson took advantage of the telepathic relationships forged on the training grounds at Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester.

WORK IN PROGRESS

Of course, it's still a work in progress.

Kane proved he wasn't a one-season wonder at Spurs by winning the Golden Boot, but he appears to have been mistaken for serial winner Thierry Henry.

Hodgson's decision to appoint Kane as England's designated set-piece specialist was not vindicated against Turkey.

In truth, it looked a still-born idea, with the Spurs striker squandering several decent chances with wayward shots.

Besides, the England player most qualified to be on the end of a Kane cross is Kane.

It's an exercise in futility.

But the 22-year-old wasn't alone in his flawed decision-making. Vardy's soft tumbles to the turf are starting to repeat themselves. 

In a re-enactment of his dive against West Ham, Vardy engineered contact by running across Topal and falling to the floor like a machine-gunned jellyfish.

He got away with it at the Etihad Stadium yesterday morning. He probably won't in France.

Vardy's strange decision to get married this week means he will miss Saturday's friendly against Australia, allowing Hodgson the excuse to select Rooney.

But three into two doesn't go.

A 4-3-3 may facilitate Rooney's inclusion, but it doesn't play to the strengths of Vardy, Kane or their in-form teammates at Leicester and Tottenham respectively.

Both Alli and Eric Dier are superior performers in the No. 10 and quarterback roles that have previously been earmarked for Rooney.

Playing above an attacking diamond, Vardy and Kane promise a productive partnership, as long as they are pulled closer together.

Vardy might be getting married tomorrow, but he needs to be closely wedded to the big man in white if England are to have any chance of a honeymoon in Paris.

"We want to keep winning as a team and keep a winning mentality going. With the team we have got, we are capable of going forward."

- England striker Jamie Vardy

"It was a good win against a tough side. of course, there is stuff we can work on, we know that but, overall, I thought we were the better side and we deserved the win."

- England striker Harry Kane

"(Harry) kane has cemented himself as the No. 1 guy in that (striker) position. He plays it the best out of the guys we’ve got. We’ve still got Daniel Sturridge who can come in but the only person I can see who is going tocause kane some problems in that role up there is young (Marcus) Rashford."

- Former England strikerIan Wright

Mourinho will be a breath of fresh air, says Gary Lim

Like LVG, Mourinho has little regard for aesthetics but the difference is, his methods work

SPECIAL ONE’S IN TOWN: Jose Mourinho (above) is spotted outside his London home yesterday.

"Louis van Gaal is to leave Manchester United, with immediate effect," confirmed Manchester United in a statement.

The statement added "a decision on a successor as manager will be announced soon".

The announcement made on Monday evening (UK time) ended the speculation over the Dutchman's future at the club, a future that reports had called time on last week.

It has also been widely reported in major media outlets that the 64-year-old Dutchman will be replaced by former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho in the United hotseat.

Tthe two lacklustre seasons under van Gaal amde his exit inevitable.

It is the impending appointment of the 53-year-old Mourinho that promises intrigue for the next few months at least.

For many, the admiration is mutual.

According to ex-United players such as Rio Ferdinand, Mourinho is a born winner.

His high standing in the game is founded on the successes he attained everywhere he went - from the Portuguese Primeira Liga to English Premiership to Italian Serie A to Spanish La Liga.

The Portuguese is seen as the managerial solution that cures all ills.

United, crippled by the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson since 2013, need an instant remedy.

The FA Cup triumph last Saturday could not make up for the disappointing fifth-placed finish in the Premiership and, more importantly, the staid fare the team have been dishing out ever since van Gaal took over the reins from David Moyes in 2014.

Van Gaal had lost not only the fans, but also the dressing room, where the Red Devils were often confounded by his bizarre instructions, including a rule that requires strikers to always take a touch on the ball before they can shoot from balls coming across the penalty box.

Ironically, Mourinho himself was ejected from his post at Chelsea midway through last season because he had already lost his players by then.

And neither is he an advocate for the swashbuckling style of football that seemed to come so naturally to the Red Devils during the good old Fergie days.

His title-winning seasons with Chelsea were built around a core value of winning at all costs, with little regard for aesthetics.

But, unlike van Gaal's, his methods work.

Mourinho is "as close as you could ever get in football to guaranteeing success", said former England striker Gary Lineker on Twitter.

Rebuilding United does not require an overhaul.

BIGGEST FEAR

The biggest fear for the club this summer should sort itself out with his appointment.

Their best player David de Gea, who was disillusioned under van Gaal and considering a move, will now find it tough to leave.

That de Gea and Mourinho share the same agent, Jorge Mendes, certainly helps.

Wayne Rooney, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin, Chris Smalling, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial look likely to feature prominently in his plans.

The return of Luke Shaw from injury eases pressure on the defence.

If Mourinho can also solve the enigma that is Memphis Depay, he also has a potential world-beater in his hands.

Three, maybe four, solid signings should restore normal service for the Red Devils.

United fans can trust the charismatic Mourinho to work his charm in the transfer market.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a self-confessed admirer of his former Inter Milan coach and currently a free agent, may now swop Paris for Manchester.

Unsettled Real Madrid attacking midfielder James Rodriguez, already rumoured to be on United's radar, will also follow the developments keenly.

Given his preference for combative players with a strong physical presence, Mourinho will also be expected to bring in a couple of defensive players.

His impending arrival will bring a new breath of fresh air to Old Trafford.

It leaves one to wonder what took the club so long.



"There are two ways of looking at it. It’s rock ‘n’ roll from a commercial point of view. It will catapult United back onto the front stage. They have been quiet for the last few years.

From a football decision, there is always a doubt about a new manager no matter who it is. This is at the very top and one of the people who has done it for years.

But he has to go and do it all again. The past is forgotten about and, if he thinks he has been in goldfish bowls before, he is really going to be in one now. Will he do it? It’s not simple."

- Former Manchester City striker Niall Quinn



"At the moment, he is the one who is available and, with Pep (Guardiola) going across the city at Man City, they needed something like this to compete.

Perhaps he is not the right man for getting young players through into the side but, with Jose, it’s all about winning trophies. It doesn’t matter who the personnel are. If he produces trophies for them, it won’t matter who the players are."

- Former Liverpool defender Jamie Redknapp

 

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