Rafa Benitez completely transformed Liverpool during his six years in charge of the club in the 2000s – and we celebrate that wonderful period in the latest episode of The Broken Metatarsal.

Rich, Mark and Pete are joined by comedian and Liverpool fan Adam Rowe on this week’s podcast as we remember Benitez’s arrival in 2004, the rivalry with Chelsea, that memorable night in Istanbul, and the team that went so close to winning the title in 2009, featuring the brilliance of Fernando Torres.

Neil Mellor also joins the boys on the phone with some brilliant stories, including how he nabbed an AC Milan runners-up medal after the first final against Milan.

And, as always on The Broken Metatarsal, the episode finishes with a game of Fact or Fiction in which Rich attempts to work out which of Mark, Pete and Adam’s unlikely stories about Benitez are, in fact, true.

If you love 2000s football as much as we do, you can find us on Audioboom and subscribe in all the usual places on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, CastBox, Deezer and RadioPublic.

Or you can just listen to the latest episode right here.

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Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Jose Mourinho was at Tottenham’s training ground to meet his new squad on Wednesday afternoon following his appointment as Mauricio Pochettino’s replacement.

The former Chelsea and Manchester United boss signed a three-and-a-half-year contract less than 12 hours after Pochettino was sacked.

The 56-year-old, who had been out of work since leaving United last December, was at Hotspur Way meeting the club’s players and staff.

He was due to take training in the afternoon ahead of his unveiling press conference at 2pm on Thursday and first game in charge at West Ham on Saturday lunchtime.

Mourinho revealed he was relishing the chance to work with the players, who have under-achieved so far this season.

The Portuguese said: “I am excited to be joining a club with such a great heritage and such passionate supporters.

“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me. Working with these players is what has attracted me.”

Mourinho also moved quickly to appoint his backroom staff, with Joao Sacramento and Nuno Santos joining from Lille.

Sacramento will be the assistant manager, while Santos becomes the new goalkeeping coach.

A statement on Lille’s official website read: “Following discussions between Lille and Tottenham, an agreement has been reached to allow the departures of Joao Sacramento and Nuno Santos, members of the Lille technical staff, and for them to join the English club as of this Wednesday.”

Despite his troubles in the latter stages of his tenure at Old Trafford, Mourinho remains one of the most sought-after managers in the game.

His success at delivering trophies is not in question, having won three Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues and a host of domestic cups, and that was a clear attraction for Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

 

Levy previously tried appointing Mourinho in 2007 when he left Chelsea for the first time and has admired him since.

Levy said: “In Jose we have one of the most successful managers in football.

“He has a wealth of experience, can inspire teams and is a great tactician. He has won honours at every club he has coached. We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”

A statement from the club described Mourinho as “one of the world’s most accomplished managers” who was “is renowned for his tactical prowess”.

It added: “He has won a domestic title in a record four different countries (Portugal, England, Italy and Spain) and is one of only three managers to have won the UEFA Champions League twice with two clubs, FC Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010.”

Pochettino was dismissed after five-and-a-half years in charge, less than six months after he took Spurs to the Champions League final, with the club lying 14th in the Premier League table after the opening 12 matches.

Mourinho, who has most recently been working as a pundit for Sky Sports, had turned down a number of opportunities to coach abroad since leaving United, including with clubs in China, Spain and Portugal.

His first match in charge will be the London derby away to West Ham on Saturday and they are due to play United at Old Trafford on December 4.

Spurs also play Champions League games at home to Olympiakos and away at Bayern Munich before hosting their new manager’s former club Chelsea on December 22.

Mourinho’s side host Liverpool on January 11 and Manchester City on February 1 before making the trip to Stamford Bridge on February 22.

 

The post Mourinho meets Tottenham squad and appoints new staff appeared first on Football365.

Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Alexis Sanchez says his loan move to Inter Milan has helped him fall “in love with football again” after leaving Manchester United.

Sanchez was one of the most expensive transfer mistakes in history when he joined Manchester United from Arsenal in exchange for Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January 2018.

The Chilean was given the biggest wage in Premier League history for little return, and joined Inter Milan on a season-long loan in the summer.

“Coming to Inter was a bit like falling in love with football again,” Sanchez said in a recent interview with UEFA.

“I already knew the coach and some of the players, and I believe that the club are preparing something beautiful for the future.

“If I’m not mistaken, Inter haven’t won anything for seven or eight years. It was a bit like finding my love for football again, together with my desire to win something with this club.”

 

The post Sanchez has ‘fallen in love with football again’ after Man Utd exit appeared first on Football365.

Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

FANTASTIC FIVE
Real Madrid might outright refuse to sign free agents (except for those times they signed free agents), but Juventus most certainly do not. The Old Lady have bought the services of plenty of young men using the system, and are intent on continuing that trend.

The Daily Star ramp the Premier League panic setting up to 427 by saying that Juve want FIVE players from England when their contracts expire next summer.

With that said, only two clubs will be affected by this raid: Tottenham and Manchester United. Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld will be drafted in from north London, with David de Gea, Eric Bailly and Nemanja Matic drafted in from Old Trafford.

The quintet’s future are subject to varying degrees of uncertainty. Eriksen wanted to leave but couldn’t. Alderweireld did a while ago but now seems settled. De Gea was said to have agreed a new contract months ago but is yet to have signed anything. Bailly has been linked with moves for a while and Matic has been altogether too slow to make his way through the exit before it closes.

Each player will be free to sign a pre-contract from January. Signed for a combined £111.8m, they could all leave for nothing. Although that seems incredibly unlikely: Juve will probably get one of them with the rest sticking around.

 

LADY’S PREROGATIVE
The Daily Mail corroborate about two-fifths of the above claim. They say Juventus ‘have been alerted’ to Tottenham’s inability to get their players commit to long-term deals. Eriksen and Alderweireld are understandably appealing to them as targets.

The intermediaries of both ‘have been contacted’ over moving to Turin, but there will be intense competition. United and Real are said to be interested in Eriksen – although that has been contested elsewhere – while Inter Milan want Alderweireld.

The negotiations for the latter ‘would be concluded relatively quickly,’ and ‘the Belgian could now be enticed’ by the chance to win 100 Serie A titles before he retired.

 

The post Gossip: Man Utd, Spurs rocked by Juve’s £111.8m-rated raid appeared first on Football365.

Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Holders Liverpool have been drawn to play Napoli, Salzburg and Genk in Group E of the 2019 UEFA Champions League.

The draw, made in Monaco, has pitted Jurgen Klopp’s side against the Italian club in the group stages for the second successive year

Manchester City will face Ukraine’s Shaktar Donetsk, Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb and Italian side Atalanta in Group C.

Tottenham will play five-time winners Bayern Munich, Olympiacos and Red Star Belgrade in Group B.

Chelsea, drawn in Group H, will play last season’s beaten semi-finalists Ajax, Valencia and French club Lille.

Real Madrid, winners four times in the last six years, will face French giants Paris St Germain in Group A, which also includes Brugge and Turkish club Galatasaray.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have been drawn in a daunting-looking pool, with Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan and Slavia Prague the other teams in Group F.

Italian champions Juventus will take on Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow in Group D and Group G is made up of Benfica, Zenit St Petersburg, Lyon and RB Leipzig.

Here’s the draw in full…

 

The post CL draw: Spurs to face Bayern; Liverpool grouped with Napoli appeared first on Football365.

Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

“You’re a grown-ass man, deal with it.”

That was Romelu Lukaku’s instruction when many of his Manchester United team-mates were wilting in the face of Jose Mourinho’s confrontational brand of man-management. But it seems the Inter Milan striker might consider taking some of his own advice.

Since leaving for Italy at the start of the month, Lukaku has gone into great detail over the premature end to his United career. The Belgium striker felt neither wanted by the manager nor appreciated by the supporters. And perhaps there is some justification to be found among his list of gripes. But none of Lukaku’s complaints acknowledge that, as the person best placed to alter people’s perceptions, he failed to offer tangible evidence that he was being harshly judged at Old Trafford.

His goalscoring record at United isn’t bad. Nor does it demonstrate the kind of prolificacy required to put Lukaku among the company he apparently feels he deserves to keep. He netted 28 goals in 66 Premier League appearances, and 42 in 96 overall. In the race for the Premier League Golden Boot, he finished sixth in his first season, and joint 16th last year on the same tally as Ayoze Perez and Luka Milivojevic.

In the league, he netted once every 179 minutes – one every two games – which puts him just above Louis Saha and Michael Owen in United terms, but some way behind Andy Cole (156 mins per goal), Dwight Yorke (155), Dimitar Berbatov (154), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (150), Robin van Persie (142) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (128).

Last season was the seventh consecutive campaign that Lukaku reached double figures in the Premier League, with only the last two years spent at a big six side. That represents some admirable consistency – but is it enough?

Goalscoring, ultimately, is how Lukaku should be judged and his ranking among that group of United centre-forwards offers an accurate summary of his contribution in two years at Old Trafford. Only in one of those seven previous seasons did he crack the 20-goal barrier, which was his final year at Everton that earned him his big move to United. Lukaku’s record there, while commendable, did not justify the £75million price tag or meet the needs of a side aiming to claw its way back to the top.

So really, it is little wonder that no-one from within the club, be it Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or Ed Woodward, spoke out in an effort to make Lukaku “feel protected”. Solskjaer made clear very early that Lukaku’s style was not conducive to the way he wants his United side to play and that being the case, it would suit neither player nor club for the centre-forward to sit on the bench. Solskjaer cannot be blamed for looking to move Lukaku on, nor can Woodward when Inter were willing to give United close to their money back.

Lukaku also took umbrage at the accusation that he is just not suited to this United side. “A lot of people don’t think I should be part of that system,” he said on the LightHarted Podcast. “That’s my feeling from the conversations that I have, I just know.

“For me, the thing that makes me laugh a lot is… how the hell is sh*t going bad in my team, but when I play in my national team, it’s good? And I’m happy.

“We all know that international soccer is different than club football but the playing style we play in the national team is the one we want to play at Man Utd. So is it me? Or do we need to have a conversation from man to man and tell each other the rules?”

Most centre-forwards would be happy playing with Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard. On his way to becoming Belgium’s highest scorer, Lukaku has scored 25 international goals in the two years while United have been paying his wages. An impressive stat, but one that deserves context. The list of sides Lukaku has scored against: Gibraltar, Greece, Cyprus, Mexico, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Costa Rica, Panama, Tunisia, Scotland, Iceland and Switzerland. Only two of those sides feature in the top 30 of FIFA’s rankings.

In five games against Portugal, Brazil, France, England and Holland in that same period, Lukaku has scored no goals and assisted only one. That is the sort of stage United would be looking for their players to thrive upon in the international arena.

Lukaku felt scapegoated by United supporters – but at least he didn’t feel like he was being singled out. “It is Pogba, it is me or it is Alexis. It’s the three of us all the time,” he said. “They have got to find somebody to blame… If they want to put the blame on me, you know what, f*ck it, do what you gotta do.”

The United players are fortunate that Mourinho carried the can for as long as he did. For once he had gone and the post-Jose euphoria had worn off, there was plenty of blame to share around the squad. And given the depths United plumbed at times last season, is it really so unreasonable for fans to shine a light on their two most expensive players ever and another trousering the highest salary ever paid by United – or indeed any other Premier League club?

Lukaku, Pogba and Sanchez are easy targets – but that doesn’t invalidate the condemnation. Shushing criticism has always been part of Lukaku and Pogba’s schtick but United supporters have grown tired of the flow of dismissive comments with no actions to back it up. In Sanchez’s case, he just doesn’t appear bothered either way.

Lukaku can’t have it both ways. You cannot claim to feed off criticism  – or ‘BS’ as he regularly describes it – then complain when it arrives, and certainly not when it is justified.

 

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Bulletproof flow. Flyin’ above the noise 🤫 @pumafootball

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‘Not bad for a fat boy’ he captioned an Instagram post last week in response to more criticism over his bulk. It is a debate that has dogged Lukaku throughout his United career. “Criticism about my physique? That’s some BS! Yeah, that’s some BS,” he told Bleacher Report last November. Just a couple of weeks before he admitted that he knew months before he was too heavy for the Premier League.

Many supporters might not be privy to all the nuances of elite performance, but it is not likely to escape anyone’s attention when their centre-forward turns up overweight. Nor did fans miss that Lukaku was playing for long periods of last season with “not enough intensity”, which he acknowledged himself. Lukaku was not alone in that respect but saying ‘I don’t think I was the only one playing bad’ offers no mitigation.

His frustration is understandable. He felt that joining United was his big chance to reach his “destiny” in becoming one of the world’s top strikers. But for a variety of reasons, many of which Lukaku should accept responsibility for, he was unable to achieve the targets he set for himself or those expected of a £75million centre-forward at Old Trafford. Taking potshots at United, their supporters and his critics won’t change that. Nor does it alter the perception that perhaps Lukaku’s skin is not as thick as he would have us all believe. The scrutiny isn’t about to get any less intense in Italy with Inter.

Ian Watson

 

The post F365 Says: Lukaku needs the thicker skin of a ‘grown-ass man’ appeared first on Football365.

Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Nicolas Pepe looks set to become the latest player to move from Ligue 1 to the top end of the Premier League. Here, we rank the last 10 stars to cross the Channel for the Big Six…

 

10) Tiemoue Bakayoko – Chelsea
The Paris-born midfielder, who joined Chelsea from Monaco for £40million – their second most expensive signing at the time – had somewhat rebuilt his reputation during a season-long loan at AC Milan after a ropey start at the San Siro, but Bakayoko has reportedly failed to impress Frank Lampard any more than he managed with Antonio Conte.

The mere mention of his name transports Chelsea fans straight back to Vicarage Road where the 24-year-old was sent off for two bookings before the half-hour in a 4-1 defeat in February last year. Milan may take him off their hands permanently but Chelsea will have to take a big hit on the once-capped France midfielder.

 

9) Michy Batshuayi – Chelsea
It seems Chelsea still don’t know what to do with Batshuayi. Presumably he would be away if they could sign replacements but circumstances could give the 25-year-old an opportunity to nail down a place in Lampard’s squad following three loan moves in the last 18 months during which he has scored 18 goals for Borussia Dortmund, Valencia and Crystal Palace.

Whatever they decide, it certainly wasn’t the plan when Chelsea paid Marseille £33million for the Belgium centre-forward three years ago.

 

8) Benjamin Mendy – Man City
Injuries have restricted the £52million signing to 17 Premier League appearances in two seasons but knee problems haven’t stopped the former Monaco man from playing the clown. Pep Guardiola would rather have a left-back than a globetrotting cheerleader, which presumably forced City to buy back Angelino. Who was ‘absolutely awful’ last week…

7) Serge Aurier – Spurs
The Ivory Coast defender showed signs of improvement last season – among some trouser-dirtying moments for Spurs fans too – but he managed only six starts in the Premier League as fitness concerns linger.

With Mauricio Pochettino having sold Kieran Trippier to Atletico Madrid, Aurier needs to get his act together in this, his third season in English football. Unless the Spurs boss has indeed decided to play Juan Foyth as his starting right-back.

 

6) David Luiz – Chelsea
The Brazilian’s £34million move from PSG in 2016 was his second stab at a Chelsea career after he was sold to the French champions for £50million two years previously and though he has largely made a better fist of it than the first attempt, most Blues would probably just have shrugged at the sight of the 32-year-old walking away upon the expiry of his contract last season.

As it is, because Chelsea can’t sign anyone else, they have given Luiz two more years to get them through a transfer ban and to give the likes of Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Ethan Ampadu time to blossom into centre-backs worthy of phasing him out.

 

5) Fabinho – Liverpool
Liverpool’s £40million capture of the Brazilian was kept weirdly quiet until it was announced shortly after their 2018 Champions League final defeat and the start of his Anfield career was equally bizarre. Jurgen Klopp appeared petrified of using the former Monaco midfielder amid the hustle and bustle of the Premier League and the Liverpool boss was reportedly considering sending Fabinho away at the first opportunity in January.

But the patient approach paid off. Fabinho was eased in and grew over the course of the season which he ended as first choice in Klopp’s midfield. The 25-year-old also proved his versatility by slotting in a right-back and centre-back.

 

4) Lucas Moura – Spurs
It didn’t seem to matter what Moura did last season – if everyone was fit, the Brazilian was usually out. Even after scoring the incredible hat-trick which took Spurs to the Champions League final, he was benched for the Madrid meeting with Liverpool.

It speaks well of his form since arriving from PSG in January 2018 that many felt Moura was Spurs’ best chance of troubling Virgil van Dijk. But Pochettino opted for a half-fit Kane and Van Dijk pocketed the Spurs centre-forward and a winner’s medal leaving the Brazilian understandably miffed.

3) Alexandre Lacazette – Arsenal
The £46million signing carried the goalscoring burden for Arsenal before his mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang showed up six months later to share the load. Together they have forged one of the Premier League’s best strike partnerships and emerged as just about the only good thing about Arsenal last season.

Aubameyang took a share of the Premier League Golden Boot with 22 goals but Lacazette weighed in 13 while laying on another 10. Unai Emery will be expecting 20 plus in all competitions this season, especially if Nicolas Pepe is providing the ammunition.

 

2) Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Man Utd
We shouldn’t forget how good Zlatan was in his first season at United, which turned out to be his only full campaign in the Premier League and even that was ended prematurely by a knee injury. He notched 28 goals in all competitions and was nominated for the PFA Player of the Season for helping United to win the League Cup – he scored twice in the final – and Europa League.

Ibrahimovic didn’t hit the same heights upon re-signing for United after his knee injury but allowing him to join LA Galaxy might still be seen as a mistake given the influence he had upon the dressing room at Old Trafford. When Zlatan went, the mentality shifted, leaving Jose Mourinho to fight a losing battle.

 

1) Bernardo Silva – Man City
“For me, to drop Bernardo Silva right now is almost impossible. Right now it is Bernardo and 10 more players,” said Pep Guardiola as City geared up in February for the sprint to the Premier League finish line. “I don’t know what this guy has done this season. Playing in the middle and outside, every single game he played perfect.”

Pep likes to talk his players up but Bernardo’s contribution spoke for itself. The Portuguese schemer, a £43million signing from Monaco two years ago, was City’s best player in a Treble-winning season, combining creativity with endless graft.

The post Ranking the last 10 players to join Big Six clubs from Ligue 1 appeared first on Football365.

Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Harry Kane scored an unbelievable goal from the halfway line as Tottenham beat Juventus 3-2 in the International Champions Cup.

Erik Lamela gave Tottenham the lead in the first half before Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo struck back after the break for Juve.

Lucas Moura leveled things up on 65 minutes before England international Kane pulled off a wonder strike in injury time to win the match for Spurs.

Unlike Manchester United v Inter Milan on Saturday, there were a few empty seats at the National Stadium – although those in attendance were arguably more excitable.

There was a strong South Korean contingent at Singapore’s National Stadium and they made themselves heard whenever Son Heung-min got on the ball.

Excitement rose when he hit the outside of the post after four minutes, while Ronaldo tried an overhead kick in a promising start to the International Champions Cup encounter.

The Portuguese flashed a fierce shot wide but Spurs were looking brighter and broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark.

Son showed good composure and awareness to lay off to the overlapping Troy Parrott. The 17-year-old saw a low shot was saved by Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, but Lamela was on hand to direct home.

A drinks break followed a goal that took the sting out of the remainder of the opening period, with the Mexican waves in full flow as the whistle was blown for half-time.

Both sides made a variety of changes at half-time. Moura was among the Spurs introductions and saw a penalty appeal rejected shortly after the restart.

Spurs were pushing but Juventus levelled in the 56th minute as former Chelsea man Higuain hit a low shot past Paulo Gazzaniga.

Kane clipped the post as Mauricio Pochettino’s men looked to immediately regain the lead, only for Ronaldo to pop up at the other end and smartly direct into the far corner.

The Singapore crowd were witnessing an entertaining encounter, with Matthijs de Ligt brought on for his first appearance since signing from Ajax.

Tottenham brought on summer signing Tanguy Ndombele at the same time and he quickly made an impact, threading a pass through for Moura to smartly direct home.

The France midfielder curled just wide and Federico Bernardeschi stung the palms of Gazzaniga as the match continued to ebb and flow.

Kane poked an effort just wide and would settle the match just as a penalty shoot-out loomed large.

Moura won possession and the England captain unleashed a stunning first-time shot from just inside the Juventus half that beat Wojciech Szczesny, sending the crowd wild and securing a 3-2 win in scarcely believable circumstances. It is a goal that will live long in the memory.

 

The post Tottenham 3-2 Juventus: Kane scores unbelievable winner appeared first on Football365.

Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised Mason Greenwood and compared the teenage star’s development to that of Ryan Giggs following Manchester United’s friendly win against Inter Milan.

A sell-out crowd at Singapore’s National Stadium witnessed an intense friendly between Romelu Lukaku’s current and prospective employers as the striker watched on from the sidelines.

United outplayed Inter for the most part and finally made the breakthrough after Solskjaer made 10 changes with a third of the International Champions Cup encounter remaining.

Eyebrows were raised when Ashley Young was booed upon his introduction in Singapore, although his free-kick hushed his vocal critics and resulted in Greenwood scoring his second goal in as many games.

The 17-year-old showed great composure before slamming home to seal a 1-0 win and hit the crossbar as the clock wound down.

“The kid’s only 17 and he’s learning everyday training with these boys,” Solskjaer said.

“He’s been with us the last few months and he’s grown in confidence, grown in stature and, as I’ve said before, when you’ve got players who perform it’s difficult to keep them out.

“But we’ve got to keep our feet on the ground with him as well because he’s only 17 and there’ll be ups and downs, but at the moment he’s enjoying his football.”

Asked if he had considered sending the teenager on loan this season, the Norwegian made a comparison to Sir Alex Ferguson’s treatment of United great.

“No, Mason’s never been on my mind to send out on loan,” Solskjaer said. “He’s one we have to keep at our place, keep him and play him when we feel it’s good for him and at the moment he’s flying.

“He reminds me a little bit about the Giggsy story, that you can’t really send him on loan. For me, he’s ready to be in this squad.”

The post Solskjaer compares Man Utd prodigy to Ryan Giggs appeared first on Football365.

Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

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