Steven Caulker:’ I’ve sat here for years hating myself … This year was nearly the end’11 hours ago
The QPR defender talks powerfully about his struggles with mental illness, his addictions to gamble and drinking and why he is thankful still to be alive
Steven Caulker has a narrative to tell and, as hard as it is to hear, it is best simply to listen. His stream of consciousness veers from scoring on his England debut less than five years ago and the thrill at potential being realised to the horrific mental health issues that have almost aimed it all in the period since. A player who, from the outside, seemed blessed with talent and possibility speaks of desperate anxiety and self-loathing.
He contemplated killing himself in his darkest moments with his track one of self-destruction. Attempts at escapism expense him hundreds of thousands of pounds, wages frittered away in casinos. Then came the drinking is targeted at numbing the pain. The 25 -year-old detects himself recollecting the times spent in custody watching CCTV footage of his misdemeanours, his lawyer at his side, and not recognising the vile person on the screen.
Football is still coming to words with mental illness and Caulker, an international and a last lingering reminder at Queens Park Rangers of financially misguided days as a Premier League club, has been an easy target. He is not seeking to make excuses or win sympathy. These are details he determines painful to recount. Ive sat here for years disliking myself and never understand why it is I couldnt merely is just like everyone else, he tells. This year was almost the end. I felt for large periods there was no light at the end of the passageway. And yet he has not placed a gamble since December, or touched alcohol since early March. The mending process that they are able restore him to the top level is well under way, with this interview, one he sought out, potentially another step on the road to recovery.
A little under a year ago Caulker had spoken to the Guardian about a life-changing week were used in Sierra Leone, of humbling yet inspiring charity work with ActionAid that had provided him with a sense of perspective. He returned to be galvanised under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at Loftus Road and, having spent the previous season on loan at Southampton and Liverpool unfulfilling stints which fuelled his latent insecurities was ready to give his all. Early season performances against Leeds and Cardiff suggested confidence had been restored, reward for a summer of incessant fitness work.
The trigger that would send him spiralling to rock bottom would be injury. He tore his groin at Barnsley and played in pain for weeks, dreading a spell back in rehabilitation, before succumbing to an associated hip grievance. I owed it to QPR to try, he tells, but I was naive thinking I could still perform with the tear. He has not played since last October, with the period marked by personal turmoil and, merely of late, revival. Talking publicly, he suggested, may point younger players towards trying assistance if they find themselves treading the same route, or experiencing the same sense of desertion, in a brutal industry. The real hope is the workout, as brave as it is, may ultimately prove more cathartic for Caulker himself.
He recognises his football ability as a gift but also a curse. It took him from Sunday League at 15 into the Premier League four years later, to the 2012 Olympics with Great Britain and into Roy Hodgsons England side for a friendly in Sweden subsequently that year. His talent has persuaded some of the most respected managers he is worth seeking. Yet, while he could still get away with it on the pitch, he lived in denial. It was more than six years into his career before he accepted he needed help. You always think you can rein it back in again and the money provides a false sense of security. But at Southampton I realised, mentally, I was gone. I wasnt playing, my career was going nowhere and I had to reach out to someone. The doctor there tried to help me but others were just telling me got to go on the pitching and express myself.
There was no understanding as to what was happening in my head. I know theyd brought me in to do a job and they werent there to be babysitters. Simply like at QPR, I needed to justify the money the latter are paying me but I was in a state and, at some phase, there has to be a duty of care. Football does not deal well with mental illness. Maybe its changing but the support mechanisms are so often not there. Ive spoken to so many players who have been told to go to the Sporting Chance clinic and theyve rejected because they know, if they take time off, theyll “losing ones” place in the team. Someone steps in and does well, so youre run. That dissuades people from get assistance. You feel obliged to get on with things.
I would recommend chaps to speak to the PFA, to speak to their administrator, and not be scared about being dropped if they are feeling like I did. Be brave enough to say you need help before its too late. The nervousnes Id always needed something to take the edge off. Football was my escape as a kid but that changed when I was chucked into the first team as a teen and suddenly football came with pressure. My way of dealing with it, even in the early stages of my career, was gambling. Im an addict. Im addicted to winning, which people say is a positive in football but certainly not when it extends to gambling. I was addicted to trying to beat the organizations of the system, because you convince yourself there is a system to it and you can beat it. You can never get your head around why you arent.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
She could have been a top US soccer player. Problem was, she was undocumented3 days ago
Allyson Duarte was good, worked hard, and dreamed of playing soccer at a top US college. But she soon learned talent means nothing when you dont have papers
She came to America to chase a soccer career only to learn that talent means nothing here when you are undocumented. Now 25 -year-old Allyson Duarte sits inside an airport named Reagan, gazing at a city called Washington, and wonders which politicians will ruin their own lives next.
Through a giant window at Reagan national airport she can see the US Capitol gleaming in the late-day sun. The day before she had been inside under its dome with 1,000 other Dreamer- undocumented high school graduates brought here as children like her- asking Congress to pass a Dream Act that protects high school and college graduates without criminal records.
But as she waits for a flight back to Texas, where she has lived since eighth grade, she worries that supportive words from representatives and senators might not be enough, a legislative solution won’t be reached for Dreamer and he will be shipped back to Mexico.
What is the American Dream any more? Once she thought she knew. That was back when she was 13 in Veracruz, Mexico, wanted nothing more than to access the US soccer system, go to college and play professionally. She believed the American Dream all the way through high school in McAllen, Texas, where she had a 3.8 grade point average and an ability to play almost stanceon the field. She thought those things alone would get her into almost any top soccer school, until she realise those colleges sometimes flew to away matches and because she had no government ID she wouldn’t be able to get on the planes. If she couldn’t fly, she couldn’t play college soccer.
By the time Barack Obama generated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012 letting her to procure a work permit( that lets her fly) her chance to play college football had passed.
” I was this close ,” she says, leaning forward in her seat, pinching her thumb and index fingers virtually together.” That’s how I started questioning meritocracy and the American Dream. I had to grapple with their own problems of not having access to the American Dream .”
Then she slumps back in the chair, sighs heavily and gazes in silence at the city that has reduced people like her to a television talking point.
As a child, Duarte loved soccer, playing it every day on the street outside her mothers’ home in Veracruz. She didn’t care the other players were all boys. She could play rough. She could play fast. When she was 12 she joined a local women’s club. The players were all 18 and essentially adults. But playing with them stimulated her realize how good she could be. She was convinced she could play professionally.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Manchester City’s plan for global dominance12 days ago
The long read: Football has already been transformed by big money but the businessmen behind Man City are trying to build a global corporation that will change the game for ever
On 19 December 2009, Pep Guardiola stood and wept in the middle of Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The 38-year-old Barcelona manager clasped a hand across his face as his body gave way to huge, shoulder-heaving sobs. Zlatan Ibrahimović, the club’s towering Swedish striker, wrapped a tattooed arm around Guardiola’s neck and then gave him a vigorous push in order to jolt him out of it. But Guardiola could not stop. It was a strange place for the world’s most celebrated football coach to break down: Barcelona had just won a game that few people watched on television to secure one of football’s most obscure titles, the Fifa Club World Cup. But the victory secured an unbreakable record: Barcelona had won all six titles available to any club in a single year. That is why Pep was sobbing.
Back at home in Barcelona, it was a bittersweet moment for Ferran Soriano. A hairdresser’s son from the city’s working-class district of Poblenou, Soriano had become one of FC Barcelona’s top executives – and had helped build what could now claim to be the greatest football team the world had ever seen. “I was happy, but it was also painful not to be there when the team reached its pinnacle,” he told me. Instead, he picked up the phone and called Guardiola.
Soriano had overseen Barcelona’s finances for five years until 2008, and the club’s record owed much to the ideas he had developed after running a US-style political campaign to bring a group of swashbuckling, sharp-suited young men to power at elections for a new board of directors in 2003. He had even written a book, La Pelota no entra por azar (“The ball doesn’t go in by chance”), in which he argued that Barcelona’s success – and, by inference, that record – was the result of good, creative business management. Vicious political infighting had driven him to resign from the club the previous year. But even before that, he had seen one of his more ambitious ideas – to set up franchise clubs in other countries – thwarted at Barcelona. This was a step too far for a club owned by 143,000 voting fans, firmly rooted in their city and Catalonia.
But Soriano’s big idea has now been brought to life by two men who were watching very closely on the night Guardiola wept in Abu Dhabi: one is a member of the United Arab Emirates’ ruling family, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and the other is Khaldoon al-Mubarak, a youthful executive and adviser to the royal family. With their backing, Soriano is now upending football’s established order by building its first true multinational corporation – a Coca-Cola of soccer.
That corporation is City Football Group (CFG). It already owns, or co-owns, six clubs on four continents, and the contracts of 240 male professional players and two dozen women. Hundreds more carefully picked teenagers and younger children who aspire to greatness play in CFG’s lower teams. The longterm ambition is huge. The company will trawl the world for players – shaping and polishing them in state-of-the-art academies and training facilities across several continents, selling them on or sending the best to the clubs it will own (and improve) in a dozen or so countries. Supplied and shielded by the vessels around it, the flagship of this new football flotilla – Manchester City FC – will continue its already startling rise to become the world’s greatest club.
That is the Soriano idea – or at least, a simplified version of a complex plan. The corporation is only four years old, but it is rapidly becoming one of the most powerful forces in the world’s favourite sport – watched with awe, envy and fear by those who wonder if it could become football’s own Google or Facebook.
In a game where top players cost £200m, televised matches attract audiences of hundreds of millions and club owners are among the wealthiest potentates on the planet, no expense is spared in seeking any competitive edge. Once upon a time, money alone was enough to make the difference (if it was spent wisely), but that is no longer the case, in part because there is so much of it sloshing around the game.
When Manchester City won the Premier League in 2012, Sheikh Mansour was widely accused of “buying the title for £1bn” – the amount of money he had poured into City since purchasing the club four years earlier. It was City’s first major trophy in 36 years, and grown men cried when Sergio Agüero’s goal in the penultimate minute of the season’s final game secured the title. Mansour watched it on television: he had only ever been to one match at City’s Etihad stadium, and did not enjoy the fuss his visit caused. In the hours that followed, his phone hummed, filling up with 2,500 messages.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
MLS preview: why the Hudson River Derby isn’t this weekend’s big game15 days ago
The two best teams in the West meet on Saturday, and Dallas and Colorado should serve up a treat for the fans
Colorado and Dallas clash in game of the weekend
This is a real lip-smacker. Dallas have surged to 40 phases, and stand clear at the top in the West. Colorado are on their tail, three points back but with three games in hand. Colorado are unbeaten in 14 games; Dallas have won four of the last five. Dallas score objectives, and plenty of them; Colorado have the leagues best keeper and a superb defensive record, having conceded merely 13 all season. Forget the derby in New York: this is the weekends biggest game.
Its a difficult game to predict , not least because Dallas have the unfortunate they are able to capitulate when things arent gone wrong. Their home kind is awesome, but all six of their defeats this season have come away from Toyota Stadium, and they havent managed a objective in any of them. When theyre good, theyre very good; when theyre bad, theyre horrible the 5-0 recent thumping by Seattle a case in point.
But they come into this one after sneaking a 1-0 US Open Cup victory over their competitors Houston on Wednesday. Fabian Castillo followed up his breathtaking rabona assistance against Chicago with a last-minute objective at BBVA Compass Stadium, and set Dallas into the last four.
Colorado, who didnt play in the week, might offer a stylistic contrast from Dallass all-action style. In the is a lack of the influential Jermaine Jones, coach-and-four Pablo Mastroeni might be happy for his team to sit in, protect Tim Howard, and take their chances when they come.
Possession can be your friend, Mastroeni said in the week, but it can also be your greatest enemy. As weve learned this year as well, some of our adversaries best opportunities came from us turning the ball over in bad regions.
The Hudson River derby, part three
Two weeks after New York City FC and the Red Bulls is in conformity with their second derby of the season, were at it again. The conference-topping NYC FC travel to Harrison for the latest instalment of a growing rivalry.
Dont expect another 7-0, though. The Red Bulls havent been in the best of form lately, and things came to a head with some selection terms from their captain after their 2-2 depict against Philly last week. Dax McCarty slammed his team-mates for having no spine, and Sacha Kljestan told: We played like sons , not humen.
Just in case his on-field tactics dont work up, coach-and-four Jesse Marsch got the mind games in early, and encouraged Sundays referee to disregard any antics from NYC FCs stars. If[ David Villa ], Pirlo or Lampard get touched, they go down, they depict pollutes, they draw yellow cards, Marsch said. Its an epidemic across the league of these referees who simply want to give the benefit of the doubt to star players. Well ensure who gets assigned to this game and well see if he can handle the business.
Vieira, on the other hand, has been relaxed in the build-up, and its easy to see why: his side have won five of the last six, and theyre three clear of Philly at the top of the East. Things seem to be coming together for the team: Frank Lampard has been among the goals, David Villa is as reliable as ever, and No1 draft pick Jack Harrison has brought energy and dynamism in midfield.
Lampard has been maligned, perhaps unfairly, for not playing enough since joining from Manchester City last year, but the former England star is in fine kind. Im loving playing at the minute, Lampard said. Being injured is frustrating for anyone. I was especially frustrated. I couldnt do what I wanted to do, and thats contribute and score goals and help the team.
Dont bet against another objective on Sunday.
Orlando Citys new coach to watch the Lions
Orlando City have a new man at the helm. Jason Kreis, the former Real Salt Lake and NYC FC coach, was announced as Adrian Heaths replacing earlier this week, and will watch from stands as the Lions aim to end their four-match winless run against Columbus. He takes over officially on Monday, so Bobby Murphy and Anthony Pulis will continue in the interim.
Kreis was unveiled at a press said he wasnt concerned right now with outcomes. Hes taking a longer-term opinion, and the message to fans was simple: dont expect Orlando to win MLS Cup any time soon. The most immediate priority for me is an off the pitching issue, Kreis said. I need to get with the team and dictate to them and try to spell out clearly our vision for the club going forward, what it is going to mean to be an OCSC member, and ask the players if thats what they want. If you want to be here it requires a certain sum of commitment and sacrifice, and, if you do not want to be here, we need to learn that quickly and move you on.
Columbus, one place back of Orlando in ninth, have attempted to solve some of their defensive issues by signing Norwegian defender Nicolai Naess from Stabaek in Norway. The Crew have mined a rich seam in the Norwegian Tippeligaen its where Steve Clark and Ola Kamara came from but Naess wont have completed his paperwork in time to feature against Orlando.
I think Nicolai, for such a young age, has played a number of top-flight games in Norway, Crew coach Gregg Berhalter told. Being 23, we assure a lot of potential in him. Hes not afraid to put his body in front of the ball and adversaries. He plays with a lot of passion and a lot of attempt while still being a skilled defender.
An upgrade at centre-back was needed ever since Gaston Sauro sustained a knee trauma in late May, but with Columbus riding a seven-game winless streak, more acquisitions are likely required, particularly in assault. The Crew have won merely three of 19 league games this season, and as we enter the second half of the season, specific comments on their report card are clear: must do better.
Montreal look to get going at home against Philadelphia
It was big news in Quebec: Real Madrid were in town to train with the Impact. There were hugs between Zinedine Zidane and Didier Drogba, and the hope for Montreal is that some of Reals stardust will rub off on a talented squad thats hit the skids in recent weeks.
For the Montreal Impact it means a lot that Real Madrid are developing here, given the history of the club, Drogba said. Its important to see how such a major team go about the performance of their duties. Real Madrid is a really great club and an extremely prestigious one. Its an honour to have them here.
The Impact have gone off the boil after a good start to the season that insured them pick up four wins from the first six. Since then, theyve managed simply two wins from 13, which isnt good enough for a squad containing the quality of Drogba, Igancio Piatti, Dominic Oduro and Lucas Ontivero. Drogbas form, though solid, has dipped from the earlier heights, and the team seems to be treading water just now. Its imperative they do more at Stade Saputo.
In the second half[ of the season] we need to improve our home record, without question, coach Mauro Biello told. We have to be much better and maximize our phases. If we can do that and continue the form weve had on the road, well be contending with the top squads in the East.
They take on a Philadelphia Union squad that, alas, wont be going to a third straight US Open Cup final. Fabian Herbers tied things up for Philly at the end of 90 minutes against New England Revolution on Wednesday, and after a goalless 30 minutes of extra time, it went to penalties. Andre Blake couldnt repeat his heroics from earlier in the game, though, and when Brad Knighton stopped Sebastian Le Toux and CJ Sapong, the Revs went through to the semi-finals.
Coach Jim Curtin had only kudo for Blake, named an All-Star earlier this week. I dont like when he makes saves, to be honest, because I feel theres things we can do to prevent[ the shoots ], Curtin told. At the same time, when we do get broken down, hes there to bail us out. Hes playing in top form. Theres no astound that he is an All-Star this year and will be starting against Arsenal.
Real Salt Lake take over San Jose after historic conflict against Inter
Fans of MLS may have perturbed to hear that RSL had pulled, and later reinstated, the credentials of a Salt Lake Tribune journalist who was felt to be insufficiently positive about the team, but we got back to football matters on Tuesday when RSL entertained Inter in a mid-season friendly in Utah.
The game created a little piece of history: it was the first time Salt Lake have faced a European club at the Rio Tinto Stadium, and just the third day overall. Stevan Jovetics audacious last-minute backheel devoted Inter a 2-1 win, but video games, which featured a number of Inters top stars, including Samir Handanovic, Miranda and Mauro Icardi, was notable for the performance of RSLs children, many of whom were called up from the USL affiliate Monarchs, and the eye-catching showing of Jordan Allen, who opened the scoring in the first half.
When he plays that stance he does things differently than our other No10s, RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said of the homegrown starring. Were able to get into behind a little bit more and cause the defense some problems. Jordan is learning the things that he is able to be successful with. Now hes able to play quicker. Hes learning really fast and I believe his ceiling is actually high and hes getting better and better.
In spite of some arousing assaulting talent, RSL have cooled off just recently, and have just one win in seven. A gap is beginning to open up between them and the top three. Right now, its a busy hour of the year, Cassar said. Its a period where we need to get results and get points and set ourselves in a position for the playoffs. I fully believe that if we take care of that, the other things will fall into line.
The up-and-down Quakes are 6-7-6 this season, which is classic mid-table sort, but such is the depth of quality in the Western Conference, they find themselves down in eighth, merely two places off the bottom. And the evidence for Friday nights televised clash points to a home win: the Quakes havent won away all season, and RSL are unbeaten at home.
Last week San Jose got their first win since June 25, a fiery 2-1 victory against Toronto, and coach-and-four Dominic Kinnear reckons that might kickstart their season. Things were against us in all regions of the evening, but the position was fantastic, Kinnear told. This is the type of game that could certainly be a turning point. The dubious red cards presented to Anibal Godoy and Alberto Quintero in the TFC were reported the coming week to have been repealed, although were still is looking forward to official confirmation from the league.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Carlo Ancelotti the archway firefighter who always pays his route | Richard Williams2 months, 1 day ago
Latest book about Bayern Munichs new director says he saw the end coming early at Chelsea and Real Madrid, and discloses the unstinting admiration of Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The captains of industry and cultural rainmakers who form the usual casting of a weekly-newspaper feature titled Lunch with the FT tend to use the opportunity to make a public demonstration of their ascetic personal habits. A small salad and a bottle of sparkling water is usually enough to induce the point about what disciplined lives they lead.
Not Carlo Ancelotti.
When the man who has won the European Cup twice as a player and the Champions League three times as a manager sat down with an FT journalist last week at a favourite Italian eatery in Mayfair, he began by ordering an 82 bottle of Guidalberto, a red wine from Tuscany. I dont need to try it, he told the waiter. I know this wine.
The contents of the bottle vanished, along with a selection of starters and a doubled order of lobster with tagliolini. You like grappa? Ancelotti asked the journalist, who prepared to honour the FTs custom by paying the bill with a twinge of anxiety when it came to a few pennies short of 250. He got out his card, merely to discover that Ancelotti had already come to an arrangement with the proprietor. No fuss.
At Ancelottis home, you always eat well, Adriano Galliani says. The long-serving general manager of Milan, Galliani was the buffer between Silvio Berlusconi and Ancelotti during the latters eight years as the team administrator, from 2001 to 2009( quite a accomplishment, given that in the past 20 years Berlusconi has hired and fired 13 managers , not counting caretakers ).
Galliani is one of the witness whose evidence appears in Quiet Leadership, Ancelottis new volume of semi-autobiography. Co-authored with the management studies expert Chris Brody and the former Chelsea director of football operations Mike Forde, it is probably intended to be racked in the business studies shelves at airport bookshops. But like its predecessor, published just as Ancelotti joined Chelsea in 2009 it is also a treasury of anecdote and insight.
Everyone likes the man who is about to take over at Bayern Munich, which is why the books other voices include Cristiano Ronaldo, Alex Ferguson, Paolo Maldini, John Terry, Alessandro Nesta and David Beckham. They all have affectionate things to say about him as a human his personal warmth, his tactical flexible, his humour, his tendency to lapse into Italian on the rare occasions when he loses his mood in the dressing room but their narratives, and his, create a picture of one style of managing a football squad: a rational approach to the job of operating a team amid the climate of lunacy found at the top of the European club football pyramid.
At Real Madrid, Chelsea or Paris Saint-Germain, however, rationality is generally in short supply. There is nothing he would love more than to recreate the sense of family he enjoyed with Milan, involving himself in a long-term project, but age and experience please give him a philosophical posture to the whims of proprietors such as Roman Abramovich, presidents such as Florentino Prez and directors of football such as Leonardo, an erstwhile friend by whom he feels betrayed.
At Chelsea he was impressed by the requirement to attend 10 meetings to discuss his ideas before being offered the job. He won the Doubled straight away but in his second season, he writes: I find the end coming months before it did, just as I would subsequently at Madrid. He[ Abramovich] would try to convince me, with all my experience to the contrary, to be stronger, tougher and more rigorous with the players. Ive heard it before and Ive heard it since, but he was wrong they are all wrong. What they hire me for is to calm the situation at a club by building its relation with the players. At some later stage that is not the approach they want any more and the relationship with the owners not the players, but the owners begins to worsen. They hire me to be kind and pacify with the players and then at the first sign of trouble along the way thats the very characteristic they point to as the problem.
Those who think of him as soft might come away from the book watching virtue in a willingness to listen to the believes of others and to step back when necessary. He lets Terry take on the job of persuading Didier Drogba to stop diving and exaggerating traumata, knowing that the lesson in English football etiquette would come more powerfully from an English player. He describes consulting Andrea Pirlo on the revolutionary positional shift that turned a very good player into a great one.
He is impressed when Beckham, before making a deal with Berlusconi and Galliani for a loan period with Milan, calls him up first. He is smart enough to know that, with his profile, it could be that he is being pressed on to a manager for reasons other than football. So he contacted me directly and would like to know whether I wanted him to come to Milan. I told him Yes. We trusted one another to speak the truth.
He is, however, a pragmatist. If Berlusconi wants to come to the dressing room to tell his gags, he writes, I have to understand that it is his dressing room. When Ronaldo indicates that he does not want to play alongside another striker in a 4-4-2 formation, Ancelotti thinks to himself: Who am I to argue? How can I change the position of a player who scores 60 aims a season? So I had to find a solution.
If he moves to a club that does not want him to bring his own support staff, he simply adapts. Bringing in tried and trusted lieutenants sounds sensible, he writes, but presumably they were also at your side when you were sacked from your previous task. I giggled at that, and thought of the newspaper pictures of Rui Faria at Jos Mourinhos side this week, while the Portuguese provocateurs negotiations with Manchester United were going on.
Ferguson writes that he tried to persuade Ancelotti to succeed him. It didnt quite work up, he says. Another time, maybe. Thats an interesting statement which might even turn out to be prophetic, bearing in mind the fact that Ancelotti has some experience of putting out Mourinhos fires.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has played for and admires them both, and who currently appears certain to start next season in Uniteds colours, makes an interesting comparing between the Italian and the Portuguese. Jos Mourinho knows how to treat a footballer, he says, but Carlo knows how to treat a person. He also pays the bill.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Tottenham’s Harry Kane strikes four in 6-1 thrashing of Leicester2 months, 10 days ago
Spurs Harry Kane scored four goals to take the lead in the Golden Boot standings while Son Heung-min added two in their sides 6-1 stunning win at Leicester
A team does not necessarily need a title to depict their class, although Tottenham Hotspur do crave one. Spurs demonstrated their excellence at the King Power by swatting aside last seasons champs with regal aplomb and, in the process, Harry Kane struck four goals to enhance his chances of being crowned as the Premier Leagues top scorer for the second season in a row. His tally for the campaign stands at 26, two more than Evertons Romelu Lukaku with one round of matches to go. Spurs cannot catch Chelsea but they have no intention of stopping their glory hunt.
Son Heung-min contributed to the rout here by scoring Tottenhams other two aims. That amounted to six damaging blows to Craig Shakespeares prospects of landing the Leicester managerial chore on a permanent basis. Ben Chilwell scored for the home squad but that was no consolation to their caretaker manager. There are no positives, said Shakespeare. We were totally second-best.
Shakespeare should not be judged too harshly on this performance, as the main cause of this thrashing was Tottenhams exceptional slickness and their encouraging bloodlust. Mauricio Pochettino had demanded his team maintain their high standards despite the title being beyond them. They had faded at a similar stage last season once Leicester get beyond their reach so the Argentinian wanted to see evidence of a positive evolution since then. His wish was granted, and this time Leicester were left looking like a rabble.
Our attitude and internal motive was good, said Pochettino. We have been talking a lot about why we finished so badly last season. This type of performance shows that the team is improving and has learned a lot from last season. This is fantastic.
Leicester constructed the better start but began to tremble as soon as Spurs bared their teeth. That was the beginning of a nightmare for Yohan Benalouane, including with regard to, as the centre-back was made to look ditzy by Spurs artful attackers. Especially Kane. The striker threatened to open the scoring a couple of times before he eventually did so in the 25 th minute.
Toby Alderweireld uncovered flat-footedness in Leicesters rejigged defence by falling a long pass over them from deep inside his own half. Christian Fuchs, a makeshift centre-back, failed to cut it out and Benalouane undermined the offside strategy. Son took advantage, scampering on to the ball before playing a square pass to Kane, who scored from close range.
Spurs began to run amok. They increased their lead 11 minutes later with a sumptuous objective, an intricate move culminating with Dele Alli scooping the ball over the head of Benalouane before Son swept a volley into the net from 10 yards.
At half-time Shakespeare had to find a way to stop the bleeding, at the least. He introduced Islam Slimani for Shinji Okazaki and Leicester made a strong start to the second period. In the 59 th minute their uprising assembled momentum when Chilwell scored with impressive equanimity. Hugo Lloris had rushed out of his box to intercept a pass to Jamie Vardy but Leicester kept possession and when the ball was played to Chilwell, the 20 -year-old sidestepped a defender and stroked it into the net from 12 yards despite Eric Diers attempt to clear off the line.
Belief in a home comeback lasted four minutes. That is how long it took Spurs to re-establish their superiority. Alderweireld cantered down the right and floated a cross to the back post, where Victor Wanyama headed it back across to Kane, who nodded in from two yards. Eight minutes later Son struck again, ridiculing Wilfred Ndidi at the leading edge of the box before sweeping a low shoot into the net. The uprising had been quashed with imperious style.
Kane was not finished. He had his eyes on a personal prize as well as an emphatic team triumph. He rifled in a low 20 -yard shot to complete his hat-trick, then fired in his fourth in time added on. That was the first four-goal haul of his career and he acknowledged he was driven by his pursuit of Lukaku at the top of the scoring charts.
Id be lying if I said I wasnt, he said. I was looking to take it into the last game, but now Im in the driving seat. Im not resting on my laurels, and Ill go to Hull[ on Sunday] looking to get four more hopefully.
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Lucas Leiva: a role model who is leaving Liverpool after 10 rollercoaster years2 months, 16 days ago
The Brazilian, who has joined Lazio, was heavily criticised where reference is joined from Grmio in 2007 but earned the respect of his team-mates and the 30 -year-old will be sorely missed in the Anfield dressing room
Lucas Leiva had heard the lament many times before but it was still a astound when it was repeated at his testimonial dinner by Jrgen Klopp. An atypical Brazilian “wouldve been” politest summary of the Liverpool managers on-stage tribute in April, when he devoted thanks that he could at least rely on Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino to sprinkle the team with ingenuity and flair. It ran unsaid but Liverpool could rely on the duo less-heralded compatriot for almost everything else.
The Liverpool squad have lost their longest-serving player with Lucas 5m transfer to Lazio. The club is not losing its most gifted or decorated player and many is likely to be bemused by any fuss over the midfielders departure after 10 years but Klopp is losing an asset that he, and Liverpool managers before him, came to trust implicitly and value for his influence on and off the pitch.
That Lucas remained at Liverpool long enough to have a testimonial tribute and Klopp was the fifth director to appreciate its own contribution reflects a successful fight for recognition. He exits having constructed 346 competitive appearances for the club he joined from Grmio for 5m in 2007 and with a certain degree of respect that would have been difficult to see during his initial conflicts in Rafael Bentezs team. Lucas competed with Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano for a central midfield stance and was judged by their lofty criteria. The shouts of shoot, shoot whenever Lucas took possession in his final game at Anfield, against Middlesbrough on the last day of the season, when Liverpool reclaimed entry into the Champions League, underlined how far his relationship with supporters had come.
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For all the Russia 2018 describe razzmatazz, darknes cast by Olympics takes off gloss | Martha Kelner2 months, 22 days ago
Moscow stages the World Cup draw on Friday but Russias systematic doping at Sochi 2014 and beyond has undermined what should be footballs crowning glory
The darkness will be thick and the temperature below freezing in Moscow when the first ball is drawn but the historic snow-dappled domes of St Basil’s Cathedral remain visible from the Kremlin palace even at night.
As a set for the World Cup describe it is a perfect showcase, the imposing houses of the fortified complex and Red Square totemic of Russian power and influence. There are Christmas suns, an ice skating rink and hot sausage stallings in the shadow of one of the most uncompromising political regimes of the modern era.
That contrast between fun and fear will be embodied by next summer’s World Cup. A chance to watch Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, to follow England around this vast country but also the knowledge that the host country has serious questions to answer on its attitudes to race, sexuality and human rights. It is understood Vladimir Putin, although not a football fan, will provide an opening address at the depict, keen presumably to take advantage of the political capital on offer.
For all the understandable wariness of Russia 2018, Moscow has offered a window into what the World Cup may be like when it gets under way on 14 June. Access has been closely controlled by the security services but an army of volunteers, decked in red, demonstrated an eagerness to please and experiences have been mostly positive.
The foreign media, often cast as an foe faction by Putin, were treated to a special performance by the Moscow State Academic Theatre and offered gifts of notepads and Russian dolls from the 11 host cities.
” There is an exhilaration about the World Cup ,” one local said.” People are looking forward to it and want to put one over a present- but perhaps not as much as before the Olympics when it was thought it could change how the world viewed Russia. They’ve learned how incorrect the latter are .”
Sochi 2014 and the systematic doping that blighted that event and at least the three preceding Olympics has only reinforced negative views of Russian culture, its attitude towards athletic and fair play. On Thursday evening, as Gordon Banks and Fabio Cannavaro spoke of their pleasure at being chosen by Fifa as draw deputies, news filed through of another two positive narcotics tests from Russian athletes at London 2012. Of 226 samples collected from Russian athletes who participated in London and retested, 21 have been dirty.
Vitaly Mutko, the country’s athletics pastor at that time, is now not only Putin’s deputy but the head of the Russian FA and will be a key figure at the describe. This is despite the publication this week of diaries belonging to the Russian doping whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, a former head of the Moscow drug lab, which detail sessions with Mutko and offer the strongest evidence yet that Mutko fully knew of the systematic doping programme.
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Golden Aim: Esteban Cambiasso for Argentina v Serbia& Montenegro( 2006) | Gregg Bakowski3 months, 2 days ago
It took 25 pass for Argentina to score their second in a memorable World Cup 2006 win but for Jos Pkerman it was the realisation of years of work
There can be few things in life more satisfying than watching years of hard work culminate in one fleeting but beautiful moment. In 2006 Jos Pkerman stood in the technological region at Gelsenkirchen and experienced just that, bathing in the warm glow of fulfilment as he saw the stars align in 54 glorious seconds.
Two years earlier, Pkerman had been entrusted with the Argentina job, succeeding Marcelo Bielsa, with whom he shared many deeply held beliefs about how the game should be played. The appointment induced perfect sense. Pkerman could try to improve on the fine but flawed work of his meticulous predecessor but better still, he would be working with players whom he had helped to sculpt into steely winners in his role as the under-2 0 coach.
Between 1994 and 2001 he supervised a golden era of Argentinian youth football, winning the World Youth Championship three times in four tournaments. It was an unprecedented period of success with Juan Pablo Sorn, Esteban Cambiasso, Pablo Aimar, Juan Romn Riquelme, Javier Saviola and Maxi Rodrguez among the players whom Pkerman schooled in a highly effective kind of possession football that he hoped would serve Argentina well in the future. Underpinning his doctrine was the keenly held belief that a composed approach will always be rewarded more richly than a hurried one.
This was something he tried to drum into his under-2 0 players on a personal level as well as a tactical one. He left Aimar, among his most heralded players in 1997, on the bench for the final of the World Youth Championships in Malaysia, apparently with the sole intention to teach him the lesson that haste, whether on the football pitch or in progressing a career, isnt always the best style forward. Having had to wait for his chance to manage Argentina after a career that weaved in and out of football following the early curtailment of an undistinguished playing career, Pkerman knew the value of patience.
There were signs in the buildup to the 2006 World Cup that Argentina could be a force with a manager at the helm who knew the players so well. None more so than at a raucous Estadio Monumental on 8 June 2005, when just under 50,000 fans bore witness to a devastating first-half display in which Argentina danced around a spellbound Brazil, their rhythmic passing providing a joyous backing way as they raced into an insurmountable 3-0 lead against the world champs to seal World Cup qualification. There was also a rare glimpse of peak Riquelme, with the enigmatic playmaker swivelling away from Roque Jnior with graceful ease before unleashing an unstoppable 25-yard ten-strike into the top-left corner.
Freeing Riquelme to influence games as a imperil metronome was the chief reason that Pkermans side were so easy on the eye in Germany. There had been criticism in Argentina that Riquelme was often have been able to get away with too much in matches, paying scant regard to tracking back and scoffing at the idea of winning back possession. But the truth is that by playing one or both of Cambiasso and Javier Mascherano behind him, most of the time Riquelme didnt need to.
When Mascherano stole the ball with Ivory Coast on the attack and Argentina only 1-0 up in the first group game in Germany, they looked perfectly set for a scald counterattack. Instead, Argentina took eight considered touches, never accelerating the move until within striking distance. It was Riquelmes wand of a right boot that set up Saviola to stab home. The patient approach had worked again and given us a clue of what was to come. It appeared Pkerman had come up with the magic formula. The grumblings of acceptance for Argentinas style of possession football afterwards would become a chorus following the game against Serbia and Montenegro.
Among Argentina advocates there was a whiff of anticipation about what was possible against Serbia and Montenegro. Two years earlier the same sides, containing a good portion of the players lining up in Gelsenkirchen, had met at the Athens Olympics, which Argentina went on to win. The rating? Argentina 6-0 Serbia and Montenegro.
Perhaps that is why Argentina had a swagger about them from the start. Six minutes into the game, a delicious move on the left resulted in Saviola bursting into the box, where he poked the ball across to Rodrguez to jab home and prompt Diego Maradona, high up in the stands, to begin merely the first of his many crazed festivities that evening. It would take a further 24 minutes for the lead to be increased, but it was a period in which Argentinas grip on the game became so unbearably tight that something had to give. It did. The most wonderful objective, as Hernn Crespo described it.
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Celtic beat Lincoln Red Imps to put Champions League slip-up behind them3 months, 9 days ago
Celtic beat Lincoln Red Imps 3-0 to seal a 3-1 win on aggregate following the shock 1-0 defeat in the first leg of the Champions League qualifying tie
Lincoln Red Imps will prove nothing more than a footnote to the tenure of Brendan Rodgers at Celtic.
There should never have been any real doubt about that, the obvious raising of eyebrows after the Northern Irishmans first competitive game in charge of the Scottish champions resulting in defeat in Gibraltar aside. Celtic were the overwhelming favourites to turn this Champions League qualifying tie around on their own turn and duly did emphatically. In front of a close-to-capacity mob, Rodgers presided over a summertime stroll that was over as a competition within half an hour.
Even Celtics manager, in time, may raise a smile when the issue of Gibraltar is raised. Scottish football has not yet sunk to depths where glaringly limited sides such as the Red Imps can prevail over two legs. The next round, where Astana of Kazakhstan lie in wait, will provide Rodgers and his humen with a different exam entirely. Yet, Rodgers has visibly raised high levels of optimism during the course of its early weeks in post.
I was delighted with the attitude of the players, Rodgers said. I was delighted with the way we took to the game right from kick-off. We scored three but I believe their goalkeeper stopped it being doubled figures.
I am pleased to qualify. That was the objective here. The intensity from the start was outstanding.
By round three, Celtic hope to have added necessary depth of talent to a lopsided squad. Rodgers has targeted a centre-back and a winger as matters of priority. We have another difficult tie-in, on a plastic pitching, but we will be ready for it, Rodgers said of Astana.
Rodgers had not so much been taken aback by the scale of reaction to last weeks loss in Gibraltar as refused to cow to it. The former Liverpool manager played down any sense of first-leg shock and, in doing so, staunchly refused to scold his players. That approach was notable and perhaps admission of shortcomings of his own, the deployment of two holding midfielders among them. Within one Glasgow half, Rodgers sense of calm had been fully endorsed.
Celtics set-up was altered here. A three-man defense was utilized, with Leigh Griffiths and Moussa Dembl afforded opportunity to stake their suit as a forward pairing.
The hosts swarmed around the Red Imps from kick-off. Celtic believed they had a 10 th-minute penalty, only for the referee to alter his decision and award a free-kick instead. Griffiths flamed that over.
Within seconds, Callum McGregor had crashed a shot off the crossbar.
Already, there was inevitability attached to Celtic squaring the affiliation. McGregor was denied again with 18 minutes played, this time by a terrific low save from Ral Navas. Mikael Lustig was to provide the opening objective, the Swedish defender swivelling before turning the ball home. Red Imps had earlier failed to clear a Stuart Armstrong free-kick from Celtics right flank.
Griffiths soon doubled the Celtic advantage. The striker, so prolific last season, continued this theme with a fierce drive from 18 yards. Only 25 minutes into the game, it was already a matter of how many Celtic would choose to score. Red Imps were chasing shadows.
Patrick Roberts notched the third and one are worth praise, despite the lowly level of opposition. The Manchester City loanee danced through the visiting defence, playing a neat one-two with McGregor before rendering an equally composed finish. Roberts was the standout musician of the opening period and a constant menace to a bamboozled Red Imps defence.
Celtics superiority entailed the second half was always likely be an exercise in “re going through” the motions. It duly transpired as such. Red Imps had brief flirtings with the edge of the Celtic penalty area but never seemed to have the faith or talent to make that presence counting. At the other aim, Navas saved brilliantly when Griffiths bore down on goal.
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