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Football Team News

» Jack Wilshere opens up on Arsenal regrets and ignoring advice from physios
Wilshere was hailed as the future of English football when he was just 19, but is now playing in the Championship after a succession of injuries marred his Gunners career
» What Man Utd have spent £500m on in five years - and was it worth it
Man Utd's heavy spending habits in recent years has yielded little in the way of silverware but with the likes of Bruno Fernandes their investment could finally be set to pay off
» Arsenal star Willian admits he "really wanted to stay" at Chelsea
Brazilian Willian was a big hit at Stamford Bridge, but left Chelsea when his contract expired at the end of last season and joined London rivals Arsenal on a free.
» Mikel Arteta warns Buyako Saka not to expect break despite burnout worries
Bukayo Saka has been Arsenal's outstanding player this season and as such has become undroppable - playing 35 times for club and country this campaign
» Sam Allardyce says he's no longer worried after having Covid vaccination
West Brom boss Allardyce admits his greatest fear was picking the virus up at work and taking it home to Lynne, his wife since 1974
» Thomas Tuchel admits Man Utd UCL win left him in a "dark place"
Thomas Tuchel was Paris Saint Germain manager when Marcus Rashford scored a 94th minute penalty for Man Utd to stun the French side out the Champions League
» Ancelotti admits he fears Fulham and Burnley more than Liverpool and Man City
Everton have a strong record against teams in the European places this season, having beaten Merseyside rivals Liverpool last weekend
» Dortmund CEO drops biggest hint yet Man Utd can sign Sancho as fee slashed
Manchester United agreed terms with the England international last summer but Dortmund refused to drop their £108million valuation forcing the Red Devils to pull the plug
» Ilkay Gundogan lifts lid on Man Utd transfer talks and why deal never happened
The Manchester City midfielder is in the running to be the Premier League's Player of the Season, but could have ended up in the other half of the city, he has revealed
» Sutton wades into Neil Lennon's Celtic resignation debate with brutal assessment
Celtic have endured a miserable season and Neil Lennon resigned this week following months of poor results with fans calling for him to leave for much of the campaign
» Ryan Giggs has bail extended to six weeks before Wales' first Euro 2021 game
Ryan Giggs has seen his bail extended until May 1 following his arrest in November for an alleged assault involving girlfriend Kate Greville
» Ferdinand on stand-off that secured Man Utd transfer and angered Leeds fans
Rio Ferdinand went from Leeds to Man Utd in the summer of 2002 for a British record transfer fee but left the Elland Road faithful furious that he'd joined their arch rivals
» Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sends warning to Diogo Dalot as loanee set to face Man Utd
Manchester United will face AC Milan in the last-16 of the Europa League, with the Manchester United full-back set to be involved for the Rossoneri
» Sam Johnstone explains why he left Man Utd as he follows Marcus Rashford's path
Sam Johnstone rose through the Man Utd academy but left to join West Brom in 2018 to find game time - which he managed as he has been the Premier League's busiest keeper
» Man Utd shares soar amid hopes stadiums will soon be packed out again
Man United shares rose as much as 6.9 per cent following Boris Johnson's announcement that up to 10,000 fans may be allowed back into stadiums from as early as May 17
» Mourinho must win Tottenham a trophy this season if he wants to keep Harry Kane
Tottenham's only chances of silverware this season now are in the Carabao Cup, where they are in the final, and Europa League
» FIFA 21 What If Team 1 confirmed featuring Jadon Sancho and N'Golo Kante
EA Sports have officially launched the brand new What If FUT 21 promo with the launch of Team 1, with Sevilla midfielder Alejandro Gomez and Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante both included.
» Diogo Dalot reacts to Man Utd drawing AC Milan in Europa League
Man Utd will take on AC Milan in the next round of the Europa League which will see them take on Diogo Dalot, who is on loan at the Italian side from the Red Devils
» Liverpool owners FSG 'set to sell 10% stake worth £540m' to investment firm
The stake will reportedly cost RedBird Capital around $750million (£537m), with the deal valuing FSG, who own Liverpool Football Club, at more than $7billion (£5bn)
» Wolves boss Nuno provides Jimenez injury update and possible return
Wolves have 10 points from four Premier League games ahead of Saturday's trip to Newcastle - while Raul Jimenez hasn't featured since fracturing his skull in November
» Every Liverpool players wages with Salah earning double what Mane is on
Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is the Reds' highest earner with his salary doubling that of Sadio Mane as Alisson and Diogo Jota are among those pocketing less than £100,000-a-week
» Martial's Man Utd warning, Shearer disagreement and Woodward transfer talks
Anthony Martial has just two goals in his last 14 games, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer warning the Manchester United striker he needs to start scoring more regularly
» Man City a 'solid destination' for Lionel Messi as contract offer is 'slashed'
Lionel Messi's Barcelona future continues to hang in the balance with Man City and PSG both linked with the forward who could end his long association with the Spanish giants
» Jose Mourinho admits he was "wrong" after public Eric Dier disagreement
Eric Dier is in the midst of a poor run of form, with manager Jose Mourinho claiming the Tottenham defender is suffering from a 'crisis of confidence'
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» Lionel Messi may be heading towards his Vegas stage but the fire still burns | Barney Ronay

The 33-year-old showed again this week exactly why Man City or PSG might just consider him worth the investment

Of all the many Elvis Presley incarnations – Vegas Elvis, Leather Elvis, Super-Handsome Young Elvis – my favourite is probably Karate Elvis.


Elvis loved karate. He often appeared in public dressed in karate gear, and spent years planning his own starring role in a karate-based blockbuster movie. The problem was, he kept on doing karate as he grew older and vaguer, encouraged by dependant body guards whose duties included humouring Elvis in the belief he remained a deadly fighting machine.

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» Jürgen Klopp happy to do the ‘dirty work‘ to spark Liverpool revival
  • Manager dismisses calls for a summer rebuild of squad
  • Jordan Henderson out for up to eight weeks after surgery

Jürgen Klopp has conceded it would be a big achievement for Liverpool to finish in the top four this season but insists his squad is not in urgent need of an overhaul.

Liverpool are five points adrift of fourth-placed West Ham after a run of four successive defeats that has left the champions sixth. Klopp claims he relishes the challenge of rescuing Liverpool’s campaign. “I am not here only for the big celebrations,” he said. “I am here for the work. And if it is the dirty work, the hard work, no problem.”

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» Warmth, coaching, communication: how Tuchel got Chelsea purring again

Manager has brought more lightness and laughter since replacing Lampard but has shown ruthlessness too

The ink on Thomas Tuchel’s contract was still drying when Chelsea’s manager got down to business. The German had arrived in a whirl, rushing to London the day after Frank Lampard’s ruthless sacking, but he had a team to knock into shape. Tuchel sped off to take training once negotiations were done and although he had only 24 hours to prepare for his first game, he dismissed the possibility of watching from the stands when Chelsea hosted Wolves, telling associates that handing responsibility to someone else was not his style.

It was an early sign that Tuchel was unfazed by the task. The 47-year-old knew that Chelsea, who had given him an 18-month deal with an option for another year, do not like being made to wait for success. The pressure was there from the start, growing when Tuchel went with experience over youth against Wolves and drew 0-0.

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» Gareth Bale in best shape since returning to Spurs, says José Mourinho
  • Manager feels winger has overcome injury niggles
  • ‘He’s giving us important contributions bit by bit’

José Mourinho believes Gareth Bale is in the best condition of his second stint as a Tottenham player and, liberated from anxiety about assorted niggling injuries, has achieved a perfect synthesis between mind and body. “He looks happier than ever,” said the manager. “He looks confident.”

The winger has struggled with fitness and form since returning on loan from Real Madrid last summer but is finally approaching something much closer to peak form, while starting to exert the desired impact.

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» Guardiola insists Manchester City’s players deserve the credit for success

• City are bidding to win their 20th consecutive match

• Guardiola: ‘The artists are the players’

Pep Guardiola has admitted some credit for Manchester City’s success but insisted he has not invented anything regarding how the team play.

City host West Ham in Saturday’s midday match hoping to record a 20th successive victory in all competitions. Guardiola has guided City to two Premier League titles, including a historic 100-point haul, three Carabao Cups and the FA Cup, with 2018-19 bringing a domestic treble.

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» Manchester United draw Milan and Europa League date with Ibrahimovic
  • Last-16 draw also pairs Arsenal with Olympiakos
  • Spurs face Dinamo Zagreb, Rangers to play Slavia Prague

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is returning to Old Trafford after Manchester United were drawn against Milan in the last 16 of the Europa League.

The 39-year-old striker established himself as a fan favourite during his almost two-season spell at Old Trafford, scoring in the Community Shield and League Cup triumphs in 2016-17. Ibrahimovic played a key role in that season’s victorious Europa League run, but a serious knee injury in the quarter-final against Anderlecht ruled him out of the remainder of the campaign.

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» Pitch problems for Birmingham Women force FA to step in and move game
  • Match against Manchester City moved to St George’s Park
  • FA says ground at Solihull Moors ‘not meeting requirements’

Birmingham City’s Women’s Super League game against Manchester City on Sunday has been swapped from the team’s Damson Park home to St George’s Park with two days’ notice.

A statement from the Football Association said: “The decision was taken by the League’s Executive Operations Committee (EOC) due to Birmingham’s current home ground at Solihull Moors FC not meeting requirements in the Rules and Regulations of the League.”

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» 'Do what you're good at': Ibrahimovic tells LeBron James to stick to sports
  • Milan striker takes swipe at NBA star’s activism in interview
  • James has been one of NBA’s leading voices against injustice

The Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said sportspeople like Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James should quit sticking their nose into politics.

Four-time NBA champion James, who Ibrahimovic described as a phenomenal basketball player, has been one of the NBA’s leading voices against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States.

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» Michail Antonio's West Ham evolution from utility man to star striker

Forward has found his place and contributed to success story at a club seemingly inept at signing players in that position

For West Ham fans there are certain sentences that, regardless of context or circumstance, are basically guaranteed to bring you out in a cold sweat. “Roberto starts in goal.” “The owner’s just tweeted again.” But if you really want to conjure up that heady brew of exhilaration, anxiety and dread-soaked foreboding, then you will struggle to improve upon these seven words: “West Ham have signed a new striker.”

The revolving door of forwards signed in the 11 years that Davids Gold and Sullivan have been in charge of the club has been well-documented: from Championship makeweights (Nicky Maynard, Jordan Hugill) to established stars (Marco Borriello, Simone Zaza) to players you would swear were made up (Brian Montenegro, Wellington Paulista). Last month the club’s £45m record signing Sébastien Haller was sold to Ajax for £20m: a reminder that even in this most sparklingly successful of seasons, this has always been a club that remains true to its roots.

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» Manchester United's Mary Earps: 'I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea'

Goalkeeper has a reputation as a joker but it belies a serious approach to her game – and to studying business and German

Mary Earps doesn’t want to be misunderstood but Manchester United’s goalkeeper no longer cares if she is.

The 27-year-old has a reputation for being a joker off the pitch. It can influence the way people view her as a footballer but there is a lesser-known seriousness and intelligence to Earps that underpins her bubbly persona.

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

Villa need to plan for life without Grealish, Jota could be back for Liverpool and Guardiola should not take West Ham lightly

Atlético Madrid sat deep hoping to hit Chelsea on the break in midweek but got little or no change out of a well-drilled side that made it difficult for the Spanish league leaders to muster much in the way of counterattacks with their ferocious intensity whenever they lost the ball. While Manchester United are unlikely to be as compliant as Atlético when they visit Stamford Bridge, Ole Gunnar Solskjær and his coaching staff will need to figure out a way of … er, countering Thomas Tuchel’s fabled counter-press or risk spending far more time than they would like playing on the back foot even when they have the ball. BG

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» Stand or kneel? How Megan Rapinoe helped US Soccer change its tune

US Soccer has apologized for a 2017 policy that banned kneeling for the anthem. But the issue won’t officially be settled until Saturday, when it’s put to a vote at the annual general meeting

It wasn’t long after the death of George Floyd that the decision-makers at the US Soccer Federation realized they needed to make some changes – and one change was immediately obvious.

Years earlier, the federation had issued an edict requiring national team players to stand during the national anthem. It was targeted at Megan Rapinoe, who had been kneeling to protest systemic racism, and the federation framed its new policy as minimizing distractions and showing respect for the flag.

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» Manchester City v West Ham: match preview

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City can lose when playing precisely the same way that has swept them to 19 consecutive victories. The point is taken but so good are his side that their average is a class at least above most opponents. Here, then is David Moyes’ challenge: to somehow convince his West Ham players they can do what no one has since West Brom in mid-December – stop the winning machine. Jamie Jackson

Saturday 12.30pm BT Sport 1

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» West Brom v Brighton: match preview

West Brom need to beat Brighton as time ebbs away for them to save their season. Sam Allardyce appears to have finally shored up their defensive problems, only two goals conceded in West Brom’s past four games, with the introduction of Okay Yokuslu as a holding midfielder but Albion are 11 points from the last safe spot and are not scoring enough goals to win matches. Allardyce will hope Brighton are still bearing the scars of a gutting last-minute defeat to Crystal Palace. The incentive of not dropping further into danger should give Graham Potter ample motivation, though. Potter can flex his superior tactical knowledge and deliver a welcome win. Graham Searles

Saturday 3pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Leeds v Aston Villa: match preview

Leeds will be without the injured Kalvin Phillips and Aston Villa lack the similarly indisposed Jack Grealish. Only time will tell which talisman will prove the bigger miss but Villa may need to be mindful of their hosts penchant for so-called tactical fouling. After Marcelo Bielsa’s side beat Southampton 3-0 in midweek – a result that lifted Leeds to 10th – Ralph Hasenhüttl said Bielsa’s players were far more streetwise than his team. “They’re very clever,” Hasenhüttl said. “They always stopped our counterattacks with a simple foul in midfield. It stopped everything. They do it very smart.” Louise Taylor

Saturday 5.30pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Newcastle v Wolves: match preview

Late last week a giant banner was draped across an entrance to St James’ Park. In a clear message to Mike Ashley, it demanded that Newcastle’s owner “stop gambling with our club”. It follows the earlier warning – also via a banner outside the stadium – declaring: “Act late seal your fate.” No one need read very far between the lines to realise these are demands that Ashley sack Steve Bruce. After a run of 12 defeats in 16 games, Newcastle’s manager is under intense pressure and could do with victory against Wolves as his side embark on a potentially season-defining run of games also involving fixtures against West Brom, Aston Villa and Brighton. Louise Taylor

Saturday 8pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Aubameyang rescues Arsenal with late Europa League winner against Benfica

With their season on the line, Arsenal somehow navigated a tightrope. Defeat to Benfica would have been catastrophic, banishing them to the purgatory of fighting for scraps in the Premier League’s mid-table positions until May. Now they retain a purpose and it was a redemptive night, in particular, for the player who has hauled them from trouble time and again.

Related: Thierry Henry steps down as Montréal coach due to separation from children

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» 'A fairytale': when Birmingham City won the League Cup a decade ago

This season Birmingham City are fighting to avoid relegation to League One. Ten years ago, they won a cup final at Wembley

By Sean Cole for The Blizzard

By most conventional measures, Obafemi Martins’s loan spell with Birmingham City could not be deemed a success. Recruited in January 2011 to score the goals that would keep the club in the Premier League, he only found the net twice and his season was cut short by injury when he was needed most. The club was relegated in his absence. Yet something remarkable, and unexpected, happened in his fourth appearance.

A late substitute in the League Cup final, Martins had only been on the pitch for six minutes when a moment of confusion between Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny led the ball spilling at his feet with the goal gaping. He couldn’t miss and Arsenal had no time to recover. In the strangest of circumstances, the Nigerian striker marked his temporary stay at Birmingham City with perhaps the most significant goal in the club’s history. His simple finish secured a 2-1 win and only the second major trophy for a club that had been founded in 1875.

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» Goals, class, a red Ferrari: Aldridge, Richardson and Atkinson at la Real

In their short spells with Real Sociedad three players left an indelible mark, as former teammates recall

The day John Aldridge turned up at Real Sociedad’s Zubieta training ground in September 1989, he was confronted by graffiti saying foreigners weren’t welcome. A year on, he had been so good they welcomed two more of them, this time with open arms. For almost 30 years, la Real didn’t have a player from outside the Basque Country; now they had three, all from Britain and Ireland.

They were in San Sebastián together for one season and not even a particularly good one, la Real finishing 1990-91 in their lowest position since returning to the first division 22 years earlier, but Aldridge, Kevin Richardson and Dalian Atkinson left an indelible mark, says Jonan Larrañaga. “I have lovely memories of all three,” the then club captain adds.

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» Takeover silence and mounting debts: how did it come to this for Derby? | Ed Aarons

Proposed Middle Eastern buyout has failed to materialise and owner Mel Morris’s top-flight dream is more distant than ever

“I hope together we can help steer this club back into a sustainable place in the Premier League,” said Mel Morris in September 2015. Born and raised in Littleover – less than five miles from Pride Park – the man who made most of his estimated £500m fortune after backing the firm behind the mobile gaming app Candy Crush Saga had finally achieved a lifelong dream of buying his beloved Derby.

The club had missed out on the play-offs a few months earlier and Morris’s optimism appeared understandable. Yet 10 full-time and interim managers later, Derby are battling to avoid relegation under Wayne Rooney with a squad whose wages were unpaid at the beginning of January.

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» Imperious Manchester City hypnotise Gladbach into compliance | Jonathan Liew

The mesmerising dominance of Pep Guardiola’s side made a talented team look like a bunch of choreographed patsies

The critical passage of this game, you felt, arrived around an hour in, when Borussia Mönchengladbach – 1-0 down and having just enjoyed a rare shot on goal – threw on two attacking players in attempt to wrestle back control. On came Marcus Thuram and Valentino Lazaro, jogging on to the pitch with vim and purpose, pointing in various directions for no reason, in the way that substitutes often do.

At which point, with Ederson in possession, Manchester City simply walked the ball up the pitch and scored. Ten passes in total, broken only by a desperate sliding clearance from the midfielder Florian Neuhaus by his own penalty spot. Then 16 more passes, ending with João Cancelo’s pinpoint diagonal, Bernardo Silva’s header across goal and the finish from Gabriel Jesus. Thuram and Lazaro had been on the pitch for two minutes. Neither of them had yet treated themselves to a touch of the ball.

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» Timid Atlético Madrid pay price against Chelsea for going back in time | Sid Lowe

La Liga’s leaders regressed to a defensive mindset and defeat raises more questions about the health of Spanish football

Atlético Madrid went back to their origins but this team are not that one and the old plan didn’t come together. In the Bucharest stadium where they won their first trophy under Diego Simeone in 2012, a home from home 2,500km east of the Metropolitano, one aim took priority to the detriment of all others: do not concede. Once it might have worked and perhaps here it could have done, but it didn’t and that didn’t entirely surprise. With 20 minutes remaining, Olivier Giroud sent a superb overhead kick past Jan Oblak. “The game was decided by a detail,” said Koke Resurrección.

Some detail. And it was deeper than that. By the time this game ended, it was hard to avoid the conclusion that Chelsea had got what they deserved and harder still to avoid the conclusion that so had Atlético; that this was not just a detail, it was by design. Atlético had invited this, a lack of ambition hurting them. At the final whistle, they had not managed a shot on target. For too long, it had looked as if they weren’t really trying to. When they did it was too late: the damage was done.

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» Lennon's exit gives Celtic a chance to reset that they dare not waste | Ewan Murray

Awful recruitment and unrest from not selling key assets leave a big rebuilding job but also a chance to shape club’s future

For a number of months it has been more about how Celtic extricate themselves from such a dismal position than how they got there. As Ross County delivered a final blow to Neil Lennon on Sunday, it was pointed out the struggling Dingwall club had replaced a manager in between bouncing Celtic out of the League Cup and this rather unsurprising Premiership result. The Celtic board were portrayed as dallying dunces.

Awful recruitment and an unhealthy focus on the all-consuming pursuit of 10 domestic titles in a row – so what? – ultimately led to Celtic’s behind-closed-doors implosion. Celtic’s hierarchy should have sensed trouble when Ferencvaros dumped the side out of the Champions League, with subsequent decisions to stick with the management team limiting options for succession and eventually leaving Lennon in a dire position. Failure to win 11 of 30 league games thus far is extraordinary given the general paucity of opposition. An earlier refusal to sell key assets, in a departure from Celtic’s business model, was with a view to preserving domestic dominance but allowed unrest to fester.

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» Player fakes being hit by object in Guatemalan football match – video

A Guatemalan third-division game produced one of the most blatant attempts to dupe a referee we've seen in a while. Batanecos FC player Rosbin Ramos picked up an object which had been thrown on to the pitch by fans, then hit himself in the face and collapsed to the floor, faking that it had been thrown at him. Sadly, his performance was wasted as the match officials didn't see the incident so no punishments were given

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» Referee accidentally blocks goal-bound shot in Mexican football match – video

A referee in a Mexican football match made an accidental and potentially game-changing block during Liga MX's game between Cruz Azul and Toluca. Cruz Azul were pushing for their third goal, after a looped ball over the top they were through on goal only for the first attempt to strike a post. The ball then bounced back into the path of another attacker and as he struck it at goal the referee, Óscar Macías, accidentally blocked it. Despite a rallying surge from Toluca to bring the score level at 2-2 the home side managed to find a third goal in the second half.

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» 'They are not supporters': Granit Xhaka condemns social media abusers – video

Granit Xhaka has damned social media abusers saying that they are 'not supporters of my club'. The Swiss midfielder, who has been subject to abuse online, said: 'It’s not a problem when you win. If you lose everyone hates you. I wish I could meet the people who write these things, to sit with them eye to eye and ask: ‘Why are you writing things like this?' Arsenal face Benfica in Athens on Thursday for the 'home' leg of their Europa League last-32 tie, poised at 1-1.  

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» Ancelotti hopes Anfield win is enough to earn his place in Everton's history books – video

The Everton manager, Carlo Ancelotti, wasn't certain that Saturday's 2-0 win over Liverpool in the Merseyside derby was enough to earn him a place in the club's history books, despite the fact that it was the club's first win at Anfield since 1999.

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» Klopp questions penalty that sealed Everton's first win at Anfield since 1999 – video

Liverpool's manager, Jürgen Klopp, had serious doubts about the penalty that Gylfi Sigurdsson converted to seal a 2-0 win for Everton on Saturday - the visitors' first victory over their local rivals at Anfield since 1999.

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» 'Mbappé said we would win': Pochettino reacts to PSG's rout of Barcelona – video

Speaking after Paris Saint-Germain's 4-1 win at Camp Nou, Mauricio Pochettino revealed that Kylian Mbappé told him in training that PSG would win. "Kylian asked me 'how many times did you win at Camp Nou?' And I told him 'Only once, with Espanyol.'", the PSG head coach said. 'Then he told me: 'tonight you will win for the second time.' The Barça manager, Ronald Koeman, was left to reflect on a painful defeat for his 'team in transition'.

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» Inter's derby demolition of Milan sees Lukaku revel in Ibrahimovic rivalry | Nicky Bandini

The Belgian’s stunning strike – his side’s third on Sunday – was soon followed by the substitution of his Swedish rival

How different would this moment have felt, inside a jam-packed San Siro? hen Romelu Lukaku completed Internazionale’s rout of Milan in the Derby della Madonnina, burying a left-footed shot beyond Gianluigi Donnarumma for 3-0, would we even have heard what he had to say, above the din of 80,000 supporters?

“I’m the fucking best!” bellowed the Belgian as he ran to the corner flag, thumping his chest and cursing in both English and Italian. “Me! Me! I told you!”

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» PSG outclassed Barcelona but they could not lay a glove on Monaco

Niko Kovac delivered a tactical masterclass in a game that showcased his youngsters – and the competitiveness of Ligue 1

By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News

“Ligue 1 – That’s Another Story,” trumpeted the front page of L’Équipe on Monday morning after PSG were beaten by Monaco at the Parc des Princes, a result that leaves the champions four points behind league leaders Lille. It seems that beating Barcelona at a canter is not as challenging a proposition for Mauricio Pochettino’s side as establishing themselves as clear favourites in a league supposedly populated by “farmers”. Ligue 1 is more competitive than people think.

PSG’s 2-0 defeat was not a shock given that they were missing several key players and had just travelled back from a Champions League match a few days earlier. Yet the nature of the defeat was certainly surprising. It demonstrated the positive evolution Monaco are enjoying under Niko Kovac, who arrived at the club last July as an eleventh-hour replacement for Robert Moreno just before the season began.

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» Eintracht Frankfurt lack Silva service but still bundle Bayern into spin cycle | Andy Brassell

Even without their main man, Eintracht’s 2-1 win consolidated a top four place to complete a poor week for the champions

It was another curious piece of social media chronology. On Friday, a smiling André Silva greeted Eintracht Frankfurt fans to the club’s channels with a video bringing news of an exciting delivery. Many Eintracht fans would have been watching with bated breath, wincing as their apparently convalescing star picked up, shook and began to open the cumbersome box which – surprise! – contained a comprehensively packed and secured Bundesliga Player of the Month trophy.

Silva’s uppish mood in the video might have suggested to some that he was ready to return from an untimely back injury, sustained in Wednesday’s training and forcing him to sit out on Thursday, or at least that he wasn’t at risk of aggravating it. It had arrived at the worst possible moment, with the Eagles flying before the visit of Bayern Munich, having won eight and drawn one of their previous nine Bundesliga matches to nestle in the top four. In his last seven league games, Silva had scored nine to take him to 18 Bundesliga goals for the season.

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» Felipe: the Atlético Madrid player who owes his career to a highlights DVD

Felipe compiled his own best bits DVD to attract interest from a second tier club in Brazil. Now he’s in the Champions League

By Josué Seixas for Yellow and Green Football

Atlético Madrid have dealt with their fair share of heartbreak in recent years, especially when losing two Champions League finals to their city rivals, but Diego Simeone has rebuilt his team with a core of players who are free from the emotional baggage of those disappointments.

Luis Suárez arrived from Barcelona in the summer and has already scored 16 goals in La Liga. The defence has been equally impressive, only conceding 16 goals in 23 league games. The Brazilian centre-back Felipe has played his part in keeping the team tight at the back. He has come a long way considering that, while Suárez was scoring goals for Ajax in the Champions League, Felipe was making a DVD of his best moves to send to a second tier club in Brazil.

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» A team by any other name: why are MLS clubs so keen on rebrands?

Montreal Impact are now Club de Foot Montréal. They are far from the first North American team to change their identity

In the lineup of 27 Major League Soccer club crests for 2021, there will be three that are new to those who haven’t paid much attention since the end of last season. One belongs to Austin FC who kick off their inaugural campaign as the division’s latest franchise. The other two, however, belong to clubs that have undergone a rebrand.

Indeed, the Houston Dynamo have a new badge while Club de Foot Montreal (CF Montreal) have a whole new identity, bringing to a close their history as the Montreal Impact. This comes after the Chicago Fire unveiled a new look for 2020 and DC United changed badges in 2015. Of MLS’s 10 founding franchises, the New England Revolution are the only ones to have kept their original crest this long. Four (Dallas Burn, Kansas City Wiz, New York/New Jersey MetroStars and the San Jose Clash) have changed identities entirely and go by different names.

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» How Football Australia plans to capitalise on hosting Women's World Cup | Samantha Lewis

After two major missed opportunities, a legacy plan will be unveiled next week with FA hoping not to waste a third

Last year, former Socceroos head coach Ange Postecoglou publicly criticised the lack of long-term legacy that the 2000 Olympic Games and 2015 men’s Asian Cup left for Australian football.

Postecoglou, who led the Socceroos to Australia’s second Asian Cup trophy following the Matildas’ win in 2010, said that despite hosting two of the world’s biggest sports tournaments in in the space of 15 years, the game itself did not take full advantage of the opportunities these events offered.

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» USWNT are 'past protesting phase' as they stand for national anthem
  • Crystal Dunn says fight for racial justice goes on
  • USA beat 2-0 Brazil behind goals by Press and Rapinoe
  • World champions extend unbeaten streak to 36 matches

For the first time this year, the entire US women’s soccer team stood for the national anthem before the game.

“I think those that were collectively kneeling felt like we were kneeling to bring about attention to police brutality and systemic racism,” Crystal Dunn said after USA’s 2-0 win over Brazil. “Moving forward, we decided we no longer feel the need to kneel because we are doing the work behind the scenes. We are combating systemic racism. We never felt we were going to kneel forever.”

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» Plastic not so fantastic: concerns raised over artificial W-League pitch | Samantha Lewis

The only synthetic surface used in Australia’s top football competitions rates poorly and is unpopular with players

The first thing you noticed was the smell. Walking into Cromer Park for Sydney FC’s match against Adelaide United on Sunday, overpowering the usual wafts of hot chip boxes and the salty ocean breeze, was the burnt-rubber odour of its artificial pitch baking in the afternoon sun.

The turf did not just smell bad, though; it also looked and behaved poorly. The gangrenous green “grass” was stained with patches of black from the loose rubber pellets that sprayed up like dust with every kick, tackle and slide. The day’s heat made the field sticky in some places and slick in others, the ball’s unpredictable skip or spin forcing players to take extra touches. The game noticeably suffered as a result.

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» Royston Drenthe: ‘People kept calling and then the animal inside comes back’

The Dutchman, now 33 and at a lower league club in Spain, discusses Real Madrid, arguing with David Moyes and more

Royston Drenthe’s not happy. It’s a little after 6pm and the sun is dropping behind the hill overlooking a small, unremarkable municipal football ground on the edge of a small unremarkable town in south-east Spain when he turns to the one teammate still warming up with him and asks how long’s left. “I don’t know,” Marlon Sánchez says, “five?” He’s been there half an hour stretching, watching the light fade and the game fade with it. Joaquín Parra has gone on, Carlos Álvarez has gone on but he won’t.

This story should close with the home team employing their not-so-secret weapon, the galáctico sent on to score the winner. Instead, it ends with him leaning against an advertising board for a local butcher and a nearby metalworks, looking across a plastic pitch with multiple markings where the game goes on without him. It’s 0-0, non-league, but the call still doesn’t come. When the final whistle does, Drenthe slips silently away: first off, first out. The man who played for Real Madrid doesn’t play for Racing Murcia, not today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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» 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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» England Women's all-white XI shines light on a deep-rooted problem | Suzanne Wrack

Lack of diversity in women’s football in England is striking and society’s racial and class inequality are at the heart of that

England’s all-white starting XI taking a knee before the 6-0 defeat of Northern Ireland highlighted a big problem. It is a problem seemingly getting worse: women’s football is very, very white.

This is not meant to be in any way a slight on the players who bent knees to the ground on Tuesday. Allies are important. As long as they are aware that taking a knee is not a formality and should not be the extent of their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and a more diverse game, then it is an important gesture of solidarity. A huge number, if not all, of those players do a lot beyond the pitch and it is important to acknowledge that.

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» Making a superhero: how Pelé became more myth than man | Jonathan Liew

Netflix’s new film captures the legendary Brazilian’s genius, but its lead character remains a fascinating enigma

Casa Pelé, the small two‑room house in Três Corações where Pelé was born in 1940, is now a popular tourist attraction. As no photographs or descriptions of the original house have survived, it was rebuilt entirely from the memories of Pelé’s mother, Dona Celeste, and his uncle Jorge, with period furniture and fixings sourced from antique shops. And so what greets visitors today is really only a vague approximation of the house where one of the world’s most famous footballers spent his earliest years: a heavily curated blend of hazy memories and selective detail. As you walk in, a wireless radio plays classic songs from the early 1940s on an endless loop.

As it turns out, this is also pretty much how Pelé himself is remembered these days. It’s 50 years since he played his last game for Brazil. Only a fraction of his rich and prolific playing career has survived on video. The vast majority of us never saw him play live. And so for the most part, the genius of Pelé exists largely in the abstract: something you heard or read about rather than something you saw, a bequeathed fact rather than a lived experience, a processed product rather than an organic document.

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» Sign of the times: why English clubs are turning to high-interest US loans | David Conn

Southampton and Derby are among clubs whose stadiums are mortgaged to MSD Capital in search for much-needed funds

The new-year sale of Burnley to US investors after 139 years of local Lancashire ownership marked a sign of the times for football as Turf Moor, one of the 12 original Football League grounds, was mortgaged to the American private investment firm MSD Capital.

Three more clubs – Southampton, Derby and Sunderland – had taken out multimillion-pound loans from MSD or MSD’s senior partners, and their stadiums, somewhat newer than Turf Moor, were also mortgaged. Of these four clubs, only Southampton have publicly declared the cost of borrowing from MSD, paying 9.14% interest on a £78.8m loan taken out during the pandemic last June: £7.2m interest a year.

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» The Fiver | Leicester City and The Round of Brendan Rodgers

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Just as Big Cup has its Round Of Barcelona (the Round Formerly Known As The Round Of Paris Saint-Germain (the Round Formerly Known As The Round of Arsenal)), so the world’s greatest second-rate pan-European competition must have its own bespoke branding for the phase of the tournament whose losers must wonder why they ever bothered. And so Uefa bigwigs convened at Fancy Premises in Nyon on Friday to announce that, from next season, the last-32 stage of Big Vase will be renamed The Round Of Brendan Rodgers, to commemorate the former Liverpool and Queen’s Celtic tactical maestro’s latest hastily aborted foray across the continent. Leicester might even turn up for it next time. Let’s hope Brendan stocks up on tea and toast.

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» Footballers feigning injury, referees in the action and Clay v Liston | Classic YouTube

This week’s roundup also features Sarah Taylor’s wicket-keeping skills and the pain of being an NHL official

1) It’s not often the Guatemalan third division features in this roundup, but it’s also not often a player – in this case Rosbin Ramos of Batanecos – drops to the ground writhing in agony, pretending to have been hit by an object thrown from the crowd. Ramos is not the first: who could forget Dida’s slight overreaction to an admittedly stupid pitch invader at Celtic Park? Or Feyenoord’s Steven Berghuis? Or even this? Worse still is the tale of Roberto Rojas. Back in 1989, Chile needed to beat Brazil to qualify for the World Cup and were trailing 1-0 when keeper Rojas pretended to have been hit by a flare, cutting himself with a razor blade hidden in his glove. The game was abandoned and Rojas banned for life (a sanction lifted in 1991) while Chile, whose manager and doctor were in on the sting, were excluded from the 1994 tournament.

2) Some referees are frustrated players, just like the rest of us. Here’s Óscar Macías blocking a goalbound shot from Cruz Azul, in their Liga MX game against Toluca. And here’s Maurice Paarhuis, refereeing a game in the Dutch fourth division, accidentally scoring for HSV Hoek against Harkemase Boys. And here’s Atay Daudov bagging for Manas against Keyes DD in the second round of the LFL Dagestan. Of course, no such digest is complete without our very own Mike Dean, so here’s Sky Sports’ homage.

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» Has a goalkeeper ever finished a season as top scorer for their club? | The Knowledge

Plus: has any player scored more than four headers in a match and more footballers named after footballers

“In view of the recent attention around Ederson potentially taking penalties for Manchester City, has a goalkeeper ever finished top scorer for their club over the course of a season?” asks Alan White.

Quite a few readers with memories better than ours have emailed in with a not-quite-correct answer. Alex Stepney was Manchester United’s top scorer (jointly, with two goals) for much of their 1973-74 relegation season after Tommy Docherty saw him as a more reliable penalty-taker than any of his outfield players.

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» David Squires on … football's latest youth takeover

Our cartoonist takes a look at the exploits of Kylian Mbappé, Erling Braut Haaland and co

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

Arsenal are paying for their poor transfer business, Pickford is showing his worth to Everton and Manchester United are making life hard for themselves

As Arsenal edged their way back into the game against Manchester City, there was plenty from which Mikel Arteta could take heart. Yet for all their grit and assurance, the possibility that the hosts might actually steal any points from an uncharacteristically sloppy City side remained painfully distant. With the exception of the burgeoning partnership between Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka, which faded after a bright first half, too few Arsenal players were able to inject their play with any urgency. Perhaps this will be remedied by the return of Gabriel Martinelli but either way it does not speak well of the £72m Nicolas Pépé, who traipsed off after 73 unremarkable minutes, nor the exorbitantly salaried Willian, who sat out the game as an unused sub. A club that recently made dozens of staff redundant must learn to use its money better – and not just for the sake of PR. Alex Hess

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» The Joy of Six: assists without touching the ball

Off-the-ball runs, delicious dummies, snide fouls – here are half a dozen goals where the co-creator literally didn’t have a kick

Let’s start with a bit of housekeeping. None of these are technically assists; under the current definition, that requires a tactile involvement. But we needed a fairly snappy headline, and The Joy of Six: Helping to Create Goals Without Touching The Ball just wasn’t going to get the job done.

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» Golden Goal: Terry Gibson for Manchester United v Arsenal (1987) | Rob Smyth

A violent game remembered for a spectacular rampage by Norman Whiteside had a poignant footnote

Not every golden goal has to glister. One of the most euphoric moments of Terry Gibson’s career was a tap-in from eight yards in a match his team would probably have won anyway. After a year of incessant frustration, it was his first goal for Manchester United – and, as it turned out, his last.

Gibson was marginalised almost as soon as he was signed by Ron Atkinson, who was subsequently replaced by Sir Alex Ferguson in November 1986. Two months later, Gibson made one and scored in injury-time to secure a violent 2-0 win over the league leaders Arsenal. Not for the last time, they left Old Trafford bristling with injustice as an unbeaten run – 22 games this time – went up in smoke.

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

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

"I am sick to death of this goalkeeper!"

Darren Randolph

David de Gea

Jordan Pickford

Roy Carroll

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

Paul Pogba

Mason Greenwood

Anthony Martial

Marcus Rashford

"Who is he, Mother Theresa?"

Niall Quinn

Alan Shearer

Gary Neville

Alex Ferguson

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

Mick McCarthy

Alex Ferguson

Clive Tyldesley

Ron Atkinson

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

Mick McCarthy

David Gill

Alex Ferguson

David Beckham

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

Steve Bruce

Ruud van Nistelrooy

Niall Quinn

Peter Schmeichel

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

Gary Neville

David Beckham

Denis Irwin

Andy Cole

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

Jürgen Klopp

Arsène Wenger

Pep Guardiola

Julian Nagelsmann

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

Paul Ince

Alf-Inge Haaland

Vinnie Jones

Dennis Wise

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

Jordan Henderson

Kyle Walker

Joe Hart

Phil Neville

1 and above.

Oh dear. Roy will not be impressed

2 and above.

Oh dear. Roy will not be impressed

3 and above.

Oh dear. Roy will not be impressed

4 and above.

Oh dear. Roy will not be impressed

5 and above.

Oh dear. Roy will not be impressed

6 and above.

You got a few wrong. Roy will not be pleased

7 and above.

You got a few wrong. Roy will not be pleased

8 and above.

You got two wrong. Roy will not be pleased

9 and above.

You got one wrong. Roy will not be pleased

0 and above.

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

10 and above.

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

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» Filipe Luís: 'In training at Chelsea Salah was like Messi. Ask anyone' | Sid Lowe

Before the Brazilian’s former clubs Atlético Madrid and Chelsea clash he discusses Mourinho, Simeone and meeting Michael Caine

“It was the best thing I’d seen in my life.” Filipe Luís is not talking about the scenes when Atlético Madrid finally won a derby after 14 humiliating years, at last beating Real Madrid and in a cup final at the Bernabéu too. He’s not talking about the quarter of a million fans filling the streets when they claimed an impossible league title. And he’s not talking about the 80,000 Madrileños who descended upon Lisbon or packed Milan. Those nights still haunt him, after all.

He is not talking about the Europa League finals, although Atlético won those; about lifting the Copa América at the Maracanã; going to the World Cup with Brazil having overcome the “biggest challenge of my career”, a battle for fitness so hard, so emotional that Netflix wanted to make a film about it; or the wild celebrations when his current team, Flamengo, “probably the most demanding club on earth”, won the Libertadores after 38 years with two goals in two dramatic minutes, the country’s first double winners since Pelé led Santos. And he’s not talking about parading the Premier League trophy with Chelsea either, although this did happen in London.

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» Who's the angry bloke in the black? It was sadly inevitable a referee would crack | Max Rushden

Given the pressure, the abuse and the scrutiny of referees, there’s been a sense in the reaction to the Darren Drysdale incident that this was bound to happen

A few years ago, during a Southern Amateur League pre-season friendly the referee started on one of our players. It was quite a shock. It had been a petulant affair: a few late challenges, everyone was a bit hot, tired and off the pace. As with every game I’ve played over the past two decades the ref was getting a fair bit of stick – he was making mistakes, we were making mistakes – but nothing out of the ordinary.

And then it happened. My centre-mid was clipped from behind as he strode forward with the ball. Sitting on the pitch he yelled one of the classics: “Ref, how many more times?” And that was it. The combustible official completely lost it.

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» Meet Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, 23 – English football's youngest chairman

Heir to Swiss commodity trading empire takes helm at Sunderland pledging to match the fans’ passion

Meet Kyril Louis-Dreyfus. The 23-year-old heir to a Swiss commodities fortune has bought a majority stake in Sunderland AFC and installed himself as the youngest chair in English football.

Louis-Dreyfus, whose family owns the Louis Dreyfus Group trading empire, has been interested in football since going to Olympique de Marseille (OM) games with his late father, Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who owned the French club until his death in 2009.

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