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Gary O’Neil hoping to be lucky charm for Norwich after play-off final wins with West Ham and QPR

Gary O'Neil has led a more charmed life at Wembley than a snake in a basket. But in today’s £130million promotion shoot-out against his former club Middlesbrough, the Norwich midfielder bids to win his third Championship play-off final with as many clubs in four seasons. In 2012, was part of the side who burgled a late winner against Blackpool. And 12 months ago O’Neil went through purgatory in solitary confinement, throwing up in the tunnel after being sent off for a professional foul on Derby’s Johnny Russell. As O’Neil feared he would have to live forever with the consequences of notoriety, his QPR team-mates dug in and Bobby Zamora stole the winner 10 seconds from the end of normal time. Now O’Neil, 32, is asking for one more favour from providence as the Canaries bid to become only the 22nd club out of the last 88 relegated from the Premier League to bounce back at the first attempt. He said: “I’ve never lost at Wembley, and I don’t imagine it’s great to go home as a loser – hopefully I’m not about to find out. “With West Ham, we went there as favourites and just about managed to get over the line. “Last year we were just about the underdogs because Derby had been going so well, and they had an extra man in midfield so they were always going to dominate possession. “There was a lot made of my sending-off at the time, but it was a tackle I felt I had to make. Obviously it resulted in a red card, so hopefully there will be nothing like that this year. “I realised I might have to deal with the consequences of that red card for the rest of my life, it was a horrible moment. “We were fortunate enough to pull through after going down to 10 men. I took one for the team and we got promoted, so it worked out for the best. “But my emotions were all over the place in the tunnel. I smashed up one of the kit man’s cases and I was physically sick because I was worried 40,000 fans might hold it against me if we lost.” O’Neil may have to settle for a place on the bench as make their first pilgrimage to Wembley since Gordon Chisholm’s own goal settled the Milk Cup final against Sunderland in 1985. But the yellow half of Old Farm heartlands will bank on their lucky charm after they were denied automatic promotion by ’s 1-0 win at Letsby Avenue last month. Alex Tettey’s own goal settled a tense night, and the Norwegian international believes Norwich would be in the Premier League already if manager Alex Neil had been in charge since last summer. Neil took over from Neil Adams midway through the campaign, and Tettey reflected: “If we’d had him for the whole season, I would have been resting on a beach in Dubai or Barbados instead of having to play on Monday.” While Boro messiah Aitor Karanka coached as Jose Mourinho’s disciple at Real Madrid, Neil cannot wait to pit his wits against the Special One, Louis van Gaal and Arsene Wenger if the Canaries land the keys to the treasure chest. He said: “As a manager, you want to get to the highest level you can, but one thing about football is that people complicate it too much. “It’s a relatively simple game – if you’ve not got the ball, you get it back, and when you’ve got it, you try to score. “It’s just the tactics where it becomes a wee bit more complex, in terms of hoer City coach Mikel Arteta had to step inbetween manager Pep Guardiola and Sergio Aguero at the end of yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham.Lucas Moura came off the bench in the second half to haul Spurs level and Guardiola reacted by hooking Aguero fw you want your team to function. “That’s something I’m really clear on – my players get clear instructions, they know what they are doing. We’ve got an answer for every scenario that we come across. “It doesn’t really matter what level you’re at – if you move to a higher level, you generally get a higher calibre of player, which makes your job easier. In pictures – Norwich 3-1 Ipswich: “Becoming a manager wasn’t something I’d really looked at, it wasn’t an ambition of mine when I was younger. “I think a huge turning point for me was becoming a captain at 23. From then on, has done at Sheffield Wednesday this season in an interview with Tribal Football.Weaver started as a professional with Sheffield Wednesday before embarking on a 14-year career.Wednesday currently sit 10th in the Championship, four points adrift of tI was tasked with taking care of younger players coming into the group, and to try and help them develop. “Then I got a bad injury five years ago, and I ended up doing my coaching badges while I was recovering. That set the ball rolling, and in my eyes I’ll only get better because I’ve got the real desire to improve.” Who will win promotion to content_imgthe Premier League?1000+ VOTES SO FAR

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Ouch! Robert Snodgrass costs two punters £372,000 each after they had predicted 14 matches in a row

Norwich's Robert Snodgrass cost two unlucky punters £372,000 each on Sunday. Two Coral customers had correctly predicted 14 consecutive results on a Football Jackpot coupon and needed only a Spurs win to walk away with a share of defender Mario Hermoso is close to joining Atletico Madrid.Sport says Hermoso has one year oria’s manager.Ranieri replaces Eusebio di Francesco, whocontent_img was sacked on Monday with the club bottom of Serie A after six defeats in seven matches.The 67-year-old Italian also succeeded Di Francesco at Roma in March on a contract until the end of laston his deal at the club but has reached ann agreement to move to Atletico Madrid on a five-year deal worth arround €3m annually. His release clause is €40£772,683. and left the pair of punters empty handed. "You have to feel desperately sorry for these two punters who came so close to winning life-changing sums of money today. "It must have been the most incredible, and ultimately agonising, rollercoaster ride today for both of them as the Liverpool and Newcastle wins were incredible nail-biters, and they then watched Spurs spurn loads of chances on route to costing them the monster payout," said Coral spokesman Simon Clare. Fortunately Coral have offered a consolation prize of £5,999 each to soften the blow somewhat. "Both customers will receive just shy of six grand as a consolation for missing out by one on the Football Jackpot, but it will be scant consolation indeed," added Clare.

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Chelsea blooper: Rafa Benitez gambled ahead of FA Cup replay, and lost

Rafa Benitez took a gamble on Saturday and failed. Massively. And all he has ended up doing is heaping even more pressure on himself to win today. Tottenham are above Chelsea, Arsenal are on their tails as well and Benitez needs the breathing space of a win today. I feel for him because I don’t know any manager that has commanded respect from his players once it has become knowner the right backroom team is crucial to their plans to revive the club.Arteta believes the backroom staff at the club make a huge difference, and has praised the influence they can have on the players.”The staff are very, very important,” he said. ” that he is leaum Wilson says Youri Tielemans should’ve been sent off in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Leicester City.Wilson was the victim of a nasty tackle from Tielemans, but VAR that it was only worthy of a yellow card.He told the Daily Echo: “I have seen it back and ving at the end of the season. The players that are not playing will try it on and openly defy him. And in turn the players that are playing will start playing up as well. You’ve only got to lose 10 per cent of your authority in a dressing room and its curtains. It wouldn’content_imgt surprise me, though, if he were to defy the odds against United. I think we’re in for a cracking game.

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United’s Wayne Rooney: Manchester derby against City still not our biggest game of the year

Wayne Rooney has taunted Manchester City ahead of the derby on Sunday by claiming it is not the biggest game of the season for Manchester United. Rooney turned up the heat ahead of the showdown at the Etihad by insisting games against Liverpool mean more than those against from the blue half of town. United took revenge for City snatching the Premier League crown from them on goal difference in 2012 by strolling to the title by an 11-point margin last season. And ahead of the first encounter of the new campaign between the Premier League’s top two sides of the past two years, Rooney put ambitious City in their place with the withering put-down. Askcontent_imged if was now THE biggest rivalry in English football, said: “They’re all big games. Obviously United and Liverpool has been a massive game over the years. “City have had their success recently, but I would probably say that United and Liverpool is still the biggest game.” Do you agree with Wayne Rooney?2000+ VOTEs been reported.The Sun says Drinkwater was battered by thugs after trying to bed another footballer’s girlfriend.The Chelsea star, 29, on loan at Burnley, clashed with the player after boozing heavily at Manchester’s Chinawhite club.He was thrown ouS SO FAR Now-retired United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, with whom Rooney fell out last season, prompting the striker to consider his United future, after three goals in two games. Rooney has an impressive record against City, with five goals in his last six games against them. And he admitted he is relishing the chance to continue that run in the latest clash between the local rivals. “It’s a massive game between two title contenders,” said Rooney. “It’s not going to define the season, but it’s a big game, a local derby. “The English players are more aware of what it means after the last four or five years. It’s a big game and we’ll be going there hopefully to win. I’ve scored a few goals against City and I’m looking forward to the match.” Meanwhile, United keeper David De Gea praised and said the striker, who reached 200 goals for United with , could not be in better form ahead of the derby. “Not only did he score goals,” said De Gea. “He played some great football, worked hard, brought dynamism to the team and played a really grrs have confirmed manager Steven Gerrard has signed a contract extension through to 2024.The 39-year-old joined Rangers in the summer of 2018 and has impressed in his first managerial role.Speaking about his new deal, former Liverpool captain Gerrardeat game. “It’s good for us that he and Robin [van Persie] score goals. It’s important. They are key players and this year they will combine to great effect.” Probable teams Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Toure, Fernandinho; Navas, Aguero, Silva; Dzeko. De Gea; Smalling, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Fellaini; Valencia, Rooney, Nani; Van Persie. . Click here to with Paddy Power.

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Subbuteo Art will immediately take you back to your childhood

For those of a certain age, Subbuteo brings back childhood memories… fond, fond childhood memories. Stretching a green piece of velvet across a wooden board, setting up the goals and arranging the two teams in 4-4-2 formation. Artist Terry Lee is bringing those memories back to life with his – handpainted figures, made by Terry himself, and representing iconic moments in the world of football. He'll even take requests from fans and make models of your favourite players or your favourite moments. Here are some of the highlights … The Bergkamp en Hazard says Chelsea directors long knew he wanted to leave for Real Madrid.Having made the move this summer, Hazard admits he surprised himself by staying in London as long as he did.He told Marca: “Why Real Madrid? It was in the plan. “When I wasflick The Hand of God Coco's Rabona Rodriguezcontent_img's World Cup volley It's not just football moments either… The Totti selfie Suarez's third bite Ian Wright – record breaker Gazza in 'the Dentist's Chair' *That* Di Matteo celebration The Holy Trinity Pele on film Rooney's acrobatics Bleeding Terry Butcher Even Lewis Hamilton gets a nod When Ryan Giggs r Tottenham’s £600million stadium debt puts them at a major disadvantage against Arsenal and the rest of their title rivals on the Premier League grid.But he refused to liken his club’s situation to the one today’s opponents faced just over a decade evealed his chest hair to the world When Vinnie met Gazza Did you play Subbuteo as a child?0+ VOTES SO FAR

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Kick it out! Bolton players claim they were racially abused by Millwall fans

Bolton striker Marvin Sordell has claimed he and several of his team-mates were racially abused by Millwall fans during his side's 2-1 defeat this afternoon at the Den. The 21-year-old said on Twitter that he had reported the incident and revealed that midfielders Lee Chung-yong and Darren Pratley, plus fellow forward Benik Afobe, had also been subjected to racist taunts by some home supporters. Sordelhave identified five new transfer targets for 2020.The London Evening Standard says Scott McTominay has been identified in a report as the type of player and character that United need to acquire more of. With the club also said to be targeting playel said on Twitter: "Putting the match aside, its 2012 in england and people are still shouting racial abuse at a football game!? £Shocking." He added: "Chungy, Pratts, Benik and i had all sorts of things said to us. The police were standing yards away and did nothing…" Sordell also received abusive responses to his allegations on Twitter. He added: "Funniest thing is if had come on and scored and gave them some back, i would be the one who got fined." Millwall later released a statement, saying: "Millwall and Bolton Wanderers are investigating allegations made by Bolton player Marvin Sordell that he was subjected to racial abuse by an individual whilst warming up as a substitute during Saturday's Championship clash at The Den. "The two clubs remain determined to do everything in their power to content_imgensure that racist behaviour will not be tolerated. "We will be speaking to the police and the match officials on this matter but no further comment will be made until this process has been completed and tchoosing to return to West Ham United.Moyes insists he has “unfinished business” at West Ham after being unveiled as the club’s new head coach. He said, “What anybody is getting with me is an experienced Premier League manager. I think there’s only the investigations have been concluded." The Football Association tonight confirmed they would be investigating Sordell's claims. Shortly after the FA's confirmation that they would investigate the incident, Bolton released a statement of their own. It read: "Marvin Sordell has made Bolton Wanderers aware that he was subject to alleged racial abuse during the game against Millwall. "We are now working with Millwall to investigate and the club have informed us that they will speak to the police and match officials. "Both clubs remain determined that racist behaviour or language will not be tolerated."

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Liverpool can cope without Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge, says Simon Mignolet

believes the absence of Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson won't derail their title charge. Sturridge is likely to miss the trip to Norwich City on Easter Sunday after being withdrawn in the second half of with a suspected hamstring injury. Henderson will also miss the game against the Canaries after he was sent off for a tired-looking lunge on Samir Nasri in injury time. Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva could replaccontent_imge the missing duo for the trip to Carrow Road, and Mignolet believes that is more than capable of coping without the pair. He told the Liverpool Echo: “I am sure we have a good enough squad to deal with these kind of situations.ews-Fabian-Ruiz-Barcelona-Real-Madrid-Bayern-Munich-Man-Utd-74m-Latest” target=”_blank”>Daily Express says Liverpool have placed Fabian Ruiz at the top of their transfer wishlist and are ready to battle Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona fo Look at how Joe performed when he came off the bench against Manchester City. “It was a difficult moment in the game at 2-2. It was tOld Trafford.Loan spells in Spain with ­Granada and Valencia helped Pereira’s development and in the summer he signed a new ­contract that will keep him at Old Trafford until 2023.He said: “I looked up to a lot of players, but especially David Beough to be a substitute coming on at that stage but he really helped the team out. “He did a good job just as Lucas did away to West Ham the week before. Victor [Moses] also helped us when he came on against City – not only offensively but also in defence. The manager has options.” The table-topping Reds will be crowned champions if they win their remaining four games. However. Wednesday nights results mean a draw against Chelsea, and victories over Norwich, Crystal Palace and Newcastle will see them lift their first title since 1990.

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Poland 1-1 England REPLAY: How Wayne Rooney’s shoulder helped us grab a draw in Warsaw

ristian Pulisic says he will continue fighting to convince Chelsea mant.Everton are set to up their bid focontent_imgr the Ivorian winger, 26, and are willing to pay him around £200,000-a-week, says The Sun.Now, Zaha appears to be forcing the Eagles’ hand, going AWOL from training having already handed in an official request to ager Frank Lampard that he deserves a starting spot.The 21-year-old has not started a game for Chelsea in a month after his big money move from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.The

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Manchester United news and transfer rumours: David Moyes eyes new summer signings on Portugal trip

Manchester United's Luke Shaw transfer chances were boosted by news that Chelsea are ready to pull out of the fight, were prepared to go head to head with United for Shaw during the January transfer window when they were alerted to a potential offer from the Old Trafford club. But with England World Cup possible Shaw's valuation now soaring towards the £30million mark, Chelsea are turning their sights elsewhere. And the transfer saga involving Shaw took a new twist as he increased the speculation linking him with a move to Manchester United, – who has shone for the Saints this season – 'favourited' a tweet from a United supporter, advising him to move to Old Trafford. The tweet read: "Hope you sign for mufc, we are all excited, good luck." But one player who may not be heading to Old Trafford this summer is Toni Kroos which will come as a blow to United boss David Moyes, has targeted Kroos and hopes to land this summer. He was encouraged on Tuesday when Bayern boss Pep Guardiola claimed it was up to Kroos to decide his future and his deal with expires in June 2015. Kroos' representative Volker Struth has disappointed Moyes by claiming he will not leave Bayern before the end of his contract. "There is no official contract offer," Struth told German newspaper Bild. &quo to join the senior coaching staff at Chelsea.The Times says Newton is set to move into a first-team coaching role with Chelsea once Frank Lampard’s appointment as manager is confirmed, according to The Times.The former midfielder, 47, made 165 leagut;Moreover, there is no need to make an official offer, because Toni Kroos will play at FC Bayern at least until 2015." David Moyes has flown to Portugal to check on the form of three of his summer transfer targets, reports David McDonnell. The United boss icontent_imgs believed to be monitoring Porto's 23-year old centre-half and his team-mate 27-year-old who plays as a striker. Benfica's 27-year-old left-back , currently on loan from Granada, could also be another Moyes has been casting his eye over. Thursday's Manchester United stories from other newspapers and websites Former boss and renowned wine expert revealed to the Telegraph which managers knew their Romanée-Conti Grand Cru 1999 from their Ribena as he prepares to sell 5,000 bottles from his own stock for an eye watering £3million at the end of Maing in Spain for a big name centre-half.That’s according to Okdiario’s chief pundit Eduardo Inda, speaking on El Chiringuito.”David Beckham’s Inter Miami wants to sign two great world football stars, stars of their respective teams,” Inda revealed. “y. He raises a glass to both and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, but little more than an eyebrow to Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. “Mancini always brought a bottle of Sassicaia to the game. He knew his wines okay. Arsene has some decent wines,” he said. “Chelsea weren’t very good. I had to remind them that they should have better wine. Abramovich in fact sent me a case of Tignanello the next week after I said that. And Jose [Mourinho] promised to bring a Barca Velha but didn’t, and I gave him so much stick. Next time he came, he had Barca Velha. “My 25th year at United, Sam Allardyce bought me a 1986 [Chateau] Latour, the year I came to United. His kit manager gave it to me on the Saturday morning, and I said, ‘I’m going to play a trick here’, so I opened it up and put a bottle of Ribena in." Will Man United qualify for Europe?6000+ VOTES SO FAR

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Europa League draw: Everton handed difficult Dynamo Kiev tie in last 16 of competition

Everton have been paired with Dynamo Kiev in a tough Europa League last-16 draw. face a difficult away leg in Ukrannedy has been named new manager of Macclesfield Town.Kennedy was most recently U23 manager at Wolves.He has agreed an initial deal until the end of the 2019/20 campaign and will be assisted by former Crystal Palace and Southampton defender Danny Butine after overcoming Young Boys 7-2 on aggregate, leaving them flying the British flag alone in Europe's second-tier competition. The is Inter Milan's monster clash with Wolfsburg, while an all-Spanish tie between Villarreal and Sevilla and all-Italian mecontent_imgeting between Fiorentina and Roma also promise much. Uefa had decided to separate Russian clubs and their Ukrainian counterparts in the draw, leaving Dinamo Moscow to play Rafael Benitez's Napoli and another Ruso-Italian match-up with surprise packageeturning to Emirates Stadium to say goodbye to the club’s fans is “something which is left in my career.”The 35 year old left the Gunners after six years in 2018 following two years out with a serious ankle injury.But he has made an amazing recovery Torino drawing Zenit. Club Brugge's tie with Besiktas wraps up the eight fixtures that will last 16, with the winner of the competition guaranteed a place in next season's Champions League. In pictures – Everton 3-1 Young Boys: Will Everton win the Europa League?2000+ VOTES SO FAR The draw in full Everton v Dynamo Kiev Dnipro v Ajax Zenit St Petersburg v Torino Wolfsburg v Inter Milan Villarreal v Sevilla Napoli v Dinamo Moscow Club Brugge v Besiktas Fiorentina v Roma Games will be played on 12th and 19th March.

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Chelsea’s win over Manchester United proves Alex Ferguson should have picked Jose Mourinho, not David Moyes as his replacement

achievements at Old Trafford were always going to be nigh-on impossible to follow. Twenty-six years of unparalleled success secure Fergie's place in history as one of the world's greatest-ever football managers, but to be his successor could yet tarnish his legacy at Old Trafford. The succession question is one that has hung over the club for over ten years, and when the decision was finally made, it was the wrong one. David Moyes, while effective at turning Everton from relegation strugglers into a team that (at times) could break the top four, has shown little since ascending to the United throne to suggest his reign will bring anything other than underachievement for a club of United's size. For it is United's size that is Fergie's true legacy. While Sir Alex will never really bequeath the tactical revolutions to the world that the likes of Valeriy Lobanovskiy, Marcelo Bielsa or Helenio Herrera have, his club-building power is virtually unprecedented. Only Santiago Bernabeu's swelling of Real Madrid in the 1960s can possibly compare to the way Ferguson helped drag United from underachieving working man's club to a shiny billion-dollar megacorp. While in many ways Ferguson was a fortunate beneficiary of timing, finding success with United just when it was most handsomely rewarded with an influx of new Premier League cash, his on-field and off-field decisions helped the club become the super-wealthy juggernaut that it is today – producing the cash to bring in the stars that in turn cemented Ferguson's legend. But Fergie's final task was always going to be his hardest. A decade-long guessing game that took in Steve Bruce, Bryan Robson, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Laurent Blanc and many more appeared to finally settle on a straight shoutout between David Moyes and the Who did he feel was fit to take on his dynasty? Who was best placed to recreate his years of success? Who would never put themselves and their interests ahead of Manchester United? It would appear to be the final criteria on which Jose failed. Mourinho, his career as glittering with success as it has been pumped-full of controversy, was a clearly an admirer of Ferguson. As Diego Torres reveals in his fly-on-the-wall Real Madrid book Prepare to Lose, “Mourinho, encouraged by his devoted agent [Jorge] Mendes, believed that Ferguson, as well as an ally, was his friend and Godfather. "He was convinced that they enjoyed a friendship of genuine trust. He thought that his fabulous collection of trophies – two European Cups, seven league titles and four cups incontent_img four different countries – made for a resumé no other candidate had." And yet he was overlooked. We will likely never know why Ferguson discarded the most obvious successor to his Manchester United empire – or at least until he releases another book – but it's a decision being must be questioned as time ticks on. David Moyes' principle and most accepted failing came in July and August when he failed to bring in the requisite talent to patch up an overachieving United squad. It is not too much of a leap to suggest that the curiously public and inevitably unsuccessful courh Albion defender Nathan Ferguson.The talented teenager is becoming a hot property in the English game.The Daily Mail says the 19-year-old is wanted by Spurs to fill their problem right back slot.It would be difficult for West Brom to resist any tranting of Cesc Fabregas and Ander Herrera wouldn't have happened under Mourinho. Like it or not, Jose's links with superagent Jorge Mendes mean that even with the structural instability that Moyes had to negotiate – David Gill being replaced by Ed Woodward – he wouldn't have struggled anything like the Scot did in bringing in reinforcements. The Portuguese, renowned worldwide for his charisma, man management and (most importantly) success would not have struggled to convince players to sign for him. To think that the reigning Premier League champions and one of the world's richest clubs could only coerce Marouane Fellaini into joining in the summer is madness, and a root cause of many of Moyes' current problems. Criticisms of the squad left behind by Ferguson have begun to spread as people try to analyse why the champions have fallen. But Moyes had the money and the time to refresh an ageing squad. That he inherited something that needed work is not an excuse for failure, it should have been the starting point from which he built their title challenge. Returning to Torres' book, we learn that on discovering Moyes had been given the job he thought was his, Mourinho was "incredulous," crying and screaming "but he’s won nothing!" Mourinho's outburst is described by Torres as "the most disgraceful hours in his time as Real Madrid manager," who also details long nights that the 50-year-old spent unable to sleep and with his mobile phone glued to his head. The passion and hunger for the Manchester United job was unmistakably there in Mourinho, and it would be naive to suggest that Ferguson wasn't well aware that the Real Madrid boss wanted to succeed him at Old Trafford. Perhaptar Jamie Vardy has admitted there are differences in how the team plays now, compared to their title winning side of 2015/2016 season.The unfancied side went on to clinch the title in remarkable circumstances that season under Claudio Ranieri.But Les Fergie felt that Mourinho's record of short, explosive spells at clubs meant that he wasn't the man to stay in the United hotseat for five or ten years. But this overlooks the fact that Ferguson's dynasty, for all it's greatness, was the exception and not the rule. Extensive reigns like those presided over by Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex are freak occurrences, virtually impossible to replicate. If Ferguson wanted to continue his legacy of club-building and on-field success then the final decision he made in a glorious reign at United was the wrong one. He should have chosen the Special One.

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Lampard: Stopping Xavi and Spain’s midfield is ‘the most difficult job in football’

Frank Lampard reckons ­stopping Spain’s dream team is the toughest task in the game. Lampard is enjoying something of a renaissance with his own outstanding form for Chelsea this season. But England’s stand-in captain admits Spain’s World Cup-winning midfield is in a class of its own. High lines, wing battles and diagonal balls… five ways England CAN beat Spain  And it is the man at the heart of that star-studded group who he believes stands out for Spain. “It’s hard to pick content_imgone, but if I had to I’d go with Xavi, given what he’s done over such a period of time,” said Lampard. “Andres Iniesta is a fantastic player and to compare and split them up is impossible, but Xavi is the centre of their team. He’s the pinnacle of their team. He moves the ball. “I’ve played against him countless times coming through the ranks and over the years. His ability and his awareness and his touch are something special. “He’s one of the all-time greats and, in the last couple of years, he’s secured himself up there.” Lampard admitted it will be nigh on impossible to stop Spain’s midfield as they have proven world-class players in Xavi, Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas. Put that up against Lampard and makeshift midfielder Phil Jones and it will be the ultimate test for England at Wembley. But Lampard himself is having a great run of form. Written off at the start of the season, he responded with goals and man-of-the-match performances. Furthermore, Lampard has faced Barcelona in the Champions League – and still feels hard done by after losing the 2009 semi final at Stamford Bridge. For Barcelona read Spain as the best of their midfield comes from the Nou Camp and that’s why Lampard admits that England will have their work cut out trying to stop them. “It’s probably the most difficult job in football at the minute,” said Lampard. “It’s a case of having to close them down as well as you can, don’t let them dominate games as Spain and Barcelona do so often. Get tight to them. “We’d seen them play a lot of teams who’d try to play their style against them, which is impossible. They’re the best at it. They’d try to ional with both Tranmere Rovers and Ipswich Town, Cresswell moved to West Ham United in 2014. Five years on, the left-back has lengthened his stay with the Irons. A two-year extension takes his contract to 2023 which would mean nine years in Claret apress them right up the pitch and win the ball back. “You have to believe in yourter Milan coach Antonio Conte is delighted seeing Romelu Lukaku off the mark.Lukaku struck on debut in the 4-0 rout of Lecce.Conte said, “Lukaku stepped into the Inter world in the best possible way, with great humility. He is a gentle giant, alwayselves and see their weaknesses. We have to win the ball back from them and get our front men away and use the pace in our team. “I watched them play Scotland and they pretty much dominated, but Scotland created chances against them now and again. With the ability we have in our team, on the counter-attack and in our own play. We must be bold, we have to stand up.”

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Krul intentions: Newcastle keeper challenges refreshed side to get out of relegation fight

Tim Krul has demanded Newcastle's refreshed squad rise to relegation battle – after praising Mike Ashley for landing five new signings. The Dutch keeper has scoffed at suggestions Newcastle are "too big" to go down, but says will be key in the scrap ahead. Alan Pardew's men are searching for their first away win of the season at fellow strugglers Aston Villa tonight with two tough games against Chelsea and Spurs to follow. Three points is essential to avoid dropping into the bottom three in the next fortnight. "It feels like a big occassion, an important game. Both sides need a win, even a draw is not really good enough," admitted Pardew yesterday. Krul has been brushing up on his key French words so he can issue instructions to new boy Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa if as expected his is one of three debutants alongside Yoan Gouffran and Moussa Sissoko. Krul said: "The owner and chairman (Derek Llambias) did what they said they were going to do. Five new players is more than I expected. "It's given everyone a massive lift. The club said we were going to strengthen the squad and they showed that in five or six days signing five new players. City defender Kyle Walker was delighted to prove their late matchwinner against Southampton.The Englishman set up Sergio Aguero’s equaliser and then went on to net a late winner in a brilliant all-round performance. “I think that’s the least we deIt gives that extra competition for places, instead of taking things for granted and people will have to work their socks off to stay in the side. "At a club like Newcastle, you need that. Before now with the injuries we had we were just happy to get 11 on the pitch and a bench. We've definitely got strength in depth now. "So Tuesday is a massive game for us, massive. We have to walk away with a result and we definitely go there to win. Villa are on a poor run at the moment, we haven't' been on a great rcontent_imgun. "Back in 2009 I was there when we were relegated at Villa. But this is a new game with new players in a new year. There are a lot of fresh faces and that will give us a extra lift. We have 15 games to go and we're in a fight which nobody expected us to be. "Everyone said we were too big to be in this fight but we're not. We're in it and we have to get out of it as quickly as possible. We can't take things for granted like we did then." but was not permitted to comment on those rumours yesterday. But he is delighted at having to learn a bit of French again, after dropping it at school. He says he doesn't care where the new signings come from as long as they are quality. He added: "Not a problem. I'm just impressed by the quality we're signing. It doesn't matter what country they come from. we could have 10 French or 10 Dutch, as long as they're good players and I think they are I'm just glad there here. "Some of them don't really speak much English yet so from or point of view we have to help them all we can. If my centre halves speak French I have to make sure I can communicate with them. That will take a few weeks but football language isn't that difficult. "It doesn't take that long to integrate and football language is easy to pick up. I'll teach them the most important words. "There are a few key words which they've got to know. 'away', 'man on','keeper's ball' that kind of thing. If I'm coming out for the ball they will know about it! Definitely today I'll give them a list. "For me Dutch and English were the two languages I learned as a kid. I also did German and French as well but I kept mixing things up so I gave French up after a year. "I've just passed Mapou in the corridor and I had to get out of his way, he's a big lad! You need that physical side and it will be good to get Tiote back. With those two players in the side it will give the other sides a little fright. I'm really glad we've signed the new players." Loan haul: Signings show that Ashley is building for the future, says Pardew Alan Pardew  believes Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has shown his long term commitment with the January signings. Five new faces, including France internationals Mathieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and with an average age of under 24 have bolstered the squad. The Toon boss says Ashley could have gone for “quick fixes” of older players to get the team out of their ­relegation hole, but instead invested more than £17million in building for now and the future. Ahead of tonight’s visit to fellow strugglers Aston Villa, he also addressed comments he made in a row with Arsene Wenger in 2006, when he claimed every team should have a coresent run of results to an end.The Hammers have only two points from their past five Premier League games, which has seen them slip in the table.They have not won in the league since September. And Pellegrini knows they must correct the slide.Speakire of at least three Englishmen to make it tick. With 11 French nationals and three other French speakers on the books at St James’ Park, Pardew claimed the inflated market in British players – especially from the Championship – makes it tough to ignore better value from abroad. He said: “The long-term future of the club, Mike’s commitment to the club, all those ­questions aren’t being asked at the moment because of the run we’re on, but I think the ­signings have shown he’s committed to the club. Because you don’t sign players at that age if you’re not committed to the club. “If it was a short-term option he probably would have given me the signal to go and buy some older players to make sure we stayed in the division. If they were any good next year, it wouldn’t really matter, if you had that kind of vision. His vision is much more long-term. “That’s why we’ve bought the players we have. I am happier coming to work in the morning now, without doubt. And I think the players will be too, more importantly. “If you’re a player walking out with the group we have now and you look round at the bench, you’d have to say you feel a lot more confident.” Pardew said French players will have to speak English on the training ground or be fined, and he dismissed Gerard Houllier’s claim that too many French players creates “problems”. He said: “Gerrard Houllier said that? I don’t really see it as a problem. “I’ve not seen that problem at any club I’ve been at. I’ve never ­encouraged cliques. I’m very, very quick to stop that. Since I’ve been here I’ve never really ­encountered it and I don’t intend to let it happen. “In 2006 I though three English players would be a nice rule. It’s not the rule though. I think it’s very important to promote British players, but unfortunately the market makes it very difficult. Chief executives and chairmen need to ­understand that ­sometimes players need opportunities.” Wilfried Zaha ­illustrated Pardew’s point. Toon were priced out of a move and Manchester United signed him from Crystal Palace. “It became very evident that trying to take a player of that ability from the Championship isn’t easy and bigger clubs were beginning to get involved, so it was out of our equation,” said Pardew.

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Picture this: The best photos from a dramatic weekend at the top and bottom of the Premier League

Another dramatic weekend of Premier League action climaxed on Sunday as Liverpool before Arsenal won a fiercely competed .  The weekend got underway at the KC Stadium, At the other end of the table, as they defeated Newcastle 1-0 and West Brom came from behind It was heartbreak for Cardiff though as Seamus Coleman scored d a new deal with Watford.The Brazilian goalkeeper has scontent_imgigned up for another year of football with the Hornets, despite declaring that he was 99 per cent sure he would retire at the end of his contract back in March. “I couldn’t say no to the club bedeep into injury time at Goodison Park, while Elsewhere, and Sunderland and Crystal Palace The drama returned though for has joined Slovak Super Liga side ŠKF Sereď on loan until the end of the season.The 24-year-old goalkeeper joined Arsenal in the summer of 2012 from Macedonian outfit FK Belasica.He has since made over 40 appearances for the club at youth level.Il the day's evening kick-off , as the league leaders were reduced to nine men with boss Jose Mourinho also sent to the stands. Which team will win the Premier League this season?2000+ VOTES SO FAR

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Saido Berahino is on the fast track to oblivion – and it’s up to him to turn it around

Saido Berahino is facing questions over his attitude to top-flight football and, ­suddenly, this is a crucial time in his career. This season we have been gasping over his goals but now we have to analyse the other side to his ­personality and question whether this lad has . Last season he was spotted ­inhaling nitrous oxide – aka hippy crack – and now we have discovered he was . Alarm bells will be ringing at the Hawthorns. Is the 21-year-old going off the rails already? To a certain extent I can ­understand the situation Berahino finds himself in. Like him, I was a young player with absolute belief in my ability – and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, to be a great player, I ­believe you have to have a certain amount of cockiness. But Berahino, who came through the youth system with West Brom, has not made it to the very top yet. Wenger says Liverpool possess the best stadium in Europe.The Reds have not lost at Anfield in the Premier League since April 2017, adding to their run with a 3-1 victory over Manchester City on Sunday.”If Liverpool have changed games in Europe, for He has done well, yes. But he is not special, he’s not a superstar. Far from it. His career could still easily head in the wrong direction. There must be fears that he will go down the route Ravel Morrison took. is a great natural talent but makes bad decisions and has not lived up to the hype. One thing that is clear for me is that Berahino needs to stay at West Brom on a long-term contract. There has been talk of him joining a bigger club but it won’t do him any good. He needs to stay grounded. Stay at the Baggies, keep hitting the net, and by the time we head into Euro 2016 he should have 15 or 20 goals to his name. If that’s the case he will be part of the England set-up and we can start to take him seriously. The other issue with Berahino is that he must make sure he has the right attitude – particularly at ­international level. There were whispers that he was a little bit too sure of himself when he joined the England squad after being called up. Whether or not that was the case, when you are ss Jose Mourinho is prioritising short term gains over discussions around out-of-contract players. On speaking to Spurs’ out-of-contract players, Mourinho said “It’s early days. I have had no time for individual cases, I don’t know how I can try to inelected for England you must give everything to make sure you stay there. So we will see what Roy Hodgson makes of him going forward. Morrison is unlikely to become part of Roy’s plans. Can Berahino prove that he is willing to get better and better? It is going to be interesting to see how he deals with all the unwanted attention he is getting. Remember, Berahino arrived in England at the age of 10. Along with his mother, he had to flee war-torn Burundi in search of a better life. He found it in Britain and I would imagine he is ­appreciative of the life he can lead. Sergio Aguero, Alexis Sanchez and Luis Suarez all had tough ­upbringings but when they had ­the chance they managed to elevate themselves. Lads brought up in America or Britain seem to believe success will come easy – in other parts of the world they know that they have to work for it. They’re not living a Geordie Shore or Towie lifestyle in parts of Europe, Africa or South Amercontent_imgica. They are taught to graft rather than become lazy and fade into the life of a reality TV star. Berahino surely realises the ­privileged position he is in. So let’s see his character, let’s see what this lad is made of?