• Premier League to end in 'isolated camps' this summer?

    Reports suggest that the Premier League might be played out World Cup-style in June and July.

    30 Mar 2020, 11:49 CEST

    The Premier League are reportedly discussing the conclusion of the season this summer with squads, officials and broadcast staff living in ‘isolated camps’ and playing the remaining 92 games behind closed doors. According to The Independent, there would be a “World Cup style” end to the season with a handful of games being played every day over June and July.

    The idea is said to have ‘gained increasing traction’ over the last few days. There is an appetite among clubs and players to finish the season – not least because of the massive financial implications of leaving the season undone – and there is expected to be political support for the scheme as it would both boost the economy and lift the spirits of the public, giving them something to watch during lockdown.

    READ: How every Premier League club wants to settle the season

    The report continues: ‘In order to complete the plan, clubs and their staffs would be confined to separate hotels away from their families, just like in an international tournament – albeit with full testing and quarantine conditions.

    The aim is to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19 as even one case could derail the whole plan.’ There is apparently an awareness that the idea could encounter opposition because of the implications of having medical staff at the games, while the blanket testing of players and staff could only realistically happen when general population is more widespread and the curve is flattened.  

    The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.

  • Pundit outlines one way Man Utd can make transfer 'very appealing' to Kane

    'Looking at the situation, looking at Manchester United, it's whether they can afford him.'

    30 Mar 2020, 11:48 CEST

    Tottenham striker Harry Kane could be tempted into joining Manchester United this summer if they brought in Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho this summer, according to former England international Darren Bent. In an interview with Jamie Redknapp on Sunday, Kane revealed he will not simply stay at Tottenham “for the sake of it” and could leave if the club isn’t progressing in the “right direction”.

    Aston Villa playmaker Grealish and Borussia Dortmund winger Sancho have both been heavily linked to Man Utd and Bent reckons those two signings could convince Kane to follow.

    FEATURE: Now to return The People’s Game to its rightful owners…

    “He said something I was quite intrigued by, ‘if we’re not progressing as a team’,” Bent said on talkSPORT.

    “But I’m not quite sure what he means by progression because let’s be honest, I don’t think they’re going to win the league next year, I don’t think they’re going to win the Champions League.

    “So if they were going to win the League Cup, is that in his eyes progression to keep him there for another five, six years? I’m not quite sure.

    “Where does he go then?

    The question is what club?

    I think there are about five or six out there that would take him. Not right now [can I see Kane joining another Premier League club].

    “You’d have to say Liverpool no, quite set with their front three, Manchester City no, Manchester United potentially, especially with the way they’re going, especially if they add, there’s talk about Grealish and Sancho.

    “[Kane] might look at that situation and go ‘play with Marcus Rashford as well?’, he might look at that situation and that to me looks very, very appealing.

    “Looking at the situation, looking at Manchester United, it’s whether they can afford him.

    “They probably could but it’s whether they can afford him, Grealish and Sancho all in the same window – I don’t think that’s going to be possible.

    “So I can see him going abroad but for his own ambition as well, where are Spurs going?

    “I can see him giving it another year and then making a decision.”  

    The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.

  • Here's the PL's goal of the season, and other mails...

    The Mailbox features more end-of-season awards and a suggestion for next season to be scrapped...

    30 Mar 2020, 11:18 CEST

    Thanks for your mails. Keep them coming to [email protected]

    Scrap next season Just read the article about Ferdinand’s call for the season to be declared null and void. Ferdinand speaks a load of bs. Like Karren Brady. Of course everyone is aware of the pandemic. Everyone is concerned about the effect on the health and welfare of others during this time. And yes, football is just a game. I get all of that. But why void THIS season?

    Why not NEXT season?

    Or plan for a shorter NEXT season?

    Ah, player contracts etc.

    Bulls***. Either way there are going to be MANY logistical problems to encounter, whichever way it goes. And that’s besides all the human suffering and lifestyle changes that most of us will have to go through. I think Ferdinand is speaking through his a***.

    Like Karren Brady. He is using the current situation and the compassion that he, I believe, genuinely feels, to somehow come up with a solution that suits him.

    D, Cape Town  

    Have I missed something?

    Why is the only solution being talked about to void this season?

    Why not just skip next season?

    This season can then be re-started and finished with no pressure on dates it needs to happen by, no fixture congestion, players get a good rest for the euros, etc, etc…

    I’m sure there’s loads of financial reasons why this doesn’t make sense but this to me makes the most practical sense.


    Prem camps Reading the Independent today, I’m delighted to find that the bigwigs at the Premier League not only read F365 but took heed from my letter.

    Pirlo’s personal life I hate to dispel Johnny’s notions over Pirlo, but I think it’s worth pointing out he did have an affair which broke up his marriage. Wonderful player, but if you’re going to fawn over him as a person as well then I think it is only fair you present a full account of his less than savoury personal exploits.

    MN Aditya  

    End of season awards Loving Lee’s end of season awards, here are my own using his template. Goal of the season: Kevin De Bruyne vs Newcastle Lee’s Runner up is my winner, is there a more satisfying goal to witness than a thunder-bastard that goes in off the bar? the answer is no.

    Runner-up: Fikayo Tomori vs Wolves Now that is how to score your first goal for the club, damn!

    Best kit: Crystal Palace Away and Chelsea FA Cup Anniversary Kit. We have a tie, I just like the look of both, this one is always down to personal choice.

    Worst kit: Southampton Away. As Lee said “Just yuck. Vile colour scheme, hideous sponsor logo, poor Saints fans.”

    Goalkeeping howler of the season: Roberto So bad he got sold in January

    Kick in the bollocks (metaphorical): Leeds United You finally did it guys, you’re returning to the Premier League……….oh, okay that sucks.

    Kick in the Bollocks (literal): Maguire vs Batshuayi.

    Cannot argue with this one he picked.

    Bugbear of the season: VAR.

    Cannot NOT choose VAR, armpit offsides, shoe lace offsides, the long waiting periods, the confusion, urgh! Most Unexpected Performance by a Struggling

    Team of the season: Norwich 3-2 Man City (Or any Norwich victory)

    Norwich have won 5 league games all season, they have beaten City, Everton, Leicester, Bournemouth and Newcastle, two of those are in the top three, nope, not a clue.

    Best hair: Todd Cantwell. Agreed again on this one with Lee Worst hair: Harvey Elliot or Hector Bellerin A tie for me between these two.

    Signing of the Season: Mateo Kovacic.

    Technically he was on loan last season, but he has been our player of the season, his game has changed dramatically under Lampard and without that transfer ban I doubt we would have activated that option to buy. Would-be Story of the season, had they not ruined it by actually winning the actual League four years ago: Leicester City.

    Well, I cannot give it Arsenal can I?

    Coup of the season: Leicester selling Harry Maguire for £85m.

    Well played, replaced with Soyuncu who has arguably been better than Harry this season.

    Holidaymaker of the season: Paul Pogba. Keep forgetting he is still a United player, agreed yet again with you here

    Lee Fall from grace of the season: Ryan Fraser.

    Last summer linked with some big clubs, didn’t get his move due to multiple reasons, openly admitted he downed tools and now would be lucky if a Premier League club took him on next season when his contract expires, ouch.

    “Carrying a team on his back until it literally breaks”

    Award: Jack Grealish Without Jack, well, I cannot see how Aston Villa would not be bottom of the table, honorable mention to Danny Ings as well. Bastard of the season: Coronavirus. Agreed again Lee.

    Mikey, CFC (Would be great to see more End of Season Awards from readers/writers)  

    Prem XIs Blimey, Alex, London, how many coaches and horses shall we drive through your “best XI from a traditional non top 6 club”?

    It’s good to educate the young ‘uns, so let’s tell you about the days before Chelsea won the lottery and when Tottenham were an endless mid-table irrelevance.

    You know, as in your word “traditional”?

    Well guess what?

    Everton won the league (twice) and won a European trophy. Leeds won the league and made a Champions League semi-final. Newcastle had 4 successive top 6 finishes (twice runners up) and made 2 successive FA Cup finals.

    So that rules out Martyn, Baines, Coleman, Speed, Ginola, Shearer. And if your version of “traditional” actually means “current”, then let’s remind you that Huth played for Chelsea; Zaha played for Man Utd; and Ginola played for Tottenham. So we’re left with Morgan, Le Tissier and Vardy.

    Good work!

    Mark Lewis (SWFC)  

    …Since i’ve seen a few ‘Best of EPL nation XI’s i thought you’d never get around to doing one for Australia. Since I’m bludging and ‘working from home’, I’d thought I’d contribute.


    Mark Schwarzer: Our most stacked position by far. He’s played more Premier League games than any non-English player, enough said.


    Stan Lazaridis: Solid for West Ham, as well as a stint later at Birmingham, although liked attacking more than defending.


    Lucas Neil: Things went a bit sour not too long after his big West Ham move, where he threw on a the charm for the fans a bit too much. But for a time was always one of the most solid defenders not from a ‘Big 4’ team.


    Tony Popovic: Just beats out Craig Moore & Hayden Foxe. Also scored one of the greatest own goals ever. Heres to him coaching back at Palace one day.


    Brett Emerton: Not a right back, but Emmo can play absolutely anywhere on his day. One of the best premier league engines ever, always punched above his weight in a Blackburn squad who also did the same.


    Mile Jedinak: A Palace legend, and was absolutely immense for them under Pulis, and did well to hold a starting XI spot when Pardew tried to change things up.


    Aaron Mooy: The only current player in the team. Has had an amazing turn around in fortunes since not being able to get a game for St Mirren, to a 9 Million dollar sale from Man City. (More than City actually paid for its Melbourne club) CENTRAL


    Robbie Slater: Scrapes in as he’s the only Aussie to win the league with Blackburn. Pacy and good on the ball.


    Harry Kewell: Debuted for Leeds at 17 years old. The greatest pure talent we’ve ever produced. Extremely unfortunate injuries affecting him so much during his time at Liverpool. Could have reached truly great heights.


    Tim Cahill: Another who can play anywhere in the attacking side of the pitch. One of the greatest headers the league’s ever seen and just always seemed to pop up when Everton needed someone.


    Mark Viduka: One of the best frontmen when in form and on his day. An absolute monster of a player. Sadly ended with a not great stretch at Newcastle and drifted off to the coast of Croatia. Also credit to Josip Skoko: Highly underrated, very technical. Had some very solid seasons at Wigan.


    The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.

  • Now to return The People's Game to its rightful owners...

    There is no going back now. We have seen the power of the state in supporting society. Now for free football.

    30 Mar 2020, 11:18 CEST

    There is no going back now. We have seen the power of the state in supporting society. Now for free football.

    Well, well, well, turns out that when push comes to shove, scratch us and we all bleed socialist red. Suddenly we see the power of the state to support people as a good thing; we see the virtue of investing in public services for the good of our people. Statism, for so long derided, is saving us and ours.

    Let’s hope there’s no going back to the politics of the past after this. Branson, Ashley, Martin: you boys took a helluva beating. We’ve also seen that it is the millions of low-paid workers, from supermarket shelf-stackers to cleaners and delivery drivers, that actually facilitate the easy life we enjoy. Paid as if they are all but worthless, disposable and easily replaced, this crisis has shown those people to be axiomatic to the running of society. Sure, clap them now, but pay them properly in the future, and never vote for those who applauded cuts and tried to justify low pay.

    This is a time of great change. Anyone thinking that when it’s all over, everything will just go back to ‘normal’ is in for a shock. Firstly, there is no normal. Normal is only what is contemporaneously familiar. How things were in January 2020 was very much not normal for how they were in 1990 or 1970. Things change and change all the time, even without the intervention of a pandemic virus. There is never any ‘going back’; we only have one choice and that’s to go forward with the lessons we’ve learned.

    Before last week’s partial but welcome nationalisation of life, too few questioned whether the rights to broadcast football should be sold to whomever would pay the most, regardless of the consequences. Talk was not of what is good for the people or the game, but what is good for generating the most money, and those two things are not inevitably synonymous, especially when the money paid is merely hoovered up by ludicrously inflated wages, agent cuts and transfer fees.

    The people have never gained from this but a small number within the industry have; mostly the players. And yet the virus has shown us that without the people there is no game. There is no product to sell. There is no money. Without a crowd, games have no meaning. It has surely never been clearer that the most important part of the football equation is not the money, not the TV, not the players nor agents or managers, but The People. Without us they have a worthless, meaningless pursuit that no-one will pay to watch on TV.

    And no TV means no Big Money. To put it bluntly, their wealth is a castle built on the sands of our presence. Without us, that castle is washed away. Oh yeah. The power resides with us, not them; let us never be marketed away from this profound truth And now that we see the truth clearly, let’s give due notice to broadcasters that we are stopping the privatisation of football broadcasting. Sorry. It’s over. There’s a new kid in town. It’s called the state.

    Let football on TV be for us all. Remember, as the new mantra goes: ‘We’re all in this together’. Of course, the truth is we’re all in it together all of the time, but we’ve been very successfully sold the notion that it is the individual that achieves, not the society which supports the individual, so everything must be subjugated to the economics of the individual. It’s all about what you or I want, not what is best for we or us. This is the profoundly wrong road we have driven down for at least 40 years. We are nothing without each other. Turns out there is such a thing as society, even if some are only just realising this.

    The current situation shows us so clearly that collectivisation works. That once we stop saying the devil can take the hindmost, all our lives are made better. Greater equality doesn’t mean less for ourselves, it means more for everyone and that makes things better for each individual. This is what I call the Springsteen doctrine of ‘no-one wins unless everyone wins’.

    And so, whereas a couple of months ago what I am about to suggest might have seemed fantastical, now, in the new reality, it will seem far less radical. And that’s because it isn’t radical. It was only made to seem so by virtue of the extreme economic model we’ve been following for so long. When you’re in an extreme position, the sensible centre seems a long way away. My proposition is that the state should buy the rights to all live football in perpetuity when they next come up for sale and broadcast them to the nation on a free-to-air basis so that everyone can see the nation’s favourite sport regardless of ability to pay for it.

    This would allow the game to once again be in the bosom of the common collective. To be something we can all access and talk about. It will be in all our lives, not just those who can afford it. Don’t let anyone tell you that people should be socially excluded from football by economics. Football is The People’s Game. The ability to broadcast it should be owned by the people. That’s just sensible, not extreme or radical.

    Why would we think otherwise?

    The same people can make the shows and broadcast them. Nothing would change, only the ownership. Like I say, until recently thi s may have been thought to be actually impossible. As impossible as the government paying 80% of your wages. But we now see the huge spending power of the state unleashed and we see the good it can do.

    So no-one should be saying, as they did when I first wrote about this in Can We Have Our Football Back? that it would be too expensive or that it isn’t the sort of thing a government should be spending our money on. That’s not an argument that can be made now. But should anyone still try, the fact is that buying the rights to broadcast football would be revenue neutral and I suspect would soon save the state money across a five-year period.

    This is because greater exposure to the game – and FTA football increases audiences exponentially – has been proven to inspire greater levels of participation, especially among children, but also more widely. It inspires activity. It makes us want to kick a feckin’ ball around. Currently, we are in a type 2 diabetes crisis which costs the state £14 billion per annum and rising, a condition which is largely caused by lifestyle and diet choices, something which more exercise would help alleviate. We are also in the middle of a mental-health tsunami with 71.5 million prescriptions written out for antidepressants at a cost of half a billion pounds per year.

    But exercise is proven to help mood. Coming together to play games or watch games also reduces the sense of isolation that becomes a way of life for the depressed. These are big wins for us all.

    Similarly, being able to watch football on TV for free ends the intrinsic social isolation that comes with it being unaffordable. Social isolation is a pernicious problem that costs the state money in dysfunctional behaviours of many different flavours from vandalism to violence. When people are shut out of experiences by lack of money, they lose investment in society and once you’ve lost that, you’ve lost hope, so why not get wasted on drugs or smash someone in the face or rob a house? It all has a cost attached. Keeping everyone inside the tent saves all of us money and heartache.

    What I’m saying here is that when you look at society holistically, the cost of buying rights to broadcast football would be offset against savings that would be produced through better health and societal outcomes. Eventually, as those benefits wash through a generation, it’ll save a lot of money and more importantly, produce a nation more at ease with itself and more content.

    The type 2 diabetes, obesity and depression figures haven’t happened randomly. They cannot be separated from the nature of an economic system where people work too hard for too little money and even less respect. And when you have a low-wage economy, where millions are undervalued and left to exist on next to nothing while a small minority get ever richer, rubbing the nose of the poor in their wealth with every £60,000 car that they drive past in, it isn’t any surprise that it makes many unhappy and they find expression in drink, drugs and over-eating. We can’t go back to these old, out-moded economic ways of thinking. The way things were quite blatantly wasn’t working for the majority of people. We need a new deal; we need a new frontier.

    So how much would it cost?

    I have no idea how that figure might be worked out. But at the peak of the market the Premier League domestic rights were sold for about £10 billion over three years, a period over which the type 2 diabetes bill would be at least £42 billion, probably nearer £50 billion as it rises each year. So even if £10 billion was the total cost for all live football in every league and competition, (it wouldn’t, given the market is now contracting domestically), we need only shave 20% off that diabetes and depression expenditure to make the purchase revenue neutral, which given the positive health benefits proven to come from exercise and social inclusion, is surely likely.

    And this is to take the highest cost. Obviously, it is likely to be a lot less, and savings to pay for it even more modest to achieve. And what government could resist such a populist measure? They’d be painted as the party that gave The People’s Game back to the people. No-one would stand against that. I know some paint this sort of thinking with a political label but I don’t care what you want to call it.

    All we should be concerned about is creating a better, happier, more content and fulfilling society, with not one person left behind. Economic exclusion doesn’t do that. Ceaseless consumerism doesn’t do that. Commodification doesn’t do that. Bullying people to be pliant and powerless via low pay doesn’t do that. Creating wealth for the few off the backs of the poor doesn’t do that. Greed doesn’t do that. Right here and right now, at this special moment in our history, it is obvious that only inclusion, collectivism and togetherness works.

    The informal societal network constructed from understanding, empathy and kindness supports and nurtures us all in a way that competing with each other for resources never will. We are each other’s sisters, brothers and others and yes: we are all in this together, today, tomorrow and forever. So when we have got through this, we should be all able to come together, as the people, to watch The People’s Game.

    John Nicholson 

    The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.

  • 'Hurt' Sagna lifts lid on Arsenal exit that felt 'a bit dirty'

    The former France international left Arsenal with just an FA Cup winners' medal to show for seven years at the club.

    30 Mar 2020, 11:18 CEST

    Bacary Sagna claims the way he left Arsenal was “was a bit dirty” after being disappointed with the lack of love he felt from the club. Sagna left the Gunners on a free transfer in the summer of 2014 after letting his contract run down, joining Manchester City – who had just won the Premier League title – on a three-year deal. The former France international left Arsenal with just an FA Cup winners’ medal to show for seven years at the club.

    FEATURE: Now to return The People’s Game to its rightful owners…

    “I got upset, not when [Cesc] Fabregas left – because that was quite an obvious move – not when [Samir] Nasri left, but when Robin left. It was like a statement from the club. He left in a way that no-one understood because he was flying,” Sagna told Goal.

    “He was a different type of player. An animal on the pitch, a goalscoring machine. When he left, I wondered why Arsenal didn’t try more to keep him.

    “Even if they had to spend lots of money, just do it because you have to spend money to get another player. And if you want to win something, it’s going to take time for that player to adapt.

    “I didn’t understand that and Alex Song’s move. The two of them left at the same time and I found out reading the French press. That got me really upset.”

    Sagna added: “Not long afterwards I had an interview with L’Equipe and they asked me what my future was and at that time, I hadn’t held any talks about my future and I only had one year left before the end of my contract.

    “To me, personally, if they wanted me to stay I would have stayed. But I didn’t feel like they did everything to make me stay. I was not expecting them to run around after me, but I at least expected them to show me some love and make me feel like they wanted me to stay one year before the end of the same contract I had kept for six years without asking for one penny more.

    “But they only talked to me after I did that interview with L’Equipe. It did not feel like a natural move and I didn’t feel comfortable at all. This hurt me as a player and as a person because I always gave my best, I never asked for anything from 2008 to 2014.

    “I didn’t knock at the club’s door to change contract, I respected my contract, but the way I left was a bit dirty. I didn’t like it, I didn’t feel comfortable anymore. Something broke inside my head.”  

    The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.

  • A brilliant XI of players left out of Jose Mourinho's best XI he's coached

    This would be a decent match up.

    30 Mar 2020, 10:46 CEST

    Jose Mourinho recently showed the embarrassment of riches he has had to choose from during a career managing Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Tottenham when he was asked to pick his all-time best XI of players he has coached by Marca. Mourinho opted for a diamond formation consisting of: Petr Cech; Javier Zanetti, John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, William Gallas; Claude Makelele, Frank Lampard, Mesut Ozil, Eden Hazard; Didier Drogba, Cristiano Ronaldo. We’ve taken a look at the best players not to make the cut and come up with an alternative XI, arranged in a 4-3-3 formation.

    GK: David de Gea

    Iker Casillas seems the obvious choice as this team’s No.1, but given how much the former Real Madrid captain clashed with Mourinho, were going to rule him out. Julio Cesar is a strong contender from Inter, but we’re going to opt for De Gea, who was arguably Manchester United’s only world-class player during Mourinho’s spell at Old Trafford.

    RB: Maicon

    Right-back was a fairly unglamorous position for Mourinho during his first spell at Chelsea, with the likes of Paulo Ferreira and Juliano Belletti filling the role. Alvaro Arbeloa? Nah. Branislav Ivanovic? Can feel unlucky not to be in here. But we have to go for Maicon. Mainly for the fact Mourinho moved training on Mondays to the afternoon as the Brazilian was often still drunk in the mornings, according to former Inter man Ianis Zicu.

    CB: Sergio Ramos

    Another player who publicly fell out with Mourinho at Real Madrid, Ramos is just too good to leave out. The ultimate shithouse in terms of walking the walk as well as talking the talk?

    CB: Raphael Varane

    The genuinely quite intimidating Lucio can count himself unlucky here, and we did consider pairing up Ramos with kindred spirit in the shithouse stakes Pepe, but then we remembered Mourinho’s own words at Real Madrid. “Pepe has a problem. And his name is Raphael Varane.”

    LB: Marcelo

    William Gallas was a surprise choice in Mourinho’s favourite XI, but Ashley Cole himself has admitted he “didn’t play as well as I could” during Mourinho’s first spell at Chelsea and was phased out for Cesar Azpilicueta the second time around. Serial trophy winner Maxwell was an option from Inter, but Marcelo edges his way ahead of his compatriot into the XI, as he so often did for Brazil.

    DM: Xabi Alonso

    One of the few players to play for both Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, there was no way we were ever going to leave Alonso out.

    READ: Sure, Xabi Alonso’s passing was good, but have you seen his goals?

    CM: Wesley Sneijder

    He gets in for that Treble season at Inter alone. No arguments.

    READ: The season Wesley Sneijder made Real Madrid regret signing Kaka

    CM: Deco

    The wily Estaban Cambiasso and Thiago Motta were options from Inter, but we’ve instead opted for the cunning of Deco to complete a very aesthetically-pleasing midfield three.

    RW: Arjen Robben

    Persistent injury issues meant Robben didn’t show his best for Chelsea under Mourinho, but there were still enough signs the winger was going to turn into something special. Robben on one flank and Damien Duff on the other made Mourinho’s first Chelsea team one of his most exciting.

    READ: Remembering Arjen Robben, Damien Duff & a Chelsea side at their most fun

    LW: Samuel Eto’o

    “Eto’o played left winger for Mourinho. When the next manager (Rafael Benitez) came along and asked of Eto’o to play left winger, he replied, ‘No, I only do that for Mourinho,'” Wesley Sneijder told Voetbal International in 2018. Let’s just not mention that spell at Chelsea when Mourinho suggested the forward was older than he let on.

    ST: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

    “He formed an attachment to me even before we met,” Ibrahimovic wrote in I Am Zlatan. “He would become a guy I was basically willing to die for. “I felt increasingly that this guy gives everything for the team, so I want to give everything for him. It was a quality he had. People were willing to kill for him. “No matter how happy I was going to Barca, it was sad to leave Mourinho. That guy is special.” Notable players to miss out: Iker Casillas, Thibaut Courtois, Julio Cesar, Lucio, Pepe, Ashley Cole, Maxwell, Angel Di Maria, Sami Khedira, Karim Benzema, Gozalo Higuain, Kaka, Esteban Cambiasso, Thiago Motta, Michael Essien, Luka Modric, Diego Milito

    More from Planet Football

    Remembering Arjen Robben, Damien Duff & a Chelsea side at their most fun Sure, Xabi Alonso’s passing was good, but have you seen his goals? What they said: The 11 players to work for Mourinho and Guardiola Can you name every player used by Jose Mourinho in his first Chelsea season?

  • Pogba says he wants to 'win trophies' with Man Utd in call to Lingard

    The France midfielder has spent much of this season on the sidelines having not started for United since September.

    30 Mar 2020, 10:16 CEST

    Paul Pogba has revealed his desire to win trophies with Manchester United in a possible hint that he wants to remain at Old Trafford. Pogba was reported to be keen to leave Old Trafford this summer after two years of trying to get away from the club which re-signed him from Juventus for £89million in 2016. But the France midfielder has spent much of this season on the sidelines having not started for United since September.

    FEATURE: Premier League XIs: A woefully undercapped England side…

    And now in a message to Man Utd fans, Pogba has claimed he wants to get back out on the pitch and help the club win trophies.

    “Stay at home – stay safe,” Pogba said in a video call with Jesse Lingard on United’s official website.

    “Keep supporting United.

    “Hopefully things will get better very soon and we will get back to the game.

    “Hopefully we can show you guys we are ready and we want to go back to win trophies.

    “Stay connected, stay safe and we’ll be back on the pitch soon.”

    On winning the Europa League under Mourinho, Pogba added: “I was so happy because that was what we wanted. At the start of the season we wanted to win this and it meant we went through to the Champions League [the following season].

    “It was our second trophy of the year and I was really happy. That’s what Manchester United is about: winning trophies.”

      The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.

  • Fenway Sports Group make shock Rangers approach

    Liverpool's owners Fenway Sports Group have approached Scottish businessman Jim McColl about investing in Rangers.

    30 Mar 2020, 09:48 CEST

    Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group have approached Scottish businessman Jim McColl about investing in Rangers.

    McColl, who is believed to be worth around £800million, says John W Henry was interested in linking up with the Carmunnock-born businessman in a bid to roll out their success at Liverpool north of the border. McColl, 68, says that Fenway are keen to replicate their success with the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool which has seen both clubs claim glory recently. Henry is a firm believer in the analytics-based ‘Moneyball’ system which has served his baseball side and Jurgen Klopp so well and he has bee in touch with McColl about delivering the same success at Ibrox. Talking about how he bought Rangers shares in 2012, in an interview with entrepreneur Rob Moore, McColl said: “At no time in my mind was I going to buy it.

    “Although, although, I might think differently now because I was learning about this technique that was used in Moneyball. “Do you know that’s what’s happening in Liverpool? “It’s the same technique they’re using and you see they’re 22 points ahead over everyone else – using this technique – so that’s a thought. “In fact, we were approached recently to say if we were interested in looking at it again – the people who have invested in Liverpool would be interested in looking at it with us and applying the same techniques. “Not that I’ll ever do it but it’s nice to think about them being 22 points ahead of Celtic.”

    McColl helped businessman Paul Murray wrestle control from Charles Green by buying Gers shares in 2012, before handing the shares over to the fans. He added: “What happened was Rangers Football Club had been taken over by people who were exploiting it and who were out to asset strip it. “People from outside of Scotland don’t understand how important both Celtic and Rangers are in Glasgow.      

    “I’m a Glaswegian and we couldn’t allow this to happen. It did a lot of damage. “But myself, and one other, a chap named Paul Murray, who ended up on the board, decided we would get rid of the people that were in there. “We held a special shareholders meeting, we managed to get them put out, and we ran up quite an expensive bill. “I wasn’t a shareholder before all this happened but I bought shares so I could go to the AGM and the special meetings and, in fact, call them. “Then we finished and I gave the shares to the supporters club. “I gifted them and paid a hefty tax bill between me and Paul and we got it back to an even keel.”

    READ MORE: Gerrard reveals key piece of advice Klopp gave him about coaching career

  • Sancho 'unofficially confirms' £120m Man Utd transfer - report

    Sancho has consistently been linked with a return to England with Chelsea, Liverpool and United all interested.

    30 Mar 2020, 09:48 CEST

    A report claims that Jadon Sancho has ‘unofficially confirmed’ that he will swap Borussia Dortmund for Manchester United in the next transfer window. The Manchester City academy graduate has 27 goals and 37 assists in 69 Bundesliga appearances for Borussia Dortmund, including 14 and 16 respectively this season. Sancho has consistently been linked with a return to the Premier League with Chelsea, Liverpool and United all interested.

    FEATURE: Ranked: This season’s best Premier League signings

    Those rumours have led to Dortmund setting his price tag at £120million with the German club keen to keep hold of its prized asset. However, the Irish Independent claims that Sancho has ‘unofficially confirmed’ that he will be joining Man Utd in the summer, while he has ‘no intention of returning’ to Manchester City.

    The report adds: Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke addressed the speculation on Sunday and insisted that the Bundesliga outfit will not sell for less than his valuation. “We said before Corona[virus] that our favorite idea is that Jadon will stay with us,” Watzke told Bild. “I can clearly say that even the very rich clubs, despite the existential crisis, do not have to believe that they can go on a bargain tour with us. “We don’t have to sell anyone below value.”  

    The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.

  • Premier League XIs: A woefully undercapped England side...

    What might have been for England. Rob Jones, Stan Collymore, Ledley King and more...

    30 Mar 2020, 09:48 CEST

    It’s supposed to be international week and we’re now left debating who would’ve made England’s Euro 2020 squad, which players will have more chance of making it next year and which players may now miss out, here’s an ‘England what could’ve been Premier League XI’…

    Goalkeeper: Matt Murray
    The former Wolves player was forced to retire over ten years ago, before he even turned 30. Still only 38, it’s conceivable that we wouldn’t even be having a debate about who should currently wear the number one shirt for England. Murray appeared to have all the qualities required to become a fantastic goalkeeper and was pivotal for Wolves as they won promotion to the Premier League in the 2002/03 season in a side that included Joleon Lescott, Paul Ince and Irish great Denis Irwin.

    Unfortunately, injury restricted Murray to just one Premier League appearance and Wolves went straight back down the following year. With a fit Murray, things may have been different for Wolves and England. Just think, we may never have watched Scott Carson in agony versus Croatia, Rob Green in horror against the USA and Joe Hart in embarrassment as he chest-pumped his way to 75 caps.

    Right-back: Rob Jones
    Many England fans feel the battle for England’s right-back slot in the nineties and noughties would have been fascinating if Rob Jones remained injury-free, Liverpool fans will tell you there’s no doubt Jones woud have kept Gary Neville out of the side. The Welsh-born Jones was famously one of the few players who managed to mark Welsh wonder Ryan Giggs out of a game and impressed enough to make two PFA Team of the Year appearances.

    After making his England debut in early 1992, Jones had to pull out of England’s European Championship squad that summer because of injury and won his last cap three years later, at the age of just 23. Part of Liverpool’s cream-suited side that lost out to Manchester United in 1996 FA Cup Final, more injury problems meant he missed out on another European Championship that year with England. Jones did at least win some silverware, the FA Cup in 1992 and the League Cup in 1995. It could and should have been so much more.

    Centre-half: Ledley King
    268 Premier League appearances for a player who could barely train is a staggering record. Whilst he managed to captain Spurs to a League Cup win in 2008, chronic knee problems restricted King to just 21 England caps. Many felt he was the most naturally talented defender England possessed at the time; in an era of Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, that was high praise indeed. Considering how well King performed on the pitch when he didn’t even touch a ball on non-match days, that praise seems justified. King carried on playing into his early 30s for Tottenham, but without injury he certainly would have made more than two England squads at major tournaments.

    Centre-half: Jonathan Woodgate
    Another talented centre-half whose career was blighted by injury, Jonathan Woodgate made only eight appearances for England. Woodgate lined up alongside King in the 2008 League Cup final, a brilliant, yet injury-prone defensive core. The current Middlesbrough boss has only just turned 40, but it seems like an age since Woodgate burst onto the scene as a teenager for a Leeds United side who many thought would dominate the Premier League for years. Financial incompetence halted the club’s progression but persistent injury stopped Woodgate from reaching his peak. Only three times did he manage 30 or more league appearances in a season.

    Left-back: Paul Lake
    Not a traditional left-back, but Paul Lake was a fantastically versatile player, capable of looking at ease in any position. Unlike most in this XI, Lake never even got the chance to win an England cap, though many felt he would have gone on to captain the national team if injury didn’t make it seem like he was never really here. Still revered by Manchester City fans, one of his most famous moments came in a 5-1 Manchester derby win in 1989. City fans could be forgiven for thinking the nineties had a lot of positives in store for them with Lake as the heartbeat of the team, but the decade turned out to be very different for club and player. Lake suffered horrific physical and mental pain as a result of his injuries, it was a terrible shame he never got to reach his peak.

    Right wing: David Bentley
    Scorer of an incredible goal for Spurs against his former employers in a famous north London derby and a hat-trick against Manchester United for Blackburn Rovers, there was no doubt Bentley had the talent to succeed David Beckham on the right of England’s midfield. Bentley is still only 35, yet played his last Premier League game nearly ten years ago. In his short second spell at Blackburn, Bentley realised he no longer had the desire to be a professional footballer. He ended his career with just seven England caps in an international spell that spanned less than a year.

    Central midfield: Jack Wilshere
    Two Premier League appearances this season, eight last season;  the renaissance of Jack Wilshere hasn’t happened at West Ham United. Many England fans still had hope that Wilshere could return to the country’s midfield after his move from Arsenal. Still only 28, Wilshere no doubt hopes the future could hold a chance to improve on his return of 34 caps, but the number of fans who believe the same thing dwindles with every new injury concern. Former team-mate and current Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta recently referred to Wilshere in the past tense, saying “he could’ve been phenomenal”. That’s where the conversation surrounding Wilshere is now.

    Central midfield: Matt Le Tissier
    Famously ignored by Glenn Hoddle for inclusion in the 1998 World Cup squad, even after Paul Gascoigne had been dropped, Le Tissier never made an England World Cup or European Championship squad. It’s a common argument that England consistently ignored their more technically gifted players in favour of those willing to run around a lot. Le Tissier played for England eight times, former Southampton team-mate Carlton Palmer won 18 caps. A scorer of some implausibly brilliant goals, England had plenty of players to do the dirty work that Le Tissier didn’t do, but none who could produce the same moments of magic.

    Left wing: Lee Sharpe
    A player who had a lifestyle even Fergie couldn’t tame, Lee Sharpe should have been the answer to England’s left-wing conundrum in the nineties and early noughties. Instead, he won his last England cap in 1993, at the age of just 22. Sharpe and Ryan Giggs had battled for the spot on Manchester United’s left side under Ferguson, but whilst Giggs was a 40-year-old golden oldie by the time he retired in 2014, Sharpe’s Premier League career was over before he turned 30. Sharpe still ended up with an impressive trophy haul as part of United’s early Premier League title winning sides, but he could have won so much more. Still, at least he got to appear on Celebrity Love Island.

    Striker: David Hirst
    A Yorkshireman with all the qualities required to be a top-class striker, Hirst was another player who should have been part of far more England teams but for misfortune with injuries. As it was, his international career lasted less than a year before injury halted any advancement on a record of three caps and one goal. Still loved by Sheffield Wednesday fans, he was part of the club’s fantastic run to both domestic cup finals in the 1992/93 season.

    Striker: Stan Collymore
    England certainly weren’t short of top-quality strikers in the nineties. Stan Collymore is known these days for making a lot of noise on the radio, in newspapers and on social media, but back in the mid-nineties he was making all the right sounds on the pitch for Nottingham Forest. The club had recovered from relegation in the inaugural Premier League season and bounced straight back the following campaign. The newly promoted side amazingly finished third in the 1994/95 season, with Collymore scoring 22 times.

    A big-money move to Liverpool followed and great things were expected of Collymore at club and international level. Of course, there were some memorable moments, particularly the winner in Liverpool’s 4-3 win over title-chasing rivals Newcastle United. However, Collymore suffered with off-field problems and in a time when it wasn’t considered possible for rich footballers to be depressed, his career didn’t reach the heights of his undoubted talent.

    James Wiles – whose Instagram has a whole load more XIs

  • Benzema on Giroud: 'You don’t compare Formula 1 with karting'

    Real Madrid's Karim Benzema has claimed he's on another level to compatriot and fellow striker Olivier Giroud.

    30 Mar 2020, 09:47 CEST

    Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema has claimed he’s on another level to compatriot and fellow striker Olivier Giroud. Giroud led the line for France as they won the 2018 World Cup, while Benzema has not played for his country since before Euro 2016.

    The Chelsea striker has 39 international goals compared to Benzema‘s 27 for the national team but there is no doubt that the Real Madrid man has had a better season for his club.

    “You don’t compare Formula 1 with karting, and I am being nice,” Benzema said on Instagram Live.

    “Next…I know that I am Formula 1.

    “It works because he is there, that is the only reason. It won’t be spectacular, he won’t do something amazing, but he has his thing.

    “Aside from that, does everyone like the way he plays? I don’t know.”

    Giroud’s contract at Chelsea is up in the summer and he revealed earlier this month that he is now keen on an extending his stay in West London. Asked if he would now like to sign a new deal at Stamford Bridge, he said: “Yes. Yes. Yeah, of course.

    “There are a few months to go, games to win and maybe another trophy, and after, you know, I think I have two (or) three nice seasons in front of me. It’s not the time to talk about contracts and everything but I will take a decision when it comes.”  

    The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.

  • 11 things we loved this weekend: Aubameyang, Lucas, Zidane & more

    We've got well into Belarusian football.

    30 Mar 2020, 09:18 CEST

    Something tells us we might not be adjusting to life under lockdown as well as we hoped, given we spent the weekend looking around frantically for highlights from the Belarusian Premier League.

    Belarus is the only country in Europe where professional football is still being played, and the competition is providing the football fix supporters are craving around the world.

    We’ve rounded up the best of the action on and off the pitch.

    William Thor Willumson

    Ivan Bakhar
    We’ve always said the Belarusian league is where it’s at.

    Yury Kendysh
    A failed panenka with ball boys laughing at the penalty taker? We told you the Belarusian league is where it’s at.

    Gega Diasamidze
    Is this their equivalent to Jack Wilshere’s goal against Norwich City?

    Dzmitry Padstrelaw
    Get your counter-attack fix here.

    Manchester City
    Lovely stuff.

    Manchester City have signed over the use of the Etihad Stadium to the NHS to use it however they need in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus.

    Arkadiusz Milik
    And more goodness in testing circumstances.

    Milik has made his restaurant in Katowice, Food&Ball, available to cook, pack and ship food to the hospitals in the city where he grew up. 

    On the night England should have hosted Italy.

    Although we couldn't welcome you to Wembley tonight, we are with you @azzurri.

    This is a battle that must be faced together, with unity. 

    Lucas Moura
    F*cking hell.

    Good to see Lucas Moura is coping well with lockdown…

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang & Alexandre Lacazette
    The Premier League’s favourite buddy cop duo.

    Zinedine Zidane

    Only on Reddit can you get a thread and correlation of data on Zinedine Zidane's hair loss and performance on the pitch.

    More from Planet Football
    A celebration of England’s Golden Generation – The Broken Metatarsal

    Six summer transfers already agreed, ft Chelsea, Barcelona, Bayern Munich

    Where are they now? The Roma starting XI for Francesco Totti’s debut

    Can you name the top English goalscorer from every CL campaign?

  • Kane sets Prem deadline to finish season: 'Enough is enough'

    'Playing into July or August and pushing next season back, I don't see too much benefit in that.'

    30 Mar 2020, 09:17 CEST

    Tottenham striker Harry Kane believes the deadline for completing the Premier League season should be set for the end of June. All football in England is currently suspended amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The shutdown will remain until at least April 30 but Premier League clubs are set to meet again this week with some ‘difficult decisions’ ahead. It has been suggested that the top flight season could be completed over June and July in ‘isolated camps’ but Kane feels the cut-off point should come at the end of June.

    “I know the Premier League will do everything it can to finish the season,” Kane told Jamie Redknapp on Instagram Live.

    “There needs to be a point where enough is enough. Probably the limit for me is the end of June.

    “Playing into July or August and pushing next season back, I don’t see too much benefit in that.

    “Obviously I don’t know too much about behind the scenes and financially.

    “If the season’s not completed by the end of June we need to look at the options and just look forward to next season.”

    Kane also discussed his relationship with Jose Mourinho, while warning Spurs that he won’t remain loyal to the club ‘just for the sake of it’.  

    The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.

  • Gossip: Real's £240m raid on Man Utd and Liverpool; United eye £135m midfielder

    Man Utd are supposedly growing confident of signing Saul Niguez to replace Paul Pogba...

    30 Mar 2020, 08:54 CEST


    Given the financial and logistical crisis currently facing European football, many feel this summer’s transfer market will be quieter than usual. The tabloids, however, seem to think the big hitters will still make it rain…

    The Daily Star is pushing a line this morning around Manchester United’s growing belief over landing Saul Niguez. Apparently, Ed Woodward is confident of getting a deal done which would see the Red Devils pay £135million to activate the 25-year-old’s release clause. Saul is three years into a nine-year contract but Atletico Madrid have been trying to get the midfielder to discuss new terms that would increase that release clause – which a cynic might suggest is the reason United’s name is being dragged into his situation. But this report reckons United have identified Saul as the perfect replacement for Paul Pogba, should Real Madrid finally stump up for the want-away star who hasn’t started for United since September.  

    READ: This Premier League season’s transfers ranked  


    But Pogba might be concerned to learn that Real have other plans for whatever transfer kitty Florentino Perez can muster. It seems Zinedine Zidane wants a centre-forward and the Real coach has a hitlist…

    According to the Daily Express, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang features among Real’s options. Zidane has already spoken with the Arsenal striker, who has only a year remaining on his contract. But in that conversation, Aubameyang has been informed that he is not Real’s first choice. Their primary target is Erling Haaland, who has had a belting three and a half months at Borussia Dortmund.

    The Germans could land a profit worth in excess of £30million on the £18million they paid RB Leipzig over New Year. Aubameyang isn’t even Plan B. Real’s preferred alternative would be Sadio Mane – but the Liverpool star would cost almost three times what Haaland might if they are right in thinking the Senegal star could be prised away from Anfield for £140million.  


    Arsenal are considering a move for Brondby youngster Anis Ben Slimane…

    Newcastle are eyeing free transfer moves for Burnley pair Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady…

    Roma reckon they can get Man Utd to lower their £25million asking price for Chris Smaling…

    Roma only want to pay £10million for Arsenal loanee Henrikh Mkhitaryan…

    Real and Varca are both in for RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano…

    Galatasaray could offer Mbwana Samatta a swift escape route should Aston Villa be relegated.  

    The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.

  • Harry Kane opens up over relationship with 'honest' Mourinho

    Kane has no problem with Jose: 'If he likes you, he'll tell you; if he doesn't like you, he'll tell you.'

    30 Mar 2020, 08:52 CEST

    Harry Kane says he has ‘a good relationship’ with Jose Mourinho during the manager’s first few months at Tottenham. Mourinho took over from Mauricio Pochettino in December and though Spurs have clawed their way back up to eight in the Premier League, the Portuguese boss has ruffled a few feathers during his brief reign so far.

    But while warning Spurs that he won’t stay at the club just for the sake of it, Kane has pinpointed Mourinho’s honesty as one of the reasons he gets on well with the new boss. Asked about working with Mourinho in an Instagram Live chat with Jamie Redknapp, Kane responded: “It’s been good. What you see is what you get. He’s an honest guy.

    “If he likes you, he’ll tell you; if he doesn’t like you, he’ll tell you. “From my point of view I’ve built a good relationship with him.

    “It’s great to work under a manager like Jose. Growing up watching Premier Leagues he was a big part of that.

    “So it’s another opportunity for me to work with one of the best managers in the world. So I’m excited to see how that relationship unfolds, and I know he’s excited to put his stamp on the team.

    “From a players’ point of view we know we’ve got a top, top manager, so it’s up to us to go out and perform.”

    Kane has not played since rupturing a hamstring tendon on January 1, but confirmed he should be ready for action as and when the Premier League returns. England’s top-flight is currently suspended until April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic. He added: “Things are going great, I was doing my rehab well at Spurs up until last week, so I’ll just continue that at home.

    “Whenever we go back I should be ready to integrate with the group. But I’ll just see how I feel; there’s no rush, no panic and I’m in a good place.”  

    The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.

  • Harry Kane warns Spurs he won't stay 'for the sake of it'

    Harry Kane admits Spurs' lack of silverware is 'hard to take'. He won't hang around just out of loyalty...

    30 Mar 2020, 08:50 CEST

    Harry Kane has revealed he will not simply stay at Tottenham “for the sake of it”.

    The England captain admitted he would consider his Spurs future if the north London club stopped “progressing”.

    The 26-year-old still wants to win trophies at Tottenham, but the Lilywhites have slipped to eighth in the suspended Premier League and remain without silverware since lifting the 2008 League Cup. Kane’s current Spurs deal runs until 2024, and he has previously suggested he could stay with his boyhood club for his entire career.

    “Obviously I get asked this question a lot,” said Kane, in an Instagram Live chat with Jamie Redknapp.

    “It’s one of those things – I couldn’t say yes and I couldn’t say no.

    “I love Spurs, I’ll always love Spurs but I’ve always said if I don’t feel we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, I’m not someone to stay there for the sake of it.

    “I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve, get better and become one of the top, top players.

    “It all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team.

    “So it’s not a definite I’m going to stay there forever, but it’s not a no either.”

    Tottenham reached the final of last term’s Champions League only to slip to defeat at the hands of Liverpool. Well-regarded boss Mauricio Pochettino was sacked in November, to be replaced by Jose Mourinho. And despite Spurs continuing to stutter since that switch, Kane revealed his respect for the “honest” Portuguese boss.

    “We have got a fantastic team, but for one reason or another we haven’t been able to get those trophies, that you look from the outside and think we’ve got the team to get,” said Kane.

    “It’s a hard thing to take as a player. I want to win everything we do.

    “So when we get close it’s hard to take and it starts to build up. But from my point of view all you can do is do the best you can, give your best to win every game and win trophies.

    “For one reason or another we haven’t quite got there yet. If we do finish the season we’ve got to try to get back into the Champions League spots. “And next year would be the first chance for the gaffer to have a pre-season, and bed his values into the team. So we’ll see what happens.

    “Of course I want to win trophies, and to do that sooner rather than later.”

    The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.

  • F365's Premier League club-by-club reviews: Manchester City

    Another trophy in the bag but they've spent much of the season choking on Liverpool's dust. What next?

    30 Mar 2020, 08:48 CEST

    Another trophy in the bag but they’ve spent much of the season choking on Liverpool’s dust… 

    Best player: Kevin De Bruyne
    Pep Guardiola told De Bruyne at their first meeting that he could ‘easily’ become one of the top five players in the world. Despite City’s struggles, at least the Belgium playmaker can look back at this season and tick off that particular target.

    De Bruyne was looking to make up for lost time after missing too much of last season through injury and not only has he demonstrated once more that he is peerless in the Premier League, but the 28-year-old has taken on a leadership role in a City squad transitioning from Vincent Kompany, Fernandinho and David Silva setting the standards.

    From De Bruyne’s perspective, it’s a pity that his team-mates have not been able to match his standards. Contributing to 25 goals in 26 appearances was not enough to stop City slipping off Liverpool’s tail but De Bruyne’s record is better than anyone’s in the Premier League and in the Champions League, he was at the very heart of City’s rousing fightback against Real Madrid. It was a symbolic triumph with De Bruyne orchestrating from a central role while Fernandinho, Silva and Sergio Aguero all watched on from the bench.

    City’s problem now is what De Bruyne decides to do about the club’s European ban. As things stand, the former Chelsea misfit will be 31 by the time City can return to the Champions League. Can De Bruyne afford to spend what should be his peak years out of the European spotlight? Probably not if he wants to retain his current standing among the continent’s best. Arguably everyone else in Guardiola’s squad is replaceable. De Bruyne, right now for City, is not. 

    Biggest disappointment: Joao Cancelo
    Guardiola loves nothing more than splurging on a full-back and he was indulged again last summer when City spaffed £60million on the Portugal right-back, while simultaneously refusing to pay above £70million for Harry Maguire.

    That wasn’t Cancelo’s fault but the 25-year-old has to take most of the blame for a miserable maiden season in England. He has made just eight Premier League starts and was missing from the squad entirely when City won the Carabao Cup final. Cancelo was linked with a sharp exit in January, and Guardiola did little to refute such talk at the time.

    “It depends on him,” Guardiola said after leaving Cancelo out of the 18 at Wembley. “I can suggest but the players have to decide the rest.”

    One positive of Cancelo’s arrival has been the improvement in Kyle Walker’s form in the face of what was perceived to be a genuine threat to his place. But for £60million, Guardiola and City were expecting so much more.

    Best performance: Real Madrid 1-2 Manchester City
    City’s best display of the season was meticulously planned by Guardiola and executed almost flawlessly by his players.

    De Bruyne admitted even City’s players were surprised when Pep presented his blueprint for beating Real, who had not lost a Champions League knockout tie under Zinedine Zidane. It involved Aguero, David Silva, Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling all spectating from the bench, while Gabriel Jesus played off the flank with De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva operating centrally in attack.

    If City’s players were caught off guard, you can’t blame Real’s stars for wondering what the f*ck was going on during a game at the Bernabeu in which they never seized control. They were restricted to just one chance in the first half and their goal came from a City error.

    When City equalised, it was no more than they deserved. Nor was the lead when it came after De Bruyne netted an ice-cool penalty after Guardiola had dispatched Sterling from the bench to win a penalty.

    Guardiola will have agonised over his plan for months before City went to Madrid but their first-leg victory was proof for the doubters that the City boss can still turn a trick and his players are still pulling for him.

    Worst performance: Liverpool 3-1 Manchester City
    If you listen to uber-positive Pep, City never play a bad game. Indeed, the manager said they played ‘an incredible game’ at Anfield. But they were found badly wanting in key moments which conspired to leave the champions trailing Liverpool by eight points, when a victory at Anfield would have left them within a win of top spot.

    City were rocked by Ederson’s absence and while Claudio Bravo’s inclusion could not be avoided, Guardiola’s decision to play Angelino while leaving Benjamin Mendy in the stands raised a few eyebrows, especially given the makeshift nature of the rest of City’s defence.

    That rearguard crumbled at the first whiff of trouble, with Fabinho and Mo Salah putting Liverpool 2-0 up inside 13 minutes. City were furious that the opener came after a penalty appeal at the other end but the second highlighted the visitors’ defensive deficiencies. The third, when it came after half-time, was a result of Bravo’s customary balls-up.

    Guardiola took umbrage with some of the officials’ decisions and the fact they had 18 shots at Anfield suggest they carried a threat. But only three of those efforts were on target and the Blues struggled to match Liverpool as they put their foot down in the title race while City for the first time tasted dust at the back of their throats.

    Biggest VAR moment: Laporte and the ‘handball’
    City were seething that neither the referee nor the VAR official scrubbed out Fabinho’s opener to give them a penalty instead after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s handball in the Liverpool box. Another claim involving Alexander-Arnold sent Guardiola loopy… but VAR’s most dramatic intervention in City’s season came in their first home game when Spurs came to the Etihad.

    For the second time in barely four months, VAR pissed all over City’s parade denying them another late winner, as had been the case in the Champions League quarter-final last season. This time, the officials eventually reached the conclusion that the ball had brushed Aymeric Laporte’s arm before it reached goalscorer Gabriel Jesus.

    “We have to accept it,” said Guardiola though his expression suggested he was still working through that process. It came only a week after VAR played a starring role in City’s 5-0 win at West Ham in the first Premier League game of the season.

    Did their recruitment work? 

    Cancelo, as we have discussed, was a waste of time and effort and Angelino got little better after being described as ‘absolutely awful’ in pre-season by former City full-back Andy Hinchcliffe. It was far less of a surprise that he was shipped out on loan to RB Leipzig in January than it was to see him darkening City’s doorstep again last summer.

    How do you assess Rodri’s maiden season in the Premier League? Only Sterling has played more minutes than the £62million midfielder, who hasn’t enjoyed the most stable environment in which to bed in to English football owing to the chaos unfolding behind him. He has shown signs of being able to do all the things Guardiola expects from a holding midfielder; he can rotate the ball or penetrate lines with his passing. But Rodri hasn’t done it consistently enough, nor has he dominated matches. That may come and perhaps next season he will grow into a more commanding presence.

    Despite breaking their transfer record to bring in the Spain midfielder, last summer will be remembered for what they did not do. Refusing to bring in a centre-back was negligent and set City up to fail from the start of the campaign.

    Manager’s job security: Well…
    Hard to say. There’s a lot to unpack here…

    When it comes to Guardiola’s future, the European ban may be decisive. Should they fail in their appeal, Pep won’t fancy a couple of years away from the Champions League. Especially when there were already doubts over his intentions before UEFA handed down their judgement. Reacting to that punishment, Guardiola suggested he would not abandon City and it may be that he feels obligated to see out his contract.

    Guardiola’s deal is up at the end of next season, but already he has been at City for as long as any of his other coaching jobs. He did four years at Barcelona before he needed a sabbatical and three years was enough at Bayern. Has he got the energy for a rebuild at City without the motivation of the Champions League?

    We don’t know, Pep doesn’t seem too sure and City aren’t taking any chances if reports they are identifying possible successors are to be believed.

    What they need in the summer: 
    To overturn their Champions League ban.

    Regardless of whether they are successful in that particular battle, next on the to-do list is to sign a sodding centre-back. We know Pep likes his defenders to be able to play and, of course, an Andy Morrison-type won’t do. But City do need someone with ‘capable of organising a defence’ primary among his credentials.

    Beyond that, City may need to spend the rest of the summer reassuring the players they have that they can fulfil their ambitions at the Etihad, despite the prospect of two seasons out of the Champions League. We know David Silva is going but Pep has Phil Foden to step into Merlin’s boots. Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez could both leave, which will leave City extremely short on width.

    The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.

  • Marcus Rashford doing his bit to help children during coronavirus crisis

    The 22-year-old has been working with charity FareShare to help children in the Manchester area.

    30 Mar 2020, 08:42 CEST

    Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford says helping children is his top priority after working to get food to those who relied on free school meals.The 22-year-old has been working with charity FareShare to help children in the Manchester area after schools were closed across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.And he revealed that his own childhood has inspired him to want to make a difference to the next generation.Rashford told BBC Breakfast: "In the past I have done a lot of work in regards to children and when I heard about the school's shutting down, I knew that meant free meals for some kids that they are not getting at school."I remember when I was at school I was on free meals and my Mum wouldn't get home until around six o'clock so my next meal would have been about 8 o'clock. I was fortunate, and there are kids in much more difficult situations that don't get their meals at homes."It (helping children) is very important (to me), it is at the top of my to-do list. In our generation there have been a lot of positive and negative influences. I am just trying to impact the next generation in a positive way."We have done the best we could with people donating, we have done very well. We have got to the GBP 100,000 mark which means we get to feed 400,000 children so it's been very positive."Manchester United and Manchester City have joined forces to donate and help people in the local area affected by the pandemic."I think when times are tough it is important that two clubs who have a huge social following that we do come together and make a difference when things which are bigger than football happen. So credit to both clubs," Rashford said.Prior to the outbreak, Rashford had begun judging a poetry competition for Manchester children with hearing impairments.He has vowed to hand out the awards in person when the restrictions are lifted and also revealed how important reading is in his life."As soon as this is finished I will go to the school, see the kids and give them the awards from the competition," Rashford added."I read a lot of books on mentality because in my profession that is one of the key points. I always want to keep developing and improving in some way and physically I can't do that right now."There is so much knowledge in books and you don't realise until you start reading yourself."When the season was suspended due to the outbreak, Rashford was sidelined after suffering a double stress fracture in his back in January.The forward says he is making good progress but admits he is missing football."It's just about patience, I have been working hard on the bikes and following the programme that I have been given from the club," he said."I have been playing FIFA, reading different types of books. It is important to keep time passing, with positive vibes and just keep smiling."I am just taking it day by day but I do feel 10 times better than I felt a month and a half ago so things are moving in the right direction and hopefully I will be ready to play again soon."It's very difficult, even when there's nothing on TV. I have been watching old games from years ago. I know me and the United boys have been missing football."

  • Watch the battle for all-time supremacy as Liverpool chase Manchester United

    The pair have topped the English league for longer than any other club, with some surprising names among the chasing pack.

    30 Mar 2020, 08:26 CEST

    Liverpool still trail Manchester United in the all-time table of days spent top of the English top-flight – and you can watch the battle unfold here.From Preston's "Invincibles" dominating the early days to United and Liverpool's recent battle for overall supremacy, the PA news agency has tracked every club's days at the summit since the first Football League season in 1888-89.With Liverpool top for 206 days since August 17 and with this season's title all but assured when play was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has prevented them eating further into United's lead – which stands at 577 days.North End were top for every single day of the inaugural season and our animated graph shows them racing out to a huge lead, which is then overhauled by Aston Villa before the turn of the century.Everton, Sheffield United and Sunderland are also prominent in the early days, with Liverpool clocking up 31 days in the 1890s and Manchester United first appearing in 1907 – the latter race into the top six as the decade ends.The Toffees are first to overhaul Villa at the top and remain the team to catch, bursting clear in the late 1960s and leading until their neighbours from across Stanley Park take over in 1977.Liverpool's lead peaks at 1,138 days as they dominate much of the 1980s but United's stranglehold on the 1990s is such that by 2001, they have claimed top spot.Their lead swells almost to four figures before Liverpool's resurgence under Jurgen Klopp sees the momentum swing once more, with the latter ending on 3,870 days to United's 4,447.Third-placed Arsenal are over 1,000 further back on 2,789 and Everton, Chelsea and Villa follow, with Manchester City seventh on 1,164 and Sunderland, Leeds and Wolves rounding out the all-time top 10.

  • Ranking every March Goal of the Month winner of the 2010s from worst to best

    A decade's worth of great Premier League goals.

    30 Mar 2020, 08:19 CEST

    March is a time for important goals as much as great ones, but that’s not to say you can’t have both. It’s often the time when title races take shape and relegation battles thin out, and with tight, tense games you’re often left needing moments of brilliance. We’ve gone back through the last decade of March goal of the month winners from worst to best, to see which comes out on top.

    10. Gini Wijnaldum (Liverpool v Arsenal, 2017)

    A lovely counter-attacking goal, with Adam Lallana stealing the show with a delightful outside-of-the-boot pass, but was there really nothing better that March?

    9. Wayne Rooney (Man Utd v West Ham, 2014) 

    The long-range dipping shot, aka the most overrated genre of goal in existence. Well done, Wayne, you can kick the ball really far. It’s not even the best halfway line goal Wayne Rooney has scored in the Premier League against West Ham.

    8. Juan Mata (Man Utd v Liverpool, 2015)

    After Steven Gerrard’s near-instant red card it’s hard to recall anything else that happened in United’s final win over the Liverpool captain. But we must not ignore the acrobatic finish from Juan Mata which doubled United’s lead. A lovely goal in its own right, but we’re bumping it up the list for that smile on his face. Look how much it means to the little guy.

    7. Harry Kane (Tottenham v Arsenal, 2016)

    As good as this finish is, there’s something funny about watching Kane incorporate taking off a protective mask as part of his celebration. It just takes any element of tension or drama out of a momentous situation; this was a goal which briefly looked as though it would give Spurs a vital derby win and put them one win away from Leicester in the race for the title. In removing the air of seriousness and robotic goalscoring, the mask quite literally slips.

    6. Charlie Adam (Blackpool v Blackburn, 2011)

    This is basically an instructional video free-kick. A free-kick by numbers. At first glance it looks good, and then you see the angle behind Adam and realise it’s even more special than you first thought. If David Beckham scored this, you’d be… well, you’d mostly be confused that he’s taking free-kicks with his wrong foot. The goal is good, though. Watch the goal.

    5. Andreas Pereira (Man Utd v Southampton, 2019)

    This one just looks so clean, like the kind of goal you’d script in a film rather than one which you’d see in a real game But maybe it’s too clean; too unchecked for it to deserve a higher placing. That’s not to say it isn’t the best goal Pereira has ever scored or will ever score in the Premier League.

    4. Andy Carroll (West Ham v West Brom, 2013)

    Give Andy Carroll 100 chances to put away that volley and he messes it up 99 times. He only hits the target about 10 times, and there are at least five occasions where he takes an air-shot. How do we know this? We’ve seen Andy Carroll’s subtlety with his right foot, and this is magnificent for how unlikely it is as much as anything else. On the day in question, this goal was overshadowed a little by Youssouf Mulumbu getting sent off for picking up the ball and launching it at Gary O’Neil.

    3. Jamie Vardy (Leicester v West Brom, 2018)

    This is essentially the exact same goal as Carroll’s, only from further out, which means (a) it’s weird that this happened with two separate March goal of the month winners, (b) we’re putting it one place higher for that slight difference and (c) it’s hard to think of anything else to write about it. Even the opponents are the same – you’re not giving us much to work with, Jamie.

    2. Fernando Torres (Liverpool v Sunderland, 2010)

    Oh man, we really miss peak Torres. The kind of player who could ruin the lives of defenders at the drop of a hat. Michael Turner was an accomplished Premier League centre-back, with Sunderland manager Steve Bruce touting him for an England call-up ahead of the World Cup in South Africa. That call-up never arrived, and some might say he never recovered from Torres forcing his entire body to contract in a haze of close-control. And that’s before you get to the finish, the sort of strike which you only get from a player who believes himself to be unstoppable and, more crucially, is right.

    1. Peter Crouch (Stoke v Man City, 2012)

    At the end of the 2012-13 season, Tony Pulis left Stoke City. Some will say it happened because the Potters had just completed a second straight underwhelming season, finishing in the bottom half of the Premier League and scoring less than a goal a game. The real reason, though, is that he had reached full Pulis, with Stoke scoring the most him goal possible. After the ball leaves Asmir Begovic’s boot, it doesn’t hit the ground again until Crouch has taken a dump on the idea of bodily physics and sent the ball into Joe Hart’s net without the Manchester City keeper able to do anything more than watch. By Tom Victor

    More from Planet Football
    Rory Delap, Stoke City and a whole lot of fun – The Broken Metatarsal Can you name the top Premier League goalscorer for every nationality? A tribute to Liverpool-era Fernando Torres, a striker who could do it all Andy Carroll, the permanent frustration who you can’t stay mad at

  • Did Jack Grealish crash Range Rover into parked cars?

    Jack Grealish is at the centre of investigation after pictures appeared to show him at the scene.

    30 Mar 2020, 08:15 CEST

    An investigation has been launched after pictures surfaced online appearing to show Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish following an incident in which a Range Rover crashed into parked cars.

    West Midlands Police said they were called just before 10am on Sunday to the Dickens Heath area of Solihull, where the two parked cars suffered minor damage. The force said the driver left his details with a member of the public before leaving on foot. Images surfaced online on Sunday of a damaged white Range Rover as well as a picture that appeared to show the Villa midfielder in slippers and a bright blue hoodie.

    Less than 24 hours before the incident, the 24-year-old launched a video appeal for people to stay at home during the Government-enforced lockdown. In the video, he said: “To help save lives you must stay at home.

    “Only leave your house to buy food, buy medicine or to exercise and always remember to stay at least two metres apart.

    “This is urgent, protect the NHS, stay home, save lives.”

    In a statement about the incident, the West Midlands force said: “We were called to Waterside, Dickens Heath, just before 10am to reports that a Range Rover had crashed into two parked cars in the street.

    “The driver left his details with a member of the public at the scene before leaving on foot, and will be spoken to by police in due course.

    “Minor damage was caused to the parked vehicles.

    “Officers are investigating the circumstances and anyone with information has been asked to get in touch, via Live Chat at west-midlands.police.uk quoting log 643 of 29 March.”

    Villa were unavailable for comment on Sunday.

  • Italian FA president admits he is concerned that the season may be over

    Italy’s Minister of Sport is set to propose a further extension to the suspension of sport in the country.

    30 Mar 2020, 07:11 CEST

    The President of the Italian Footballers' Association has admitted it is time to consider the possibility that the season is over due to the coronavirus pandemic.Damiano Tommasi responded to comments from Italy's Minister of Sport Vincenzo Spadafora suggesting that he will on Monday propose a further extension to the suspension of all sport in the country.Italy is the world's worst affected country, with the pandemic death toll passing 10,000 over the weekend.Tommasi, the former Roma midfielder, believes it is time to face the fact that the season may end here."Tomorrow (Monday) we have one more element on the table than in the past few weeks," Tommasi told ANSA as reported on the official Footballers' Association website."Because after the words of Minister Spadafora, the concern that the championships will end here is there."You must therefore ask yourself the problem of the end of the season from a sporting point of view, of contracts."Serie A champions Juventus' squad have agreed to take a temporary pay cut during the crisis and Tommasi wants to see solidarity across Italian football."On cutting wages, if possible, we are looking for a common solution," he added."Juve went ahead but it did not take us by surprise, we knew everything. If there are no disputes between clubs and players, we are not required to intervene, if they have found an agreement, that's okay."Spafadora has announced details of a financial package to support grassroots clubs but believes it is unrealistic to expect football to resume any time soon.All sporting events have been suspended in Italy until April 3, with some reportedly hopeful that the season could restart on May 3, but Spafadora has quashed that idea."It's unrealistic to resume play on May 3," Spadafora told Italian newspaper La Repubblica."Tomorrow, I will propose to extend the stop of sports competitions of all levels for the rest of April."Sport is not just football, and football is not just Serie A. I will assign an extraordinary 400million euros plan to grassroots sport, to help the amateur level, a fabric that I am sure will be one of the engines of the rebirth."

  • Football rumours from the media

    30 Mar 2020, 05:20 CEST

    What the papers sayArsenal's 30-year-old Gabon forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is believed to be on Real Madrid's radar. The Daily Express reports that Aubameyang, who has scored 20 goals in all competitions this season, has been eyed as a potential boost to the club's attacking ranks.However, Aubameyang is not at the top of Real Madrid's wish list. The Express says the club will only pursue the Arsenal forward if they fail to attract either Sadio Mane from Liverpool or Erling Braut Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.Newcastle have expressed interest in signing Burnley midfielders Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick, according to the Chronicle. The Irish duo are both out of contract in the summer and Magpies boss Steve Bruce believes the pair would prove valuable to the club next season.Social media round-upPlayers to watchIgor Gomes: Sao Paulo have put a GBP 45million price-tag on the 21-year-old Brazilian midfielder, according to Spanish newspaper Diario AS.Henrikh Mkhitaryan: The Arsenal midfielder is eager to turn his loan spell at Roma into a permanent move, the Daily Mail reports.

  • Picture of the day – March 30

    30 Mar 2020, 05:00 CEST

    On this day in 1999, Alex Ferguson was made a Freeman of the City of Aberdeen.The accolade came over a decade after Ferguson had left the Dons having led them to three Scottish league titles, four Scottish Cups, one League Cup, the Cup Winners' Cup and the Super Cup.Ferguson had eight years in charge at Pittodrie from 1978 and ended the Old Firm's 14-year dominance of the Scottish title when he led Aberdeen to the championship in the 1979-80 campaign.European success followed in 1983 when the Dons beat Real Madrid in the final of the Cup Winners' Cup and then saw off European Cup holders Hamburg in the Super Cup.Ferguson left Aberdeen in 1986 to join Manchester United and returned to the city in March 1999 to receive his honour, months before he led Manchester United to an unprecedented treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.Later that year, he received a knighthood.

  • How British bosses have fared in Spain four years on from Gary Neville’s sacking

    Neville was the latest in a number of British managers to try their hands at management in Spain.

    30 Mar 2020, 05:00 CEST

    It is four years since Gary Neville was sacked as manager of Valencia.Neville was the latest in a number of British managers to try their hands at management in Spain.Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the other managerial hits and misses to leave these shores for Spain.David MoyesThe West Ham manager took over at Real Sociedad in November 2014 looking to rebuild a reputation which blossomed at Everton but collapsed so spectacularly during his ill-fated nine-and-a-half-month reign at Manchester United. After a bright start at the Anoeta Stadium, Moyes soon became a target for fans of the Basque outfit and was sacked a day short of his one-year anniversary on November 9.Chris ColemanFormer Wales boss Coleman can also mark Real Sociedad down on his CV and it is fair to say he had more success with Erreala than Moyes prior to his sudden departure in January 2008. Coleman pitched up in Spain in June 2007 after being recommended by fellow Welshman – and another ex-Sociedad boss – John Toshack. An impressive record of 12 wins from 21 games saw Sociedad move up to fifth in the Segunda Division but a bust-up with the club's president, Inaki Badiola, saw him resign less than seven months into his tenure.Sir Bobby RobsonSuccessful spells at PSV Eindhoven and Porto gave Robson reason to believe he could shine in Spain, and so it proved as he won the Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup with Barcelona between 1996 and 1997. The signing of Brazilian superstar Ronaldo was a masterstroke and the European Manager of the Year for 1996-97 also nurtured a young translator by the name of Jose Mourinho. Robson was appointed general manager at Barca after the arrival of Louis van Gaal as boss in 1997 and decided to leave the Nou Camp a year later.John Toshack
    Toshack had three spells as boss of Sociedad but two stints at Real Madrid is where the Welshman is best remembered. The former Liverpool forward delivered a La Liga title for Real in 1990, won the Copa del Rey for Sociedad in 1987 and also managed Deportivo and Real Murcia in a nomadic managerial career in Spain.Terry VenablesNot only did Terry Venables bring success to Barcelona during a three-year reign between 1984 and 1987, he also brought with him two British strikers in Mark Hughes and Gary Lineker. The former England boss secured Barca their first league title in 11 years in 1985 and followed that up with success in the Copa de la Liga the following season. Venables, affectionately known as 'El Tel' after his exploits in Spain, was denied success in the European Cup final in 1986 by Steaua Bucharest on penalties and his tenure came to an end in September 1987.Ron Atkinson
    Atkinson's spell as Atletico Madrid boss lasted just three months in 1988-1989 before his assistant from West Brom – Colin Addison – replaced him. Trigger-happy president Jesus Gil sacked former Manchester United manager Atkinson after just 93 days in charge at the Vicente Calderon Stadium.

  • On This Day in 2016: Gary Neville sacked by Valencia after four months in charge

    Neville lasted just four months at the Mestalla.

    30 Mar 2020, 05:00 CEST

    Gary Neville was sacked as Valencia manager on this day in 2016.It was a short but eventful stay at the Mestalla for the former Manchester United and England defender.Here, the PA news agency takes a looks back at Neville's spell in Spain.A surprise appointmentNeville, with no management experience, was surprisingly named as the replacement for Nuno Espirito Santo following his resignation in early December 2015. The former defender was on England's coaching staff but – working with Sky Sports – had no desire to go into management and took the job as a favour to Peter Lim – a key investor in Salford City. Despite his reluctance, Neville said on his appointment: "If I'd turned down this job I'd have said goodbye to my credibility." He inherited a side who were ninth in LaLiga and heading out of the Champions League at the group stage.A tough four monthsWhen Neville went in to the Mestalla, he had grand visions of not only leading Valencia up the table, but also leaving a lasting legacy in terms of putting a structure in place. They were, sadly, delusions of grandeur as Neville struggled to make an impact. He did not win a league game until the 10th attempt, a Copa del Rey run to the last four ended in spectacular fashion and they lost in the second round of the Europa League knockouts. Neville admitted to regularly getting outsmarted by opposition managers and the language barrier proved a real issue.Seven hell
    There was no lower moment than a humiliation at the Nou Camp. At that point all of Neville's wins had come in the Copa del Rey, earning them a semi-final tie with Barcelona. The first leg was a chastening 90 minutes that has gone down as one of the darkest days in Valencia's history. They were beaten 7-0, playing with 10 men for 45 minutes, as Luis Suarez scored four and Lionel Messi three. There were calls for Neville, who admitted he felt "helpless" watching the rout, to resign, with former Valencia goalkeeper Santiago Canizares the loudest voice. Neville stuck it out, though, and saw his side draw the return leg 1-1.The inevitable sackingDespite his friendship with Lim, Neville knew what was coming long before it did. There was a match in February against Real Betis, which Valencia lost 1-0, where he tried several different untested formations throughout the game. The Mancunian said he knew after that that he was out of his depth and his time was up. He managed to hold on for several more weeks, until he eventually got the sack after going out of the Europa League and then losing to Celta Vigo in the league.Back to the day jobAfter his chastening experience in Spain, Neville vowed never to go into management again and who can blame him? Although continuing his coaching on England manager Roy Hodgson's backroom staff, he quickly returned to the comfort of the TV studio in his role as a Sky Sports pundit and has gone on to enhance his reputation as one of the sharpest, well spoken and popular analysts on the circuit.

  • Harry Kane says season should not run beyond end of June

    Tottenham striker believes the campaign should be cancelled if it goes into July.

    30 Mar 2020, 03:30 CEST

    England captain Harry Kane fears any delay in the Premier League beyond June could even impact the 2022 World Cup.The Tottenham striker feels the top flight will strive to complete the season, with all action suspended until at least April 30 due to the coronavirus.That delay is likely to be extended with no suggestion when the top flight or EFL will restart as the country battles against the pandemic.Euro 2020 has already been pushed back to next year and Kane, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, insisted the season should not be allowed to drift."The further this season is pushed on, it would have such a big knock-on effect for next season, with the Euros in 2021, and even the World Cup 2022," said Kane in an Instagram Live conversation with Jamie Redknapp."Football is secondary at the moment. I know there still have to be plans in place and I'm sure everyone is trying to do that."I know the Premier League will do everything they can to finish the season, and that they are looking at every option possible."I think, for me, we do need to try to finish the season. But there needs to be a point where enough's enough."Playing into July or August and pushing next season back, I don't see too much benefit in that. But obviously I don't know too much about behind the scenes and financially."Probably the limit for me is the end of June. If the season's not completed by the end of June we need to look at the options and just look forward to next season."The summer's Olympics in Tokyo was postponed last week after the International Olympic Committee bowed to pressure from countries and World Athletics.Lord Coe, president of World Athletics, believes delaying the Games and Paralympics has stopped athletes from suffering mentally.The Games are now likely to be held next year and the call to postpone was backed by Coe."We didn't want to have the athletes in a position where they were countering government advice, maybe even breaking the law," he told talkSPORT."And of course in the back of their minds was always that concern, it wasn't just their own training programme, but that they ran the risk of infecting themselves, their families, their kids, grandparents or parents."We just wanted to take them out of that mental turmoil as quickly as we possibly could."

  • Rhys Webb is going on an egg hunt as sport’s goodwill gestures continue

    29 Mar 2020, 22:11 CEST

    Sports stars and clubs across the world continue to help their local communities during the coronavirus pandemic.Here, the PA news agency looks at the best goodwill gestures from March 29.FootballRoma will dedicate their first game back in front of spectators, whenever the coronavirus shutdown ends, to healthcare "heroes".The club will honour healthcare professionals who have died while treating the disease and make up to 5,000 free tickets available, as well as offering a longer-term reduced price rate for medical workers.Real Madrid became one of several clubs to offer their stadium as a medical facility, with manager Zinedine Zidane and players including Luka Modric and Eden Hazard among those featured in a video urging fans to "fill the Bernabeu with solidarity".TennisRomanian professional Sorana Cirstea, the current world number 75 and 2008 Tashkent Open champion, tweeted a picture of herself in a medical mask and gloves delivering boxes of supplies to a hospital."Yesterday I made a donation to my hometown hospital!" she wrote. "In these tough times we should all come together and help with whatever we can!"Rugby UnionWales scrum-half Rhys Webb has attempted to solve the issue of a lack of eggs for sale in his local shops by investing in chickens to provide for vulnerable people in his community.He told WalesOnline: "We're checking every day for them to lay that first egg but we're still waiting at the moment."Once they start producing, I think we'll be looking at about 60 or 70 eggs per week."Me and my eldest will start going down into the village as long as it's safe to do so and seeing if any vulnerable people are in need of any eggs because there are none in the shops at the moment."Wasps fly-half Jimmy Gopperth did his bit for the community after getting in touch with a long-time fan of the club.And the 36-year-old, who is supporting the #MakeThatCall campaign, encouraged people to get out and support their neighbourhoods, especially the older members of their community.Gopperth said in a video posted on his Instagram account: "Not everyone can get out, especially the elderly. They're fully in isolation but they're the ones that need it most, give them a call, give them a bit of positive energy around the place. I'm sure we can get through this if we stick together and stay positive."SailingWith June's Americas Cup World Series event in Portsmouth cancelled, Sir Ben Ainslie's Ineos Team UK have switched their attention and technical expertise to helping provide medical supplies.Team principal Ainslie told the Sunday Telegraph: "Our design coordinator, Jonathan Nicols, and head of simulation, James Roche, have been heavily involved in a government-led project, in conjunction with Imperial College, to design new ventilators to help combat the shortage and Ineos, our backer, is building three sites to manufacture hand sanitisers."CricketSurrey all-rounder and former Engalnd cricketer Rikki Clarke is also doing his bit for the community.The 38-year-old has signed up as a member of the NHS volunteer force to support members of his community.

  • Jack Grealish mystery after Range Rover crashes into parked cars during lockdown

    Less than 24 hours before the incident, the player launched a video appeal for people to stay at home.

    29 Mar 2020, 21:50 CEST

    An investigation has been launched after pictures surfaced online appearing to show Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish following an incident in which a Range Rover crashed into parked cars.West Midlands Police said they were called just before 10am on Sunday to the Dickens Heath area of Solihull, where the two parked cars suffered minor damage.The force said the driver left his details with a member of the public before leaving on foot.Images surfaced online on Sunday of a damaged white Range Rover as well as a picture that appeared to show the Villa midfielder in slippers and a bright blue hoodie.Less than 24 hours before the incident, the 24-year-old launched a video appeal for people to stay at home during the Government-enforced lockdown.In the video, he said: "To help save lives you must stay at home."Only leave your house to buy food, buy medicine or to exercise and always remember to stay at least two metres apart."This is urgent, protect the NHS, stay home, save lives."In a statement about the incident, the West Midlands force said: "We were called to Waterside, Dickens Heath, just before 10am to reports that a Range Rover had crashed into two parked cars in the street."The driver left his details with a member of the public at the scene before leaving on foot, and will be spoken to by police in due course."Minor damage was caused to the parked vehicles."Officers are investigating the circumstances and anyone with information has been asked to get in touch, via Live Chat at west-midlands.police.uk quoting log 643 of 29 March."Villa were unavailable for comment on Sunday.

  • Burnley duo Brady and Hendrick on Bruce’s Newcastle hit-list

    29 Mar 2020, 17:33 CEST

    Teamtalk claim the Magpies are preparing to pinch the Irish duo for no fee when their contracts expire this summer.
    Both players will be free to leave Turf Moor on free transfers unless renewals can be agreed and Burnley have been in talks over fresh terms with Hendrick.
    The 28-year-old signed a one-year contract extension in December 2018 and has become a key player for Sean Dyche, although he remains underrated by many Clarets fans.
    Newcastle boss Steve Bruce is said to be a huge fan of the ex-Derby County star and is also keen to be reunited with his Burnley team-mate Brady.
    Bruce signed the Republic of Ireland winger for Hull City nine years ago and the ex-Manchester United starlet spent three seasons under the management of the Newcastle boss.
    Bruce also reportedly tried to sign Brady for Aston Villa in 2017.
    The report claims that Bruce feels a swoop for both Burnley stars ‘would offer versatility and provide cover in a number of areas’ at St James’ Park.
    It is also stated that the idea of plucking two established Premier League players away from Burnley for nothing appeals to Newcastle’s hierarchy.
    The club have been trying to tie Matty Longstaff down to new terms in a bid to stop him from being able to leave for a small amount of training compensation in the summer.
    The situation has been complicated because Longstaff and his older brother Sean are reportedly in the process of switching agents.
    Should either – or both – Longstaffs leave then Newcastle will certainly be in the market for another central midfielder this summer.
    Celtic are also understood to be monitoring Brady and Hendrick, but the Scottish champions are unlikely to go as high as Newcastle could in terms of wage packages for the soon-to-be free agents.