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Football News

» "Frustrated" Kane urged to be "selfish" amid Tottenham transfer speculation
Harry Kane is reportedly considering leaving boyhood club Tottenham Hotspur and, although manager Jose Mourinho is relaxed about the situation, Roy Keane can empathise with the England striker
» Robbie Herrera on Mohamed Al-Fayed's big-money Fulham takeover from the inside
EXCLUSIVE: Robbie Herrera has recalled Mohamed Al-Fayed's takeover at Fulham, which saw a club on the brink of extinction begin a journey to become 'the Man United of the south'
» Solskjaer's Man Utd comments come back to haunt him after Mourinho dig
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer contradicted claims he previously made about Manchester United's ambitions as he aimed a jibe at Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho in the build-up to their Premier League clash
» Thiago at 30 - Guardiola's demand and Klopp's "rubbish" claim
Breaking through at Barcelona, treble triumph with Bayern Munich and a testing start to life with Liverpool: Mirror Football takes a look at Thiago's career so far as the Spanish midfielder turns 30
» Souness opens up on Alexander-Arnold's "vulnerability" as he makes prediction
Graeme Souness has had his say after a turbulent few weeks for Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was left out of the England squad, made a crucial error against Real Madrid and scored a last-gasp winner against Aston Villa
» Norwich boss Daniel Farke eyes promotion as side add steel to Champagne football
Daniel Farke's side followed up their 7-0 destruction of Huddersfield with a gritty 1-0 win at Derby. The Norwich boss was thrilled to have banked the win ahead of tricky games against Bournemouth and Watford
» Real Madrid suffer costly injury blow ahead of Liverpool Champions League clash
Real Madrid clinched El Clasico glory to go top of La Liga on Saturday night, but the victory over Barcelona came at a price and Zinedine Zidane's defence has been left threadbare ahead of the quarter-final second leg with Liverpool
» Forgotten Wenger signing at Arsenal speaks out on his future under Arteta
Arsenal centre-back Konstantinos Mavropanos, signed by Arsene Wenger in 2018, penned a new deal with the Emirates club before joining Stuttgart on a season-long loan in July
» Jose Mourinho's comments on 'dishonest' Man Utd players coming true at Tottenham
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho is fighting for his job as he prepares to welcome his former club Man United to north London this Sunday. Failing to qualify for the Champions League could see Daniel Levy wield the axe
» Neville's Jose Mourinho assessment at Man Utd being proved right at Tottenham
Gary Neville tore into Manchester United's board for giving Jose Mourinho a new long-term contract back in 2018, and his prediction for how things would end have come true at Tottenham as well
» Arsenal's core of six players for Arteta to build around next season
Arteta has found himself coming under pressure as the Gunners fight for a place in the top half of the Premier League, but he has a solid squad base on which to build future success
» Jose Mourinho will never be the Special One again - unless he changes his ways
STAN COLLYMORE: The Tottenham manager is coming under increasing pressure in North London and could well be sacked this summer
» Souness explains why Chelsea are most likely to challenge Man City next season
Chelsea beat Crystal Palace with ease on Saturday thanks to goals from Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic and Kurt Zouma, and Graeme Souness thinks they could challenge at the top of the table next season
» Arsenal chiefs have to accept blame amid Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang difficulties
Arsenal are struggling to get the best out of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this season having gifted him a lucrative new deal in the summer as they face the prospect of another Mesut Ozil situation
» Ronald Koeman storms out of interview after Barcelona defeat to Real Madrid
Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman stormed out of an interview after Saturday's defeat to Real Madrid when asked about a dubious penalty shout was ignored by the referee
» Arsenal planning Jesse Lingard summer transfer after resurgent West Ham spell
Arsenal are reportedly planning a stunning swoop for Manchester United loanee Jesse Lingard following his impressive spell at West Ham
» Liverpool transfer news round-up including Wijnaldum details and Pedri update
Liverpool transfer news is coming thick and fast ahead of the summer window, with the Reds set to bolster their squad in an attempt to regain their Premier League crown
» Chelsea transfer round up including Marina Granovskaia's Haaland strategy
The Blues are set to bring in reinforcements for Thomas Tuchel when the summer transfer window opens, with Erling Haaland and Sergio Aguero both linked with moves to Stamford Bridge
» Arsenal transfer round-up as Mavropanos's faces uncertain Gunners future
Arsenal and Mikel Arteta are still very much in the middle of a squad overhaul and this summer could see several faces come in and out as the north Londoners eye Brazilian youngster Matheus Martinelli
» Man Utd transfer round-up as Kane 'considers exit', Cavani 'closes on' Boca
Man Utd will be among a host of clubs eyeing Harry Kane this summer as doubt continues to swirl over his Tottenham future with Champions League football high on his list of priorities
» Premier League odds and betting tips
Our betting expert with tips for prime-time Harry Kane advert, West Ham's top-four clash with Leicester, Arsenal's trappy trip to Sheffield United and a Burnley-Newcastle fixture
» Arsenal hit with big double injury blow ahead of game vs Sheffield United
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Emile Smith Rowe will both miss Arsenal's game at Sheffield United as Mikel Arteta is forced to reconsider his options
» Solskjaer hit back at Mourinho in war of words ahead of Spurs vs Man Utd
Solskjaer hits back in war of words with the man he replaced at Old Trafford ahead of United's crucial visit to Tottenham
» Solskjaer details Mourinho apology after Spurs' humiliation of Man Utd
Reds have bounced back following 6-1 hammering while Spurs face fight to finish for Champions League places
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Other sport news:

» Burnley v Newcastle: Premier League – live!

“I reckon that VAR, in their ‘infinite wisdom’, decided that there was no contact between defender’s boot and attacker’s head,” says Roy Allen. “In which case it would be ‘playing in a dangerous manner’ and punishable by an indirect free kick, which is outside the VAR remit. That’s my theory anyway.”

It was simpler back in the day, when everyone knew where they stood. Play on!

Half-time reading

Related: Reguilón on for Bergwijn: how José Mourinho blew Spurs’ title charge | Jonathan Wilson

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» Reguilón on for Bergwijn: how José Mourinho blew Spurs’ title charge | Jonathan Wilson

Fear has become the manager’s defining principle and at Anfield a typically defensive substitution was the unravelling

Nine days before Christmas was not really so very long ago, yet it feels like a different world. Manchester City had just been held to a draw at home by West Brom that left them eighth in the Premier League table. Southampton were third. And Tottenham went to the league leaders, Liverpool, knowing that a win would put them top. In the confusing period between the second and third lockdowns, it seemed possible that this slog of a season might just provide an environment in which José Mourinho’s attritional style could thrive.

Yet Spurs host Manchester United on Sunday afternoon having begun the weekend in sixth place and 25 points behind the leaders, City. They have lost eight of their last 18 league games and been bundled out of the FA Cup and the Europa League. Last Sunday, they were outplayed by Newcastle and escaped with a 2-2 draw.

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» Kroos’ double deflection deflates Barça, decides clásico and sends Real top

Six months later, Real Madrid returned to the top of the table and at the cost of their two great rivals. As a storm tore through Valdebebas, they defeated FC Barcelona 2-1 to overhaul Atlético Madrid. It might only be for one night – Diego Simeone’s side travel to Betis on Sunday – but it was some night: wet and wild, the ball flying from one end to the other and to the very end, goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen going up and Ilaix Moriba smashing a shot off the bar with the frantic final move.

The frame of the goal was still shaking when the whistle went, and so too were some players, freezing and forced to change their shirts during a clásico that unfolded amidst thunder, lightning and driving rain, wind whipping through.

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» Melbourne Victory score direct from corner to beat Sydney to W-League title
  • Sydney FC outlast dominant Victory until 120th-minute undoing
  • ‘I didn’t want it to go to penalties’, says sole scorer Cooney-Cross

Kyra Cooney-Cross scored the winner in the final seconds of extra-time as Melbourne Victory ended their seven-year W-League title drought with a deserved 1-0 grand final win over Sydney FC.

Related: Melbourne Victory beat Sydney FC to W-League title at the death of extra-time – as it happened

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» Solskjær can take heart from Manchester United’s upward curve | Jamie Jackson

Second place is not good enough for the manager but keeping leaders Manchester City in sight would be progress

Barring a Devon Loch-like collapse starting on Grand National weekend, Manchester City will canter to a third title in four years, but Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s second full season at rivals United has to show a continuation of the upward curve that began with last year’s third-place finish in the league. The United manager is in no mood to dress up a prospective second-place finish, conceding it may take “blood, sweat and tears” to close the gap on Manchester City next season.

Solskjær, whose United side travel to Tottenham on Sunday, says: “You can’t say that is an achievement. Our ambition is a lot more than second place. I said that when I wasn’t at the club – you can never be happy with that. Our ambition is to catch the team in front of us.”

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» Stuart Dallas breaks late for winner as 10-man Leeds stun Manchester City

Pep Guardiola selected a near second-string Manchester City and saw his side fall to defeat in the dying moments against a 10-man Leeds side who may have allowed Manchester United to dream again of overhauling their local rivals.

The winner came when Stuart Dallas sprinted clear along the left and beat Ederson with as cool a finish as his opener, which had come as the break approached. City had been sucker-punched due to the siege they mounted on Leeds’ area following Liam Cooper’s deserved red card for a dangerous chop of Gabriel Jesus’s leg moments after Dallas’s opening goal.

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» Kai Havertz stars as free-flowing Chelsea steamroller Crystal Palace

Chelsea reclaimed fourth spot in the Premier League with a 4-1 win at Selhurst Park that met with little serious resistance from start to finish. More importantly, perhaps, in the longer term, they did so with Kai Havertz playing a fine, incisive hand as the central attacker.

On a freezing afternoon in south London Chelsea’s £70m summer signing was all clever movement, cute touches and even – of all things – a well-taken goal.

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» Alexander-Arnold’s late winner caps Liverpool comeback to sink Aston Villa


Liverpool required redemption at Anfield and there was no better person to deliver it than Trent Alexander-Arnold. A trying week for the England international, indeed a trying year on home soil for the Premier League champions, ended with the release of an emphatic 91st-minute winner against Aston Villa that maintained Liverpool’s momentum for a top-four finish. A long and damaging wait is over.

At the eighth time of asking, and after an unprecedented run of six successive defeats, Jürgen Klopp’s team could finally celebrate victory at Anfield in 2021 and one tinged with the satisfaction of avenging October’s 7-2 humiliation at Villa Park. Celebrate it they did. Klopp roared with a mix of joy and relief when Alexander-Arnold swept a stunning shot beyond Emiliano Martínez in stoppage time. His backroom staff sprung from the bench in all directions while the defender, widely criticised after an error-strewn display against Real Madrid on Tuesday, stood in front of an empty Kop pointing to the Liver bird on his chest. Three invaluable points won and one important point made to the watching Gareth Southgate.

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» Kieran Dowell’s free-kick fires Norwich past Derby and closer to promotion

It has felt a matter of when and not if Norwich will be promoted for a few months but results elsewhere dictated they will have to wait at least another week to seal an immediate return to the Premier League, despite the Championship leaders overcoming lowly Derby here courtesy of a delicious Kieran Dowell free-kick. Victory over Bournemouth at Carrow Road next Saturday would secure promotion and, while Daniel Farke insists his players are not yet dancing on tables in delight, the finish line is tantalisingly close.

This was not the 7-0 demolition job they managed against Huddersfield on Tuesday and, though not a buccaneering performance, Farke cut a happy figure at full time. “It was not champagne football but a hard-fought win,” he said. “At the end of the season I’m sure we’ll celebrate promotion with this win. Brentford and Swansea have shown they have the quality to win all of their last games. We need two more points. We want to finish in style. I don’t see why we should lose any of our remaining five games.”

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» Grimsby’s Stefan Payne sent off for head-butting teammate
  • Payne shown red card for incident with Filipe Morais
  • Manager: ‘It is something you just cannot defend’

Grimsby’s manager, Paul Hurst, has indicated Stefan Payne may not play for his side again this season after the striker was sent off for head-butting his teammate Filipe Morais during Saturday’s League Two defeat at Bradford.

Related: Championship roundup: Brentford thrash Preston as Lowe lifts Swansea

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» Pablo Fornals: ‘We never stop running – we have to enjoy these moments’

The West Ham midfielder on the Andrés Iniesta comparisons, his love for Santi Cazorla and how he buys into David Moyes’s hard-work, hard-running philosophy

David Moyes has a simple message for West Ham’s creative players: if you don’t run, you don’t play. There is no room for passengers with Moyes in charge. Substance has to accompany style and West Ham have benefited from a humble approach this season, surpassing expectations by establishing themselves as the unlikeliest of challengers for Champions League qualification.

It has been an astonishing turnaround given that they spent last year battling against relegation. Flimsy and unreliable before reuniting with Moyes in December 2019, West Ham are pushovers no more. Spirit in the camp is high and the Scot has a buy-in from his attacking players, who know that they have to put the team first. “It’s the way to understand football and most of the time understand life,” Pablo Fornals says. “If you are passionate and give 100% things can be good or bad but nobody can say you didn’t try. If I do something, I want to do my best.”

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» Adaptability proves its worth despite Matildas’ thrashing by Germany | Samantha Lewis

There were silver linings to the 5-2 defeat and to the circumstances that forced new coach Tony Gustavsson’s hand

It is not often Sam Kerr’s number glows red on the substitute board during an international game – particularly not one in which the Matildas are losing.

But in the 75th minute of Australia’s friendly against Germany, with her side 4-0 down, Kerr – widely considered one of the best and most in-form strikers in the game with 23 goals in her last 28 games – tossed her captain’s armband to teammate Alanna Kennedy and shuffled, dissatisfied, off the field.

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» Liverpool can live with Mohamed Salah’s misses but not without his hits | Sachin Nakrani

The forward was wayward in his finishing at times in the win over Aston Villa but his equaliser underlines his importance

With 13 minutes played at Anfield, Mohamed Salah was presented with a chance to score for Liverpool after a glaring error by Tyrone Mings but, with only Emiliano Martínez to beat, he poked his shot wide.

With 51 minutes played at Anfield, Mohamed Salah was presented with a chance to score for Liverpool following a pass by Georginio Wijnaldum but, despite having a reasonable amount of time and space inside the area, he dragged his shot and, via a deflection, saw it dribble out for a corner.

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» Megan Rapinoe’s late penalty salvages draw as USA women keep streak alive
  • USA’s 16-match win streak snapped in 1-1 draw with Sweden
  • Carli Lloyd makes 300th international appearance of career
  • World champions extend undefeated run to 38 matches

The United States’ 16-match winning streak was snapped in a 1-1 draw with Sweden on Saturday in Carli Lloyd’s 300th national team appearance.

Lina Hurtig put Sweden ahead off a set piece in the 38th minute before Megan Rapinoe’s penalty kick pulled the United States even in the 87th.

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» Championship roundup: Brentford thrash Preston as Lowe lifts Swansea
  • Brentford back on form with 5-0 triumph at Preston
  • Lowe strikes twice as Swansea beat Millwall 3-0

Brentford kept their faint automatic promotion hopes alive with a fine 5-0 victory at Preston. The Bees scored twice in the first half and three times in the second to end a run of four straight Championship draws in emphatic style.

Their biggest away win of the season – thanks to goals from Bryan Mbeumo, Marcus Forss, Ivan Toney, Sergi Canós and Emiliano Marcondes – moved Thomas Frank’s side within nine points of second-placed Watford, with six games still to play. Watford, in turn, are eight points behind leaders Norwich, who won 1-0 at Derby.

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» John Kennedy has players prepared for Rangers after Celtic hit six

John Kennedy believes Celtic’s 6-0 thrashing of Livingston set his side up perfectly for their Scottish Cup clash with Rangers.

The home side led at the interval through goals by winger James Forrest and midfielder David Turnbull before a second-half onslaught.

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» England Women’s defence exposed in friendly defeat by France
  • France 3-1 England
  • Sandy Baltimore’s dribbling highlight for home side

England’s now familiar defensive shortcomings undid them once again as a supposedly weakened France revelled in bisecting Hege Riise’s backline in Caen, where Sandy Baltimore’s dribbling skills lit up the Normandy night.

At times the Lionesses impressed going forward, with Fran Kirby frequently a joy to watch and Lauren Hemp destabilising France after stepping off the bench in the second half, but the interim manager has much defensive tightening to do before Canada visit Stoke for another friendly on Tuesday.

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» José Mourinho at odds with Ole Gunnar Solskjær over egos and trophies
  • United manager had claimed cups ‘hide fact you’re struggling’
  • Mourinho doubts Sir Alex Ferguson agrees with former charge

José Mourinho has dismissed Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s suggestion that trophies can act as an “ego thing” for managers and clubs, pointedly noting that he doubts Sir Alex Ferguson is in agreement with his former charge.

“I’m pretty sure that his big boss, Sir Alex, has a different opinion about it,” Tottenham’s manager said before facing Manchester United on Sunday. “But I respect what Solskjaer thinks. I think differently. Freedom of thinking, freedom of ideas. If that’s the way he thinks, that’s fine for me. It’s not a problem for me. It’s not being disrespectful for everyone. But I believe that, I repeat, his big boss, the biggest of Premier League history, has a different view in relation to that.”

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» Solskjær warns Manchester United not to be ‘conned’ by Tottenham
  • Manager believes Martial was ‘conned’ into red card in October
  • Solskjær says Cavani is unsure over United future

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has told Manchester United’s players to keep cool heads when they play Tottenham on Sunday as they look to avenge a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of José Mourinho’s side.

Anthony Martial was sent off in the 28th minute in the humiliating October defeat at Old Trafford after retaliating to an elbow from Érik Lamela with a push in the Argentinian’s face. Solskjær says Martial was “conned” into reacting and he does not want to see a repeat in London as they look to put a club record-equalling defeat in the Premier League era firmly behind them.

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» Sheffield United v Arsenal: match preview

Arsenal’s season may be alive in the Europa League but they share an empty feeling with Sheffield United that their league campaign has become more of a box-ticking exercise at this point. Mikel Arteta’s side must fight through the disappointment to avoid going five games without victory in all competitions before the second leg against Sparta Prague. United will hope to recreate last season’s brilliant win over Arsenal. It was surprising then but would be much less so now regardless of their league position. Graham Searles

Sunday 7pm BT Sport 1

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» Brighton v Everton: match preview

Everton need to regain their winning touch as time dwindles away for them to make a late surge to qualify for European competition next season. The Champions League remains in play but if they fail to beat Brighton and turn around a poor run of three without victory that glittering door could finally start to feel closed. Carlo Ancelotti’s side certainly don’t appear to be the same one that started the season so emphatically. Graham Potter will be hoping Brighton can compound Everton’s misery and take a step toward confirming their place in the Premier League for another season. Graham Searles

Monday 8.15pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» West Brom v Southampton: match preview

If one result might kick West Brom into some high-flying, season-saving mania it is walloping Chelsea 5-2. Ignore Thiago Silva’s red card and focus on the task at hand – stacking up wins, starting with Southampton. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side may have picked up a win of their own against Burnley but showed the brittleness that has plagued them all campaign by quickly going 2-0 down. The flipside, of course, was the marvellous comeback spearheaded by the returning Theo Walcott and Danny Ings. The pair could profit in the second half once again should Sam Allardyce resort to throwing the kitchen sink at a vital set of three points. Graham Searles

Sunday 6pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Tottenham v Manchester United: match preview

Manchester United’s place in the top four looks secure for the time being so a tepid draw – like many of those produced since being thrashed 6-1 by Tottenham – against José Mourinho’s side would suffice. Spurs on the other hand need a win to catch up and Mourinho will be eager to stick it to his former employers. A full complement of defenders will certainly help the endeavour after last week’s misfire against Newcastle. Graham Searles

Sunday 4.30pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» West Ham v Leicester: match preview

West Ham’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League rest on how they cope without Michail Antonio and Declan Rice. Antonio has followed Rice into the treatment room after injuring a hamstring against Wolves last Monday and is unavailable against Leicester, who are four points above David Moyes’s side. Moyes must find a way to adjust in attack. Leicester will spy a chance to record a precious win. Jacob Steinberg

Sunday 2.05pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Top-four tussle: hopes and fears in race for Champions League spots

With Manchester City and United on course for top-four finishes, we examine the six clubs battling for two places

Optimist’s view: Brendan Rodgers’s team have evolved since last season, when they lost key players in the run-in and failed to hold their nerve, slipping out of the top four on the final day. This season their squad is stronger – thanks to purchases such as Wesley Fofana and Timothy Castagne and progress made by the likes of Youri Tielemans, unsurprisingly, and Kelechi Iheanacho – and their resolve is greater, too, enabling them to stay towards the top despite continuous injuries. They underperformed against Manchester City last week but have generally done particularly well against the top teams this season, which is why they are unlikely to be spooked by a run-in that looks difficult on paper, starting with Sunday’s trip to West Ham and finishing with matches against Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham.

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» Douglas Luiz: ‘I’m proud to be from the favela. I’ve proved we can make it’

Aston Villa and Brazil midfielder on the fight for equality in his homeland, hopes for Jack Grealish and facing Fabinho on Saturday

Douglas Luiz smiles and extends the index finger on his left hand, proudly displaying the tattoo of his father’s moustache. “When I was playing in Vasco’s youth team I used to always raise this finger in tribute to my father,” explains the Aston Villa and Brazil midfielder. His father, Edmilson Soares, has always had such elegant facial hair that he is known simply as Bigode (“Moustache”) throughout Nova Holanda, the favela in Rio de Janeiro where the player grew up in a two-room house with his parents and three brothers.

Douglas Luiz’s tattoos are important to him. He has another commemorating his first goal for Vasco, whom he joined aged 14, and another that he translates as: “I am from the favela and I have made it.” This is a key message.

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» Mason Mount forces ‘honest scuffler’ critics to eat their words | Jacob Steinberg

The Chelsea midfielder demonstrated his full range of qualities: good movement, quick thinking and deft footwork in the Champions League win over Porto

A common misconception about Mason Mount is that he saves his best work for off the ball, winning over his managers by being a very well behaved boy when his team are under pressure. The teacher’s pet narrative sees the Chelsea midfielder portrayed as little more than an honest scuffler, relying on his pressing and energy to earn a starting spot at the expense of more exciting creators.

During the early days at Chelsea there were claims that Mount owed his place in the side to some mysterious connection with Frank Lampard. It sort of made sense. Consider the evidence: they both know how to score goals from midfield, which made it entirely reasonable to view Mount as some kind of Lampardian heir, Frank Lampard Jr Jr in disguise, and assume that he was forced to spend hours in the analysis room at Cobham watching every last one of the Chelsea legend’s goals.

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» Bayern v PSG was pure footballing fun – until you delve beneath the thrills | Jonathan Wilson

Dominant super-rich elite forget how to defend but proposed new Champions League would not ensure endless excitement

After the rush of exhilaration, the comedown. Paris Saint-Germain’s 3-2 win away to Bayern Munich on Wednesday was extraordinary, full of high-tempo drama, of brilliant players doing brilliant things – so long as it wasn’t defending. There were great goals, great saves, great crosses, injuries all over the place, and by the time it was over, the eternal nearly men of PSG had ended the European champions’ 19-game unbeaten run in the competition. And yet in the cold light of morning, it’s perhaps impossible not to feel a slight qualm: it was magnificent, but was it football?

It was a superior example of the type, but this was a game typical of the latter stages of today’s Champions League. After the dutiful slog of the group stages, the frenzied bacchanal of the knockouts. This is the upside of the financial structure of modern football. Create a small elite of super-rich clubs so they can concentrate the best players at a handful of franchises and this is the sort of quality that can ensue.

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» A bigger, more diverse European super league can help enrich football | Philipp Lahm

In the first of a series of columns, the World Cup-winning Germany captain argues for an expanded league which includes clubs from across the continent

Football has changed for the better. In the 1980s, it was open season on artists like Diego Maradona, with foul specialists sent in to stop him. You can watch the clips on YouTube, and be horrified. The end, back then, justified all means.

Today, tripping and brutal tackles are heavily penalised, and such fouls have all but disappeared. The international football community agreed on the stricter approach in a transparent process. Players must now play fair, and fouls are seen as a last resort. These days, the end is justified by the means. For this development, from which I profited as a player, I would like to thank all those involved.

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» Liverpool’s unforced errors cannot detract from the one Klopp made | Andy Hunter

Jürgen Klopp’s side’s history of comebacks is one of the few things in their favour when Real Madrid return to Anfield

Eradicate the mistakes, pass the ball better and Liverpool will be unrecognisable against Real Madrid next Wednesday with or without the backing of a frenzied Anfield crowd. That, at least, was Jürgen Klopp’s hope during a post‑match press conference at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano that veered towards straw-clutching even before he mentioned Barcelona. Twice. Liverpool must transform themselves at Anfield to give substance to their manager’s flickering belief.

“With all the problems we had tonight,” the Liverpool manager said, “Real Madrid had to score at least one goal with us giving the goal away and the other goals were because of mistakes from us as well. If we don’t make these mistakes and if we play better football, both of which we can do, then it is a new game and we will see how the result will be then.”

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» Santi Cazorla produces deft panenka penalty for Al Sadd – video

The former Arsenal midfielder scored a delightful panenka for Al Sadd in Qatar. The Spaniard has been almost back to his best since leaving north London in 2018. The cheeky penalty chip helped his side secure a 2-0 victory over Al Gharafa 2-0 in the Qatar Stars League

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» Valencia players walk off pitch due to alleged racial abuse – video report

Valencia walked off the field during their La Liga game against Cádiz after Mouctar Diakhaby said he was racially abused by Cádiz defender Juan Cala. The Valencia coach Javi Gracia later said, 'We spoke with Diakhaby and he told us he was not OK to play but he said he understood that we would play to avoid any punishment'. The club reportedly could have faced a points deduction for not returning to the game. Diakhaby was substituted and Valencia went on to lose 2-1.

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» 'For all of you': Real Sociedad manager breaks into song after Copa del Rey triumph – video

Real Sociedad manager Imanol Alguacil celebrated his side's first trophy win since 1987 by wildly chanting and singing during a press conference. Real beat Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao 1-0 to claim the 2020 Copa Del Rey, postponed for nearly a year because of Covid-19. 

The Real Sociedad manager, who made over 100 appearances for the club as a player, put on the team's shirt and and told viewers: 'This is for all of you, Guipúzcoa. For all those who feel Real. All together now Guipúzcoa,' before raising the team's scarf above his head and chanting in Basque 

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» Jumping for joy: Turkey's Öztürk celebrates national team call-up – video

A sweet moment caught on CCTV as the Turkish defender Alpaslan Öztürk is seen jumping for joy after being called up to play for the national side. A security camera at Turkey's Göztepe SK, his club team, captured the moment Öztürk, who plays club football for Göztepe SK, received the phone call to tell him the good news. 'As every Turkish footballer, I have a dream to play in the national team one day,' he said. 'I hope it will be, but we will continue until we do, we will work, we will carry our team to good places. As long as we continue to do these, I am sure that one day we will reach that goal'

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» Denmark's Thomas Delaney scores audacious scorpion kick in training – video

Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney pulled off a spectacular scorpion kick finish during training with the national team. The Borussia Dortmund player had his first effort saved, the goalkeeper's parry sending the ball over his head. A bit of quick thinking from the midfielder saw him flip forward, striking the ball with his heel and sending it past the keeper into the top left corner. Denmark face Austria on Wednesday

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» Norway players protest Qatar human rights abuses before World Cup qualifier – video

Norway's players took a stand against human rights violations in Qatar before their World Cup qualifier against Gibraltar, lining up with T-shirts which read: 'Human rights – on and off the pitch'. There has been debate within Norway about whether the national team should boycott the 2022 World Cup over poor conditions for migrant workers in the country. Norway went on to win the match 3-0, thanks to goals from Alexander Sørloth, Kristian Thorstvedt and Jonas Svensson.

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» European roundup: Bayern Munich held at home by Union Berlin
  • Weakened Bundesliga leaders concede late equaliser
  • Mbappé on target for PSG as they beat Strasbourg

Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich stumbled to a 1-1 draw at home against Union Berlin on Saturday after conceding an 86th-minute equaliser through Marcus Ingvartsen to see their lead at the top cut to five points with six games left.

Teenager Jamal Musiala had put a second-string Bayern team ahead in the 68th minute, picking up a Thomas Müller pass and weaving past three players in the box before firing home.

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» Valencia stand with Diakhaby but their show of unity is undermined | Sid Lowe

La Liga side rightly left the pitch against Cádiz over alleged racial abuse, so why did they end up coming back on?

Every time the camera focused on Mouctar Diakhaby sitting in the stands, and Juan Cala still on the pitch, it felt worse. An opportunity lost, everything the wrong way round. On Sunday afternoon Valencia became the first top-level team in Spain to walk off the pitch in protest at alleged racist abuse suffered by their player, only to turn and come back on again.

Now the game, which no longer felt like a game, had started again – without the abused and with the alleged abuser. Diakhaby sat in silence, arms crossed, the mask over his face not really hiding anything. Below him, they played football and he didn’t.

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» Serse Cosmi returns from wilderness to restore pride at struggling Crotone | Nicky Bandini

The former Perugia manager has surprised many by returning to the top flight, and by making the league’s bottom club better

It ought to have been the most predictable result of the weekend. Fifth-placed Napoli against last-placed Crotone, two teams separated by42 points in the standings and trending even further apart. The Partenopei were unbeaten in five games and fighting for a Champions League berth, while heir opponents had lost 13 out of 15 matches so far in this calendar year.

But every Italian child knows to look inside their Easter eggs for a hidden surprise. “Football is not made up of objective facts,” insisted the Crotone manager Serse Cosmi at his pre-game press conference. “If it was, then we would have no chance.” If it was, then perhaps we would have no Cosmi, whose outsized persona has tended to eclipse his performance in the dugout.

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» Trinity Rodman: 'My mom wasn't in the NBA but she's my role model'

Washington Spirit forward may have got her sporting genes from her father but it is her mother who she credits as her role model

Trinity Rodman is a rarity in soccer.

Almost all American women her age take a well-traveled path: They play soccer in college and then, after graduation, they join the National Women’s Soccer League via the draft or sign in Europe.

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» Alguacil unable to contain passion as Real Sociedad quench trophy thirst | Sid Lowe

The manager made headlines for switching to ‘fan mode’ after winning the Copa del Rey having endured all the lean times

“If you’ll allow me,” Imanol Alguacil said, as if there was anything they wouldn’t allow him any more. He was one of them after all, the communion about to be made very loud and very clear. He had also just done what no one had done for 34 years and only two men had done before; what no man had done, in fact. It was after midnight on Saturday and Alguacil had just led Real Sociedad to their first major trophy since 1987, back before even he was at the club, and the fourth in their history, securing victory in the cup final against Athletic Club, possibly the biggest moment in Basque football history. Besides, allow it? They were going to love it.

He took off his jacket and pulled on a Real shirt they had prepared for him. “This,” he said, “is for the whole of Guipúzcoa,” the smallest of the 50 mainland provinces in Spain. “This is for everyone who feels la Real.” He was handed a scarf, which he held above his head, leaned into the microphone, said “Guipúzcoa, with me, eh,” and then began. “Erreala alé,” he sang, belting out the words. “Let’s go Real, to victory! We’ll always be with you!”

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» Investors have paid $325m for a place in MLS. But for how much longer?

The fortunes handed out for a spot in the league have always been based on the future worth of soccer in North America. But Covid-19 may cause some to reassess

2023 was slated to be Sacramento Republic’s expansion year in Major League Soccer. After long and protracted negotiations to secure a franchise, it was provisionally announced in October 2019 that California’s capital city had been awarded a spot in the league. That may be the closest Sacramento ever gets to MLS, though, with billionaire Ron Burkle pulling out as lead investor amid the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. The club’s entry to MLS is now on hiatus.

According to commissioner Don Garber, MLS lost close to $1bn in revenue over 2020. “The losses have been dramatic,” he told reporters in December. “Clubs are going to have to manage their economics as diligently as possible.” Even more striking was that Garber, just a few months later, claimed MLS could lose close to the same figure in 2021.

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» European roundup: Neymar sees red as Lille beat PSG while Bayern sink Leipzig
  • Real Madrid warm up for Liverpool with win over Eibar
  • Goretzka hits Bayern winner; Frankfurt beat Dortmund

Lille leapfrogged Paris St-Germain to grab the lead in Ligue 1 on Saturday after Jonathan David found the back of the net in a 1-0 win over the French champions, who had Neymar sent off in the last minute.

The Canada striker David scored in the first half to put the northern side on 66 points with seven games remaining, three ahead of PSG who were lacklustre throughout the showdown.

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» Cristiano Ronaldo's discarded armband raises €64,000 to help Serbian baby
  • Auction raises funds to help young Gavrilo Djurdjevic
  • Incident happened after goal disallowed in 2-2 draw

The captain’s armband that Cristiano Ronaldo angrily threw to the ground during Portugal’s World Cup qualifier in Belgrade last week has been sold to an unidentified bidder for €64,000 (£54,000) at a charity auction, Serbian state TV reported on Friday.

A local humanitarian group put the blue armband up for online bidding to raise money for the medical treatment of Gavrilo Djurdjevic, a six-month-old boy with spinal muscular atrophy.

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» Ally Green stunner steers Sydney FC past Canberra into W-League grand final
  • Sky Blues win 3-0 to set up decider with Melbourne Victory
  • Green adds second-half screamer to Hawkesby, Wheeler goals

Sydney FC have qualified for a fourth straight W-League grand final with a 3-0 semi-final win over Canberra United at Netstrata Jubilee Oval. They will face Melbourne Victory in next Sunday’s season decider at the same venue.

Canberra had the majority of early possession and territory and a number of shots through the game, but lacked the cutting edge displayed by the minor premiers.

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» Sergio Agüero a man out of time as Manchester City change around him | Barney Ronay

A genuine aristocrat of European football, the striker’s final run at the club he has flourished at may well come from the fringes

The agony of choice. Manchester City started this game with a frontline of Riyadh Mahrez, Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus: a move from zero No 9s to two of them, although Jesus moves in more mysterious ways than the average centre-forward.

Midway though the second half this had switched to a fluid front four of – oh, let’s see – Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Ferran Torres. By the end Phil Foden was hurtling though the centre forward position, legs whirring, the world’s most prodigiously gifted attacking afterthought.

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» How did Gillingham become the only EFL club not to pay agents a penny? | Ben Fisher

League One club’s owner, Paul Scally, says weak people are funnelling vast sums to agents who not needed in football

When the Football Association released last week the latest sums paid to agents, eyes inevitably moved towards the headline figures: Premier League sides stumped up a record £272m in a year – they have shelled out more than £1bn over the past four seasons – with every top-flight club spending more on intermediaries than the whole of League One combined, including Gillingham, the only club in the top four divisions to not pay a penny.

Championship clubs spent more than £40m in the 12 months to the start of February 2021, League One £3m, League Two £1m and National League clubs almost £275,000, with Guiseley spending £450. Over the past six seasons Gillingham have, according to the FA, spent £86,457 on agents’ fees, a figure eclipsed by fourth-tier Salford City in the last year alone. Across that six-year period Manchester United have paid intermediaries £125m, and Liverpool’s £143m spend is enough to buy Gillingham’s £600,000 record signing Carl Asaba 238 times.

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» Haaland transfer saga is a grotesque circus we may never see again | Barney Ronay

In a time of economic hardship, it is right to feel appalled at the potential sums involved in Erling Haaland’s impending transfer

At this time of year it was a common thing for elegant young men of the 19th century to set off on a Grand Tour of Europe. Shuttered inside his velveteen stage coach, the brave traveller would wind from royal court to ancient city, taking in the rites of passage: harpsichord studies in Bologna, a marzipan banquet in Nîmes, a wonderful six-month tuition in the fine art of Etruscan wrestling from a youth called Hercule on the Istanbul docks.

It was interesting to see Erling Haaland embarking on a kind of modern-day superstar athlete equivalent this week. According to reports first published in Spain, Haaland has been seen winding his way from Dortmund to Barcelona in the company of his father and – more importantly – his agent, the fascinating, reviled, devastatingly effective Mino Raiola.

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» The Fiver | El Clásico and an infamous loser stumbling inexplicably on the run-in

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KABOOM!!! That was the sound of the Spanish title race being blown wide open last weekend, when Sevilla beat Atlético Madrid. The reverberations of Marcos Acuña’s winner shook citrus fruit from the local orange trees, even going so far as to rouse the last remaining Queen’s Celtic fans from their slumber on the steps of the Catedral de Sevilla, where they’d been “sleeping it off” since that unfortunate Euro Vase final defeat at the hands of José Mourinho’s Dirty Porto almost 18 years ago. Hoots! Jings! Crivens! Help ma boab! It’ll be back to oblivion for them once they’ve drowned the sorrows generated by news of O’Rangers’ title win with a tsunami’s worth of the local hooch.

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» Which football teams have played in kits inspired by musicians? | The Knowledge

Plus: top-flight ‘pay footballers’, the biggest international upsets and an engraving error at Upton Park

“Recently, the Seattle Sounders released a Jimi Hendrix-inspired kit,” writes Rashaad Jorden. “Have any other clubs released kits inspired by or paying tribute to musicians?”

A number have been sponsored by musicians; we looked at those last year and in 2009. But there are also a handful who did it for love rather than money, usually with the heritage of the town or city in mind.

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» David Squires on … the great Erling Haaland European sales tour

Our cartoonist looks at Mino Raiola’s hawking of the Dortmund forward around some of Europe’s leading clubs

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» Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend's action

Fabinho the key to Liverpool’s improvement, Pereira parades his talent and Saints regain their cutting edge

The post-match talk was of Trent Alexander-Arnold ramming it down the throat of Gareth Southgate. But Liverpool’s performance also spelled out why the full-back has struggled to the extent of being considered expendable by England. For Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson to have maximum attacking impact they require a balanced midfield to create space and time to burn forward. Fabinho has spent most of the season either in central defence, standing in for Virgil van Dijk, or on the absentee list. His restoration to midfield and Liverpool’s improvement either side of the international break is little coincidence. The Brazilian’s assurance and simplicity make those around him better, fulfilling the same function as Fernandinho does for Manchester City. Fabinho’s presence also settles the much-improved Thiago Alcântara into his desired passing rhythm. It appears highly unlikely that Jürgen Klopp will return Fabinho to central defence anytime soon. John Brewin

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» Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action | Rachel Brown-Finnis

Aston Villa face crucial mini-season, West Ham latch on to miracle, and City keep pressing Chelsea in title race

The Women’s Super League now takes a two-week international break, during which England play friendlies against France and Canada, followed by the FA Cup fourth round. But when it returns it will be with some giant fixtures starting with a potential title decider between Manchester City and Chelsea, and whoever ends the last weekend of April at the top of the table will be massive favourites to win it. There are also key games to come at the bottom: Aston Villa, who slipped back to bottom spot with defeat at Everton, face a four-game mini-season with each of their next four fixtures against teams now in the bottom four, including home and away matches against West Ham. Survival is in their hands, but now it’s about who copes best with the pressure.

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» The Joy of Six: toe-pokes in football and futsal | Jamie Fahey

From Romário’s and Ronaldo’s toe-enders to small-court specialists such as Falcão, half a dozen instinctive gems

It comes from futsal. No space? No time? No backlift? No worries. Boom. The toe-poke finish. Or toe-punt. Or toe-ender. Whatever the name – and there are plenty – its effect is felt before it is seen. As Stuart Dallas showed for Leeds recently, it’s a skill witnessed in “big” football all too rarely. So sit back and marvel at the beauty of this joyfully utilitarian act of predatory pragmatism.

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» Golden Goal: Steve Claridge for Leicester v Manchester United (1996) | Rob Smyth

The snobbery towards Martin O’Neill’s Leicester meant that this glorious team goal was criminally underappreciated

There are no Pepsi Challenges in football, and not only because Coca-Cola have hoovered® up most of the official soft-drink partnerships. You can’t do a blind test when the only useful sense is sight. Everything we watch – goals, assists, cock-ups, bad tackles – is judged through our knowledge and perception of those involved. He’s not that kind of player, is he?

At times, this is a good thing. When Gheorghe Hagi scores from the touchline, we’re more likely to appreciate it was deliberate than if [insert name of old-school right-back here] does the same. But at others it elicits a prejudice that is both unfair and, let’s be honest, a little pathetic.

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» Football quiz: who was Roy Keane ranting about in these quotes?

Which players and managers took a tongue-lashing from Keane?

"I am sick to death of this goalkeeper!"

Darren Randolph

David de Gea

Jordan Pickford

Roy Carroll

"He’s had loads of plaudits over the last few months - I know he’s still a young man - but his body language today was shocking, really shocking. Shrugging his shoulders when things weren’t going his way, you roll your sleeves up."

Paul Pogba

Mason Greenwood

Anthony Martial

Marcus Rashford

"Who is he, Mother Theresa?"

Niall Quinn

Alan Shearer

Gary Neville

Alex Ferguson

"Stuff like that kinda almost insults me. What am I supposed to do? Give up? Not cover every blade of grass? Not do my best for my teammates? Not do my best for my club? To be honest, I get actually offended when people throw quotes like that at me as if I'm supposed to be honoured by it."

Mick McCarthy

Alex Ferguson

Clive Tyldesley

Ron Atkinson

"I felt I was entitled to say that. He was just a mascot for them. Walking around .... – ‘Look at me, how big I am’ – and he didn’t even own the bloody thing."

Mick McCarthy

David Gill

Alex Ferguson

David Beckham

"He said, ‘I’ve had enough of you. It’s time we sorted this out.’ So I said, ‘Okay.’ And we had a fight. It felt like 10 minutes. There was a lot of noise – ****’s a big lad. I woke up the next morning. I kind of vaguely remembered the fight ... My hand was really sore and one of my fingers was bent backward ... Throughout the flight, **** wore his sunglasses. He never took them off, and it wasn’t very sunny ... Butty had refereed the fight. He even got a new nickname for it – Mills Lane, after the famous boxing referee. Anyway, **** had grabbed me, I’d head-butted him – we’d been fighting for ages."

Steve Bruce

Ruud van Nistelrooy

Niall Quinn

Peter Schmeichel

"One of the best pros you could ever come across, so being late for the bus tarnished him; you’d have thought he’d been caught with drugs or something. He was having a go at me."

Gary Neville

David Beckham

Denis Irwin

Andy Cole

"Reinventing the game, apparently. Sugar lumps at half-time."

Jürgen Klopp

Arsène Wenger

Pep Guardiola

Julian Nagelsmann

"He was an absolute prick to play against. Niggling, sneaky."

Paul Ince

Alf-Inge Haaland

Vinnie Jones

Dennis Wise

"People are telling me he’s playing well, I don’t think so. This guy is 30 years of age, an international player, he’s a car crash. He keeps on making these type of mistakes. He was rightfully punished for it.”

Jordan Henderson

Kyle Walker

Joe Hart

Phil Neville

1 and above.

Oh dear. Roy will not be impressed

2 and above.

Oh dear. Roy will not be impressed

3 and above.

Oh dear. Roy will not be impressed

4 and above.

Oh dear. Roy will not be impressed

5 and above.

Oh dear. Roy will not be impressed

6 and above.

You got a few wrong. Roy will not be pleased

7 and above.

You got a few wrong. Roy will not be pleased

8 and above.

You got two wrong. Roy will not be pleased

9 and above.

You got one wrong. Roy will not be pleased

0 and above.

You scored a bit fat zero. Roy will not be impressed

10 and above.

You scored full marks. Roy would not expect any less from you.

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» Everton’s Megan Finnigan: ‘You learn so much from talking to Jill Scott’

The versatile defender on her new-found passion for yoga, dog-walking in lockdown and why she harbours England ambitions

A year ago, Megan Finnigan would have declined all invitations to yoga classes. “I never thought I’d be the type who got into it,” says the versatile Everton defender. “But then came lockdown and now I am that person.”

The 22-year-old describes her new passion with the zeal of the converted, leavened by some characteristically self-deprecatory humour. “Anyone will tell you I’m the stiffest person they’ve ever met,” she says. “I can’t dance or anything but yoga’s really helped my football; it’s improved my flexibility.

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» Soy of the Rovers: the vegan football club kickstarting a green revolution

Led by eco-entrepreneur Dale Vince, Forest Green Rovers have become the world’s first carbon-neutral football club. Now there are plans for a Zaha Hadid Architects all-timber stadium…

A player miskicks the ball – skies it – and its clatter on the metal roof is the loudest sound in the Covid-emptied stand. There’s not much by way of a corresponding stand on the other side of the pitch, mostly just advertising boards and a momentarily malfunctioning scoreboard. Behind them a hillock, behind that a sunset. There’s an ill-timed tackle, a melee of angry players, a red card for the home team. But the visitors, Colchester United, look rudderless – it’s the first game for their interim manager – and 10-man Forest Green Rovers run out 3-0 winners.

If much of this is a typical scene of lower-league football, as played out all over the country every week of the season, in some crucial details it is not. It’s partly the setting that’s different, on a hill outside Stroud in Gloucestershire, in a landscape more redolent of point-to-points than professional football. “Jilly Cooper loves Forest Green Rovers!” says one of the billboards – a tribute from a local author to the local team. “Red sky at night,” says one of the few people permitted to be there, as he contemplates the sunset, “shepherds’ delight.” I’m pretty sure I haven’t heard that line of commentary at a football match before.

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» Destination Euro 2020: key questions for England, Scotland and Wales

The final games have been played before squads are named for the finals, so where do the teams lie and who is set for a call-up?

What did the manager learn from these three games? The major take-away was the viability of a return to 4-3-3. Gareth Southgate also tried 4-2-3-1 at the outset against Albania, albeit with less success. He had seemed wedded to 3-4-3, feeling it best covered him in the event of losing key players in areas of weakness, namely left-back and defensive midfield. But the return of Luke Shaw and the continued progress of Kalvin Phillips have changed the dynamic. Ditto the comeback of John Stones in central defence, which gives Southgate further confidence to use a back four, albeit the Manchester City player was guilty of a dreadful lapse to give away a goal against Poland.

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» 'I felt degraded': Ram Marwa on being racially abused as a young footballer

A nasty comment had a lasting impact on the one-time prospect but he has reason to believe things will be better for his son

Ram Marwa is recounting the time he was racially abused. It occurred during his days as a footballer and, understandably, talking about it is difficult. He is nervous, edgy, upset, but he tells the tale and, having done so, makes a request – that the person involved and the club where it took place are kept anonymous. He is prepared to open old wounds but there is no desire to shame the perpetrator.

The request is accepted and so, ultimately, it boils down to this: one day, when Marwa was a relatively young player and in a changing room minding his own business, a coach said to him: “Shouldn’t your family own a corner shop?”

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» Next Generation 2020: 60 of the best young talents in world football

The ‘Tanzanian Mbappé’, Juan Pablo Ángel’s son and the next Kai Havertz are among our players born in 2003. Check the progress of our 2019 selection | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

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» Next Generation 2020: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

We pick the best young players at each club born between 1 September 2003 and 31 August 2004, an age band known as first-year scholars. Check the progress of class of 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

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» From Ødegaard to Mastour: what happened to Next Generation 2015?

As we prepare to publish our Next Generation 2020 selection, we say goodbye to the class of 2015. So how did they get on?

This is what the Guardian’s Andy Hunter wrote about his 2015 Liverpool player for our series the Next Generation, where we pick one player from each Premier League club in the first-year scholar age group and follow their developments for five years.

The 16-year-old has received rave reviews not only from Liverpool and England coaches during a rapid rise up the ranks but also from Steven Gerrard, his boyhood hero, in the former Anfield captain’s new autobiography. Gerrard reveals he asked Pepijn Lijnders, the first-team development coach, to always include Alexander-Arnold in his group when taking his ’B’ Licence course, and handed him the captain’s armband during a comeback game in Liverpool’s Under-18s side last season. “It was my way of telling Trent that I believed he could make it for Liverpool one day,” Gerrard writes.

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