Allardyce reveals key reason Pochettino would reject Man Utd

Sam Allardyce doesn’t think Mauricio Pochettino will leave Tottenham “at the moment” and certainly not to Manchester United.

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The future of Pochettino has been questioned intensely in recent weeks, with the club struggling to settle this season just a matter of months after reaching the Champions League final.

Tottenham are 9th in the Premier League table, having lost as many games as Sheffield United and Brighton, with their 7-2 shellacking against Bayern Munich feeling like the end of an era.

The Argentine has been heavily linked with the managerial role at Old Trafford over the last couple of years and. with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under pressure too, those rumours have surfaced again.

However, Allardyce thinks the lack of quality in United‘s squad would deter Pochettino from taking the reins in the near future.

“I can’t see Mauricio going anywhere at the moment,” Allardyce said.

“At the moment, Tottenham are a better squad than Manchester United – and that is a telling fact.

“It’s alright saying, ‘this is Manchester United, one of the biggest clubs in the world’, but has it got the team to go with it to represent Manchester United?”

Giggs defends ‘streetwise’ James after heavy collision

Wales manager Ryan Giggs called Daniel James “streetwise” to stay down after a heavy collision and insisted the Manchester United winger had passed concussion protocols to continue playing in the Euro 2020 qualifier against Croatia.

James was clattered by Domagoj Vida in the 14th-minute of the 1-1 draw at the Cardiff City Stadium, with the Besiktas defender booked for his rash challenge.

The 21-year-old looked as if he would have to be substituted when a stretcher was sent on to the pitch, but he was able to rejoin the action after receiving lengthy treatment from medics.

“The physio came over but there was no problem,” Giggs said.

“We did all the (concussion) tests at half-time and he was fine.”

James has twice been booked for simulation since joining United in a £15million move from Swansea last summer.

Giggs has defended James in the past, saying he is not a diver and needs greater protection from referees.

But Giggs suggested James was not as badly injured as many had feared after being sent sprawling by the combative Vida.

“He stayed down and was a bit streetwise,” Giggs said.

“He told the doctors ‘I’m not moving, I’m just sitting still’.

“Not to get anyone sent off, he was just using his nous.”

Man Utd and Liverpool legends set to team up at Southend

Henrik Larsson is reportedly in “pole position” to become the next manager of Southend United.

The former Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United forward is also set to appoint former Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt as his assistant at Roots Hall, report The Southend Echo.

Larsson, who has watched the club on two occasions this season – including a 4-1 defeat to AFC Wimbledon  – is the firm favourite to takeover at the League One club.

He is also expected to bring in former Celtic forward Tommy Johnson into his couching team.

Larsson’s last spell in management came with Swedish club Helsingsborg, but quit after he was abused on social media following a defeat to third tier side Oskarshamns AIK.

Southend chairman Ron Martin said that an appointment is close.

“I am now targeting a press conference for Thursday and will confirm that when the ink is dry.” Martin wrote in a statement on Friday.

“I know it’s all been bad news on the pitch and my job is to ensure that changes… hopefully tomorrow. I shall always do my best to get this club back on track and can at least confirm the position off the pitch is looking great.

“Hopefully we’ll have good reason to sing our hearts out tomorrow and in the coming weeks as well.”

 

Southgate ‘not sure’ of returning to wining formula

Gareth Southgate is considering returning to the three-man backline that served England so well at the World Cup in a bid to shore up their leaky defence.

Dreadful individual mistakes in last month’s 5-3 win against Kosovo were compounded by an even shakier defensive display on Friday, when the Czech Republic inflicted the Three Lions’ first qualification defeat in a decade.

Harry Kane’s early penalty was all too easily cancelled out by Jakub Brabec from a corner, with substitute Zdenek Ondrasek sealing a memorable 2-1 comeback win after England overplayed at the back and Jordan Pickford’s clipped pass out was picked off.

Southgate felt a lot of the defensive issues in Prague came from “giving the ball too cheaply”, as well as needlessly allowing the Czechs to show their set-piece prowess.

And while the 57-cap former centre-back did not feel the defence was England’s biggest problem on the night, he is toying with the idea of returning to a back three flanked by flying full-backs.

“I think we are in a difficult situation in terms of the players that have played international football with us in that area of the pitch and who are playing regularly with their clubs,” Southgate said.

“So, that’s part of the reason we didn’t do that (against the Czech Republic).

“It’s certainly something we’ve considered and I don’t think we can dismiss.

“I’m not sure, ahead of Monday, if that’s the right thing to do but we’re very aware and assessing those things.”

John Stones is unavailable through injury this month and Kyle Walker – another member of the back three in Russia – has again been omitted from the group.

Joe Gomez, a favourite of Southgate, is in the squad but is not starting regularly for Liverpool, while uncapped Fikayo Tomori and Tyrone Mings join wobbly Michael Keane and established Harry Maguire as the centre-back options this time.

Asked if there is enough time to implement a defensive switch in system before Euro 2020, Southgate said: “I think so, I think players take in tactical concepts very quickly, especially top players.

“So, we have to keep reflecting on what’s working, what’s possible and learn from every experience we have.

“We’ll learn a lot from (the Czech game). We’ve had straightforward qualifying games that haven’t challenged us.

“(This) was a proper test and we didn’t come through, so it would be naive not to take the lessons from what we’ve seen on the pitch.”

Southgate is “under no illusions as to where we stand” and wants a positive response from his players in Monday’s trip to Bulgaria.

England will qualify for Euro 2020 with a win in Sofia should Kosovo fail to beat Montenegro, but the loss in the Czech Republic will hurt – and perhaps provides a timely reality check as excitement builds ahead of playing much of Euro 2020 on home soil.

“Look, it’s not for me to tell the public not to dream and not to have hope,” Southgate said.

“I think internally, we have to be different and be realistic and we haven’t changed our tone on that at all.

“We know our strengths and we know the areas we have to improve upon. We’ve talked about it throughout the week and we’ve had evidence of it (against the Czech Republic)

“So, I don’t think any of us within the camp are under any illusions.

“To be a really top team, with players with experience of winning the biggest matches, we’re still some way from that.

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“But we found a way to progress through the World Cup with what was a relatively inexperienced team and that’s what we’re always trying to do: to find solutions to bring some good players through.

“The reality of football is you’re not going to cruise through a qualifying campaign like we have unless you’re a super experienced team who have a constant high level of performance.

“So, (this) isn’t a night you want to be involved with because of the record there’s been, and you never want to lose matches as an England manager, but it’s something that will galvanise us and make sure that we look for a response on Monday and moving forwards.”

Man Utd consider €40m January bid for AC Milan striker

Manchester United are mulling over the possibility of making an offer for AC Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek, according to reports.

United have been short of goals and lacking in options following the summer exits of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez and are said to be considering a number of options ahead of the January transfer window.

And while a report on Friday appeared to rule out deals for two veteran striker targets, the Daily Telegraph claims United are intent on pushing forward with their initial interest in AC Milan star Piatek.

The Pole is currently going through something of a goalscoring drought with just one strike in open play in his last 13 games – and that has led to talk that Milan could be willing to sell him to the highest bidder when the transfer window reopens.

And according to the Telegraph, as cited by Calciomercato, United could be set to make a January approach for the player of around €40m (£34.89m), though it’s believed Milan would be hoping to reach a figure of nearer €50m (£43.6m).

However it appears United are not alone in their pursuit, as according to reports on both Pianeta Milan and Calciomercato.it, Barcelona are also keen, having identified the former Genoa man as a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

Meanwhile, a report on the same website claims that Chelsea have now ended their pursuit of Piatek, having previously been suggested they would move for if their transfer sanctions were lifted in January.

Instead, they want to focus on England striker Tammy Abraham, who has eight goals in eight Premier League matches so far this season.

Piatek only last month revealed his love of the English game, but named another Premier League giant as his favoured club as a boy.

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West Ham keeper Fabianski undergoes successful surgery on hip

West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has undergone surgery on his torn hip muscle.

The 34-year-old Poland international faces three months on the sidelines after suffering the injury while taking a goal kick against Bournemouth a fortnight ago.

Hammers chairman David Gold revealed the procedure to fix the club’s reigning player of the year’s muscle had been a success.

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Gold said on Twitter: “Just to update you all, the surgery on Lukasz Fabianski‘s hip went as planned this morning in London.

“He will hopefully be discharged later today. Speedy recovery Lukasz.”

 

Liverpool tipped to sign Bayern forward by Bundesliga expert

Bundesliga transfer expert Kevin Hatchard believes that unhappy Thomas Muller could complete a move to Liverpool in January.

Muller has spent his entire professional playing career with the Bavarian giants having joined the club’s youth ranks at the age of 11 in 2000.

But the one-time World Cup golden boot winner has cut a frustrated figure this term as his playing time has been marginalised to just three Bundesliga starts under Bayern boss Niko Kovac.

That’s due, in the main, to the arrival of Philippe Coutinho on a season’s loan from Barcelona; the former Liverpool playmaker slotting straight into Kovac’s side and marginalising Muller in the process.

Earlier this week, German publication Kicker claimed the player was unhappy with his situation and was looking to move in January – and had a switch to the Premier League very much in his sights.

Manchester United, who tried to sign the player back in the days of Louis van Gaal, have been mentioned as obvious suitors, but German football expert Hatchard reckons a move to Anfield is very much a possibility.

“I think there is a genuine discomfort for Muller at the moment because he’s been on the bench for the last five games,” he told the Liverpool Echo’s Blood Red podcast.

“People go on about his goal output has dropped, but you look at the assists, he is still very much involved in a lot of the good stuff Bayern can do.

“He’s in a position he’s never really been in at Bayern which is somebody who is having to really scrap for a starting spot.

“The arrival of Coutinho has put him under pressure because Muller operates in that No.10 role. It’s probably the biggest challenge of Muller’s career.”

Hatchard added: “I still think he is a very, very good footballer and any top Premier League team would benefit from having him in the building.

“The fluid nature of it would appeal to Muller, without question because his movement is incredible.

“He’s so elusive, he picks up positions a lot of players simply don’t and I think he’d be a huge boost to Liverpool.

“I think Premier League clubs will be on alert.”

 

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Gossip: Real Madrid set on Man Utd target; Gerrard off to Turkey?

THE REAL DEAL

Spanish publication AS bring us news of Real Madrid’s apparent interest in Erling Haaland, who was recently linked with a move to Manchester United. Haaland has four goals in two Champions League matches this season, leading to rumours that United and Arsenal were set to go head-to-head to sign him. The player’s father – former Leeds and Man City midfielder Alf-Inge Haaland – has also played his part to talk up his son’s future. His son though is “f*cking bored” of it.

And now AS have added Real Madrid’s name to the mix with Haaland ‘making the right noises’ in the corridors of the Bernabeu. The 19-year-old ‘fits like a glove’ into Los Blancos’ plans of buying up the best youth in the world. And despite buying Luka Jovic in the summer, Haaland is ‘firmly on their list’.

 

NIGHTS IN ISTANBUL

Turkish football journalist Mehmet Demirkol told BeIN Sports that Steven Gerrard is on a shortlist of candidates being considered for the manager’s job at Besiktas. The Black Eagles find themselves 12th in the table after their opening seven fixtures in the Turkish Super Lig and rumours are rife that they could sack Abdullah Avci. If that happens then Gerrard could be offered the chance to reignite his memories of Istanbul.

The Liverpool legend has been in charge of Rangers for 15 months now, guiding them to second place in the Scottish Premiership last term. After finishing last season nine points behind champions Celtic they are leading their arch-rivals by two points in 2019/20. And that seems to have impressed the Besiktas hierarchy. Cutting his time short at Rangers to head off to Turkey does seem unlikely though…

 

AND THE REST

Phil Parkinson has been added to Sunderland’s list of targets to replace Jack Ross as boss…Newcastle’s newest hero Matty Longstaff earns just £850 a week at St James’ Park…Feyenoord’s teenage midfielder Orkun Kokcu is being tracked by Arsenal, who could launch a £20m January approach for his services…Unai Emery’s job as Arsenal boss could be at risk if his side do not qualify for the Champions League this season…Paul Pogba looks certain to miss next Sunday’s crunch clash against Liverpool, with Manchester United medics fearing he could be sidelined until at least the end of October…David Beckham is targeting Kylian Mbappe as his first blue-chip client as he starts his career as an agent…Liverpool have received assurances that Mo Salah’s presence in Qatar during December’s Club World Cup will not be used for propaganda purposes, amid fears that the Egyptian striker could be pressured into withdrawing from the tournament for political reasons.

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Chelsea prospect reveals summer Juventus interest

Chelsea youngster Juan Familia-Castillo has revealed that he was in line to move to Juventus before he re-joined Ajax on loan in the summer.

The 19-year-old joined Chelsea from Ajax in 2016, but completed a loan switch back to the Dutch giants who also have an option to buy the defender.

However, Castillo has revealed that he nearly joined Serie A champions Juventus before the deal fell through.

Castillo penned a new Chelsea deal – for whom he is yet to make a senior appearance – before completing the loan move to Ajax.

He told Dutch magazine Voetbal International: “Things happened so I finally chose Chelsea.

“Chelsea is a big club, so I am happy with my choice anyway. That I could be loaned out to Ajax, that is absolutely beautiful.

“I was actually supposed to go to Juventus. That was the number one. For some reason, that was cancelled. Now it is up to me to continue.”

Castillo admits he is hoping to make a positive impression back at Ajax and convince the Dutch giants to then activate the purchase option to keep him permanently.

“Ajax loaned me with an option to buy. If I do well this season I hope that I will be bought and that I will get more minutes in the Eredivisie.”

The defender is currently featuring for Ajax’s second string, Jong Ajax, who play their football in the Dutch second tier, and will look to work his way into contention for the senior squad.

Castillo has not made a single senior appearance for Chelsea.

 

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Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold responds to De Bruyne comparison

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold isn’t considering a move to midfield any time soon after Jamie Carragher suggested he could be Jurgen Klopp’s very own Kevin De Bruyne.

The England international has made a bright start to his third full season in the Premier League , scoring a brilliant goal against Chelsea as well as providing three assists.

The comparison was drawn with De Bruyne, who has also made a stunning start to this campaign, with eight assists already.

 

 

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Carragher suggested that the defender’s passing ability and vision could see him take up a midfield role and become Liverpool’s equivalent of De Bruyne.

He said: “People talk about the future and could he come into midfield and be a Kevin De Bruyne type player and he has more quality now that Liverpool’s midfield players and you think about the crosses that De Bruyne puts in from the right midfield position and maybe that’s a position where Trent could play.”

However, Alexander-Arnold has revealed he is fully focused on becoming one of the best defenders in the world, reports the Manchester Evening News.

“Maybe one day it will happen, but right now the manager sees me as a right-back and that’s where I’m going to play,” he said while on international duty with England.

“I just want to play football and if a manager decides he wants to use me as midfielder or a centre-back or a striker then that’s where I’ll play.

“I’m a defender first and foremost and then obviously I want to try and help the team create chances.”