first_img0Shares0000SUNDERLAND, November 28- Jose Mourinho will attempt to overturn a landmark defeat when Premier League leaders Chelsea visit Sunderland this weekend.The last time the two clubs met was in April when Gus Poyet’s Sunderland’s side –- then rooted at the foot of the table — pulled off a shock win at Stamford Bridge. Defeat brought an end to Mourinho’s 77-game unbeaten home league run in two spells as Chelsea manager and helped derail the Blues title bid.Mourinho’s side have not lost in the league since and last weekend’s one-sided dismissal of West Bromwich Albion helped extend the club’s lead at the head of the Premier League to six points after just 12 games.The 5-0 victory at Schalke in midweek confirmed Chelsea’s place in the knockout stage of the Champions League and extended the Blues’ unbeaten start to the season to 19 games in all competitions.A demanding schedule between now and the turn of the year will test Mourinho’s squad, but with their main rivals regularly dropping points, it is hard to see their commanding lead being whittled away in the foreseeable future.Unlike other leading Premier League clubs, Chelsea have managed to negotiate the opening months of the campaign without losing key players to long-term injury.And defender Branislav Ivanovic said: “We are playing as a team at the moment. It’s still an early stage of the year and we know how many games we have to play until the end of the season to win trophies. We have games every three days now.“At the moment we are very calm and everyone is thinking in the same direction,” he added.Cesc Fabregas had a hand in four of the goals that crushed Schalke and the Spain midfielder said he was playing the best football of his career following his close season switch from Barcelona.“I am playing next to great players and they are playing very well and are helping me,” the former Arsenal playmaker said. “We have a young, talented team and the mood at the training ground is great.”– Great escape –Connor Wickham scored in Sunderland’s 2-1 win in west London seven months ago that helped them pull off their escape from relegation, and the former England Under-21 international insisted another surprise result shouldn’t be ruled out.Poyet’s mid-table Black Cats face a tough run of fixtures heading into December, with defending champions Manchester City following the leaders in visiting the Stadium of Light.“We know we can do it from our performances last year,” Wickham said. “We just need to play the way we have been playing, and hopefully it’ll happen again.“We had the same situation last season when we faced Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United in quick succession, but we managed to pull off something remarkable then.”Sunderland have lost just three times in the league this season. But seven draws leaves them too close to the relegation zone for comfort.Wickham added: “We’ve probably had too many draws which we could have won.”Former Chelsea midfielder Poyet is relishing his latest meeting with the Blues after helping the club lift the FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup during a successful four-year spell following his arrival at Stamford Bridge in 1997.The Sunderland head coach said: “I had a great time there, but my focus is fully on Sunderland. It will be nice to catch up with a few old friends, but as soon as the game kicks-off, I won’t see anything other than our red and white.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.This is no longer about being patient with their young players. About modest offseason moves. About scrutinizing the franchise purse strings. The Dodgers signed Torre to a three-year contract for a reported $13 million, which is what you might call a more serious investment than the annual $650,000 former manager Grady Little earned. But this is about a lot more than a major new managerial investment. Torre has earned his pay days. This is about recognizing that you don’t bring in someone with the credentials of Torre at his age unless you are prepared to go all out to win now. There isn’t time. He was hired less to shape the organization, than to deliver on it now. Not to offer a 20-minute pitch, but a finished film. So the Dodgers better look at that wealth of young talent and figure out which gems are ready to produce right now, and turn the others into trade bait. If they’re not deemed ready to become a serious contributor to a championship club right now, then they’re in the way. Patience just became a virtue the Dodgers don’t have time for. It may not have been their intent, but hiring Torre made them all about the now. So if Frank McCourt is privately thinking anyone who would pay Alex Rodriguez $30 million a year needs psychiatric treatment, it’s time for him to check out our finest local health care facilities. Because the Dodgers made a commitment Thursday to winning now, whether they realized it or not. It’s not that they haven’t been trying to win all along, but there is a sense of immediacy to it now. “Joe is 67 years old,” General Manager Ned Colletti said. “We don’t expect Joe to manage a very, very long time. “But in our conversations, if we can groom someone under Joe’s direction, we look forward to doing that.” So maybe down the road Don Mattingly is molded into the next Dodgers manager. That’s then. Right now, is all about right now. Torre will turn 68 next July and be 71 by the time his contract runs out. Managers in their 70s are as rare as a Juan Pierre walk. Easily the oldest manager ever to win a World Series was Jack McKeon in 2003 when he led the Marlins to victory over … Torre’s Yankees. Tommy Lasorda was 68 when he retired in 1996. Atlanta’s Bobby Cox, who seems like he has been around since Warren Spahn, is actually a year younger than Torre. This is not to say it wasn’t a great hire, that Torre has lost anything in the clubhouse. He actually seems an ideal hire for a franchise that has struggled to find its way since Kirk Gibson’s momentous home run. Torre is genuine, liked by all, calm as a morning pond. He has experienced everything baseball has to offer, including leading the Yankees to 12 consecutive postseasons and four World Series titles. “Joe Torre comes with a great resume,” Colletti said. “What he’s done the last 12 years is as powerful as any manager in recent memory. “The way he embraces the job, the way the players respond to him, the success that they have had and the way a city and a region support the man. I don’t think you can find any cracks in the foundation with that.” Those Yankees, of course, also carried the biggest payroll in baseball, times two. Missing pieces around expensive players were filled in with more expensive players. It was understood with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, every season’s team was built to win right now. “No doubt he’s had more of a veteran club than he’ll have here at the outset,” Colletti said. Colletti noted Torre when started in New York, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera were young. That he frequently worked in young players like a Jorge Posada or Robinson Cano or Melky Cabrera. But the Dodgers are almost overflowing with young talent. They started some lineups in the failed September stretch drive that had four or five players with two or less years experience. “As you watch young players develop, there’s usually a turning point where suddenly you start to see they understand it better,” Colletti said. “That they’re not so much worried about getting three or four hits as they are winning the game.” The Dodgers are at a turning point as an organization with the sad-eyed Torre. If his integrity is unquestioned, so should be his reason for coming here. He may have enjoyed his experience living in Southern California as an Angels broadcaster, but he arrives wanting to win a title with a franchise beyond the Yankees. So the Dodgers best be ready to tap every resource, explore every opportunity, including the game’s best and most expensive player, Rodriquez. “We’re going to meet as a group here at some point and time and discuss not only Alex Rodriguez but everybody else who’s a free agent,” Colletti said. “Plus the different trade scenarios we have coming up.” They’d best be fruitful meetings. Best have some urgency. The heat is on the Dodgers now, and they’re the ones who just stoked the fire. stephen.dilbeck@dailynews.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! OK, kiddies, time to grow up. Time to add some maturity to that swagger, some fully realized development to that potential. OK, management, time to deliver. Time to ante up and produce and hold nothing back. Time to go all in. Joe Torre is 67 years old. You don’t hire Joe Torre to build, but to produce. When the Dodgers officially hired the well-respected Torre on Thursday afternoon, they were also announcing this team and organization was officially about winning it all right now. last_img read more