Canterbury coach Des Hasler bit back at his sides critics, brushing off claims theyre shaping as NRL also-rans.The Bulldogs are right in the mix, placed fourth with four regular rounds to play but have copped criticism after unconvincing wins over strugglers St George Illawarra and Newcastle in the last fortnight.While Hasler attributed those performances to the opposition and also difficult conditions on Saturday in Newcastle, legends Darren Lockyer and Brad Fittler cast doubt over their title credentials.Lockyer said he believed they were out of the running and too inconsistent while Fittler said they were winning ugly and getting home on the back of some individual brilliance.However Hasler, whose side has won six of their last seven matches, pointed to their position on the ladder as proof of their credentials.Winning ugly, what does that mean? Were winning games when we need to, Hasler said.Obviously at the same time its a pretty tight comp.Theres three sides fighting for third and fourth and how many sides are fighting it out for sixth, seventh and eighth spot?I think thats a good thing.The Bulldogs have lost just three games since round 10 in May with all of those defeats coming against sides in top four contention - North Queensland (fifth), Cronulla (second) and Canberra (third).They are also third in the league for completions and fourth for metres made, illustrating theyre capable of executing and dominating their opposition.Asked about suggestions they werent in the hunt, Hasler was blunt: Well were in fourth place. Patrick Beverley Jersey . Pierce was ejected in the third quarter of Indianas 103-86 win Monday. George Hill stole a bad pass and was going in for a layup, and Pierce hustled back and appeared to be trying to wrap him up. Montrezl Harrell Clippers Jersey . 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LONDON -- Sam Allardyce pledged to make England proud of its perennially-underperforming national team after being hired as its manager on Friday, following an embarrassing European Championship showing under Roy Hodgson.In a break from previous lengthy deals for managers, the English Football Association only handed Allardyce an initial two-year contract through the 2018 World Cup after securing his release from Premier League club Sunderland.Allardyce takes over one of footballs most high-profile and challenging jobs after a 25-year management career that yielded no major trophies but won him plaudits for over-achieving with modest teams.It is no secret that this is the role I have always wanted, Allardyce said. For me, it is absolutely the best job in English football. I will do everything I can to help England do well and give our nation the success our fans deserve.Above all, we have to make the people and the whole country proud.The 61-year-old Allardyce, like Hodgson, was never selected by England during his playing career.Hodgsons hopes of extending his four-year stint with England were dashed when its Euro 2016 campaign ended in June with a humbling loss to Iceland in the round of 16.The FA also said Allardyce has a mandate to shape a strong, purposeful team identity and maximize the performance potential of a young, talented England squad at a major tournament.Allardyces immediate priority is to take England to the 2018 World Cup, with qualifying starting in September.I know we have talented, committed players, Allardyce saiid, and it is time for us to deliver.ddddddddddddAllardyce has never managed a leading club, once joking if his name was Allardici he would have secured one of the top Premier League jobs that typically go to foreign coaches.Allardyces only experience outside England is in the now-defunct UEFA Cup with Bolton, where he spent eight years. It was while at Bolton, where Allardyce spent much of his playing career, that he was overlooked for the England job in 2006.Allardyce, who has also managed Newcastle, Blackburn and West Ham, has a reputation for improving struggling teams -- qualities which the FA recognized in hiring a respected and passionate homegrown coach.His excellent managerial credentials, including his ability to realize the potential of players and teams, develop a strong team ethos and embrace modern methods that enhance performance, made him the outstanding choice, FA chief executive Martin Glenn said.Allardyces appointment was the result of what Glenn called a thorough process over three weeks.We could not help but be energized by his personal perspective on Englands future and how it complemented the extensive work that we are looking to build on at St. Georges Park, Glenn said, referencing the England team training base in central England.Allardyces England debut will be a friendly at Wembley Stadium on Sept. 1, before taking his team to Slovakia for the first World Cup qualifier on Sept. 4. 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