STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR Middletown High School North’s Alex Heim competes in the 100-yard butterfly during the Jan. 8 dual meet against Freehold Township High School held at the Western Monmouth County YMCA. The host Patriots won the dual meet and clinched the Shore Conference A North Division title.
Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez continued his fine run of form in a 3-0 home win over Huddersfield Town on Monday that could well attract suitors with the January transfer window about to open.After a potential move to Serie A side AS Roma broke down in the close season, unsettled Algeria international Mahrez found himself stuck at a club he felt he had outgrown.“I am fiercely ambitious and feel now is the time to move on to a new experience,” Mahrez said at the time in a statement.The 26-year-old had seemed destined for the Italian capital but two bids were rejected and, when the transfer window closed, Mahrez was faced with a fifth season at Leicester.“We wanted a left-footed winger to replace Mohamed Salah and put it all on Mahrez, but the only reason he didn’t come was because the club (Leicester) wouldn’t sell,” Roma sporting director Monchi had told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.As a result, Mahrez did not seem his all-action self at the start of this season. Following two assists in his first two Premier League games of the campaign, he did not contribute to another Leicester goal in the next five matches.However, he has been involved in 12 goals in 15 Premier League appearances since — scoring seven and assisting five.December saw Mahrez really take his form up a notch.He created more chances in each of the games against Burnley, Newcastle United and Southampton than in any of his 14 appearances before and more in total in those three matches than in the eight under Claude Puel’s predecessor Craig Shakespeare.Then, after Leicester had an off day in losing at home to Crystal Palace, Mahrez set up Jamie Vardy for the opener against Manchester United, scored in the defeat at Watford and provided another for Vardy at Liverpool before a goal and assist against Huddersfield hours before the January window opens.“I would like to keep all my best players,” Puel said after Mahrez’s fantastic display on Monday. “We will ask him the question. For me I am happy to play with the team with Riyad.”Leicester fans will agree with that sentiment after seeing a player who was so instrumental to their 2015-16 Premier League title success return to his best form.However, with Mahrez having already expressed a desire to leave, he could be angling for a move in the coming weeks. This time, Leicester may just get an offer they cannot refuse.
The transfer deadline for Premier League clubs arrives on Thursday and given the shortened space for completing deals a late flurry of moves is expected to dominate the build-up to the new season.Premier League clubs voted last year to ensure the window, which had closed at the end of August, is finished before the action on the field begins but you would hardly know it from the relatively small amount of deals done.Manchester United and Leicester City kick off the new campaign at Old Trafford on Friday and in the coming days club officials will be frantically seeking to complete the paperwork on transfers and contracts and complete due diligence such as medical tests.The fact that the new system was introduced in a World Cup year made the concentration of business in the final week even more likely, given leading players were in Russia for a month.While some clubs moved quickly to get their business done early – Liverpool being a prime example – many more have been quiet and are preparing to engage in the brinkmanship of the last minute deal.“It has been a strange window. No one has known what to expect with the earlier deadline,” says Nick Cassidy of the DRN agency who handle player transfers.“We expected after the World Cup things would speed up, but it hasn’t. Lots of clubs are leaving things to the last minute – it is the strangest window we have dealt with and it has to speed up this week,” he added.It is unlikely that the final few days of the market will see a massive game-changing transfer, however, and the indications are that most of the deals will be clubs seeking to trim their squads down to size by off-loading, in many cases by loan deals, fringe members of their squad.The lack of movement in the Premier League has had a knock-on effect on teams from lower division clubs although they have the option of completing loan moves up until the end of August.The chief executives and other club officials charged with getting deals across the line face a busy few days and additionally some have to deal with the modern manager who is happy to use the media to put pressure on his colleagues.Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho on Sunday had a clear message for chief executive Ed Woodward.“If we don’t make our team better, it’ll be a difficult season for us,” said Mourinho.“My CEO knows what I want and I still have a few days to wait and see what happens.”United are keen to bring in a central defender with Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng reported to be a target.MANAGER PRESSURENewcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has been making similar noises to Mourinho as he attempted to prise more investment out of owner Mike Ashley.“I have a lot of confidence in this group of players but they (the club) know we have to do something if we want to improve the competition between players,” the Spaniard said at the weekend.Such tactics do seem to have an impact. Last week Burnley manager Sean Dyche urged his club to “stretch” their finances after finding himself entering August without any new faces.Within 24 hours there were media reports of at least three bids from the Lancashire club and on Sunday they equalled their club record purchase by bringing in Ben Gibson from Middlesbrough for 15 million pounds ($19.4 million).Champions Manchester City appear comfortable with the solitary acquisition of Riyad Mahrez but manager Pep Guardiola conceded on Sunday that he would be happy to see an additional “special player” arrive.The tight time-frame has been particularly difficult for new managers arriving at clubs with Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri and Everton’s Marco Silva not having yet made the kind of large scale shift in personnel that might have been expected.
Thepower of words are utilised in all types of situations and for an infinite number of reasons, both good and bad. They are used to incite violence or instil calm, to hurt or to lift spirits, to motivate or break a person and to deceive or empower. Irrespective of our native tongue or our dialect, the strength of the words we use can be a great influence in the ears of the receiver. When we consider that great leaders have inspired nations to unite behind them, generals earned the loyalties of armies following them to probable death and even cult leaders persuading their followers into mass suicides with words, the magnitude of that power becomes tangible.Even though from birth we find various ways of communicating needs and desires before we have the command of speech, it is not until we are able to actually form intelligible words that we broaden the possibilities for expressing complex feelings and become able to influence more than nurturing responses from those around us. Once we are able to develop this skill we are able to contribute to action and feelings in others.Communicating with others is the premise on which we build anything; relationships, physical structures, planning strategies and businesses to name a few. Many of us may find ourselves at a loss for words or unable to express our feelings adequately under circumstances that make us uncomfortable, but unless we master the use of language we will forever be at a disadvantage. It will follow that our needs may not be met, our wishes not considered and our viewpoints not understood. Even what we say to ourselves in our heads is potent. We can talk ourselves in and out of situations, associations, marriages; in and out of life changing decisions.Miscommunication can cause a myriad of problems and the use of language to portray temporary feelings can be the seed of detrimental conflict. Words cannot be taken back once spoken and the damage they can do is far reaching. Destructive language can have implications that are irreparable. In order for your listener to grasp true meaning behind your words, it is important that you are clear with that meaning.The words we use, whether verbally or in writing, influence how others perceive us and direct them to an understanding of how we perceive them. They factor into the decisions people will make about us. They can build or destroy relationships. Many people are compelled to voice any passing feeling, thought or impression they have without regard for the impact their words will have. They randomly unload the contents of their mind whether it be trivial matters or gossip about others that can cause untold, albeit unintentional, damage.Our use of words can also cause social damage and although this issue may seem old fashioned to some, the over-use of indecent language is cause for acute sadness when looking at how desensitised our young people have become and how insensitively so many use it. With the choice of over a million words, why do people feel the need to express themselves in a vulgar manner in environments where they may potentially offend? The freedom of speech certainly reigns in most places, but there is still a responsibility to young children and people of an opposing verbal persuasion not to offend with choice of language.When we consider what kind of language our children are listening to in music videos, at school among peers and even in some homes, it is only natural that they will mimic. Foul language is frequently heard in shops, on public transport, in the streets; so many places where the youngest of children are present. I also hear the same obscenities coming from those barely able to form coherent sentences. With such aggressive tones and negative sentiment, what are we allowing our children to soak up as their foundation from such an impressionable stage in their lives?Before speaking, take a few moments to contemplate what you will say and how you will say it; while considering the impact they will have on the listener. Think about who else is around to pick up on what your words mean. Whether you are giving a speech, comforting a friend, berating a child, arguing with a spouse, sharing a joke or voicing an opinion. The choice of words, the tone we use and the true sentiment behind it will give it either phenomenal power or influence, or render great thoughts inadequate due to a lack of clear expression. What will you say, what do you mean?
…on elections foot-draggingCaretaker AG Basil Williams just filed an appeal against acting Chief Justice George’s ruling that no one can be struck off the voters’ list since there are no residency requirements for voting in Guyana. Williams purports to find such a “residency” requirement in the Registration Act Section 6 (2)(a) which states that “it shall be lawful for the Commission by order with effect from a specific date to authorise the registration of all persons in Guyana of the age of 14 years and over who at said date are resident in Guyana”.Now, once again, Williams is either playing the fool or being true to his nature. After all, he referred to Art 159 of the Constitution – which is the highest law of the land and which no other law can contravene – on which Justice George had based her decision and which deals with “qualifications and disqualifications for electors”. Firstly, the article states simply that no one can vote in an election unless he/she is registered to do so. It then goes on to state (Sec 2) who CANNOT be registered – those not Guyanese citizens or Commonwealth citizens resident here for one year; or (Sec 3) are “insane or of unsound mind”; or finally, (Sec 4) have been convicted of an election violation.As such, the Chief Justice had ruled “residence requirements from citizens is no longer a qualification for the registration”. Williams, however, pointed to clause (c) of Art 159 (2) which says that a registrant must also satisfy “such other qualifications as may be prescribed by or under any other law”. He cited the Sec (2) (a) of Registration Act as explained above.But Justice George did, in fact, rule that the H2H Registration exercise was constitutional!! Everyone being registered was legit. What Justice George rejected was disenfranchising those already on the voters’ list just because they weren’t found at a particular location!! This was, the Chief Justice noted, because “the right to vote and the right to be registered to vote are sacrosanct”.By insisting on creating a new National Register of Registrants (NRR) in the present H2H exercise – from which the Preliminary List of Voters (PLV) would be extracted and then subjected to a Claims and Objections (C&O) to produce the Official List of Voters (OLV) – this would “deregister” all those Guyanese who are abroad or away from some reason and deny them their fundamental right to vote.It would be introducing, through the back door, an unconstitutional “residency” requirement to vote through the tautological requirement of Sec 6 (2) (a) – which just says residents CAN be registered.Not that they can be deregistered!!…on GECOM’s complicityOnce again, your Eyewitness asks whether the AG thinks the law is an ass, does GECOM have to agree with him? We now have a former Justice of the Appellate Court at its head and we still can’t cut through the Gordian knot that arises from the appointment mechanism of the other Commissioners?? What’s going on here? We hear about platitudes on letting “both sides be heard”.But if we already heard one side committed a rape, what else is to be heard? That the rapist had a really bad itch to commit the act?? C’mon people. The PNC Government is trying every which way to drag out the elections timetable…and of course, every dog must have their day. But must they have their MONTHS when the Chair knows that the NCM three-month is ticking? And in fact, the cock has already crowed thrice on the second go around?? The GECOM Chair’s “to be or not to be” performance has already given the PNC the window of opportunity to file the case described above.Enough of this dilly-dallying!!…with petulant PattersonCalled out by the Opposition’s former Junior Finance Minister on a long list of murky projects, MPI Patterson retorted, “You show me yours and I will show you mine”!!But his slip was already showing!!
AGUA DULCE – Residents of a small enclave along Sierra Highway took on the big-city government to save a cluster of some 30 trees – and their collective voice has been heard. The Los Angeles County Public Works Department is looking at the counterplan by Sleepy Valley residents to change a traffic pattern rather than destroy the meandering orchard that blocks visibility for some motorists. The alternative will be open for public comment tonight at a meeting in Agua Dulce. The session is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Agua Dulce Women’s Club, 33210 Agua Dulce Canyon Road. Public Works spokesman Kurjon Lee said the plan now is to prohibit turns from Spring Street onto Sierra. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John Phillips“This alternative is a result of concerns expressed by the Agua Dulce community,” Lee said. Signs will direct motorists to other access roads from the neighborhood to the highway. The trees loosely follow Spring and another side street that shelter this haven from the highway. The Public Works plan was to build a large retaining wall to replace the leafy trees in a move to improve visibility for traffic turning from Spring onto Sierra. The concern is viewed as a serious one as traffic whizzes along Sierra Highway, a freeway alternative for commuters traveling between the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys. The locals say the 55 mph speed limit is rarely heeded. Nevertheless, residents began a letter-writing campaign, suggesting that traffic be restricted on Spring, a move that would improve safety while saving the grove. The original plan set for review last June by the county Board of Supervisors called for cutting down 27 to 32 trees, including three protected oaks, between Center and Spring streets. A final decision is expected later this year. email@example.com (661) 257-5251160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
“Fidel Castro, a hug for you, friend and comrade, and I know you are getting better,” Chavez said. Talking by phone with Bolivian President Evo Morales later during the program, Chavez said that Castro was bouncing back quickly. “This morning I learned that he’s very well, that he is already getting out of bed. He’s talking more than he should – because he talks a lot, you know. He has sent us greetings,” Chavez said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! HAVANA – Cuba’s vice president said Sunday that Fidel Castro would return to work in a few weeks after intestinal surgery that forced him to hand over power temporarily to his younger brother. “Fidel’s going to be around for another 80 years,” Vice President Carlos Lage said. Castro will turn 80 next Sunday. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Castro was out of bed and talking after his surgery as messages wishing the Cuban leader a quick recovery poured in from Latin America’s leading leftists and Elian Gonzalez. In Bolivia to attend the country’s constitutional assembly, Lage was asked by reporters when Castro would be back at work. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFrumpy Middle-aged Mom: My realistic 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Some involve doughnuts.“In a few weeks he’ll be recovered, and he’ll return to his duties,” Lage said. Lage, who earlier denied reports Castro had stomach cancer, reiterated Sunday the Cuban leader was recovering well. “The operation that he underwent was successful, and he is recovering favorably,” Lage said. Cuban officials have provided no details and released no pictures of Castro since his surgery was announced a week ago – fueling speculation around the world about his condition. His brother Raul Castro, the defense minister, also has not been seen in public since the announcement. “How are you, Fidel?” Chavez said during his weekly TV and radio program, suggesting he believed the Cuban leader was watching. “We have reliable information of your quick and notable recuperation.
Committee on House Administration: Juanita Millender-McDonald, California. Born in the South as the civil rights era began to emerge, Millender-McDonald, 68, brought the movement and her experiences as a black woman into politics. In the House, she has opposed school vouchers and supported liberal positions on small business opportunities, women, children and the economy. A political pragmatist, she voiced concern about electronic voting machines during the 2004 elections. Committee on International Relations: Tom Lantos, California. Lantos, 78, a Holocaust survivor and moderate founder of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, has been an influential fixture on the International Relations Committee as term-limited Republican chairmen came and went. Lantos has been critical of the administration’s handling of Iraq, despite playing a key role in passing the original resolution authorizing the war. He usually backs administration policy in the Middle East, including staunch support of Israel. Committee on the Judiciary: John Conyers, Michigan. After more than 40 years in Congress, Conyers, 77, is the second most senior member of the House and one of its most liberal members. He has a reputation for making little effort to get along with colleagues who don’t share his beliefs, and his influence is sometimes hindered by his refusal to compromise. A champion of black causes, Conyers has used his Judiciary Committee seat to criticize the Iraq war and to push legislation urging Congress to determine if there are grounds to impeach President Bush. Committee on Veterans Affairs: Bob Filner, California. Filner, 64, a staunch liberal who is fond of loud political stunts, has called on veteran’s groups to march on Washington to call for increased benefits. He was an outspoken critic of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Veterans Administration Secretary Jim Nicholson after it was revealed in May that personal data on 26.5 million veterans had been stolen. Filner also has worked to restore benefits to Filipino veterans and is heavily involved in immigration and border security issues.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A look at some of the new Democratic leaders and likely committee chairmen in the U.S. House: Speaker of the House: Nancy Pelosi, California. Pelosi, 66, has led House Democrats since 2002 and becomes the nation’s first female speaker. A self-confident leader and power broker, Pelosi has demanded party loyalty on key Democratic issues such as health care and education. As speaker, the liberal Democrat from San Francisco has said she would work to curb the power of lobbyists and to roll back GOP tax cuts for higher-income Americans. Committee on Appropriations: David Obey, Wisconsin. Obey, 68, has led the Democratic opposition, with some success, to Bush’s cuts in education, health care and other domestic programs. He’s intelligent and, occasionally, quick-tempered. But with 36 years in the House, he’s also an inside player who negotiates effectively with Republicans and Senate counterparts. Committee on Education and the Workforce: George Miller, California. Miller, 61, is a steadfast liberal known for giving fiery speeches against the Republican majority. He worked with the White House to negotiate the No Child Left Behind education legislation in 2001, when President Bush nicknamed him “Big George” to acknowledge Miller’s key role in passing the bill. But Miller, co-chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee and a staunch ally of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, doesn’t hesitate to complain when he disagrees with his own party. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’Committee on Energy and Commerce: John Dingell, Michigan. Dingell, 80, the longest-serving member of the House, has had a hand in major legislation for half a century. A moderate who has sided with Republicans on issues such as gun control and partial-birth abortion, Dingell has never been known to avoid a fight since being elected in 1955. When chairing the Energy and Commerce Committee from 1981 through 1994, he was a tough government watchdog, a reputation he’s maintained throughout President Bush’s tenure. Committee on Standards of Official Conduct: Howard Berman, California. Berman, 65, could be in line to lead the ethics committee if Democrats win the House, but that chairmanship is far from certain. Berman has a reputation for being able to work across party lines and is known for his legislative prowess in the House. His work on a Judiciary Committee panel that deals with emerging Internet technologies is important to the entertainment industry prevalent in his district, and he also serves on the International Relations Committee. Committee on Financial Services: Barney Frank, Massachusetts. Quick-witted, opinionated and sometimes abrasive, Frank, 66, is a skilled political debater who has emerged as a national figure on issues ranging from gay rights to financial services. After more than two decades in Congress, he ranks as one of the House’s most reliable liberal voices and fiercest critics of the Bush administration. Committee on Government Reform: Henry Waxman, California. Waxman, 67, a diligent liberal and a deft politician, has a reputation for playing watchdog over the executive branch. A partisan for the camera and a pragmatist for his causes, Waxman sparked a fight with Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force in a battle that wound up in the U.S. Supreme Court. He also worked to compile a database of misleading statements made by members of the Bush administration during buildup to the war in Iraq. Committee on Homeland Security: Bennie Thompson, Mississippi. Thompson, 58, has made a name for himself in the House by casting a series of votes dissenting from his more conservative Mississippi colleagues. He opposes the war in Iraq, voted to ban assault-style weapons, supported federal abortion-rights protections and voted to lift the ban on gays in the military. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he urged the White House to increase Homeland Security funding for rural areas.
rookie error Spurs investigation into alleged racial abuse of Rudiger is so far ‘inconclusive’ on target In this formation, Alexis Sanchez would partner Vardy upfront with Mesut Ozil playing at the top of the diamond.Mahrez and Santi Cazorla are on either flank to provide the width while Granit Xhaka is in the holding role.Vardy would have likely thrived with Ozil, Cazorla and Mahrez providing goalscoring opportunities.4-2-3-1 It was just after the Foxes had beaten the odds to win the Premier League title with their top players attracting attention from Europe’s elite.N’Golo Kante was snapped up by Chelsea while Arsenal were linked to both Mahrez and Vardy. Steve Round reveals how Mikel Arteta convinced him to join Arsenal staff Buildlineup.com Vardy has nine Premier League goals against Arsenal in his career update statement stalemate Chelsea fan arrested for allegedly racially abusing Heung-min Son Liverpool transfer news live: Mbappe latest, Lille star wants to join Reds in future How Arsenal could have looked in a 4-3-3 formation in 2016 5 Riyad Mahrez joined Man City in 2018 LATEST FOOTBALL NEWS Buildlineup.com Tony Cascarino backs Everton to sign two strikers for Carlo Ancelotti Simon Jordan criticises disruptive and destructive Arsenal fansThe Gunners ended the 2016/17 Premier League season in fifth place, one point behind Liverpool in the Champions League places.Could Vardy and Mahrez made the difference that season? We will never know.But here at talkSPORT.com we have taken a look at how the Gunners could have lined-up that season with the pair in their team.4-4-2 (Diamond) Strugglers Wigan hold Blackburn to goalless draw in Championship Arsenal fans will forever look back at summer 2016 and wonder what might have been given their club failed to prise Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy away from Leicester City.Mahrez, who now plays for Manchester City, recently revealed how he nearly signed for the Gunners in 2016. 5 Getty Images – Getty How Arsenal could have lined-up with Vardy and Mahrez The Premier League winner considered the offer to join Arsene Wenger’s side but he was concerned over whether their playing style would suit his own.He went on to sign a new contract with Leicester and has not looked back. latest Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 2:29Loaded: 6.62%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -2:29 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreen How Arsenal could have lined-up in the 2016/17 season This system would see Cazorla in a more central role with Mesut Ozil to support the front three.Vardy, Sanchez and Mahrez would likely have been a devastating attack for the Gunners. 5 Top scorer in 2019: Messi, Mbappe and Sterling trailing Europe’s top marksman Ian Holloway thinks Arsenal have made a mistake in hiring Mikel Arteta 5 targets The current City attacker revealed how Leicester blocked his move to north London with the deal verging on completion.He would later seal a dream move to City in 2018 for £60million.The Gunners also triggered a release clause in Vardy’s contract, at around £20million, back in 2016. appointed In a 4-2-3-1 formation, Cazorla and Xhaka are playing in the deeper role with the other four attacking players further forward.Sanchez was often pushed out to the left at Arsenal and later Manchester United and would provide the supporting role to Vardy.4-3-3 5 Buildlineup.com getty images
Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke believes there was an over-reaction to a challenge made by Alan Power on Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack, even though he admitted the player could have been shown a red card.Power’s high boot caught Jack in the face and was punished by a yellow card but some observers felt it merited stronger action and Rangers boss Steven Gerrard said he would “be interested to see if there’s a citing”.The Scottish FA didn’t take any further action and Clarke said that discussion of the incident had blown it out of all proportion.“I googled it,” he said. “Nobody has ever lost an eye from a high boot on a football pitch, so the hysteria can die down. “It was an incident that was dealt with on the pitch at the time by the referee. “I have to be honest the referee could have gone yellow or red. Fortunately for us he went yellow and the decision dealt with it. “It (the hysteria) was a little bit over the top. It was quite a hefty challenge that got Alan Power a big thump on the head. No one cried about that, so it was a little bit over the top.”Clarke would not be drawn into the debate about artificial surfaces that was sparked by PFA Scotland’s petition to have them removed from the top flight. The Kilmarnock boss spoke at length about the subject last year, telling critics that the league could ban plastic pitches if they wanted to. “I spoke about plastic pitches earlier in the season and said all I need to say really,” he said. “I don’t need to get involved in the discussion, same as our players weren’t asked to be involved in it. Why should I need to be involved? “What we will do is follow the rules that are in place, that’s what we will do.”