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there you have it. Now you can get Summer football match tickets to the Summer matches you want to attend.

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Atletico Madrid players are reportedly fuming over accusations from Jurgen Klopp that they tried to get Sadio Mane sent off in Liverpool’s defeat to the Spanish outfit on Tuesday night.

The Reds will need to overturn a 1-0 aggregate deficit at Anfield after a frustrating first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

Liverpool were stung by a fourth-minute goal from Saul Niguez and – despite dominating possession – were unable to respond as the Spanish side got players behind the ball and sat back.

MEDIAWATCH: Stultifying, excruciating, turgid, absurd, obscene. Did Liverpool lose?

Klopp admitted after the match that Mane was taken off at half-time because he feared he would pick up a second yellow card and accused some Atletico players of play-acting.

The Liverpool boss said: “It’s part of football, I don’t like it. The plan was to get Sadio out of the game with a yellow card.

“I was afraid that his opponent would go down if Sadio only took a deep breath. After 30 minutes, three Atletico players were on the ground, not even injured.”

And ESPN claims ‘dressing room sources’ have told them that Atletico Madrid players are ‘angry’ over Klopp’s post-match comments.

The report added: ‘ESPN has been told that Atletico’s players are surprised by the complaints, and said it is important to be “gracious” in defeat as well as in victory, and that Klopp should focus more on his own team’s shortcomings, given that they “didn’t get a shot on target in 90 minutes.”‘

 

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Simon Jordan has hit out at Paul Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola over “creating a culture of division” after the agent sent out an “inflammatory” tweet over his client’s situation at Manchester United.

Raiola responded negatively to comments from Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who remarked that “Paul is our player and not Mino’s” before their 2-0 victory over Chelsea on Monday.

Gary Neville has since urged Man Utd to stop dealing with Raiola, which the agent has also responded to via talkSPORT.

16 Conclusions: Chelsea 0-2 Man United

And while discussing various topics surrounding Pogba on the radio, he also got involved in a heated discussion with former Crystal Palace chairman Jordan.

Here’s the full transcript from talkSPORT:

JORDAN: Mino, I’m listening to you and I’m trying to understand… you made an observation about journalists talking about players moving and that it’s a centre of attention, but journalist don’t move players, agents move players…

RAIOLA: I don’t think agents move players.

JORDAN: Of course you do Mino, that’s what you do, that’s your modus operandi, that’s how you get paid. You move players.

RAIOLA: No, that’s not what we do. I represent players, that’s different from moving them. To move a player, if you’re right that players are owned by clubs, then I cannot move a player without permission from the club.

JORDAN: But you can create division, can’t you. You create a culture of division. If you create a culture, both you and the player, that a player doesn’t want to be at this club anymore then there is really only one transaction: when he goes, how much you get paid and how much he gets paid.

RAIOLA: Listen Mr Jordan, that’s the case here. It’s not a question of Paul wanting to move, Paul is only committed to Manchester United and the European Championship. After that we will sit down with the club and see what the club wants.

JORDAN: But why is ‘no comment’ not the better comment?

RAIOLA: Yeah, but what is the matter if I have a comment to make?

JORDAN: Because it’s not about you Mino! It’s about the player and Man United. You’re incidental; you only work for the player.

 

RAIOLA: I agree, I agree, it’s not about me.

JORDAN: But you tweeted, Mino. You tweeted at a very divisive time. Why is it about you? Why are you making it about you?

RAIOLA: No, no, no, no, no.

JORDAN: You are! You put a tweet out that is inflammatory, you know it’s inflammatory, you are hitting back becasur you want to make a point If a player wants to make a point, he makes that point. So why does he need you to put a tweet out about what Solskjaer said? Why are you getting involved? Why are you inserting yourself in the centre of this?

RAIOLA: Because it was about me, Mr Jordan, it was not about Paul.

JORDAN: No, it’s about Man United asserting their right having paid £90m for a player – of which you got a lot of, that’s the business you’re in and whether I like that or not is incidental -but they’ve paid for that right. You haven’t earned that right, you get paid by the player, so why are you able to comment on the business of Man United? I don’t understand it Mino, I don’t understand what you’re trying to create. You’re not creating a happy culture, you’re creating a divided one.

RAIOLA: I don’t agree. I don’t create any culture over the last years. But I don’t need to defend myself here, the only need to explain it to is my player.

JORDAN: In the long game you guys will do, because if FIFA get a hold of you guys and start regulating you properly…

RAIOLA There is no problem of being regulated here Mr Jordan, I think you are now mixing up things.

Jordan: No, you should be regulated, you should be capped on your fees and you could contribute financially to the wellbeing of football, there’s a bigger picture here.

RAIOLA: That’s your opinion.

JORDAN: Well it’s a good opinion and it’s the opinion of most people who are sensible, not you guys, you and Jonathan Barnett and whoever else.

RAIOLA: Well, Mr Jordan, maybe everything should be capped, maybe transfers should be capped, maybe sponsor money should be capped, but we live in a free society, we live in a capitalist world, we don’t live in a communist world.

And by the way, Mr Jordan, saying a club can pay £90m for a player’s services is not correct, the club pays £90m as an amenity to break a contract. That’s the transfer. They don’t buy a player, they don’t buy a human being…

JORDAN: Oh you’re being pedantic! Man United have every right, if you pay for something you have a sense of entitlement over it and in that contract period, in the four years they have him they are able to say he is there’s.

RAIOLA:  So in your businesses you own your employees? They are owned by you?

JORDAN: This is very different, I don’t pay £90m to buy an employee! Don’t be absurd! In the business of football he’s an asset. He’s a paid-for asset of the club.

JIM WHITE: A relevant question here is Man United fans want to know why it seems you and Pogba don’t respect Man United as you should.

RAIOLA: Those are your words Jim. There is absolutely no way of me or Pogba not Man United. They are your words and they are not correct, Jim.

 

The post Jordan feuds with Raiola over Man Utd and ‘culture of division’ appeared first on Football365.

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Duncan the Third
‘MIKEL ARTETA is daring to dream of Champions League qualification,’ writes Duncan Wright in The Sun. ‘Arteta’s Arsenal are now six points adrift of fifth spot in the Premier League – and with Manchester City’s Uefa ban that could be enough to secure a place in Europe’s top club competition.

‘The fact four of their next five league games are against sides in the bottom half, means the Gunners have a real chance of stringing a run of results together.’

All very positive, all very realistic when you look at the league table and take into account a run of Arsenal form which has seen them lose just once in 11 matches. Arsenal really are in the race for a Champions League spot as they have earned more points than Chelsea, Leicester, Manchester United and Wolves since Arteta was appointed, scoring more goals than Tottenham and conceding fewer than all but Liverpool.

So presumably it was a different Duncan Wright whose piece on The Sun website is headlined ‘Arsenal STILL won’t get Champions League spot despite 4-0 hammering of Newcastle’.

The challenge is to guess at what point in the 90-minute match Wright stopped actually writing about Arsenal’s performance? Actually, it’s not a challenge; it’s there in the opening line:

‘IT took 32 minutes for the Arsenal fans to remember they had to boo Danny Rose – and the same amount of time to prove why they can forget a surprise run for Champions League qualification.’

Oh. Well a football match takes place over 90 minutes so writing them off at 0-0 with two-thirds of the game to play sounds ridiculous…

‘And throughout all that opening third of this match, the evidence was there for all to see that this Arsenal side haven’t a hope in hell of returning to Europe’s top competition next season.’

This is just weird now.

‘What they needed was to set about Newcastle with the kind of intensity and desire which signalled they believed they could bridge the gap over the remaining 12 matches of the campaign.

‘Instead, to a man Arsenal were so woeful in the opening half an hour you thought it was Steve Bruce’s men who were sniffing a late assault on the big prize.’

No. What they needed was to win the football match over 90 minutes. Which they did. Wright’s Sun colleague Mark Irwin calls it a ‘dominant display’ and he is a miserable sod.

‘No matter that Arteta’s men improved markedly after that, finally deciding to turn up for work when only an hour of the match remained.

‘That 32 minutes is all the reason you need to know why Arsenal have no chance of making it back into the Champions League next year – or any time soon.’

Jesus. ‘Only an hour of the match remained’ is accidental comic genius. They were drawing 0-0 and then they won 4-0, for f***’s sake.

‘When the prize suddenly opens itself up, this mis-match of players cannot even raise themselves to get going from kick-off against a side who probably turned up just hoping for a point.

‘They had no drive, no belief and no leaders when they had the chance to set the tone for what could be a massive month to make a push.’

And then they won 4-0. We can’t help thinking that might be important.

‘After all, Everton, Brighton, West Ham Southampton and Norwich are the next up in the league – a run of fixtures which offers every chance of maximum points for a side with lofty ambitions.

‘Six points is all they need to make up on fifth spot, and on paper you cannot rule them out.

‘But you cannot ignore what is in front of you – despite their 4-0 win, Arsenal haven’t got what it takes to do the job.’

‘Despite their 4-0 win’, Arsenal are crap. And you ‘cannot rule them out’ but then you absolutely can. Because you want to get your piece finished by half-time.

 

Will somebody think of the kids?
‘When will English football start trusting young English footballers?’ is the question in the Daily Mail. And what a bloody odd question to ask in the midst of a season which has seen a glut of young English players be given regular Premier League football. Nine English players under the age of 22 have played over 1000 minutes of Premier League football this season; the figure was exactly the same over the entirety of last season.

Only this weekend, Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah started for Arsenal, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez (now an ancient 22) both started for the champions-elect Liverpool, Todd Cantwell and Max Aarons were in the Norwich line-up, Dwight McNeil continued to defy the odds for Burnley and Leicester literally started with four English players aged 23 and under. It’s almost like if players are good enough they will play in the Premier League, regardless of their age or nationality.

So what has prompted this column from Ian Ladyman? That would be a comment from Frank Lampard that suggested that Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori would probably have gone on loan if he had been able to buy players last summer. The Mail man calls this ‘jarring’; apparently it was a revelation that ‘jumped off the page’. For him but for nobody else, we would suggest.

‘Instead, Mount has started 22 of Chelsea’s Premier League games while Tomori has started 14. Both have been fundamental to a progressive Chelsea season and both have – as a result – played for England. They have been part of what has made Chelsea so watchable over the past six months. In short, they have been good enough.’

Well, Tomori is clearly not good enough as he has not started in the Premier League in 2020. He cannot get into a Chelsea team that has not made any central defensive signings, so of course he would have gone on loan for another season elsewhere if they had brought in reinforcements. Of course. This should surprise nobody but Ladyman.

As for describing this as a ‘progressive Chelsea season’…this is a Chelsea side nine points adrift of their points total from the same stage last season. They would literally be outside of the top six in most other seasons that are not absolutely bat-shit. Mason Mount has been ‘fundamental’ to this Chelsea season but this Chelsea season has been ordinary by their usual standards.

This Chelsea side is beloved of certain journalists because there is ‘clarity’; they are ‘watchable’ and there is less ‘drama and confusion’. But we suspect that Chelsea would prefer to be winning more than three of their last ten Premier League games.

 

You are my one and only…
With Manchester City briefing the media that Pep Guardiola intends to stay at the club for another season regardless of whether the club are in the Champions League, and crucially with neither Manchester United nor Liverpool playing on Sunday, The Sun and the Daily Mirror both lead their back-page football coverage on quotes from Alessandro Del Piero on Guardiola potentially going to Juventus.

Does Del Piero know Guardiola? We certainly don’t get that impression.

Is Del Piero invested in the concept of one of the world’s greatest coaches coming to Juventus? Of course he bloody is.

And he makes no attempt to hide the latter or claim the former as he talks about the Spaniard potentially joining Juventus.

“Every club in the world would love him as a coach and I would love to see Pep in Italy.

“He has won in Spain, Germany and England. If we follow that path I think maybe it is his destiny to go to Juve.”

So there’s an ‘if’, an ‘I think’ and a ‘maybe’ in just one sentence. Do those caveats make it to the back page? Do they balls.

We are told that ‘JUVENTUS legend Alessandro Del Piero claims it is Pep Guardiola’s destiny to boss the Italian club’ (The Sun) and ‘ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO and Ruud Gullit believe Pep Guardiola is destined to manage Juventus’ (Daily Mirror). He doesn’t either ‘claim’ or ‘believe’, he ‘thinks’ that ‘maybe’ something could happen ‘if we follow that path’.

Still, you have to justify a jolly to the Laureus Awards in Berlin somehow.

 

Recommended reading of the day
Jonathan Wilson on the Manchester City ban

Rory Smith on Russia’s problems

Daniel Storey on Liverpool and their normalised brilliance

 

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On Thursday night, when Juventus needed him most, Cristiano Ronaldo was there. The Bianconeri were staring down the barrel of defeat in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final with AC Milan, until they got a penalty in stoppage-time. There were 91 minutes on the clock; it was a moment filled with pressure and scrutiny.

Fortunately for Juve, though, their talisman thrives on those situations. Ronaldo shook it off and found the back of the net before embracing the adulation that came his way. It was just another day at the office for the 35-year-old Portuguese superstar. Even in his twilight years, he’s as prolific as ever. He has now scored 35 goals in 35 games for club and country.

There can be little doubting Ronaldo’s claim to be among the greatest footballers on the planet. His consistency, desire and drive to be seen as such is pretty much unrivalled. It wouldn’t be too far wrong to suggest that he put his own personal legacy on a similar level of priority to team success in Italy, Spain with Real Madrid, England with Manchester United and internationally with Portugal.

While there is nothing wrong with that, there is a suggestion that his sense of individualism is damaging to football as a whole, and therefore puts a strain on his overall legacy.

Like almost everything in modern society it seems, football has become increasingly tribal. Support for a team is among its core values, but the unique rivalry between Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, which has dropped in intensity ever since the former left La Liga, where the pair of them encapsulated one of the greatest club battles on the planet, has changed the face of fandom. Both Ronaldo and Messi have their own loyal followers, which can transcend club loyalties, meaning objectivity is almost impossible when discussing and comparing them. Despite calls from moderates and neutrals to enjoy both while they last, it still feels like a binary choice between the pair. At least that way, their popularity will be safe forever; with Messi winning the Ballon d’Or race 6-5, there is nothing anyone can say to truly demean either.

Honesty is the best policy, though, and Ronaldo’s incredible career management and ability to get every last drop from his talent may ultimately count against him in some ways. His critics will point to certain facts to diminish him, and while there are myths that can be exposed, there has long been something that hasn’t quite sat right. It is beginning to be backed up by statistics, too.

Evolving from a flying winger to a poaching striker has worked wonders, and criticising his selfish streak seems churlish, but it comes with a caveat. Clips of him refusing to celebrate teammates’ goals or even getting angry if they stole in to take one off him painted a picture, but his demands for the limelight at Real Madrid were necessary. He inspired them to two La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.

At Juventus, perhaps because his powers aren’t what they once were, problems are developing. Over the past two years, the Old Lady’s goal reliance has dramatically streamlined; nobody other than Ronaldo has recorded double figures since he signed, and this season, while he sits on 21 goals, the second top scorer has just five. Back at the Santiago Bernabéu, Karim Benzema is like a man reborn and is on course to record a 20-goal league campaign for the second successive year. He only did it once his last four years alongside Ronaldo.

These aren’t factors that can be held against him, but it calls into question his approach to his career and ultimately how he’ll be remembered. He has admitted consensus may stop him being viewed as a true great, but it may be different if he didn’t appear to put his own pursuit of that ahead of wider success. After years of being the bridesmaids in Europe, part of the reason Juve moved for Ronaldo, the Champions League’s greatest ever goalscorer, was to lift that trophy. But with an ageing squad and a manager whose style of play requires energy and high intensity, they seem to be slipping away from their aims. Inter are even challenging them in Serie A, a competition they have won with relative ease for eight years.

As a specimen, it is hard to find a better embodiment of individual perfection in sport than Ronaldo. He is a physical phenomenon and has put the effort in to build on his natural ability. Nobody can say he doesn’t deserve everything he has achieved in football, and he may not be slowing down yet, but a man so driven by cold, hard statistics and milestones, perhaps at the expense of joy and purity, must have questions to answer when he stops.

Football is a team game, and the collective must come first. Individual acclaim will only count for so much in the record books, because focusing inwards can only take you so far. The fact that there seems to be a less pressurised environment at Real Madrid now, and a more regimented one at Juventus, speaks volumes about his presence. Ronaldo can inspire and lead brilliantly, but his own willpower can cause issues. When the achievements are consigned to history and the narrative ends, what will become of his true legacy?

Harry De Cosemo is on Twitter

 

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LaLiga president Javier Tebas has praised UEFA for taking action against Manchester City after the Premier League club were handed a two-year ban from European football.

City have been barred from UEFA competitions for two seasons and fined 30million euros (£24.9million) after being found to have committed “serious breaches” of financial regulations.

The reigning Premier League champions have said they will appeal against the punishment through the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

But Tebas, who has been critical of City’s spending in the past, is happy to see the European governing body use its clout.

“UEFA is finally taking decisive action,” he tweeted. “Enforcing the rules of financial fair play and punishing financial doping is essential for the future of football.

“For years we have been calling for severe action against Manchester City… we finally have a good example of action and hope to see more. Better late than never.”

Former City forward Rodney Marsh has speculated that owner Sheikh Mansour could walk away from the club if the ban stands.

“If this decision is upheld it would not surprise me to see owner Sheikh Mansour sell the club,” he tweeted.

“He has been superb for City and this is a huge kick in the balls….. I wouldn’t blame him.”

Another former City player, Michael Brown, disagreed and insisted the club would “come out fighting”.

“What they’ve done as a football club, what they’ve done on the pitch, the way they’ve gone about it, I think they’ve been first class,” he told the BBC.

“They’ve been honourable how they’ve gone about it, as usual like Manchester City. This will be a shock for them but it will be something that they’ll come out fighting.

“The owners aren’t here for the short term, they will take it on. If any owners will take this adversity, it will be these.”

Should City’s appeal fail and they finish in the top four of the Premier League, their Champions League place for next season would pass to the fifth-placed team.

That would put Leicester, currently one place behind City in third, in an even stronger position to qualify for the Champions League, but boss Brendan Rodgers insists his focus remains firmly on his own team.

“It doesn’t make much different to us,” he said after Friday night’s draw with Wolves. “Our focus is to finish as high as we can. These players have been amazing, they have done absolutely brilliantly. but we have a lot of work to do. We have to keep pushing and working.”

Ex-England midfielder Paul Ince predicted that the implications of the ban could be far-reaching and influence whether manager Pep Guardiola remains at the club.

“Manchester City are one of the biggest clubs in the world,” he told BT Sport. “The best players want to go to the best clubs because of the Champions League. If they’re not in it for the next two years, are they going to be able to get the best players?

“For Pep, they’ve got to win it this year. If they’re not in it for the next two years, the question is what Pep’s going to do and what players they’re going to be able to attract.”

England rugby union head coach Eddie Jones – an admirer of Guardiola – told Sky Sports: “He’s an outstanding coach. You just look at the way he affects the teams he plays. You can tell when they’re coached by Pep and I’m sure he’ll be disappointed by this.

“I think everyone has a certain timeframe at a club and he’ll know as well as anyone if it’s the right time for him to stay or the right time for him to go.”

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