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Wednesfield L.F.C.

Amos Lane, Wednesfield, West Midlands, WV11 1ND
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Football Team News

» Man Utd news: Erik ten Hag sent message as Wout Weghorst details private talks
A number of Manchester United players are away on international duty, with Erik ten Hag's side due to return to Premier League action in April ahead of a busy run-in
» Jordan Pickford accepts he could be about to lose his England place to Aaron Ramsdale
Pickford is involved in another scrap to save Everton's Premier League lives, while his international rivals Aaron Ramsdale and Nick Pope are battling for Champions League qualification
» Aleksandar Mitrovic 'ruined Man Utd transfer chances' with red card rage at Old Trafford
Fulham's talismanic forward Aleksandar Mitrovic may have lost more than just his cool during his extraordinary outburst against Mancheste United in the FA Cup last weekend
» Liverpool's forgotten man sends Jurgen Klopp timely reminder before top four run-in
The Reds have endured a difficult season so far but all hope is not lost in the race for Champions League qualification and Jurgen Klopp may have one ace up his sleeve
» Steven Gerrard fires message to Celtic fans after wild scenes in Liverpool charity game
Steven Gerrard scored a penalty in Liverpool's 2-0 win against Celtic in a legend's game at Anfield on Saturday afternoon... and celebrated in front of the visiting fans
» John Stones details Oleksandr Zinchenko's personality shift after Ukraine war
Like most Ukrainians, Oleksandr Zinchenko was affected badly by the horrific scenes of the Russian invasion on his country last year and John Stones has provided details of the behind the scenes tears
» Bukayo Saka highlights Pep Guardiola's influence in Arsenal's Premier League title charge
Arsenal boast an eight point lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table and Bukayo Saka has pointed out Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus' arrivals from their title rivals
» Gareth Southgate can't hide honest feelings on Jude Bellingham amid £150m transfer battle
Bellingham has been playing through the pain of bursitis for the last month - and his left knee will once again be strapped when England face Ukraine at Wembley
» Gareth Southgate makes feelings clear on Marcus Rashford's England absence and New York trip
Manchester United’s red-hot striker ruled himself out of the reckoning to face Italy and Ukraine in the Three Lions’ two opening Euro 2024 qualifiers
» Leah Williamson wants more to be done to inspire next generation of Lionesses to victory
Seven months after their history Euros triumph, schools in England will be required to offer girls and boys equal access to sports, including football
» Finnish entrepreneur in Man United takeover bid quizzed by police over business
Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus has come to the table with his own unique offer, backed by his XXI Century Capital fund and wants to give fans involvement in the ownership.
» Ben Foster details Ryan Reynolds tunnel meeting after Wrexham set record on dream debut
Ben Foster's second debut for Wrexham ended in a 3-0 victory for Phil Parkinson's side against York City on Saturday - with Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney in attendance
» Arsenal fans fume as Man City's Rodri flies into Martin Odegaard with horror tackle
The Gunners fanbase were left furious over the fact that captain Martin Odegaard was on the receiving end of a brutal tackle from Manchester City midfielder Rodri
» Marc Skinner details Man Utd half-time team talk that inspired big win over West Ham
United moved back to the top of the WSL standings on Saturday night of Womens Football Weekend, after a comfortable win with Katie Zelem giving them the lead before two goals from substitute Lucia Garcia and one from Hayley Ladd sealed it
» Emile Smith Rowe sends perfectly timed message to Mikel Arteta with England display
ENGLAND U21s 4-0 FRANCE U21s: The 22-year-old playmaker grabbed his first goal of an injury-ravaged campaign as he put Lee Carsley’s Under-21s on the road to a morale-boosting victory
» Harry Kane lets slip his next career objective in frank video call with Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak called Harry Kane to congratulate him on becoming England's record scorer - with the Manchester United transfer target making an intriguing comment on his future
» Lionel Messi blown away by "most beautiful" new Argentina tribute to World Cup winner
Argentina captain Lionel Messi and his team-mates were given a hero's welcome against Panama on Thursday night after winning the World Cup in Qatar three months ago
» Ben Foster enjoys dream Wrexham debut as promise to Ryan Reynolds starts to come true
The former England ace got his first game back at Wrexham under his belt in front of the club's Hollywood owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney against York City
» Steven Gerrard silences boos and dodges missiles after scoring in Liverpool charity game
Ex-captain Steven Gerrard was one of many Liverpool legends on show during their charity game against Scottish Premiership giants Celtic at Anfield on Saturday afternoon
» Mykhaylo Mudryk performs Arsenal U-turn and teases Ukraine teammate Oleksandr Zinchenko
Chelsea's big-money signing has poked fun at London rivals Arsenal by revealing he regularly tells Gunners ace and Ukraine colleague Oleksandr Zinchenko that London is blue
» Man Utd and Liverpool target confirmed to be leaving Celta Vigo this summer
Celta Vigo midfielder Gabri Veiga is wanted by Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Newcastle and the club's president has confirmed he is set to leave La Liga this summer
» Former Man Utd keeper Lee Grant enjoying new role after "crossed to the dark side" claim
Lee Grant has taken up coaching after hanging up his gloves, but the former Manchester United stopper is now helping strikers rather than his fellow goalkeepers
» Arsenal boost WSL title hopes after smashing Spurs in North London derby - 5 talking points
TOTTENHAM 1-5 ARSENAL: The Gunners were looking to close the gap between them and the top of the WSL to just two points -and they strolled to a dominant win over their north London opponents
» Sir Jim Ratcliffe's right-hand man has crucial Man Utd role after Aaron Ramsey talks
INEOS chief Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants to purchase Manchester United from the Glazers and is likely to call on Sir Dave Brailsford's expertise if his bid is successful

Football resources

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Other sport news:

» England must show steel as emotions run high before visit of Ukraine

Gareth Southgate warns against distractions at Wembley on the back of his side’s big step forward in victory against Italy

It is fair to say that there will be a lot going on at Wembley on Sunday before England kick off their second Euro 2024 qualifying tie, against Ukraine. A golden boot presentation for Harry Kane to mark his status as the nation’s record goalscorer; he set the mark with a penalty in Thursday’s 2-1 win over Italy in Naples and would be congratulated by the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, on Saturday.

Another presentation, this one of a posthumous honorary England cap to the family of Jack Leslie, the black player who was denied the chance to play for his country in 1925 because of the colour of his skin. And a minute of applause for George Cohen, the 1966 World Cup winner, who died in December. So, sporting achievement; anti-racism plus the righting of a historical wrong; and the celebration of a cherished football figure. The power of the game – and specifically that of a sold-out Wembley – to provide a platform for so much continues to amaze.

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» Nathan Broadhead’s last-gasp strike rescues draw for Wales in Croatia

So, Wales finally know what life after Gareth Bale looks like and it turns out it’s not so bad, after all. Just ask one of the supporters that flew forward a few rows amid the delirium of the debutant Nathan Broadhead registering a stoppage-time equaliser on debut, or one of the dozens of topless fans, whipping their shirts overhead in a frenzy, who could be heard singing on loop as Rob Page tried to put it all into words more than half an hour after the final whistle.

It is safe to say kicking off their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a draw away at World Cup semi-finalists Croatia will make the Wales squad’s expected 4am arrival at Cardiff airport somewhat easier to stomach. “It will be a quick two hours, absolutely,” Page said of the flight home, smiling. His players had made a mockery of the largely defeatist yet equally understandable attitude among the away supporters who travelled to Split in hope of green shoots rather than anything tangible. Perhaps they had caught sight of Croatia’s home record in European qualifiers, which before kick-off read: won 34, drawn one, lost none. The magnitude of the result was not lost on anyone of a Wales persuasion, particularly given Croatia should have put the game to bed in the first half.

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» In this golden age for football, the threat of overkill looms ever larger

From bloated World Cups to dull club competitions excess is everywhere, but who will stand up against the exploitation?

It’s worth asking before launching into a jeremiad where you would have stood on major disruptions of the past. Have I become the old man who yells at clouds and is simply opposed to everything new? Would I have been against professionalism, the 1925 change in the offside law, the advent of European football, the foundation of the Premier League? Is this just the conservative creep of age? Perhaps. But, equally, it’s hard to look at football and where it may be headed and not feel fearful.

In some ways, football has rarely had it so good. The Premier League this season offers a title race, a battle for fourth and a nine-team relegation scrap; almost every match feels consequential. The World Cup provided a classic variant on one of the greatest narratives of all time, the ageing star triumphing at the last – and Lionel Messi’s consecration came after extraordinary tension against the Netherlands in the quarter-final and France in the final.

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» García and Ladd fire Manchester United to top of WSL with win over West Ham

A comfortable victory for Manchester United in front of almost 28,000 at Old Trafford saw them return to the top of the Women’s Super League. The hosts were uninspired in the first half but burst into life after the break to overwhelm West Ham with a penalty from captain Katie Zelem and goals from Lucia García and Hayley Ladd.

“We were not quick enough or progressive enough in the first half,” said Marc Skinner, the Manchester United head coach. “At half-time we had a few words and recognised that we did not give the Red Devil energy that we needed. Second half, you saw that, and the players took ownership which is all we want.

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» Joselu scores twice on long-awaited debut to ease Spain past Norway

Joselu had waited 15 years to make his international debut and wasn’t going to wait any longer. As fairytales go this was a bit silly. Sent on with eight minutes left, the 32-year-old striker born in Germany and raised in Galicia, a veteran of 10 clubs across three countries including Newcastle and Stoke, was only two minutes into his first game when he scored the goal that finally secured victory for Spain and three minutes into it when he got his second. And so it was that a sometimes nervy opening night for new coach Luis de la Fuente ended with the selección securing a 3-0 win over a Norway team who, like everyone else, left wondering how this had happened.

Working it out might take a while, however fast it finally unfolded. After he had reached Fabián Ruiz’s clever cross to nod in the first with six minutes left, just 149 seconds since he had come on, Joselu had stood by the centre circle holding his head barely able to believe itr. Less than 60 seconds later, he was lying in the corner having only gone and done it again, while the Rosaleda chanted his name. A loose ball, an alert mind and a close range finish had closed the game a way that no one had foreseen but they were loving it, lauding an unexpected hero.

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» Scott McTominay’s late double adds the gloss as Scotland sink Cyprus

The steady stream of punters heading to the pub long before full-time told a story. Scotland’s road towards Euro 2024 will include significantly greater hurdles than that provided by Cyprus, and this stadium has witnessed far more enthralling encounters. Tuesday evening, when Spain come calling, should deliver a different scene entirely both on and off the pitch. Perhaps players and supporters alike were keeping powder dry.

Yet those who succumbed to the lure of the pint missed Scott McTominay, twice, adding gloss to their country’s victory. Scotland have made such a habit of starting qualifying campaigns poorly that victory, any victory, must be appreciated. It is perhaps a tacit indication of how they have progressed under Steve Clarke that a win like this is regarded as mundane. The presence of close to 50,000 spectators for a meeting with the world’s 110th-ranked team adds to the sense of an upwardly mobile Scotland setup.

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» Football League roundup: Peterborough close on playoffs with win over Derby
  • Posh a point off top six after Nathanael Ogbeta seals win
  • Portsmouth battle back to draw 2-2 at home to Port Vale

Peterborough claimed a crucial victory in the race for the League One playoffs by beating fellow promotion hopefuls Derby 2-0. Second-half goals from Ephron Mason-Clark and Nathanael Ogbeta settled the contest and moved Darren Ferguson’s men to within a point of the top six.

Derby, who kicked off four points clear of their hosts, had the only attempt on target of the first half when Conor Hourihane was denied by the boot of keeper Will Norris. It was a different story after the break, though, as Mason-Clark rifled a 52nd-minute opener past Joe Wildsmith, and Ogbeta made sure of the points in the 82nd.

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» Sheikh Jassim submits second bid to buy Manchester United
  • Qatar Islamic Bank chair placed offer late on Friday
  • Bid comes after week when sale had been thrown into doubt

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani has made a second bid to buy Manchester United, it is understood. The Qatar Islamic Bank chair – who is also the son of a former Qatari prime minister – placed his second-round offer late on Friday.

A source close to the bid says the Qataris remain confident of completing a takeover despite interest from Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus.

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» Emile Smith Rowe ends goal drought to help Young Lions maul France
  • Arsenal forward on target for first time since June in 4-0 win
  • Noni Madueke also scores in dazzling 24-minute cameo

Emile Smith Rowe’s first goal in nine months helped England Under-21s continue their Euros countdown in style with a 4-0 thumping of France at the King Power Stadium.

The Arsenal forward’s second-half header ended his wait before goals from Noni Madueke, Curtis Jones and Jacob Ramsey wrapped up a comprehensive victory.

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» ‘They’re ignorant’: Crawford hits out at racist abuse of Ireland Under-15s players
  • Under-21s manager calls on social media companies to act
  • ‘These same people will be cheering goals if Chieo scores’

The Republic of Ireland Under-21s manager, Jim Crawford, has hit out at the “uneducated” trolls who sent online abuse to members of the country’s under-15s squad.

The Football Association of Ireland has condemned the attacks which came after the under-15s’ back-to-back 6-0 victories over Latvia this week, as “vile and horrific” and is working with police and social media companies to identify and deal with those responsible.

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» Aliaksandr Ivulin: ‘It’s not very safe to be a footballer in Belarus now’

State opposition leads to prison while the national team plays all games away from home due to the nation’s support of Russia

There will be no supporters in the stands of Stadion Karadorde, in the Serbian city of Novi Sad, when Belarus begin their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a “home” match against Switzerland on Saturday. Nor, in many eyes, will there be much excuse for the fact their meeting is taking place at all. Belarus are the competition’s pariahs: virtually friendless bar this weekend’s hosts and condemned to play all of their games on foreign soil for the foreseeable future, they will play on despite the deep sense of unease around their participation.

Last March Uefa banned Belarus from playing on their own territory on account of the country’s supporting role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But they have not been barred from competing, unlike the state to which Belarus is essentially a vassal, and few think the governing body has gone far enough. The case for a ban becomes even stronger when Belarus’s dismal human rights record, which has had a direct and crippling effect on its football scene, is thrown in.

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» Manchester United’s kids are all right after tough love in the lower leagues | Will Unwin

Clubs including Stockport and Altrincham are giving United’s academy players a taste of life beyond Carrington

Ninety-seven percent of Premier League academy players never make a single top-flight appearance. Those who drop out of elite environments can struggle to adapt to the different demands of the lower leagues. Manchester United’s professional development phase players, however, are finding out about life away from Carrington. Youngsters have been sent to train for up to a month at a time with lower-league clubs to open their eyes to the wider football world and enrich their education.

“If a player is in our programme from a really young age to 19, 20, they have only ever seen one version of what football looks like and the version at Manchester United is very different from what it might look like in the rest of the world,” United’s head of academy, Nick Cox, says.

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» Manchester City’s Lauren Hemp: ‘I know on my day I can be unstoppable’

Forward focused on becoming more consistent and believes club’s progressive form this season can trouble opponents Chelsea

Lauren Hemp believes Manchester City have transformed since the turn of the year and Sunday’s visit of Chelsea to the Academy Stadium offers the chance to show the progress made since back-to-back defeats at the start of the season which have seen City fly under the radar in the Women’s Super League title race.

“You’ve seen a different side to Man City, too,” the forward says. “A more dominating side. We’ve beaten Arsenal, which shows that we are capable of [beating the top teams] and it’s important that we carry that on. It did take a little while for those coming in to get used to everyone, to get used to the style of play, to find different connections and work well together. That has grown over the season. And it’s a perfect time for it to now be working, coming towards the end of the season where the trophies are up for grabs.”

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» Tottenham interested in Nagelsmann replacing Antonio Conte as manager
  • Nagelsmann available after shock dismissal by Bayern Munich
  • Spurs expected to end Conte’s tenure after explosive rant

Tottenham want to talk to Julian Nagelsmann about succeeding Antonio Conte as their manager. The club are expected to part company with Conte, his tenure gravely undermined last Saturday after an explosive rant about the players, and Nagelsmann has become available after his shock sacking by Bayern Munich.

Nagelsmann has been replaced at Bayern by the former Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, who Spurs had considered as a possible post-Conte option. Tuchel inherits a team that will face Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final and, possibly, Chelsea in the semi-final.

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» Liverpool’s Leighanne Robe denied in thrilling WSL Merseyside derby draw

A Merseyside derby would not be a Merseyside derby without a touch of controversy and the first Women’s Super League edition to be held at Goodison Park did not disappoint. Liverpool wanted revenge for their 3-0 humbling by Everton earlier in the season and thought they had it when Leighanne Robe swept them ahead. The referee decreed otherwise, ensuring the outcome would be as fiercely contested as the occasion itself.

A Goodison record crowd of 22,161 showed up on a Friday night and were rewarded with a richly entertaining derby that could have swung either way. Everton led through their captain, Gabby George, before Liverpool striker Katie Stengel levelled shortly ahead of the interval.

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» Euro 2024 qualifying: Mbappé leads France to opening win over Netherlands
  • Les Bleus’ new captain scores twice in 4-0 win in Paris
  • Lukaku claims hat-trick in Belgium’s 3-0 victory in Sweden

Kylian Mbappé’s France captaincy could hardly have started better as the World Cup finalists brushed aside the Netherlands in their Euro 2024 qualifier, winning 4-0 at the Stade de France, with three goals coming in the first 21 minutes.

The opener came after two minutes when Antoine Griezmann, said to be upset at being passed over for the armband, was teed up by Mbappé. Sporting a lurid pink hairstyle, Griezmann celebrated with his new captain to seemingly signal no hard feelings over the issue.

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» ‘If we don’t win, it’s a failure’: Maguire sets bold England target for Euro 2024
  • Defender believes ‘we have the players to win it’
  • England face Ukraine in second qualifying game on Sunday

Harry Maguire says England will have failed if they do not win Euro 2024. The Manchester United captain, who played the 90 minutes of Thursday’s 2-1 win over Italy in Naples that got the qualifying campaign off to a flying start, feels the team is in a good place and has an ideal blend of youth and experience.

Maguire made headlines at the World Cup in Qatar last December when he said before the quarter-final against France that there was a belief in the squad that they had to win the tournament. It was not so much an objective as an obligation. They lost that game 2-1, although Maguire saw nothing from France to suggest they were wildly superior.

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» Bayern confirm Thomas Tuchel as new manager after Nagelsmann sacking
  • Former Chelsea manager signs deal until 2025
  • Bayern face Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund next week

The former Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has been confirmed as the new Bayern Munich head coach after the club sacked Julian Nagelsmann. Tuchel, 49, has agreed a contract until June 2025 and will take training for the first time on Monday.

News of Nagelsmann’s departure spread on Thursday evening and on Friday he returned from holiday to be told that he had lost his job despite leading Bayern to their 10th straight German league crown last season.

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» Jude Bellingham shows England’s potential before old flaws emerge | Jacob Steinberg

Gareth Southgate’s team dominated Italy early on but the manager recognised that dropping deep only invited trouble in Naples

England can already see a path to glory at Euro 2024. If that sounds like the usual triumphalism then consider how mature Gareth Southgate’s team looked during the first 45 minutes in Naples on Thursday night. There was a boldness to England, an easy balance in midfield, invention and incision in attack, and Italy could have had no complaints if the game had been over as a contest at half-time.

The defending European champions – the team who broke England’s hearts at the last Euros – were lucky not to be 3-0 down. There was a glaring miss from Jack Grealish, who passed up an open goal moments after Harry Kane had become his country’s record goalscorer, and a constant sense that England were too quick, physical and talented for the Italians, particularly with Jorginho and Marco Verratti looking too old to compete with Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice in midfield.

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» ‘I had to be a rebel to play football’: England’s Leah Williamson on sexism, self-doubt and winning the Euros

Ever since she battled to get into an all-boys team at age six, the Arsenal star has blazed a trail for women in football. Now she wants to inspire girls to follow in her footsteps. Plus – an extract from her new book

When Leah Williamson was seven, her father told her he didn’t want to hear any excuses. If she really wanted to become a professional footballer, and was prepared to put the effort in, there was no reason why she shouldn’t succeed. Today, Williamson is one of the best-paid women in the game and captain of an England team that hasn’t lost for 29 matches, including the final of last year’s Euros.

What makes her father’s words remarkable is that, at the time, there was no professional women’s league in England. Even more remarkably, when she was a toddler her parents feared that she might never walk properly. Williamson was born with inward-pointing toes. “If they couldn’t have fixed it, it would have created problems when I started to grow. I would have had to wears braces on my legs,” she says.

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» McDonald’s, milk, Ronaldo: the top 10 football adverts of the 90s

From back garden keepie-uppies to airport flicks and tricks, a countdown of the greatest commercials from the decade

Scott Parker before he was Scott Parker, or rather when he was a lad called Jimmy who loved doing keepie-uppies in his back garden, and what impressive keepie-uppies they were. Indeed historians believe this may have been the first sighting of sick tekkers on British television, and it’s what made this ad, used by McDonald’s to promote itself as an official sponsor of the 1994 World Cup, catch attention. It is simple and cool, and because of who Jimmy grew up to be it is memorable. Not that Parker, who was 13 and at Charlton’s academy when the ad was made, looks back at it with huge fondness. “I was known as the McDonald’s boy for large parts,” he said in a recent interview. “It was horrendous.”

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» An ode to Mesut Özil, the frictionless footballer not designed for the age of rage | Barney Ronay

At Arsenal he almost became the symbol of the death of the Wenger era, but Özil’s problem was that football changed

There is of course no connection, only chance correlation, in the fact the top three teams currently in Europe’s top three leagues are also the last three teams to get rid of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Arsenal, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund have all passed on Aubameyang, Dortmund quite a long time ago. And while this is simply coincidence, it might make sense at this stage in the striker’s career, and in a sport that is always seeking marginal gains, for his agent to start marketing him on this basis, punting him around top clubs, backed by hard data, on the basis that hiring and then getting rid of Aubameyang has undeniable benefits.

Here is a player who should be treated not as a regular squad member but as the football equivalent of the sacrificial goats the ancient Greeks would take into battle, to be offered up as appeasement to the gods. Sign my client. Alienate him from the squad under an agreed schedule. We guarantee an Aubameyang Uplift of at least three league places between November and March while he posts pictures of his dinner from Dubai.

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» Harry Kane completes cycle of England hotshots with goals record | Barney Ronay

Forward now sits at the top of a golden seam of main men after goal in Naples – and his mark of 54 goals will be difficult to beat

There was an agreeable note of pantomime when the moment came for Harry Kane. Goalscoring records don’t matter, perhaps, or shouldn’t matter, are just numbers in the book. And yet of course they do matter, not least in international football, with its sense of duty and history and ritual.

And somehow it always seemed likely Kane would get his chance to take that England record in this wonderful mini-epic of a qualifier, with England just about holding on to take a thrilling 2-1 victory.

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» Soccer AM was not just laddish banter – it changed my life and gave soul to Saturdays | Max Rushden

Show should have ditched the Soccerettes earlier but it was huge fun, from sword fighting with Leboeuf to Ginola swearing

My first vivid memory of Soccer AM was in a hungover stupor sprawled across a sofa at a mate’s student house in Birmingham in the late 90s. There was a man on television doing keepy-uppies with a giant cuddly toy sheep, there were lots of goals – then two people started wrestling in leotards by the Hammersmith flyover. It was charming and silly and kind of hazily endless – no matter what you did on a Saturday morning, it would still be on when you got in.

Around a decade later, it’s 16 August 2008, and I’ve spent the night staring at the ceiling. I am terrified. Soccer AM starts at 9. I’ve never hosted a TV show before. There was no audition, no screen test. My whole career has led to this point and I’d rather be anywhere else. I just about get my opening words out. The show happens around me. And to be honest, it does for months. Had social media been the force it is now I wouldn’t have lasted. But very slowly I vaguely learned what I was doing – I was lucky to be next to a brilliant broadcaster in Helen Chamberlain. Those enjoyable seven seasons are often referred to as The Glory Years ’08-’15.

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» Southgate wants England to prove they are a 'top team' by beating Ukraine – video

The England manager Gareth Southgate wants his side to show they can be considered an elite team with a win against Ukraine on Sunday. England started their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a 2-1 victory over Italy in Naples, and Southgate says they need to demonstrate they can build momentum

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» 'A proud moment': Harry Kane on becoming England's all-time top scorer – video

Harry Kane has said the penalty he took to become England's record goalscorer was 'nerve-wracking' as he helped England make a flying start to their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign by winning away against Italy for the first time since 1961. 'Any penalty is nerve-wracking, you know, at any circumstance. And of course, I was really disappointed in how the World Cup ended,' he said. 'Breaking the goalscoring record, of course, would have been a proud moment, no matter the circumstance. But for sure it was that little bit sweeter when you win.'

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» Looking back at the highs and lows of Mesut Özil's career – video report

Mesut Özil, a World Cup-winning midfielder with Germany, has announced his retirement from football at the age of 34. 

The former Real Madrid and Arsenal playmaker was a key member of Germany's World Cup-winning side in Brazil in 2014. He retired from the squad in 2018 amid a political debate in Germany about immigration and after a backlash over a photograph taken with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying he faced 'racism and disrespect' over his Turkish ancestry.

'I've had the privilege to be a professional football player for almost 17 years now and I feel incredibly thankful for the opportunity,' Özil, who most recently played for Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir, said in a statement on Instagram and Twitter. 'But in recent weeks and months, having also suffered some injuries, it's become more and more clear that it's time to leave the big stage of football.'

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» 'It's unacceptable': Conte slams Tottenham's culture after draw with Southampton – video

Antonio Conte unleashed a scathing attack on Tottenham and the club's culture, saying: "They've never playing for something important, after his side threw away a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3 at Southampton. "They don't want to play under pressure. They don't want to play under stress … Tottenham's story is this," he said. "Until now I tried to hide the situation, but now, no. Because I repeat, I don't want to see what I have seen today."

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» 'A storm in a teacup': Fifa admits defeat on Saudi sponsorship of Women’s World Cup – video

The Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, slammed the media's 'double standards' as he admitted defeat over plans to make Visit Saudi a key sponsor of this year’s Women’s World Cup following criticism. Speaking at the Fifa congress in Kigali, Rwanda, Infantino confirmed for the first time that talks had taken place with Saudi Arabia’s tourism arm but said no contract had been signed. 'Fifa is an organisation of 211 countries,' he said, adding, 'For us they are all the same. There wouldn’t be anything bad in making sponsorships from Saudi Arabia, China, United States of America, Brazil or India as far as we are concerned.'

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» 'Happy and proud': Haaland and Guardiola react to Norwegian striker's five-goal heroics – video

Erling Haaland scored a record-equalling five goals as Manchester City dismantled RB Leipzig at the Etihad Stadium, winning the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final 7-0 to win the tie 8-1 on aggregate. The Norwegian became only the third player to achieve such a feat in the competition, following Lionel Messi and Luiz Adriano. Guardiola referred to the striker as 'a joy of a guy' and praised his mentality saying, 'It's difficult to score goals when you don't touch the ball for 40-50 minutes,' but 'he can do it'. Haaland told reporters after the match that he didn't have to say much because 'we won 7-0 and I scored five goals' but insisted that the game proved that City are contenders to win the Champions League.

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» Young guns make their mark and allow Socceroos to glimpse bright future

Man City’s Alex Robertson makes debut as Aiden O’Neill, Keanu Baccus and Garang Kuol also show strength of next generation in Ecuador win

Despite him being barely 30 minutes into his senior international career, nobody can accuse newly minted Socceroo Alex Robertson of showing a lack of ambition for the future. Indeed, it would be difficult for him to be showing any more. “You’ve got to reach for the stars and win a World Cup,” he told reporters after Australia’s 3-1 win over Ecuador on Friday. “You never know what’s going to happen. You see what [Australia’s] just done at the last one and for the next few years, building up to [2026] I think we can do some really big things in the future. I mean, why not say it?”

Now bombastic declarations, commitments to future success, and an almost fanatically unwavering sense of self-belief aren’t exactly a new phenomenon for this Australian team. Graham Arnold is back for another four-year cycle, and once again declaring his belief that these coming years will give rise to the greatest Socceroos team of all time. But to hear such a statement from a 19-year-old with less than 45 international minutes under his belt, for a nation that’s progression to the last 16 at the World Cup was considered a bit of a miracle, is still striking.

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» ‘I hate Juventus’: prosecutor forced to leave case against Serie A club
  • Financial misconduct prosecutor made comments in 2019
  • ‘I care about Napoli, as a prosecutor I am against Juventus’

One of three prosecutors accusing Juventus of financial misconduct has left the case after the emergence of derogatory comments he made about the team, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

In a video shot at a legal conference in Milan in 2019, a year before the inquiry into Juventus opened, Turin prosecutor Ciro Santoriello said: “I am a huge fan of Napoli, I hate Juventus.” He added in what appears to be a lighthearted exchange: “As a soccer fan I care about Napoli, as a prosecutor I am against Juventus, against robberies on the pitch.”

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» A president delivers peace and, surely, the title for Barcelona | Sid Lowe

Victory over Madrid in the clásico leaves Barça 12 points clear. It will have been a different kind of success this season

Franck Kessié hasn’t always been in the right place at the right time but on Sunday night at 10.53pm he was exactly where he needed to be, and when. One morning, soon after arriving at Milan, the Ivorian pulled into Milanello and parked in the space reserved for the big boss. Stopped by security, told he couldn’t go there because that was the president’s spot, he replied: “I am the president.” It fit somehow and the title stuck. That day he became The President; now, five years on, he became President, King, Emperor, anything he likes. Above all, he became La Liga champion, they all did. Which is why he, the son of a soldier, was standing to salute, and Camp Nou was going wild around him.

Sometimes the difference is a fine line, and sometimes that’s literal. The clock showed 80.15 in the 258th clásico, the one that would decide the destiny of the league, and the tension had been growing for a while, everything and everyone on edge, when Marco Asensio scored to make it 2-1 to Real Madrid. As he set off pointing to the badge on his shirt, over on the touchline Carlo Ancelotti clenched his fists and, to his left, Xavi Hernández couldn’t help but think how unfair it was. It was Asensio’s first touch, the kind of moment you knew was coming even when it wasn’t coming, and it reopened the title race.

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» Are Bayern Munich really progressing under Julian Nagelsmann? | Andy Brassell

The Bundesliga fluctuations in Munich this season are so frequent and so wild that it cannot help but invite scrutiny

Julian Nagelsmann might have imagined this stage of the season in many different guises when he resumed work after the World Cup. He almost certainly did not envisage this. His team will begin April with more games to shape the remainder of their campaign than they normally would at this stage, a legacy of the aforementioned break for the tournament in Qatar, but they will also make their way onto that road in an unfamiliar position of second place. Bayern Munich did not lose everything in Leverkusen, but any misapprehension under which they might have laboured under that this is a regular Bayern season is gone.

There were many remarkable aspects to the way in which this all unfolded; that Leverkusen showed considerably more nerve than their visitors in a 2-1 win and, also, that the home side’s Amine Adli was twice cautioned by Tobias Stieler for simulation before the referee twice re-examined his decision on the monitor, twice withdrew the card with a smile and a handshake and twice awarded a penalty, both converted by Exequiel Palacios (twice to Yann Sommer’s right, in case you wondered) to bring Die Werkself from behind and guide them home.

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» Socceroos call up 17-year-old sensation Nestory Irankunda for Ecuador friendlies
  • Train-on player replaces ill Riley McGree in full squad
  • Adelaide United winger is yet to start a senior match

Nestory Irankunda could become the youngest Socceroo in history after the Adelaide United teenager was promoted to Graham Arnold’s squad proper ahead of two home friendlies against Ecuador.

Irankunda, who turned 17 in February, has set the A-League Men alight this season with his precocious talent in the front third, particularly his penchant to strike from a tight angle and follow goals with a triple somersault celebration.

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» Bayern Munich’s Georgia Stanway: ‘We need to be nastier. I tell the girls that a lot’

The England midfielder on her move to Germany, winning Euro 2022 and facing Arsenal in the Champions League

‘Guten Tag. Wie geht’s?” “Sehr gut, und dir?” At which point, Georgia Stanway and I have pretty much exhausted our meagre supply of German. It’s not entirely our fault: as any Brit living in Germany will tell you, it is virtually impossible to learn the local language when everyone is intent on chattering away at you in English. Since moving to Bayern Munich last summer Stanway has been taking weekly lessons, but admits she’s “still waiting for that click”. The coach, Alexander Straus, conducts his team meetings in English. The training ground instructions are in English. The WhatsApp group is in English. Mercifully, so is the rest of this interview.

Still, for a Barrow girl there are times when Munich feels a long way from home. Beans on toast is one example: you can buy baked beans in Germany, but somehow they don’t taste the same to her. The 24-year-old misses her family and friends, even though they do their best to visit.

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» Lazio get their priorities straight to step up Champions League push | Nicky Bandini

Maurizio Sarri said he wanted to win the Rome derby more than a Conference League tie. And win the derby they did

Lazio let the side down on Thursday when they became the only Italian club to be eliminated from Europe all season. Serie A sent six teams through to continental quarter-finals for the first time this century, but the Biancocelesti’s defeat to AZ Alkmaar cost the league a clean sweep. Maurizio Sarri pointed to a congested calendar, saying his team was “probably not structurally ready for these competitions”.

Was it that, or did their priorities simply lie elsewhere? In the same breath, Sarri had acknowledged “there’s less energy around the club when it comes to a competition like the Conference League”. He suggested this was something players perceived from the fans, yet he was the one telling reporters before the second leg against Alkmaar that he wanted to win Sunday’s Rome derby more.

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» Lyon were once the best-run club in France. Now they look old-fashioned

Jean-Michel Aulas took Lyon from the second tier and helped them win seven Ligue 1 titles. But that success feels very distant

By Adam White for Get French Football News

“Everyone disappointed me. It felt like the ball was burning my players’ feet,” said Lyon coach Laurent Blanc after his team’s drab 1-1 home draw with Nantes this weekend. Blanc also accused his team of “playing backwards” – disappointment and going backwards have become a theme at Lyon of late – with the team who were once PSG’s closest challengers now sitting in mid-table, without direction or impetus. Everyone connected with the club must take some blame, from the fans to the president. While their women’s side remains as strong as ever, their men’s team is floundering.

Picturesque Lyon is not a typical hotbed of footballing talent but Lyon’s first team has become defined by a prolific youth system – their nickname, Les Gones, means “The Kids” in the local dialect. Former alumni include Karim Benzema, Hatem Ben Arfa, Sidney Govou, Nabil Fekir, Corentin Tolisso and Alexandre Lacazette. Other academies in France have advantages – Le Havre are under far less pressure to achieve senior results, the centralised Clairefontaine has broad scope and appeal, and PSG have direct access to perhaps the deepest pool of local talent outside Brazil – but Lyon’s youth system has thrived thanks to good management, elite coaching and intelligent scouting.

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» Barça 12 points clear in title race after Kessié’s late winner against Real Madrid

After 26 matches and 91 minutes of nerves and tension, a swipe of Franck Kessié’s boot virtually delivered the league for Barcelona. Barcelona had been hit by what appeared to be a late Marco Asensio winner that would have reopened the title race only to witness it get ruled out by VAR and the tightest of offsides. Then they had resisted, and now they were virtually champions. One last run, a Robert Lewandowski backheel and a delivery from Alejandro Balde left Kessié there to finish the move the match and probably the season.

As the ball hit the net, it gave Barcelona a 2-1 win in the clásico and took them 12 points clear at the top of the table with 12 games to go. They had suffered, they had been exposed, and they had felt the tension grow until the very end, but they had held on to eventually clinch a vital victory, this place erupting at the end of an enjoyable encounter, one that felt like a different world to the last time these two great rivals had met, shouts of celebration echoing around the passageways of this enormous stadium.

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» David Squires on … Antonio Conte, Tottenham and an unlikely return

Our cartoonist on the ongoing tumult at Spurs, plus Roy Hodgson rocking back up at the Palace

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» Unlovable PSG are as far away as ever from getting the best out of their stars | Philipp Lahm

The French champions resemble a luxury store, full of high-end goods no one can afford and lacking togetherness and spirit

Paris Saint-Germain can make you sad. In the recent defeat by Bayern Munich we saw none of the class this team should display given their players. On one hand it was a disappointment; on the other it wasn’t a surprise because PSG’s early exit from the Champions League happens all the time.

Only in 2020 have the club reached the final. In that unique season, two German and two French clubs contested the semi‑finals, largely because the English and Spanish clubs had not played for a few weeks and were not in the rhythm of the competition, nor in training. This year, PSG lost twice against Bayern in the round of 16 without scoring a goal.

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» Paul Pogba’s targeting by criminals is a human tragedy, he needs support | Jonathan Wilson

Midfielder deserves football’s understanding for the kidnapping and threats that are damaging his life and career

It is seven years since Paul Pogba joined Manchester United from Juventus for a then world-record fee of £89m. He was 23 and had already won four Serie A titles. He had been named young player of the tournament at the previous World Cup. He was a star on the rise, the sort of player who might conceivably drag United out of their post-Alex Ferguson slump.

Pogba had apparently only one fault: he seemed a player out of time, a box-to-box midfielder in an age that had outgrown them. Midfields had split into two bands, and he didn’t quite have the tight technical ability to play in the more advanced line, receiving the ball often with his back to goal, but wasn’t quite disciplined enough to operate consistently as a holder (which, anyway, felt a waste of his profound creative gifts). What he needed was to operate on the left of the midfield three as he had at Juve, but that was not how United played. That quibble, though, was only the start of it.

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» Football Daily | A tip of the hat to Harry Kane and longevity

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Outside the worlds of Countdown and Scrabble, longevity just doesn’t get the credit it deserves. First-world problems, we’ll reluctantly concede, but we’ve got to talk about something and this football email won’t write itsel … [Football Daily glazes over, then sits lost in thought for a few minutes before walking cordially into The Man’s office to pitch Bored, the world’s first AI teatime football email. Precisely 4.71 seconds later, Football Daily emerges, openly weeping, and returns to its desk].

Re: yesterday’s Football Daily letters: the standard of writing must have reached new heights if Simon Mazier’s ‘Fenerbahce Sequence’ didn’t win prizeless letter o’ the day. We can only be thankful that there was no prize for him to have been deprived of” – Jeff Lloyd (and 1,056 others).

ChatGPT seems to be all the rage now, supposedly backed by a powerful artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm. It’s pretty impressive, and scary, but that’s an entirely different conversation for another day. I tested it to see if it had an answer as to when Spurs will win the title, and I think it broke. This is what I got as a response: ‘As an AI language model, I don’t have the ability to predict the future with certainty. The outcome of sporting events is influenced by many factors, including the performance of the team, the quality of the opposition, injuries, and luck. While Tottenham Hotspur has a strong history and fan base, it’s difficult to predict when they will win the Premier League again. However, the team’s performance in the current season, as well as the talent and strategy of the team, may give some indication of their potential to win the Premier League in the future.’ Bad luck. Also, ChatGPT does not seem to know that the team’s performance this season gives Spurs ‘zero’ chance of potentially winning the title soon. Looks like AI still has a lot to do to catch up to us after all (for now)” – Shpetim Karandrea.

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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» The NWSL returns for 2023 with more fans and global domination on agenda

We look at the new season with its many title contenders and exciting new faces on the pitch, as well as big ambitions off it

The National Women’s Soccer League commences a new season this weekend in what promises to be an exciting year in the US, straddling a hotly-contested World Cup tournament. Here are some things to keep your eye on as the NWSL’s 12 teams prepare to kick off on Saturday evening.

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» Football quiz: can you identify these stadiums and pitches close to water?

These grounds are found next to rivers, coastlines, canals, harbours and estuaries. How many do you know?

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» When did the term ‘golden generation’ originate in football? | The Knowledge

Plus: managers sacked in more than one country in the same season, clubs telling their fans porkies and more

“At last year’s World Cup I counted at least 13 mentions of a ‘golden generation’: Morocco, Australia, Senegal, Switzerland, England, Japan, Spain, Belgium, Croatia, Canada, Ecuador, the USA and France (though not, oddly, the winners Argentina),” writes Jason Duvall. “When did this phrase become an established part of the football lexicon, and who first used it to describe the England team of the early-2000s?”

The idea of a golden generation has long since passed into cliché, but the phrase was used more sparingly – and with genuine excitement – when it first appeared. Anecdotal evidence suggests it was first used to describe the Portugal players who won the under-20 World Cup in either 1989 and 1991 (or both, in the case of the precocious João Pinto). When they graduated to the senior team, that group reached the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in successive European Championships between 1996 and 2004. The most celebrated of them all, Luis Figo, was still around when Portugal made it to the World Cup semi-final in 2006.

For a decade Portugal have been classic underachievers. Figo belongs to a golden generation, an exceptional group crowned the best in Europe at under-17 level and world champions at under-20. With the inventive Rui Costa and the twinkle-toed João Pinto, when they joined up with Vítor Baía, Fernando Couto and Paulo Sousa (who were only a year or so older than the wonderkids) in the senior squad, Portugal expected greatness. Instead people have been scratching their heads to work out why they haven’t matured as an international force.

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» FA Cup semi-finals set and London City Lionesses spice up Championship – Women’s Football Weekly

Faye Carruthers, Suzanne Wrack, Flo Pollock and Chris Slegg review the FA Cup and Championship action – and look ahead to the Champions League

In this week’s pod: the Women’s FA Cup semi-finals are set – and it’s not to be for Lewes and Birmingham. Four WSL sides will battle it out for a chance to play at Wembley.

Aston Villa knock out Manchester City to reach the last four for the first time. Manchester United make their first FA Cup semi-final, while Chelsea and Brighton complete the lineup.

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» FA Cup and Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Antonio Conte comes out swinging, Rob Holding steps up for Arsenal and Brighton’s talent conveyor belt keeps rolling

Will Antonio Conte be in charge of Tottenham for their next fixture, on 3 April at Everton? Those in the St Mary’s press room on Saturday evening were in little doubt that his instant-classic rant – two questions batted away during 10 minutes of fury – was a kiss-off, an ejector seat activated. Conte levelled blame at everyone but himself and even threw an olive branch to his predecessors, a list including arch-rival José Mourinho. “They can change the manager, a lot of managers, but the situation cannot change,” Conte declared in a critique of the club’s culture, and by extension, the owners Enic and the chairman, Daniel Levy. It was the players who received the most bilious invective, creating a potentially awkward situation post-international break, should Conte still be around. “They don’t want to play under pressure, they don’t want to play under stress,” he hissed. Listening back to the tape, it was amusing to hear Conte entering the room with a demure apology for being late. John Brewin

Premier League report: Southampton 3-3 Tottenham

FA Cup report: Manchester United 3-1 Fulham

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

Manchester United rage over penalty calls, Leah Williamson gives midfield masterclass and Spurs slide towards relegation

Manchester United’s manager, Marc Skinner, raged over two penalty appeals waved away by the referee, Cheryl Foster, in their 1-0 defeat at the WSL champions, Chelsea. “They’re stonewall when I watch them both,” he said. “We have to invest in the officials, we have to invest in the surrounding technology that can help. We’ve come to the champions’ home ground and put our stamp on it – you need those things to go for you.” Skinner also pointed to other incidents this season and warned of the impact of poor decisions on the destination of the title. “It’s the same as what happened in the Arsenal game [against Chelsea in the Continental Cup final], where [Caitlin] Foord goes into the box and Kadeisha [Buchanan] brings her down – it’s a penalty. They need to be picked up, they’re obvious. If they are not obvious we would swallow the medicine and get on with it. We have learned about our resolve and resilience this season; we didn’t crumble. We shouldn’t have to address it, not in big games when we go on to this stage and these are big for what the league looks like in the next eight games. That’s huge decisions.” SW

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» Reading’s Sanne Troelsgaard: ‘Teammates ask how I go home and work’

Denmark midfielder discusses her online fitness company, stopping for months after her father died and her World Cup dream

Sanne Troelsgaard is, by her own admission, “not a normal professional football player”. Instead of winding down after training – perhaps by watching some Netflix, like her teammates – the Reading midfielder gets straight back to work on what she describes as her “online coaching universe”: that is her own company, Troelsgaard Fitness, set up during the pandemic.

As well as being a professional footballer, Troelsgaard is an online coach, providing tailored nutritional plans and exercise programmes to her clients, now more than 30 people. “All my teammates always say: ‘How can you just go home and then still work?’

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» The impossible job: inside the world of Premier League referees

Players, pundits and fans complain bitterly that referees are getting worse each season – but is that fair?

Six minutes into referee Darren England’s fourth Premier League match of the season, he found himself with a decision to make. A Fulham midfielder, Nathaniel Chalobah, had made a late challenge and caught a Newcastle player, who fell to the ground with a yelp so loud it cut through the noise of the Geordie away fans. “That’s fucking red,” an old-timer seated in front of me yelled.

It was a moment that could determine the course of the match, and Darren England’s season. Competition among elite domestic referees is fierce. Their performances are meticulously dissected, reviewed and ranked by their bosses at Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL), the body that runs officiating in English professional football. Among the 19 referees who work predominantly in the Premier League, the best performers are appointed most often, and they are the ones who get the most sought-after matches, those between the top-six clubs, which officials call “golden games”. If, as senior PGMOL figures like to say, the Premier League officials are the 21st team in the division, then its star players are Anthony Taylor and Michael Oliver, who are appointed to most of the big matches. “Just like Liverpool will always play [Virgil] van Dijk in a big game, we’ll appoint our big hitters,” Martin Atkinson, a former referee who now works as a coach for PGMOL, told me.

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» ‘Inclusion is a family’: Arsenal’s sign language change is spreading the love

The incorporation of British Sign Language at the Emirates is life-changing for deaf fans. Every club should follow suit

The majority of football matches are middling to dull, and before the start of every season, the majority of fans know their team will spend it ensconced in mediocrity. So why do we keep coming back?

Max Parsons has been going to Arsenal all his life, since the Highbury days – “I used to go with my dad but he’s stopped, he’s an old man,” he says. “Arsenal’s like family to me. And it’s part of my love. I have a partner, a son, and I feel like I love Arsenal as well. That’s my life.” Because he is deaf, he has never felt quite fully welcomed – until now, thanks to the incorporation of British Sign Language into everything that happens on the Emirates’ big screens.

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» Inshallah United: ‘If only the Class of 92 had a Nassar Butt instead of Nicky’

If Manchester United had Muslim or Asian representation in the 1990s, an extract from a new book says, it could have led to great things for a generation of youngsters

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have an Asian football role model growing up. How would that feel? How amazing would it be? To have a brown footballer to look up to and maybe even aspire to emulate. When the hype started around Manchester United’s Class of 92 – winning the FA Youth Cup against Crystal Palace in 1992; losing in the final against Leeds in 1993; one by one making a name for themselves in the first team – I felt a huge sense of pride and emotional investment in them. Of course there tends to be a collective soft spot among fans for players who’ve graduated through the academy, but for me it wasn’t really that.

They were older than me, so I wasn’t going easy on the kids. For me it was more that a lot of them were local. I’d read all about the Busby Babes in the books I’d borrowed from the library and bought for a pittance at jumble sales. I knew that a fair few of them were local lads too. Then with the Class of 92 there was this sudden arrival of similarly local lads in the first team. Paul Scholes was born in Salford; Nicky Butt was from Gorton; and Phil and Gary Neville were from Bury, where I went to school. Even Ryan Giggs sounded like he was from here with his Swinton accent. Granted David Beckham was from Essex and sounded extremely Essex but he had a fanny parting and wore baggy jeans so he was basically an honorary Manc.

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» Jaw-dropping Erling Haaland reduces football to its base unit with his goals | Barney Ronay

It is easy to forget the Norwegian is only 22, travels with his dad and has never won a major trophy – he looks unstoppable

As the players left the pitch at half time, the Etihad Stadium’s in-house big screen began to replay, in slow-mo close-up, the moment that had just passed, Manchester City’s third goal in what would eventually become a 7-0 (seven) victory.

There was something ludicrously lovely about the imagery, the basic human design, the cold, cold beauty of the sky blue shirts, the snowflakes falling in slow, fat, perfect flakes, Erling Haaland scrolling past the faces in the crowd and gliding in a single movement into the perfect Olympic-grade knee slide, a footballer who expresses power, edge and certainty more clearly than any other.

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» Next Generation 2022: 60 of the best young talents in world football

From Antonio Nusa to Mathys Tel, we pick 60 of the most talented players born in 2005. Check the progress of our classes of 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

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» Next Generation 2022: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

We pick the best youngsters at each club born between 1 September 2005 and 31 August 2006, an age band known as first-year scholars. Check the progress of our classes of 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

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» From Haaland to Gordon: what happened to Next Generation 2017?

Five years ago we picked 80 promising players from around the world and have followed their progress since then.

Premier League Next Gen 2017 | Rest of the world 2017

Talent spotting in football can be a brutal and precarious business. There are so many pitfalls on the way and a player who is outstanding at 16 may not make it for a variety of reasons: loss of form and/or confidence, injuries and a host of personal reasons.

Every now and then, however, a player comes through who is so good that he or she seems destined to make it to the top. Erling Haaland – or Erling Braut Håland as he was known back then – is one of them. Of course, a serious injury could have derailed his career but he was one of those kids who stand out from an early age.

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» Next Generation 2022: Why scouts select players based on ‘the relative age effect’

If you want a child to make this list, you better make sure he is born as soon as possible after 1 September

Last month the Guardian released Next Generation 2022: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs. As with previous years it selected “the best youngsters at each club”, this time among those born between 1 September 2005 and 31 August 2006, an age band known as “first-year scholars”.

As in earlier seasons it makes for interesting reading. But the brain works in mysterious ways, and I did something different this year: I looked at the month of birth of these players. Thirteen were born in the first semester of the selection year (1 September 2005 to 28 February 2006) and seven in the second semester (1 March 2006 to 31 August 2006). Almost twice as many were from the first half.

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» Liverpool fans’ lawyers say Uefa’s Champions League refund not enough
  • All 19,618 Liverpool fans who bought club tickets to get refund
  • Legal firms acting for fans say they will press ahead with claims

Law firms representing almost 3,000 Liverpool supporters caught up in the chaos at the Champions League final last May have said Uefa’s offer of a ticket refund does not go far enough and that they will press ahead with legal claims.

Uefa confirmed on Tuesday that the 19,618 Liverpool fans who bought the club’s allocation for the game in Paris could get their ticket money back. It promised last month to open a “special refund scheme” in response to the damning findings of the report it commissioned into the events around the Stade de France.

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» FA backed Aleksander Ceferin for Uefa re-election weeks after Paris final chaos
  • ‘Liverpool fans will feel betrayed’, says Ian Byrne MP
  • FA says Ceferin’s track record shows suitability as president

The Football Association gave official support for Aleksander Ceferin to be re-elected Uefa president and sent a written endorsement just three weeks after Uefa’s catastrophic organisation of the Champions League final in May. Senior FA officials including the chair, Debbie Hewitt, were at the final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France, where Liverpool supporters suffered crushing and violent policing, then were falsely blamed by Uefa.

For weeks after the match Liverpool supporters spoke out and provided evidence to counter Uefa’s claims that fans had been late and thousands without valid tickets had overwhelmed the turnstiles. Many Liverpool fans who had survived the Hillsborough disaster, where South Yorkshire police told similar lies, said the experience in Paris exacerbated their trauma.

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» Uefa review’s devastating verdict on Paris chaos should prompt Ceferin to resign | David Conn

In a decent, responsible culture Uefa’s president would quit after the conclusions relating to the Champions League final

The review commissioned by Uefa into the appalling chaos that beset the Champions League final last May has reached devastating conclusions that in a decent, responsible culture would lead its president, Aleksander Ceferin, to resign.

The review panel’s report concludes that Uefa has “primary responsibility” for hosting a catastrophic failure of safety at the final of the competition which is its core purpose to organise, the very reason why it was founded as a confederation of Europe’s national football associations in 1954.

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