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» Furious EFL clubs threaten to boycott FA Cup over replay axe as tensions grow
The decision to remove replays from the FA Cup from the first round onwards has been met with anger from a number of clubs who claim they were not consulted on the matter
» Isaac Olaofe ready to toast Stockport County's title triumph after Wembley heartache
Covid restrictions prevented Isaac Olaofe from celebrating a previous promotion fully, but the Stockport County striker will lift the League Two trophy this weekend in front of 10,000 people at Edgley Park
» Trevor Francis left estranged sons out of £1.9m will over 'family differences'
Former England international striker and Crystal Palace manager Trevor Francis, who died in the summer of 2023, had become estranged from his sons James and Matthew
» Ex-Man City star on weekend Blues drew at Old Trafford then lost at Wembley 24 hours later
In the days when sports science was an ice pack or a physio's sponge, Mark Lillis played in a unique double header for Manchester City which will never be repeated
» Joao Cancelo claims trolls wished death on unborn daughter after Barcelona's defeat by PSG
Barcelona's on-loan Manchester City defender Joao Cancelo has hit out at the behaviour of online trolls after conceding a penalty during his team's Champions League exit
» Neil Sillett's pride as Coventry face Man Utd after memorable FA Cup triumph
Coventry are back at Wembley in the FA Cup for the first time since their 1987 triumph and John Sillett's son Neil could not be more proud ahead of their clash with Manchester United
» Incoming Real Madrid wonderkid Endrick's relationship contract with girlfriend - including 'I love you' clause
Teenage Brazil forward Endrick is poised to join Real Madrid in a big-money summer move, and the wonderkid has shared details of his relationship with his 21-year-old girlfriend
» Liverpool sent Ruben Amorim warning as Jurgen Klopp issue becomes clear
Former Liverpool winger Steve McManaman has been speaking about the club's interest in Ruben Amorim as they prepare for life without Jurgen Klopp, who will leave Anfield in the summer
» Arsenal must learn from Pep Guardiola rant to avoid slipping up again in the title race
Arsenal's body language has come under scrutiny after their defeat to Aston Villa and the Gunners could benefit from taking notice of a Pep Guardiola rant from last term
» Liverpool news: Jurgen Klopp makes "insane" admission as new manager candidate ruled out
Liverpool are still deciding on who should replace Jurgen Klopp, but the Reds' list of options is getting shorter after Xabi Alonso and now another candidate ruled out a switch to Anfield
» Arsenal news: William Saliba branded a "disaster" as Mikel Arteta launches fierce defence
Arsenal are hoping to rescue their season when they travel to Wolves on Saturday night, with Gunners boss Mikel Arteta forced to defeat his side for their collapse over the past week
» Wolves vs Arsenal Premier League prediction, odds, lineups and betting offer
Arsenal bowed out of the Champions League at Bayern Munich after losing at home to Aston Villa but can turn it around in the Premier League title race with a win at Molineux
» Man Utd news: Erik ten Hag shuts down Jadon Sancho theory and defends under-fire star
Manchester United are back in action this weekend as they take on Championship side Coventry in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley in what represents their last chance of silverware
» Wolves star sends Arsenal warning as they bid to compound Mikel Arteta's misery
Wolves host Arsenal in the late kick-off on Saturday, with the Gunners desperate to get their Premier League title charge back on track after a miserable last 10 days
» Zinedine Zidane makes Man Utd feelings clear after Bayern Munich plot first move
Bayern Munich are looking for a successor to Thomas Tuchel and former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has been suggested - but he has eyes on Manchester United
» Casemiro reveals he almost pulled plug on Man Utd transfer due to Carlo Ancelotti's reaction
Casemiro swapped Real Madrid for Manchester United in August 2022 in a £70million transfer, but he only moved after having a difficult conversation with Carlo Ancelotti
» Former Arsenal star Mesut Ozil can't resist cheeky swipe at Barcelona ahead of El Clasico
Barcelona were furious with the refereeing in their Champions League loss to Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, but their complaints don't wash with ex-Real Madrid star Mesut Ozil
» Dele Alli's ex-girlfriend reveals he was roughed up in horrifying armed robbery ordeal
Dele Alli and his ex-girlfriend Ruby Mae were the victims of a brutal break-in by two robbers who stole £350,000 worth of watches after roughing up the Everton footballer
» Crystal Palace duo ruled out for season as attacking star undergoes groin operation
Crystal Palace boss Oliver Glasner will have to wait until the start of the 2024/25 Premier League campaign to work with Cheick Doucoure while Matheus Franca has also now been sidelined until the summer
» Pep Guardiola reveals why Man City sold Cole Palmer to Chelsea ahead of FA Cup reunion
Manchester City reluctantly sold Cole Palmer to Chelsea for £42.5million last September and the 21-year-old will face his ex-team-mates in their FA Cup semi-final tie on Saturday
» Mikel Arteta tells Arsenal stars they are "lucky" after two defeats in nightmare week
Arsenal's title hopes took a severe dent when they suffered a shock defeat to Aston Villa last weekend before their elimination from the Champions League after a lacklustre performance against Bayern Munich
» Cesc Fabregas slams Chelsea penalty fiasco and hints at “bad vibe” in dressing room
Cesc Fabregas believes that Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino needs to get a grip of things after the argument between Noni Madueke and Nicolas Jackson over a penalty
» Mauricio Pochettino can't hide honest feelings on Cole Palmer ahead of Man City reunion
Chelsea face Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday with Cole Palmer central to their hopes of pulling a surprise against the holders and reigning Premier League champions
» Leighton James dead: Former Wales legend who dazzled England passes away aged 71
Burnley and Swansea City are among the clubs to pay tribute to their former winger Leighton James who made over 600 appearances in the Football League as well as earning 54 caps for Wales

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» ‘Real deal’ Robins relies on Sky Blues thinking for reunion with United

Coventry fans will travel in numbers for their FA Cup semi-final on Sunday – a reflection of their long-serving manager’s impact

When Jürgen Klopp announced in January he would leave Liverpool at the end of the season, it was not just the news itself that seemed strange. The shock, the communal widening of the eyes, was in part because, with the shelf life of managers shorter than ever, rarely does anyone go on their own terms.

Since Klopp informed the Liverpool hierarchy last November of his intention to step down, 27 managers in the top four divisions – almost one third of those employed – have been dismissed. At eight and a half years Klopp has worked unbroken in the Premier League or EFL for longer than any other current manager and the heir to that throne, Pep Guardiola, reached a similar untouchable point some time ago.

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» ‘Decisive player of the season’: Guardiola and City wary of Palmer
  • Manager says midfielder asked to leave City two seasons before
  • Pochettino confirms Enzo Fernández is playing with a hernia

Pep Guardiola has described Cole Palmer as the “decisive player of the season” and said Manchester City must find a way of negating him in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea. Guardiola also revealed that Palmer asked to leave City for two seasons before making his £42m move to west London in September.

Palmer joined City at under-eight level and made 19 appearances for the club across three years before leaving for Chelsea, and having scored for City in their Community Shield defeat to Arsenal in August, as well as in their European Super Cup victory over Sevilla that followed 10 days later. He will line up against last season’s treble winners as the Premier League joint-top scorer with 20 goals, alongside Erling Haaland, who is a doubt for the semi-final.

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» CBS football show banter-chatting us all into the age of the hyper-pundit | Barney Ronay

Micah Richards laughing uproariously behind a lighted TV plinth? That’s the kind of noise football is being distilled into

Before anybody knew anything at all, around the same time a series of speculative bronze-age books were being encoded as the foundation of much organised human society, there was a theory that everything in the world was made from one substance.

There were different combinations of The Substance. But it was all essentially One Substance – probably, you know, God’s fingernails or the like.

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» Santi Cazorla: ‘I would play for free but you’re not allowed’

The former Arsenal and Spain midfielder, now 38, is loving playing for his home club Real Oviedo in the second division

The day Spain’s history changed for ever, Santi Cazorla scored in the shootout. He scored on his Recreativo de Huelva debut in 2006, the first of 143 goals going back 18 years, got his last for Arsenal in front of 59,962 at the Emirates in autumn 2016, and netted a 96th-minute equaliser in Moscow 754 days and 10 operations later, having been told to settle for walking again. He scored in the FA Cup final at Wembley, at the Santiago Bernabéu and the Camp Nou, at Old Trafford and Anfield, in the north London derby and at San Mamés, a place so revered they call it the Cathedral.

Nothing, though, compared to a deflected shot in front of 3,823 people on a random Saturday afternoon against tiny Alcorcón in the second division, and which didn’t even count. “The goal I’ve lived with most feeling,” Cazorla calls it, a VAR review ruining everything. “And I had already celebrated.”

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» Careful what you wish for? Why West Ham fans want more than David Moyes | Jacob Steinberg

David Moyes is likely to leave West Ham when his contract expires but could another manager do better?

One day, perhaps space will be found outside the London Stadium for a statue of David Moyes’s delirious charge down the touchline after Jarrod Bowen’s winner in the Europa Conference League final. Moyes has done a superb job at West Ham and should be hailed as one of the greatest figures in the club’s history if, as seems likely after losing to Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League, he leaves when his contract expires at the end of the season.

There should be only gratitude towards the Scot for all he has achieved during his second spell in east London. Nobody should forget West Ham were in a relegation battle when Moyes returned in December 2019. Since then they have had three consecutive European campaigns, won a trophy for the first time since 1980 and regularly challenged in the top half of the Premier League, which has given Moyes plenty of ammunition to throw back at his critics whenever the team’s form dips.

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» Arteta backs scrapping of FA Cup replays as Accrington posit boycott
  • Arsenal manager says change needed to ‘protect our players’
  • Accrington chairman open to boycott if ‘enough clubs’ want it

Mikel Arteta insisted that the scrapping of FA Cup replays was necessary to “protect our players” as Accrington Stanley’s chairman said he would support a boycott of the tournament if there was widespread backing.

As the backlash against the abandonment of replays continued, the EFL said clubs lower down the pyramid were being marginalised. Accrington’s Andy Holt tweeted that it was important to fight the change “with all our might” and said: “I would support a boycott if enough clubs feel the same.”

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» Chelsea’s £76.5m hotel deals raise questions over PSR compliance
  • Club’s losses reduced by property deal with sister company
  • Chelsea would have lost £166.4m without hotel sales

Premier League clubs reacted with exasperation after seeing that ­Chelsea eased their financial ­position with the £76.5m sale of two hotels to a ­sister company in a deal that appears to have helped the club avoid a breach of profitability and ­sustainability rules (PSR).

Chelsea’s accounts, published last weekend, revealed the club made a loss of £89.9m in the last financial year. That figure would have been £166.4m without the hotels sale from Chelsea FC Holdings Ltd to Blueco 22 Properties Ltd. Both companies are subsidiaries of Chelsea’s holding company, Blueco 22 Ltd.

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» Tributes paid to former Wales, Burnley and Swansea winger Leighton James
  • Popular winger has died at the age of 71
  • James scored 10 goals in 54 appearances for Wales

The former Wales winger Leighton James has died at the age of 71.

James’s former clubs Burnley and Swansea – where he spent 13 years of a colourful 19-year senior career – were among those to pay tribute to a gifted player who won 54 caps for his country.

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» Vitesse Arnhem relegated from Eredivisie after 18-point deduction
  • Dutch club relegated in wake of Guardian and TBIJ investigation
  • Documents appeared to show financial ties to Abramovich

The Dutch football association has deducted 18 points from Vitesse Arnhem, officially confirming the club’s relegation, in the wake of an investigation by the Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) that uncovered apparent financial ties between the club and the Russian oligarch and former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

The KNVB, the governing body of Dutch football, said it had imposed the record sanction because the club, formally known as SBV Vitesse, failed to meet the requirements of its licensing regulations.

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» Ten Hag calms talk of divided squad as Wilcox appointed technical director
  • Manager forgives Garnacho and says: ‘We move on’
  • Wilcox leaves role as Southampton’s director of football

Erik ten Hag has denied claims of ­factions within his Manchester United squad, while attempting to put a line under a string of recent controversies.

On a day when Jason Wilcox was confirmed as United’s technical director, joining from Southampton, Ten Hag sought to further cool waters after Alejandro Garnacho apologised for the faux-pas of liking a social media post critical of his manager.

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» Liverpool have become ‘too easy’ to play against, admits Jürgen Klopp
  • Manager says team must toughen up if they are to win the title
  • Klopp takes hope from return of key players from serious injury

Jürgen Klopp has admitted Liverpool have become “too easy” to play against and must toughen up if they are to stand any chance of winning the Premier League title.

Klopp’s side travel to Fulham on Sunday in third, two points behind Manchester City and below Arsenal on goal difference, having drawn and lost their past two league fixtures, against Manchester United and Crystal Palace, respectively. On Thursday they also exited the Europa League at the quarter-final stage after a 3-1 aggregate loss to Atalanta and, all in all, are performing poorly. Their hopes of winning a quadruple in Klopp’s final season in charge are long gone but the German still believes he can leave on a high, though only if his players rediscover the character, as well as class, that had them competing on all fronts a little over a month ago.

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» Maximilian Kilman: ‘I’m really pushing to be in the England squad. It is my dream’

Wolves captain has relished his journey from university and futsal to the Premier League – now he is targeting a spot at Euro 2024

Maximilian Kilman is reflecting on the days when, long before evolving into one of the Premier League’s most consistent defenders at Wolves, fierce derbies largely comprised playing in varsity matches for the University of Hertfordshire, from which he will formally graduate with a business and sport management degree this September. “I remember Bedfordshire away,” he says, smiling, recalling playing another university. “It was similar to how it is now; the students would be booing, supporting their university, and you felt that rivalry. It was something I really enjoyed, the whole atmosphere and vibe. I am still friends with some of the boys from the uni team. I don’t think anyone expected I would get this far.”

As a teenager Kilman juggled turning out for the university with playing non-league for eighth-tier Marlow and fifth-tier Maidenhead, from whom he joined Wolves six years ago. At university, Kilman starred as a No 10, contributing goals and assists. It was a role he enjoyed a cameo in when Wolves Under-23s earned a comeback victory at Manchester United to pave the way to promotion to Premier League 2 in his first season. After 79 minutes, Wolves, led by Rob Edwards, trailed 2-0 at Leigh Sports Village. “For the last 10 minutes I got thrown up into the attack as a No 10 … I had a tiny say in the game,” he says, typically modest.

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» Nicolas Jackson’s promise hindered by tyranny of expectations at Chelsea | Jonathan Liew

Forward, who faces Manchester City in the FA Cup on Saturday, has managed a debut season goal tally up there with big names

The pure poacher’s instinct. The understanding of timing and angles, the striker’s sixth sense for exactly where the ball is going to be, and exactly what he’s going to do with it. The ball is loose in the penalty area, and as Nicolas Jackson swoops in with the late run his eyes are fixed firmly on the target. Which, alas, is wedged under the arm of his teammate Cole Palmer.

“Next time they’re all out,” Mauricio Pochettino fumed after the penalty fracas on Monday night that somehow managed – in true Chelsea fashion – to snatch a PR disaster from the jaws of a thumping 6-0 victory. As for Jackson, the incident with Palmer and Noni Madueke hardened the views of many Chelsea fans against him, which is some considerable achievement in a game where you have also managed a goal and an assist.

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» Hayes’ Chelsea legacy is untarnished even if final season ends trophyless | Suzanne Wrack

Ominous Barcelona side are in the way to another Champions League final but recent missteps pale against her achievements

Emma Hayes steps into the technical area at the Estadi Olímpic on Saturday after a draining few weeks on and off the pitch. The task is huge. Over two legs, Hayes must navigate Chelsea past a Barcelona side who are laden with World Cup stars and play irresistible football to reach the Champions League final.

This trophy is the only one to have eluded the manager during her 12 years with Chelsea and twice in the past three seasons Barça have stood in their way – inflicting a bruising 4-0 defeat in the Gothenburg final in 2021 and last year winning 2-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals.

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» FA Cup and Premier League team news: predicted lineups for the weekend action

Manchester City take on Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday while Liverpool are in Premier League action at Fulham on Sunday

FA Cup semi-finals (stats from all competitions)

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» Championship trapdoor grips clubs stifled by managerial conveyor belt | Will Unwin

Eight teams are fighting to avoid two relegation spots with short-term approaches holding them back

It is tough at the bottom of the Championship as a collection of former Premier League teams fight to avoid the ignominy of being relegated to the third tier. Six points separate eight clubs, with three games to play and two places below the red line up for grabs.

There have been numerous routes taken to this point: some clubs had woeful starts, others dipped in the winter and one never got going. What they have in common is the use of the manager conveyor belt. Few have found any degree of philosophy or style, instead overhauling squads to suit the latest dugout dweller, leaving them gasping for air. The bottom nine clubs have had 24 managers between them – give or take a caretaker or two – and are reaping what they sowed.

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» ‘That goal kickstarted an era’: how Mark Robins saved Alex Ferguson

As the Coventry manager prepares to meet his old club, his former United teammates discuss that goal in 1990

Legend has it that Mark Robins saved the career of an ailing Manchester United manager in 1990. On Sunday at Wembley he could influence the future of another. When Robins was 20, amid a United run of 11 matches without a league win, Alex Ferguson hoped his young striker could provide a much-needed spark in a January FA Cup tie at Nottingham Forest – and it worked.

United went on to beat Crystal Palace in an FA Cup final replay and 34 years later Robins will lead Coventry against his former club in the semi-finals. Winning the competition arguably rescued Ferguson’s job in a season when United finished 13th in the First Division. The then chairman, Martin Edwards, always denied Ferguson was on the brink but the results were grim. A loss at the City Ground could have proven fatal but local boy Robins ensured United marched on.

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» Premier League and FA Cup semis: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Two big Wembley meetings await in the Cup, while a desperation derby looks to be in store at Goodison Park

There was a distinct end-of-season vibe at the Gtech Community Stadium after Brentford’s win over Sheffield United, with Thomas Frank and his players performing what amounted to a lap of honour as they took plaudits from fans relieved that the spectre of relegation had finally been banished. Of course only time will tell if the Bees become the first Premier League team to decamp to the metaphorical beach and Saturday’s match at Luton will provide a fair indication. Ravaged by injury with up to 11 players likely to be unavailable, Luton were on a hiding to nothing in their game against Manchester City but still emerged from the rout with their heads held high having restricted the champions to a one-goal lead until their capitulation after the hour mark. It is increasingly difficult to compliment Rob Edwards’ side without sounding condescending, but if it transpires that the Brentford side that turns up in Bedfordshire has mentally tapped out, the Premier League’s most dashing manager, his players and their fans are unlikely to have any complaints whatsoever. Barry Glendenning

Luton v Brentford, Premier League, Saturday 3pm (all times BST)

Sheffield United v Burnley, Premier League, Saturday 3pm

Manchester City v Chelsea, FA Cup semi-final, Saturday 5.15pm

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» MLS power rankings: new rules hand an edge to Messi and Miami

San Jose have goalkeeping problems, the Whitecaps are defending in a unique way and Miami are given a helping hand

Welcome back to the Guardian’s MLS Power Rankings, where I have a beef with your specific team and your specific team alone.

MLS roster rules might be changing in the middle of the season, but as for this column? It’s following the same format as it has all season. We’re still ranking teams from worst to first. But along with the rankings, we’re diving deep into a handful of teams from around the league who are doing particularly interesting things.

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» ‘Playing against 14’: Michail Antonio hits out at officials after West Ham’s exit
  • Striker criticises refereeing after aggregate loss to Leverkusen
  • David Moyes laments lack of ‘fresh legs’ but hails ‘terrific effort’

Michail Antonio hit out at the refereeing and said that it was like “playing against 14” after West Ham lost their Europa League quarter-final to Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 on aggregate.

David Moyes’s side made a spirited attempt to recover from their 2-0 defeat in the first leg and were dreaming of knocking out the newly crowned Bundesliga champions after Antonio scored early on at the London Stadium.

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» Women’s Champions League: where the semi-finals will be won and lost

Chelsea must be wary of Caroline Graham Hansen while PSG will look to capitalise on Tabitha Chawinga’s speed against Lyon

This weekend brings the first legs of the Women’s Champions League semi-finals and I am particularly intrigued to see how my old club Chelsea approach their tie against Barcelona. This is the third encounter between the clubs in the space of four seasons and it will be interesting to see what Chelsea’s coaching staff have learned from those previous games – the 2021 final and 2023 semi-final, which both ended in defeat.

To draw on my recollections of playing in those matches, in 2021 we went into the final with a high press and the attitude that ‘we’re going to do our thing’. But we all know how that worked out – within 20 minutes we’d conceded three times and by half-time it was 4-0, which is how that final finished.

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» Manchester City face Chelsea with no time to dwell on Madrid heartache

Treble winners turn their focus to becoming the first English men’s club to claim a double-double in FA Cup semi-final

Chelsea beware: at 5.15pm on Saturday Pep Guardiola expects Manchester City to show precisely how little sorrow they feel for themselves after being dumped out of the Champions League by Real Madrid.

The FA Cup semi-final comes 72 hours after Wednesday’s penalty shootout heartbreak and, maybe, too soon for Mauricio Pochettino’s team as a smarting City aim to forget their lost double-treble and take another step in their bid to become the first English men’s club to claim a double-double.

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» How the Premier League experience can leave a sour taste for fans

High prices, rescheduled kick-offs, glaring inequality, PSR confusion – all are riling supporters, yet their loyalty abides

It is about an hour before kick-off at Stamford Bridge and Everton fans are milling outside the gate that leads to the away end. It’s a Monday night and people look tired, having just been dispatched from their coaches at the end of a five-hour journey. Some are waiting for friends, clasping cups of coffee, others are looking for spare tickets. The consistent topic of conversation, meanwhile, is the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules.

“As a fan you just want to go to the game, you want to watch the match, you want to live and breathe your team and your club and everything,” says Hanif Karimi, who follows Everton home and away. “Instead you’re spending your evenings reading through reports just to see what they’ve done to us.”

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» Manchester City’s gripping system failure offers glimmer of hope to others | Barney Ronay

Madrid being cast as underdogs is a grotesque measure of where we are but absorbing tie was a telling clash of contrasts

It turns out Pep Guardiola was right after all. Manchester City’s pursuit of the double-treble will now remain “a hypothetical dream”.

This was Pep’s own excellent phrase before Wednesday’s second leg against Real Madrid, a formulation that suggests even Guardiola’s dreams are full of theory, algebra, hypotheticals, like a footballing version of Evelyn Waugh’s professor Silenus, the modernist architect who doesn’t sleep but instead lies in the dark for eight hours with his eyes shut doing high-speed calculations, before rising at dawn to design another machine-age masterpiece.

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» Luke Garrard will leave Boreham Wood a legend – even if they go down | Steven Pye

The manager has given fans memories for life over the last nine years. Keeping them up on Saturday would be a perfect end

By Steven Pye for the Guardian Sport Network

All good things must come to an end. After nine years at the helm, Boreham Wood manager Luke Garrard takes charge of his last match for the club on Saturday. There will be a few crying eyes at Meadow Park. Hopefully there will also be tears of happiness and relief after the club’s final game of the season against Ebbsfleet. At the end of a tough campaign, the Wood face 90 crucial minutes to stay in the fifth tier. Win and they stay up. Anything else and it’s the drop.

A win would neatly bookend the reign of the man who has brought so much joy to the Hertfordshire club. When chairman Danny Hunter appointed Garrard in October 2015, the 30-year-old became the youngest manager in the top five divisions. Keeping Boreham Wood in the National League was going to be a tall order. A former Wood player, Garrard had been assistant to Ian Allinson as the club were promoted after a Conference South playoff final win over Whitehawk. The club had never played at this level before and, just to make the job a little harder, Allinson resigned a few months into the season.

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» 'I don't have any regrets': Pep Guardiola proud of Man City performance after shootout loss – video

Manchester City came from behind in their quarter-final second leg at the ­Etihad Stadium, after Kevin De Bruyne’s 76th-minute strike cancelled out Rodrygo’s opener early in the first half. Despite the holders dominating ­possession, Real held on until the end of extra-time and eventually prevailed following a penalty shootout. 'We did everything, I don't have any regrets with what we have done,' said Guardiola.

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» 'We lacked that magic moment': Mikel Arteta rues small margins in Arsenal defeat by Bayern – video

Mikel Arteta said Arsenal 'lacked that magic moment' after losing to Bayern Munich and missing out on a first Champions League semi-final since 2009. Joshua Kimmich’s second-half goal was enough to secure a 3-2 aggregate win. 'I thought we had the capacity and the quality to win the semi-finals because the margins have been very small,' Arteta said. 'But those margins are coming from something else that maybe we don't have yet and we have to learn it.'

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» Mesmerising drone footage shows Portsmouth fans filling pitch after winning League One – video

Stunning drone footage captured the moment Portsmouth fans stormed the pitch as they were crowned League One champions. Portsmouth return to the Championship after a 12-year absence. John Mousinho’s side twice hit back from behind to beat playoff hopefuls Barnsley 3-2. Fans can be seen celebrating in the centre of the pitch with the players and setting off smoke bombs.

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» Pochettino 'upset' at Chelsea penalty spat and argues with journalist – video

A furious Mauricio Pochettino said it was 'a shame' that Nicolas Jackson and Noni Madueke took the gloss off Chelsea’s 6-0 win over Everton by trying to snatch a second-half penalty off Cole Palmer. Pochettino, who confirmed Palmer is the side’s designated spot-kick taker, admitted the incident sent out the wrong image about his team’s mentality. Chelsea’s head coach wants his players to focus more on the collective. Pochettino then clashed with a journalist once the press conference had ended, showing his emotions at having been asked repeated questions about the penalty taker confusion and very little about the rest of the game.

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» Al-Ittihad player Abderrazak Hamdallah whipped by spectator – video

Al-Ittihad’s forward Abderrazak Hamdallah was struck by a spectator at the end of the match in which Al-Ittihad lost 4-1 to Al-Hilal in Abu Dhabi.

Hamdallah appeared to throw his water on the audience member before they quickly retaliated.

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» Leverkusen fans storm pitch to celebrate first ever Bundesliga victory – video

Bayer Leverkusen sealed their first ever Bundesliga title with five games to spare after thrashing visitors Werder Bremen 5-0. After the final whistle hundreds of fans rushed onto the pitch to celebrate with the players. Fans outside the stadium were also celebrating, ecstatic to be victorious 'after all the runner-up finishes'.

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» Georgia footballers protest against Tbilisi’s ‘foreign influence’ bill

Captain of national men’s team among those posting apparently coordinated social media messages

Leading players in Georgia’s national men’s football team have backed mass protests sparked by a “foreign influence” bill criticised for mirroring a repressive Russian law.

Riot police have clashed in recent nights with large rallies of people protesting outside the parliament building in Tbilisi against the bill, which is viewed in Brussels as a threat to future EU membership.

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» ‘It’s Bayer Leverkusen time’: Alonso’s historic title has changed club for ever | Andy Brassell

Leverkusen won first Bundesliga because of their brilliance – under their coach now only victory feels inevitable

In other contexts, it might have been seen as tempting fate, daring to anger the football gods. Leverkusen was set for a day of celebration like never before. Approximately 10,000 people lined the streets to greet the team bus leading up to the Bay-Arena with Bismarckstrasse renamed Xabi-Alonso-Allee for the day with its new moniker plastered on street signs.

Yet Bayer Leverkusen weren’t just expectant. They were ready. Unlike Borussia Dortmund, who had stumbled agonisingly on the final day last season when their chance to dethrone Bayern Munich arose, they never felt like dropping the ball. On Sunday, they only needed to beat Werder Bremen to make mathematically sure of the title.

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» Malmö Women’s new dawn offers hope as Nordic clubs reach crossroads

Europe’s balance of power has shifted and Malmö are among the clubs with a vision to return Nordic football to the top

The rain has let up in time for training and Malmö FF Women are going through their paces. Their session takes place at the club’s old ground but, on Saturday, their Elitettan campaign will begin yards away on the main Eleda Stadion pitch. It will be a special occasion: their first match in Sweden’s second tier after promotion, with about 2,000 fans looking on. They will face opponents who were once no strangers to a spot of glamour. Earlier this century few in Europe could rival Umeå IK, who won the Uefa Women’s Cup twice and were runners-up three times. Football has changed since their last final in 2008 and it would be a tremendous feat for any Swedish side, let alone Umeå, to hit those heights again.

While the players train, Håkan Wifvesson is wrapping up an intense day of discussion. “We, the Nordic countries, have been the strongest in the world,” says Wifvesson, chairman of Malmö’s city rivals and multiple top-flight title winners Rosengård, to a packed room inside the modern stadium. “I think we have to make a new plan for how we’re going to get back to that position.”

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» Samuel Eto’o claims he is victim of Caf campaign before match-fixing hearing
  • Cameroon FA president’s lawyers lodge complaint with Fifa
  • They claim Caf general secretary has breached Fifa ethics code

Samuel Eto’o has accused the Confederation of African Football’s general secretary of several breaches of Fifa’s code of ethics during the investigation into allegations that he was involved in match-fixing.

The Guardian understands that Eto’o’s lawyers have lodged a complaint with world football’s governing body alleging that Véron Mosengo-Omba opened the investigation to create “negative publicity” about the former Barcelona striker, who has been president of the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot) since December 2021.

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» ‘Football’s on the rise here’: European teams seek global outreach in India

Clubs in the west hope partnerships with the Indian Super League can let them trade knowhow for fan engagement

A south Indian Idli Sambar mixed with Norfolk mustard was on the menu when Norwich City and Chennaiyin FC announced a strategic partnership last week. The Canaries are the latest European club to head to the subcontinent in search of fans, revenue and, eventually perhaps, talent. If India has overtaken China as the world’s most populous country, it is also increasingly seen as the place to be in football.

The big clubs are still active in China but operating there was far from simple even before the pandemic helped to produce a more inward-looking and insular business environment. It can be hard for European officials to get to grips with a lack of transparency, the language and a completely different social media model as well as concerns over corruption. Chinese companies and business people got heavily involved in European football for a while but there have been few attempts to go the other way – Sheffield United’s ownership of Chengdu Blades, starting in 2006, had its moments but did not last long.

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» Athletic Club savour the week of their lives after historic Copa del Rey win | Sid Lowe

Even a VAR-inflicted 1-1 draw against Villarreal did not spoil the Basque club’s celebrations after a first major trophy in 40 years

They had been down to Seville 907km away, 100,000 of them, and come back with their first major honour in 40 years, finally won well after midnight. They had made a victory parade of the traffic jam home, the Roman road known as the Silver Route turned red and white. And they had taken the trophy to the tree of Gernika, symbol of their people. There was the impromptu street party, a police fine imposed for the mobile disco heading through the old town, the whole band playing, and the gabarra, which is only a barge but is everything: a river cruise they had longed for. Then there were the six-hour queues to see the Copa del Rey, if only to check this was real.

For seven days they had celebrated. And on the eighth day there was just one thing left for Athletic Club to do, the perfect close to the week of their lives: bring everyone back to San Mamés, bring the Copa del Rey too, and beat Villarreal. After 40 years waiting, six final defeats – 1985, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2020, 2021 – it was just right. Even the man supposed to mess it up for them said so. Marcelino García Toral, the visiting coach on Sunday night and Athletic’s manager when they lost the last two of those finals, thanked “destiny” for the chance to be there. “I know what this means,” he said.

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» PSG, Marseille and Lille will benefit from a weekend off. But is it fair? | Luke Entwistle

Ligue 1 gave the clubs a rest before their European fixtures. Should their needs be prioritised over those of smaller clubs?

By Luke Entwistle for Get French Football News

This was no normal weekend in Ligue 1. Elsewhere in Europe, there were scenes of joy in Leverkusen as Xabi Alonso’s side ended Bayern Munich’s run on 11 straight titles, while at Anfield and the Emirates, there were scenes of despair as Liverpool and Arsenal ceded crucial ground to Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title. It was a little quieter in France.

In late March, the LFP, Ligue 1’s governing body, decided to postpone three of this weekend’s fixtures. As part of an initiative to bolster French sides’ chances of progressing in Europe, PSG, Marseille and Lille had their games postponed until after the current round of European knockout fixtures.

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» Daniele De Rossi’s derby delight brings ‘cinema’ to Roma celebrations | Nicky Bandini

Hired on a caretaker basis to the end of this season, De Rossi’s unique relationship with Roma gives him an obvious appeal

Daniele De Rossi insisted he had not yearned for these moments. Interviewed by Dazn before Saturday’s Rome derby, he gave us a glimpse of vulnerability he might not have allowed in his playing days. “No, this little bit of anxiety you have beforehand, I really didn’t miss that,” he said candidly. “But that’s the beauty of our sport and our city.”

More than 20 years have passed since De Rossi took part in this derby for the first time, coming off the bench in a 2-0 win for Roma. He played 30 more, and it is easy to see why some nervousness may persist. De Rossi endured some of the lowest moments of his career against Lazio, including a red card for punching Stefano Mauri in 2012 and defeat in this fixture’s only-ever major cup final at the end of the same season.

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» Ligue 1’s fourth spot in the Champions League is now Lille’s to lose

Nice, Lens, Rennes and Marseille all had eyes on Champions League football but Paulo Fonseca’s side are clear favourites

By Eric Devin for Get French Football News

The Ligue 1 table has been nip and tuck in its first season with 18 teams, Paris Saint-Germain, of course, the notable exception. Even though they have drawn four of their last six league matches, they still have a 10-point lead at the top of the table but below them, everything has been much tighter.

The two teams at the bottom of the table, Clermont and Metz, have remained competitive throughout the campaign and are rarely outclassed. The four sides above them – Nantes, Le Havre, Lorient and Montpellier – continue scrapping to avoid the relegation playoff, even if Montpellier’s win over Lorient this weekend has given them room to breathe. And as closely fought as the relegation battle has been, the jousting for Champions League spots has been even more intense.

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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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» Slovakia’s latest pro-Russia turn brings Euro 2024 tie with Ukraine into focus | Barney Ronay

Slovakia has just elected a president who, like the country’s prime minister, opposes military aid to Ukraine and is seen as pro-Moscow

It is easy to forget that in June 2021 the Ukrainian Football Association was ordered to remove the words “Glory to the Heroes” from its European Championship shirt after Russia – yes, that Russia – had complained it found the slogan to be upsettingly aggressive and militaristic in tone.

Eight months later the same Russia, no doubt still averting its nose from all things militaristic, would invade Ukraine’s eastern border and start a war that has killed at least 11,000 Ukrainian civilians and tens of thousands of its own soldiers. They did at least get the slogan changed, so there’s that.

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» Three stripes and out … But good can come from Germany parting ways with Adidas | Philipp Lahm

Although fans thought the shared success would never end, the DFB can use the new Nike deal money to benefit the grassroots

The partnership between Adidas and German football has been a commercial and sporting success for both sides for decades. It is a shared history of advancement. In 1954, the country recognised itself in the national team, and in Adidas too. Back then, Adolf “Adi” Dassler was the equipment manager; his screw-in studs were innovative and gave Fritz Walter, Max Morlock and Helmut Rahn a foothold in the rain of Berne.

Later, Dassler built up a world-class company. Today, clubs such as Arsenal and Ajax regularly take up residence in a small town that doesn’t even have a railway station. The national team will also be preparing for the European Championship in Herzogenaurach. Dassler is the German version of rags to riches.

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» Premier League has created the impression of a rigged game with PSR | Paul MacInnes

Like VAR, profitability and sustainability rules have created cynicism and not tackled the real problem of clubs’ huge financial losses

Everton FC, the grand old team, edged closer to a first relegation since 1951 on Monday. Pretty much. The whole business may not actually be resolved until after the season finishes or could bleed into next season. But put all that to one side and the picture is crystal clear. If you squint. From a certain angle.

The Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules (PSR), rightly or otherwise, are turning into something of a laughing stock. Rules which had previously never led any club to receive a sporting sanction have seen two docked points this season. Everton have been punished on two occasions, in fact, although their first punishment was reduced on appeal and their second, a two-point deduction for a £16m overspend, could yet be shrunk too. Nottingham Forest are also appealing their own four-point sanction.

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» Football Daily | Is a Swiss-style end for FA Cup replays worth trading the family silver for?

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You’ve probably heard of the Swiss system. Come on, you know: “The Swiss system is used for competitions in which there are too many entrants for a full round-robin (all-play-all) to be feasible, and eliminating any competitors before the end of the tournament is undesirable. [1].” That’s the format next season’s Big Cup group stage will be played within. And thereafter, until a Uefa suit eventually clocks that 36 teams playing each other on a rota devised by a supercomputer until late January to cut down to the same 16 that usually fill the knockouts is few people’s idea of appointment viewing in an age of TV on demand and YouTube sensations.

Re: yesterday’s Football Daily letters. Oh the decline! Alex Jackson’s packed pub with seven (seven!) hand pumps on show versus Olivier Bernard’s empty pub with only two hand pumps and lots of fizzy cr@p like C@rling! How we mourn the good old days” – Rob Worsfold (and no other possible members of Camra).

Nice to see Carlo Ancelotti taking to bed with Tin in yesterday’s missive. Weird Uncle Carlo, anybody?” – Gerry Rickard.

I cannot help but notice that one sure-fire way to get one’s letter published appears to be to include a link to a (somewhat) spectacular/hilarious/lesser-known clip on YouTube. Since, as a Gooner, I have nothing particularly funny to say, and since my country of adoption has the preposterously named Canadian Premier League (which is definitely not a step-up from MLS), I thought I would give it a try by linking to this spectacularly misguided goalline clearance from a couple of years ago involving my ‘home’ team, the Halifax Wanderers. (The visiting team, humbly named ‘Valour FC’, did actually score and won the game once they subbed the wandering player off)” – Pierre Igot.

Re: Football Daily Pro Evo names (letters passim). Surely Barry would be Gary Blendenning ” – Tim Jones.

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» The Knowledge | Premier League players representing countries with the lowest Fifa ranking

Plus: winning a title from way behind, even further-apart country clashes in the Euro and long-throw fatigue

“Chris Wood is having a pretty good season,” begins Iain Cargill. “Being from New Zealand, whose Fifa ranking is 104, which Premier League players come from countries with lower Fifa rankings?”

“If we discount players at clubs who have yet to make their first league appearance then Wood is the player from the second lowest-ranked country currently represented in the Premier League,” writes Tom Reed. “Marvelous Nakamba at Luton comes from 122nd-ranked Zimbabwe (all rankings measured from the current list).

Gunnar Nielsen Manchester City 2009-10, ranked 125th with Faroe Islands

Gaël Bigirimana Newcastle 2012-13, ranked 135th with Burundi

Stéphane Sessègnon Sunderland 2011-12, ranked 136th with Benin

Florent Hadergjonaj Huddersfield 2018-19, ranked 141st with Kosovo

Helder Costa Wolves 2018-19, ranked 142nd with Angola in January 2019

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing Cardiff 2018-19, ranked 149th with Guatemala

El Hadji Ba - Sunderland 2013-14, ranked 159th with Mauritania

Alex Nimely Manchester City 2009-10, ranked 161st with Liberia

Dexter Blackstock Southampton 2004-05, ranked 163rd with Antigua and Barbuda

Al Bangura and Albert Jarrett Watford 2006-07, ranked 165th with Sierra Leone

Bobby Bowry Crystal Palace 1994-95, ranked 176th with St Kitts and Nevis

Jason Roberts Blackburn 2007-08, ranked 176th with Grenada

Zesh Rehman Fulham 2004-05, ranked 178th with Pakistan

Emerson Boyce Wigan 2012-13, ranked 178th with Barbados

Modou Barrow Swansea 2016-16, ranked 179th with Gambia

Onel Hernández Norwich 2019-20, ranked 179th with Cuba

Vurnon Anita Newcastle 2013-14, ranked 183rd with Curaçao

Kyle Lightbourne Coventry 1997-98, ranked 184th with Bermuda

Mesca Fulham 2013-14, ranked 184th with Guinea-Bissau

Neil Danns Blackburn 2003-04, ranked 185th with Guyana

Jordi Amat Swansea 2016-17, ranked 191st with Indonesia

Frédéric Nimani Burnley 2009-10, ranked 202nd with Central African Republic

Ruel Fox Spurs 1998-99, ranked 202nd with Montserrat

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» Manchester City and Arsenal crash out of Champions League – Football Weekly Extra

Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, Nicky Bandini, Lars Sivertsen and Sid Lowe as Real Madrid and Bayern account for Manchester City and Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-finals

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: you can never write off Real Madrid. Manchester City dominated them for almost the entire 120 minutes, but they stayed in it and ultimately went through on penalties to exorcise the demons from their collapse at the Etihad last year.

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» Football Daily | Portsmouth party like there’s no tomorrow after going through wringer

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Where was the most happening place on Tuesday night? With Mbappé’s boys in Barcelona? Among a stream of yellow flags in Westphalia? No, as much as we love Big Cup, the game does exist outside of it. The most exuberant celebrations were on the south coast at Fratton Park, where Portsmouth, after 12 years of lower-league shenanigans, sealed their return to the big-time (Championship). Theatricality marked the occasion, too. A point was required for promotion; three to win League One. After 82 minutes they were heading towards none, trailing 2-1 to visitors Barnsley. A Colby Bishop penalty and Conor Shaughnessy header later, they were champions. Cue the final whistle, your bog-standard pitch invasion, and a party like no tomorrow for a fanbase that has been put through the wringer; for a while there, tomorrow didn’t seem to be on the cards.

The bit about penalty arguments in yesterday’s Football Daily reminded me of Steve Nicol’s miss in the 1984 European Cup final shootout. With senior squad members arguing over the order the penalties were going to be taken (after the 1-1 draw against Roma in their own stadium) they turn round to see Nicol, then 22 and on as a sub, has taken matters into his own hands and is striding towards the penalty spot with the ball under his arm. As Nicol tells it: ‘For the only time in my career, I don’t feel in full control. I start my run-up. Then, midway through, I lift my head and look where I want to put the ball. A classic mistake. The ball soars over the bar.’ While some of the members of the team sympathised with the youngster, the ever-forgiving Mark Lawrenson walked up and said: ‘Unlucky Nico, you d1ckhead!’ Fortunately, the Italians’ own penalty blunders and Bruce Grobbelaar’s spaghetti legs got the lad out of trouble” – Martin McGrath.

Tony Adams revealed he was due to take the penalty that made Gareth Southgate infamous, against Germany in the Euro 96 semi-final, but the current England manager stepped up instead as he felt confident that ‘he had this’. Oh Gareth!” – Alex Metcalfe.

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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» A new winner awaits after FA Cup semi-final drama – Women’s Football Weekly

Faye Carruthers is joined by Suzanne Wrack, Robyn Cowen and Chris Paouros to discuss the FA Cup semi-finals and preview the upcoming last-four ties in the Champions League

On today’s pod: the panel discuss the FA Cup semi-finals, as Manchester United make the final for the second successive season and Tottenham create history by reaching their first.

The panel also discuss what this means for Chelsea, as their hopes of a quadruple have now been slashed in half. They now have two competitions to fight for as Emma Hayes’ tenure heads for its conclusion.

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

Adam Wharton shines on Merseyside, Mateo Kovacic displays City’s depth and Erik ten Hag gets tetchy

Joachim Andersen was named Sky’s man of the match at Anfield and with good reason. But while the Danish centre-back won header after header and made clearance after clearance, and while the front three of Jean-Philippe Mateta, Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise caused repeated problems on the break, there was one figure who stood out in midfield for his calmness: Adam Wharton, perhaps the brightest of the hugely promising generation brought through by Tony Mowbray at Blackburn. The 20-year-old moved to Palace in January for an initial fee of £18m and has played at least some part in every Crystal Palace game since. No other Palace player came close to his pass completion rate of 88% and, while they rode their luck to an extent in the second half, they’d have had to ride a lot more had it not been for his distribution, which helped prevent Liverpool building up a head of steam. Jonathan Wilson

Match report: Liverpool 0-1 Crystal Palace

Match report: Arsenal 0-2 Aston Villa

Match report: Manchester City 5-1 Luton Town

Match report: Bournemouth 2-2 Manchester United

Match report: West Ham 0-2 Fulham

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» David Squires on … 4.54 billion years of evolution leading to this

Our cartoonist takes a delve deep into history, to the present day

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» Wor Bella: forgotten story of women who combined war work with football

Hundreds of Munitionette teams played in Britain during the first world war – and their story is being told on stage

Much as followers of men’s football of a certain age and type sometimes struggle to comprehend the fact that the sport existed before Italia 90, recent aficionados of the women’s game can be rather blank about its history pre-Canada 2015.

Even those aware that women’s football was banned by England’s Football Association for 50 years until 1971 are often startled to learn that it thrived during and immediately after the first world war. And they will certainly have their eyes opened by Wor Bella, a play to be staged at Clapham’s The Bread & Roses Theatre and Newcastle’s Theatre Royal this month.

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» Man City once stumbled in the greatest title race of all. This time looks different | Jonathan Wilson

City have not been at their overwhelming best this season, but they remain immune to the typical anxieties of a title run-in

There are still only two points in it: Manchester City 73, Arsenal 71, Liverpool 71. It’s not over yet. If the three keep pace for the next five games, it will still be the first season since 1971-72 in which three different sides go into their final game of the season with a chance of winning the title. The hope for anybody seeking a dramatic run-in is that this weekend was just the beginning of a final month of twists and turns. But the sense is that the race has taken a decisive shift towards City and a fourth successive title for Pep Guardiola’s team.

It’s not just that City swept Luton aside 5-1. You’d expect that; they beat them 6-2 in the FA Cup in February. Nor was it just the fact that Liverpool lost at home to Crystal Palace, the opponent Jürgen Klopp had beaten more than any other, or that Arsenal lost at home to Aston Villa, managed by their former manager Unai Emery, each detail twisting the knife in a little further. It was the way they lost, coming after the way Arsenal had played in drawing against Bayern Munich in the Champions League and the way Liverpool had played in losing to Atalanta in the Europa League.

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» Rob Edwards: ‘If Luton stay up, I don’t want it to be because of deductions’

Manager discusses bravery, his future at Kenilworth Road, and the moment that convinced him his team can survive

When Arsenal went top of the Premier League against Luton last week, it wasn’t their fans who were celebrating. Comfortable in their two-goal lead, the home crowd were slipping out before the end and the stadium was empty soon after the whistle. But not entirely. Clustered in the south-east corner, nearly 3,000 Luton fans stayed to serenade their beloved manager. Oh for someone who looks at you the way a Lutonian looks at Rob Edwards.

It was Luton’s eighth Premier League defeat in 10 games and their 19th of the season. The Bedfordshire side sat 18th in the table, three points adrift of Nottingham Forest. And yet nothing can sour the love. “In this situation, if they turned, it would be really, really tough,” Edwards said after the game. “It gives me a lot of belief, that they’re with us.”

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» Jeff Reine-Adélaïde: ‘It was obvious Mikel Arteta would go on to be a manager one day’

The former Arsenal prodigy rebuilding his career in Belgium with RWD Molenbeek hopes his old club can win the Premier League

When Jeff Reine-Adélaïde was looking for a new club last year, he had plenty of interest. But the former Arsenal teenage prodigy, who had joined Lyon for €25m in 2019 after resurrecting his career at Angers, kept being asked the same thing.

“A lot of teams wanted me last summer but the question was if I was really ready to play a full season,” he says. “I could understand that they were scared after my injuries because I had only played a few games and I wasn’t starting much.”

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» Hillsborough, 35 years on: the pain of injustice remains raw as ever

Despite vindication over police and media lies that followed the disaster, families and survivors lament lack of accountability

On this spring day, 15 April, the clocks move round to 35 years since that terrible afternoon in 1989, when 97 people were unlawfully killed attending a prestige football match at Sheffield Wednesday’s home ground, Hillsborough.

English football will remember its deepest shame as a different age, the appalling crush on unsafe terraces with fenced-in “pens” for supporters, at a stadium nevertheless deemed suitable to host an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. A last disaster, after which clubs were finally forced by law – and given public money – to make their grounds safe, then sold their TV rights to Sky and grew rich on supporters’ subscriptions.

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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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