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Sunnyhill Lions

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» Erling Haaland has already made it clear who is to blame for him not joining Man Utd
A LOOK BACK: Erling Haaland worked with former Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Molde, but the striker ended up moving to the Etihad rather than Old Trafford
» FSG advisor given Jurgen Klopp replacement task broke 98-year 'curse'
Liverpool have tapped the man who helped the Chicago Bears break the legendary World Series Curse of the Billy Goat to help replace Jurgen Klopp this summer
» Liverpool referee 'got it totally wrong' after late drama left Nottingham Forest fuming
Paul Tierney's decision to hand Liverpool the ball instead of Nottingham Forest has sparkd huge criticism from fans and pundits alike, with Alan Shearer inisiting the official got it "totally wrong"
» Sir Jim Ratcliffe set for Man City reality check as Man Utd’s impossible task laid bare
INEOS' first derby as part-owners of Manchester United comes at a time when the gulf between the club could hardly be bigger - and it is hard to see a way Sir Jim Ratcliffe's three-year vision can be achieved
» Philippe Coutinho's comments about Liverpool contradict his recent claim on exit regret
Former Barcelona man Philippe Coutinho has discussed life at the Camp Nou and claimed he has no regrets despite drastically underwhelming for the La Liga titans
» Mark Clattenburg theory rejected after Nottingham Forest owner 'aims fury at referee'
Nottingham Forest's new referee analyst has had his say on Liverpool's controversial last-gasp winner at the City Ground, which sparked fury among the home side's players, fans and staff
» Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta shares unique reason behind contract decisions: "It's also an incentive"
SHEFFIELD UNITED vs ARSENAL: A number of Mikel Arteta's top stars have been handed lucrative long-term contracts in the past year and he believes his players are justifying their big salaries with performances
» New York City boss Nick Cushing outlines Everton managerial dream amid Man City challenge
INTERVIEW: New York City FC boss Nick Cushing has worked his way up the coaching ranks within the City Football Group but he has huge ambitions to fulfil in his managerial career as he continues to enhance his reputation in the United States
» Premier League big five's net spend per trophy this decade as Liverpool embarrass Man Utd
Manchester United have spent more in the transfer market per trophy than any other Premier League giant over the past 10 years as Liverpool's silverware haul proves better value for money
» Pep Guardiola picking between Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho speaks volumes
A LOOK BACK: At the time Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola heralded Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp as his toughest ever opponent, snubbing Jose Mourinho in the process
» Liverpool news: Bayern Munich star Jamal Musiala wanted as Mo Salah request made
Liverpool beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 in dramatic fashion thanks to a late 99th minute winner from Darwin Nunez, which prompted a furious reaction from Nuno Espirito Santo's side
» Arsenal news: Ben White in agreement with Mikel Arteta as Gunners star's agent drops exit hint
Arsenal haven't been given any favours when it comes to the title race, with rivals Liverpool claiming a dramatic late victory over Nottingham Forest to put pressure on the Gunners
» Man Utd news: Mason Greenwood considers return as Dan Ashworth meets with manager candidate
Manchester United loanee Mason Greenwood could yet return to England for personal reasons whilst Dan Ashworth has begun having meetings with potential managers
» Erik ten Hag has nowhere to hide ahead of judgement day for under pressure Man Utd boss
Manchester United have put in a pair of underwhelming performances ahead of Sunday's Manchester Derby, where all eyes will be on under-pressure manager Erik ten Hag
» Lionel Messi shows up Cristiano Ronaldo after reaching huge goalscoring milestone
Lionel Messi joined Cristiano Ronaldo in the 500 league goals club but he has reached the milestone in less games than his rival after his latest MLS double for Inter Miami
» Jude Bellingham given red card after last-minute Real Madrid winner controversially ruled out
Real Madrid star Jude Bellingham thought he had scored a last-gasp winner against Valencia, but the goal was controversially disallowed and the England international was sent off
» Manchester City v Manchester United: Best bets for Sunday and Monday’s Premier League games
Our betting expert with a 15/2 punt for Manchester Derby, Bournemouth at Burnley and Arsenal against Sheffield United PLUS a Serie A angle
» Luis Suarez' selfless act on hat-trick sums him up after unveiling new Inter Miami celebration
Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez scored his first MLS goals for Inter Miami as the Herons dominated Orlando City on Saturday to remain unbeaten to open the 2024 season
» Jurgen Klopp's verdict on Liverpool dressing room's response to exit announcement emerges
Jurgen Klopp has announced he will be leaving Liverpool at the end of the season and the Reds boss has been impressed by the way his players have reacted to the news
» Erik ten Hag warns Sir Jim Ratcliffe over Man Utd's plan to copy Man City blueprint
Ratcliffe admitted that he viewed United’s biggest rivals as the ultimate football powerhouse after sealing a £1.3billion deal to buy a 27.7 percent stake in the club he supported as a boy
» Pep Guardiola confirms new Man City project in bid to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson
Pep Guardiola dropped a huge hint that his long-term future may be at the Etihad on the eve of the Manchester derby by revealing how he wants to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson
» Erik ten Hag agrees with Pep Guardiola blast but says Man Utd stars 'can't accept it'
Pep Guardiola insisted before Manchester City’s 3-0 derby romp at Old Trafford in October that Liverpool had taken over from United as the Blues’ biggest rivals
» Phil Foden disagrees with Pep Guardiola's 'world class' claim and sets Man City target
Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City superstar Phil Foden is now one of the best in the game after excelling in a more central role - but the 23-year-old insists he still has more to do
» Mikel Arteta responds to Rio Ferdinand claim he would "100 per cent" leave Arsenal for Man Utd
Rio Ferdinand claimed in midweek that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta would "100 per cent" leave the Gunners for Manchester United if he were to receive an offer from Old Trafford

Football resources

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» Bruno Fernandes naysayers overlook just how important he is for United

The captain is often maligned for his on-field antics but would Roy Keane be any different with this team around him?

Bruno Fernandes is Manchester United’s 2020s version of Roy Keane: vocal, aggressive, fiercely competitive, highly talented and deemed by his manager to be the obvious captain. The Portuguese is all these things, especially in a United vintage that is among the weakest of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.

If Ferguson viewed Keane as his alpha male, the Irishman was surrounded by stellar acts in Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Jaap Stam and numerous others. At different times, all had an argument for being the Premier League’s best player in their position. Fernandes does not enjoy the same supporting A-list cast. In a team game he looks around the pitch each week and sees maybe only Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martínez, when they are fit, who are his equal.

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» Forest want answers from PGMOL after error in buildup to Liverpool winner
  • Forest seek explanation after Paul Tierney’s restart leads to goal
  • Late Liverpool winner sparks fracas and Steven Reid red card

Nottingham Forest are seeking answers from Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the referees’ body, after being left incensed by the buildup to Darwin Núñez’s 99th-minute winner for Liverpool, resulting in ugly scenes that could trigger punishment by the Football Association.

Paul Tierney wrongly handed Liverpool’s goalkeeper, Caoimhín Kelleher, the ball to restart play from a drop ball less than two minutes before Núñez headed in to extend Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League to four points. The fourth official, Graham Scott, indicated eight added minutes, which expired 36 seconds before Núñez struck, though the figure held up is a minimum.

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» Henrik Larsson: ‘I have 106 caps for Sweden but I see myself as foreign’

Celtic’s ‘King of Kings’ on his tough upbringing, playing with Rooney and Ronaldinho, and falling out of love with the game

Henrik Larsson is standing in front of the patch of grass where he first learned to kick a ball. Behind him is the block of apartments where he spent his childhood, the balcony from which his mum would call him in for dinner. In front of him are the swings through which he would shoot, and the ponds on top of which he would play ice hockey in the winter.

Närlunda is an estate on the ­outskirts of Helsingborg, a quiet city near the most southerly tip of Sweden. Närlunda is a complicated place, an idyllic and green high-rise estate by English standards but also the scene of a brutal murder in 2021, where a man was shot dead in a nearby underpass. But then Larsson is a complicated person, devoted to his country but also unsure of his identity.

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» Chris Wilder’s chaotic Sheffield United return looks doomed to end in failure | Louise Taylor

The manager’s homecoming has been marked by player fights, sandwich fines and thrashings. Next up: Arsenal at home

There was a time when Chris Wilder regularly joined family and friends in the bar of the four-star hotel adjacent to Bramall Lane for post-match drinks. As Sheffield United rose from League One to a ninth-placed Premier League finish and he was crowned the LMA manager of the year in 2019, those appearances seemed to epitomise a refreshing lack of pretension on the part of a coach sometimes spotted travelling to the training ground by bus.

Today that hotel is closed and in a state of disrepair, while Wilder has discovered that while success can be worn lightly, it is far harder to shoulder failure.

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» Erling Haaland remains both solution and problem for Manchester City | Jonathan Wilson

Pep Guardiola’s side were all about the process before they traded a prolific striker for an auxiliary midfielder

Manchester City have won 14 of their past 15 games which, given the general sense that they are not quite firing, says a lot about both their quality and expectations. Perhaps Tuesday’s 6-2 FA Cup victory at Luton was the beginning of an upturn; if it was, it is much needed before a March that will probably define their season. And if Erling Haaland’s five goals indicate that he is back in peak scoring form that will also be very welcome given the disorienting sense that City have become reliant upon him.

City’s run has been very odd. Those 15 games, starting after the draw with Crystal Palace in December, took in fixtures in the Club World Cup, the FA Cup and the first leg of the Champions League last 16 as well as nine Premier League games, none of them against sides that started the day in the top eight. Given Urawa Red Diamonds, Fluminense and FC Copenhagen probably wouldn’t make it into the top eight of the Premier League, it is a remarkably gentle run of fixtures in the middle of the season.

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» European roundup: Bellingham sent off in Real Madrid’s draw at Valencia
  • Vinícius scores twice as Real battle back from 2-0 down
  • Borussia Dortmund stay fourth in Bundesliga after win

Jude Bellingham was sent off after the final whistle having been denied a late winner in Real Madrid’s 2-2 draw at Valencia.

The England midfielder, making his return from injury, thought he had headed home a cross deep into stoppage time at the Mestalla but the referee had already blown for full time. Real players surrounded the official in a chaotic aftermath and Bellingham was shown the red card for protesting before the players left the field.

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» West Ham’s stoppage-time double seals comeback and adds to Everton woes

No appeals board will save Everton. The responsibility for Premier League survival rests with Sean Dyche and his players but, along with taking responsibility for scoring a goal, it is one they are abdicating. West Ham showed the finishing touch that Everton have lacked all season to inflict a damaging defeat with two immaculate stoppage time goals.

An exquisite 91st minute goal from Tomas Soucek turned an even contest West Ham’s way before Edson Álvarez sealed a second win in six days for David Moyes’s improving side. The visitors trailed to a second-half header from Beto, who had missed the chance to put Everton ahead from the penalty spot in the first half, but a swift response from Kurt Zouma provided the platform for a stirring comeback. Despite recent calls for Moyes’s exit, West Ham have now collected more points this season than last. With Lucas Paquetá returning to fitness and form, and Alphonse Areola excelling in goal, the visitors have renewed optimism ahead of another midweek with European football.

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» Rare Werner goal inspires comeback win for Tottenham against Palace

What was it like to be at that wedding in Cana when the water was turned into wine? How did it feel to be in Smyrna when the flames refused to consume the body of St Polycarp? Do the holy waters of Lourdes really cure the lame? Miracles, it turns out, can happen, and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium witnessed one of the most improbable there has ever been: Timo Werner scored.

And so Tottenham, not for the first time recently, got away with it.

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» Axel Disasi’s late header spares Chelsea’s blushes in seesaw Brentford draw

Six short days after losing at Wembley, Mauricio Pochettino’s position at Chelsea felt its most precarious yet. Away fans were taking his name in foul-mouthed vain, alongside that of Todd Boehly. José Mourinho and Roman Abramovich were regaled to the rafters. If only Chelsea could show anything like the spirit of depleted Brentford.

Cole Palmer, yet again Chelsea’s talisman, supplied the equaliser Axel Disasi headed in. Maybe the pressure is relieved for now, the club’s myriad execs need not jump on an emergency Zoom call just yet but the WhatsApp messages will note the tide is almost fully against Chelsea’s manager.

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» Livramento ensures Newcastle enjoy their day in the rain against Wolves

As torrential rain cascaded down on a chilly Tyneside afternoon, it became ever easier to understand why Saudi Arabia’s tourism ministry believes holidays to its new Red Sea resorts will ultimately sell well in north-east England.

If that grand project still seems slightly fanciful, the prospect of Eddie Howe delighting Newcastle’s Saudi owners by taking his team on another European tour looked a lot more realistic at 5pm on Saturday than two hours previously.

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» Scottish Premiership: Rangers’ title hopes hit by shock loss to Motherwell
  • Leaders beaten 2-1 at home after Dan Casey strikes winner
  • St Mirren score twice in added time to stun Aberdeen 2-1

Dan Casey’s stunning second-half goal gave Motherwell a shock 2-1 win over Rangers at Ibrox and handed the initiative in the Premiership title race back to Celtic.

Stuart Kettlewell’s side silenced most of Ibrox in the ninth minute with a goal from striker Theo Bair which left the hosts struggling to read an unexpected script. Gers captain James Tavernier scored from the spot on the hour mark after the VAR had intervened, but Irish defender Casey restored the visitors’ lead with a close-range finish in the 74th minute for the first Well win in the league in Govan since 1997.

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» Aitana Bonmatí: ‘No one has given me anything to be where I am’

In an exclusive interview the Barcelona midfielder talks about playing alongside boys, never letting her head drop and how she would like to be remembered

Let’s go back to the beginning: how did a young Aitana fall in love with football? I have always said it was something innate. I started playing at school with the boys there because there were no girls playing then. I was around six or seven and I was also playing basketball. I would say it was innate because in my family we didn’t live for football [but] I was born with that desire to play it.

You joined Barça at the age of 14. Talk me through that move I was playing football just on the school grounds so I asked if I could be signed up to my town’s football team, Club Deportiu Ribes. I was there for four to five years and then I went to another team, Club de Futbol Cubelles. All the years I was there I was the only girl on the team. However, in Catalonia there’s a rule that as a cadete [14-15 years old] you can’t play in mixed teams any more. So that’s when I stopped playing with boys and I was lucky that Barcelona signed me at that moment.

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» Goalkeepers to be placed against the clock in bid to beat time-wasting
  • Keepers in possession to be counted down by referees
  • Ifab also announces permanent concussion substitutes

Dawdling goalkeepers are to be given more time to hold on to the ball, but subjected to a countdown by the referee and punished if they fail to release in time, under new plans to combat time-wasting in football.

A number of trials were announced at Loch Lomond at the annual general meeting of the International Football Association Board (Ifab) on Saturday, as the game’s law-making body extended its range of measures to improve player behaviour in matches. It was also confirmed that concussion substitutes are to be permanently introduced, even though an average of one substitution per competition has been made each season during three years of trials.

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» Digne’s late winner breaks Luton’s hearts and boosts Villa’s top-four hopes

Rob Edwards promised that Luton intend to “go down swinging” in their bid to avoid relegation but this was a real sucker punch for his side. Having mounted a stirring comeback thanks to goals from Tahith Chong and Carlton Morris after Ollie Watkins scored twice in the first half, substitute Lucas Digne’s late winner knocked the wind out of Luton’s sails and left the Aston Villa manager, Unai Emery, counting his blessings.

Earlier defeats for Everton and Nottingham Forest had given Luton an opportunity to make up ground in the relegation battle and they could have snatched all three points had Morris made the most of his opportunity with the scores level. But, under Emery, Villa have developed a knack of winning tight games and Digne’s goal after being thrown on as one of four late substitutes ensured they still have a healthy advantage over Tottenham in the race for fourth spot.

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» Manchester City go clear at WSL summit as Shaw and Hemp down Everton

Manchester City moved to the top of the Women’s Super League table after defeating Everton 2-1.

City picked up where they left off in their first match since defeating Chelsea last month, with goals from Khadija Shaw and Lauren Hemp taking them three points clear of Emma Hayes’ side, who visit Leicester on Sunday.

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» Omar Berrada: City’s business brain crossing Manchester to rebuild United

Manchester United’s swoop for City’s chief operating officer is seen as a coup but how much influence will Berrada have?

Omar Berrada and John Lennon: Manchester United’s incoming chief executive and the late Beatles superstar are, seemingly, kindred spirits.

This is according to Berrada himself, the Paris-born Moroccan who was a boyhood Barcelona fan. His poaching from Manchester City by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the 27.7% United owner and controller of football policy, has been a shock to the champions’ hierarchy and is viewed as a coup in the industry.

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» Championship roundup: Joe Aribo wins seven-goal thriller for Southampton
  • Saints battle to 4-3 victory at 10-man Birmingham
  • Leicester’s lead down to three points after loss to QPR

Substitute Joe Aribo struck at the death to seal a dramatic, much-needed 4-3 victory for Southampton at 10-man Birmingham.

Russell Martin’s Saints were in desperate need of a morale-boosting win having lost four of their five games in all competitions since their club-record 25-match unbeaten run came to an end. Birmingham threatened to further dent their fading automatic promotion bid but Southampton’s strong bench and spirit paid dividends as substitute Aribo struck deep in stoppage time.

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» Rodrigo Muniz continues hot streak to douse Brighton’s European ambitions

Marco Silva believes Rodrigo Muniz is getting “better and better” after the Brazilian forward inspired Fulham to an impressive win over Brighton.

Muniz claimed his fifth Premier League goal in five games with a clinical header which came after his assist for Harry Wilson’s long-range strike had given Fulham a deserved lead at Craven Cottage.

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» Jim Ratcliffe sets United’s stakes high for first Manchester derby test

Knocking City off their perch is the ultimate target and the new investor has made it clear Erik ten Hag has little room for error

Welcome to the new world. Which looks, at first glance, a bit like the old world. There may be a new and exceptionally wealthy sheriff in town. But even with a midweek FA Cup win in the bag Manchester United have taken the chance over the past few days to return to a more familiar state of disorder.

Erik ten Hag is talking about TikTok videos, with all the easy command of your uncle who teaches Latin trying to understand grime music. The new Marcus Rashford has dropped (themes: pain and longing; mentions of trying hard or backing the manager: zero).

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» West Ham’s Shelina Zadorsky: ‘Everyone has their own battles. Being a listener is a huge thing’

Canada international talks about how she dealt with her health issues last year and enjoying life and football again

Shelina Zadorsky has the words “be free” tattooed on her body in her mother’s handwriting. “It’s about being able to go through life with a positive attitude and finding the good in situations,” says the 31-year-old centre-back.

In April 2023, the Canada international, who joined West Ham on loan from Tottenham (and helped her new side secure back-to-back victories in the Women’s Super League in January), opened up about navigating her physical and mental health while being a professional athlete.

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» Mbappé with your canapés? The absurd influence of Nasser al-Khelaifi | Barney Ronay

From tennis also-ran to brokering world peace via signing Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, the PSG owner has been on a journey

The French football league has reached a point of jeopardy. The new round of TV rights is yet to be sold. The president of Paris Saint-Germain needs a bumper deal to satisfy FFP. The president of beIN Sports, the most likely white knight, is holding out on a late offer. A sympathetic ear in the Qatari government has yet to be found.

Luckily there is some hope of a breakthrough. Mainly because all of the parties mentioned above are, in a rare note of good fortune, the same person. And all of them are called Nasser al-Khelaifi.

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» Ben White: ‘Even when I play Uno with my wife I’ll do everything to win’

Ben White’s reputation for ambivalence towards football cannot hide a burning desire to help Arsenal win the Premier League title

Mikel Arteta uses deep meditation or a good book to escape from the intensity of the title race but things are much simpler for Ben White. “That’s one of the best things I’m able to do,” the Arsenal defender says. “I know people say I don’t like football, but I go home and football is not on my mind. I can just be a normal person, relax. When I’m in here it is intense.”

So rather than watching Manchester City and Liverpool this weekend before Arsenal enter the fray again on Monday night at Sheffield United, White is more likely to get away from it all with a game of bat and ball or Uno against his wife. Just don’t expect him to make it easy for her.

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» Neville and Carragher furore confirms their status as pundits like no other | Sachin Nakrani

Criticism from Pochettino and Ten Hag meant the pair again set the agenda this week – shame it’s so annoying and tedious

In 40 or 50 years’ time – perhaps a littler sooner, perhaps a little later – football historians will talk about this week as the moment the sport entered a new era in regards to its biggest superstars. No longer, they will say, was this Lionel Messi’s and Cristiano Ronaldo’s world, for now it belonged to two greater giants. We heard them speak, we heard them muse, we heard them make fun of our teams and, finally, the glory was theirs. Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, praise be thy names.

Or maybe not if your own name is Mauricio Pochettino or Erik ten Hag, both of whom took umbrage at comments the pair made while working for Sky Sports. Pochettino hit back at Neville’s labelling of Chelsea as “blue billion-pound ­bottle jobs” during coverage of their loss to Liverpool in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final, hailing his team as “brave” after their 3-2 victory over Leeds in the FA Cup a few days later. Ten Hag went further and was more furious in his reaction to Carragher’s scathing assessment of Manchester United’s defending in their 2-1 loss to Fulham during Monday Night Football, accusing the former centre-back of being “very ­subjective” before United’s own FA Cup win, against Nottingham Forest. But, of course, you know this already because it has been front and centre of the discourse for days, confirming Neville’s and Carragher’s status as pundits like no other.

Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a response of up to 300 words by email to be considered for publication in our letters section, please click here.

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» ‘It’s an addiction’: Rafa Benítez on Celta Vigo, family and clamour for Xabi Alonso

Iconic Spanish manager and serial winner shares the intricacies of his unceasing passion for coaching and his love of Jamie Carragher

Rafa Benítez bounds into the hotel bar with a jaunty smile, a firm handshake and the air of a man wholly at ease with the world. The sun is shining on the Galician coast, the bar overlooks the idyllic Ría de Vigo estuary, all rocky coves and hidden beaches. He insists you try the local octopus delicacy.

This is what life looks like for a 63-year-old itinerant super-coach who is one game from the sack, according to the local paper that morning. Benítez’s Celta Vigo play bottom-of-the-table Almería on Friday. It’s a must-win game, the paper says.

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» Like father, like son: the Liverpool talents following in famous footsteps

Jayden Danns, Lewis Koumas and Bobby Clark all come from footballing families – what is behind this Anfield trend?

Jayden Danns, Lewis Koumas and Bobby Clark: remember the names. But then, you may already recognise them – and not because all three teenagers appeared for Liverpool on Wednesday night, with Danns scoring twice and Koumas netting the opener in a 3-0 win over Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round.

All three have famous fathers and are sons to Neil Danns, Jason Koumas and Lee Clark respectively, former Premier League professionals. If this feels like something of note, it is not exclusive to Liverpool – Manchester City have the Heskey twins, Jaden and Reigan, in their academy while Jack and Tyler Fletcher, sons of Darren, are at Manchester United – but Liverpool’s academy does seem to have a cluster of prospects with paternal connections. Keyrol Figueroa, son of the former Wigan defender Maynor, and Prince Kobe Cissé, son of the 2005 Champions League-winner Djibril, are also making their way there, and Marcus Neill, son of the former Australia international Lucas, recently left to join Sunderland.

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» Doncaster Rovers manager Grant McCann scores sensational goal in training – video

Doncaster Rovers manager Grant McCann rolled back the years with a stunning scissor-kick volley in training. The clip was posted to Rovers' X account with the caption: 'The gaffer? Yeah, he's still got it.' While overseeing his players during a shooting drill, a shot ricocheted off the crossbar and floated perfectly into his path before McCann unleashed a perfect first-time strike over the helpless goalkeeper. The manager quickly wheeled off in celebration as his players and onlookers cheered

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» Erik ten Hag demands apology for Fulham's Fernandes TikTok post – video

Erik ten Hag has demanded an apology from Fulham for posting a video on TikTok mocking Bruno Fernandes following their 2-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. 'I didn’t know this, but if they did it I would say it is not right. It is absolutely not right that a club makes such a statement, because it is totally out of order and they were wrong so they should apologise for this,' he said

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» 'Don't close the door': Klopp urges his successor to help promote Liverpool's young talent – video

Jürgen Klopp was full of praise for his youthful side after Liverpool beat Southampton 3-0 in the FA Cup fifth round with goals from 18-year-olds Jayden Danns and Lewis Koumas. Klopp, who leaves the club at the end of the season, urged his successor to promote the youth at the club rather than prioritising new signings saying: "Hopefully people don’t forget it when the transfer window opens, some pretty promising players are already here – don’t close the door for them with signings."

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» Erik ten Hag hits back at Jamie Carragher's 'subjective' criticism of Manchester United – video

The Manchester United manager, Erik ten Hag, has hit back at Jamie Carragher's criticism of his side's defending. Speaking on Sky Sports, the former Liverpool defender Carragher was scathing about United's display in Saturday's 2-1 defeat by Fulham, which ended a five-match winning run that had fuelled some optimism around Old Trafford. But Ten Hag accused Carragher of being biased against his side, saying: 'First of all, some analysts are very objective in their comments, very good advice, some are very subjective. Jamie Carragher is one of them. From the first moment on he has criticised and now he wants to make his point.'

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» Brendan Rodgers calls BBC reporter 'good girl' during interview – video

The Celtic manager, Brendan Rodgers, has been criticised for calling a BBC reporter 'good girl' during a post-match interview after his side's 3-1 win against Motherwell. Rodgers refused to answer a question by the reporter Jane Lewis and dismissed her by saying: 'Ok? Done? Good girl, well done'.

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» Cristiano Ronaldo makes obscene gesture towards crowd after 'Messi' taunts – video

Cristiano Ronaldo faced a flurry of criticism after appearing to make an obscene gesture at the end of Al-Nassr’s 3-2 win over Al-Shabab in the Saudi Pro League.

The Portugal forward opened the scoring with a 21st-minute penalty but Al-Nassr needed a late goal from Talisca, who struck twice, to settle the game with four minutes left.

After the final whistle, chants of 'Messi' could be heard in the stadium, referencing Ronaldo’s long-term football rival, and social media videos captured Ronaldo cupping his ear before repeatedly pumping his hand forward in front of his pelvic area. The action appeared to be directed at Al-Shabab supporters.

Cristiano Ronaldo in obscene gesture storm after Al-Nassr victory

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» Spain win Women’s Nations League as Bonmatí and Caldentey floor France

Spain continued their dominance of world football in Seville on Wednesday night, breezing past France to become the inaugural Women’s Nations League champions. Goals by Aitana Bonmatí and Mariona Caldentey secured a 2-0 victory in front of more than 32,000 at La Cartuja who saw Montse Tomé’s side pick up another major trophy on the back of their World Cup success last summer.

Tomé was delighted with her side as they swept past an opponent considered one of the best in Europe. “I have a group with very experienced players and with new young players coming up,” she said. “They have a winning mentality and we can see that we can get the maximum potential out of them.

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» Heidenheim write own scripts as Union are usurped as hipster’s choice | Andy Brassell

The low-budget charms of Frank Schmidt’s team have been one of the surprise packages of the Bundesliga season

At the place where most of German football’s recent fairytales have been made, another one continued. Union Berlin’s role in the newest edition of the Bundesliga storybook has changed, however. The upstarts who do things their own way have not only had to get used to Champions League nights and signing international players but, far too often, to receiving the sort of bloodied noses that they used to give out in the not-too-distant past.

This season’s rub-your-eyes-and-you-still-won’t-believe-it team of German football are Heidenheim, though even they had to bow to the enduring power of Köpenick after what was a “very, very intense” Saturday afternoon as described by their captain, Patrick Mainka. “This stadium is crazy,” he said of the Alten Försterei. “Everything is against you.” On top of that, his team conceded two goals in double quick time at the end of the first half to turn the early lead given to them by Nikola Dovedan into a half-time deficit. “We just shook ourselves down,” Mainka continued, “and said to ourselves, let’s turn this around.”

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» Real Mallorca hero Abdón Prats: ‘I’m so proud of this love story’

Armed with a fine moustache, an eye for goal and an iron bond with the fans, the beloved forward is targeting Copa del Rey glory

Abdón Prats has a magnificent moustache and a pottery class at half past, more cups and plates and history to make. The unassuming everyman and smiley superman possessed by some power he can’t explain, the footballer from another era followed about by magic moments, he is Real Mallorca’s ultimate cult hero, an icon on the island. The forward who took the team he supported from the third division to the first and has now led them to within reach of their first Copa del Rey final in 20 years. He’s the one everyone wants to be here. Which is lucky, because emulating him is easy.

On the face of it, anyway. “We’ve just had carnival here and people went as me,” Prats says, laughing. “They get one of those stick-on moustaches or just paint them on. It’s funny, and very nice.” The Magnum PI look began as a bit of an experiment, but there’s no way back now; given a little trim weekly, perfectly kept, more than a hint of Kenny Burns in the Scottish series Guilt about him, he reckons he would feel naked without it now. It has become a “trademark”, he says: a symbol of his story, who he is.

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» Cádiz break their long drought to secure a point that means everything | Sid Lowe

Darwin Machís’ last-gasp equaliser against Celta Vigo brought relief to a side who haven’t won in La Liga since September

“This was a light of hope,” Mauricio Pellegrino said, a sudden flash that brought them back to life. Cádiz had tried everything. They had changed the coach, changed the players and even changed their shirt. They had tried free transfers and free tickets too. They had hosted Valencia, Athletic, Real Sociedad and Betis, been to Pamplona, Villarreal, Vitoria and Granada, and it didn’t do any good. They had been through all the centre-forwards they have, and that’s a lot, but it wasn’t happening. They hadn’t scored in five matches, soon to be six; they had got just one in eight, and that was a penalty in a pasting. They hadn’t won in 21 league games, nearly six months. They were done. And then someone had a bright idea. Have you tried just hitting it?

On Sunday afternoon in the 100th minute of the biggest game, Darwin Machís did. As hard as he could, first time, running in. From the top left corner of the area, the clock on 99.02, he smashed a shot you could actually hear, the thud echoing as the ball tore in at the near post. He had only been on the pitch a little while but with one shot, he had revived his team. It was only the equaliser; Cádiz still haven’t won since the first day of September and the 2-2 draw it secured against Celta Vigo didn’t even pull them out of the relegation zone. But in that moment of madness – the bench emptying, teammates tearing down the touchline after the goalscorer, their saviour – it felt like everything.

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» Napoli suffer as Claudio Ranieri’s Cagliari strike again in ‘zona Cesarini’ | Nicky Bandini

The Sardinians are fighting against relegation but thriving in injury time and frustrated the champions to claim a point

In Italy, the final moments of a football game are known as the zona Cesarini: a reference to Renato Cesarini, the former Juventus midfielder who cemented his reputation for late goals with a 90th-minute winner for the national team against Hungary in 1931. The term has long since passed into general use, describing anything from political deals brokered right before a vote to homework assignments handed in on deadline.

Perhaps it is time for an update. In Serie A this season, injury time belongs to Claudio Ranieri’s Cagliari. The Sardinians have endured a difficult season, sitting joint-second from bottom in the table, but the outlook could be a lot worse.

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» The new-manager bounce is alive and well in Ligue 1

Lyon, Marseille, Nantes and Rennes have all enjoyed an uptick in results after changing managers

By Eric Devin for Get French Football News

Ligue 1 has been no stranger to managerial changes this season. Marseille and Lyon alone have churned through six permanent appointments between them. Sacking and replacing managers is often the work of rash or poorly organised clubs, but could this be a campaign in which those changes bear fruit?

This weekend saw positive results for all four of the sides who have changed managers this season: Lyon, Marseille and Nantes all won, and Rennes achieved an impressive 1-1 draw at the Parc des Princes – and that came a few days after they had beaten Milan 3-2 in the Europa League. Julien Stéphan’s side did not hold on for the win against PSG on Sunday night – Gonçalo Ramos equalised from the penalty spot in stoppage time – but they had won their previous six league matches, surging from lower mid-table to within a few points of the European places.

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» Lionel Messi rescues draw for Inter Miami with injury-time stunner at LA Galaxy
  • Messi scores in second-half stoppage time to salvage 1-1 draw
  • Argentine’s late goal cancels out Joveljic’s 75th-minute opener

Lionel Messi scored in the second minute of second-half injury time off a pass from Jordi Alba, and Inter Miami salvaged a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy on Sunday night.

Dejan Joveljic scored in the 75th minute for the Galaxy, who were close to delivering a surprising early-season blow to Messi and his new MLS powerhouse before the Argentine superstar worked another bit of magic with LA down to 10 men.

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» European roundup: Harry Kane hits injury-time winner for Bayern Munich
  • England striker hits double against RB Leipzig
  • Barcelona defeat Getafe to move second

Harry Kane struck twice, including a stoppage-time winner, to guide Bayern Munich to a 2-1 victory over RB Leipzig, snapping a three-game losing run in all competitions and staying eight points off leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

Kane had hit the post with a fifth-minute header but completed a quick break with a crisp, low finish after good early work from Jamal Musiala to put Bayern ahead in the 56th.

Leipzig levelled in the 70th with a deflected Benjamin Sesko shot after the Slovenian had twice earlier been denied by keeper Manuel Neuer. Kane, however, came to the rescue once more with his 27th league goal of the season, drilling in a powerful low drive to snatch the three points.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, last-place Darmstadt had two late goals ruled out by VAR and conceded an own-goal as they were held 1-1 at Werder Bremen.

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» European roundup: Modric stuns Sevilla with late winner for Real Madrid
  • Croatia midfielder scores in 81st minute for La Liga leaders
  • Lautaro Martínez hits double as Inter win 4-0

Luka Modric scored the only goal of the game as Real Madrid beat Sevilla 1-0 in La Liga. The Croatia international fired home from the edge of the penalty area in the 81st minute to maintain Real’s five-point lead over Barcelona at the summit.

Sixth-placed Real Betis are now seven points behind fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao in the table after beating the 10-man Lions 3-1. Ezequiel Avila’s strike and Yuri Berchiche’s own goal sent Betis ahead before Nico Williams was sent off in the 40th minute. Gorka Guruzeta pulled one back for the Basque side, but Johnny Cardoso wrapped up victory for Betis in the 67th minute.

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» The 100 best male footballers in the world 2023

Erling Haaland has been voted the best player in the world for 2023 by our 218-strong panel, with Jude Bellingham finishing second

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» The 100 best female footballers in the world 2023

Aitana Bonmatí, Sam Kerr and Salma Paralluelo top the list of female footballers in the world in 2023 according to our judges

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» Erling Haaland voted the world’s best player – and he’s just getting started | Niall McVeigh

The Norwegian is only 23 but his devastating goal record has seen him voted as the No 1 player in the world by the Guardian’s expert panel

When Pep Guardiola tearfully claimed Manchester City could not replace the departing Sergio Agüero in May 2021, he didn’t just create a meme. Guardiola was soft-launching a global audition for his team’s new attacking talisman. An unsuccessful pursuit of Harry Kane in the summer of 2021 came between two title-winning seasons where Ilkay Gündogan (13) and Kevin De Bruyne (15) were the club’s top league goalscorers. Guardiola’s slick creative machine needed a new front man, and they found him in Erling Haaland.

Like Agüero before him – and in contrast to many of City’s most successful Pep-era signings – Haaland arrived as a bona fide superstar, a plug-and-play addition to an already stellar lineup. Whether he was a bargain is another question. The release clause paid was €60m (£51.2m), but some reports suggest Haaland’s five-year deal could cost the club in the region of £300m. And while there was an ominous logic to the move for City’s rivals, questions remained.

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» Spain and Barcelona lead way in women’s football after year of success | Rich Laverty

Aitana Bonmatí the clear winner of the Guardian’s best 100 female footballers in the world with 15 Spaniards on the list

After Alexia Putellas reigned in 2021 and 2022, her Barcelona and Spain teammate Aitana Bonmatí has been crowned the top female footballer of 2023 by the Guardian’s panel of 112 experts. The World Cup winner triumphed by a clear margin, finishing more than 500 points ahead of second-placed Sam Kerr.

Injuries and a World Cup meant there was a definite changing of the guard feel to this year’s list, sadly emphasised by the fact last year’s top two – Putellas and Beth Mead – missed a large chunk of our 12-month voting period with ACL injuries.

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» Harry Kane is not cursed, he is a winning footballer having a brilliant season | Jonathan Liew

Liverpool’s teenagers have more medals than Kane but even if Bayern end the season empty-handed the joke won’t be on him

There was another Harry Kane moment at the weekend: those moments when the air feels thin and the pulse races just a little faster and the margins have sharpened to a fine point. Kane has spent most of the last decade of his career being the most watched, the most scrutinised and the most outnumbered player on the pitch. The percentages in this job are staggeringly low. Still he checks and feints and shuffles and drifts, looking and longing for that elusive yard of space.

It finally arrives in the 91st minute against RB Leipzig, the game level at 1-1, Bayern Munich’s title challenge crumbling right here on the Allianz turf. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting brings down a long ball and flicks it over the head of the defender. The touch is heavy. Choupo-Moting was trying to keep the ball for himself. But now it sits up unexpectedly for Kane, and all that is required now is a left-footed volley from 14 yards, on the turn and through two blocking defenders.

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» Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool showed Chelsea how to win with young players | Jonathan Wilson

Carabao Cup final showed the difference between a squad assembled over a decade and one thrown together for $1bn

Life must be very confusing right now if you’re a Chelsea exec. You’ve spent $1bn buying kids and found yourself ridiculed for it and then you go and lose 1-0 in the Carabao Cup final to a load of Liverpool’s kids and somehow everybody’s praising them for it.

Yet even by the end of extra-time, by which point Liverpool seemed to have raided the club creche in search of bodies to chuck into the fray, the XI that Chelsea had on the pitch had a combined age 16 years lower than that of Jürgen Klopp’s. It was Liverpool, though, who were hailed for believing in youth, while Chelsea were derided as bottlers who had wasted a great opportunity. But that’s the difference between exigency and what might loosely be described as the plan. Klopp was rightly praised for having faith in his young players – the 19-year-old midfielder James McConnell in particular stood out for his presence and composure on the ball – but he was using them only because of injuries.

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» Making friends and terrible predictions – what it is like to host a women’s football podcast | Faye Carruthers

From Mini Babybels and beers in a Premier Inn at 2am to welcoming new listeners every week, hosting Women’s Football Weekly is special

“Plus, we’ll take your questions” – the most important part of my Tuesday morning introduction to you on the Guardian Women’s Football Weekly. If you’re a regular part of our crew, new to us and our idiosyncrasies, or haven’t yet downloaded the greatest podcast ever produced (I’ll leave you to judge that) we welcome you in with open arms. Your opinion matters and your questions are a vital part of what we do. In essence, you are as much a panellist as our eclectic mix of women’s football experts, rotated and gathered together each week to have a conversation about the latest dramas on and off the pitch wherever women’s football is played around the world.

When Suzy Wrack and I were asked to start the Guardian Women’s Football Weekly podcast in the summer of 2022 before the Women’s Euros, we were full of excitement and anticipation. We knew this was the Lionesses’ time to shine and we wanted to make sure as many people as possible came for the ride with us. This remains the only correct prediction we have made since launching the pod. But it wasn’t just Sarina Wiegman’s side taking centre stage, it was women’s football and that summer gave birth to a whole new audience of fans. Twenty months later, with more fantastic players emerging and new stories to tell, our tribe keeps expanding as the sport continues its phenomenal growth. There is still much to do though, and every week we make sure all aspects of the game are covered, including the numerous challenges it faces.

This is an extract from our free weekly email, Moving the Goalposts. To get the full edition visit this page and follow the instructions.

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» Football Daily | TikTok troubadours, uncertain philosophy and another derby

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During a week when his side are preparing for a derby against Manchester City, it is odd that Erik ten Hag seems to have spent more time focusing on Jamie Carragher’s punditry and Fulham’s TikTok troubadours than how best they might go about trying to avoid the absolute monstering pretty much everyone, including their own fans, is expecting them to get when they make the short trip to the Etihad Stadium. Ten Hag’s side have faced a remarkable 100 shots in their past five league games against Fulham, Luton, Aston Villa, West Ham and Wolves, around half the number they are likely to have to defend on Sunday afternoon. Luckily for United, the man tasked with stopping them has been speaking about his return to form after a gaffe-prone start to life at the club.

It seems you missed the big news from Carrow Road this week. Norwich City are, of course, having a really meh season in the Championship. Given their resources and relatively recent splurges of some millions of pounds, most of us supporters really expected something better this time around. Despite being totally underwhelming for large parts of this season, it seems David Wagner is on safe ground. However, their women’s team manager, Martin Herdman was the undeserving recipient of the journey through the fabled door marked Do One on Tuesday. His team’s record so far this season in the National League Division One South East was played 13, won 10, drawn three. Currently in second place, six points behind leaders AFC Wimbledon but with two games in hand. And there was me thinking the better your record, the safer your position” – John Scent.

Neil Rose was absolutely right (if a little brave) to clap off the performance of an away opponent who had just scored five goals (Football Daily letters passim). Teenagers are embarrassed by most things their parents do, but his son might think differently when he reflects in years to come. The best example I can remember of such a rare happening is when I went to see Bournemouth play at Gresty Road in 2007 and Max Gradel was generously afforded a standing ovation by the home fans when substituted towards the end of a 4-1 defeat: when I was sad enough to check my memory wasn’t deceiving me I found this evidence” – Paul Sheppard.

This is an extract from our daily football email … Football Daily. To get the full version, just visit this page and follow the instructions.

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» Klopp’s kids ride again and Manchester derby preview – Football Weekly Extra

Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, John Brewin and Nedum Onuoha to look back at the week’s FA Cup drama

Rate, review, share on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast and Stitcher, and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

On the podcast today: more Cup joy for Liverpool youngsters as they beat Southampton 3-0. Were we too harsh on Klopp’s academy players after the Carabao Cup final? Maybe you really can win anything with kids.

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» James Tavernier and the highest-scoring full-backs in football history | The Knowledge

Plus: late-season identical records, players doing the 92, the highest shirt numbers in a cup final and more

“James Tavernier scored twice in Rangers’ 3-0 win over St Johnstone on 18 February, bringing his tally for the club to 120. In terms of goals scored for one club, not across an entire career, is this a record for a full-back? Or even a defender?” asks Derek Robertson.

Something weird happened at the weekend. Rangers beat Hearts 5-0 and James Tavernier wasn’t on the scoresheet. He’s been their most reliable source of goals in recent years, scoring at least 18 in each of the last four seasons, and has a whopping 120 since joining Rangers from Wigan Athletic in 2015.

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» David Squires on … Liverpool’s creche beating Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final

Our cartoonist looks back at the Reds’ triumph at Wembley against a £1bn troupe of comparative fossils

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» Looking ahead to the 2024 NWSL season – Women’s Football Weekly

Faye Carruthers, Suzanne Wrack, Mark Parsons, and Megan Swanick look ahead to the new National Women’s Soccer League season

On today’s pod: Mark Parsons and Megan Swanick join to give you the full lowdown on what’s to come in the forthcoming NWSL season. Who to look out for, and who their favourites are to win. The panel also asks: how does the draft system work and how do teams successfully navigate it?

Also, the panel discuss the ‘expansion teams’ as two new clubs join the league, Bay FC and Utah Royals. Plus they assess the commercial viability of the league and deliver a team-by-team analysis of all their chances going into the season.

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» Premier League and Carabao Cup final: 10 talking points from weekend

Virgil van Dijk rises to the challenge, Jorginho provides control for Arsenal and Douglas Luiz finds the net again

When Liverpool needed a hero, when all their other leaders had been sidelined through injury, Virgil van Dijk cast himself as the Carabao Cup final’s protagonist at the decisive moment. Earlier in the game, the Dutchman had cut a bemused figure after he’d been denied by a marginal VAR call. The ensuing debate over the offside on Wataru Endo might have haunted Liverpool on another day, but Jürgen Klopp’s youngsters sparkled to keep Chelsea at bay as the game went into extra-time and they needed Van Dijk to rise highest to rubber-stamp the Reds’ dominance. At the time of his 118th-minute winner, Van Dijk was about the only player left on the Wembley pitch capable of using his head. Having been a transformative signing more than six years ago, it feels apt that the defender should play such a pivotal role in this trophy success. Dominic Booth

Match report: Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool (aet)

Match report: Manchester United 1-2 Fulham

Match report: Bournemouth 0-1 Manchester City

Match report: Arsenal 4-1 Newcastle

Match report: Brighton 1-1 Everton

Match report: Aston Villa 4-2 Nottingham Forest

Match report: Crystal Palace 3-0 Burnley

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» Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action

The WSL title race got a shot in the arm but a big win for Everton was overshadowed by a serious injury

Manchester City’s midfield dominance and defensive consistency proved crucial once more in a statement 1-0 win over Chelsea on Friday night. Much has been rightly made of their forward players but Gareth Taylor’s side demonstrated how mature and resilient they have become. Whether it was Yui Hasegawa’s calm presence in front of the back four, Laura Coombs’ consistency, the strength of the ever-developing centre-back partnership between Alex Greenwood and Laia Aleixandri or the emergence of Jess Park, it was a display that emphasised their position as title contenders. It wasn’t always pretty and they had to dig deep as Chelsea dominated the ball and pushed them back in the second half, but confidence is a powerful tool and once they had their noses in front – perhaps inevitably through a Khadija Shaw goal – they did not wilt under the pressure. The victory was their 11th straight in all competitions, an impressive run that stretches back to November. Sophie Downey

Match report: Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City

Match report: Arsenal 3-1 Manchester United

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» Erling Haaland’s attack on history points to new way for Manchester City | Jonathan Liew

Striker’s awesome show of goalscoring was part of a clearly more direct approach from Pep Guardiola’s treble winners

Erling Haaland scored his fifth goal in the 58th minute. Not that you would have known it from his celebration, really more of a non-celebration: a desultory jog, a little curl of the lip and a raise of the eyebrow, not so much the expression of a man who has just written his name into the annals of Manchester City history as the look of somebody who has just found a partly melted Freddo in his pocket.

Of course everyone expected Haaland to come off at that point: the game won, Luton’s brief squall of defiance extinguished, passage to the sixth round secure. But he didn’t. The clock ticked past 60 minutes, then 65, then 70. Still not a twitch from Pep Guardiola. You’re 5-2 up. Hang on, Mateo Kovacic has just scored, make that 6-2. You’ve got the derby against Manchester United at the weekend. It’s an open game, tackles and shoves flying in all over the place. Haaland has only recently come back from injury. You have four subs left. So, Pep. What’s the thinking here?

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» Stan Bowles’ chaotic lifestyle could not disguise his brilliance on the pitch | Paul Hayward

The playmaker, once compared to Kenny Dalglish, made his name at QPR in the mid-1970s but earned only five caps

A veteran Fleet Street football writer once shared a story about running into Stan Bowles in a Nottingham betting shop shortly after his move in 1979 to Forest. Bowles was disconsolate, but not because he had backed another loser.

“What’s up, Stan?” the reporter asked.

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» Managerial game of musical chairs is critical in moment of superclub struggle | Jonathan Wilson

Barcelona, Bayern, Napoli and even Liverpool must get appointments right this summer – the wrong choices could have severe consequences

Come the summer Liverpool will be without a manager, Barcelona will be without a manager and, after the events of this week, we know that Bayern Munich and Napoli will both be without a manager. There’s also a European Championship after which it is safe to assume numerous national teams will be without managers – Julian Nagelsmann’s contract with Germany, to take only the most eye-catching example, runs only until the end of the tournament, while Gareth Southgate’s contract with England expires in December. For managers, this will be a summer of unprecedented flux.

For Liverpool the coming months could be a triumphal valedictory procession for Jürgen Klopp, beginning with the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea on Sunday. The crisis of last season seems to have passed and a bold new squad is emerging – which is just as well given the present injury crisis.

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» ‘They stuck two fingers up to Fifa’: the Lost Lionesses and the forgotten 1971 women’s World Cup

Crowds of 90,000 packed a football stadium in Mexico for Copa 71, an unsanctioned tournament that is finally being remembered in a new documentary

Gail Emms once gave a school presentation about her mum, Janice, who represented England at a 1971 football World Cup in Mexico. The problem was, no one believed her. The idea that a 19-year-old Janice Emms had played in front of 90,000 at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, that she stayed in the same hotel as Bobby Moore’s 1970 side, that her team needed police escorts to handle their overwhelming celebrity, was dismissed as fantasy. There was no such thing as a women’s World Cup. Pics or it didn’t happen.

Gail Emms would go on to become a badminton world champion and Olympic silver medallist – and even then she still struggled to convince people of her mother’s achievements. “I’ve been shouting about Mexico for years,” says Emms. “But my mum and her team-mates gave up talking about it because people just thought they were nuts. It wasn’t like you could Google it back then.”

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» Next Generation 2023: 60 of the best young talents in world football

From Warren Zaïre-Emery to Endrick, we select some of the best players born in 2006. Check the progress of our classes of 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018

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» Next Generation 2023: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

We pick the best youngsters at each club born between 1 September 2006 and 31 August 2007, an age band known as first-year scholars. Check the progress of our classes of 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 and look at the editions from further back

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» From Saka to Ackermann: what happened to Next Generation 2018?

Five years ago we picked 80 of the most talented players in the world to follow their progress in a cut-throat business

It is the time of year when we check in on the Next Generation players we picked in 2018 to follow for five years, to assess their progress amid success, setbacks, injuries, trophies won and transfers made.

Next Generation started in 2014 with the aim of showing the difficulties that even the best prospects in the Premier League (we pick one from each club at first-year scholar age) and the rest of the world (we choose 60 born in a specific calendar year) face on their way towards the top.

A defensively minded midfielder who is incredibly strong (he used to be a wrestler) but with an excellent touch to go with his physicality. Made his debut in the Swedish top flight as a 16-year-old last year and captained Sweden as they reached the quarter-finals of the Euro Under-17 tournament in England this summer. Has taken an unusual path to the top. He left the top-flight side IFK Göteborg for sixth division Angered MBIK as a 14-year-old as he felt that he was not getting the right support for his football education. Another Gothenburg club, Häcken, snapped him up in 2017 and he made his senior debut that season. Has signed a new contract with the club from Hisingen until 2021 despite interest from Real Madrid and Benfica and trials at both Manchester clubs.

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