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Author Archive for Paul Wilson

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Sean Dyche: ‘I’m not running from Burnley. I’ve never said I want to move’ | Paul Wilson

The seventh-longest-serving manager in England, who admits he will need a little luck at Manchester City on Saturday, discusses being linked with Leicester and why he swears by honesty and simplicityBurnley’s away form against some of the leading Premi…

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Long ball need not be the wrong ball for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City | Paul Wilson

The City manager says he is in the job to win not to entertain but, as Napoli demonstrated, a stubborn refusal to go direct could offer opponents hopeImmediately after Saturday’s strikingly beautiful demolition of Stoke City, which came if you remember…

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For now I have full support of the Everton board, says Ronald Koeman

• Everton manager prepares to face Lyon at home in Europa League• Arsenal at home and Chelsea away in League Cup next for troubled DutchmanRonald Koeman believes he still retains the confidence of the Everton board as he tries to turn round a disappoin…

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Tom Davies, the precious ray of light shining amid the Goodison Park gloom

Everton’s modest midfielder Tom Davies is starting to make a name for himself but the teenager realises he still has a long way to goSomething weird happened to Tom Davies when he visited Australia in the summer. The Everton player treated his family t…

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Chelsea handed major chance to make up lost ground in gentler October

This time last year the Stamford Bridge club started a run which led to the title and their upcoming fixtures offer them the chance to start another

Most of the Premier League attention will be on Anfield and the north-west derby this weekend, even if Liverpool’s stuttering start to the season means Jürgen Klopp’s side already have seven points to make up on Manchester United. For different reasons that will probably suit Crystal Palace and Chelsea, who meet at Selhurst Park in one of the lesser London derbies.

Roy Hodgson said his struggling Palace side were like a boxer on the ropes after their last outing at Old Trafford, trying to fight in a class above their weight and taking too many blows to the chin. Just what you need in those circumstances is a visit from the defending champions, though the only sliver of good news for Hodgson and his stricken side – apart from Wilfried Zaha nearing a return – is that Saturday’s game is the last of a daunting run of fixtures. Palace take on Chelsea after two successive trips to Manchester, where City and then United hit them with a total of nine goals to no reply.

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Jermain Defoe: ‘I didn’t know I would reach 35 and still be running like I’m 25’

The England striker credits his mother, Ian Wright and a French fitness expert for helping him get a wholly unexpected chance at another World Cup

Jermain Defoe turned 35 on Saturday, spending his birthday travelling to Lithuania with the England squad he was so happy to rejoin and not even thinking about slowing down, let alone retiring. A French fitness expert whom Ian Wright recommended a few seasons ago said he thought he could add five years to Defoe’s career and the Bournemouth striker reckons he probably has. What Defoe does not know, and is not in too much of a hurry to find out, is whether he has already used up that five-year bonus or still has a fair part of it left.

Related: England reach the World Cup again – can they do better this time?

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Everton’s Lukaku-shaped hole leaves praise of summer buys looking hollow | Paul Wilson

Ronald Koeman was applauded for his swift summer recruitment but his failure to replace Everton’s most important departing player shows the pitfalls of judging a team’s health by their transfer activity

An ancient cliche was conspicuous by its absence when Everton’s owner, Farhad Moshiri, gave Ronald Koeman a vote of confidence the other day. Older football followers in particular might have noted that in reporting it hardly anyone used the word “dreaded”.

Presumably it is safe to say votes of confidence are still dreaded, because no manager particularly wants one and they still tend to mean what they always meant, that the stay of execution will be terminated anyway if results cannot be quickly improved.

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Everton’s Lukaku-shaped hole leaves praise of summer buys looking hollow | Paul Wilson

Ronald Koeman was applauded for his swift summer recruitment but his failure to replace Everton’s most important departing player shows the pitfalls of judging a team’s health by their transfer activity

An ancient cliche was conspicuous by its absence when Everton’s owner, Farhad Moshiri, gave Ronald Koeman a vote of confidence the other day. Older football followers in particular might have noted that in reporting it hardly anyone used the word “dreaded”.

Presumably it is safe to say votes of confidence are still dreaded, because no manager particularly wants one and they still tend to mean what they always meant, that the stay of execution will be terminated anyway if results cannot be quickly improved.

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Alberto Moreno: my critics should shut their mouths now I am back for Liverpool

The Liverpool left-back reveals how a summer chat with Jürgen Klopp proved the turning point in his Anfield career after being dropped last season

In terms of national punchbags over the past few weeks Liverpool defenders have been up there with Brexit repositioners, Ryanair public relations and Football Association attempts to close down a story. So it is quite brave of Alberto Moreno, one of the most frequently pummelled members of the thin red line, to stick his head above the parapet and attempt to answer some of the criticism before his side’s trip to Newcastle.

Related: Jürgen Klopp defends under-fire Liverpool left-back Alberto Moreno

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Alberto Moreno: my critics should shut their mouths now I am back for Liverpool

The Liverpool left-back reveals how a summer chat with Jürgen Klopp proved the turning point in his Anfield career after being dropped last season

In terms of national punchbags over the past few weeks Liverpool defenders have been up there with Brexit repositioners, Ryanair public relations and Football Association attempts to close down a story. So it is quite brave of Alberto Moreno, one of the most frequently pummelled members of the thin red line, to stick his head above the parapet and attempt to answer some of the criticism before his side’s trip to Newcastle.

Related: Jürgen Klopp defends under-fire Liverpool left-back Alberto Moreno

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England’s Gareth Southgate energised by Pochettino’s Spurs fitness regime

Dramatic improvements in strength and stamina of Harry Kane and Tottenham team-mates is infusing England with hope despite the usual burnout fears

Gareth Southgate believes England can profit from the fitness regime Mauricio Pochettino has introduced at Tottenham, with all the Spurs players in the national squad showing marked improvements in strength and stamina over the past couple of years. Until now the Argentinian’s major contribution to England World Cup hopes was to leave his left leg dangling for Michael Owen to trip over in Sapporo in 2002, but Southgate insists his training methods speak for themselves.

Even when Pochettino was at Southampton, who also employed his present assistant, Jesús Pérez, Southgate noticed the Saints players in his under-21 squads showed similar fitness gains. “Mauricio and Jesús are on to something,” Southgate says as he prepares for the internationals against Slovenia and Lithuania. “We see a definite difference in their players’ fitness levels. It’s what allows them to play the pressing game they like to play. It was the same with Southampton, you could see the impact on the players from their club training.”

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Ronald Koeman can only wish Everton were in as good a shape as Burnley | Paul Wilson

Everton spent £130m in the summer but recent results have been poor and the pressure is on the manager and team to perform against the Turf Moor side

Ronald Koeman told reporters in midweek that he was not prioritising either of his club’s forthcoming fixtures in the Europa League and the Premier League; he expected to win both of them. Apollon Limassol having dealt a crushing blow to that idea at a deathly quiet Goodison Park on Thursday, the Everton manager now finds himself and his players under a certain amount of pressure to perform against Burnley on Sunday afternoon.

Related: Ronald Koeman says Everton are ‘scared to play’ after Apollon Limassol draw

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Everton’s Ronald Koeman warns James McCarthy over Ireland call-up

• Midfielder has yet to play for Everton this season due to knee injury
• Koeman warns McCarthy ‘not to take risks when it is not necessary’

Ronald Koeman is keeping an eye on James McCarthy’s call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad and has reminded his injured midfielder – yet to appear for his club this season – that he expects all his players to put Everton first if there is a question over fitness.

“What I expect from every Everton player is not to take risks when it is not necessary,” the Everton manager said. McCarthy is recovering from a knee injury and is just coming back to full training, so there was a degree of surprise at Martin O’Neill’s decision to bring him into the Irish squad for forthcoming internationals against Moldova and Wales.

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Kyle Walker happy Sergio Agüero is in same side as ‘facing him was nightmare’

• Agüero needs one goal to equal Eric Brook’s Manchester City scoring record
• Argentinian likely to be rejoined by Gabriel Jesus against Shakhtar Donetsk

Sergio Agüero needs one more goal to equal Eric Brook’s 78-year-old Manchester City scoring record and there are not many people at the club who imagine the Argentinian is going to hang around for long on his present tally of 176.

No one is a bigger fan of the striker than Kyle Walker, who says it a joy to be playing behind Agüero after years of struggling to contain him.

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Daniel Sturridge in line for Liverpool return, says Jürgen Klopp

• ‘He is important to us,’ manager insists before Leicester trip
• Klopp praises maturing Mohamed Salah for fine start to Anfield career

Daniel Sturridge could feature for Liverpool at Leicester City on Saturday despite not being selected for the trip to the King Power Stadium in the Carabao Cup.

Jürgen Klopp insists the striker is still an important part of his plans and that a pre-season chat between the pair centred only on Sturridge’s role at the club and not his desire to play elsewhere. “We had a good talk and it was not a case of him asking when or where he could go. It was about what we planned for this season,” Klopp said.

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Pep Guardiola says Manchester City can improve and must be wary of Palace

• Roy Hodgson’s side ‘do have quality’ says Manchester City manager
• Pep Guardiola shares José Mourinho’s scepticism about League Cup

“My dear fellow,” Pep Guardiola said, his eyes twinkling to confirm that what he said next might not be completely what he believed. “This is the Premier League. Every single team can beat the others. That is the best expression I have learned.”

The Manchester City manager was responding to the inevitable question about how many goals his free-scoring side might rack up against Crystal Palace, who have yet to score a league goal or claim a point, and injecting a hint of sarcasm because he does not accept the Premier League’s claim to be the toughest in the world. “Palace do have quality,” he insisted, back in serious mode. “We watched their last two games and they created a lot of chances against Southampton and Burnley.”

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Jürgen Klopp backs Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain despite dismal display

• Liverpool manager says criticism of £35m signing is premature
• ‘The way people are talking it’s like we’re the worst team in the country’

Jürgen Klopp remains convinced of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s ability despite the dismal performance by Liverpool’s £35m signing in his first start at Leicester.

Oxlade-Chamberlain missed an early chance and seemed nervous and error-prone thereafter, but Klopp felt his performance was not as bad as some critics have suggested.

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‘Football manager excuses’ are for the supercoaches and the blustergaffers | Paul Wilson

Arguably the most admirable characters in modern football are the managers who embrace the basic unfairness of the sport and offer realism amid the Premier League’s inequalities

It is always appreciated when sport manages to offer colourful additions to the national lexicon – “squeaky bum time”, “I never said them things”, “do I not like that” etc – so it was pleasing to note that in criticising Ryanair’s handling of its self-made fiasco over flight cancellations this week the RBC investment bank accused the company of coming up with “football manager excuses”.

Blaming everyone but themselves, in other words. It is an expression that deserves to stick, because just about every manager has been guilty of it at some point and there have been several noteworthy examples even this early in the present season. The otherwise admirable Marco Silva was aggrieved about a couple of marginal offsides at the weekend when neither would have made a scrap of difference to the outcome of Watford’s match against Manchester City, while Ronald Koeman ludicrously tried to blame José Mourinho for increasing the pressure on Everton after watching his side ship 12 goals without reply in their last four games. For the record, Arsène Wenger was not whingeing when he pondered whether the colour of Alexander Lacazette’s boots might have alerted the referee’s assistant to the fact that his toe was in an offside position before his disallowed goal at Stoke, he was merely passing on the views of a supporter who had pointed out the possibility.

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Manchester United look best bet as new big five enter Champions League | Paul Wilson

José Mourinho’s side are well placed to challenge the cream of the continent but on recent form it’s hard to justify England’s Champions League prominence

European football returns this week, and though the individual highlight may well be the look of distaste on Alexis Sánchez’s face as he comes to terms with Europa League football on Thursday, before that England’s new big five get the chance to establish their credentials in the Champions League.

Related: Champions League squads: Chelsea’s Costa left out but United include Ibrahimovic

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Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp happy to rest his two ‘new signings’

• Manager says Philippe Coutinho needs more time to be fully match fit
• Oxlade-Chamberlain requires time to adjust to Liverpool’s style of play

“Only the game, yes?” Jürgen Klopp teased, all mock earnestness before Liverpool’s visit to the Etihad. “The transfer window is now closed and Philippe Coutinho is still with us, so the only thing to talk about must be Manchester City.”

There was little chance of that. The Liverpool manager would have been entitled to do a lap of honour of the Melwood press room after keeping Coutinho out of Barcelona’s clutches and pinching Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from under Chelsea’s noses on the last day of the transfer window, yet perhaps his greatest source of pride is that Liverpool can go to Manchester without feeling the need to rush either of his “two new players” into action.

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