23.09.2022
Gareth Southgate must nail it in the San Siro to stop the rot

The last time an England team went five games without winning was in 2014. Tonight would be a bad time to match that record.

Roy Hodgson was the manager eight years ago. Three of those poor results, two defeats and a draw, came in the group stages of the World Cup in Brazil, meaning that England went home early.

On Friday in Milan, Gareth Southgate is in the final throes of preparing for another World Cup, his second as England manager.

Form has deserted his team at the wrong time and were they to lose to Roberto Mancini’s side at the San Siro, England would be relegated from the top tier of the Nations League and, more importantly, have only Monday’s home fixture with Germany to restore some kind of confidence ahead of the important business in Qatar that starts in late November.

Southgate was booed and heckled as his team lost 4-0 at home to Hungary in Wolverhampton in June. Prior to that, England had lost in Budapest and drawn with Italy at home and Germany in Munich. During all of that they scored one goal, a penalty.

It has been a drop off in form that did not seem likely as England breezed through World Cup qualifying in the months that followed their defeat on penalties by Italy in the final of Euro 2020 last year.

Reflecting on all this at the team hotel a long goal kick from the San Siro, Southgate did not attempt to step away from his own role in what has happened.

‘We were 22 games without a loss and you think that’s just going to continue and maybe you are not quite as ruthless in certain decision making,’ said Southgate. ‘I compromised certain decisions and you don’t win if you compromise.

‘We are very clear on why those things happened and what needs to happen to put things right. I am not saying I was too comfortable. But generally at times when you are on a big run you don’t dig as deep into what could be ahead and what could go wrong.

‘The summer was really complicated. Two games behind closed doors and other mitigating factors but internally we reviewed everything and felt there were things we should have done better. Quite often when you win, some of those things are still going on but you don’t review it with the same intensity and the same spotlight.

‘But I think every manager makes mistakes. Every manager reflects. That’s part of improving. It was good to sharpen that focus again as what we are going into means I have to be ruthless.’

If Southgate needs any evidence of how quickly things can change in football, he needs only to look at Friday’s opponents. Having beaten England at Wembley last July, they lost at home in a World Cup qualifying play-off to North Macedonia eight months later and will not join England in Qatar.

Italy’s results under Mancini remain modest. Success in the Euros was the culmination of a three-year unbeaten run but since that day at Wembley Italy have won only four of 14 games, something that will be reflected by a poor crowd tonight.

Southgate’s task is to ensure England’s blip will one day be talked about as an anomaly, an unexpected and largely unexplainable hiatus in a period of progress. But as he looks to change the direction of travel, he does have clear problems.

Thursday night’s words of support for Harry Maguire were creditable but it was nevertheless interesting to hear them couched in certain terms. Maguire will continue to play, he suggested, largely because there is not an obvious candidate to replace him.

Equally, if Maguire goes into the winter without any first-team football at Manchester United then one of Southgate’s most voiced fears about his players being undercooked may well come true.

In the short term, relegation from the Nations League would be damaging to England and Southgate articulated that. The beauty of the relatively new competition has been to provide England with first-rate opponents away from major tournaments.

If they drop to the second tier, the quality of those opponents will dissipate. So events at two famous stadiums over the course of the next four days are as important as two out-of-tournament games have been for quite some time.

Southgate played in that famous 0-0 in Rome in 1997 that ensured England qualified for France 1998 and could do with a little of that spirit and application from his team this evening.

Southgate was also happy to tell people that England haven’t won away to Italy since 1961. Earlier he had been talking about his team’s habit of breaking new ground. After 61 years, maybe something memorable — not to mention something reassuring — is overdue.

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  • 38 минут назад 03.10.2022Sport
    Real Madrid president Florentino Perez insists football needs the European Super League

    Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has warned football fans that the sport is ‘sick’, as he continues to promote the European Super League.

    The 75-year-old was the chairman for the proposed ESL in 2021 which, due to backlash from fans all over Europe, was scrapped.

    But at Madrid’s recent annual general meeting, Perez seemed to reinstate his desire to see the competition formed in the near future.

    Speaking at the club’s AGM on Sunday, Perez said: ‘To fix a problem, you have to first recognise that you have a problem. Our sport is sick. It is losing its leadership as a global sport.

    ‘We mustn’t be confused by the impact of Real Madrid’s European Cup run when we were involved in seven games of the highest intensity and interest.

    ‘That was the result of the draw, and of the quality and greatness of our team. It was a spectacle that helped bring excitement back to the viewers.

    ‘That’s why we believe European competitions must change, to offer fans top-level games year-round between the strongest teams, with the best players competing.’

    Perez made reference to tennis, noting that recently-retired Roger Federer has regularly faced fellow elite players Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

    ‘In tennis, Nadal and Federer have played 40 times in 15 years. Nadal and Djokovic have played 59 matches in 16 years,’ Perez added, quoted by ESPN.

    ‘In football, we’ve only played Liverpool nine times in 67 years. We’ve played Chelsea four times in the history of the European Cup. What sense does it make to deprive fans of all these games?’

    It’s true that Los Blancos have only come up against the Merseyside club nine times in their history – with five of those encounters coming since their Group Stage match in 2014.

    He continued: ‘We were top in all sports, and now we’ve fallen to 13th. We’ve been overtaken by 12 clubs from American sports. They must be doing something very well in the United States and very badly in Europe.

    ‘Football is losing the global entertainment battle against other sports and other platforms. We need a professional, modern, transparent management, not based on old structures designed in the last century.

    ‘Recently the chairman of the European Clubs’ Association [Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi] said – talking about the Super League – that Real Madrid are afraid of the competition. Maybe the president of the ECA has to be reminded who Real Madrid are. Competition is in our DNA.’

    Perez’s statements fall in-line with the recent suggestions made by Chelsea owner Todd Boehly, who claimed European football has a lot to learn from American sports.

    The Blues’ new co-controlling owner, who also owns shares of Los Angeles teams the Dodgers in Major League Baseball and the Lakers in the NBA, told a New York conference he has already floated the idea with Premier League counterparts.

    ‘Ultimately I hope the Premier League takes a little bit of a lesson from American sports,’ said Boehly. ‘And really starts to figure out, why don’t we do a tournament with the bottom four sports teams, why isn’t there an All-Star game?

    ‘People are talking about more money for the pyramid, in the MLB All-Star game this year we made 200 million dollars from a Monday and a Tuesday.’

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  • 38 минут назад 03.10.2022Sport
    World Cup 2022: Football fans in Qatar can’t watch matches on TV

    Football fans who have paid out huge sums for hotel rooms, apartments and villas at the Qatar World Cup face arriving to find no live TV coverage of the tournament there.

    That Mail on Sunday understands that a number of hotels in Doha have decided not to screen games, having been told they will have to pay host broadcaster BeIN Sports around 100,000 Qatari riyals (£24,000) for every restaurant or bar which shows them.

    The cost of making games available in rooms remains unclear, though hoteliers describe those fees to be unviable, too, with no flat rate per establishment. The costs are also thought to be affecting proprietors of rented villas and apartments.

    Hotels rooms are beyond the budget of many fans travelling to Doha, where even rudimentary metal cabins will cost a minimum of £176 per night.

    But fans who have paid out £400-a-night will be dismayed to find no in-room broadcasts and no games screened in restaurants and bars.

    Ashley Brown from the Football Supporters Association (FSA)’s ‘Free Lions’ team, which is working to help fans who want to get to the tournament, said: ‘This will be seen as another added frustration for the loyal fans travelling to Qatar for the World Cup.

    ‘With entertainment options already limited, watching matches on TV with fellow fans from around the world should be one of the tournament highlights.

    ‘Fans now face the possibility of rented villas, apartments, hotel rooms and other accommodation where they cannot watch games.’

    The Mail on Sunday also understands that the Qatari state is giving serious consideration to allowing the country’s 60 licensed hotels to serve alcohol for 17 hours a day during the World Cup – from 10am to 3am – and to drop the price.

    This is a significant change in a country where licensed premises currently don’t sell alcohol before 7pm, with even tighter restrictions on Fridays, a day of prayer.

    Government officials have circulated a note to licensed establishments suggesting the extension of hours and also canvassing opinion on a temporary lower alcohol price cap.

    The state sets the price of alcohol, which is typically costs £12-£15 a pint. Despite the circular, it is widely thought that the Qatari state has a £7- £8 price in mind and will simply impose it.

    With few accommodation sites expected to screen games, fans are being encouraged to use the official FIFA Fan Zone at Doha’s seafront Al Bidda Park, where alcohol will be served from 6.30pm to 1am.

    But there are concerns that that 40,000 capacity may not be adequate, with one million visitors expected in Qatar and few alternatives for the many not at a game.

    Alcohol is available from 10am to 5am at the 15,000 capacity Glastonbury-style Arcadia fan site, which has DJs.

    But the daily cost of entry there is expected to be an eye-watering £75. There will be no alcohol at the vast ‘cabin villages’ which are still under construction.

    BeIN Sports said it could not disclose commercial arrangements with hotel and accommodation providers. But it indicated that it had to recoup some of the huge fees for tournament broadcasting rights, as well as its investment in production and technical facilities.

    The broadcaster said that hotels and other establishments in Doha would earn unprecedented foot-fall and financial rewards from broadcasting games. It pointed out that host broadcasters had imposed charges at previous other World Cups and tournaments.

    It is thought that BeIN, like others broadcast rights holders, has an obligation to make some games free-to-air.

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  • 38 минут назад 03.10.2022Sport
    John Terry leads praise for Erling Haaland after he scored his THIRD hat-trick of the season

    Chelsea legend John Terry believes Erling Haaland could one day be regarded as the Premier League’s greatest ever player.

    The Norwegian hitman scored his third hat-trick in just eight appearances, as Manchester City smashed their local rivals Manchester United at the Etihad on Sunday.

    After taking his tally to 14 goals, Haaland became the centre of attention once again amongst former players and pundits, who each took to social media to heap praise on the striker.

    Terry told beIN SPORTS: ‘He could be the greatest ever in the Premier League, couldn’t he?’

    ‘You’re trying to compare him with somebody, I’ve never seen a player so young have that desire to score the goals he’s scored. He is just relentless.’

    Fellow ex-England centre-half Rio Ferdinand quipped that Haaland is treating the Premier League defenders with ‘no respect’ after his scintillating start to the season.

    After Man City’s 6-3 demolition of United, Ferdinand posted to Twitter: ‘Absolutely dismantled… gulf between the 2 sides in Manchester! We showed some fight 2nd half or City took foot of the gas.

    ‘By the way, Haaland is treating these CB’s in the Premier League with no respect.’

    Meanwhile, Gary Lineker tweeted ironically: ‘Once Erling Haaland settles in he’ll be really good.’

    And former Manchester City star Joey Barton lauded the striker’s goal-poaching instincts, praising team-mate Kevin De Bruyne once again for his exceptional playmaking.

    He said: ‘Wow. De Bruyne’s ball but Haaland is a true predator in that box. Phenomenal.’

    Haaland now has as many Premier League hat-tricks as Manchester United legend Cristiano Ronaldo, who stayed put on Erik ten Hag’s bench throughout the derby.

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  • 38 минут назад 03.10.2022Sport
    Christopher Nkunku ‘has signed a pre-contract agreement with Chelsea’

    Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku has reportedly signed a pre-contractual agreement with Chelsea after having a secret medical with the Blues last month.

    The French midfielder has emerged as Chelsea’s next top transfer target already despite a busy summer outlay of £272million that saw them bring in the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Raheem Sterling and Wesley Fofana.

    And while Nkunku would not arrived until next summer, the Blues have a deal in place for him to join Stamford Bridge, according to the Athletic, with owner Todd Boehly happy to pay his full release clause of £53m now to ensure they steal a march on their rivals.

    Last week Sportsmail revealed that Nkunku had undergone medical tests in Frankfurt in September ahead of a possible move to Chelsea alongside a a Blues orthopedist.

    And as the Blues look to speed up the deal – which they hope to have in place for next season – they now have an agreement with the player, with the report claiming they have overcome a challenge from their English rivals by moving quickly.

    The 24-year-old enjoyed a superb campaign last season as he scored 35 goals and set up 20 more in 52 appearances in all competitions during a sensational term for RB Leipzig on his way to being named Bundesliga player of the year.

    His form saw him rewarded with a new two-year extension that keeps him at Leipzig until 2026 – but crucially it included a release clause of £52.8m, which Chelsea have now pounced on.

    The eight-cap France star has continued his impressive displays in this campaign – scoring six goals and setting up another in 11 games so far.

    Should Chelsea confirm their deal for Nkunku it would continue their lavish spending under Boehly since he completed a £4.2bn takeover of the Blues this year.

    He brought in Marc Cucurella, Kalidou Koulibaly, as well as Fofana, Aubameyang, and Sterling to make a real statement of his intentions.

    He’s also rung the changes in the board room – ousting director Marina Granovskaia and long-term chairman Bruce Buck, with the American chief now seeking a new sporting director that can assist him on securing the biggest deals.

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  • 38 минут назад 03.10.2022Sport
    Chelsea loanee Ethan Ampadu sets Serie A record for FASTEST penalty conceded in the league’s history

    Chelsea loanee Ethan Ampadu set the record for the fastest penalty conceded in Serie A history, after fouling Lazio’s Ciro Immobile within 39 seconds on Sunday.

    The Welshman spent last season with fellow Italian outfit Venezia before joining Spezia on loan this summer, as he continues to ply his trade away from Stamford Bridge.

    However, things did not go to plan for the young defender on Sunday night after he picked up an unwanted record for an early foul in their Serie A clash.

    He gave away the fastest penalty in Serie A history after diving in on Lazio’s Immobile within the first minute of the match.

    The 22-year-old picked up a yellow card for his troubles before being subbed off after 66 minutes during the game at the Stadio Olimpico.

    To the Welshman’s delight, the Italian forward missed the resulting spot-kick, but that wasn’t able to prevent Spezia from a 4-0 drubbing away from home – after goals from Mattia Zaccagni, Alessio Romagnoli and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

    The rash challenge saw Ampadu’s tackle surpass the 42 seconds it took for Napoli hero Marek Hamsik to be fouled by AC Milan’s Mattia De Sciglio in 2015.

    After breaking into the Chelsea first-team in 2017, Ampadu has had a number of loan spells as he continues his development away from Stamford Bridge.

    He made 25 appearances in the Premier League for Sheffield United before joining Venezia last season. He became a core part of their defensive unit but wasn’t able to prevent their relegation.

    It was the third outing for the Welshman in Luca Gotti’s side, who currently sit 12th in the league having narrowly avoided relegation last season.

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  • 38 минут назад 03.10.2022Sport
    Erling Haaland becomes the 14th player to score a perfect 10/10 rating in L’Equipe HISTORY

    Erling Haaland joined an elite list of footballing royalty after he was awarded a 10 out of 10 rating from L’Equipe for his brilliant hat-trick and two assists in Manchester City’s dominant 6-3 win over bitter rivals Man United.

    The Norwegian striker has become only the 14th player in history to get the notoriously rare score from the French paper for his heroics in the Manchester derby.

    The 22-year-old joins the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Robert Lewandowski, as well as Lionel Messi – who has earned the honour twice – in getting perfect marks.

    Haaland was the centre of attention on Sunday, given it was his first game against Manchester United – a fixture he picked out as one he was most looking forward to playing in after joining City.

    He was right to do so, given how much freedom City were given to run riot at the Etihad against their bitter rivals.

    Phil Foden broke the deadlock with a superb finish early on before Haaland doubled the lead with a towering header from a corner shortly after.

    Haaland then doubled his own tally not long after that, getting his studs onto a brilliant through ball from Kevin De Bruyne to leave United scrambling.

    Foden then got his brace minutes before the break, with Haaland setting him up before they both completed their hat-tricks in the second half – seeing Haaland once again set up the England international for his third.

    Even more impressively, it is Haaland’s third successive hat-trick at home for City, making him the first player in Premier League history to do so.

    Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, the striker said: ‘Yeah, not bad! We scored six goals! What can I say. It’s amazing.

    ‘To win at home, score six goals, it’s nice.

    ‘You can feel it all the time. You can see the passes we give each other. We always want to go forward and to attack.

    ‘It’s what I love about the team. In the end, it’s amazing. There is nothing more to say.’

    And his efforts have been recognised far and wide with L’Equipe giving him the best possible score.

    French publication L’Equipe are notoriously picky when it comes to player performances and do not give high marks to players too easily – often severely punishing players with dreadfully low scores if they do not meet par.

    But they could not find any fault with Haaland as he, and Foden, walked away with the match ball on Sunday afternoon.

    Messi is the only player in history to have achieved the rating twice, getting it against Arsenal in 2010 and again against Bayer Leverkusen two years later.

    Alban Lafont was the most recent player to have been awarded a 10/10 before Haaland, with the Frenchman becoming the third goalkeeper in history for getting the score for his efforts against PSG last season.

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Sport Gareth Southgate must nail it in the San Siro to stop the rot