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Not US politics, earlier

No US politics here… Instead, three “things” to get your sports chops around.

1) Murray’s ascent

When Andy Murray made it to #1 this week, there was a rather wonderful outpouring of joy in the British press. After all, the idea of a Brit atop the tennis world rankings a few years back was just crazy talk.

But here he is, the 26th player to hold top spot since the rankings began. More power to him.

The BBC’s Tom Fordyce notes that “It is not a gimmick, or a marketing exercise, or even a reward in itself, but a defining benchmark. You cannot fluke it or get lucky with a judging panel. It is deserved. It is definitive.”

He also suggests that

And this may yet be the start of something even more beautiful, rather than the pinnacle.

After five defeats in the Australian Open final, never will Murray have a better chance of winning it than this January, Federer and Nadal faded, Djokovic – his nemesis in four of those finals – jaded.

Steve Tignor on was hardly less restrained in his praise: “One of the pleasures of being a tennis fan in this era has been watching Andy Murray grow up as player and person.” His piece is a more forensic analysis of how Murray got there. Worth a read.

Lastly on Murray: the Guardian’s Kevin Mitchell posts something of a love letter. “Pick up any dictionary and check the definition of honesty. There will be references to integrity, loyalty, candour, right-mindedness, authenticity. All of these describe the Andy Murray I have come to know.”

The only fly in the ointment is that a poor Masters final in the 02 and he might lose the ranking and never get it back. That would rather diminish his achievement – here’s hoping for a decent stint.

2) Those Cubs

The World Series was unforgettable and ended a 108-year wait for a Chicago Cubs win. There were hundreds of articles I could have picked for this, but here is Time, and the Economist, on perhaps the greatest sporting story of the year.

3) Jose Mourinho loses the plot early

Jose has a reputation for losing his players and owner’s faith around the third season of a managerial job. But at Man United it all seems to be happening a bit early.

Jamie Jackson at the Guardian noted:

Mourinho decided he had no option but to question the team’s commitment and effort: the base elements any professional footballer has to possess. It shows the slide Mourinho and his side are on. For any manager, the exposure of players – the men on whom their own success or failure depends – in the media is the nuclear option.

And that was BEFORE he hung Shaw and Smalling out to dry. And then there is the players response. And on it goes.

So will Mourinho last the season at Old Trafford? He’s reportedly unhappy in his posh hotel, kicking his players in public, and Christmas is cancelled. Doesn’t look good, does it?

Plus, a Soccerbrain points out the fallacy about managers – and rips Mourinho’s record to shreds. Lots of fun (h/t Simon Gleave)

See you next week