The five months in Italy that shaped Diego Simeone's managerial career

21-02-2019 Before Simeone took charge at Atlético Madrid, he kept Catania in Serie A – thanks in part to a great result against JuventusBy Greg Lea for These Football TimesIt is difficult to overstate Diego Simeone’s achievements as Atlético Madrid manager. When he replaced Gregorio Manzano in December 2011, the club appeared to be consigned to mid-table in La Liga. They had won the Europa League 18 months before he arrived at the club under Quique Sánchez Flores, but a pair of fourth-place finishes in 2008 and 2009 were the height of the club’s domestic achievements in the previous decade. The season before Simeone took over, Atlético finished behind Valencia, Sevilla, Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao in seventh place, 38 points behind champions Barcelona and just 15 above the relegation zone.That Atlético smashed the seemingly impregnable duopoly Barcelona and Real Madrid had established in La Liga to lift the title in 2014 – just three years into Simeone’s reign – is nothing short of sensational. He had already secured the club’s 10th Copa del Rey and another Europa League and Super Cup in his first two campaigns, as well as reaching the 2014 Champions League final, but his triumph in La Liga was undoubtedly the pinnacle. It is impossible to fluke your way to a league championship. Continue reading...

Harry Kane returns to Tottenham training prior to Burnley trip

21-02-2019 • England captain tweets picture of Spurs return• Kane has been out since 13 January with ankle injuryHarry Kane has handed Tottenham a fitness boost after posting a picture training alongside his teammates.Kane is expected to return to action ahead of schedule in Spurs’ Premier League match at Burnley on Saturday. Continue reading...

'Solari the stopgap with bigger name to come' - what is going on at Real Madrid?

21-02-2019 The relatively unknown Santiago Solari has been placed in charge of Real Madrid - but he is not likely to be in the role for long, writes Andy West.

What is the longest gap between two meetings of the same football teams? | The Knowledge

21-02-2019 Plus: sent off after scoring a hat-trick, outscoring your age in a season and putting a corner flag to different use. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU“When Newport played Manchester City in the FA Cup, it was the first time that the fixture had been played for more than 56 years,” writes Mark Meadowcroft. “The last match, on 24 October 1962 (2-1 to City at Maine Road in the League Cup) was at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the week after Love Me Do first charted. Is there a longer gap between two meetings of the same opponents?”Yes there is, Mark. Our first suggestion comes from Simon Cook: “Arsenal played Brentford on 26 September 2018 in the League Cup, 71 years after their last meeting on 26 May 1947.” Continue reading...

Sports quiz of the week: managers, money, metal medals and monikers

21-02-2019 Who defied his age? Who scored quickly? Who made a packet? Matt Kuchar earned $1.3m in prize money for his victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. How much did the golfer pay his caddie?$5,000$130,000 $300,000 $1.3m Why does Anthony Joshua’s next opponent, Jarrell Miller, go by the nickname “Big Baby”? He takes a cuddly toy with him wherever he goesHe weighed 10 pounds at birthHis first opponent called him that before the opening bell – and was quickly knocked outHe lost a betJoshua is fighting Miller on 1 June. Which other sporting event is taking place that night?The last game of the Six Nations The Cricket World Cup final The men’s singles final at WimbledonThe Champions League finalWho scored a hat-trick in 30 minutes this week?Sergio Agüero Eden Hazard Roberto Firmino Jonny MayPaul Scholes made his managerial debut this week. Which footballer announced his retirement on the day Scholes made his playing debut way back in 1994?Bryan Robson Gary LinekerDiego Maradona Glenn Hoddle Gordon Banks, who died this week aged 81, is most famous for winning the World Cup with England in 1966. In which country did he play his last game as a professional footballer in 1977?Republic of IrelandEgyptCanada UruguayDeclan Rice says he wants to play for the England football team. Why has his decision gone down badly with some Irish supporters?He grew up in Northern Ireland and played for their Under-21 team He was born in the Republic of Ireland He has already played three matches for the Republic of IrelandHe was in the Republic of Ireland squad for Euro 2016 but didn't playThe organisers of next year’s Olympics in Tokyo say the medals will be made from…Metals mined from below the stadium in Tokyo Old phones and computersShipwrecks found off the Japanese coastMetal found in the Acropolis in Athens Where is the best team in the southern hemisphere meeting the best team in the northern hemisphere this weekend?Wellington WichitaWiganWinnipegMatthijs de Ligt captained Ajax against Real Madrid this week in the Champions League. What is remarkable about that?He only made his debut in August He has already signed to play for Real Madrid next season He is still a teenagerHis brother captained the team in their previous match 1 and above.Nine wrong answers in a multiple-choice format. Impressive2 and above.Eight wrong answers in a multiple-choice format. Impressive3 and above.Chin up. There's always next week4 and above.Chin up. There's always next week5 and above.That's a fine score. Well played6 and above.That's a fine score. Well played7 and above.That's a fine score. Well played. 8 and above.That's a super score. Well played9 and above.You star. Have a great weekend0 and above.Ten wrong answers in a multiple-choice format. Impressive10 and above.You legend. Have a great weekend Continue reading...

Pep Guardiola: Newport were chanting 'Who are you?' It was nice – video

21-02-2019 Pep Guardiola praised his Manchester City players, in particular Phil Foden, as they beat Newport County 4-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.Newport had beaten both Leicester City and Middlesbrough on their way to the fifth round of the tournament, and contained the Premier League leaders well for significant spells of the game.  Continue reading...

The Fiver | Unfit to face inferior players who have hardly run a lap since Christmas

21-02-2019 Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now!Buoyed, cheered and generally heartened by the sight of Tottenham Hotspur piling some Big Cup hurt on German league leaders Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night, Arsenal fans can look forward to some fun of their own when their team goes toe to toe with the works team of a tractor factory in Belarus tonight in Euro Vase. Bate Borisov are the opposition in the first knockout round and while most of their players are unknown outside their native country, there will at least be one recognisable face among the ranks. Continue reading...

Blame it on the bogey: player banned for 'clearing contents of nose' at opponent

21-02-2019 Nico Lee incident occurred in game against Connacht‘It is difficult to imagine how an act of this sort could be worse’Toyota Cheetahs centre Nico Lee has received a 13-week ban after he “cleared the contents of his nose” on to an opposition player’s face.Lee was cited following the incident, which happened during South Africa-based Cheetahs’ Guinness PRO14 game against Connacht in Galway last Saturday. Continue reading...

Bury’s Ryan Lowe: ‘Jürgen Klopp complimented me on my style and system’

21-02-2019 Manager has made his club one of the Football League’s most free-scoring sides – and a visit to Guardiola is in the diaryIf you were asked to guess the highest-scoring teams in the top four divisions, you would pick Manchester City straight away. Norwich would not take too long. A bit of thinking would lead you to Luton. But a team you might not get but are right up there with the most prolific in the land are Bury.The Shakers are the entertainers of League Two, with 85 goals in all competitions this season, playing with a gung-ho style that looks good fun but is probably not a relaxing watch for their supporters. Continue reading...

Leroy Sane: How the Schalke schoolboy became a Premier League star at Manchester City

21-02-2019 Leroy Sane's former teachers and coaches tell the story of his "amazing rise" from Schalke's youth academy to starring for Manchester City.

Manchester United take ‘massive belief’ into Liverpool game, says Ashley Young

21-02-2019 • United at home against league leaders Liverpool on Sunday• Wins at Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea have brought confidenceAshley Young has said Manchester United’s victories at Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea have given Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side “massive belief” as they prepare to face the league leaders, Liverpool, on Sunday.The 2-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Monday means United have won 11 of the 13 games the Norwegian has taken charge of since succeeding José Mourinho after the defeat against Liverpool at Anfield in December. Their only defeat came against Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie last week. Solskjær has seen his side set up a sixth-round meeting with Wolves in the FA Cup and move up to fourth place in the Premier League. Continue reading...

Welsh connection will not distract Billy Vunipola from England’s cause | Andy Bull

21-02-2019 The No 8 lived in Wales as a child but says he is committed to helping England win their crucial Six Nations encounterPeople say love comes in different shapes and sizes, and in Wales on Saturday it will be 6ft 3in and 20st 7lb. Billy Vunipola says he wants to show the Welsh just how much he cares by helping England win at the Principality Stadium. No joke.Vunipola moved to Wales when he was six years old, and he has so much affection and respect for the people he knows there that he will be using those feelings as fuel for the “emotional battle”. After all, Vunipola says, when you are looking for motivation “love works better than hate because you have a clear mind. With hate you think everything’s wrong and it’s not your fault.” Continue reading...

Manchester City hail purchase of Chinese club as ‘exciting new chapter’

21-02-2019 • Sichuan Jiuniu FC are the seventh club to be part of CFG• Ferran Soriano says China is an ‘extremely important market’Manchester City’s parent company has announced the joint-purchase of a seventh club, Sichuan Jiuniu FC, who play in China’s third tier.City Football Group (CFG) have bought the Chengdu side together with China Sports Capital and Ubtech. It is the next step in CFG’s involvement in China, having previously opened offices in Shanghai and Shenzhen. Continue reading...

Talking Horses: Gordon Elliott on his big-name Cheltenham contenders

21-02-2019 The trainer has plenty of horses heading to Cheltenham for what could be a memorable festival for his stablesThe top trainer at the Cheltenham Festival for the last two years, Gordon Elliott spoke at length on Tuesday about his prospects for next month:Apple’s Jade, 9-4 Champion Hurdle Continue reading...

Warren Gatland ensures Wales leave nothing to chance against England | Ben Ryan

21-02-2019 The head coach’s inside knowledge means a greater insight into what to expect in the crucial Six Nations encounterWhen you have already coached the world-class talent in the team you are playing against at the weekend, it’s fair to say it won’t do you any harm. Information gleaned from reams of video or the brains of performance analysts will give you a pretty good picture. However, the experiences you have gone through and the intimate knowledge of the opposition’s key figures turns all that into 4K resolution.Warren Gatland will have felt his vision is particularly sharp this week. On Saturday, two great rivals go toe-to-toe in what is certainly the biggest matchup between the two since the pool game at the World Cup in 2015. The plan for Wales going into the 80 minutes in Cardiff will be as clear and concise as Warren Gatland has ever produced. From his time with the British and Irish Lions Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, Elliot Daly, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes and more will be known to Gatland way beyond any match analysis. He knows how they play, what makes them tick and what they are capable of. Continue reading...