Pedro insists his decision to turn down Manchester United and sign for Chelsea last month had nothing to do with not wanting to work under Louis van Gaal. Pedro moved to Chelsea on a £21.1million transfer from Barca and signed a contract with the Blues outfit until June 2019. “It was tough to leave Barca,” he said. “It was a strange feeling as I had been many years at the club. “At the start of pre-season I told the coach (Luis Enrique) that I had decided to leave. He understood and supported me. “At Barca it’s always difficult to play and I needed continuity. “I believe I have made the right choice to move to Chelsea, I’m convinced. I have adapted very well. Since my arrival I have felt comfortable working with Mourinho. ” Pedro, 28, has started in two Premier League games and scored on his debut on August 22 in a 3-2 victory over West Brom. “I believe that this is a very good league for me because there are spaces, a lot of counter-attacks,” he said. “I hope I can enjoy this marvellous league.” The Tenerife-born player is currently in Madrid training with Spain’s squad ahead of Euro 2016 qualifiers against Slovakia and Macedonia. The Spanish forward has denied reports that suggested he did not want to play for Van Gaal because of the Manchester United manager’s difficult relationship with former Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes and Spain international David de Gea. Valdes joined United in January but has barely featured for the first team while De Gea has not played for the Red Devils since July 29 after being heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid. Press Association “It’s true that I don’t like that treatment for my colleagues, especially for Victor, who has been a reference as a team-mate and as a professional,” Pedro said to Spanish sports newspaper Marca. “I don’t believe it’s fair but it didn’t influence my decision. “I just saw that Manchester didn’t take that move forward, that they were taking too long. Chelsea were more decisive.” Pedro did speak at length with former Barca team-mate Valdes before deciding to join Chelsea last month. “Yes, a lot,” he said. “He told me that United was very good and there was a great fan following, that his only problem was the situation with the coach.” When asked if Valdes recommended he not sign for United because of Van Gaal, Pedro said: “Absolutely not. “He spoke very well of the club. It’s a great club but I believe I have made the right choice to join Chelsea, I’m convinced. “I had an important chat with (Chelsea coach Jose) Mourinho and he said many things that I liked to hear. “That combined with the possibility to live in London was what made me decide.”
Press Association The South Korea international, who cost a reported £22million from Bayer Leverkusen towards the conclusion of the summer transfer window, has scored three goals in three games, all of which were victories, since his arrival. The latest was the only goal of the game in Sunday’s 1-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace, a match in which he was consistently among Tottenham’s biggest threats, and it came four days after he scored twice in a 3-1 Europa League defeat of FK Qarabag. Spurs next host rivals Arsenal in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday, but despite the potential intensity of the occasion, Son, after revealing that he first learned of the rivalry while playing in Germany, has revealed he is planning to mark his first North London derby with a further demonstration of his true ability. “I haven’t adapted to the Premier League yet,” Son said. “I want to do much better and prepare as well as I can. “I understand what the club invested in me. I’m getting a lot of help from my team-mates and coaches and that’s why I want to do even better. “I heard about the North London derby when I was in the Bundesliga. I want to prepare well and do well on Wednesday.” After Sunday’s victory, manager Mauricio Pochettino spoke of Son bringing Korean food to the training ground for his team-mates and the club’s staff, and the forward explained that he did so to thank them for their attempts in helping him to settle in London and that he is already planning on doing so again. “I wanted to say thank you to my colleagues and staff for welcoming me to Tottenham and I wanted to introduce Korean food and culture to the players,” he said. “That’s why I brought in it. “It was traditional Korean food including barbecue, seafood pancakes and various different foods from Korea. “They loved it so much, especially the coach, he had so many plates. He enjoyed it so much and the players as well. “I would like to do it again if there is a chance. “I ordered it from a very famous Korean restaurant in London. They organised everything. It is called Bibigo restaurant in Soho.” Son Hueng-min believes that he can considerably improve on the impressive form he has already shown since joining Tottenham.
Emmanuel Tagoe has promised another intriguing entry when he mounts the ring against Sidicki Momba on December 26 in Accra.The ‘Game Boy’ will be coming up against his Tanzanian counterpart for the WBA Intercontinental Championship in the bout being staged by Asamoah Gyan’s Baby Jet Promotions.Tagoe is promising another grand entry into the ring to continue his tradition of a jaw-dropping introduction.Game Boy entered the ring in the heated bout against George Ashie in a King’s Palanquin while emerging on the back of a horse – enjoying a kingly ride – when he fought Ronald Pontillas.The James Town native without giving anything away promises another exciting entry on his Boxing Day bout against Momba.“Everyone knows how I take my entry very serious,” he told AsamoahGyan3.com. “It is always an opportunity to make a statement and I do not shy away from that.“I will come up with something exciting but then you have to be there to see.”Ticket prices for the bout on December 26 are already out with ringside tickets going for 50 Ghana cedis and regular pegged at 10 Ghana cedis.
OFFSEASON PREVIEWS: Lakers | Knicks | BullsThere is obvious value in a coach that leads a team to the top seed in the conference. There is also the coach that takes his team to another level from the year before. And there is the coach that gets the most out of a roster with limited talent. These factors make the 2018-19 Coach of the Year race intriguing and unpredictable.A few NBA coaches have a case this season, but we’ve whittled it down to a final four. Let’s take a look at the argument for each coach winning the award.Mike Budenholzer, BucksCoach of the Year case: Budenholzer is no stranger to the award. He was the Coach of the Year in 2014-15 after leading the Hawks to the top seed in the East with a 60-22 overall record, but this might be his best coaching job yet.After a first-round exit at the hands of the Celtics in the 2018 playoffs, the Bucks decided Budenholzer was the right man to develop Giannis Antetokounmpo and push them to the next level. No one knew just how good this Bucks team could be, or what Antetokounmpo could do with a proper roster and strategy built around his game. Budenholzer hasn’t disappointed.Milwaukee’s offense has transformed under Budenholzer. Surrounding Giannis with shooters like Brook Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon, and Khris Middleton has allowed him to thrive and develop into a possible MVP. The Bucks are the third-most efficient offensive team after finishing 10th last season. They take the second-most 3-pointers in the league (up from 25th in 2017-18), and they’re top three in both field goal percentage and effective field goal percentage.MORE: Giannis surprised by Bucks’ sensational seasonDefensively, they have improved by leaps and bounds as well. Under Jason Kidd and Joe Prunty in 2017-18, the Bucks were 18th in defensive efficiency (109.1). They currently sit at the top of the league in that category (104.5). They are much less aggressive on the perimeter and prioritize protecting the paint. That has led to a boost in rebounding — Milwaukee went from dead last in defensive rebounding percentage last season (70.9) to second this year (75.4).It’s not always easy to judge a coach’s impact, but what Budenholzer has done for the Bucks cannot be overstated. He’s been Milwaukee’s best offseason acquisition. He took a team with potential and turned it into a title contender with the best record in the league. He certainly is deserving of his second Coach of the Year award.Doc Rivers, ClippersCoach of the Year case: Vegas had the Clippers’ over/under win total at 35.5. They are currently at 47 wins with four games left on their schedule. Proving the doubters wrong is often a tired cliche in sports, but that’s exactly what Los Angeles has done.The Clippers were only supposed to be rebuilding after the “Lob City” era and chasing free agents this summer. Competing in the stacked Western Conference seemed delusional. Sure, the roster had competent role players, but hardly anything approaching star status. (The one potential star the Clippers did have, Tobias Harris, was traded to the 76ers ahead of the February deadline.)And yet, here we are. The Clippers have a shot at 50 wins. They hold the sixth seed in the West, and they’ve become the best team in LA. Rivers, rightly so, is getting plenty of praise.This is the start. pic.twitter.com/k1251e8jtx— x – LA Clippers (@LAClippers) March 27, 2019MORE: Lou Williams is much more than Sixth Man of the YearNot long ago, Rivers’ time in LA seemed to be coming to an end. His role as president of basketball operations and head coach didn’t go as planned with a few roster-building misfires. But with the burden of personnel decisions no longer on his shoulders, Rivers has rediscovered his magic touch. He’s taken a team without a superstar and found a way to maximize this roster.Danilo Gallinari is enjoying a career year now that he is finally healthy. Lou Williams is going to win his third Sixth Man of the Year award. Montrezl Harrell has been a revelation, and rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has thrived under the tutelage of the former point guard.To put it simply, Rivers has been masterful. He’s created a culture that preaches family and togetherness. If you’ve spent any time around the locker room, you know how much Rivers’ team loves him. The respect and trust in Rivers has resulted in a playoff berth — and maybe Rivers’ second COY trophy.Mike Malone, NuggetsCoach of the Year case: The Nuggets have morphed into one of the best teams in the West under Malone. They likely won’t take the top seed in the conference after losing to the Warriors on Tuesday night, but the fact that they were even in that position is its own accomplishment.The Nuggets have officially made “the leap.” They’ve easily surpassed last season’s win total, and Malone has overseen the impressive development of All-Star center Nikola Jokic. Malone has also been a major factor in the development of young guards like Jamal Murray, Monte Morris and Malik Beasley.The most obvious improvement has been on the defensive side of the court. Last year, the Nuggets struggled to stop anyone. They finished 23rd in defensive efficiency, just behind the lowly Knicks.MORE: Malone frustrated by mistakes in loss to WarriorsWhile the Nuggets aren’t going to blow anyone away with their defensive prowess, Malone has been able to make them respectable. They’re currently a top-10 team in terms of defensive efficiency, and Jokic in particular has made strides on that end. Denver has also jumped from the worst 3-point defense in the league last season all the way to second-best.Malone’s job hasn’t been easy. Denver has been bit by the injury bug throughout the season. Paul Millsap, Gary Harris and Will Barton have all missed significant time with injuries. Malone has been able to keep winning while waiting for his roster to get healthy.Denver could enter the postseason with a better record than every West team except the mighty Warriors. Malone deserves credit here.Nate McMillan, PacersCoach of the Year case: When Victor Oladipo was lost for the season in late January, the Pacers became an afterthought in the East. Without the services of their lone All-Star, Indiana was expected to slide down in the standings.Somehow, McMillan and Co. have been able to collect enough wins to have a fighting chance at home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Pacers share an identical record with the Celtics (46-32) in the fight for the fourth seed.They’ve done it with a starting lineup consisting of good-but-not-great players. Myles Turner, Darren Collison, Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young aren’t stars, but they are typically reliable with effort and production. Domantas Sabonis, a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, and Doug McDermott have contributed off the bench.MORE: The story behind Pacers players appearing on “Parks and Recreation” The Pacers have remained competitive because of their defensive energy. They’re third in defensive efficiency, seventh in opponent field goal percentage and fourth in opponent turnovers. As FiveThirtyEight’s Chris Herring notes, this team has no problem with winning ugly.Though a deep playoff run seems unlikely, don’t count out the Pacers against a Celtics team that has been inconsistent. With Boston’s inability to find its rhythm and Indiana’s defensive pressure, the Pacers will have a fighter’s chance at advancing to the second round.Considering the Oladipo injury and a roster that is far from loaded, it would be quite the accomplishment. McMillan should be recognized for keeping his team afloat during a trying season. Every year around this time, NBA media types get the awards ballot in their inboxes. Voting for awards like MVP and Rookie of the Year is an inexact science, but there are certain guidelines to follow that can limit the pool of players and ultimately decide a winner.When it comes to Coach of the Year, however, the reasoning behind voting for a particular candidate can be murky.