Tag Archives: Sports

Bundesliga back as Dortmund trash Schalke 4-0


With a hopeful world looking to Germany to see how feasible it is for professional football to return despite the coronavirus, multiple matches took place across several cities in both the first and second tiers of the German league. The pick of the matches was the much anticipated Revierderby, the match between the two biggest clubs in Germany’s Ruhr region, Borrusia Dortmund and Schalke 04.

Teen sensation Erling Braut Haaland continued from where he left off before the enforced break by scoring the first for Dortmund in convincing 4-0 win over Schalke.

The game will mostly be remembered for the surreal circumstances in which it was played, as Germany became the first major league in Europe to resume action behind closed doors.

There was an eerie atmosphere at Dortmund’s iconic Signal Iduna Park stadium, with every shout by players or coaches audible, and social distancing protocol followed by substitutes and during goal celebrations.

Haaland opened the scoring with a trademark cool finish, flicking home Thorgen Hazard’s cross to continue his sensational season, albeit after an enforced break of almost 10 weeks.

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Raphael Guerreiro added two more goals and Hazard also found the net as Dortmund went on to claim a comfortable win over their near neighbours and move within a point of leaders Bayern Munich, who play today.

Elite-level football might be back in Europe, but it certainly has a different feel about it than it did two months ago. Strict hygiene protocols saw the Dortmund and Schalke players arrive on multiple buses, use several changing rooms and then enter the pitch by different routes.

Warm-ups were staggered and the coaching staff and substitutes wore masks and were all separated by two metres as they took their place on the sidelines.

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Once the balls had been disinfected by the ball-boys, the game began in total silence, only pierced by the referee’s whistle for kick-off, before being played out to the sound of echoed applause or yelled instructions from the dug-outs.

Fans were completely absent from the 80,000-capacity stadium but that did not stop the Dortmund players performing their trademark salute to the empty stands at the final whistle – standing apart rather than holding hands of course.

The backdrop to the game made for a strange spectacle, but it did nothing to disrupt Haaland’s fine form even if it was 70 days on from his last Bundesliga appearance. With the rest of Europe watching on, Dortmund’s 19-year-old Norwegian wonderkid reminded everyone of his precocious talent as he scored one goal, and helped make another.

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Haaland’s goal means he now has a total of 37 in club competition for the season – before joining Dortmund he scored 14 goals in Austra’s top division for Red Bull Salzburg, and eight more in the Champions League.

He has now scored 10 goals in his first nine Bundesliga appearances – and 13 in 12 games in all competitions – since his January move from Red Bull Salzburg and his prolific scoring rate shows no sign of slowing up.

Another of Dortmund’s highly-rated young talents, England forward Jadon Sancho, was restricted to an 11-minute cameo off the bench, because of a calf injury.

The best coming out after COVID-19

On-loan Everton full-back Jonjoe Kenny started for Schalke, who brought on Wales winger Rabbi Matondo as one of their five substitutes – two more than usual are permitted under the new regulations for the Bundesliga’s restart.

Bundesliga Gives Insight into New Reality

The German Bundesliga restarted on Saturday and gave a glimpse into what the Premier League and other top leagues may look like if they return. South Korea’s K League kicked off last weekend, while some smaller leagues such as Belarus and Nicaragua have never stopped – but this was the first elite football in over two months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

So what did football in May 2020 – played behind closed doors and with some social distancing – look like?

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Temperature checks, several buses and disinfected balls

Teams arrived in several buses so players could socially distance on the journey to the game. Players and staff had all been quarantining in team hotels all week and are being tested for coronavirus regularly. As they left the buses they wore facemasks on their way into the ground. Other people attending the games, including the media, had their temperatures checked.

Fans were banned from matches, with police patrolling to make sure no crowds gathered at the venues. Only 213 people were allowed into the ground – 98 on and around the pitch (like players, coaches and ball boys) and 115 in the stands (such as security, medics and media). Another 109 people (including security and VAR operators) were allowed just outside the stadium.

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There were 30 match balls, each of them disinfected by ball boys and left on special spots rather than handing them to players.

Socially-distanced substitutes

Substitutes and coaches wore masks and socially distanced on individual seats on the bench – or in some cases in the front rows of the empty stands behind the benches. RB Leipzig, who drew with Freiburg 1-1, brought in a set of airport stairs so players could get to and from their seats in the stands.

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Head coaches were allowed to go without a mask so they could shout instructions to their players. Substitutes took off their masks to warm up, and when players were replaced they were handed a mask before reaching the bench.

Elbow bumps instead of hugs

The actual play itself was no different to normal with tackles flying in and plenty of goals – 16 – across yesterday’s six games. But there was some social distancing on show for goals as many strikes were celebrated without the usual embraces, think elbow bumps instead of hugs.

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However, some goals – notably those by Hertha Berlin players in their 3-0 win at Hoffenheim – were just celebrated as normal. Hertha will not be punished as the German league asking players not to embrace is a guideline and not a rule.

With only a few dozen people making noise on the benches, television viewers could hear the players and managers talking, as well as the sound of the ball being kicked – and of the ball hitting the back of the net.

Teams were allowed to use five substitutes in a game – which other leagues will have the option to do when they return. So Schalke, in their 4-0 defeat by Borussia Dortmund, were able to make two substitutions at half-time – and another three after the break.

4-0 to schalke as COVID-19 eases.

Applauding empty stands

After the final whistle – to deafening silence – Borussia Dortmund’s players went across to their famous South Bank – usually known as the Yellow Wall which holds 25,000 fans – to applaud and run towards the empty stand to celebrate.

Wolfsburg players kicked boots with the referee and his assistants, rather than the usual handshakes, following their 2-1 victory at Augsburg. Elsewhere, fist bumps and elbow bumps were the name of the game.

Players and managers were interviewed by television reporters with microphones on sticks, keeping to a safe distance, while post-match news conferences were done by video conferencing.

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RB Leipzig striker Yussuf Poulsen is interviewed from a safe distance

Did the fans stay away?

One of the reasons Premier League games could be played at neutral venues is to avoid fans congregating outside their own ground during a game. But that did not appear to be an issue in Germany yesterday.

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Dortmund police spokesperson Olivier Peiler said: “It’s surprisingly quiet. We had expected and calculated various scenarios, but we didn’t expect that only a few fans would come to the stadium and the city centre.

“Apparently the pleas by the city and police to stay and watch the match at home have worked out. We are very pleased by this in order to avoid infections.”

Not everyone was happy though. Augsburg fans put a banner in an empty stand saying “football gives life – your business is sick” in protest at football continuing during the pandemic.

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What did the managers think?

After a goalless draw with Paderborn, Fortuna Dusseldorf manager Uwe Rosler said: “The day was a bit odd. I am an emotional man, I like to take a player in my arms, which I obviously couldn’t do today.”

Dortmund coach Lucien Favre, said: “There is no noise. You shoot at the goal, you make a great pass, you score, and nothing happens. It’s very, very weird.”

Borussia Dortmund hit Schalke hard this time as a welcome anthem from the yellow squad.

Freiburg coach, Christian Streich, told a virtual news conference: “Obviously, it’s sad the fans cannot watch the game, that we can’t meet up and go to the game and play this game together.

“This is not something that can go on indefinitely. But under these conditions I did not expect a drop in quality because of a lack of fans and we did not see that.”

Hertha Berlin boss Bruno Labbadia defended his side celebrating their goals without social distancing. “The fact is that this is part of football,” he said. “We’ve been tested so many times that we can allow it.

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“If you can’t celebrate anymore, the whole thing breaks down. I’m just glad that the team had reason to cheer today.”

How did other people react?

Former Bayern Munich and England midfielder Owen Hargreaves, who was doing BT Sport punditry from his own house, said: “I am missing the fans already. It was so strange, it is going to take some getting used to. “Football without the fans is tough to watch.”

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BBC live text reader Jonathan Chilvers said: “Atmosphere at Dortmund vs Schalke reminds me of playing Year 10 basketball in the school sports hall.”

Marty Waddell tweeted: “Nope. Sorry. As much as I love and miss football, that just wasn’t right. And i still miss it just as much (if not more).”


#NobleSports

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Jurgen Klopp Confident In Liverpool


Jurgen Klopp has insisted Liverpool have no need to be at their “all-time best” in order to clinch a first English league title in 30 years.
Premier League officials are now aiming to restart the season in mid-June, with Liverpool just two wins away from the title when the campaign was postponed on March 13 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

For so long the dominant force in English football, the Merseysiders have not been crowned domestic champions in the Premier League era, with the last of their league titles coming when they won the old First Division crown in 1990.

But as teams start returning to training, Liverpool manager Klopp has tried to ease any mounting pressure on his runaway leaders who are 25 points clear at the top.

“Football is a game where everyone is pretty much in the same situation we play against another team and we don’t have to be at our all-time best we have to be at our best possible and that’s exactly the same for the other teams,” he told the BBC’s Football Focus programme.

“Whenever we will start we will have had the same time for preparation and our job was always, and always will be, to use the situation you are in. We will be in as good a shape as possible.”

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Meanwhile the German boss said he was desperate to return to “normal life” after an unexpected two-month break by getting back to Liverpool’s Melwood training base, where players will initially train in small groups.

“Lockdown has been as good as possible it’s not exactly what I want to do but it’s what we all have to do so we try to make the best of it,” said Klopp.

“We started eight weeks ago and now you feel everyone is desperate to get back to a ‘new’ normal life.

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“I have missed the boys the most because we have created a group there not only the boys but all the people at Melwood because we have a really good relationship and we became friends over the last four-and-a-half years.

“We see each other pretty often with Zoom and those things but it’s still not the same and going back to Melwood and doing all the things we usually do is something I really miss.”


#NobleSport…

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Sanchez Will End His Career With Us _ Chile President

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José Luis Navarrete, president of Azul Azul, the company that controls Club Universidad de Chile, discussed Inter forward Alexis Sanchez in an interview with Chilean broadcaster DirecTV earlier today.

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“I spoke with Alexis Sanchez and he is a fan of Universidad de Chile. He wants to retire by playing for the club. I would like to have Marcelo Díaz, Isla, Edu Vargas, Alexis Sanchez, all of them, but you have to be realistic.

“The economic scenario is not brilliant, it will depend on how much they are willing to give up to come to Universidad de Chile.”

Sanchez is set to return to Premier League side Manchester United in the summer, after spending the season in Italy on a dry loan with Inter. The 31-year-old Chilean forward struggled to settle in Milan and never particularly impressed coach Antonio Conte.

He has made 15 appearances across all competitions so far this season, for a total of 596 minutes. In that time, he has scored one goal and provided three assists, missing a large amount of this season after suffering a tendon injury whilst on international duty.

Sanchez’s contract expires with the Red Devils in 2022, and considering his high wages, it is unlikely that he will be able to find a new home unless he agrees to a salary cut.


#NobleSports

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PSG ‘to offer Neymar €38M-a-year deal until 2025’ to ward off Barca interest


Leonardo will offer the Brazilian to extend its contract until 2025 and an annual token of 38 million euros.

Paris Saint Germain is aware of Neymar’s desire to return to Camp Nou, but also the Parisian leaders know that if they can outperform Barça right now it is in economic capacity. At the top of the PSG they still do not support transferring Neymar to Barça and for that reason, they will offer him a millionaire renewal to try to keep him in the Parc des Princes.

According to information advanced by transfer guru Nicolo Schira, Leonardo will give Neymar a renewal proposal until 2025 and with a record of 38 million per season, a figure that Barca cannot reach. With this offer, PSG intends to take advantage of the economic weakness of its competitors, due to the current crisis, to convince Neymar with a checkbook and ensure its continuity in Paris. The Brazilian arrived in 2017 and his current contract expires in 2022.

If Neymar agreed to sign the renewal, it would automatically cancel the possibility of using FIFA to force its exit for more than three seasons without having renewed the initial contract.

Barca maintains the intention of trying to sign Neymar, although the current economic situation makes his return to Camp Nou seem to be increasingly unlikely. Only if PSG accepted a multi-player barter the operation would be possible, but the Parisians do not seem willing to negotiate with Barça.


#NobleSports

Liv Morgan Surprises Lana


As noted earlier at this link, this week’s WWE RAW episode from the XL Center in Hartford, CT saw Liv Morgan return to TV and help Rusev crash the wedding of Lana and Bobby Lashley.

video


WWE released post-RAW footage of what happened after the final RAW of 2019 went off the air on the USA Network, which you can see embedded above. The post-show segment saw Liv and Rusev continue taunting Lana and throwing cake at her while she threw a fit and cried.


The main segment saw the wedding officiant call on anyone who believed the marriage shouldn’t happen, and that’s when a man came forward to call the wedding a sham, claiming to be Lana’s first husband from when she was 18. This man was played by indie wrestler EJ Risk, according to PWInsider. Risk trains at the Create A Pro school and WrestlePro promotion from RAW Superstar Curt Hawkins and WWE Producer Pat Buck.

The wedding continued after Lashley destroyed the enhancement talent, until a woman came out and claimed to be Lashley’s first wife from when he was in the Army. That woman was played by indie wrestler Karissa Rivera, who is a New Jersey indie wrestler that has worked WWE NXT and SmackDown as an enhancement talent in the past. She lost to Lacey Evans on the November 14, 2018 NXT episode, and later teamed with current AEW star Kris Statlander as The Brooklyn Belles for a loss to then-WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions The IIconics on the April 9, 2019 SmackDown show. You can find Karissa on Twitter at @karissa__rivera.


Several wrestlers from Create A Pro were also booked as wedding guests for the segment, according to PWInsider. The officiant was a local actor.

For those who missed it, you can click here to read our detailed article on the RAW closing segment, along with photos and videos from the segment.


#NobleSport…

Carles Aleñã agrees real betis loan deal.


Barcelona midfielder Carles Aleñá has apparently reached an agreement to leave the club on a short-term loan deal during the January transfer window.

The 21-year-old has only made four league appearances this season, while he also started for Barcelona in their last group stage match in the Champions League.

It’s understood that Barcelona’s academy graduate has been pushing for a move away in the build up to the January transfer window, and SPORT (via Forbes) report that Aleñá will join La Liga rivals Real Betis next month.


Carles Alena

Los Verdiblancos have helped to nurture a handful of top midfielders throughout their history, including Fabián Ruiz, Joaquín and most recently Giovani Lo Celso.

Although Aleñá’s appears to have been sorted, Ivan Rakitić recently admitted that he still hasn’t held talks with manager Ernesto Valverde over his future at Barcelona.

Speaking to Sportske Novosti, Rakitić said: “No [we haven’t spoken]. There’s nothing to say, I think everything is clear.


“For me, it’s important to enjoy football. I’m happy to go to training in the morning and prepare myself for a match in the best way possible.

“The most important question for me is if I can play at Barcelona. If I can play, I’m sure that Barcelona is the best place for me.

“We’ll see what happens, but I’m preparing to contribute as much as possible this season. I’ve been here for five years and I’ve experienced my most important moments with Barcelona.”


Elsewhere, Marca also link centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo with a short-term loan move away from Barcelona. The 19-year-old has previously been linked with Manchester United, AS Monaco and AC Milan.

Jean Clair Todibo
As far as incomings are concerned, however, it’s claimed that Valverde’s side will not bring any new players to the club next month.

Barça spent almost £230m on new signings before the start of the season, but that hasn’t stopped new rumours popping up throughout the campaign and the club have most recently been tipped to make a move for their former academy star, Dani Olmo.


#NobleSport…

Everton boss, Ancelotti sets bid for Napoli’s duo.


New Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti might be preparing a raid of his former club Napoli, with the Toffees linked with star attacking duo Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens.

Despite heavy investment over the summer, Everton are desperate to bolster their forward line in the coming January transfer window, and the new boss has reportedly got an eye on two of his former players as possible (if unlikely) winter additions.


Dries Mertens,Lorenzo Insigne
Ancelotti worked closely with Insigne and Mertens during his time in Naples, and according to news outlets Le10Sport and Calcio Mercato (as cited by Sport Witness), the Italian boss is very keen to reunite with his former Serie A stars.

Mertens’ future at Napoli is in doubt, as the Belgium international has failed to negotiate a new contract thus far with I Partenopei, and his current deal is due to expire at the end of the season.

The Toffees could reportedly sign Mertens for £10m – if they agree a deal before 10 January. If the Premier League side fails to get the deal over the line before that date, then they will have to negotiate an agreement with Napoli.


The 32-year-old has been a key player for Napoli in recent years, and he scored an impressive 16 goals under Ancelotti’s tutelage last season. Mertens has struggled along with the rest of his teammates this year however, and their poor showings in the league culminated in the new Everton boss being sacked by the Napoli board at the start of December.

Lorenzo Insigne
Everton’s other target, Lorenzo Insigne, is supposedly looking for a fresh challenge after spending his entire career with his boyhood club.

Le10Sport’s piece claims Ancelotti is very interested in bringing the 28-year-old to Goodison Park, as he is desperate to add some star talent to his side.


Insigne has scored only three goals this season, and the Italian international has come under heavy criticism from Napoli supporters for his poor performances, which have left the Italian club languishing in eighth place.

However, the chance of a player of Insigne’s reputation trading Napoli for a club without European football seems remote.


#NobleSport…

Real Madrid unveils they sets to end Pogba’s pursuit due to a young star.


Real Madrid look set to end their interest in Paul Pogba following the emergence of Federico Valverde as a key first-team player at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The 21-year-old all-action Uruguayan has been a breakout star for Zinedine Zidane’s side this season, earning rave reviews for his aggressive and dynamic displays in central midfield.

Federico Valverde
The South American starlet signed for Real for around £4.5m in 2016 and has made 18 appearances for the club this season, with his market value skyrocketing in the process.


Real have been so impressed by the youngster’s development over the past few months, the club is ready to cease its pursuit of Manchester United star Pogba, according to a report by AS.

Allegedly Los Blancos do not see the need to invest the €150m required to secure the Frenchman’s signature when Valverde is in such impressive form.

Pogba looked set to make the move to the Spanish capital in the summer, with the player seemingly very keen on making the switch. However, the deal was blocked by United with Real president Florentino Perez conceding in August that a completing a transfer before the close of the summer window would be ‘impossible’.


Paul Pogba
This did not stop Pogba being linked with a January switch to Los Blancos and the club were rumoured to be considering offering Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez in a swap deal for the player earlier this month.

Since then Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola has claimed that his client is happy to remain in the Premier League.


“Paul wants to be successful and happy and wants to win prizes and he would love to do that with Manchester United,” Raiola told the Telegraph.

Mino Raiola,Carmine Raiola
“Okay there was big interest from Real Madrid and Manchester didn’t let him go. We didn’t make a fuss about it and he didn’t make a fuss about it because I work in accordance with the player. You know other players can [take] things to extreme but Paul doesn’t like that.


#NobleSport…

Ole Soksjaer Gunner reveals “tikki takka”won’t work out.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has stressed that his side don’t have the ability to play ‘tippy-tappy football’ like their rivals Manchester City.

The 46-year-old has seen his side enjoy somewhat of an uptick in form in recent weeks, with Manchester United losing just one of their last eight games and are now just four points outside of the Champions League places.


United have been heavily reliant on direct and counter-attacking football during the recent run of results, with Solskjaer suggesting that ditching any attempt to play ‘tippy-tappy football’ has been essential for the team.

UEFA Europa League”Manchester United v AZ Alkmaar”
“We do have to make it hard to play against us. We can’t play tippy-tappy football,” Solskjaer said, as quoted by The Express.

“We can’t, at this moment in time, play like Manchester City. It is only City that can do that.


“We have to show more energy, drive, urgency and selflessness in every single game. That is the way we have to play at the moment.”

Manchester United’s improvement in form since November has seen them move to within touching distance of the top four places in the Premier League table – sitting behind just Sheffield United, Tottenham and Wolves.

With qualification to the Champions League now in touching distance ahead of crucial games against Arsenal and Liverpool over the next few weeks, Solskjaer is confident that Manchester United will finish inside the top four this season.


“If we get consistent it is not going to do down to the wire – we should get into the top four without waiting for the last game against Leicester,” he added.

“It could go down to the last game but for me, this team might be challengers for a lot more next year, definitely, because we are young.”


Before facing their top-six rivals next month, Manchester United first face a short trip to take on Sean Dyche’s Burnley at Turf Moor.

The Red Devils haven’t lost against Burnley in over a decade. The Clarets last beat United thanks to a Robbie Blake strike early in the first half, while Michael Carrick also missed a penalty during the match.


#NobleSport…

Wilder and Fury 2 sets to face on 22nd feb,2020

WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder’s much anticipated rematch with Tyson Fury has been announced to take place on February 22nd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Wilder (42-0-1, 40 KOs) will have to make some serious adjustments if he is to prevail, as Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) will be free from ring rust this time around and has the tools to out-box Wilder to a comfortable unanimous points win.


Wilder lost every round last time out against Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz (31-2, 26 KOs) on November 23 on Fox Sports PPV, and looked poor. Deontay cannot show up with the same game plan against Fury and rely solely on one punch.

News:
Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz 2 FOX PPV approaching 275,000 buys
DEONTAY NEEDS TO IMPROVE FOR HIM TO BEAT FURY
Wilder does have his powerful right hand, but he failed to knock Fury out last time, and will need to add more to his repertoire this time out and not just rely on that.


The pressure on Wilder will be huge as the calls to fight IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) will be massive should he beat Fury somehow. There will be no passes on going back to fighting the calibre of opponents he has made the majority of his defences against in the past.

The general consensus is that now is the time for Wilder to step up and take the big fights to cement his legacy.


TYSON FURY HAS NEW TRAINER SUGHILL STEWARD
Fury has teamed up with trainer Sugarhill Steward, and they are currently devising a strategy to KO Wilder and as shown in the last round of their first fight Fury can buzz Wilder after taking his best shots.

Wilder has been with trainer Jay Deas from the beginning and it is unclear if Deas has the tactical nous or know how to put together a plan to beat a fighter like Fury given how Wilder performed in the first fight and against Ortiz.


One thing is for sure, Wilder cannot afford to perform like he did against a fired up prime Fury like he did against Ortiz.

“There’s no more ducking and diving,” said Fury. “The date has been set, and the ‘Bomb Squad’ is about to be securely detonated and the real champion crowned as the world watches on for the most anticipated fight in years. This is unfinished business for me, but come February 22, this dosser will finally get what’s coming to him, and I can’t wait!”


#NobleSport

2-1: Tottenham revenge Chelsea’s win as they home trash Brighton.

Dele Alli got Tottenham back on track as the England midfielder capped a gritty escape act with the late winner in Thursday’s 2-1 victory against Brighton.

Jose Mourinho’s side were in danger of a second successive Premier League defeat when Adam Webster headed Brighton into a shock lead at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

But Harry Kane equalised after the interval and Alli finished off a flowing Tottenham move in the closing stages to erase the bitter taste of last weekend’s acrimonious London derby loss to Chelsea.

Avenging their defeat at Brighton in October, Tottenham, unbeaten in Boxing Day fixtures since 2003, have won three of their last four league games as they try to climb into the top four.

That Chelsea setback was completely overshadowed by the alleged racist abuse of Blues defender Antonio Rudiger by Tottenham fans after his role in Son Heung-min’s red card.

Amid widespread calls for stronger action to stamp out racism in football, Tottenham fans appeared to behave better this time.

Initially, there were worrying signs for Mourinho on the field however as Steven Alzate escaped Moussa Sissoko, making space for a low strike that drifted just wide.

Since Mourinho’s first game in charge of Tottenham, no Premier League team had conceded more goals than the 14 his side allowed across all competitions heading into this round of matches.

Those defensive frailties were on display when Alzate lost his marker and forced Paulo Gazzaniga into a sprawling save, while Aaron Mooy went close from the edge of the area.

Kane has a knack of scoring on Boxing Day and the Tottenham striker thought he had netted again when he fired home from Winks’ pass, but the goal went to a VAR review and was ruled out by the narrowest of offside decisions.


Clinical Kane
Brighton made the most of that let-off to take the lead in the 37th minute.

Pascal Gross swung over a free-kick and Webster rose above Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez to plant a powerful header past Gazzaniga for his third goal of the season.

Mourinho must have been furious that Tottenham wilted against such a simple set-piece and his team’s record of one clean-sheet in his nine matches suggests a defender could be high on his January shopping list.

Underlining the urgency to address that problem area, Brighton’s Bernardo forced Gazzaniga to save from a corner moments later to the audible frustration of the Tottenham crowd on a dank, wet day in north London.

Mourinho, standing rain-soaked on the touchline, revealed before the game that his Christmas was ruined by the death of his family’s pet Yorkshire Terrier.

But Kane put a smile back on his manager’s face in the 53rd minute when he seized on a deflection off Lucas Moura after the Brazilian’s determined run.

Drilling a shot that Mat Ryan could only push back out, Kane gobbled up the rebound with a clinical finish for his eighth goals in five Premier League games on Boxing Day.

Kane’s 16th club goal this season was not immediately a catalyst for a Tottenham surge and Gazzaniga had to be alert to keep out Gross’s fierce free-kick.

But Mourinho made a significant switch when he sent on Christian Eriksen for Harry Winks, who moments before was lucky to escape a red card for a foul when he had already been booked.

Eriksen made an immediate impact in the 72nd minute when he floated a delicate pass to Serge Aurier who flicked the ball into the path of Alli, who guided a superb lofted finish over Ryan.


#NobleSport

How Lenglet defend varane’s challenge during El Clásico clash.

…penalty might have changed that

Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet has defended himself following his challenge on Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane during Wednesday’s Clásico at Camp Nou.

Though it was a high challenge inside his own penalty area, it didn’t result in a penalty being given even after a VAR check, and Lenglet insists the decision must be respected.

The game ultimately finished 0-0 in what was an incredibly dull contest between two of the most famous clubs in world football. A penalty might have changed that, but Lenglet wasn’t penalised after his studs made contact with Varane’s thigh in an effort to win a header.

Both Real coach Zinedine Zidane and captain Sergio Ramos were unhappy, with the latter in particular describing that and a separate shirt pull on Varane as ‘pretty clear’ penalties, but Lenglet stood his ground when quizzed after the game.

“For me, it’s not a penalty,” he is quoted as saying by AS when asked about his challenge.

Lenglet insists he was simply trying to win the ball with his head and any contact with Varane was for leverage in that aerial contest.

“I wanted to get the ball out with my head and give strength to my movement. I used my body and legs for that and, unfortunately, I touched Raphael’s leg,” he explained.

“I’m the protagonist and I know I’m going to clear the ball. I’m not a player who likes to kick people. But if some believe it’s a penalty, it’s up to the VAR. The VAR made a decision and must be respected.”

The result did nothing to the top of La Liga, with Barça and Real level on points – the Catalans are ahead by virtue of a marginally superior goal difference. Sevilla are five points back in third place, with none of the top three winning either of the last two league fixtures.

#Newsworthy…

9 people arrested after El clasico clash turns war.

About nine people have been arrested by police and 46 injured as Catalonia independence protesters threw rocks at police on the night of ‘El Clasico’ the much rivaled match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, which had previously been postponed due to security fears.

9 arrested after El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid turned violent  (photos)

As Barcelona played Real Madrid on Wednesday night at the Camp Nou stadium, masked protesters carrying Catalan seperatist flags in support of Catalonia independence from Spain, set bins on fire and threw glass bottles and rocks at police, who responded with foam bullets in a street outside the stadium.

The protesters, set up barricades in the middle of the street, which they then set on fire after police arrived in dozens of vans.

9 arrested after El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid turned violent  (photos)

This is the first violent protest in Catalonia region since October when Spain’s top court jailed nine Catalan separatist leaders over their role in a failed 2017 bid for independence.

9 arrested after El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid turned violent  (photos)

It should be noted that this classico match which ended 0-0 was supposed to be played in December but was postponed due to serious security concerns and on Wednesday night thousands of Catalonia protesters could be seen chanting “Independence” and “Free political prisoners”

The main goal of the protests is to get pain’s government to negotiate on Catalonia’s right to self-determination and independence from Spain and to achieve freedom for the separatists who were jailed.

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El Clasico – See reactions from fans after Real Madrid and Barcelona match.

The fixture that football fans around the world unite in to glue their eyes towards.

Over the years it has had drama, passion, two of the world’s greatest ever players regularly partaking in it, and more often than not, football of the highest order with goals galore.

Real Madrid and Barcelona have been the top two sides in La Liga for sometime, however, they do say the form book goes out of the window for derby clashes, right? Well, having not beaten La Blaugrana in the league in their last six attempts, during which time La Liga has been won twice by Barça, perhaps that isn’t so.

Either way it was sure to be an engrossing clash at Camp Nou, with both sides level pegging atop the division heading into Wednesday night’s clash.

So, who was going to start for either side? How were the teams going to setup? And…more importantly, was a golfer going to get the nod over youth?

You betcha.

https://twitter.com/ftblaxelV2/status/1207360822047072256

https://twitter.com/eemz_siphiwo

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Short History of Lionel Messi in El Clásico.

The world’s best player takes part in the world’s biggest game – at club level, at least – on Wednesday, as Lionel Messi faces Real Madrid for the 42nd time in his career.

Should he feature at Camp Nou as expected, the 2019 Ballon d’Or winner will equal Xavi Hernandez for the most appearances ever in El Clásico for a Barcelona player. However, Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, barring any last-minute injury problems, will take his own tally to 43 outings – the most of any player on either side.

Interestingly, Barça’s number 10 has actually gone three games against Real Madrid without scoring or assisting (he’s never gone on a streak of four matches) but remains the all-time top scorer in El Clásico, with 26 strikes in total – well ahead of legendary Madrid trio Alfredo di Stefano, Cristiano Ronaldo and Raúl.

All-Time Top Goalscorers – El Clásico
Club Player Liga Cup Super Cup European Total
Barcelona Lionel Messi 18 0 6 2 26
Real Madrid Alfredo Di Stéfano 14 2 2 0 18
Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo 9 5 4 0 18
Real Madrid Raúl González 11 0 3 1 15

Perhaps unsurprisingly, no player has more assists than Messi in the fixture’s history either (14).

First Steps

Messi’s Clásico story began way back in November 2004, when the then-17-year-old was included on the bench for a 3-0 win at Camp Nou.

An equally fresh-faced Andres Iniesta came off the bench in the second half for Henrik Larsson but Messi – who had made his La Liga debut just a month prior – watched from the dugout as Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o tore Madrid’s backline apart.

Ronaldinho,Lionel Messi

One year later, almost to the day, Messi started in his first Clásico appearance at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Now 18, Messi sparkled on the right of the front three, tormenting a side that featured David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Ramos – the latter of whom gave the young Argentine an early shoulder check in what would be the start of many battles to come.

Messi registered the first of his Clásico assists that day, with Eto’o almost pinching the ball off the toe of the youngster as he danced into the 18-yard-box, before poking home for the first in another 3-0 win.

First Goals

It took another 14 months for the first of Messi’s goals against Real Madrid.

In March 2007, Messi – who had missed the previous season’s fixture through injury – made up for lost time by bagging a magical hat-trick in his first-ever Clásico appearance at Camp Nou.

The 3-3 draw marked the teenage Messi’s coming of age performance in some respects, with his darting, weaving and ruthless finishing amping up the Diego Maradona comparisons all the way to 11.

As noted by Sid Lowe in the Guardian the day after the game, one newspaper ran a ‘Spot the Difference’ cartoon showing Maradona and Messi side by side, next to a caption that read, ‘Don’t kill yourself trying – there is no difference.’

Best Performances
Barcelona’s Argentinian Lionel Messi (C)

After that hat-trick, the goals continued with regularity. However, the only other hat-trick (to date) came in the barn-burning 2014 La Liga encounter at the Bernabeu, as Messi scored an 84th-minute penalty to complete his treble and seal a 4-3 win.

Among the Argentine’s most memorable displays include a double in the 6-2 humbling of Madrid in 2009, as Messi played as a ‘false nine’ to devastating effect in Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side.

“It was a plan that Pep Guardiola had come up with especially for this match in order for us to be our most effective,” Messi told FourFourTwo in 2017. “Those big matches can go either way, and I’ve been in games where we’ve conceded four goals to Real and others where we have scored six. It was a fantastic performance from the whole team. I’m not sure whether it was the best, but it’s certainly a match that we will always remember and cherish.”

In the spring of 2011 – during an ill-tempered but historic period as Guardiola’s Barcelona and Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid faced off four times in the space of three weeks – Messi again scored twice to decide the Champions League semi-final at the Bernabeu single-handedly.

His magnificent solo effort as he takes the ball of Sergio Busquets’ toe and jets past Lassana Diarra, Ramos, Raul Albiol and Marcelo before sliding past Iker Casillas remains one of the great Champions League goals.

Undoubtedly, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s other standout moment in Clásico history came in 2017 as he lashed in a 92nd-minute winner to secure a 3-2 win at the Bernabeu, before celebrating by holding his shirt up and presenting it to the crowd.

Barcelona lost out in La Liga and the Champions League that year with Real Madrid taking both, but Messi had proved a point on an individual level. He was the king of the Clásico.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-BARCELONA

Home or Away

Perhaps curiously, 15 of Messi’s 26 Clásico goals (11 out of 18 in La Liga) have come at the Bernabeu, which has been a happy hunting ground for the world’s best player.

Messi’s apparent preference for playing away against Madrid is shared by the rest of the Barça team with the club’s best results in recent seasons often coming away from home.

Curiously, Messi has scored just once at home against Real Madrid since 2012 (excluding the Supercopa). Perhaps even more bizarrely, the last time he netted in a home league victory in El Clásico? 2008.

Messi told MARCA prior to December’s Clásico: “When we play at the Bernabeu, many more spaces are generated. They attack us more because they have the obligation as the host team and people push them for that.

“At the Camp Nou they play another type of match, sitting a little further back, they are closer together and hit on the counter-attack because they have very fast players up front. At the Bernabeu we play 90 minutes equally. Here the game becomes more locked and is more complicated.”

Real Madrid v Galatasaray: Group A – UEFA Champions League

With nothing separating Barça and Real at the top of La Liga and the winter break to follow, Wednesday’s meeting has extra bite – as if it needed it amid the off-field issues involving the rescheduling of the fixture and the threat of further disruption caused by the ‘Tsunami Democràtic’ planned protests.

On the pitch, Barcelona also have the chance to overtake Real Madrid in the head-to-head record for the most La Liga wins in Clásico history (currently both teams have 72 wins).

Wednesday promises to be a historic encounter for one reason or another.

It would be unusual if Messi didn’t have a say.

#NobleSport

Russia banned for four years from participating in all sporting events.

By the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada)…

It means the Russia flag and anthem will not be allowed at events such as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics and football’s 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

But athletes who can prove they are untainted by the doping scandal will be able to compete under a neutral flag.

Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said the ban was part of “chronic anti-Russian hysteria”.

“It is obvious that significant doping problems still exist in Russia, I mean our sporting community,” he said. “This is impossible to deny.

“But on the other hand the fact that all these decisions are repeated, often affecting athletes who have already been punished in one way or another, not to mention some other points – of course this makes one think that this is part of anti-Russian hysteria which has become chronic.”

Wada’s executive committee made the unanimous decision to impose the ban on Russia in a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Monday.

It comes after Russia’s Anti Doping Agency (Rusada) was declared non-compliant for manipulating laboratory data handed over to investigators in January 2019.

It had to hand over data to Wada as a condition of its controversial reinstatement in 2018 after a three-year suspension for its vast state-sponsored doping scandal.

Wada says Rusada has 21 days to appeal against the ban. If it does so, the appeal will be referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

Wada president Sir Craig Reedie said the decision showed its “determination to act resolutely in the face of the Russian doping crisis”.

He added: “For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport. The blatant breach by the Russian authorities of Rusada’s reinstatement conditions demanded a robust response.

“That is exactly what has been delivered.

“Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and rejoin the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.”

But Wada vice-president Linda Helleland said the ban was “not enough”.

“I wanted sanctions that can not be watered down,” she said. “We owe it to the clean athletes to implement the sanctions as strongly as possible.”

A total of 168 Russian athletes competed under a neutral flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang after the country was banned following the 2014 Games, which it hosted in Sochi. Russian athletes won 33 medals in Sochi, 13 of which were gold.

Russia has been banned from competing as a nation in athletics since 2015.

Despite the ban, Russia will be able to compete at Euro 2020 – in which St Petersburg will be a host city – as European football’s governing body Uefa is not defined as a ‘major event organisation’ with regards to rulings on anti-doping breaches.

Fifa said it had “taken note” of Wada’s decision, adding: “Fifa is in contact with Wada to clarify the extent of the decision in regards to football.”

In a statement, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said: “Those responsible for the manipulation of data from the Moscow laboratory before it was transferred to Wada appear to have done everything possible to undermine the principles of fair and clean sport, principles that the rest of the sporting world support and adhere to.

“This sincere lack of respect towards the rest of the global sporting movement is not welcome and has zero place in the world of sport. It is only right that those responsible for this data manipulation are punished.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it “supported” Wada’s decision.

How did we get here?

Rusada was initially declared non-compliant in November 2015 after a Wada-commissioned report by sports lawyer Professor Richard McLaren alleged widespread corruption that amounted to state-sponsored doping in Russian track and field athletics.

A further report, published in July 2016, declared Russia operated a state-sponsored doping programme for four years across the “vast majority” of summer and winter Olympic sports.

In 2018, Wada reinstated Rusada as compliant after the national agency agreed to release data from its Moscow laboratory from the period between January 2012 and August 2015.

However, positive findings contained in a version courtesy of a whistleblower in 2017 were missing from the January 2019 data, which prompted a new inquiry.

Wada’s compliance review committee (CRC) recommended a raft of measures based “in particular” on a forensic review of inconsistencies found in some of that data.

As part of the ban, Russia may not host, or bid for or be granted the right to host any major events for four years, including the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

What was the reaction?

Whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Russian anti-doping official who fled to the United States after his allegations about a state-sponsored doping programme, says there remains “more to do”.

“Finally, fraud, lies and falsifications of unspeakable proportions have been punished in full swing,” he said in a statement.

“Those involved in the corruption of certain sports such as track and field, weightlifting, skiing, biathlon and bobsled, should be punished retroactively. The results of the London and Sochi Olympic Games should be reanalysed and reconsidered with the new knowledge available today.

“We only have a few months to reanalyse the samples from the 2012 London Games because, according to Wada rules, we only have eight years to review.

“There is a whole generation of clean athletes who have painfully abandoned their dreams and lost awards because of Russian cheaters. We need to take the strongest action to bring justice back to sport.”

UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) chief executive Nicole Sapstead said Wada’s decision to impose a ban on Russia was the “only possible outcome” to “reassure athletes and the public and continue the task of seeking justice for those cheated by Russian athletes”.

However, Travis Tygart, chief executive of the US Anti-Doping Agency, said not imposing a blanket ban on all participation by Russian athletes – even under a neutral flag – is a “devastating blow” to clean athletes.

“The reaction by all those who value sport should be nothing short of a revolt against this broken system to force reform,” he said, adding that it was “another horrendous Groundhog Day of Russian corruption and domination”.

“Wada promised the world back in 2018 that if Russia failed yet again to live up to its agreements, it would use the toughest sanction under the rules. Yet, here we go again; Wada says one thing and does something entirely different.”

British powerlifter and Paralympic medallist Ali Jawad, who is a member of UK Anti-Doping’s athlete commission, said Wada had been “soft”.

“To protect the next generation of Russian athletes, we need to make sure Russia and the system is punished to the fullest extent,” Jawad told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“The only way we can change that is meaningful change and what kind of message does this send out to the future generation? That, actually, state-sponsored doping, we are going to treat it softly.”

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson told Radio Wales that Wada has now “stepped up” and moved forward after “not taking it as seriously”.

“There are a couple of things; there will be clean Russian athletes, it is a shame for them, but there are lots of clean athletes that have been affected by anyone who has doped,” she said.

“For the athletes who are clean, the British athletes that have lost out, Goldie Sayers, the British bobsleigh team who get their medals years later, it is no recompense.”

Triple Olympic medallist Kelly Sotherton, who was retrospectively awarded her 2008 heptathlon bronze after Russia’s Tatyana Chernova failed to have a doping ban overturned, says she understands why tougher sanctions were not imposed.

“I think they are thinking of the majority of athletes who are doing the right thing, not the wrong thing,” she said.

#Newsworthy

Chinese top super league club eyeing Eagles asst captain, ‘William Troost-Ekong’

…came to run the rule over troost ekong…

A top Chinese Super League club is preparing a move for Super Eagles assistant captain, William troost-ekong.

Respected French agent of Cameroonian descent, Ivo Chi was spotted in the stands during Udinese’s Serie A match against Napoli on Saturday at the Dacia Arena (Udine).

It was confirmed that the German-based intermediary, who has close ties to Cameroon legend, Samuel Eto’o and scouts for a Chinese club, came to run the rule over Troost-Ekong.

The Chinese club was impressed with the performance of the Nigeria international and is interested in bringing him to China as from the January transfer window.

Ekong extended his contract with Udinese in November, keeping him at the Bianconeri until the end of the 2022-2023 season

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Portuguese, Joao Felix Honored With Award Title “Golden Boy”. (See winners from 2003 till date)

Portuguese and Atletico Madrid superstar, Joao Felix has won the Golden Boy award for 2019 ahead of Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz.

The 20-year-old youngster earned global recognition after scoring 18 goals last season for his former club Benfica . His outstanding performances earned him a £113million move to Spanish football club, Atletico Madrid earlier this summer.

On being named the 2019 Golden Boy winner, Felix said: ‘Thanks to Tuttosport for the Golden Boy Award 2019, I am very proud.

‘It is the second time that a player from Atletico Madrid has won this award and I am happy.

‘Thanks also to Benfica, in particular to coach Bruno Lage for all he has done for me and my family that is always close to me.’

Borussia Dortmund and England footballer, Sancho finished as runner-up for the prize.

SEE PAST GOLDEN BOY WINNERS BELOW.

2003: Rafael van der Vaart

2004: Wayne Rooney

2005: Lionel Messi

2006: Cesc Fabregas

2007: Sergio Aguero

2008: Anderson

2009: Alexandre Pato

2010: Mario Balotelli

2011: Mario Gotze

2012: Isco

2013: Paul Pogba

2014: Raheem Sterling

2015: Anthony Martial

2016: Renato Sanches

2017: Kylian Mbappe

2018: Mattijs de Ligt

2019: Joao Felix

#Newsworthy…

Wilfred Ndidi Celebrates 100th Premier League Appearances. (Details..)

Super Eagles midfielder Wilfred Ndidi celebrated his 100th Premier league appearance on Saturday.

The Leicester City ace who has since become a must play for the club, was happy that the milestone event ended on a clean sheet plus a victory.

The Foxes enjoyed grabbed a 2-0 win over hosts Brighton on Saturday with Ndidi in action for the entire duration of the match as usual. The 22 year old who joined Leicester City from Genk in 2017 expressed his delight over the achievement

“Happy to get a win and clean sheet on my 100th premier league appearance,” he enthused shortly after the Brighton versus.

Read Also: Ndidi excited after scooping MVP award
Ndidi who made 61 appearances for Belgian side Genk scoring four goals before joining Leicester City, has not only made 100 appearances but has also contributed to six of the goals scored by the club

Ndidi who was part of Super Eagles squad that tamed both the Squirrels of Benin Republic and Crocodiles of Lesotho in the 2021 Nations Cup qualifiers has though his performance become a regular for both club and country.

The former junior international who called into the senior national team in 2015, has since made about 35 appearances for the Super Eagles.

Ndidi and his teammates will next host Everton where he and compatriot Alex Iwobi will put aside their cooperation in the Super Eagles to play in the opposing sides for the good of their clubs.

#Newsworthy..

2-1: We had a couple of chances at the beginning and didn’t hit the target – K. De Bruyne..

Kevin De Bruyne says Manchester City know the hard work they have to put in after they came from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1 and leapfrog them into third place in the Premier League.

Liverpool’s late win at Crystal Palace earlier on Saturday meant City started 12 points behind the leaders and looked in danger of failing to cut that gap when N’Golo Kante gave Chelsea a deserved lead midway through the first half.

However, De Bruyne’s deflected strike breathed new life into Pep Guardiola’s men and a trademark left-footed finish from Riyad Mahrez saw City edge a thrilling encounter.

“We had a couple of chances at the beginning and didn’t hit the target,” De Bruyne told media.

“They scored but then we reacted with two quick goals. In the second half we kept it tight — they might have had more of the ball but we created the better chances.

“We don’t care what happens to other teams — Liverpool, Leicester, Chelsea — we have to keep running. We know after the last two years the hard work we have to put in.”

Mahrez said: “It was a difficult game but we reacted very well after we conceded the first goal. This type of game it’s most important to get three points. We’re not going to play very good all the time.”

(AFP)

#Newsworthy…

I would be your friend, father, girlfriend.. whatever you want – Jose Mourinho’s First Speech At Spurs… (Read..)

Details have emerged of the first opening message Jose Mourinho gave to his players at his new club, Tottenham.

The 56-year-old former Man U, Inter Milan and Real Madrid manager was appointed on Wednesday on a deal until the end of the 2022-23 season and will face West Ham on Saturday with the club slumped 14th in the Premier League.

Mourinho who has held two training sessions since his appointment on Wednesday, is said to have spoken to leading players such as Hugo Lloris, striker Harry Kane, Toby Alderweireld, Harry Winks, Eric Dier and Dele Alli and it is believed this was another motivational tactic that can rub off on the rest of the squad.

According to Portuguese media outlet, Record, Jose Mourinho told his players;

“I would be your father, friend, girlfriend, whatever you want.”

He also allegedly was quick to stress that the players are far better than their current league form suggests, with Spurs languishing in 14th position with just three wins from their opening 12 games of the Premier League season.

#Newsworthy…