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We found 71 teams

Male » Female » Youth » 
Ac Hoylake »
Grange Cross Lane, West Kirby, Merseyside
Male, Female, U15, U14, U13, U12, U10, U9, U8
Alex Soccer Centre »
Crewe Road, Crewe, Cheshire
Male, Female, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11
Angels Woodchurch Jfc »
Carr Bridge Road, Woodchurch, Merseyside
Male, U16
Athletico Alexandra »
Crewe Road, Shavington, Crewe
Male, U14
Birkenhead Youth Club »
Borough Road, Birkenhead, Merseyside
Male, Female, U18, U16, U14, U13, U12, U11
Bridge Athletic Juniors »
Warrington Road, Runcorn, Cheshire
Male, Female, U11
Broadheath Central Fc »
Salisbury Road, Broadheath, Altrincham
Male, Female, U16, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11
Brookfield Rangers »
Barony Road, Nantwich, Cheshire
Male, U14
C & S Blazers »
Hassall Road, Sandbach, Cheshire
Male, U15
Centurions »
Light Foot Street, Hoole
Male, Female, U10
Congleton Hotspurs »
Back Lane, Congleton, Cheshire
Male, U14
Crewe Alexandra »
Gresty Road, Crewe, Cheshire
Male, Female, U18, U16, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U9
Crewe Alexandra Girls Centre Of Excellence »
Crewe Road, Shavington, Crewe
Male, Female, U16, U14, U12, U10
Crewe Hornets »
Male, U14
Crewe Terriers »
Coronation Street, Crewe, Cheshire
Male, U17, U11
Cromwell Athletic »
Blackshaw Drive, Warrington
Male, Female, U18, U16, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U9, U8, U7
Cronton Villa »
Birchfield Road Rugby Club, Birchfield Road, Widnes
Male, U14
Cruventus Athletic »
Crewe Road, Shavington, Crewe
Male, Female, U8
Earlestown Athletic Jfc »
Male, Female, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U8, U7
Eastham Blades J »
Bridle Road, Eastham, Merseyside
Male, Female, U13, U10
Ellesmere Port Jfc »
Dunkirk Lane, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
Male, Female, U18, U16, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U9, U8, U7
Fazers Fc »
Barony Road, Nantwich, Cheshire
Male, U15
Fc Blades (Wirral) »
Male, Female, U11, U10, U9, U8, U7
Glenavon Jfc »
Woodchurch Road, Prenton, Merseyside
Male, Female, U16, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U9, U8, U7
Halton All Stars Jfc »
Male, U15
Halton Rbl Juniors »
Male, Female, U16, U14, U12, U11, U9, U8, U7
Jfc Boughton »
Vaughans Lane, Great Boughton, Chester
Male, Female, U16, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10
Longhey Athletic »
Delaheys Road, Hale, Altrincham
Male, Female, U15, U14, U11, U10
Lymm Piranhas Jfc »
Bell Lane, Grappenhall, Cheshire
Male, Female, U14, U12, U11, U10, U9, U8, U7
Middlewich Town Youth »
Seddon Street, Middlewich, Cheshire
Male, Female, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U9, U8
Mow Cop Hornets »
Buglawton, Congleton, Cheshire
Male, Female, U18, U17, U16, U13, U12, U10
Nantwich Town »
Water Lodge, Nantwich, Cheshire
Male, Female, U18, U17, U16, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U9, U8
Neston Nomads »
Raby Park Road, Neston, Neston
Male, Female, U18, U17, U16, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U9, U8, U7
New Brighton Saints Jfc »
Egerton Street, New Brighton, Merseyside
Male, Female, U16, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U9, U8, U7
Oxton Villa »
Male, U18
Oxton Youth »
Bridle Rd, Upton, Wirral
Male, U17
Park Saints Junior »
Old Wrexham Road, Chester, Cheshire
Male, Female, U15, U14, U9, U7
Parkfield Jfc »
Liscard Road, Wallasey, Merseyside
Male, U15, U13
Parkside United Jfc »
Park Road East, Birkenhead, Merseyside
Male, U15
Prenton Town »
Arrowe Park Road, Woodchurch, Merseyside
Male, Female, U8
Rael Athletic Jfc »
Leasowe Road, Wallasey, Wirral
Male, Female, U12, U9
Rakers Junior »
Valkyrie Road, Wallasey, Merseyside
Male, Female, U13, U12, U10, U9, U7
Red Raiders »
Delamere Street, 4Th Floor Delamere House, Crewe
Male, U15
Rossway United »
Ellesmere Port
Male, U16, U15, U14, U13
Ruskin Fc »
Ruskin Road, Crewe, Cheshire
Male, U16, U14, U13, U12
Ruskin Park Rovers »
Crewe Road, Shavington, Crewe
Male, Female, U10, U9
Saint Basils »
Wood Lane, Prescot, Merseyside
Male, U16, U15
Sandbach United »
Newall Avenue, Sandbach, Cheshire
Male, Female, U18, U16, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U9, U8, U7
Shaftesbury Youth Club »
Male, Female, U18, U17, U16, U15, U14, U13, U12, U10, U8
Stapeley Fc »
Male, Female, U13
Sundowner »
Lower House Lane, Widnes, Cheshire
Male, U16
Timperley Villa Youth »
Langham Grove, Timperley, Altrincham
Male, Female, U18, U17, U16, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U9
Tranmere Rovers »
Prenton Road West, Birkenhead, Merseyside
Male, Female, U18, U16, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U9
Tranmere Rovers Fc »
Prenton Park, Prenton Road West, Birkenhead
Male, Female, U18, U16, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U9
Tranmere Rovers Ladies »
Wirral
Male, Female, U16, U14, U12, U10, U8
Tranmere Rovers Ladies »
Villa Lodge, Cross Lane, Wallasey
Male, Female, U16, U14, U12, U10, U8
Vale Juniors Congleton »
Back Lane, Congleton, Cheshire
Male, Female, U16, U15, U14, U12, U11, U10, U9, U8, U7
Victoria Colts »
Bebington Road, Tranmere, Birkenhead
Male, Female, U18, U16, U15, U14, U13, U11, U10, U9, U8
Warrington Collegiate »
Winwick Road, Warrington, Cheshire
Male, Female, U19
Warrington Junior League »
Parkgate Road, Stockton Heath, Warrington
Male, U14, U12
Wasps Fc »
Greasby Road, Greasby, Merseyside
Male, U15, U12
Weaverham Cy »
Lime Avenue, Weaverham, Northwich
Male, Female, U17, U16, U15, U14, U12, U10, U9, U8
West Wirral Jfc »
Fishers Lane, Pensby, Merseyside
Male, Female, U13, U11, U10
Westminster Park »
Hough Green, Chester, Cheshire
Male, Female, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U8, U7
Whitby Rangers Jfc »
Thornton Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
Male, Female, U14, U13, U12, U10
Widnes Dragons Fc »
Highfield Road, Widnes
Male, Female, U16, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U9, U8, U7
Widnes Parklands Fc »
Chapel Lane, Widnes, Cheshire
Male, U13
Winsford Diamonds »
Grange Lane, Winsford, Cheshire
Male, Female, U17, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10, U9, U8, U7
Winsford Over 3 »
Main Road, Moulton
Male, U17, U16, U15, U13, U12, U11
Woodchurch Villa J.F.C »
Carrbridge Road, Woodchurch
Male, Female, U9
Young Gate »
New Glade Hill, St Helens, Merseyside
Male, Female, U11, U8, U7

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Football News

» Diogo Jota has confessed "love" for Everton as he seals Liverpool transfer
Diogo Jota has joined Liverpool from Wolves in a transfer worth up to £45m but the new Reds hero has a confession to make when it comes to their local rivals Everton
» Gareth Southgate says coaching England squad has made him a better parent
EXCLUSIVE: The Three Lions boss and wife Alison have two teenagers, daughter Mia, 19 and 15-year-old son Flynn. He says he often applies the coaching lessons he has learned to family life.
» Jurgen Klopp's view on Diogo Jota which sparked £45m Liverpool transfer
Liverpool have moved in with astonishing speed to land the signing of Diogo Jota after already confirming the transfer of Thiago Alcantara on a busy Friday for Jurgen Klopp
» Gary Neville's message for Wan-Bissaka amid Alexander-Arnold comparisons
Manchester United kick off their new Premier League campaign against Crystal Palace on Saturday, with Gary Neville insisting that the focus on Aaron Wan-Bissaka should be on his strengths - not his perceived weaknesses
» Furious Jose Mourinho blasts Tottenham's "total joke" fixture schedule
Spurs are in the midst of nine matches in 21 days, and Jose Mourinho insists he is concerned with his players' welfare while lamenting the lack of "football people" making decisions
» Sergio Aguero hands Man City major injury blow with extended absence
City's all-time record goalscorer missed the end of last season with a knee injury and with the Argentine set for further time on the sidelines, Gabriel Jesus is set to lead the attack in the early part of the season
» Timo Werner ready to show what Liverpool missed out on in Chelsea showdown
Timo Werner is ready for the Premier League's land of defensive giants and now he's relishing the chance to pit his wits against Liverpool, a club that have long admired the German international's talents
» Jadon Sancho reacts to Thiago Alcantara joining Liverpool
Borussia Dortmund forward and England international Jadon Sancho is a Man United target, and has been strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent months
» Tottenham diagnose Gareth Bale injury during medical ahead of £20m switch
It appears that Tottenham knew this may be in the case in advance, meaning the £20million loan transfer of Wales international Gareth Bale will still go through
» Thiago opens up on what Coutinho told him about Liverpool before he joined
Philippe Coutinho was consulted by Thiago Alcantara ahead of his move from Bayern Munich to Liverpool, as well as Reds legend Xabi Alonso
» 5 things noticed as Liverpool train and Klopp makes Thiago decision for Chelsea
Liverpool play host to Frank Lampard's new-look Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this Sunday. Here are five things we noticed from the Reds' Friday training session at Melwood
» Man Utd 'agree Telles terms' as finer transfer details set to be thrashed out
Man Utd have reportedly agreed a five-year deal with Porto left-back Alex Telles and will now iron out a transfer fee with the Portuguese club to seal the transfer
» Robbie Savage: Bale will be loved back at Spurs - but he won't win trophies
After seven years at Real Madrid and four Champions League crowns, Gareth Bale is returning to the Premier League and Tottenham Hotspur. Robbie Savage gives his take on the Welshman's return
» Arteta responds to Arsenal fans' Mesut Ozil demand after training performances
Mesut Ozil caused a stir as he showed he's still got it in an Arsenal training clip - but Mikel Arteta was tight-lipped over a potential recall ahead of their clash with West Ham
» Runarsson arrives at Arsenal as Mikel Arteta hints another transfer will follow
Mikel Arteta is set to complete the signing of Runar Alex Runarsson to replace Emiliano Martinez - but more transfer business could follow before the October 5 deadline
» Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirms Man Utd injuries ahead of Crystal Palace opener
Manchester United get their Premier League season underway on Saturday when they welcome Roy Hodgson's Crystal Palace
» Michael Edwards responds to Jurgen Klopp's request with £60m transfer windfall
Jurgen Klopp knew that he would have to sell before he could buy this summer, and that clubs wouldn't be biting his hand off to sign the players he'd be happy to let leave
» Bruce pays tribute to Almiron - but can't offer Newcastle star any guarantees
The Paraguay striker is under pressure with the arrival of Callum Wilson, Andy Carroll's return to fitness and Bruce's change of formation -  but will still play a big part this season
» "Get fans back into Premier League games" demands Newcastle boss Bruce
The Newcastle chief reckons the game isn't a spectacle when grounds have no atmosphere and despite increased lockdown rules in the North East, wants St James' Park rocking soon
» Liverpool players' dressing room reaction to Thiago Alcantara transfer
Thiago Alcantara is a Liverpool player - and his new team-mates are reportedly delighted with his arrival having been given a boost by a new world-class arrival
» Liverpool set to sign Wolves striker Diogo Jota in surprise £45million transfer
The Portugal international, who recently celebrated scoring his first goal for his country, is set to move to Anfield in a big-money deal after three years at Molineux
» Klopp makes Thiago admission after sealing long-awaited Liverpool transfer
Thiago Alcantara has completed his £26million transfer from Bayern Munich to Liverpool, following seven successive Bundesliga titles and success in last season's Champions League
» Klopp hints at what he noticed about Thaigo that helped him make up mind
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has been waxing lyrical about the new signing, and interestingly hinted at what it was about Thiago Alcantara that really impressed him
» Thiago Alcantara opens up on unknown Anfield visit after completing transfer
Thiago Alcantara has completed his Liverpool transfer and revealed that his relationship with the club started with an unknown visit to Anfield when he was a youngster
From

Other sport news:

» Liverpool agree £41m deal for Diogo Jota after landing Thiago Alcântara
  • Portuguese forward to move from Wolves on five-year deal
  • Thiago says he was ‘waiting for this moment for a long time’

Diogo Jota will soon become a Liverpool player after the club reached an agreement with Wolves to sign the Portuguese forward for £41m having also completed the transfer of Thiago Alcântara from Bayern Munich.

Related: The Fiver | Chelsea v Liverpool: when binary figures were seared into your retinas

Continue reading...
» Why I can't wait to see Gareth Bale in a Tottenham shirt again | Max Rushden

Spurs fans need the homecoming nostalgia of someone they saw turn from a boy into a joy of a footballer

Gareth Bale’s final – well hopefully not final – goal for Tottenham was in the last minute of the last game of the season. Sunderland at White Hart Lane, 19 May 2013. He picked the ball up on the right, cut inside like Arjen Robben and bent the ball into the top left corner from 25 yards past Simon Mignolet. It feels like Bale scored that goal a hundred times that season.

As soon as the ball hit the net, Emmanuel Adebayor ran to ask the crowd whether it was enough to get Spurs into the Champions League. It wasn’t. Beaten into fifth place by virtue of Arsenal’s win at Newcastle. André Villas-Boas insisted he could keep Bale at the club. He couldn’t.

Continue reading...
» Timo Werner: 'In Leipzig I was the best Timo I could be. I wanted a new way to grow'

Chelsea’s £47.5m striker talks about his desire to challenge himself in the Premier League, Julian Nagelsmann’s influence on his career and running the 100m in 11.1sec

After hearing what people have been calling him, Timo Werner says: “I was a little bit surprised but Turbo Timo is not the worst nickname. Hopefully I can show the nickname suits me. Being fast is a really good thing because it gives me a lot of opportunities to score. It means I can create chances. Maybe people can say Turbo Timo scores a lot of goals.”

Chelsea’s new £47.5m striker looks ready to make a fast start in England. While Werner did not score when he made his debut in the 3-1 win against Brighton on Monday, the German was dangerous at the Amex Stadium and he had a hand in the opening goal when he won a penalty thanks to his speed.

Continue reading...
» Phil Neville eager to lead Team GB at rescheduled Tokyo Olympics
  • Neville stood down as England Women’s manager in April
  • ‘Olympics is a massive ambition of mine. The FA know that’

Phil Neville has said he wants to lead Team GB at the Olympics and expects the Football Association to make a decision “pretty quickly” on who will take the team to Tokyo next summer.

“I want to. That was an ambition that I had. I had the World Cup, I had the Euros and I had the Olympics, that was my three-year cycle,” said Neville. “Unfortunately because of the pandemic I don’t have the Euros, so the Olympics is still a massive ambition of mine. The FA know that, and they have been brilliant in their communications with me in terms of the timeframe.”

Continue reading...
» Gnabry hat-trick and Sané debut light up Bayern Munich's 8-0 rout of Schalke

Bayern Munich crushed Schalke 8-0 with a hat-trick from Serge Gnabry and a superb debut from Leroy Sané as they made a sensational start to the new Bundesliga season.

The treble winners sent an ominous warning to the rest of the league when Gnabry grabbed his first goal in the fourth minute with a fine turn and shot.

Continue reading...
» Barcelona members succeed in setting up vote on president Bartomeu's future
  • More than 20,000 supporters sign a censorship motion
  • No confidence vote will be held by early November

The Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, may be obliged to resign after club members succeeded in a bid to force a referendum. More than 20,000 supporters signed up to support a censorship motion against the beleaguered president who has overseen an ongoing crisis during which the club captain, Lionel Messi, announced he wanted to leave.

A vote on Bartomeu’s future will now be held by the start of November. If he loses, he and his board would be forced to step down with immediate effect and call early elections.

Continue reading...
» Sergio Agüero could miss first two months of season for Manchester City
  • Striker has not played since injuring knee in June
  • Mahrez fit to face Wolves after contracting coronavirus

Sergio Agüero’s knee injury could rule him out for another two months in a serious blow to Manchester City’s hopes of making a strong start to the season.

The club’s record goalscorer has not played since limping out of June’s 5-0 win over Burnley and, when Pep Guardiola was asked on Friday how serious the 32-year-old’s problem is, the manager said: “We knew the injury was difficult. He is doing the job [of recovering]. Sergio was out for a long time and Sergio is not a guy who regains physical condition quickly so I think in one month or two months he will be ready.”

Continue reading...
» Wan-Bissaka a 'throwback' unlike Alexander-Arnold, says Gary Neville
  • Neville says defender does not need to offer attacking threat
  • ‘He can become a brilliant Manchester United full-back’

Gary Neville has said Aaron Wan-Bissaka is a “throwback” as Manchester United’s right-back and does not need to be an attacking threat like Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold or Manchester City’s Kyle Walker for the club to be successful.

Alexander-Arnold and Walker are recognised for their forward play but Neville, a former United right-back and captain, believes Wan-Bissaka is a better defender than either and that this should be the former Crystal Palace player’s focus.

Continue reading...
» Women's World Cup could be held every two years under 'creative' Fifa plans
  • ‘We don’t want to copy men’s game,’ says Gianni Infantino
  • Covid has not affected Fifa’s $1bn funding for women’s game

Continuing the growth of women’s football could require holding a World Cup every two years, Gianni Infantino has said.

Fifa’s president believes football must “get the creative juices flowing” if it is to continue the recent successes of the women’s game, which could also involve a Club World Cup for women’s teams.

Continue reading...
» 'Guess what? We'll do it again': Sweden footballers vow to keep taking a knee
  • Chelsea captain Magdalena Eriksson: decision was easy
  • Players criticised for action before Hungary game

The Sweden defender and Chelsea captain, Magdalena Eriksson, has hit back at criticism the Swedish national team received for taking a knee before their Euro qualifier against Hungary on Thursday night.

The Sweden team had made it clear they were going to show the Black Lives Matter movement their support but after the game the players were heavily criticised on social media for their action.

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» With fans restive and a US consortium circling, what next for West Ham?

Owners have rejected offers to sell and supporters desperately want signings as a tough six-game sequence starts at Arsenal

At this stage it is hard to see how David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady can possibly repair their damaged approval ratings. The trust is gone after four unhappy years at the London Stadium and the majority of West Ham’s supporters are tired of watching their dysfunctional club shed its identity in return for very little on the pitch.

The past few weeks have been draining. After a period of deceptive calm, West Ham unleashed a wave of negativity when they sold Grady Diangana to West Brom for £18m. Even Mark Noble, the captain, joined in the criticism. Selling the best young talent was not part of the brochure when West Ham left Upton Park in 2016 and, following defeat by Newcastle on the opening day of the new season, supporters are hoping for a brighter future following the news that an American consortium is proposing a takeover.

Continue reading...
» Andy Robertson relishing 'fun' of proving Liverpool's doubters wrong

Left-back has written what he describes as ‘a love letter to my teammates’ and believes more is to come from the champions

Andy Robertson has written what he unashamedly describes as “a love letter to all my teammates” and, after what they have achieved together at Liverpool, it is easy to understand why. His conviction there is more to come from the Premier League champions, however, is not based on blind devotion or the arrival of Thiago Alcântara.

“If the club buys players it will be to improve the squad,” says the Liverpool left-back. “That is always welcomed. And if they don’t we have a squad that can compete on all fronts. That is what we believe. We have a squad with young lads who are getting better every day. Our squad can compete for the four trophies we are going for.”

Continue reading...
» Men's transfer window summer 2020 – all deals from Europe's top five leagues

All the summer’s Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A deals and club-by-club guides

Continue reading...
» Frank Lampard tells Callum Hudson-Odoi to work harder for Chelsea place
  • Manager calls for more focus from teenager in training
  • Bayern Munich reportedly set to revive interest in winger

Frank Lampard has said Callum Hudson-Odoi has to work harder in training to earn a place in Chelsea’s starting lineup following suggestions Bayern Munich are set to revive their interest in the winger.

Bayern wanted to sign Hudson-Odoi before he committed his future to Chelsea last year, signing a five-year deal, and reports in Germany have claimed the European champions plan to target the England international again. Although it is understood nothing is likely to happen during this window, Lampard offered little clarity about the 19-year-old’s future. “I’ve got no idea, I’ve not got anything,” Chelsea’s manager said. “I don’t know if there is any truth in it, so not much to say I suppose.”

Continue reading...
» Solskjær reveals he asked for Mason Greenwood not to be in England squad
  • Manchester United forward was then sent home from Iceland
  • Manager also upset Greenwood was asked to do media duties

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has said he is unhappy with how young players are handled by the Football Association on England duty and that he requested Mason Greenwood not be selected by Gareth Southgate this month because the 18-year-old needed a break.

The Manchester United forward’s inclusion in the squad took an unwelcome turn when he broke Covid protocols and was sent home from Iceland. Greenwood and Manchester City’s Phil Foden each invited a woman to a room at England’s hotel and were ordered by Southgate to return to the UK.

Continue reading...
» Arteta admits he doubted whether Aubameyang would stay at Arsenal
  • Manager says finances were one part of the issue
  • ‘I think Auba had his doubts at the time’

Mikel Arteta admits he initially doubted whether Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would sign a new contract with Arsenal and that the player also had misgivings before being won round.

Aubameyang’s three-year deal was confirmed on Tuesday and put to bed months of speculation about the club captain’s future. It means Arteta can work in the knowledge he has retained his prize asset, but the situation when he took charge last December was less straightforward.

Continue reading...
» Manchester United v Crystal Palace: match preview

Expect Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s sole signing, Donny van de Beek, to be a replacement as Manchester United hunt for the winning start needed if they are to have any real hope of challenging Liverpool and Manchester City this term. Crystal Palace won last season’s corresponding fixture 2-1, so this may be close. Jamie Jackson

Saturday 5.30pm Sky Sports Premier League

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» Everton v West Brom: match preview

More of the same for one manager and a fresh start for another. Carlo Ancelotti’s side and new-look midfield were highly impressive at Tottenham on the opening weekend and Everton are looking to start a season with successive league wins for the first time since 2012-13. For Slaven Bilic, by contrast, an immediate reset is required following a home defeat by Leicester that underlined the improvement demanded of West Brom. Everton are short on central defensive options with both Mason Holgate and Jarrad Branthwaite injured. Andy Hunter

Saturday 12.30pm BT Sport 1

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» Women's transfer window summer 2020 – all deals from Europe's top five leagues

Latest deals and club-by-club guides for the WSL and leagues in Italy, France, Germany and Spain

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» Sam Kerr: 'I hope that we can be what Cathy Freeman was to kids like us' | Samantha Lewis

The Matildas captain on being inspired by the 2000 Olympics, how the challenges of the pandemic have been met and exciting times ahead

She is one of the most talked-about footballers in the world and her name has been written into the history books, but when Matildas captain Sam Kerr was asked about her favourite football moment at the launch of Nike’s new Australian national team kits, her answer was not about her own achievements.

It was not a goal, nor a game, nor one of her many individual accolades. Instead, it was watching the rise of the Matildas over the past two years: the sold-out home stadiums, the growing love and passion of the fans and Matildas jerseys being worn in the street.

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

Chelsea and Liverpool could both be vulnerable, Nathan Aké has a rare chance and are Newcastle the Entertainers again?

Last season Liverpool won 15 league games by the odd goal, and began their title defence in similar style, beating Leeds 4-3 in an indecently entertaining match. But this habit is not an easy one to sustain, and it is worth nothing that they have lost five of their past 14 games, conceding 19 times in the process. It is true that now is a good time to play Chelsea – Kepa Arrizabalaga is still first choice, Ben Chilwell and Hakim Ziyech are unfit, and Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have not fully settled. But Werner still looked sharp against Brighton, while Havertz can change the course of a game at any moment. If Chelsea somehow refrain from tossing goals in their own net, they will ask some serious questions of a back four that has looked more vulnerable of late. DH

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» Macclesfield Town's demise was signposted but that doesn't make it less painful | John Brewin

After 146 years a winding-up order means oblivion beckons for club that defied odds but was often a misstep from the brink

The announcement was shocking but registered as no surprise. Like the £500,000-plus the club owed its creditors, Macclesfield Town had been on borrowed time. After a long series of court dates and adjournments, Judge Sebastian Prentis, via a virtual hearing, wound up the club on Wednesday in a specialist insolvency and companies court.

It will be the fans who suffer. A Macclesfield Town supporter does not dream of the Champions League or signing Gareth Bale on loan but it is the shared camaraderie of icy afternoons on the Star Lane End or a 500-mile round trip by coach to Torquay that will be lost. And in their own way, Silkmen fans followed a club with much to be proud of, as a powerhouse of the non-league scene in the late-1980s, a Football League club against the odds after that and somewhere that gave three Black managers in Sol Campbell, Paul Ince and Keith Alexander opportunities.

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» Gareth Bale's Madrid exit is marked by bitterness, resentment and relief | Sid Lowe

The Welshman is set to join Tottenham on loan after seven years at Real Madrid, but instead of sadness there is only relief

The saddest thing about Gareth Bale’s departure from Real Madrid is that no one is really sad at all. Instead, there is anger and disappointment but mostly a kind of weary relief, a release. He’s gone? Good, we can all get on with our lives. And no one more so than him: maybe the Welshman can play a bit of football again, and maybe he’ll be brilliant too, just not at the Bernabéu where it has been effectively over for some time. Now at least, now at last, it is actually over – four European Cups, two league titles and more than a hundred goals later.

Which, when you put it like that ...

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» Big names are great, but the WSL must not become a holiday league | Eni Aluko

The arrival of a host of stars is great for women’s football but contracts which last only a few months can also be disruptive

Two games into the Women’s Super League season and we’re starting to see some patterns emerging, with high-quality teams across the division but a few that look a cut above. The standard of overseas players coming into the league this summer demonstrates the way it’s seen now around the world, and will increase the quality still further, though I do have reservations about some of the signings.

I know of at least five clubs who have brought in players on short-term deals. For example Alex Morgan, the USA player and World Cup winner who has joined Tottenham, is a fantastic addition to English football but has joined initially for only four months. The season lasts the best part of a year, and includes the FA Cup and Continental Cup, and personally I’m not a big fan of this kind of arrangement.

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» Intensity, pace and a sweet left foot: Arsenal's Gabriel has the full package | Nick Ames

The Brazilian has made rapid strides in recent seasons and should add a presence his new club’s backline has sorely missed

Shortly after Gabriel Magalhães played his first and, as it turned out, only game for Dinamo Zagreb’s senior team he was called into the manager’s office. Nikola Jurcevic had seen enough during a Croatian top-flight game against Rijeka in April 2018 to know that, perhaps ambitiously given the club’s managerial churn, he needed to nail down a long-term plan for the centre-back.

Related: Emiliano Martínez joins Aston Villa from Arsenal in £20m deal

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» Jürgen Klopp and Frank Lampard discuss rivalry before Chelsea v Liverpool – video

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp played down the rivalry between Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and himself before the teams' meeting at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The pair exchanged words on the touchline during a 5-3 win for Liverpool at Anfield last season and ahead of the new season both Klopp and Lampard spoke about the transfer spending of their opposite number. 

However, Klopp insisted there is no problem between the pair and Lampard echoed those words in his own press conference. 'I just reiterate what Jürgen said from his part. I have got a huge amount of respect for him as a manager. I always have done,' Lampard said. 

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» 'It's never easy': Gareth Bale at Real Madrid in quotes – video

Gareth Bale is returning to Tottenham Hotspur after a glittering but turbulent spell at Real Madrid. The Welshman joins on a season-long loan, linking up with former Real manager José Mourinho. Bale has seen many highs during his time in the Spanish capital, most notably winning the Champions League four times and La Liga twice. However, during his recent years at the club, Bale has struggled with injuries as well as selection issues under the tenure of Zinedine Zidane

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» 'It's a total joke': Mourinho laments Tottenham fixture congestion – video

The Tottenham manager, José Mourinho, criticised the Premier League's decision to schedule his side's match against Southampton for midday on Sunday, after they played a Europa League qualifier in Bulgaria on Thursday night.

Tottenham beat Lokomotiv Plovdiv before travelling back to the UK ahead of their trip to the south coast. Next week they face Leyton Orient on Tuesday in the Carabao Cup before a trip to North Macedonia on Thursday to play KF Shkëndija in another Europe League qualifier. 

'They forgot that this situation. This is a total joke,' Mourinho lambasted.

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» 'Am I allowed to see my nan?': Chris Wilder bemused by football fans' return – video

Chris Wilder has spoken vehemently about the decision to allow a small section of fans into stadiums for some fixtures this weekend. 'We can have 1,000 people in the ground but I can't go and have a pint with my mates unless there's only six of us', the Sheffield United manager laughed as he said he 'hasn't got a clue' what's going on

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» 'It doesn't get much better': Arteta praises Willian and Gabriel after Arsenal win – video

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta hailed debutant Willian after he made all three goals in a 3-0 victory against Fulham in the opening game of the new Premier League season on Saturday.

 Arteta had warm words for another Brazilian debutant, after Gabriel showed early signs of promise having defended well in addition to scoring the second goal. 'They were both really good,' Arteta said about the two players, 'I don't think it gets any better than that'.

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» 'Here we go': inside the transfer window with Fabrizio Romano – video

The transfer window can be a time of huge excitement or heartbreak for football fans across the world. Italian football journalist Fabrizio Romano, who prides himself on being the first to break the latest transfer rumours, shares his insight into what it is like to work during the transfer window, his unusual sleeping pattern and the challenges Covid-19 have presented to closing a deal

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» German football team socially distance from opponents, lose 37-0
  • Just seven players fielded due to coronavirus concern
  • SG Ripdorf/Molzen II players watch from safe distance

German amateur side SG Ripdorf/Molzen II sacrificed a tight defence for social distancing as they fielded only seven players as a coronavirus precaution in a 37-0 loss to local rivals SV Holdenstedt II.

The preparations for Sunday’s match in Lower Saxony’s 3 Kreisklasse – the 11th tier of German football – were complicated when it emerged that Holdenstedt players had been in contact with an opponent infected with Covid-19 in a previous match.

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» Englishmen, crowds and a 'greedy piranha': welcome back Bundesliga | Andy Brassell

Bayern and Dortmund loom large over the rest as Leipzig and Leverkusen adjust after high-profile departures

There are many knock-on effects of such a short pause between seasons and even though the Bundesliga enjoyed a more civilised rest period than many – two-and-a-half months without league action almost seems like a luxury in these frantic times – it hardly feels as if German football has been away. When Bayern Munich raise the curtain, as is tradition for the champions, on 2020-21 on Friday night against Schalke, it will have been 26 days after they celebrated being the champions of Europe for the sixth time late into the Lisbon night.

Bayern’s majesty is fresh in the memory and their shadow looms over the Bundesliga longer and larger than ever before. If the results were dizzying, with the treble secured with 29 wins and a draw in the last 30 matches of the season, then their style was even more so. Hansi Flick’s enormous impact produced Bayern’s best football post-Guardiola with a group of players largely of an age to grow together and create a dynasty.

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» Cádiz are finally back, but not in the way that they dreamed of | Sid Lowe

After 15 years away, ‘the game Michael Robinson dreamed of’ wasn’t. And nor did it turn out the way Cádiz hoped

“To return is to win” runs the slogan on the tape across the top of the stairs at the Ramón de Carranza stadium in Cádiz, another line that can’t be crossed. At the bottom, the gates are locked, but outside a stall still sells scarves and hats in bright yellow, and two Osasuna supporters sit at a table in front of Bar Gol where footballs hang from the ceiling and photos cover the walls – icons of the club they have come to visit. Juan José Jiménez with his beard and magnificent mane, named Sandokan after the pirate. David Vidal, the loveable character they would invent if he didn’t exist. Mágico González, who Vidal proclaimed “technically better than Maradona”: as much myth as man now, the most cult of heroes. And the fans: a riot of colour and noise.

Well, normally. A few metres away, some have gathered on a warm Saturday evening, the beginning of a night they waited so long for, or never saw. A dad and his little boy, a mum and her littler girl, a podgy kid wearing a faded Cádiz T-shirt with Ché Guevara on the front and waving a flag bigger than he is. Teenagers with tops listing fans’ names like tour dates. “Cádiz are a first division team,” they say, which they are now 15 years later. A man holds a cuddly toy in a curly blue wig and a face mask. He is in his promotion T-shirt from the last time Cádiz came back and the flag he unfolds is 40 years old.

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» 'A terrible position': A-League clubs and players reach impasse over pay deal | Simon Hill

After players rejected a new CBA offer talks are in deadlock and the impact on the game in Australia could be severe

To say A-League players did it tough to get the domestic season completed is akin to saying Harry Kewell had the merest hint of talent. The Wellington Phoenix squad have only this week emerged to see if their families still recognise them, after entering a hub in Australia over 80 days ago. The players from the three Victorian clubs meantime, probably still wake up in cold sweats over their abortive attempts to cross the New South Wales border.

The players also took a big hit financially. A short-term collective bargaining agreement was struck, after some intense negotiating, that saw some take salary cuts of up to 80%. Yet just a fortnight after Rhyan Grant thrust his chest out, sprinter-style, to get Sydney FC over the line for a fifth title, the A-League’s 300-odd professionals are again back at the starting blocks.

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» Marseille beat PSG in a battle and show they are Ligue 1 title contenders

The game will be remembered for its splenetic finish but it was also the night Marseille planted a flag in the title race

By Eric Devin and Adam White for Get French Football News

“Imbeciles.” “Red with Shame.” “OM breaks Paris.” The headlines in France after Le Classique could not have been more damning. The match, always a showpiece for French football, was settled by Florian Thauvin’s goal in the first half. The narrative of PSG coasting to another title has been changed. However, the focus at the end of play was on the five red cards shown by the referee in injury time – two to Marseille and three to the hosts – and Neymar’s accusation of racism against Marseille defender Álvaro González.

That such a big match should end in ignominy will be a real source of disappointment for the league. Aside from a dull goalless draw between Lyon and Bordeaux on Friday, the weekend’s action had been exciting, with plenty of goals, including a spectacular finish from Irvin Cardona in Brest’s 2-0 win at Dijon. However, there was never any doubt that the big story of the weekend for the world at large would come from the Parc des Princes. It was certainly a spectacle, although not always for the way in which the two teams played.

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» Australia's foreign legion begin to prove their worth in WSL | Samantha Lewis

Fortunes were mixed but for the most part the sizeable group of Matildas joining Sam Kerr in England did not look out of place

Last week, when asked about Sam Kerr’s performance during Chelsea’s Community Shield win over Manchester City, head coach Emma Hayes responded in a way that was at odds with the melodramatic “Wembley nightmare” headlines written in the game’s wake.

“She caused problems and created chances,” Hayes said. “If you’ve got a striker who’s not creating chances, that’s a concern. Sam has been outstanding in pre-season and I expect that she’ll be on the training pitch tomorrow, working on her finishing.”

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» Ivan Rakitic's move brings revelry at Sevilla and relief in Barcelona

Midfielder served Barça well but they wanted rid of him a year ago and now the Croat is back where he believes he belongs

“Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.” Better still, bring a Sevilla shirt and put his name on the back. Ivan Rakitic’s transfer to Sevilla from Barcelona was foretold with a reading from the bible, quoted by the club: Luke 15:22, the parable of the prodigal son. After six years away, the man they called sevillano has returned home and, as the father declares in the next verse of the new testament, this calls for celebration.

In Seville, that is. In Barcelona, the reaction was more like relief, some sort of resolution finally reached: at least this time they had done the right thing. A little late perhaps and with little reward, but they had. A year after Barcelona tried to force Rakitic out, using him to try to prise Neymar out of Paris and prompting him to note that he is “not a sack of potatoes”, they said farewell. Some did so more fondly than others but, take a step back, and they must see him for what he is: a man who served them so well, a central figure in the team that won it all before the end came.

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» Why Eduardo Camavinga is the most exciting teenager in world football

The 17-year-old is a strong, smart and skilful midfielder who will only improve while playing for Rennes and France

By Eric Devin and Adam White for Get French Football News

Eduardo Camavinga handles pressure better than most. “I remember the fire as if it were yesterday,” Camavinga told Ouest-France in May. “I was at school and through the windows I saw the firefighters. I saw the damage with my own eyes, the burned house.” His family had moved from Angola and built that house themselves. Now they were watching it burn. “Things were really not going well for my family,” said Camavinga. After relocating the family to a new home, Camavinga’s father turned to his 10-year-old son and said: “Eduardo, you are the hope of the family, it is you who will raise us up.” He has not let his father down.

Many children would find such expectations difficult to bear, but Camavinga took it in his stride. “At the time it made me laugh,” he says. “I was carefree. I didn’t necessarily take it seriously.” Now, however, he takes a great deal seriously. The 17-year-old’s focused, magnetic and domineering performances helped Rennes qualify for the Champions League and he has now been rewarded with his first call-up to the France squad.

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» David Squires on ... the final word on the A-League season

Our cartoonist looks at a fittingly unique climax to a campaign like no other

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» Chelsea's swanky rebuild is in need of more solid foundations | Jacob Steinberg

Frank Lampard will be satisfied with his new-look side but knows the old problems are still lurking in the background

If title challenges are built on the ability to grind out scrappy 1-0 wins on the road, then Chelsea are not ready to catch Liverpool and Manchester City. An attack infused with elite Bundesliga talent is not enough.

With Kepa Arrizabalaga flapping behind a defence that still gives too many chances away, the same old weaknesses remain impossible to ignore. In the end Frank Lampard could speak about resilience and determination.

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» Cristiano Ronaldo's 101 Portugal goals a product of unceasing appetite | Barney Ronay

In passing an international century, Ronaldo has constructed a monument to himself that may never be surpassed

Eat, sleep, score against Armenia, repeat. And repeat. Then repeat again for the next 13 years until there are no more rungs left to climb, and the entire Fifa-mapped world, from Oceania to Concacaf, has been coloured a shade of Cristiano.

Yes, I watched all 101 of Cristiano Ronaldo’s international goals so you don’t have to. It was a brilliantly absorbing watch too, a flick-book version of the journey from there to here, with a sense of the past beginning to stir, older Ronaldos coming into view, Ronaldos beyond the Ronaldos.

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» Magical Marcelo Bielsa transforms Anfield into a delirious dreamscape | Barney Ronay

Leeds went toe to toe with the champions in a majestic opening half-hour that broke all the rules of football as we know it

Oh yes, you can definitely come again. This was, frankly, a bonkers game of football. At 5.30pm Michael Oliver blew the starting whistle on Liverpool’s defence of their Premier League title. At which point, enter: the Bielsa zone.

In that opening half-hour the hands of the clock seemed to spin, the sun turned a shade of purple, the birds above Anfield flew backward through the sky.

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» The Fiver | Chelsea v Liverpool: when binary figures were seared into your retinas

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Remember the mid-2000s? If you do, you weren’t there. Or maybe you just have a series of binary figures seared into your retinas: 0-1, 1-0, 0-1, 0-0, 1-0, 0-0, 0-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0. That would mean you watched the rump of the Chelsea v Liverpool slugfests that pockmarked the era. For a five-year period from 2004 no competition was safe: they faced each other 24 times and, ghost goals or not, a fair wedge of them were bona fide stinkers and could even be found dangling from a stick. Which means a meeting between these two still brings back the shivers: gut-wrenching, “tactically fascinating” heave-hoes at a time when English clubs could have written the book on grinding big games out. So what’s this on Sunday afternoon? Hmm, Sassuolo v Cagliari is on the other side and less likely to give us disconcerting flashbacks.

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» Sports quiz of the week: Gareth Bale, a glut of goals and a globetrotter

Who kept losing? Who keeps winning? Who keeps moving?

Gareth Bale is set to sign for Tottenham at the age of 31. He did not have such a great start to his Spurs career as a 17-year-old. In his first spell at the club, how many games did Bale play for Spurs before he won one?

10

14

19

24

Lewis Hamilton won the Tuscan Grand Prix on Sunday and is now just one victory shy of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record in Formula One. How many races did Schumacher win in the sport?

59

74

91

108

Thiago Alcântara is joining Liverpool from Bayern Munich. He is moving to England from Germany, having been born in Italy and raised in Spain. For which country did his father win the World Cup?

France

Germany

Brazil

Argentina

Umut Uysal won a 100m race at the Balkan U20s Championship this week, beating six other sprinters and overcoming which other obstacle?

He had to run in a mask, gloves and a visor as he had a high temperature

He had to run over a stray cat at the finish line

He had to walk 10 miles to the venue as there was no public transport in the area

He is only 13 years old – seven years younger than the other athletes in the race

Bayern Munich begin their defence of the Bundesliga this weekend against Schalke. Who were the last club other than Bayern to win the league?

Schalke

Bayer Leverkusen

VfL Wolfsburg

Borussia Dortmund

Serie A also returns this weekend, with Andrea Pirlo hoping to lead Juventus to a 10th straight league title. Who were the last club other than Juve to win the league?

Roma

Inter

Milan

Lazio

The US Open is being played at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York this weekend. The course is seriously tough. When Hale Irwin won the US Open at the course in 1974, what did he shoot?

One over par

Three over par

Seven over par

Eleven over par

The German amateur football team SG Ripdorf were beaten 37-0 by their local rivals Holdenstedt this week. How did they explain the scoreline after the match?

They said they only played the game to bed in their new goalkeeper

They said they were socially distancing on the pitch

They said the defeat was a plea to their owners to spend some money on new players

They said they could not adjust to the tightness and colour of their new kit

Dominic Thiem won the US Open on Sunday. Which of these statements about his victory is true?

It was his first grand slam title

He became the first player to win a US Open title after being two sets down in the final

He became the first man born in the 1990s to win a grand slam singles title

All of the above

Mo Salah hit a hat-trick in Liverpool’s opening game of the season. Who was the last Liverpool player to do that?

Fernando Torres in 2008

Michael Owen in 1998

John Aldridge in 1988

Kenny Dalglish in 1978

1 and above.

Not ideal

2 and above.

Not ideal

3 and above.

Not bad

4 and above.

Not bad

5 and above.

Nice work

6 and above.

Great work

7 and above.

Superb

8 and above.

Superb

9 and above.

Superb

0 and above.

Not ideal

10 and above.

Perfection

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» Football transfer rumours: Liverpool lead chase for Ismaïla Sarr?

Today’s tell-all is looking for the final piece of the jigsaw

Liverpool have come late to the gossip-peddlar’s party this year but, having snared Thiago Alcântara for £27m on Thursday, Jürgen Klopp has rediscovered his love of retail therapy, and is thinking of boosting his not inconsiderable attacking resources with Watford’s Ismaïla Sarr. He won’t come cheap though, with the newly relegated Championship club slapping a £36m price tag on the Senegalese winger. Liverpool may also face competition for Sarr from their old pals Manchester United too.

The world and his spouse have been linked with Old Trafford of late, mind, and another reported United target is 2014’s Sami Khedira. The Sun reports that the Germany midfielder, not thought to be in suave new boss Andrea Pirlo’s plans, is set to have his contract terminated early by Juventus and United head up the list of suitors. You’ll want a list of other names currently linked with United won’t you? OK, pick one or more from Ivan Perisic, Kingsley Coman and Douglas Costa.

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» The Fiver | A passion that drives Gareth Bale like a sweetly struck Titleist Pro

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If Gareth Bale had his way, he would have been firmly embedded at Jiangsu Suning by now, perhaps mastering Nankinese, exploring museums with wondrous collections of Ming and Qing imperial porcelain and straining every well-preserved sinew to get on the end of passes from Wu Xi, Yang Boyu and the rest of the lads. But nasty Real Madrid thwarted that dream more than a year ago and now Bale is on the hunt for a new gig. It’s a passion that drives him like a sweetly struck T!tleist Pro.

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» David Squires on … the Premier League returning with 2020 vision

Our cartoonist looks back at the opening weekend, including a thriller at Anfield and a troubling lack of Arsenal bantz

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» Which managers have had the longest breaks between spells at a club? | The Knowledge

Plus: multiple same-name scoring teammates, refs riding roughshod over rules, and an umbrella-holding goalscorer

“Eddie Niedzwiecki took temporary charge of Reading following the departure of Mark Bowen. Eddie was previously Reading’s caretaker manager way back in 1991. This means he went 29 years between matches as our manager. Is this a record?” asks Tom Brailli.

If we bend the rules a bit, it’s not. Here’s Chris Page: “I can beat that … sort of. But we’d have to count a spell as assistant manager. Former manager of Real Madrid and Brazil’s national team, Vanderlei Luxemburgo, has taken charge of just about every major team in Brazil over the last 40 years. One of his earliest roles was assistant manager of Vasco da Gama until he departed in 1982 before returning as full-time manager last year. That’s a whole 37 years between spells.

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» Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action | Rachel Brown-Finnis

The WSL is now the strongest league in the world, Chelsea are targeting Champions League and putting scorelines in context

The WSL has welcomed a dizzying array of talent in recent weeks, with Spurs’ addition of Alex Morgan the icing on the cake. I want to emphasise just how much it means to women’s football in England for players like Morgan, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis to have come over from the US. These women are superstars there, inside and outside the sport. That is partly because their brilliant national team gets such huge coverage, but mainly because they are such outstanding talents. The list of names is one I could never have imagined playing here, and when you add Pernille Harder then things look even better. She chose Chelsea when she could have gone anywhere, and it shows how top footballers view the WSL. It is now the best league in the world

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» Buy a classic sport photograph – Cantona bosses Liverpool

The latest in a Guardian Print Shop series featuring classic sports images. This week’s picture captures the joy of Leeds United beating Liverpool in a seven-goal Charity Shield thriller, on the eve of the first ever Premier League season

When Leeds United and Liverpool met in the Charity Shield in the curtain raiser for the inaugural Premier League season in 1992, Leeds were the reigning First Division champions and Liverpool, winners two years prior, were the FA Cup holders. Leeds arrived at Wembley boasting a formidable squad including the likes of Gary McAllister, John Lukic, Gordon Strachan, Gary Speed, Lee Chapman and Eric Cantona. The enigmatic Frenchman (pictured here) would guide Leeds to a 4-3 victory with a hat-trick, and weeks later would become the first player to score three in a single Premier League match. However, Leeds would ultimately lose Cantona to Manchester United in November that season – an irreconcilable loss – and limp to a 17th-place finish, only narrowly avoiding the drop; meanwhile, Liverpool would finish sixth and endure a further 27 years of domestic heartbreak before landing the big one last term. Now, these two rejuvenated titans will face one another in the league for the first time in 16 years, as the 2020/21 Premier League season gets underway.

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» Neville Southall: 'You don’t expect loose cannons to take over your own country'

Former Everton keeper takes aim at Boris Johnson and JK Rowling and reveals how helping marginalised groups leaves little time to himself

“I want Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Tommy Robinson, Donald Trump and the geezer from North Korea to be put on a boat that gets sent around the world for the next 25 years,” Neville Southall says as he sinks back into his chair. “That would do me,” he adds, with an endearingly sombre gaze after I’ve asked him how he would like to change the world for the better after a terrible year. It’s dark outside and Southall, the former Everton and Wales goalkeeper who is now one of the most outspoken supporters of people marginalised by mainstream society, briefly looks weary.

Southall has not stopped talking passionately for 70 minutes but he has had a long day. He left home at 5.45am so he could get to work early and, after a taxing day at his special‑needs school in Swansea, he still has to join an online LGBQT+ panel once we complete our interview. But Southall soon rolls on.

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» ‘Football should be an extended family’: the fans turning the tide on racism

As the Premier League kicks off, meet the supporters changing the face of the beautiful game

Manchester City’s 22 June match against Burnley – a brisk, 5-0 dismantling in the ghostly expanse of a spectator-free Etihad Stadium – will not go down as a vintage contest of the Covid-disrupted 2019/20 Premier League season. But it will, regardless, live on ignominiously in the memory. Shortly after the kick-off of a game that had begun with players, staff and officials taking a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, the whirr of a light aircraft was heard overhead. Eyes went up. And there it was: a chartered plane towing a banner that read: “WHITE LIVES MATTER BURNLEY”.

The public outcry was swift (Burnley promised lifetime bans for those involved; the alleged key organiser, Jake Hepple, was sacked by the engineering company he worked for). But for those who have been paying attention to the atmosphere around domestic football in recent years – a climate that has seen a Brighton supporter jailed for eight weeks after screaming racist obscenities during a Tottenham game; and an FA Cup fourth round qualifier abandoned because Yeovil Town fans were hurling slurs and objects at Haringey Borough’s black players – this incident was both wholly shocking and grimly predictable.

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» Jeff Stelling: 'I did think about resigning but all three urged me not to do anything silly'

Sky’s Soccer Saturday host on sackings, saving someone’s life without knowing it and changing his views on female pundits

“It’s been a difficult few weeks because it would be like I’ve lost the entire midfield just before the start of the season,” Jeff Stelling says as, in a deserted pub in Winchester, I compare him to a football manager. The usual giddy optimism of a new season is missing for Stelling as he starts his 22nd year of hosting a bizarre but cherished Saturday afternoon programme in which he barks out scores across the English and Scottish leagues while four former footballers in the Sky studio watch games on television monitors we cannot see. A seemingly ludicrous concept has worked seamlessly ever since Stelling helped launch Soccer Saturday in 1998 – four years after he joined Sky’s Sports Saturday programme.

This Saturday will not be the same. Three of Stelling’s four closest colleagues have been axed from the show and the 65-year-old host, whose good cheer and smooth professionalism provide the bedrock on which Soccer Saturday has built its popularity, still seems hurt and perplexed. Phil Thompson, Charlie Nicholas and Matt Le Tissier were told last month they were no longer wanted by Sky.

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» A Zoom with Mrs Ranieri and Roy Keane's Doc Brown hair – lockdown behind the mic | Kelly Cates

Kelly Cates on pundit wrangling, the challenge of broadcasting during a pandemic, and why she can’t wait to get back to work

I love that this season is starting in September. It’s always felt like the best time for a fresh start, to coincide with the change of seasons and the new school year. I’ve already stocked up on stationery for work and have a rainbow of coloured pens and highlighters. I much prefer to work off paper and find that the information filters through better if I write it down, but it usually ends up on an iPad for practical reasons. Sadly, evolution hasn’t yet caught up with my need for more than two hands to hold a microphone, steady a strong-willed umbrella in a gale, balance a sheaf of papers and still retain the capacity to handle the microphones thrust at me by departing players and managers.

The first live game back for me is at Anfield for Liverpool v Leeds. I can’t think of an opening-day fixture where the absence of fans is going to be felt more keenly. There’s a school of thought that the historic old grounds are never really empty. That they hold the energies of past atmospheres and ghosts of previous games and while that description suits my overly romantic nature and may well have an element of truth when completely unoccupied, I can tell you that on a Covid matchday, it’s a load of rubbish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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