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Author Archive for Daniel Taylor

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Nemanja Matic’s Manchester United move may leave Chelsea feeling blue | Daniel Taylor

It was risky for the champions to help rivals solve a problem, something Manchester United try hard to avoid, as players such as Wayne Rooney and Gabriel Heinze can testify

It was the cartoon, published on the Daily Telegraph website a few years ago, that probably demonstrated the perception at the time that the man in charge of Manchester United’s transfer business was straying dangerously close to getting the reputation of being a bit of a pushover.

Entitled “Manchester United and the Transfer Market” and published shortly after the arrival of Ángel Di María and Radamel Falcao, the cartoon showed the club’s executive vice‑chairman, Ed Woodward, walking into a convenience store called Costless and asking to be shown the “very finest” chocolate they had for sale before handing over £80 for a Mars Bar.

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Eni Aluko ‘hush-money’ case: FA bows to pressure and reveals findings

England footballer paid £80,000 after bullying complaint, but barrister found insufficient evidence to uphold claims

The Football Association has bowed to growing pressure surrounding the Eni Aluko “hush-money” case by revealing the reasons why the barrister they employed to investigate the matter cleared the England women’s team manager, Mark Sampson, of allegedly making a comment with “racial and prejudicial” connotations to the player.

Related: FA under pressure to explain £80,000 payment to Eni Aluko after bullying complaint

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FA facing calls for greater transparency after Eni Aluko payment

• Aluko paid £80,000 as part of agreement following bullying complaint
• FA needs to move away from ‘white old men’ culture, says campaign group

The FA is facing calls for greater transparency over the Eni Aluko “hush-money” case and is being urged to do more to move away from a culture of “stale, pale, white old men” in keeping with its promises to promote equality.

Football’s governing body is facing new questions after the Guardian’s revelations that Aluko was paid £80,000 as part of an agreement following a bullying complaint – not upheld by the FA – featuring an account of how one of her younger team-mates in the England women’s setup was upset by a “highly inappropriate” comment from Mark Sampson, the national team manager.

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FA under pressure to explain £80,000 payment to Eni Aluko after bullying complaint

• Forward complained to FA about culture of bullying and harassment
• Aluko alleges manager Mark Sampson made remark with ‘racial connotations’
• Independent inquiry found no case for disciplinary action against Sampson

The Football Association is facing questions over why it paid “hush money” to international footballer Eni Aluko after it emerged that a bullying complaint against the England manager, Mark Sampson, included an allegation that he made a remark with “racial and prejudicial connotations” to another player.

Aluko, one of England’s most recognisable female footballers with 102 caps, was paid around £80,000 to sign an agreement that the FA claims was to “avoid disruption” ahead of this summer’s Euro 2017. Aluko’s lawyers believe that the agreement she signed prevents her from speaking about it but the FA insists she is now free to talk about the facts of the case.

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Danny Rose the rebel causes thorny problem for Daniel Levy and Spurs

The Tottenham chairman, renowned as a tough negotiator, risks a major mutiny if he does not increase wages significantly

They tell a story at Manchester United that probably sums up why the previous regime at Old Trafford had a policy never to do business with Tottenham Hotspur and Sir Alex Ferguson once remarked that hip surgery was more enjoyable than trying to find common ground with Daniel Levy when it came to money. It goes back to Luka Modric’s final season at White Hart Lane when Ferguson was tipped off that the Croat would be keen on a move to Manchester to fill the void left by Paul Scholes’s retirement. In ordinary circumstances, Modric would have been the ideal fit. These, however, were not ordinary circumstances. Ferguson had never forgotten what it was like dealing with Levy in the protracted transfer saga he referred to as “the Dimitar Berbatov carry-on” and when he raised the matter with David Gill, United’s chief executive, the two men agreed they didn’t have the stomach to go though the same again. As good as Modric was, they simply couldn’t countenance another negotiation involving the Spurs chairman.

As football administrators go, it is certainly difficult to think of anybody else with Levy’s reputation for driving the people with whom he is negotiating to the point of spontaneous combustion. Ferguson, to put it into context, regarded Modric as one of the finest passers in the business and, five years on, probably still thinks the same. Yet he and Gill preferred to watch the player join Real Madrid rather than reopen lines of communication with Spurs. Gill had been there before with Levy and, to borrow a line from Billy Wilder: “I’ve met a lot of hardboiled eggs in my time, but you’re 20 minutes.”

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QC makes fresh appeal for victims of sexual abuse in football to come forward

• Inquiry head Clive Sheldon says testimony can be given anonymously
• ’We have reached a crucial stage, hearing directly from survivors of abuse’

The QC in charge of football’s independent review into the sexual-abuse scandal has made a fresh appeal for victims to come forward and help the authorities in their “search for the truth”.

Related: The football child abuse scandal just keeps on growing

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Wayne Rooney rekindles his Everton love affair and wants to play up front

Wayne Rooney revealed he is looking forward to the Merseyside derby more than going back to Old Trafford and also that he wants his England place back

If nothing else, it was a more polished performance than the first time Wayne Rooney staged his own press conference, on a January evening in 2003 and the occasion of his first professional deal for Everton. At 17, Rooney was so unprepared for the barrage of flashing cameras the words stuck in his throat and his audience could hardly hear him speak. David Moyes told him off for chewing gum and there was an awkward moment, after his first uncertain words, when he reached for the bottle of water on his table. Rooney was about to swig straight from it until Moyes intervened. “Pour it in the glass, Wayne,” came the advice.

Related: Wayne Rooney and Everton are well placed for a fruitful and warm reunion | Nick Ames

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Bob Higgins, former Southampton coach, charged with 65 counts of child sexual abuse

• Higgins due in court this month on charges relating to 23 complainants
• The 64-year-old was a youth coach at Southampton and Peterborough

Bob Higgins, a former youth coach at Southampton, has been charged with 65 counts of non-recent sexual abuse against boys and is due in court this month.

Higgins, 64, will appear at West Hampshire magistrates court in Southampton on 20 July to face allegations relating to 23 complainants. All the alleged offences are understood to be indecent assault.

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Barry Bennell charged with 14 further counts of historical child sexual abuse

• Charges relate to four complainants and allegedly took place from 1979 to 1991
• Former professional football coach now faces a total of 55 charges

Barry Bennell, once regarded as one of football’s greatest talent-spotters, is now facing a total of 55 counts of sexual abuse against boys as young as 11.

Bennell, 63, will appear at South Cheshire magistrates court in Crewe on Wednesday week after being charged with 14 new offences, allegedly committed from 1979 to 1991.

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Gareth Southgate: ‘There is no magic wand for England, that’s the reality’

• England manager angered by defeat against 10 men in Paris
• Southgate: ‘Our game without the ball has to improve in all areas’

Gareth Southgate has given a bleak assessment of England’s status on the back of their demoralising defeat by France and made it clear “there is no magic wand” to help the national team back to a position where they can cope against elite opponents.

Southgate, reflecting on only three wins from eight games in charge, said every part of the team needed improvement and admitted the 3-2 defeat at the Stade de France, against a side who had to play with 10 men for virtually the entire second half was the first time since taking the job he had been angry with his players in the dressing room.

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Joe Hart defiant but Scotland goals undermine his England No1 status

The England goalkeeper Joe Hart defended his performance in the 2-2 World Cup qualifying draw with Scotland but acknowledged: ‘This shirt’s not mine’

It was difficult, listening to Joe Hart’s version of events, not to suspect he was putting on a front at a time when there has to be a legitimate debate about whether someone in his position – no future at Manchester City, no idea where he might end up next and, perhaps understandably, little of the old assuredness – still warrants his place in the England team.

Hart had just been through the videos of the two free-kicks Leigh Griffiths had put either side of him during that wild finish to England’s 2-2 draw in Scotland and there was no indication that a goalkeeper with 71 caps, nine years at this level and more clean sheets than anyone in that position other than Peter Shilton and David Seaman, considered himself to be at fault.

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Harry Kane is ready to justify Gareth Southgate’s confidence and lead England

England were lacking players to lead from the front 12 months ago but the Tottenham striker is a man who can inspire others by his own determinationFor Gareth Southgate there was progress of sorts. It has taken some time to reach this stage but finally…

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Harry Kane is ready to justify Gareth Southgate’s confidence and lead England

England were lacking players to lead from the front 12 months ago but the Tottenham striker is a man who can inspire others by his own determinationFor Gareth Southgate there was progress of sorts. It has taken some time to reach this stage but finally…

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Dele Alli eager to enjoy journey after visiting dark places with England | Daniel Taylor

Midfielder admits Euro 2016 defeat by Iceland still hurts and does not rule out leaving Tottenham sometime in the future

It is when Dele Alli pulls up his chair and starts to reminisce about his younger days that it becomes apparent, contrary to the image he may project, it has not been an entirely seamless rise to put him the position where he is today – a footballer of rare quality, England international, superstar in the making.

Two months after turning 21, he is thinking back to his days in the academy at Milton Keynes Dons, when he was trying to make a name for himself as a striker. Just not very successfully, as it turned out, judging by his memories of being removed from the team and told he might have to think again.

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Chris Smalling vows to prove Mourinho was wrong to question his bravery

• England centre-back describes himself as leader who puts body on the line
• United manager’s comments were him being professional, says Smalling

Chris Smalling, one of the players whose competitive courage has repeatedly been questioned by José Mourinho over the last season, has said it is wrong to allege he is not willing to put his body on the line and insisted he can supply the hard evidence to show the Manchester United manager was wrong.

Smalling chose his words carefully to make sure he did not say anything that could be construed as direct criticism of Mourinho but the centre-half said it was not true, contrary to what his manager had implicitly stated, that he was reluctant to play unless he felt 100% fit.

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FA toughens its stance on hooligans by issuing first ever life bans

• Previously unseen footage shows England fans making Nazi gestures
• Concern over Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland in Glasgow

The Football Association has issued its first life bans after being shown previously unseen footage of England supporters making Nazi salutes and slit-throat gestures amid growing fears among security officials that the national team have become a focal point for a new generation of troublemakers.

Other footage showed an England follower holding a finger above his lips to imitate Hitler, in between gesturing that he would stab Germany’s supporters, during March’s game in Dortmund that became an opportunity for many travelling Englishmen to go through their repertoire of songs about the second world war.

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England’s Gareth Southgate out to allay José Mourinho’s fears over data leaks

• FA suspects Manchester United have withheld sports science information
• United concerned other clubs will see requested data on their players

The Football Association suspects Manchester United have withheld key information about their England internationals because José Mourinho and his staff do not fully trust the governing body to prevent it being leaked to rival clubs.

Gareth Southgate, the England manager, is trying to improve the relationship between the FA and the relevant people at Old Trafford after admitting there had been a trust issue, citing “the perception of [information] being leaked”.

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FA clearly falling short on transparency in sexual abuse scandal

The refusal to name the eight clubs who missed two deadlines to pass on whatever information they had in the sexual abuse inquiry is baffling

It has been six months now since football was plunged into a sexual abuse scandal and, though it is difficult sometimes to keep track of the figures, it was 560 people at the last count who had made the life-changing decision to break their silence and turn what began as a trickle into what Greg Clarke, chairman of the Football Association, has subsequently described as a tidal wave.

The true number of alleged victims will actually be far higher if we also take into account those who are too emotionally damaged to come forward or feel compelled to stay silent to protect their own families. Every single person affected seems to have another list of former team-mates who are likely, or definite, victims. Many have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and suffer from anxiety, depression, insomnia, panic attacks and flashbacks. One told me recently how he could still vividly remember the mouthwash on his coach’s breath, more than 30 years on. For another, it was the smell of Kouros aftershave. It is difficult even to comprehend the horrors they had to endure, or what it must be like trying not to let those childhood experiences shape their entire lives.

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Real Madrid’s pursuit of David de Gea and co should be resisted | Daniel Taylor

The club Sir Alex Ferguson called ‘that mob’ over Cristiano Ronaldo look to be after Manchester United’s goalkeeper and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard – but the Premier League duo should stand firm

It isn’t difficult to understand why there are times when Real Madrid, with all their haughty self‑importance and the inescapable sense that they always seem to get their way, leave some of the other clubs at the higher end of the sport filled with moments of insecurity.

There are plenty of other great clubs who regard European domination as a legitimate ambition. Yet none, perhaps – not even Barcelona – have the same kind of magnetic attraction for the game’s superstars. None of the other superpowers seem so sure of themselves, bordering on a superiority complex, when it comes to luring their targets. No other club take more pleasure from flexing their muscles and reminding everyone about the order of merit that exists among the elite.

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Arsène Wenger’s decline drains rivalry with José Mourinho of poison | Daniel Taylor

José Mourinho hasn’t really mellowed, it’s just that his old enemy Arsène Wenger, whom he will face when Arsenal host Manchester United on Sunday, no longer seems a threat

Unfortunately for Arsène Wenger, it is not necessarily a good sign that José Mourinho is no longer talking about him with a curled lip and the overwhelming sense that he has made it a personal mission to see how close he can push his old adversary towards the brink of spontaneous combustion.

If it is true, as both managers have said over the last few days, that a truce has been called, it is some turnaround bearing in mind it is not so long ago that the two men could barely bring themselves to make eye contact, never mind extend the courtesy of shaking hands, and Mourinho in particular gave the impression that if he saw Wenger drowning he would chuck him both ends of the rope.

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