José Mourinho says Manchester City’s TV series shows they lack class

• United manager infuriated by appearances in City documentary
• Mourinho defends David de Gea and says new deal is imminentJosé Mourinho has criticised Manchester City over their new documentary All or Nothing, accusing the club of lacking class and respect. “If you are a rich club you can buy all the top players but you cannot buy class,” the Manchester United manager said. “I haven’t seen the movie [sic] but I know a few things about it and that is my first reaction.” Mourinho is a well-known controversialist and far from averse to attacks on other clubs and the way they go about their business, though in this case he may have a point. As United manager he features in Amazon’s behind-the-scenes docu‑series far more than might be expected in what is purportedly a documentary about City’s title-winning season; there is even footage of him in Continue reading "José Mourinho says Manchester City’s TV series shows they lack class"

Kevin De Bruyne injury blow exposes chink in Manchester City’s armour

Champions will be relieved Belgian is not out for the season but Guardiola must find a way to overcome loss of his best player In slightly different circumstances 2018 could have been an annus mirabilis for Kevin De Bruyne, arguably the single most important reason why Manchester City won last season’s title by such a convincing margin. The midfielder remains out on his own in terms of quality and creativity, rivalled only by the slightly more fitful Eden Hazard at Chelsea. Yet what looked like a shoo-in for player of the season was derailed by Mo Salah’s insanely compelling contribution to Liverpool’s run to the Champions League final; Belgium lived to regret the win over England in the World Cup that set them on a course to meet France in the semis; and now injury has sidelined the player for at least a couple of months at the start Continue reading "Kevin De Bruyne injury blow exposes chink in Manchester City’s armour"

Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne suffers knee injury in training

• Belgian sent for tests on right knee after injury in training
• Extent of problem is not yet known, say Manchester CityManchester City face losing Kevin De Bruyne for a significant spell in the early part of the season after the midfielder sustained a knee injury in training on Wednesday morning. The Belgian was immediately sent for tests on suspected ligament damage to his right knee. City would not confirm the extent of the injury or speculate on for how long he could be out, saying only that the player had been withdrawn from training and was due to undergo further tests on Thursday. “We do not know the severity of the situation yet, and until all the examinations are complete we cannot comment,” a spokesman said. Continue reading...

Manchester City scout alleged to have used racially inappropriate language

• Dean Ramsdale is Manchester City’s chief youth scout
• Acronym ‘BBQ’ understood to stand for ‘big, black and quick’Manchester City have confirmed they received a complaint last month relating to racially inappropriate language used by a club employee in an external meeting. The club has launched an internal investigation into allegations that one of their senior academy coaches used an offensive term in a meeting where agents were present. Dean Ramsdale, chief youth scout, allegedly referred to black players as “BBQs”, an acronym for big, black and quick. One of those present in the meeting submitted a formal letter of complaint over the incident, which is said to have happened two months ago. Continue reading...

Kepa Arrizabalaga and Alisson show youth beats experience for keepers | Paul Wilson

The old-fashioned assumption that keepers can go on forever appears to be drawing to a closeA debate is still raging over whether the spectacular late winner Wayne Rooney created to help DC United beat Orlando City on Sunday was a highlight of the MLS season or a confirmation of limited standards across the pond, though looked at another way it could be seen as a terrific advertisement for Premier League football. Rooney, lest it ever be forgotten, spent his last couple of English seasons chugging around for little return, frequently inviting the comment he had lost his pace and had grown old before his time. Now he finds himself rejuvenated, looking like a giant among pygmies or the seasoned professional who joins the neighbourhood kids for a kickabout in the park. Continue reading...

It’s back! The ever-changing, unignorable Premier League returns| Paul Wilson

The start of the new league season brings with it countless storylines and points of intrigue, from Liverpool’s designs on the title to Wolves’ step back into the big time It was an enjoyable summer, though nothing actually came home apart from a faintly irritating argument over whether the lyrics of a certain song portray England fans as wistful dreamers or arrogant chumps. Hopefully that discussion can be shelved for four more years now, ideally even longer, for to misquote the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, here comes the unignorable Premier League, prancing up and down the square. Related: Fear motivates Pep Guardiola in his quest for a City that never sleeps Continue reading...

Premier League 2018-19 preview No 4: Burnley

Having finished seventh last season, expectations have been raised at Turf Moor and Sean Dyche is among those reaching for the stars. But a lack of squad depth allied to a Europa League run could prove problematic Guardian writers’ predicted position: 11th (NB: this is not necessarily Paul Wilson’s prediction but the average of our writers’ tips) Last season’s position: 7th Continue reading...

Will Everton’s failed gamble mean top six disappear over horizon?

Last summer’s big spending ended in disaster, which may deter others from trying to catch the Premier League’s eliteThe good news for football followers is that the Premier League will shortly be back. The bad news is that, if your club did not finish in the top six last season, it will almost certainly again be among the 14 also-rans this time round. The even worse news, looking at the evidence of the past couple of seasons, is that clubs “knocking on the door” of the top six – that is, showing ambition in trying to move forward and join the big boys – need to be just as careful over relegation worries as those teams who expect to spend most of their time in the bottom half of the table. Take Everton. Granted they were not relegated last season but they were sufficiently worried to appoint Sam Allardyce Continue reading "Will Everton’s failed gamble mean top six disappear over horizon?"

Sean Dyche keeps Burnley focused on the familiar before Europa League bow

Burnley will face Aberdeen on Thursday without a single new face in the squad and the coach is adamant his priority remains staying in the Premier League Burnley’s prize for finishing seventh in the Premier League is a first European adventure in over half a century. Sean Dyche, now the leading English manager of his generation, insists the club should regard Europa League involvement as a “badge of honour”, which will be fair enough should Burnley actually manage to reach the sunlit uplands of the competition proper. Related: Rangers face ‘a hell of a lot of work’, warns Steven Gerrard Continue reading...

Premier League teams face World Cup hangover after abridged pre-season | Paul Wilson

Seven top-tier sides had 10 or more players on international duty in Russia and only Bournemouth and Fulham are training for the new season with complete squads at their disposalWhether it is possible to have too much football is a question frequently asked during World Cup summers, and one which seems likely to raise its head again when the domestic league programme resumes next month. Related: The rush after Russia – Premier League clubs struggle with new transfer deadline Continue reading...

Maurizio Sarri looks like a subtle change of direction for Chelsea

Stability is not a word often associated with Roman Abramovich but times are changing at Stamford Bridge Chelsea supporters are fond of dismissing Tottenham Hotspur as chokers and nearly men, though at least they know how to hang on to a manager. Mauricio Pochettino has been at the club for four years and agreed a new five-year deal shortly before Antonio Conte found it necessary to pack his bags after just a couple of seasons at Stamford Bridge. Continue reading...

Marcelo Bielsa sets modest target for first season as Leeds manager

• Argentinian cited as big influence by Pep Guardiola
• On Leeds: ‘Not a great idea to make big statements of intent’Marcelo Bielsa did not make any rash promises on being installed as Leeds United’s 21st managerial rethink since dropping out of the Premier League 14 years ago, though he did come up with a vote of confidence for his native Argentina at the World Cup. “I think we’ll see the best of Argentina from the next game onwards,” the former manager of Athletic Bilbao and Marseille said. Bielsa confessed he might not be the best person to judge, given that when he was in charge of Argentina in 2002 when the side did not make it out of the group stage, but he sent his best wishes to the squad currently struggling in Russia. Continue reading...

England’s Dele Alli not shackled by history as he lives schoolboy dream

The Tottenham forward is showing no signs of stage fright and says he is looking forward to the World Cup in RussiaThere is nothing like a World Cup for making one feel old. It is not only the reminder that four years have passed every time one comes round, or even that four or five decades have flown by since events that still seem real and recent. More alarming still is the sudden realisation that what one regards as well-known modern history means little or nothing to the present generation of participants. Take Dele Alli, for instance. Spurs’ midfielder-cum-secondary striker has an impetuous side to his nature that has led to the odd disciplinary issue over the past couple of years, so it seemed reasonable to ask whether he was aware that World Cup referees were often stricter and less forgiving than those encountered in club football. “You know, Continue reading "England’s Dele Alli not shackled by history as he lives schoolboy dream"

Lampard in, Zidane out: welcome to the mad world of management, Frank | Paul Wilson

Zinedine Zidane’s exit from Real Madrid on the same day Frank Lampard took over at Derby County underlines the insanity of the world the former Chelsea midfielder is entering Frank Lampard was minutes into his new job as Derby County manager when the news came through that a vacancy had just cropped up at Real Madrid. “He certainly quit at a good time,” Lampard said, thinking on his feet. “I don’t know Zinedine Zidane’s plans but he will want a holiday, I’m guessing, before he does anything else. You can’t beat that for going out at the top, though. Maybe that’s a lesson to us all.” Related: Frank Lampard spoke to other clubs before becoming Derby County manager Continue reading...

England should use the World Cup as a practice run? What nonsense | Paul Wilson

The squad is young enough to be more or less intact in 2022 but Gareth Southgate’s players must go for broke in RussiaThis is the phoney-war period before the World Cup, the last couple of friendlies are about to commence and in the absence of actual football to talk about side issues such as Raheem Sterling’s tattoos are being blown up into big news. ’Twas ever thus, though admittedly body-art representations of assault rifles are something new, but what is conspicuously absent from the buildup this time is the old fashioned “England expects” note of patriotic fervour. Good riddance, many might say, since over the years the media has been noticeably more enthusiastic than the various captains involved to pose with the flag of St George on the eve of a tournament. It would be encouraging to think the country has finally grown out of such cliched insularity, or Continue reading "England should use the World Cup as a practice run? What nonsense | Paul Wilson"

Kyle Walker: ‘The whole England vibe is different – we’ve taken huge steps’

Kyle Walker believes his humble background has kept him grounded and England’s World Cup team have moved on from Euro 2016 It will soon be a year since Manchester City raised eyebrows by paying £50m for a full-back. Actually they paid £102m for two full-backs last summer, though Benjamin Mendy was to spend most of the season out injured. Kyle Walker, the original defensive investment, has enjoyed such a comfortable assimilation into City’s title-winning side and Pep Guardiola’s way of thinking that the fee is already starting to look a comparative bargain – to outsiders, at least. The traded commodity himself has never worried too much about valuation. “As a player you don’t put a price tag on your own head,” Walker explains, taking a break from England’s preparations for their pre-World Cup friendlies. “You can’t go around thinking: ‘I’m worth that much.’ It is just business that Continue reading "Kyle Walker: ‘The whole England vibe is different – we’ve taken huge steps’"

Real Madrid’s trophy machine bids to set the seal on modern-day mastery

Never mind the record books, Liverpool’s task in Kiev on Saturday is finding a way of beating a team who feel right at home in Champions League finals Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev promises to be that rare event, a meeting of outstanding teams that manages to live up to its billing, though the television trailer advertising the fact that the contestants have 17 European Cups between them is being ever so slightly economical with the truth. The figure is correct, it is just that Liverpool’s proud total of five is dwarfed by the Spanish club’s dozen. Not many teams can make Liverpool feel inferior in Europe, but Real Madrid can. The current holders of the trophy have a habit of making everyone feel inferior. No one else is yet in double figures. No one else has won back-to-back titles in both the original European Cup knockout format and Continue reading "Real Madrid’s trophy machine bids to set the seal on modern-day mastery"

Real Madrid’s trophy machine bids to set the seal on modern-day mastery

Never mind the record books, Liverpool’s task in Kiev on Saturday is finding a way of beating a team who feel right at home in Champions League finals Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev promises to be that rare event, a meeting of outstanding teams that manages to live up to its billing, though the television trailer advertising the fact that the contestants have 17 European Cups between them is being ever so slightly economical with the truth. The figure is correct, it is just that Liverpool’s proud total of five is dwarfed by the Spanish club’s dozen. Not many teams can make Liverpool feel inferior in Europe, but Real Madrid can. The current holders of the trophy have a habit of making everyone feel inferior. No one else is yet in double figures. No one else has won back-to-back titles in both the original European Cup knockout format and Continue reading "Real Madrid’s trophy machine bids to set the seal on modern-day mastery"

Real Madrid’s trophy machine bids to set the seal on modern-day mastery

Never mind the record books, Liverpool’s task in Kiev on Saturday is finding a way of beating a team who feel right at home in Champions League finals Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev promises to be that rare event, a meeting of outstanding teams that manages to live up to its billing, though the television trailer advertising the fact that the contestants have 17 European Cups between them is being ever so slightly economical with the truth. The figure is correct, it is just that Liverpool’s proud total of five is dwarfed by the Spanish club’s dozen. Not many teams can make Liverpool feel inferior in Europe, but Real Madrid can. The current holders of the trophy have a habit of making everyone feel inferior. No one else is yet in double figures. No one else has won back-to-back titles in both the original European Cup knockout format and Continue reading "Real Madrid’s trophy machine bids to set the seal on modern-day mastery"

Harry Kane’s most important job as England captain is to score goals

Having been given the largely irrelevant honour of leading England at the World Cup, the Tottenham forward must not lose focus on what got him the jobGareth Southgate may lack tournament experience as manager of a national team though it is already clear he prefers to remove doubt and uncertainty in favour of getting things done. Name the squad early, announce the captain shortly afterwards, and everyone knows where they stand. That makes it sound as if the identity of England’s captain in Russia is something people have been itching to know for weeks, when in reality the honour just bestowed on Harry Kane is simply a formality that needed to be addressed so it could be moved out of the way. Obviously it is an honour to captain one’s country at a World Cup, though the real privilege, the immortality shot, is to be captain of the Continue reading "Harry Kane’s most important job as England captain is to score goals"