Leicester’s Mahrez voted England’s Player of the Year

first_imgLONDON (AP): Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez became the first African to be named English football’s player of the year yesterday, straight after the Algerian helped his team close in on the Premier League title. Mahrez was flown by helicopter to the Professional Footballers’ Association ceremony in London after scoring his 17th goal of Leicester’s astonishing title charge as the leaders beat Swansea 4-0 at the King Power Stadium in central England. Mahrez was on a six-man shortlist including Leicester teammates Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante for the vote of their fellow professionals in English football. “I’m very grateful to receive this award,” Mahrez said. “It’s extra special because if the players vote for me, it’s because they’ve seen I’ve been great this year, so I’m happy. But it’s more team things. Without my teammates, I wouldn’t get this award.” The 25-year-old Mahrez is only the second winner of the PFA award from outside England. Uruguay striker Luis Suarez won it in 2014 while playing for Liverpool. Unlike Suarez, Mahrez was an unknown when he moved to England two years ago, joining Leicester from second tier French side Le Havre for less than 500,000 pounds. The transfer now seems one of the best bargains ever in English football, where the record fee is the 59.7 million pounds that Manchester United paid for Angel Di Maria in 2014 before selling the winger the following year. Mahrez has provided inventiveness and flair to Leicester’s attacking play, contributing not only goals but also 11 assists to help transform a team that fought for Premier League survival last season. Now a guaranteed starter, Mahrez was an unused substitute this weekend a year ago when Leicester beat Burnley to finally escape the relegation zone. Leicester started the season as a 5,000-1 title outsider but is now set to become English football’s first maiden championship winner since Nottingham Forest in 1978. “The secret has been team spirit,” Mahrez said. “We work so hard for each other. We are like brothers, it’s everywhere on the pitch. That’s our strength.”last_img read more

After Loss, Jets Eye Bounceback

first_imgFLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The game film pretty much confirmed what the New York Jets already thought of their loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.“It was messy,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said bluntly. “It was an ugly game,” added wide receiver Brandon Marshall. “It wasn’t good.”Sure wasn’t, and it knocked the surprising Jets (2-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten.Interceptions, fumbles, missed tackles and sloppiness all played a role in the 24-17 defeat. It followed an impressive victory over the Indianapolis Colts that prompted fans and media to hype the Jets as a team to watch.“We didn’t lose this game because we thought we were better than we are,” center Nick Mangold said. “We lost because of execution.”Or, lack thereof.The Jets fell behind 24-0 in the second quarter, with an 89-yard punt return for a score by Darren Sproles sparking the previously winless Eagles.Meanwhile, New York trudged through the first half with five three-and-outs in its first six drives.“That’s a recipe for disaster,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s such a slow start, trying to play from behind because of that all game.”The Jets nearly came back, though, making a game of it by keeping the Eagles off the scoreboard for the final two quarters. But New York had trouble overcoming the absences of Eric Decker (sprained knee) and running back Chris Ivory (quadriceps) as Fitzpatrick struggled for the first time in his three starts.He finished 35-of-58 for 283 yards and two touchdowns, but three second-half interceptions — even though two weren’t entirely his fault — ended any hopes of a big comeback.“The 58 attempts or whatever it was is too many,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s not our formula for success. There’s a lot of things coming out of that game that we’ve got to be better at, and that starts with me.”The quarterback was hardly the only problem, though.The special teams unit fanned on at least four tackles on Sproles’ big return. With Ivory out, the running game came to a screeching halt with just 47 yards rushing.And then there was also Marshall’s ill-advised backward pass attempt — something he called “the worst play in NFL history” — that resulted in a fumble and led to Philadelphia’s final touchdown.Marshall replayed the play in his mind all night, saying the only positive thing was that it happened right near the Jets’ sideline so he didn’t have far to walk off the field. He said he had successfully tried a play like that three times during his career.“Now, I think my record for the rest of my career is going to be 3-1,” Marshall said. “I’m never going to try that again.”Coach Todd Bowles made a point of remaining understated following the Jets’ first two victories, and he predictably maintained that approach after his first defeat as New York’s coach.“It’s just as important not to overreact for a loss as it is to a win,” he said. “We didn’t overreact to the two wins, we’re not going to overreact to the one loss.”Next up for the Jets is a trip to London to play the AFC East rival Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Then, New York has a bye, so the focus is on bouncing back — even if it’s overseas.“I love the 1 o’clock game and getting home and eating food from the crockpot and doing all that, but I think it’s exciting, too,” Fitzpatrick said.“I think guys think it’s cool to go over there. It will be a unique experience for all of us and hopefully bring the team together even more.”The Jets brought in a sleep specialist to help get the players bodies’ prepared for the five-hour time difference. They have to stay well-hydrated for the long flight, and need to watch their caffeine intake during the day so they can get to bed earlier than usual leading up to the trip.The team will practice at their facility on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, and then leave for London on the night of Oct. 1. “Just getting our bodies acclimated and everything with the time change will be interesting,” Fitzpatrick said.(DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more