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» Permutations that would see Man Utd drop into relegation zone this weekend
Man Utd have suffered their worst start to a season in 30 years but it could get even more unpleasant this weekend
» Premier League top scorers as Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea stars battle it out
As it stands, the top spot is shared by Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero and Chelsea youngster Tammy Abraham
» Virgil van Dijk sends title warning to Man City ahead of Liverpool clash with Man Utd
The Dutch defender says he's not interested in Manchester City's matches as Liverpool have nothing to lose this season
» Franck Ribery livid by FIFA 20 likeness as he complains to EA Sports
The Fiorentina winger's appearance on the game bares little resemblance to him in real life - much to his disappointment
» Man Utd 'made Wojciech Szczesny transfer enquiry' amid David de Gea uncertainty
Szczesny is now on the brink of a new deal at Juventus - but could have been a United player if things panned out differently
» Barcelona vs Real Madrid 'postponed until December' amid political unrest in Catalonia
The season's first El Clasico meeting looks set to be pushed back in order to avoid a demonstration in the city
» Virgil van Dijk insists Man Utd clash is not Liverpool's biggest match of the season
Liverpool head to Old Trafford at the top of the Premier League and 15 points clear of their fierce rivals
» Man Utd 'plotting Moussa Dembele transfer' in January as Red Devils desperately bid to add firepower
The Frenchman has starred since moving from Celtic to Lyon last year and has caught the eye of United
» Michael Owen explains why he "couldn't wait to give it back" after being awarded Ballon d'Or
The former Liverpool forward won the prize in 2001 after helping his club earn a unique treble success
» Arsenal ace Kieran Tierney 'ready' for Premier League debut against Sheff Utd
Gunners fans will be keen to see Tierney in regular action after two appearances in cup competitions since £25m move
» Ashley Barnes is Burnley’s answer to Leicester ace Jamie Vardy, says Sean Dyche
Boss says both players are 'living proof' of football dream after grafting their way up from non-league
» Paul Ince says Liverpool can dominate like Sir Alex Ferguson's great Man Utd sides
Ince says Champions League triumph has given Liverpool belief to dominate - just like Fergie's early trophy wins did for United
» Man Utd target Saul Niguez alongside James Maddison 'at top of wish list'
Niguez reportedly has a £135m release clause - but United need to spend big to make improvements throughout the squad
» Liverpool invite 15-year-old whizkid to Melwood as they bid to pip Chelsea to transfer
The Reds have reportedly invited record-breaking midfielder to play for their youth team this weekend
» Barcelona vs Real Madrid El Clasico decision delayed until Monday
Both clubs were against switching to the Bernabeu so alternative dates of December 7 and 18 have been touted
» Liverpool star Sadio Mane in defiant response to awards snub
Mane was backed by Messi for FIFA gong after an outstanding season, but has so far left empty-handed from awards ceremonies
» Chelsea boss Frank Lampard says there's no need for more Champions League games
Controversial plans to redesign European competition have met with opposition from leagues and clubs
» Raheem Sterling to lead Premier League stars in anti-racism campaign this weekend
Players such as Sterling, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Tammy Abraham and Teemu Pukki will take a stand against racism at this weekend's Premier League games
» Sir Alex Ferguson accused of "fixing game with agent who gave him £30,000 gold Rolex"
An ongoing trial is investigating football agent Giuseppe Pagliara, who is accused of paying and facilitating a bribe
» Truth behind Dubai meeting between Man Utd star Paul Pogba and Zinedine Zidane
Paul Pogba and Zinedine Zidane fuelled transfer rumours as the pair were pictured together in Dubai
» Ed Woodward rejects Man Utd fans' claims about the Glazers' focus at Old Trafford
As Manchester United's performances on the field continue to disappoint, profits and revenues continue to soar off it
» Mauricio Pochettino makes transfer U-turn and claims he is not interested in January signings
The Argentinean manager had previously suggested he would be looking to add to his squad in the next transfer window
» Paul Pogba meets Zinedine Zidane in Dubai to add fresh fuel to Man Utd transfer talk
EXCLUSIVE: Real Madrid boss Zidane is a major fan of his compatriot and had wanted to take him to the Bernabeu in the summer
» Ed Woodward blasts Man Utd critics who are "insulting" Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Woodward has fired back at critics of his running of the club and suggestions football is now secondary at Manchester United

Football resources

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Other sport news:

» Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

A crunch clash at Old Trafford, Palace tackle vulnerable champions and could West Ham do for Marco Silva?

The last time Liverpool visited Old Trafford, they met a United side struggling with injuries – even before three players were forced off during the first half. But, though Liverpool were three points clear at the top, they played as though the goalless draw they eventually achieved was an acceptable result. In the event, Manchester City pipped them to the title by a point, and though that required a phenomenal run of 14 straight wins, had Liverpool embraced the pressure and played with their usual intensity in that game they would now be champions of England, not into their 30th season without a league title. On Sunday, Liverpool will arrive able to wear and excuse any slip-up: they are eight points clear at the top, while United, who are not quite as abhorrently awful as they’ve looked recently, will have some key players back from injury and should be up for the fight. Even so, Liverpool would be foolish to entertain those thoughts. They have one foot on City’s throat and the other aimed at United’s solar plexus; allowing them to escape instead of kicking them when they’re down would be a significant oversight with potentially significant repercussions. Playing safe is not always the safe option. DH

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» Manchester United’s recruitment has been dysfunctional, admits Ed Woodward

• Chief executive says ‘non-experts’ not deciding football policy
• Woodward confirms belief in Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s abilities

Ed Woodward believes the perception he and other non-experts are making decisions over football policy at Manchester United is “insulting”, though the executive vice-chairman admits recruitment strategy was dysfunctional in the wake of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

Woodward is the subject of ongoing criticism over team performance, transfers and other areas of football strategy. United are 12th in the league, with nine points from eight games under Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

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» Sean and Matty Longstaff: ‘Knowing your brother has got your back is special’

Newcastle’s midfield brothers discuss their different paths to the first team, Matty’s debut goal against Manchester United and why their family could rival the Nevilles

Whatever the future holds, Matty Longstaff will never forget the sudden, almost elemental, assault on his senses. He met the ball, his brother screamed “hit it”, David de Gea was beaten from distance and the 19-year-old knew life would never be quite the same again.

“I can just remember the loudest roar I’ve ever heard in the Gallowgate,” he says, his smile as wide as the Tyne. “It was all a bit surreal.”

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» Pochettino says Spurs players still want him and rules out January signings

• Manager invited out to dinner by his squad
• ‘The most important is to stay together’

Mauricio Pochettino has said he retains the love and support of his Tottenham players – and he has the dinner date to prove it. The manager cut an embattled figure before the international break when his team followed the 7-2 humiliation at home to Bayern Munich with a 3-0 defeat at Brighton.

Pochettino’s ability to motivate the dressing room in year six of his tenure has been questioned, with some worrying he has reached the end of the cycle. Spurs have won only three games this season and they looked broken during that harrowing afternoon at Brighton. They can ill afford anything other than victory in Saturday’s home fixture with Watford.

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» Liverpool fans fuming over Amazon's 8pm Boxing Day fixture change
  • Leicester match moved to accommodate internet company
  • Spirit of Shankly: switch has ‘zero-consideration’ for supporters

The Liverpool supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly has criticised the rescheduling of the Boxing Day fixture at Leicester, calling it “disdainful” and having “zero-consideration” for fans.

The Premier League match has been moved to 8pm to accommodate screening by Amazon Prime but with no public transport to support people getting to and from the fixture, the switch has come under fire.

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» Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers defends James Maddison over casino visit
• Midfielder visited casino after being released from England duty
• ‘Stories about his arrogance and mentality – they’re totally false’

Brendan Rodgers has defended the character of James Maddison and expressed concern that a committed young professional is being wrongly portrayed.

The Leicester manager said Maddison made a mistake by going to a casino last week after being released from England duty on account of illness but he said the visit was entirely innocent and suggestions that Maddison is too fond of the high life are “totally false”.

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» Paul Gascoigne cleared of sexually assaulting woman on train

Ex-footballer acquitted of sexual assault and alternative charge of assault by beating

The former England footballer Paul Gascoigne wept as he was found not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman he kissed without consent on a train.

Gascoigne, 52, was accused of drunkenly grabbing the woman’s face and “forcibly and sloppily” kissing her on the lips on 20 August last year.

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» North Korea played like it was 'waging war' in Pyongyang match, says South

South considering complaint over match, played in empty stadium amid media blackout

North Korea’s football team played like it was “waging a war” during a World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang against South Korea, the South’s manager has said.

The two national teams played out a scoreless draw on Tuesday at the huge Kim Il-sung Stadium, which was empty of spectators. The match took place under a media blackout, and the South Koreans first spoke to journalists about the conditions on their return to Seoul on Thursday.

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» Sunderland appoint Phil Parkinson as new manager to replace Jack Ross
• Former Bolton boss given two-and-a-half-year contract
• Chairman points to ‘proven track record of promotion’

Sunderland have named Phil Parkinson as their new manager after deciding his past experience at leading clubs out of League One offered them the best chance of securing a return to the Championship this season.

The 51-year-old former Colchester, Hull, Charlton, Bradford and Bolton manager succeeds Jack Ross, after pipping Wycombe’s Gareth Ainsworth to the vacancy at the Stadium of Light. By one of those coincidences which abound in football, his first game is at Wycombe on Saturday where Sunderland – by some distance, the division’s biggest club – will kick off in ninth place, seven points behind the leaders, Ipswich.

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» La Liga lines up Miami to host Villarreal v Atlético in regular-season game

• League asks Spanish federation to allow Florida plan
• Federation rejected plan when proposed last season

Plans for Miami to host a La Liga game are being rekindled with the Spanish league trying again to take a regular-season game to Florida.

Related: Barcelona to fight attempt to move clásico from Camp Nou to Madrid

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» Debt £511m but dividends galore: the Glazers’ legacy at Manchester United | David Conn
John Henry’s FSG has put in a net £100m at Liverpool in nine years but at Manchester United the financial backdrop to their on-field struggles is very different

Through the long years when Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United were amassing trophies and cash, and Liverpool were stagnating in a derelict neighbourhood, Anfield could only dream of today’s reversal of fortunes. Liverpool, rebuilt and rebooted since 2010 under their US investor owners, arrive on Sunday as European champions and Premier League leaders at an Old Trafford groaning under United’s US owners, who have plundered the club and bungled the Ferguson succession.

Liverpool’s owners, John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group, did not fully understand what they were taking on when they bought a club so steeped in history and emotion, but they learned from their early missteps and gradually refurbished Anfield with expertise. United’s owners, the six siblings of the Glazer family, bought the club in their debt‑loading raid in 2005, enjoyed the fruits of Ferguson’s genius but are now on their fourth manager since his 2013 retirement with their former banker Ed Woodward in charge of the club.

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» Euro 2020, Women's Champions League and Reading – Football Weekly Extra

Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Lars Sivertsen and Faye Carruthers discuss Tyrone Mings’s starring role for England against Bulgaria, Ireland’s Groundhog Day, a Faroese player in Bristol and a Canadian ‘winless skid’

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

We start by discussing England’s 6-0 win over Bulgaria – focusing on events on the pitch. For our special episode discussing what happened in the stands, including potential paths forward, click here.

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» Ralf Rangnick: ‘I have to influence areas of development across the whole club’

The German sporting director talks about his philosophy – ‘like a jigsaw with 500 pieces’ – his time at Sussex University and what has gone wrong at Manchester United

In the end Ralf Rangnick did not get the England job in 2016 – he was, he says, down to the last two, alongside Sam Allardyce – but you can still see his influence on the English game. Jürgen Klopp uses tactics grounded in Rangnick’s fast transitions and his Liverpool team have four players who owe their big break in Europe to Rangnick: Joël Matip (at Schalke), Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim), Naby Keïta and Sadio Mané (RB Salzburg).

Rangnick is a byword for tactical influence and talent development in Germany, even taking some credit for the national team’s 2014 World Cup success. This season’s Bundesliga has been nicknamed the “Rangnickliga”, as five teams in the top six positions have head coaches who learned their craft under him.

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» ‘I was scared about my wife’: Arsenal’s Mesut Özil opens up on carjacking
• Midfielder praises Sead Kolasinac’s bravery after attack
• Özil stresses commitment to Arsenal despite limited action

Mesut Özil has spoken for the first time about being at the centre of an attempted carjacking alongside his wife Amine and Arsenal teammate Sead Kolasinac.

The two players were targeted in Hampstead on 25 July, a couple of weeks before the start of the new Premier League season. Footage on social media showed the Bosnian defender Kolasinac chasing off two moped attackers who were wearing helmets and dark clothing.

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» Charlyn Corral gives Atlético Madrid upper hand against Manchester City
• Women’s Champions League: Man City 1-1 Atletico Madrid
• City fail to capitalise on early Janine Beckie goal

The Manchester City manager, Nick Cushing, was relaxed after a late strike from Charlyn Corral earned Atlético Madrid a precious away goal, and a draw.

“The away goal means zero because we had it last year and got beat,” he said. “It’s the Champions League and it’s competitive. We need to try not to concede goals and score. I think the away goals only really matter if you score again in the second leg.”

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» Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema hits four in Champions League win at Slavia Prague
• Kim Little scores penalty before two late Prague goals
• Glasgow City and champions Lyon notch victories

Vivianne Miedema hit four goals in a 5-2 win at Slavia Prague to put Arsenal on the verge of the Women’s Champions League quarter-finals.

The Netherlands striker had a hat-trick inside 39 minutes and added a fourth after half-time.

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» Barcelona to fight attempt to move clásico from Camp Nou to Madrid
  • Match due to be held in Barcelona on 26 October
  • Decision expected to be made on Wednesday

Barcelona intend to resist attempts to move the clásico on 26 October from the Camp Nou to the Santiago Bernabéu after the Spanish league proposed the change amid protest and unrest in the Catalan capital. Real Madrid are also reluctant to have the match moved, although they would be open to a postponement. The decision will be made by the three-man competition committee next week, with an announcement expected on Wednesday, just three days before the game is due to take place.

Related: Jailed Catalan leaders call for end to violent protests

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» England Women poised for attendance record after Wembley sell-out
• Game against Germany on 9 November will be full house
• Record crowd for women’s game in England is 80,203

England Women have sold out Wembley for the first time for their friendly against Germany on 9 November. The attendance will smash the 45,619 record for an England Women home fixture, set at the last meeting with Germany at Wembley in 2014.

Related: Atlético's Toni Duggan returns to Manchester City with point to prove

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» Paul Pogba and David de Gea to miss Manchester United v Liverpool
• Spain goalkeeper will have scan on a groin problem
• Pogba has been out of action with a foot injury

Paul Pogba has been ruled out of Manchester United’s Premier League match against Liverpool, with Ole Gunnar Solskjær also expecting David de Gea to be unavailable. The absence of two key players for Sunday is a sizeable blow as the manager seeks to arrest a form slump in which United have not won in the league for more than a month.

Related: Ole Gunnar Solskjær needs more time and respect at Manchester United

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» The big difference between Manchester United and Liverpool? Leadership | Eni Aluko
United’s shortsighted approach has left Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side lacking character – especially compared with Klopp’s team

Liverpool go to Manchester United on Sunday top of the table, nearly eight months since they last dropped a league point, and knowing that another victory could leave United as low as 17th by the end of the weekend. Based on performances this season it is hard to see how this United team can hurt Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool, but perhaps the worst thing about the failure they are experiencing is that I believe they have no choice but to just live with it, for now at least.

By the end of his time in Manchester José Mourinho was making everybody miserable – his players, anyone forced to regularly watch them, and even himself. United were pretty much unbearable before he was sacked last December. But though the Portuguese is not widely associated with free-flowing football there is one thing he guarantees: trophies. In sacking him United effectively announced that some things – particularly a commitment to youth and attacking football – were more important to them than trophies.

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» Felipe Anderson improvement key to West Ham’s league standing | Jacob Steinberg
West Ham’s claim on a European place hinges on the Brazilian and the forward line gaining in conviction

There has been a lot of noise about West Ham challenging for a place in the top four this season, some of it justified, some a little overblown. Claims that this is the best squad since David Sullivan and David Gold bought the club in January 2010 need to be contextualised given the questionable decisions that preceded the recent heavy spending and while Manuel Pellegrini’s side looked equipped to push the elite when they beat Manchester United 2-0 last month, it is worth remembering Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side are not exactly the force of old at the moment.

Tread with caution. There have been three wins from eight games, the other victories coming against Norwich and Watford, 19th and 20th in the table respectively. It is nothing to get carried away about and it should also be pointed out West Ham did not have to play that well to beat a mediocre United, who had chances to make it 1-1.

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» Liverpool could set wins record but is it the sign of a healthy Premier League?

Long winning sequences have become more common, implying dominance of a sort that may not be good for the top flight

Games between Manchester United and Liverpool are not what they were. Until quite recently the two strongest sides in the north-west would also be the two strongest sides in England, so one or the other’s title ambitions would often be on the line in what came to be regarded as a local derby, even if 30 miles of separation stretches the definition of the word local.

In historical terms the two clubs are still the big hitters of English football, with almost 40 league titles between them, yet both have known long fallow periods. Manchester United famously did not win a title between 1967 and 1993, even enduring a season in the Second Division as a result of Matt Busby’s European Cup-winning side being allowed to grow old together, while Liverpool have still to win a title in the Premier League era. Hopes are high of a 30-year wait finally being ended this season, now that Manchester City have faltered while Jürgen Klopp’s players have recorded a perfect start, and a ninth win of the season at Old Trafford on Sunday would also see Liverpool match Manchester City’s two-year-old record of 18 consecutive wins.

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» Ole Gunnar Solskjær needs more time and respect at Manchester United | Rob Smyth

The choice is simple: potential long-term success under Solskjær or guaranteed long-term failure under a load of different managers

It has been widely reported, not entirely without glee, that Manchester United have had their worst start to a league season since 1989-90. Plenty of those reports have excluded one not insignificant detail; that the manager of the club back then was Alex Ferguson.

It is easy to forget how truly abysmal Ferguson’s United were between 1988 and 1990. They made the current lot look like freewheeling entertainers by comparison. In April 1989, United scored one goal in five games – and that was an own goal by Tony Adams, all his own work.

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» So: Bulgaria bad, England good? Actually this is not as black and white as it seems | Marina Hyde
It was not that long ago Raheem Sterling was being vilified by sections of English press and supporters, and hypocrisy has been rife since Monday’s debacle in Sofia

There has scarcely been a more breakneck reverse ferret than the support now shown by some sections of Her Majesty’s press for Raheem Sterling. You love to see it. Certain papers who cheerily trashed Sterling for so long, for reasons they could never quite put their finger on – but he could – recently seem to have become dimly sentient about the existence of racism.

The truly hideous scenes during England’s twice‑halted 6-0 win over Bulgaria on Monday apparently marked a coming of age, with various outlets and pundits now turning on Uefa for the sort of inactivity of which they were guilty or supportive of about 10 minutes ago. I am sure Sterling and others will raise a wry eyebrow at the spectacle of some of the same hacks who lacerated him for buying a house or something now pontificating that the England side should actually have walked off in Sofia. They can never get it QUITE right, can they, these players?

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» Brazil's Lucão scores spectacular volley in World Beach Games football – video

A driven long-range volley was the pick of the bunch in Brazil's 9-3 victory over Russia at the World Beach Games in Doha. After a bobbling effort from Russia, Brazil's Lucão chipped the ball up from deep inside his own half before striking it into the top-right corner, as the Russian goalkeeper stood and watched

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» 'It was like war': North Korea v South Korea ends in goalless draw – video report

It was the first time that the teams had met in North Korea for 30 years, although the game was played out with no fans, no media and sadly no goals. The game in Pyongyang ended in a 0-0 draw. Speaking after returning to South Korea, captain and Tottenham star Son Heung-min said: 'To be honest, the game was so tough that I think we were very lucky already to be back with no one injured.'

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» Basford United footballer scores header … from his own half – video

A game between Basford United and FC United of Manchester might not seem the most enthralling game on paper but a bizarre moment in the second half has put it in the spotlight. After an FC United player cleared the ball deep from their own half, Basford United's Stefan Galinski met it with a firm header that bounced and looped over goalkeeper Cameron Belford.  'I don't quite know what happened there,' said the commentator. Basford went on to win 3-1 in the Northern Premier League game

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» Bulgaria v England: 'One of the most appalling nights in football' – video report

England's trip to Bulgaria was marred by racist abuse hurled at their players during the Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia. Play was halted twice as part of a new protocol aimed at stopping racism in football. A section of Bulgaria's support could be seen giving Nazi salutes as well aiming monkey chants at players. The FA Chairman, Greg Clarke, described it as 'one of the most appalling nights I've seen in football'.

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» Southgate, Clarke and Mings react to racist chants at Bulgaria v England – video

England’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria in Sofia came close to being abandoned on Monday night after home fans repeatedly racially abused Tyrone Mings and other black players on what the Football Association chairman, Greg Clarke, described as 'one of the most appalling nights I’ve seen in football'.

• Gareth Southgate praises England players for making ‘major statement’

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» England fans clash with Prague police before defeat to Czech Republic - video

England fans clashed with police in Prague on Friday prior to their team’s to Czech Republic – the first time England have lost a qualifier for a major tournament in 10 years. The violence erupted when bottles were thrown towards armed officers in riot gear, with police then advancing and firing stun grenades

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» Next Generation 2019: 60 of the best young talents in world football

Eidur Gudjohnsen’s son, the new Paul Pogba and Barça’s Ansu Fati are among our 60 most talented players in the world born in 2002. Check the progress of our 2018 picks | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

Photographs by DZfoot, BackpagePix, Club Atlético Belgrano, EFE, EPA, Getty Images, Uwe Gruen/Hoffenheim, AMA/Getty Images, Rex/Shutterstock, Zuma Press/PA, FIFA, Tigres, Damir Krajac/CROPIX, Alamy, Daniel Reyes/Ecuafutbol, Reuters, Atromitos, Imago/PA, fotoBERNAMA, New Straits Times, José Alonso Paredes Sánchez, Agencja Gazeta, David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty, AP, Asian Football Confederation, Danubio FC and Championat Asia

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» Next Generation 2019: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

The Guardian selects the best young players at each club born between 1 September 2002 and 31 August 2003, an age band known as first-year scholars. Check the progress of class of 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

Photographs by David Price/Arsenal/Getty Images, Neville Williams/Aston Villa/Getty Images, AFC Bournemouth, Paul Hazlewood/BHAFC, Paul Dennis/TGS/Shutterstock, Clive Howes/Chelsea/Getty Images, Danny Loo/PPAUK, Emma Simpson/Everton/Getty Images, Nick Taylor/Liverpool/Getty Images, Manchester City/Getty Images, Ash Donelon/Manchester United/Getty Images, Jason Dawson/Jasonpix, James Wilson/Sportimage, Simon Bellis/Sportimage, Robin Jones/Digital South/Southampton FC, Tottenham Hotspur/Getty Images, Alan Cozzi/Watford, Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United and Sam Bagnall/AMA

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» Next Generation: after five years, how has our first full class of picks fared?

From Rashford to Tielemans, we check in on how our initial Next Generation players have got on before the 2019 ones are announced this week

In 2014 we decided that it would be interesting to pick the best young players from each Premier League club – as well as 40 from around the world – and follow them for five years to see how they progressed.

The idea was to try to get a sense of how difficult it is to become a professional footballer despite being one of the best in that country at the age of 16 or 17.

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» Harley Willard: ‘Iceland’s a good place just to concentrate on your football’

The winger, who was part of the Guardian’s first Next Generation in 2014, talks about rebuilding his career after being released by Southampton

Harley Willard made one of those sliding-doors decisions that can turn anyone’s life around last December. He had arrived at Heathrow airport, packed and ready for the 14-hour slog back to Phnom Penh, and at that point another season at the Cambodian club Svay Rieng felt like a trade-off he could just about stomach. The football there offered few real prospects but he had enjoyed the lifestyle and, after such an uncertain year and a half since leaving Southampton, surely his happiness was the most important thing.

Related: Next Generation: after five years, how has our first full class of picks fared?

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» Black football managers join forces in Maracanã to condemn racism in Brazil

Marcão and Roger, the only black managers in Série A, stood together to oppose the prejudice they see in Bolsonaro’s Brazil

Occasionally football acts as a springboard for conversations that affect society as a whole. That happened in Brazil at the weekend. Before Fluminense hosted Bahia in the Maracanã, the two clubs’ managers embraced on the touchline wearing matching anti-racism T-shirts.

Both men are black. It should not be remarkable to see two black managers leading teams in the top flight of Brazilian football. Yet, in a country where more than half of the population identifies as black or mixed race, only two Série A managers do.

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» A dog, a cat and 22 fans: watching European football’s worst top-flight team | Matt Walker
Matt Walker, who travelled to top-division games in all 55 Uefa countries in one season, had a dream dashed in San Marino

Björn, the wicked barman I met in Finland, was cutting. “San Marino is like the Åland Islands having their own league. You only need two barely functional legs and to be aged 18 to 40.” I was now 41, but San Marino was surely my best chance of playing a match on my travels.

San Marino was the lowest-ranked league based on club results in European competition over the previous five seasons. Only Kosovo, unable to accrue ranking points until they became a member of Uefa in 2016, had a lower coefficient. My chances of playing were improved further by watching the final round of matches in the regular league season. And I even chose a dead match, Murata against Virtus, involving the worst team in top‑division European football.

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» Pedro Pasculli: from Maradona’s World Cup roommate to Bangor City manager | Andy Hunter
World Cup winner at the second-tier Welsh club on Maradona’s calming influence and the ‘Campeones 86’ WhatsApp group

Pedro Pasculli shared the inner sanctum of Diego Maradona’s room when he inspired Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986. Nowadays they share a WhatsApp group that has engaged on the unlikely topic of Bangor City since Pasculli was appointed manager of the historic but troubled club this month. The group have plenty to discuss.

“The sensation of holding the World Cup was like touching the sky with your hand,” the 59‑year‑old Pasculli recalls of the moment Maradona passed him the trophy in Mexico.

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» Socceroos emerge richer from World Cup qualifiers despite all-too-easy wins over poor opponents | Richard Parkin

Progress towards Qatar is a complex mosaic and drubbings of Nepal and Taiwan reveal plenty

Six points, 12 goals scored, one conceded. As weeks in international football go, it has not been too shabby. Having followed Wednesday’s 5-0 win over Nepal with a 7-1 drubbing of Taiwan – their biggest win in three-and-a-half years – the Socceroos can be relatively pleased with their results, however much they were expected.

But as in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, with the AFC’s expansion from 20 to 40 teams at the first pool-stage round, hockey scores are not unexpected – this week Iran beat Cambodia 14-0, South Korea beat Sri Lanka 8-0 and China used the full weight of its billion-plus population advantage over Guam to win 7-0. Whether these mismatches are advantageous to or even necessary for the slow march of progress across the vast region of Asia is a question for the regional governing body. And whether there’s an obvious net benefit for Australia is equally hard to say.

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» Emergence of new teenage crop best advert for returning A-League | Richard Parkin

The pre-season promotion may have underwhelmed, but young talent lit up the opening A-League round

The A-League has returned - and for all the criticism surrounding a lack of promotion ahead of the season’s launch, it appears the best marketing remains the on-pitch product. Adelaide witnessed a pulsating five-goal feast on Friday night – a match illuminated by Nikola Mileusnic’s superb free-kick, a goal on debut for youngster Al Hassan Toure, and Ryan McGowan’s dramatic late winner to sink the hopes of his hometown fans.

After three years in the wilderness Western Sydney Wanderers returned to Parramatta Stadium like heroes from the Odyssey – the introduction of safe-standing for active supporters was well-received, even if not all have returned yet to embrace Markus Babbel’s work in progress.

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» Antoine Griezmann and the question of where he fits in at Barcelona | Sid Lowe
The Frenchman has initially had to play on the left and when Messi, Suárez and Dembélé were all available he was on the bench. He is too good not to integrate but it may take time

“That’s a good question,” Antoine Griezmann replied but he was not daft enough to actually answer it. With that line, he had said enough. On the eve of last week’s Champions League match against Internazionale, Griezmann was asked if he would play better on the right. The question was leading and what came next was even more telling than his response.

Related: A new Sevilla but the same old story as Barcelona blow them away | Sid Lowe

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» Emre Belozoglu the wise old head as Turkey's young generation impresses

Turkey are top of their qualifying group with a team of young players developed at home benefiting from the guidance of 39-year-old Emre Belozoglu

Turkey sit top of their Euro 2020 qualifying group, ahead of France on head-to-head, but perhaps the most satisfying thing for the coach, Senol Gunes, and the Turkish Football Federation is that the results have come while picking young players who have had their football education in their home country.

This is not how it used to be. Gone are players such as Arda Turan who, after breaking a singer’s nose and then threatening them with a gun in an Istanbul hospital, was always going to struggle to get his career back on track, and the old guard has been replaced by a group of young players who have the capacity to make waves at next year’s tournament, should they qualify.

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» How Colorado’s Robin Fraser is breaking ground for black coaches in MLS

The longtime MLS assistant and former USA defender is only the second African American head coach in league history

Robin Fraser stood stoic on the sideline at Red Bull Arena as the Colorado Rapids stymied the New York Red Bulls. To his right his former teammate, Chris Armas, was trying to rally the Red Bulls to come from behind, but a second Rapids goal has put the game to bed. It was the beginning of a stretch for the Colorado that would see the team win five out of six games, before falling just short of this season’s MLS playoffs.

“Really fucking good, that felt really good,” Fraser said when a Rapids staffer asked him how he felt after the whistle. He had not held a head coaching job for nearly seven years when the Rapids offered him the opportunity to return to his native Denver. In that span, Fraser served as the tactician behind the Red Bulls’ Supporters’ Shield win in 2013, and was the assistant to long-time friend Greg Vanney when Toronto FC became the first MLS team to win a domestic treble in 2017 and came within a penalty shootout of winning the Concacaf Champions League the following spring.

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» Farewell to DaMarcus Beasley: a US star with no interest in the limelight

The former PSV and Rangers player never measured his worth in newsprint or television appearances and never cared about outside praise or criticism

Sunday was branded Decision Day in MLS, but for one of the finest players the American game has ever produced, the choice was made months ago.

DaMarcus Beasley announced his retirement in May, days before his 37th birthday. He made his farewell appearance in the Houston Dynamo’s 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy, in which a man nearly eight months his senior, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, scored his 30th goal of the season.

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» England's vile and disturbing night in Sofia will live long in sporting infamy | Barney Ronay

England should take great credit for their response to a toxic atmosphere that led to two stoppages for racist chanting on a wretched night for football

Welcome to the new world. We came expecting a football match. What we got was a miserable occasion on a miserable night in a miserable stadium against miserable opposition played out to a miserable backdrop of recrimination and bad blood.

By the end this did not feel like a sporting event at all. It felt like an open sore, an affront to the basic idea of nations coming together to exchange flags, in a stadium transformed into a well of poison.

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» How can football give racist fans one chance to stop, then another and another? | Marvin Sordell

It is despicable to have a stadium announcer ask for a crowd to stop dehumanising football players because of their skin colour – and then carry on playing

In the last seven years, four different clubs have won the Premier League, with the team who now finishes bottom earning £93m, compared to the winners in 2012 who earned £60m. We’ve seen Gareth Bale become the first player to be bought for €100m, a figure which has subsequently been beaten nine times. New laws have also been brought in to change kick-offs, deal with a player who has a head injury, and see when someone is 3mm offside. A lot has changed in football since I went to Serbia with my England Under-21 teammates in October 2012, but, sadly, racism is not one of those things.

Having played in similar circumstances to those the England players experienced against Bulgaria on Monday night, it saddens me to see that people are still having to work in that kind of environment. For me this is an incredibly sad depiction of where the world seems to be at the moment.

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» Local flavour has Exeter and Sparkes looking to go one step further | Ben Fisher

For Exeter full-back Jack Sparkes there is no shortage of inspiration around City’s training ground

Thirteen games in, only an inferior goals-for column keeps Exeter City off the League Two summit. Having finished ninth in May, two places and one point below the hallowed dotted line following successive play-off final defeats at Wembley, they are well versed in fine margins. Like last season, they have made a barnstorming start – Exeter have lost one league game and are a point shy of where they were 12 months ago – but the aim is to go one step further under Matt Taylor this time around.

Depending on which way you look at it, they have either an experienced group sprinkled with homegrown talent or a youthful squad complemented by a series of senior professionals, including Aaron Martin, Lee Martin and Nicky Law, once of Southampton, Manchester United and Rangers respectively. Then there is Dean Moxey, whose career has come full circle having returned to his boyhood club two years ago, a player the highly-rated left wing-back Jack Sparkes grew up watching on the terraces with his dad. “As a little kid, you think: ‘This is where I want to be,’” says Sparkes, 19, who hails from Exmouth and spent last season on loan at Chippenham Town and Salisbury.

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» The Fiver | Splicing footage of Kim Jong-il over Matt Le Tissier's YouTube best bits

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With no fans or visiting media present in the stadium and a TV blackout imposed, the world’s most daily football email struggled to find out who won this week’s World Cup qualifier between North and South Korea. As luck would have it, our [REDACTED]-dwelling, [REDACTED]-designing, [REDACTED]-testing North Korean cousin [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] Fiver got in touch to bring us news of a historic and truly emphatic victory for his nation’s team. A mid-ranking government propagandist, [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] Fiver revealed that the Hermit Kingdom had beaten their hated neighbours 34-0 at Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung Stadium, with one-time Dear Leader Kim Jong-il scoring no fewer than five hat-tricks, despite having passed away almost eight years ago.

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» Buy a classic David Squires cartoon from our collection

Our cartoonist looks back at 25 of his favourite strips from down the years, all of which are now available at our Guardian Print Shop, a link to each can be found by clicking on the title of each caption below

  • David Squires is away this week
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» Football transfer rumours: Lyon's Moussa Dembélé to Manchester United?

Today’s fluff is the whole damn meal

Manchester United are searching for their outsized chequebook and preparing to wave it around Europe as they go in search of six – or, as the Mail put it in their back-page splash, SIX – signings over the next two transfer windows. “There is an acceptance at United that the squad requires a major overhaul,” they write, “with the club targeting two strikers, two central midfielders, a central defender and a left back.” The only names mentioned at Moussa Dembélé of Lyon and Mario Mandzukic of Juventus, either of whom could apparently arrive in January, but a deal for Ivan Rakitic is off the table after the Barcelona midfielder’s family decided that Manchester probably wasn’t for them. Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff, Leicester’s James Maddison and Emre Can of Juventus are their three toppermost midfield options, again according to the Mail. “However,” they add, “the Red Devils are expecting it to be difficult to acquire key signings in the January transfer window.”

Related: Everton's Jean-Philippe Gbamin out for three months in fresh setback for Silva

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» Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, cartwheels and magic marathons | Classic YouTube

Also featuring classic Manchester United v Liverpool matches, a player running to the wrong end zone and Sergio Parisse

1) It’s the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals this weekend, and there have been some mighty last-eight clashes down the years. The 2015 match between Scotland and Australia will always be remembered for the controversial penalty that broke Scottish hearts at the death. But the Wallabies’ 35-34 win had everything, including interceptions, a rain storm and eight tries. France’s shock win over the All Blacks in 2007 was pretty special too. That win for Les Bleus in front of their home fans comes in at No 7 in this list of most memorable World Cup moments, also starring David Campese, Jonah Lomu and Nelson Mandela. Meanwhile … who could forget Jason Robinson’s electrifying run and pass to set up Will Greenwood’s try in England’s 2003 quarter-final win over Wales? That same tournament also provided one of the greatest passes the game has ever seen, from Carlos Spencer to send Joe Rococoko over to score for the All Blacks in their last-eight win against South Africa.

2) Typhoon Hagibis may have eased in time for Japan’s breathtaking win over Scotland, but the cancellation of Italy’s match against the All Blacks denied Sergio Parisse his World Cup swansong at the age of 36. No matter, let’s remember the power, the pace and the personality.

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» Who is the oldest footballer to make their debut in a top-flight division? | The Knowledge

Plus: more former pros turning out for Sunday league sides, eponymous international goalscorers and Derek Acorah

“With Leon Clarke making his Premier League debut at the age of 34 for Sheffield United against Liverpool, who is the oldest debutant in a top division?” tweets Joe Turner.

We’ve unearthed a golden oldie who can beat the ageing Blade by two years. Now-retired Brighton defender Bruno captained the Seagulls to promotion and then made his first appearance in the English top flight at 36 and only two months shy of his 37th birthday. But Tom Aldous points us in the direction of Graham Alexander who, at the ripe age of 37, made his Premier League debut for Burnley in 2009.

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» The Fiver | Top of their Euro 2020 group thanks to artful exhibitions of derring-do

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If football is the opium of the people, distracting them from everyday cruelties imposed by their rulers, then over the years Republic O’Ireland fans have had to serve as something far stronger – morphine in craic form – to distract people from the horrors inflicted by their football team. If any neutral wants O’Ireland to reach Euro 2020, then it is only because their fans bring song and Tin, while out on the pitch their team kicks in the shopfront windows of decent folks’ sensibilities.

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» Football quiz: winning streaks

Liverpool have won 17 games in a row in the Premier League. How well do you remember these victorious runs?

Which team won 25 league games in a row in 2003 and 2004?

Manchester United




Which team won 16 games in a row in 2010 and 2011?

Real Madrid

Bayern Munich



Which team won 18 league games in a row in 2017?

Bayern Munich

Manchester City



Which team won 19 league games in a row in the 2013-14 season?


Manchester City


Bayern Munich

Which team won 14 league games in a row in 2002?

Manchester United




Which team won 29 league games in a row in 1972 and 1973?




Red Star Belgrade

Which team won 12 league games in a row in 2000?

Bayern Munich


Manchester United


Which team won 17 league games in a row in the 2006-07 season?



Borussia Dortmund


Which team won 16 league games in a row in 2017?



Atlético Madrid

Paris Saint-Germain

Which team won 13 league games in a row in 2016?



Leicester City


8 and above.

You are a football genius

9 and above.

You are a football genius

10 and above.

You are a football genius

7 and above.

It's a tough quiz. You've done very well there

6 and above.

It's a tough quiz. You've done well there

5 and above.

It's a tough quiz. You've done well there

4 and above.

It's a tough quiz. You've done well there

3 and above.

Oh dear. That is not a good score

2 and above.

Oh dear. That is not a good score

0 and above.

Oh dear. That is not a good score

1 and above.

Oh dear. That is not a good scoreThat is not a good score

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» The Dozen: the weekend’s best Premier League photos

Referees, bicycle kicks and ‘giving it back’ in this week’s roundup of the best top-flight pictures

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» Thomas Tuchel: ‘I told Neymar to face the truth and deal with consequences’ | Darren Tulett

The PSG manager discusses the Brazilian star – ‘he has a good heart’ – what constitutes success and why chasing the perfect game is a bit like Sisyphus as ‘you don’t quite get there’

It turned out to be an interesting summer for Thomas Tuchel but perhaps not in the way he would have wanted. Rather than being able to focus solely on how to improve on a debut season that brought a French league title, a cup final and an infuriating last-16 exit to Manchester United in the Champions League, the Paris Saint-Germain manager was fielding questions about the future of Neymar.

On and on it went. From the moment the first reports of Neymar wanting to leave appeared, to the moment he did not return for the first day of pre-season to finally playing his first club game of the season on 14 September, the story was always about the Brazilian rather than the team.

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» Pierre van Hooijdonk: ‘I told Ron Atkinson he was a pub manager’

The Dutch striker on his time at Nottingham Forest, Celtic and returning to Glasgow to pay tribute to Fernando Ricksen

Pierre van Hooijdonk does a very good Ron Atkinson impression. It is genuinely funny as, in the lobby of an Amsterdam hotel, he tries in vain to collapse his 6ft 4in frame into something resembling Big Ron. The Dutchman’s accent and intonation, however, are spot on as we discuss his final few months under Atkinson at Nottingham Forest in 1998-99, when the club was relegated from the Premier League. They have not been back since.

Related: Steve Ogrizovic: ‘I enjoyed the police. I was good at clearing bars and clubs’

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» 'Real-life Championship Manager': the incredible rise of Dorking Wanderers

Marc White started the club in 1999 with mates – 11 promotions later he is managing them in the National League South

September 1999. Wimbledon are sinking towards Premier League relegation, with rumours of a relocation refusing to go away. One weary Dons supporter, Marc White, decides to do something else with his Saturdays. “I thought: ‘Why not start something with a few friends, have a bit of a laugh?’” With that, Dorking Wanderers are born.

They join the now-defunct Crawley & District League, playing home games at Big Field, a windswept council pitch that costs £50 per game to hire. They have no supporters and no grand designs. “We were 14 lads, all paying a fiver each,” White says. “For Saturday football, there’s no lower level. And that’s how it started.”

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