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Football News

» Sir Jim Ratcliffe steps up £65m Man Utd transfer plan after Gareth Southgate hint
Manchester United will attempt to overhaul their squad in the summer transfer window and Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants to start in central defence following a miserable injury-hit campaign
» Pep Guardiola named Premier League Manager of the Year after Man City win historic title
Manchester City are the first team in English football history to win the title four times in succession and boss Pep Guardiola has now been acknowledged for helping his team write their name in history
» Gareth Southgate details Marcus Rashford phone call and message to Man Utd star after axe
Marcus Rashford has been involved in four major tournaments with England but misses out on Euro 2024 after a difficult season with Manchester United where he has fallen out of form
» Gareth Southgate gives Harry Kane update and admission over player he couldn't pick
Gareth Southgate has named his provisional 33-man squad for Euro 2024 with captain Harry Kane involved despite suffering a recent back injury, while other players had to miss out
» England's seven players likely to miss out on Euro 2024 and expected XI for opening game
Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson are among the casualties as Gareth Southgate has wielded the axe - while seven more players will face the cut from his provisional squad before Euro 2024
» Mauricio Pochettino dropped subtle hint on Chelsea exit weeks before departure
Mauricio Pochettino indicated in the final weeks of the Premier League season that he could have a say in his future - and has since left Chelsea via mutual consent
» Toni Kroos retirement: Legends including Zidane and Xavi's views on Real Madrid's 'Roger Federer'
Real Madrid star Toni Kroos has drawn a great deal of compliments in his career and is sure to find more as he enters the final months of his career after annoucing he will retire
» Man Utd star Kobbie Mainoo's remarkable rise to England squad after standing out aged four
After Kobbie Mainoo was named in boss Gareth Southgate ’s provisional 33-man squad on Tuesday, the 19-year-old talent could make his mark at the tournament in Germany next month
» Chelsea chiefs privately voiced three Mauricio Pochettino concerns before agreeing exit
Chelsea decided to part ways with Mauricio Pochettino on Tuesday following high-level meetings between the Argentine coach and the club hierarchy after the end of the season
» Cole Palmer and Chelsea team-mates immediately respond to Mauricio Pochettino exit
Mauricio Pochettino left Chelsea via mutual consent on Tuesday evening after less than a year in charge at the club and Cole Palmer proved to be a key player for the former Spurs boss
» Mauricio Pochettino to make immediate Stamford Bridge return despite Chelsea exit
Mauricio Pochettino will find himself quickly back in the Stamford Bridge hotseat despite leaving the club on Tuesday evening after two days of crisis talks with the club's chiefs
» Mauricio Pochettino exit makes mockery of Chelsea stability promoted by Todd Boehly
The decision to part ways with Mauricio Pochettino puts Chelsea back to square one despite more than £1bn of investment over the past two years - and clubs bosses should note all three head coaches they have sacked have left with their reputations mostly intact
» Mauricio Pochettino had three Chelsea crisis meetings that sealed his fate
Mauricio Pochettino has left Chelsea after one season following key meetings with co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali and sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley
» Questions surround Todd Boehly's role and deafening silence as Mauricio Pochettino leaves Chelsea
Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea have parted ways after just one season together, with the ex-Tottenham boss officially departing by mutual consent after a two-day end-of-season review
» Mauricio Pochettino's compensation package after agreeing to quit as Chelsea manager
Mauricio Pochettino has left his role of Chelsea boss after less than a year in charge at Stamford Bridge and will be entitled to payment after bringing his tenure to a close
» Thomas Tuchel's stance on returning as Chelsea manager after Mauricio Pochettino exit
Chelsea are on the lookout for another new manager following the shock announcement that Mauricio Pochettino has left Stamford Bridge - and Thomas Tuchel has emerged as a contender
» Ally McCoist has 'gut feeling' over Liverpool’s title chances under Arne Slot
Pundit Ally McCoist has made an early prediction about Arne Slot's maiden campaign at Liverpool – and reckons the Reds will fall short in the title race
» Jamie Carragher identifies problem with England squad despite praising "bold" decisions
Gareth Southgate decided to leave out experienced players Jordan Henderson, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling for England's 33-man squad for Euro 2024 this summer
» Chelsea have eight-man managerial shortlist after brutal Mauricio Pochettino exit
Chelsea's sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart are looking for yet another manager after parting ways with Mauricio Pochettino at the end of the season
» Mauricio Pochettino releases statement as Chelsea confirm exit after just one season in charge
Mauricio Pochettino has made the shock decision to leave Chelsea after just one season in charge, with the Premier League giants releasing a statement confirming the news on Tuesday night
» Mauricio Pochettino leaves Chelsea after crisis talks with club's owners
Mauricio Pochettino parts ways with Chelsea after a positive end to the season that saw European qualification having started working for the club in July 2023
» Football unites to help save FA Cup replays as Premier League slammed for 'obscene' stance
As new research showed the growing inequality in the modern game, Tranmere Rovers and Maidstone United chiefs urged the FA to bring back replays for the sake of millions of supporters
» Alan Shearer singles out England star with 'X-factor' and makes Euro 2024 prediction
England's preliminary squad for Euro 2024 was named on Tuesday by Gareth Southgate and Jude Bellingham is set to play a massive role for the team in Germany this summer
» Wrexham hero details Rob McElhenney call as transfer interest ramps up after Arsenal exit
Goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo's 15-year association with Arsenal has come to an end and after his promotion-winning loan spell with Wrexham, he's got ambitions to match his 6ft 6in frame

Other sport news:

» Chelsea target Ipswich’s McKenna after Pochettino leaves by mutual agreement
  • Blues prepared to fight Brighton for Tractor Boys manager
  • Argentinian departs after talks with club over two days

Chelsea are prepared to rival Brighton for the appointment of Ipswich’s Kieran McKenna after ­reaching an agreement to part company with Mauricio Pochettino by mutual consent on Tuesday.

Pochettino, who led the club to sixth after a strong end to his only season in charge, has left after ­holding talks with the co-sporting directors, Laurence Stewart and Paul ­Winstanley, and the co-controlling owner Behdad Eghbali over the course of two days.

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» Southgate admits England’s lack of cover for Rice and Shaw is Euros risk
  • Shaw a ‘long shot’ for Euro 2024 and Rice the only No 6
  • Manager warns against expecting ‘procession to Berlin’

Gareth Southgate has warned that England will not have a “procession to Berlin” for the Euro 2024 final as he opened up on the difficulties he faced after naming a provisional 33-man squad.

The headline items were the omission of two of his stalwarts – Jordan Henderson and Marcus Rashford – while Ben Chilwell was also overlooked. There was no recall either for Eric Dier. Southgate accentuated youth with first call-ups for James Trafford, Jarell Quansah, Adam Wharton and Curtis Jones. The uncapped Jarrad Branthwaite was retained from the squad for the March friendlies against Brazil and Belgium and Eberechi Eze given an opportunity.

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» Ruthless Gareth Southgate times his moment right to shed layers of loyalty | Barney Ronay

The England manager has made big calls in omitting Jordan Henderson and Marcus Rashford from Euro 2024 … but the right ones

Farewell, then, and thanks for all the almost-but-not-quites. From a rational point of view there shouldn’t be much to say about Gareth Southgate’s decision not to include Marcus Rashford or Jordan Henderson in his plans for Euro 2024.

On the other hand, well, this is England, old bean. And being rational has never really had much to do with it. More than ever in the age of tribal celebrity and online Southgate-truthers, every call and every cut must be unpacked for its wider significance, even when this adds up to little more than rationalising two entirely sensible decisions.

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» Xabi Alonso anticipates next scene of Bayer Leverkusen’s ‘movie’ in Dublin | Jonathan Wilson

The Bundesliga champions could complete the second leg of their treble tilt in the Europa League final against Atalanta

The last time the Europa League was played here, 13 years ago, Porto strolled to an anticlimactic 1-0 win over Braga. André Villas-Boas was 33 and about to take over at Chelsea after the dismissal of Carlo ­Ancelotti. He was calm, highly ambitious and had an obvious presence. Comparisons with José Mourinho were understandable and inevitable, but Villas-Boas seemed of a different order to other managers. He talked of a grand plan to compress his managerial career into a decade so he could move on to other things.

He got that bit right. Villas-Boas has not managed since leaving Marseille in 2021 after publicly criticising the club’s recruitment policy. He does not look like returning to the dugout any time soon; he never seemed like one of those football men for whom the game is an addiction. He has been a rally driver and now he is the president of Porto.

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» Claudio Ranieri leaves Cagliari amid reports of retirement from football
  • ‘It was a hard and painful decision, but I think it is right’
  • The 72-year-old has kept Cagliari in Serie A this season

Claudio Ranieri will leave his job as the Cagliari coach by mutual agreement, the Serie A club said on Tuesday, as local media reported that the 72-year-old was set to retire from football. The announcement came after Cagliari guaranteed themselves another season in the Italian top flight with a win at Sassuolo on Sunday.

Sky Sports Italia reported that Cagliari will be Ranieri’s final team, as he has decided to retire from football. The Italian coach, who had previously managed Cagliari from 1988-91, had one year remaining on his contract after joining the club last season and leading them to promotion from Serie B.

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» Third-tier playoff match in Israel sets penalty shootout record with 56 kicks
  • SC Dimona defeated Shimshon Tel Aviv 23-22
  • Previous record of 54 penalties was set in England in 2022

Israel’s SC Dimona and Shimshon Tel Aviv have set a world record for the longest penalty shootout, with 56 kicks.

Their semi-final promotion playoff in the third-tier finished 2-2 after extra time, leading to penalties.

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» Football Daily | Is this the summer the managerial merry-go-round spins out of control?

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Sixth place secured after five consecutive victories, two trips to Wembley and one gifted showman given a platform he’d been denied in Manchester. Mauricio Pochettino’s first season at Chelsea ended with promise, suggesting that this mess – the club’s desire to buy every player on Big Website’s Next Generation list – could perhaps still be untangled, the Argentinian’s lemons finally working. But This Is Chelsea Football Club We’re Talking About. Logic has rarely applied at Stamford Bridge in recent years, which means Pochettino can’t switch off his phone for the holidays, his job apparently under threat.

Further to your paean to Ian Wright (yesterday’s Football Daily), he once came into a school where I was chair of the Schools Trust. He came to visit the special needs unit which he was supporting. As he signed in, I told the receptionist look after this man, he played for the greatest football club ever. Ian smiled and then I said ‘Glasgow Celtic’. Wrighty collapsed in laughter. Great man as well as footballer” – Danny Sullivan.

I do think you missed some of the better parts of Dan Sucu’s justification for appointing Neil Lennon as the new Rapid Bucharest manager (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs, full email edition): ‘I am convinced that we will no longer have players who demonstrate their speed at three in the morning from the disco or on the ski slopes, or who show up to the team with extra pounds than the optimal weight. I am also convinced that next season the physical preparation, commitment and determination of our team will be at a significantly increased level compared to the season just ended.’ Just about the only thing the team might lack then appears to be, say, ability?” – Ken Muir.

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» Will Leeds or Southampton come out on top in playoff final? Football Weekly - podcast

Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, George Elek, and Ali Maxwell as Leeds and Southampton gear up for the Championship playoff final

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

On the podcast today: Leeds blitzed Norwich in the first half of the second leg at Elland Road. It was too much for Delia Smith, who promptly sacked David Wagner straight after the match. All the talk is about Leeds, but the Saints did the double over them this season, and saw off West Brom to make it to the final. Who’s likely to come out on top?

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» Chelsea win fifth WSL title in a row: Women’s Football Weekly - podcast

Faye Carruthers and Suzanne Wrack are joined by Marva Kreel and Rachel Brown-Finnis to discuss how Chelsea pipped Manchester City to the title after their rout of Manchester United

In today’s episode, the panel pay a fond farewell to the 2023-24 season as Emma Hayes’ Chelsea side secure another WSL trophy on her final game in charge of the club. Faye Carruthers and Suzy Wrack are joined by guests Marva Kreel and Rachel Brown-Finnis to discuss Chelea’s rout of Manchester United at Old Trafford, along with Manchester City’s anti-climactic victory over Aston Villa.

The panel also discuss Vivienne Miedema and Fran Kirby’s fairytale endings, hand out some of their end-of-season awards as well as waxing lyrical about the Lionesses’ under-17s side.

To sign up for our bi-weekly women’s football newsletter – all you need to do is search ‘Moving the Goalposts sign up’ or follow that link.Here’s an extract from the latest edition.

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» Toni Kroos: Madrid and Germany midfielder to retire after Euro 2024
  • 34-year-old’s career will end at European Championship
  • Champions League final will be his last match for Madrid

The Real Madrid and Germany midfielder Toni Kroos has announced he will retire after this summer’s European Championship.

The 34-year-old is to hang up his boots after a trophy-laden decade at the Bernabéu. He wrote on Instagram: “July 17th, 2014 – the day of my presentation at Real Madrid, the day that changed my life. My life as a footballer – but especially as a person. It was the start of a new chapter at the biggest club in the world. After 10 years, at the end of the season this chapter comes to an end.

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» Injured Naeher out as Hayes names first USWNT squad ahead of Paris tune-ups
  • Incoming USWNT manager selects first roster in new post
  • Injured Naeher out as Staab and Hershfelt earn first call-ups
  • Americans will play two friendlies in first week of June

Emma Hayes has selected her first roster as United States manager ahead of a pair of friendlies as she prepares to lead the women’s national team at the Paris Olympics.

Hayes, who was named USWNT coach last November, finished her final season in charge of Chelsea on Saturday, winning the team’s fifth straight Women’s Super League Title with a 6-0 rout of Manchester United.

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» Adam Wharton’s England call-up is a credit to Palace’s progression

Young midfielder is one of four players from soaring Eagles in Gareth Southgate’s provisional squad for Euro 2024

Adam Wharton could hardly have picked a more difficult Premier League debut at the start of February. With Crystal Palace trailing 1-0 against their arch-rivals Brighton, a knee injury to the captain, Marc Guéhi, forced Roy Hodgson to throw in the 19‑year‑old, who had signed 48 hours earlier from Blackburn.

Brighton doubled their lead within five minutes and seven seconds after Palace kicked off again a moment arrived that must have been replayed in Wharton’s mind countless times. Receiving the ball midway in his own half, he turned and attempted to pass to Tyrick Mitchell but was surprised by Pascal Gross and ended up losing possession.

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» Mary Earps: ‘It’s been a tough season. I felt like the punching bag at times’

Final-day humbling followed FA Cup win and the goalkeeper wants to know Manchester United’s ambitions before signing a new deal

Mary Earps is upbeat, she is always upbeat, but she is also tired. You can feel it and you can see it. The season has been a long and gruelling one, ending with the highest of highs – lifting a first FA Cup with Manchester United at Wembley – and the lowest of lows: losing 6-0 on the final day of the Women’s Super League season to allow Chelsea to be crowned champions at Old Trafford. “There’s been a lot going on, a lot that I haven’t spoken about, and now I just need to take some time for myself,” Earps says. “That’s kind of where I’m at.”

The season also had a difficult beginning, with Earps’s future at United in doubt and speculation swirling following defeat by Spain in the World Cup final, both only ending when she signed a one‑year extension. Now the speculation is beginning again. Earps knows the question is coming. She sighs and gives a knowing smile, but she also wants to be honest.

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» David Squires on … an emotional end to the 2023-24 Premier League season

Our cartoonist on the final weekend in England’s top flight, including more glory for Pep Guardiola and some big-name exits

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» Moving the Goalposts | Bayer Leverkusen are not the only undefeated champions in Germany

My Bayern Munich side finished without losing a game but I have been impressed by the quality of the Frauen-Bundesliga

Let me start by saying, proudly, that Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen aren’t the only unbeaten German top-flight team this season. With our 4-1 victory at Hoffenheim on Monday, my Bayern side have achieved the same feat in the Frauen Bundesliga, which made it a very satisfactory ending to my first campaign playing in Bavaria.

If you look at it from the outside, you might think we’ve had it easy winning a second successive title but none of the games have been a walkover. After six seasons in the Women’s Super League with Chelsea, I had expected that there’d be a bigger difference between the two leagues in terms of quality. Instead, I’ve been surprised by the level of competition here as most teams are quite evenly matched. It’s true that the Frauen Bundesliga doesn’t have the same number of star players as in England. Here Bayern and Wolfsburg are on a level of their own but the other teams are still hard to break down – if you look at our goal difference of +52, it’s one fewer than the +53 of WSL champions Chelsea.

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» Morecambe directors warn of ‘catastrophic outcome’ if club not sold
  • League Two club have only five players under contract
  • Assurances given by Bond Group ‘come across as meaningless’

Morecambe directors have warned the League Two club faces a “catastrophic outcome” unless the current owners agree to sell. The club was put up for sale in September 2022 by Jason Whittingham of Bond Group but with no deal concluded, the club are in turmoil.

They were deducted three points by the English Football League last season for failing to pay players on time and Whittingham was fined £10,000. He was also given a suspended fine of £20,000, which is due to be activated on 31 May unless he deposits a sum equal to 125% of the monthly wage bill to cover any future delays.

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» Tony Mowbray steps down as Birmingham manager after surgery
  • Mowbray took charge of eight games after January appointment
  • He plans to return to game after recovery and time with family

Birmingham have announced Tony Mowbray has stood down as manager as he targets making a full recovery after major surgery for an unnamed illness.

Mowbray temporarily stepped down in February before taking a formal leave of absence in March but will not return to the dugout at St Andrew’s. He won four of his eight games after being appointed in January.

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» Brighton pushing to seal deal for Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna
  • Club face competition from Chelsea and Manchester United
  • Robert De Zerbi left Amex Stadium by mutual consent

Brighton are pushing to complete a deal to appoint Kieran ­McKenna as Roberto De Zerbi’s replacement, but they still face competition from Chelsea and Manchester United for the Ipswich manager.

McKenna, who has emerged as one of the brightest young managers in the country after masterminding Ipswich’s promotion to the Premier League, is in line to move to the Amex Stadium if all the pieces fall in place. It is understood that certain obstacles have to be overcome if McKenna is to join Brighton, who have a vacancy to fill after parting company with De Zerbi by mutual consent.

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» How a slogan pinned up by Guardiola in October fired his team to history | Jamie Jackson

Despite protestations, winning a fourth consecutive Premier League had long been at forefront of Manchester City minds

“No team has ever won four consecutive Premier League titles … Yet.” In the past fortnight Pep Guardiola referenced how the four-peat was the motivation of his post-treble Manchester City, insisting this entered their consciousness only in the spring. But the aforementioned slogan, printed in capitals and large black font, was the de facto motto from October, when first displayed in the first-team meeting room.

So when stating last week before the pivotal trip to Tottenham that “we didn’t think about” making history until recently when this ignited “something in our brain”, Guardiola was using the media to remind his players they were 180 tantalising minutes from becoming, surely, the greatest team in English football history.

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» Sam Kerr certain to miss Paris Olympics after being omitted from Matildas squad for warm-up games
  • Captain’s fate sealed as 23-player list for China matches revealed
  • FA concede strike’s ACL injury has ruled her out of contention

Any lingering hope of Sam Kerr returning from injury to play at this year’s Olympics has been extinguished after the Matildas captain was left out of the squad for two final warm-up games before the Paris Games begin in July.

Kerr has been rehabilitating from knee surgery since rupturing her ACL in January and, while it was unlikely she would recover in time to feature at the tournament in France, Football Australia had not confirmed her unavailability until Tony Gustavsson unveiled his latest 23-player squad on Tuesday.

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» Premier League 2023-24 review: our writers’ best and worst

The best managers, finest signings and most dramatic matches – plus the biggest flops and greatest gripes of the season

Martin Ødegaard and Declan Rice were the driving forces in Arsenal’s midfield that pushed Manchester City all the way, and William Saliba excelled in the division’s meanest defence while barely breaking sweat. The blistering late-season form of Cole Palmer, Ollie Watkins and Michael Olise also deserve a mention, although it’s hard to look past City’s two most influential players this season: Phil Foden and Rodri. Foden came of age in the lengthy absence of an injured Kevin De Bruyne and has deservedly been crowned player of the year by the Premier League and Football Writers’ Association. Rodri was mystifyingly left off the shortlist for the former but his achievement of going the season unbeaten in a City shirt, other than in a game lost in a shootout, underlined his importance to everything they do. Ed Aarons

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» Were our Premier League pre-season predictions accurate? Not exactly

Before the season began we predicted where all 20 teams would finish. We were right about three of them

What we predicted: As the favourites to be champions again, for a record fourth successive season, attrition may be a greater foe than Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool or Newcastle. Rodri will step up as a new leader; Jack Grealish is the team’s folk hero and Kalvin Phillips is one to watch this season.

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» Premier League 2023-24 review: players of the season

We select some contenders for the best performer in the top flight – and invite you to have your say

He was hailed as a signing of the season this time last year, and such was the brightness of the future predicted for Isak that Newcastle fans will have been of a mind to wear shades. A key player in the team that secured fourth place last term, the Swedish striker has flourished as one of several standout players for Eddie Howe in an often difficult campaign this time around, when injuries to key personnel and the lengthy ban handed down to Sandro Tonali meant many Newcastle players were running on fumes. In his second season on Tyneside, Isak has 21 league goals, more than double the tally of 10 in the last campaign, while also chipping in with important contributions in the FA Cup and Champions League. As at home feinting to sit defenders on their backsides or sending them skidding into the car park as he is cutting in from the left or sprinting in behind, it’s no surprise the 24-year-old, who has been likened to Thierry Henry, is being linked with a move to Arsenal. His current employers may have to reluctantly sell him to stay on top of those pesky profit and sustainability rules.

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» Premier League 2023-24 review: flops of the season

We make our picks for the season’s poorest performers and invite you to have your say below

It’s not been a great year for Brand Premier League, the supposed best league in the world, where just about everyone is perpetually angry or miserable. Who’s happy? Manchester City, of course. Villa, sure. But elsewhere? Liverpool rage about kick-off times. Wolves are furious about VAR. Forest are mad about that too but also about their PSR-induced points deduction. Everton see your points deduction and raise you a takeover saga that has rumbled on without resolution. Sheffield United have had a season so dismal that they may never want to get promoted again. On it goes, the whole thing infused with a sense of dissatisfaction, as clubs grasp for direction (Chelsea, Manchester United) or bump their heads against the glass ceiling and wonder what the point of it all is (Brighton, Bournemouth, Fulham). And everyone is paying more (soon to be even more) for a reduced spectacle, dulled by the dread hand of VAR.

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» Story of the season: the best photos from the 2023-24 Premier League

Our photo editor Jonny Weeks trawled through more than 100,000 pictures to select his favourite images and the most unforgettable moments

The Premier League season started ominously as Erling Haaland took just four minutes to get his goalscoring campaign under way when Manchester City beat Burnley in the opening match. Elsewhere, Luton’s first top-flight game for 31 years ended in defeat at Brighton and Ange Postecoglou claimed manager of the month (as he would do again in September and October) as Tottenham made a fast start to the season.

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» I have played under Arne Slot so here is why he is a great fit for Liverpool | Oussama Idrissi

At AZ and Feyenoord I encountered a coach who was tactically sharp, an exceptional analyst and an astute man-manager

I was playing at FC Groningen when my teammate Etiënne Reijnen told me: “I’ve been called by my former teammate Arne, who was asking about you; how you are as a player and person.” That was my introduction to Arne Slot. He was assistant at AZ and I was told he was a very good coach. Soon after, I moved there and got to know him as a very tactical and knowledgable coach, who took a genuine interest in you as a human being as well.

As an assistant he did the tactical team talks and analysis of training sessions and he was very detailed, providing solutions to game situations while working on it in training. He motivated me every day to become a better player, to have a bigger goal in mind and to work very hard for that. So I already had that bond with him when he became head coach at AZ after a year and a half.

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» From sorting Salah’s future to wooing the Kop: Slot’s Liverpool in-tray

The Dutch coach will take over an elite club with an excellent squad, but faces plenty of big decisions this summer

Managers are seldom hired to take over a well-run, elite-level club not in urgent need of repair or transformation. Liverpool in 2024 represents one of those rare opportunities. Despite a disappointing end to his reign, Jürgen Klopp has bequeathed to his successor a fine squad, of a relatively young age, that developed faster than expected into a contender for the Premier League title, that knows how to win silverware and will be back in the Champions League next season after a one-year hiatus. And, as the Carabao Cup triumph demonstrated, there is a healthy flow of young talent rolling off the academy production line too. The internal structure of the club is also in good shape. There is no need to rip it up and start again, as David Moyes attempted to do when succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. Liverpool’s recruitment search led them to Arne Slot because he offers a degree of continuity in playing style, among other attributes, but of course he must make his own modifications. Change is welcome, inevitable, but revolution on the playing side is not required. That being said …

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» Canada coach Jesse Marsch: ‘Will MLS owners dictate selection? Come on man!’

The American is in charge of his country’s northern rivals after a deal with Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal’s MLS teams. He says it won’t affect his job

Until very recently, Jesse Marsch had plenty of time. The clock didn’t crunch, it ticked. Not now. He has landed in another country, this time Spain, checked into another hotel room and has to get refreshed for a dinner date.

That it is Cyle Larin, the Real Mallorca striker and Canada’s record male goalscorer, who will be joining him for the meal hints at why time has become a precious commodity in Marsch’s world.

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» ‘A huge loss’: football fans on Jürgen Klopp’s departure from Liverpool

From winning the Premier League in 2020 to his love for the city, readers tell us how they feel about Klopp’s time as manager

As Jürgen Klopp leaves Liverpool after nine years at the helm, fans have been reflecting on his tenure at the club. The coach delivered Liverpool their first league title in a generation, as well as creating countless memories on the way to securing another European Cup.

As he waved goodbye to Anfield one final time on Sunday, Guardian readers told us about their enduring memories of Klopp – as well as their hopes for the future under new manager Arne Slot.

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» Claudio Ranieri’s latest rescue act cements status as true Cagliari hero | Nicky Bandini

Veteran coach gave Serie A a much-needed good news story on a weekend overshadowed by off-field events

The penultimate weekend of the Serie A season was overshadowed by events off the pitch. On Friday, Juventus announced they had fired their manager, Massimiliano Allegri, citing his behaviour at the end of their Coppa Italia final triumph over Atalanta. Two days later, as Inter prepared to mark their league title with a trophy lift at San Siro, fans were wondering who their club would belong to next week.

Monday marked the official deadline for their owners, Suning Capital, to repay debts of close to €395m (approx £337m) to Oaktree Capital, stemming from a loan taken out in 2021. A bank holiday in Luxembourg effectively extended the term until Tuesday, but an official statement from the Inter president, Steven Zhang, on Saturday accused the lender of “a lack of meaningful engagement” toward finding an “amicable resolution”.

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» How Manchester City won four in a row and what comes next – video explainer

Manchester City have won their seventh Premier League title, and fourth in a row, after a 3-1 victory against West Ham on the final day of the season. The Guardian's Manchester football correspondent, Jamie Jackson, looks at how City won this historic title without hitting their absolute best, and ahead to the next season as City brace themselves for the verdict on the pending 115 Premier League charges

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» End of an era: Emma Hayes leaves Chelsea after 12 transformative years – video

Emma Hayes has left her role as Chelsea Women’s manager after 12 years as she gets set to become the head coach of the USWNT. Hayes is widely regarded as one of the most influential managers in the women’s game. Her 12-year tenure at Chelsea has brought unprecedented success. After taking the job in 2012, she can be credited with transforming the club’s fortunes, building a winning structure on and off the pitch. Over more than a decade, she has led her team to six WSL titles, five Women’s FA Cups, two Continental Cups, the Spring Series, a Community Shield victory and a Champions League final. She was awarded an MBE and OBE in 2016 and 2022 respectively, while she was named the Best Fifa women’s football coach in 2021 and the WSL manager of the season on six occasions.

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» 'I can't believe it': Chelsea women win fifth consecutive WSL title – video

Chelsea women have won their fifth Women’s Super League title in a row on goal difference with a 6-0 victory at Manchester United. This was Emma Hayes' final game before she leaves to take over the US women’s national team. Hayes spoke about how hard it is to keep winning but thanked her team for everything they have done for her and for the club.

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» 'I couldn't have done more': Klopp pays tribute to Liverpool in final press conference – video

Jürgen Klopp paid tribute to the city of Liverpool and said he 'couldn't have done more' as he reflected on his time at the club in his final Liverpool pre-match press conference. Klopp leaves Anfield after eight and a half years having won seven major trophies, including one Premier League title and the club's sixth Champions League. 'I know we could have won more but I cannot change that. We could have won less, that's possible as well,' he said. 'Nothing is perfect nowadays, but the majority of people in [Liverpool] are as close as possible.'

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» Memorable Jürgen Klopp press conference moments at Liverpool – video

Jürgen Klopp has given the media plenty to work with during his nine years at Liverpool, including poking fun at them during press conferences. From complimenting a translator's "erotic voice" to being unaware of his own player's child being born, here are a few of his most memorable moments.

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» Postecoglou rages at 'fragile foundations' after Spurs fans cheer loss to Manchester City – video

Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou raged over the 'fragile foundations' he said had been revealed at the club over the last 48 hours. Large sections of the fans cheered their 2-0 defeat to Manchester City which dented the title hopes of arch-rivals Arsenal. Postecoglous admitted that 'the last 48 hours revealed a fair bit, and that's all right. That's just means I’ve got to go back to the drawing board with some things'.

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» Challenges faced by football in Australia will always be there, says Ange Postecoglou
  • Tottenham manager shares views on state of game in Australia
  • ‘I don’t think too much has changed,’ says ex-Socceroos coach

Former Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou believes Australian football is still riven by the problems that influenced his decision to leave the country, but those who can succeed in the tough environment are well placed for global success.

“Sometimes in the most barren ground, mate, the most beautiful things grow and I certainly think that’s the case for football,” the Tottenham manager said at a business lunch in Melbourne ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Newcastle United at the MCG.

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» Lyon, Brest and Lorient light up Ligue 1 on a final day full of drama

Lyon were bottom of the table in December yet somehow snatched a European place on the last day of the campaign

By Eric Devin for Get French Football News

And just like that, another Ligue 1 season has come to an end. The title had long been decided but the final day served up more than its fair share of drama across nine matches. From Lorient’s heroic attempt to avoid automatic relegation to Brest turning in a bravura performance to secure passage to the Champions League via a top-three finish, this was, despite the absence of Kylian Mbappé, a fine advertisement for the quality of the league.

Nowhere witnessed more drama than Lyon. After sinking to the bottom of the table in early December, five points adrift of safety, they rallied in the second half of the campaign under Pierre Sage. With the help of several well paid January signings, including Saïd Benrahma and Nemanja Matic, they climbed up the table and went into the last day of the campaign knowing they would finish in sixth – and qualify for the Europa League – if they picked up a better result than Lens.

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» Roberto Baggio retired 20 years ago. Sundays have not been the same since

There are no fairytale endings in football but the Divine Ponytail came close when he said goodbye at San Siro in 2004

By Emmet Gates for The Gentleman Ultra

It’s become one of the iconic images of Italian football in the 21st century. Roberto Baggio is taking a corner for Brescia at a sold-out San Siro on a beautiful afternoon on 16 May 2004. Baggio is looking to his left, the game’s most famous ponytail – greying and more bountiful than in the 1990s – resting on his slender shoulders as he scans the penalty box to see which teammate to pick out. The sheer scale and concrete beauty of the Giuseppe Meazza is on full show in the background.

Surprisingly, there is scarcely anyone else in the frame except for referee Antonio Giannoccaro and two Brescia players so far away it’s impossible to make them out. The picture gives the impression Baggio is in the San Siro alone, with a paying audience of 80,000 fans there solely to see him. In many ways, they were.

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» Central Coast draw with Sydney FC to set up A-League Men grand final against Melbourne Victory
  • Mariners reach second straight title decider with 2-1 (agg) win
  • Victory beat Wellington Phoenix 2-1 after extra-time

The Central Coast Mariners have booked a spot in a second straight grand final after edging past Sydney FC in one of the most contentious A-League Men games in recent memory.

The Mariners, who drew 0-0 in Saturday’s semi-final second leg at Industree Group Stadium in Gosford, won the tie 2-1 on aggregate to set a date with Melbourne Victory in next week’s title decider.

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» Brazil to host 2027 Women’s World Cup after seeing off European bid
  • Brazil gets 119 votes to 78 for Belgium-Netherlands-Germany
  • Infantino says legal threats over Club World Cup are ‘futile’

Brazil was declared the host of the 2027 Women’s World Cup at the Fifa congress, beating the joint bid of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany to become the first South American country to hold the tournament. Brazil’s bid received to host the 10th edition of the competition the backing of 119 member associations, compared with 78 votes for the European bid.

“We knew we would be celebrating a victory for South American women’s soccer and for women,” said the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Ednaldo Rodrigues. “You can be sure, with no vanity, we will accomplish the best World Cup for women.”

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» Allegri delivers Coppa Italia for Juventus but exit still beckons | Nicky Bandini

Manager has brought silverware and Champions League football back to Juve but it may not be enough

At a certain point you started to wonder if Massimiliano Allegri would strip all the way down to his underwear. The Juventus manager had already thrown off his jacket, and then a few moments later, his tie. Now he was furiously undoing the buttons of his shirt and bellowing toward the crowd.

Juventus were moments away from winning the Coppa Italia. They had led Atalanta from the fourth minute, when Dusan Vlahovic ran beyond Isak Hien and swept a right-footed finish past Marco Carnesecchi. The Serb put the ball in the net again in the 73rd, only for this goal to be disallowed for offside.

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» MLS power rankings: Christian Benteke has Zlatan-ified DC United

The managerial merry-go-round has started to spin, there are concerns in Atlanta and the rich keep getting richer in Miami

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

Now, as a reminder, these aren’t your standard, run-of-the-mill power rankings. We’re still ranking teams from worst to first. But along with the rankings, we’re diving deep into a handful of teams from around the league who are doing particularly interesting things.

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» Lionel Messi’s $20.4m Inter Miami income exceeds payrolls of all but four MLS teams
  • Miami lead MLS in payroll with $41.7 on salaries
  • Argentinian also has estimated endorsements of $70m

Lionel Messi’s annualized pay from his MLS contract with Inter Miami is just over $20.4m in his first full season, exceeding the payrolls of all but four teams in the league.

Messi joined Inter Miami last summer and has a base salary of $10.4m and annualized compensation of $20,446,667, the MLS Players Association said on Thursday in its first salary release of 2024.

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» Football in Stalinist Albania: ‘The only 90 minutes when people could be themselves’

Fans started their preparations four days before games and would release pigeons to celebrate goals, this book extract reveals

Football in Albania is a national obsession. Yet between the late 1960s and Stalinism’s slow, lingering death in 1991, it became more than mere fixation. In a country where the 1967 rewriting of the constitution denied people their freedom of faith, football became the new religion, with pilgrims from Gjirokastër to Shkodër, Lezhë to Sarandë, filling stadiums every Sunday afternoon in worship of their new, auxiliary gods.

In those moments of ordered chaos, Albanians appeared free from the trials and injustices of their moribund, regime-subscribed lives, transported – via the vehicles of football and shared human experience – to a higher plain; a vista of harmony and liberty.

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» The 100 best male footballers in the world 2023

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

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» The 100 best female footballers in the world 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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» Dead hand of the immovable Glazers keeps strangling Manchester United | Jonathan Liew

Leaky Old Trafford roof was almost a too perfect sign of neglect by owners who love the money but don’t seem to like the club

In February, the NFL players’ union carried out its second annual survey of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant reading. Tampa Bay players reported that the changing room was “not clean, constantly smelly and has a persistent bug issue”. The sauna was described as “dirty and/or mouldy”. This barely a decade after an MRSA outbreak infected three Buccaneers players, two of whom never competed again.

In addition, players complained about being forced to pay $90 (£72) for childcare on match days (most teams offer this for free), being charged $1,750 a season for the privilege of having their own hotel room on away trips and being made to sit at the back of the plane while club staff travelled first class. Most of the blame for this state of affairs was laid squarely at the team’s ownership, whom the survey ranked 29th out of the 32 NFL franchise owners, and who go by the name of the Glazer family.

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» Billionaires and banter wars: modern football’s script is stuck on repeat | Barney Ronay

Unusual storylines are growing ever rarer due to the influence of the super-rich and nation states in our national game

Admit it, when Erik ten Hag walked out holding a microphone after Manchester United’s final home game on Wednesday night you also thought he was going to start saying things like “Your job now is to support the new manager”, before marching off to write books containing anecdotes about Richard Branson.

In the event the most notable part of Ten Hag’s speech was how convincing he is when he frowns into a mic and says things. Ten Hag could stab himself in the eye with a kebab skewer and stand there in the centre circle, kebab skewer pyoing-ing up and down, explaining why this is actually a really good thing and a sign of genuine progress and you’d think, yeah, kebab-skewer-eye-guy really is on to something. He just needs time. Maybe with patience and a proper process he can stab himself in the other eye too.

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» For good and bad, Jürgen Klopp gave Liverpool fans the time of their lives

German’s tenure has been littered with big lows but supporters will always cherish the big highs and a unique connection

It was a lovely spring afternoon in Liverpool. The sun was out, the temperature was high and, around Anfield, so were spirits. There were smiles and laughter among the thousands in the nearby streets, cafes and pubs that they carried into the stadium, where soon there were also chants and songs from the masses, rising to a pitch during an enthralling encounter with Tottenham the hosts ultimately won. All in all a great day and, being among it, the very real sense that this, then, is what the fifth stage of grief looks like.

Because acceptance is very much the mood among most Liverpool supporters when it comes to Jürgen Klopp’s impending departure. All were shocked when, in January, he announced he was going at the end of the season and each, in their own way, has gone through the various phases of losing a loved one in the following four months. It has been tough but it’s safe to say that collective emotions have centred on recognising that Klopp wasn’t kidding when he said he was running out of energy. The big German with the big grin is, quite clearly, not the man he once was.

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» Football Daily | Ian Wright’s last Match of the Day and his legacy as a pundit

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Match of the Day means different things to different people. For Ian Wright it means a little more than most. The former striker has previously spoken of his childhood and of how his stepdad was “a weed-smoking, gambling, coming-home-late, gambling-his-wages, womanising kind of guy. He was rough with my mum and rough with all of us kids. And I don’t know why, but he didn’t like me in particular. One of the few things my brother and I looked forward to in the house was Match of the Day, and my stepdad used to take that away from us — just because he could. Depending on what mood he was in, he’d come into the bedroom just before it started and he’d say: ‘Turn around to the wall.’ We had to face the wall the whole time Match of the Day was on. And the really cruel thing was that we could still hear everything. It was awful. Whenever I heard the theme music come on, I would feel that pain in my chest. The first time I went on the show as a presenter, Des Lynam walked up and said: ‘Ian Wright, welcome to Match of the Day.’ I nearly broke down crying.”

While it is inevitable that at the busy end of the season Football Daily will be preoccupied with the Premier League and Big Cups along with pre Euros knee-knacks, there are happenings elsewhere in the pyramid where crises for clubs can be existential. Since you reported on 23 February that Torquay United owner Clarke Osborne had pulled the plug and was going to put the club into administration (full email edition): on 13 March … TUFC were docked 10 points for an ‘administrative event’ and plunged into a National League South relegation battle; 23 March … Neil Warnock appears at the first of three home matches with fan Michael Westcott; 28 March … a Torquay United Supporters’ Trust (TUST) consortium (led by Westcott) reveal they are bidding to buy the club; 4 April … TUFC goes into administration; 9 April …. TUST/ Westcott consortium discover they are not the preferred bidder; 12 April … TUFC are docked another point for fielding an illegible player (at which point fans throw up their hands in despair); 15 April … TUFC avoid relegation to the Southern League Premier Division South with a win at Taunton in front of 800-plus travelling fans; 26 April … TUST/Westcott consortium discover the preferred bidder might no longer be preferred; 1 May … Westcott’s consortium (now called ‘Bryn’ after the police dog that bit Jim McNichol and saved Torquay from relegation at the end of 1986-87 become the preferred bidder; 10 May … announcement by club that the Bryn Consortium will be the new owners of TUFC; 11 May … Westcott confirms Neil Warnock is on the board as football advisor; 14 May … much circulated video appears with Warnock revealing that Paul Wotton is the new Torquay manager. And so the story goes on (with a Community Share Issue by TUST soon). Just saying” – Bob Cole.

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» It’s Manchester City’s title again and Klopp says farewell: Football Weekly - podcast

Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, Philippe Auclair and Troy Townsend as Manchester City go top of the Premier League ahead of the final round of fixtures

How to listen to podcasts: everything you need to know

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

On the podcast today; the Premier League finale. Manchester City claim their fourth consecutive title with Phil Foden doing the business again with a goal after just 79 seconds. What does the success mean for a club facing 115 Premier League charges?

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» Why did Arsenal let Vivianne Miedema leave on a free at 27?

What makes the situation most striking is Arsenal’s apparent willingness to allow the Dutch star’s contract to run out

“Miedema … still Miedema … magnificent Miedema.” A line of commentary that could be used to sum up most of Vivianne Miedema’s 125 goals in an Arsenal shirt. In her seven-year career in north London in which she appeared 172 times, the Dutch international has broken records left, right and centre, unstoppable on the pitch and a quiet, determined force off it.

In this instance, the commentator was describing a strike against Everton in 2022. Having turned Karen Holmgaard inside out, she instinctively unleashed her wand of a right foot to send the ball nestling into the back of the net. It was not the first time, nor the last, a defender would be undone in this fashion.

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» The Knowledge | Has Xhaka set a record for a new signing by going 47 games unbeaten?

Plus: serial runners-up, long gaps between winning the same competition, terrible penalty shootouts and more

“Granit Xhaka is unbeaten in his first 47 games for Bayer Leverkusen,” notes Scott Campbell. “Have any players attained a longer unbeaten streak upon joining a new club?”

At first Bayer Leverkusen’s success was one of the stories of the season. It’s fast becoming one of the stories of the century: they are 50 not out, three games away from completing an unbeaten season in all competitions. Granit Xhaka, their summer signing from Arsenal, has played in 47 of those 50 matches. The last time he lost at club level was last May, when Nottingham Forest officially ended Arsenal’s title challenge.

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» ‘What’s next for me?’ Rikke Sevecke on the heart condition that ended her football career at 27

I have been forced to adjust to a reality where I can no longer be an elite athlete but I have tried to find something positive in it

Everyone goes through change in life. It is just about how you respond. They can be big changes; they can be small, but it is about how you handle it yourself.

Over the last few months, I have been through the biggest change of all. Since being diagnosed with a heart condition – arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy or ARVC, a disease that causes irregular heartbeats – last year at just 27, I have had to learn to navigate a world where I can no longer be a professional footballer. I have been forced to adjust to a reality where I can no longer be an elite athlete and where I can’t play a sport I have been a part of since I was three. I have had to accept the reality of my condition and everything that comes with it.

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» Football quiz: the most memorable quotes from the 2023-24 season

Our pick of the best rants, musings and carefully worded statements from the Premier League and beyond this term

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» David Squires on … Tottenham’s new fans and other end-of-season surprises

Our cartoonist on the Premier League doing strange things to mascots (and people) as it nears its finale

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» Aoife Mannion on winning the FA Cup with Manchester United: Women’s Football Weekly – podcast

Manchester United’s Aoife Mannion joins Faye Carruthers and Suzanne Wrack to discuss her team’s 4-0 FA Cup final win over Spurs and more

A big weekend of football calls for a star guest. This week, Faye Carruthers and Suzanne Wrack are joined by Manchester United’s Aoife Mannion to discuss her team’s 4-0 Wembley win over Tottenham. Then Chris Pauros joins Faye and Suzy to preview the final weekend in the WSL and the league’s record scorer, Vivianne Miedema, saying goodbye to Arsenal. They also look at the England squad announced by Sarina Weigman.

To sign up for our bi-weekly women’s football newsletter – all you need to do is search ‘Moving the Goalposts sign up’ or follow that link. Here’s an extract from the latest edition.

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» The Guardiola supremacy: how City became too good for their own good | Jonathan Liew

A seventh title in 10 years is proof of how incredible wealth has eroded any sense of competitive balance in the Premier League

Once more, without feeling. The sun rose on Sunday morning, the Earth completed one full rotation around its axis, and Manchester City won the Premier League title, just as they did in 2012 and 2014, and 2018 and 2019, and 2021 and 2022 and 2023. One more trophy in the glass case, one more silhouette to add to the mural. The greatest saga in English football has been recast as church liturgy, its rhythms hardened into routine, and here Arsenal were simply the latest team to succumb to the myth that there was ever a race to be won.

For City there is of course a glorious familiarity to these rituals now, a muscle memory in those trophy‑bearing limbs, the arms that lift it and the legs that earn it. Of course there is the full‑scale invasion at full-time, which proceeds in contempt of the multiple big-screen warnings forbidding it, because by now it has become a sort of tradition. There are City fans in the lower North Stand who can boast more appearances on the Etihad Stadium pitch than Kalvin Phillips.

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» Andoni Iraola: ‘When 10 players are behind the ball, I don’t feel very comfortable’

Bournemouth’s manager on Marcelo Bielsa’s lessons, his love for cycling and why Unai Emery should beat him to awards

After an unforgiving start, Andoni Iraola has enjoyed an eye-catching first season in the Premier League, leading Bournemouth to their best points tally in the division, with a top‑half finish a distinct possibility heading into the final day. His work, imposing a breathless, aggressive style on a dynamic team, has earned him a nomination for the manager of the season award, as well as a new contract. As he approaches his first anniversary in charge next month, the closest thing to a grumble – as an avid cyclist – is the dearth of hilly terrain in Dorset. “The longest one is 200m,” he says with a smile, raising and then drooping his right hand. “It stops just as you are getting started.”

Raised in the Basque Country, the cycling heartland of Spain, Iraola has long been fascinated by the endurance and precision at the crux of competing on two wheels. During pre-season in Marbella last summer he was glued to the Tour de France over dinner and it was similar in his playing days, the majority spent at his boyhood club Athletic Bilbao, whom he captained to the Europa League final under Marcelo Bielsa in 2011-12. The pressures have changed since then.

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» Super Depor are on their way back, led by the sacrifices of Lucas Pérez | Sid Lowe

Former La Liga winners have been languishing in Spain’s third tier but, led by their devoted captain, hope is returning

There was a moment late in Deportivo de La Coruña’s win over Barcelona on Sunday in which they got a corner and Lucas Pérez went to take it, gazing up at Riazor en route. When he got there, bouncing the ball before laying it down by the flag, he held out his arm for the linesman to inspect and leant in to whisper something. The linesman leant back, looked at the evidence presented and nodded. Then he smiled. It was true what Depor’s captain said: the hairs on his arm really were standing on end.

You and everyone else, Lucas.

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» Farewell Emma Hayes and thanks for the trophies, honesty and empathy | Xaymaca Awoyungbo

Manager, who is leaving Chelsea after 12 years, remains a fearless advocate of the women’s game but never lost her human touch

It was a rainy Saturday evening a few weeks ago and Chelsea were playing Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final. I made the journey from east to west London and emerged out of Fulham Broadway station to join my friends outside the Kona Kai cocktail bar opposite a busy Stamford Bridge.

Once we had squeezed past some punters and climbed up to assume our position in the Matthew Harding Stand, it hit me: I was sitting in a sold-out stadium. All around me fans were chanting and waving blue flags in support of Emma Hayes and the Chelsea team she had built brick by brick. If ever there was a moment when I fully appreciated her impact, it was then.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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