Former Liverpool midfielder and regular talkSPORT presenter Dietmar Hamann believes Daniel Sturridge is a ‘luxury they can’t afford’.Sturridge picked up yet another injury following the defeat to Newcastle at the weekend, just as he returned from knee and foot problems that had prevented him from playing for Jurgen Klopp since the German’s appointment in October.It’s the latest in a long line of setbacks for Sturridge stretching back to September 2014, and Hamann now feels the club should cut their losses on the unreliable England striker.“You can’t rely on him,” Hamann told the Colin Murray show.“The club needs to make a decision now about whether you can have a player, who is one of your top earners, who only plays half the games at best.“He is a luxury Liverpool cannot afford. They’ve got to make a call, because he’s not going to go from playing 50 per cent of games a year to 90-100 per cent. It isn’t going to happen.“Are they good enough and wealthy enough as a club? I don’t think Liverpool, in the current state they are in, can afford him.”Sturridge has faced criticism for his psychological temperament from Reds legends, including David Fairclough, and Hamann, who played with the 26-year-old at Manchester City, suggests it could be an inherent problem.He added: “I don’t need to know how often he’s been injured. He has history.“He was the same when we were at City.”
Monthly Archive: December 2019
9 Arsenal’s midfielders score 8.5/10 – will that be enough to outscore City? Find out… – As individuals, the Gunners midfield is hugely talented but it always seems the balance isnt quite right with one player usually performing at a higher level than the others. Currently, Mesut Ozil is the star of the show but the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mathieu Flamini arent quite showing their true potential. Alexis Sanchez, meanwhile, has only been able to perform in fits and starts due to injuries. 9 Arsenal’s defenders score 8/10 – check out how City’s defence compares, on the next page – After a couple of years of being unreliable at the back, the Gunners foursome is proving the doubters wrong. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have a formidable partnership in the centre, while Gabriel is beginning to look a solid replacement, helping them to a 2-0 win over Bournemouth with a handy goal. At right-back, Hector Bellerin is getting back to his best after a slow start to the campaign and Nacho Monreal has made the left-back role his own ahead of Kieran Gibbs. Manchester City goalkeepers score 7.5/10, so it’s first blood to the Gunners! Click the arrow above to see how the defenders compare… – While Joe Hart is Englands No.1, he still struggles for consistency and can drop the occasional clanger. Against Norwich earlier in the season he handed Cameron Jerome a goal after dropping the ball at his feet. Argentine back-up Willy Caballero, is a capable stand in to rest Hart but not much more. Hes only kept two clean sheets in 15 appearances since joining the club, conceding 23 goals. Manchester City’s defenders score 7/10 – another win for Arsenal! See how the midfielders compare, next… – Sadly for the Blues, ultimately, its their defence which could cost them the Premier League title this season. Eliaquim Mangala is still looking a long way short of a player bought for £32million in 2014, while Nicolas Otamendi is also still adapting. A fit Vincent Kompany would boost the backline but that is a rarity at the moment, and ageing full-backs Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta, Aleksandar Kolarov and Gael Clichy are all solid but unspectacular. Do Man City really have a better squad than Arsenal? Here, we compare the two sets of players, starting with Arsenal’s goalkeepers, who score 9/10 – Read why we scored them nine, below, then click the arrow above to find out how City’s ‘keepers compare… and which squad rates best! – The Gunners have finally signed a world-class shot-stopper in Petr Cech and hes already been worth the £7million outlay in the summer. A string of stunning saves have kept Arsenal in games against the like of Newcastle, where they squeaked a 1-0 win. His deputy, David Ospina, did well last season but is incredibly shaky and is often caught in flap if his defence their defence isnt quite on its game. 9 Manchester City’s midfielders score 9/10 – it’s a victory for City, but how will the forwards compare? – Yaya Toure has looked like hes going through the motions in recent weeks, despite goals against Arsenal, Sunderland and Watford but with the all-action Fernandinho alongside him in the middle of the park, the Blues have still been able to keep their title challenge on course. Meanwhile, the attacking triumvirate of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Raheem Sterling offer goals, assists and balance. Back-ups Jesus Navas, Fabian Delph and Fernando are all decent performers too. 9 9 9 9 Arsenal’s forwards score 8/10 – will City clinch this category? – Olivier Giroud offers a consistent supply of goals and is often underrated given hes netted 74 goals in 163 games in his Arsenal career. Ten goals so far in the Premier League this season also mean hes on course for his highest ever tally in the top-flight. Theo Walcott, though, still isnt sure of his true position and only has five goals in 15 appearances. 9 The Premier League title race looks like it will be between Arsenal and Manchester City this season, despite Leicester City’s best efforts.The Gunners currently lead the table with 42 points, with the Foxes second on 40 and City third on 39, as they battle for the trophy.While no one should completely rule out Leicester’s chances, City and Arsenal boast far more experience of being at this end of the table going into the new year.With first XIs being tested to the limit by a congested fixture list it could come down to how strong their squads are overall.But which of the two frontrunners have the best group as they chase silverware? talkSPORT takes a look and rates the men who matter.Click the right arrow above to see which team we believe is the best… Manchester City’s forwards score 9.5/10 – another win for City, but which squad has scored the most points overall? Find out… – When fit, Sergio Aguero is undoubtedly the best striker in the Premier League and even with a number of injuries has managed eight goals in 13 appearances so far this season. Wilfried Bony should be doing better given the Blues splashed an initial £25m on him. Youngster Kelechi Iheanacho has plenty of promise, mind you. 9 Overall scores – Arsenal = 33.5 Manchester City = 33 – There you have it! Despite plenty of pundits insisting City boast the better squad, according to our ratings it’s almost to close to call and we’ve come out in favour of Arsenal. It seems City’s defence could be the deciding factor in this Premier League title race. A weak backline could well let down Manuel Pellegrinis brilliant forward line and balanced midfield. Arsenal, meanwhile, could get the trophy they crave if they can keep their squad fit, which appears strong in most areas.
Bristol City have appointed Lee Johnson as their new manager on a three-and-a-half year deal. The 34-year-old leaves League One Barnsley to join the Championship side, replacing Steve Cotterill who was sacked last month. Johnson follows in the footsteps of father Gary, who was manager at Ashton Gate for five years between 2005 and 2010. The new boss will be present at their game against Charlton on Saturday before being unveiled to the press on Monday. City’s chief operating officer Mark Ashton told the club’s website: “Lee is a very bright, intelligent young man who is highly motivated and very detailed in his approach. He’s well-known to the club; fans, stakeholders and staff. “He is one of the up and coming coaches in the country and having interviewed him, I had no hesitation in recommending to the Board that Lee is the right fit for this football club. “Lee also has the advantage of knowing Bristol City very well and will be able to fit seamlessly back into Ashton Gate. “There are substantial synergies in the way that we think and the way that we believe football departments should be operated. “We’ll work together to build this football club for sustainable success.” He added: “I’d like to thank Barnsley FC for their professionalism, allowing us to speak to and subsequently appoint Lee.” 1 Lee Johnson
Special Section: Get the latest elections news and vote tallies NORWALK – Mayor Joe Serrano was re-elected to a four-year term in Tuesday’s Santa Fe Springs City Council election. He will be joined by newcomer Bill Rounds. Serrano and Rounds, both 57, defeated Michael Madrigal, 50; Annette Rodriguez, 43; Francis Carbajal, 40; Jane McEntee; and former Councilman Jim Burton, 65. Serrano received 1,011 votes or 29 percent; Rounds, 982 votes or 28 percent; Madrigal, 859 votes or 24 percent; Burton, 255 votes or 7 percent; Carbajal, 175 votes or 5 percent; Rodriguez, 171 votes or 5 percent and McEntee, 92 votes or 3 percent. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre During the campaign, all six said bringing in more tax revenue through retail shops and restaurants was a top priority for the new City Council. The revenue would help cover the costs of maintaining and enhancing youth and senior programs. All but Burton and Rounds opposed any new chemical companies establishing themselves in the city. firstname.lastname@example.org (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Michael Margey, Head of School of Business LYIT with Shane Magee, Operations Manager at Errigal Seafood and Sarah Meehan who works with Donegal Tourism. Photo Clive Wasson.It’s the old chestnut that has weighed down graduates over the years.You can’t get experience without a job and you can’t get a job without experience.But now the Letterkenny Institute of Technology is proving it may have just the solution. The LYIT’s postgraduate programmes in business have a strong track record for graduate employment and all include a mentored work placement.That means, the student not only gets to experience a real work environment but they can also bring genuine business expertise to the employer. It’s proven to be a real asset when it comes to offering employers that all-important experience.Furthermore the most recent LYIT Graduate Survey (2013) shows that having a postgraduate qualification gives a significant boost to securing employment, nearly double the level for undergraduate, where 79% of students on business postgraduate programmes secured employment.Michael Margey Head of School of Business explains, “It’s the old chestnut. Employers want a proven track record and graduates need to gain experience. When our graduates go out in the field and demonstrate the value they can bring to an organization, it’s a valuable exchange for both student and employer. In many cases there’s a connection between the companies that postgrads are placed with and students gaining employment. There’s no doubt that overall, the work placement is a huge boost to helping postgrads secure jobs.” He continues, “The MSc in Marketing Practice at the Business School is a 1 year full-time and 2 years part-time course which aims to grow complementary marketing competencies, alongside the graduate’s primary business skills. The curriculum reflects the skills’ deficits identified in the labour market and aims to equip graduates with essential tools to secure employment.” The most recent Forfas Future Skills Report (2014) points to the fact, marketing related skills are very much in demand for organizations to grow and win business, and are currently in short supply. Marketing plays a key role in driving trade and export performance, managing data and social media campaigns, and in driving the competitive consumer goods sector.Shane Magee is Operations Manager at Errigal Seafood, a successful Donegal company located in Carrick which exports shellfish to mainland Europe and as far away as South Korea and Japan. He studied the MSc in Marketing at LYIT and did work placement with Errigal.“The work experience you get on the course, money can’t buy.” He says, “You get the opportunity to put theory into practice and really understand how a company operates and understand the many challenges faced by companies operating in today’s challenging environment. So the result is, employers get a chance to see the value of marketing first hand and how it can benefit their company directly. It’s all about delivering results and showing what you can offer to the company, to make a job for yourself.”In addition he continues, “It’s a great advantage studying the postgrad in Marketing at LYIT since you build up a strong network of people including lecturers, who are a valuable resource, long after you’re finished. Marketing makes you understand the product and who buys it. The marketing audit you conduct whilst on placement covers many aspects of the company and gives you a grasp of its products, markets and customers. I have no doubt the work placement helped me secure the job with Errigal after my studies.”Shane says he feels he benefited much more by being placed with a local company. “Errigal Seafood celebrates 52 years in business this year, employing local people and sourcing a local product which has continuously adapted to supply new markets. That sort of longevity doesn’t happen by accident. There’s a very knowledgeable and committed team here, I am fortunate to have been able learn from them.”Sarah Meehan who works with Donegal Tourism delivering marketing, says the MSc helped to build her confidence. Sarah also mentors and trains micro-businesses in the North West and NI.“It’s a great investment of your time,” she says, “the MSc in Marketing at LYIT is a brilliant course, very practical, which suited me. You get a real glimpse of business issues and how to solve them. The work placement gives you a chance to apply what you’ve learned but also make yourself invaluable to the employer.”“I also believe the Masters has given me tremendous credibility. I can’t rate it highly enough and the lecturers are excellent and really tuned in. I would recommend it to anyone who wishes to pursue a career in marketing and business in general.” LYIT has also recently launched a new ‘Pushing Boundaries’ scholarship scheme which aims to increase access to higher education and postgraduate studies. LYIT is offering up to 30 Masters scholarships if you have the talent, the drive and the initiative to complete your studies. The scholarships have been designed for those students who are in receipt of no other form of financial assistance to study from a grant awarding body. To find out more about the MSc in Marketing Practice and the ‘Pushing Boundraries’ Scholarship scheme, visit lyit.ie, email email@example.com or contact Rory McMorrow, School of Business Administrator 074 9186211.LYIT MASTERS IN MARKETING IS CRACKING THE ‘EXPERIENCE’ NUT! was last modified: July 8th, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegalexperiencegraduatesLYITMarketing
Leicester are just one win away from winning their first ever league title.If they beat Man United at Old Trafford on Sunday, they will be Premier League champions.And fans have fallen in love with their manager Claudio Ranieri, as you can see in this video where a selection of them were filmed telling the boss how much they’ve enjoyed the season.Ranieri clearly liked the video and even asked for a copy of it to take home.Most fans, except maybe Tottenham supporters, will enjoy watching the reaction of the manager. Recently, Spurs have been the only team challenging Leicester at the top, but a draw with West Brom last Monday has left them seven points behind the Foxes and the White Hart Lane faithful will hope Man United win and offer them a glimmer of hope that a title win is still on, especially if they manage to beat Chelsea on Monday night and reduce the gap to four points.
Coral’s Simon Clare joins the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast to round up the latest sporting odds.England are expected to make a host of changes for their final Group B game against Slovakia on Monday night.But they are still being backed to triumph [4/5] and seal top spot in the group, while Wales are 9/5 to beat Russia and ensure they qualify for the knockout stages.Spain are the 100/30 favourites to win the tournament, while Germany and France are 7/2 and England are 7/1.Coral is the official betting partner of the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” The difference of opinion regarding the meaning of this verse is having a huge effect on the Republican primaries. (Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney radically disagree on what “God with us” means.) Orthodox Christians, going back to the first church councils, on the other hand, had uniform agreement on what this meant: The eternal son of God became a man. Some mistakenly think Christianity is a 2,000-year-old religion. Not so! The son of God did not become the son of God when he was born in Bethlehem. The son of God became flesh when he was born in Bethlehem. The son of God is eternal with no beginning and no end. One of the non-negotiable tenets of the Christian faith is this (what the eggheads call) hypostatic union – that in Jesus is united the fullness of man with the fullness of God. Why is this so critical? Why was it necessary that God would become flesh and dwell among us? Because mankind needed a champion and everyone came up short. We were all like the Israelites shaking and clattering in our armor while being taunted by Goliath. Our greatest enemy (I would argue that it is the devil and his death) shakes his fist at us and we’re helpless against it. We needed someone like David who, although he didn’t look that impressive, would march down the hill and cut off death’s head. Mankind needed a champion to negotiate peace. As a race we’ve offended the verities. We’ve sullied all that is good and honorable and truthful and beautiful. Mankind offends perfection. And since everything virtuous flows from the character and nature of God (without whom these attributes cannot even be defined), the human race has offended God. The Edict of Milan by the Roman Emperor Constantine in 313 A.D. made Christianity a “legal religion.” Constantine sought to Christianize the empire. (He was the first Christian emperor, and only one after him would not be a Christian.) One method of making Rome a Christian state was to transform pagan holidays into Christian holidays. Although it is difficult to directly attribute it to Constantine, the earliest reference to Christmas being on Dec. 25 was in 360 A.D. It is unlikely an accurate date. For some reason people are under the impression this lessens the credibility of the Christian faith. Do they also think that because we celebrate Washington’s birthday on the third Monday in February rather than on his actual birthday (Feb. 22), it detracts from the reality of his work and existence? That would be silly. Quite frankly the date is meaningless. Evangelical Christians only have one true holy day, Sunday (with all due respect to Seventh Day Adventists). But if the culture wants to celebrate the birth of Jesus, I’m all for it – I love Christmas. So just what is the meaning of Christmas? The Bible says: We need help. We need help because one of the virtues of God is justice. God does not pretend sin didn’t happen. The forgiveness of God is not a matter of ignoring evil. God is a just God. And being true to his own character, he must punish sin. And, according to the Scriptures, the punishment for sin is death. Mankind needed a champion, a mediator who would step between us and what we deserve. (In the Old Testament they called it a scapegoat.) The eternal son of God became a man so that he might die the death that we deserved. We needed someone to represent us. We’re humans, so we needed a human. (Jesus didn’t die for angels.) This is why the baby Jesus was born and laid in a feeding trough. But why is it so critical that the baby Jesus also be God? Though many evangelicals cling for dear life to the deity (godhood) of Christ, few can explain why it is central to their faith. The answer is because of the type of the death Jesus would die – what might be called the fullness of death. The Apostle’s Creed reflects this fullness of death by stating that Jesus was crucified, died, was buried and descended into hell. In short, the hell that men deserved, Jesus took. It adds a new dimension to the idea of his death. Why was it requisite that Jesus should be God? That he might keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God in hell, and the power of death. Mankind needed a champion. He was provided in Christ, Immanuel – God with us. The Rev. Paul Viggiano is pastor of the Branch of Hope Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Torrance (e-mail: PastorPaul@integrity.com).160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
It was the Longhorns’ third straight victory after being blown out first by No. 1 Duke, then unranked Tennessee in Austin last month. Texas coach Rick Barnes couldn’t have been happier. “The environment was great and to come in here and find a way to get it done is huge. I feel good for our guys. Memphis is a very hard team to defend because of the way they play,” he said. Texas turned out to be too physical for Memphis. P.J. Tucker had 24 points and 13 rebounds, and Daniel Gibson added 18 points as No. 15 Texas beat fourth-ranked Memphis 69-58 in Memphis, Tenn., on Monday, snapping the Tigers’ eight-game winning streak. Texas (11-2), ranked No. 2 for the first five polls of the season before consecutive losses, held Memphis almost 30 points below its average and sealed the win by going 17-of-19 from the free throw line over the final 8:34. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson The victory was a good send-off for a team heading into Big 12 play Saturday against Colorado. “This is a pretty big win for us,” Tucker said. “We’ve had two bad losses. This is a good way to jump back for us.” Memphis (11-2) had not lost at home this season and wanted to burnish its record before heading into Conference USA where the Tigers are the league’s only ranked team. But they couldn’t handle Texas’ 2-3 zone, choosing to settle for 3-pointers and then going 6-of-32. No. 1 Duke 84, Bucknell 50: Shelden Williams had 23 points and 11 rebounds his fourth straight double-double and J.J. Redick added 22 to lead host Duke. Freshman Josh McRoberts had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils (13-0), one of eight undefeated teams in the country. The Bison (9-3) failed to pull another upset in their first meeting ever against a No. 1 team. In the past calendar year, they have victories at Pittsburgh and Syracuse, along with one in the NCAA tournament over Kansas. Duke opened the game with a 17-2 run and was up 42-19 at halftime. Bucknell opened the second half with a 9-0 run, but the Blue Devils then scored 13 straight points. No. 10 Washington 87, Cornell 71 : Freshman Jon Brockman scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half and had a season-high 12 rebounds for host Washington. Justin Dentmon, also a freshman, added 15 points for Washington (12-1), which dominated the Big Red (4-8) inside with a 46-27 rebounding advantage in its final nonconference game. Jason Hartford scored a career-high 17 points for Cornell. WOMEN No. 1 Tennessee 83, Old Dominion 67: Shanna Zolman scored 23 points, and Nicky Anosike added 17 to lead host Tennessee. The Lady Vols (13-0) led nearly the entire game, but Old Dominion made them work for their 10th straight victory in the series. Alexis Hornbuckle added 14 points, and Candace Parker had 10 for Tennessee, which shot 52 percent (26-of-50) from the floor and went 24-of-28 from the foul line. Old Dominion had only seven chances at the line and made six. T.J. Jordan scored 17 points, and Sherida Triggs added 16 points for Old Dominion (2-7). Shahida Williams finished with 10 for the Lady Monarchs, who have the toughest schedule in the country according to the latest RPI. No. 2 Duke 100, Wake Forest 54 : Monique Currie had 16 points before sitting out the final 11 1/5 minutes, and Lindsey Harding added 14 points as host Duke won in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both schools. Reserve Chante Black finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks for the Blue Devils (12-0), who won their previous five home games by an average margin of 57 points, including a 110-24 rout of Ball State. No. 6 Maryland 82, Manhattan 49 : Jade Perry had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and host Maryland won its ninth straight game. Shay Doron scored 16 points for the Terrapins (12-1). Maryland won easily despite shooting a season-low 36.2 percent. N.C. State 65, No. 25 Virginia Tech 44 : Tiffany Stansbury scored all 14 of her points in the second half to lead host North Carolina State. Ashley Key added 12 points, while Khadijah Whittington had a solid all-around game for the Wolfpack (10-3, 1-0 ACC), who improved to 7-0 at home and remained unbeaten in the series. Dawn Chriss scored 14 points for the Hokies (12-1, 0-1), who fell to 0-6 all-time against N.C. State since beginning varsity play in the 1976-77 season. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
DETROIT – Chevrolet was the best-selling brand in the U.S. market in 2005, outpacing Ford for the first time in 19 years, General Motors Corp. said Wednesday. But that was where the good news ended for GM and other U.S. automakers, who continued to lose ground to foreign rivals. Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. and South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co. all reported sales increases of 9 percent or more for the year. Toyota, whose U.S. sales were up 10 percent over 2004, said its Camry sedan was the best-selling car in the United States for the fourth year in a row, while its Lexus nameplate was the best-selling luxury brand. The Big Three U.S. automakers’ sales were down 2 percent overall, while Asian brands’ sales climbed 7 percent and European brands fell 3 percent. U.S. automakers’ U.S. market share fell to an unprecedented low of 56.9 percent, from 61.7 percent just three years ago, according to Autodata Corp. Asian brands’ U.S. market share rose to 36.5 percent, up from 34.6 percent. The total number of vehicles sold in the United States was nearly 17 million, about the same as the year before. Jim Press, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., said hybrid sales helped propel Toyota’s growth. Sales of the hybrid Toyota Prius doubled in 2005. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson “Heightened interest in fuel costs and the environment and dependence on foreign oil really stimulated that interest in hybrids,” Press said. GM’s sales fell 4 percent for the year, led by a 7 percent decline in car sales and a 2 percent decline in sales of trucks and sport utility vehicles. Although Chevrolet sales slipped slightly from last year to 2.6 million, they outpaced Ford by about 21,000 vehicles thanks to strong pickup sales and enthusiasm for GM’s new HHR crossover. Paul Ballew, GM’s executive director of market and industry analysis, said the year-end totals were below the company’s expectations. But he said the win for Chevrolet gives the world’s largest automaker an important boost. GM lost nearly $4 billion in the first nine months of 2005 as it struggled with high costs and falling U.S. market share. “It does confirm our ability to produce industry-leading vehicles,” Ballew said. Ford Motor Co. said its sales dropped 4 percent in 2005 as consumer demand for trucks and sport utility vehicles fell in the face of high gas prices. DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group, meanwhile, said its sales rose 5 percent for the year thanks to such hot-selling models as the Chrysler 300 sedan and the Town & Country minivan, which both saw sales increase more than 25 percent for the year. Honda Motor Co. also reported an increase of 5 percent over 2004 sales. Honda’s car sales were flat but the automaker’s truck and SUV sales rose nearly 14 percent, largely on the strength of the Honda Pilot small SUV and Honda’s new Ridgeline pickup. Honda said it was the company’s 12th consecutive year of U.S. sales increases. It was a tumultuous year for automakers, who enjoyed near-record sales thanks to employee-pricing discounts over the summer but watched large SUV sales plummet when gas prices spiked after Hurricane Katrina. Ford’s U.S. sales analysis manager George Pipas predicted that SUV sales will stabilize in the coming year as long as gas prices remain lower than $3 a gallon. “This is still a big segment, this is still a popular segment that meets the needs of many consumers,” he said. “The wild card is gas prices.” But Pipas also said there is a definite consumer trend away from SUVs in favor of cars and crossovers, which are car-based SUVs. Ford, the nation’s second-biggest automaker after GM, said car sales rose 5 percent for its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands, but truck and SUV sales fell 8 percent. Pipas said it was the first year since 1981 that cars gained market share against trucks. Ford also said sales of its crossover vehicles rose 28 percent. The company predicted that crossover sales will continue to outpace all other categories through the end of the decade. U.S. automakers also reported disappointing results for December despite a new round of holiday discounts. GM’s December sales were down 10 percent, Ford fell 8.7 percent and Chrysler was down 5 percent as payback from strong summer sales continued. Ballew said last year’s strong December made it a particularly difficult comparison. Asian automakers fared better in December, in part because they didn’t offer employee discounts over the summer. Toyota’s December sales were up 8 percent, while Hyundai’s were up nearly 16 percent as customers snapped up the 2006 Sonata. Honda’s December sales fell 3 percent while Nissan’s were off 1 percent. Automakers expressed optimism about 2006. Ballew said the economy is expanding just as new vehicles are hitting the pipeline. “It’s not the perfect backdrop because energy prices are higher than people anticipated, but the overall backdrop for this industry is not that poor,” Ballew said. Sales figures were adjusted for the number of sales days. There were 307 sales days in 2005 and 308 sales days in 2004. GM shares rose 51 cents to close at $19.41 on the New York Stock Exchange while Ford shares rose 18 cents to end at $8.01 and DaimlerChrysler’s U.S. shares lost 24 cents, to $53.51. Toyota’s U.S. shares fell 26 cents to close at $106.59 on the NYSE. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! 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