In defence of Ashley Cole

15-02-2019 Ashley Cole has won more FA Cups than any player in history. Isn’t it time we appreciated his achievements?By Sean Cole for WSC, of the Guardian Sport NetworkAshley Cole played for Derby County in the Championship last weekend, his first appearance in English football for almost five years. The 38-year-old, who has felt curiously rootless and unloved throughout his career, says this will be his final stop before retirement. Of the much-vaunted, and subsequently derided, golden generation, Cole was arguably the only one to live up to his billing. For several years at Arsenal and Chelsea he made a compelling case for being the world’s best left-back. While Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney were all overhyped at times, Cole was under-appreciated.There are several reasons why this might be the case, but there are clear parallels between him and Raheem Sterling. Both are outstanding black footballers, raised in London, who were branded greedy and irresponsible from a young age. Neither would claim to be entirely blameless, but the negative attention they have received from sections of the press has been wildly disproportionate. Continue reading...

Harry Wilson: ‘Ian Rush phoned. I thought what do I call him? Ian? Rushy?’

15-02-2019 The Liverpool winger, on loan at Derby, talks about that five-fingered goal celebration at Manchester United and his surprise Wales debut at 16In October 2013, Harry Wilson was having a lie-in, watching television in bed in academy digs in Eccleston, round the corner from Liverpool’s academy in Kirkby, when his phone rang again. He had already missed a couple of calls from an unknown number. “I don’t usually answer them but something told me to answer it, so I answered it and it was Ian Rush,” Wilson explains, smiling. “He was like: ‘Hiya Harry, it’s Ian Rush.’ I was like: ‘What do I call him? Do I call him Ian? Do I call him Rushy?’ I didn’t really know what to call him.” Related: FA Cup fifth round: 10 things to look out for this weekend Continue reading...

Chris Smalling says Manchester United are once again a team to be feared

15-02-2019 • Defender says team playing their best since Alex Ferguson era• United away to Chelsea in FA Cup on MondayChris Smalling can draw on his own challenging childhood when talking to the pupils of Salford City Academy. He is there as the new patron of Football Beyond Borders, a charity that hopes to provide stability and hope for disadvantaged youngsters. Smalling’s glittering career shows how difficult beginnings can be overcome. The 29-year-old lost his father as a child and was raised on a council estate, the family requiring social security. Related: Kylian Mbappé’s teleportation device leaves Manchester United floundering | Barney Ronay Continue reading...

Caster Semenya: South African government calls on world to fight against IAAF rule

15-02-2019 South African Caster Semenya has been "targeted" by athletics' governing body, the IAAF, according to her country's sports minister

'Solari the stopgap with bigger name to come' - what is going on at Real Madrid?

15-02-2019 The relatively unknown Santiago Solari has been placed in charge of Real Madrid - but he is not likely to be in the role for long, writes Andy West.

Flamengo pay tribute to 10 teenage players who died in training ground fire

15-02-2019 Flamengo players and fans are joined by Fluminense to pay tribute to the 10 teenage players who died in a training ground fire.

Manchester United reveal £19.6m payoff for José Mourinho and his staff

15-02-2019 • Manager compensated following his sacking in December• Portuguese’s next move will be to host show on Russian TVManchester United made a payoff of almost £20m to José Mourinho and his staff, the club’s half-yearly accounts have revealed.Mourinho was sacked in December after 17 league games in his third season, with a contract due to expire at the end of the 2019-20 campaign. Figures released on Thursday list a sum of £19.6m as “an exceptional item relating to compensation to the former manager and certain members of the coaching staff for loss of office”. Continue reading...

Atlético Madrid investigate after former youth coach admits sexual abuse

15-02-2019 • Manuel Briñas admits offences while he was working at school• No accusations made by players against former coach, now 88Atlético Madrid have severed their relationship with the man who ran their youth system for 20 years and launched an investigation after he admitted to sexually abusing a boy in his charge at the Catholic boarding school where he lived and worked.Friar Manuel Briñas, who is 88 and is known as the man who discovered Fernando Torres, told El País that it had happened “once, maybe twice” in the mid-1970s and that he “stopped immediately”, but his version does not tally with that of the victim and four other former students who have come forward with testimonies of abuse, according to the newspaper. Continue reading...

The Fiver | Unfit to face inferior players who have hardly run a lap since Christmas

15-02-2019 Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now!Buoyed, cheered and generally heartened by the sight of Tottenham Hotspur piling some Big Cup hurt on German league leaders Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night, Arsenal fans can look forward to some fun of their own when their team goes toe to toe with the works team of a tractor factory in Belarus tonight in Euro Vase. Bate Borisov are the opposition in the first knockout round and while most of their players are unknown outside their native country, there will at least be one recognisable face among the ranks. Continue reading...

Colin Kaepernick: Former NFL quarterback settles 'collusion' case

15-02-2019 Colin Kaepernick and former team-mate Eric Reid reach settlements with the NFL over 'collusion' cases against team owners.

Solskjær’s stumble, a Wembley rumble and Banks of England – Football Weekly Extra

15-02-2019 Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Philippe Auclair and Lars Sivertsen discuss Solskjær’s stumble, Wembley’s rumble, a momentous first Champions League VAR, Declan Rice’s defection to England and the passings of two football legendsJoin the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.We look back at the last couple of days of football, starting with PSG inflicting the first defeat of Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s tenure as Manchester United boss, as they take a 2-0 scoreline back to the Parc des Princes in three weeks time. Continue reading...

Snow, mild panic attacks & tea: Why is this Burnley fan RUNNING to every away Premier League game?

15-02-2019 Burnley fan Scott Cunliffe is running to his side's Premier League away games this season - but Brighton is the longest journey yet.

Tottenham 3-0 Dortmund: Mauricio Pochettino says his players are heroes

15-02-2019 Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino says he is "proud" of his players after they put in a "heroes'" performance in their 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund.

The best of Gordon Banks, Tony Romo's gold and Juve's Welshmen | Classic YouTube

15-02-2019 This week’s round-up also features a Nascar crash, the World Club Challenge and parkour1) Farewell, then, Gordon Banks. Where else to start than The Save? Or, A Version Of The Save. Here he is keeping Denis Law out at Wembley in 1967, beating the looping deflection in style. The Pathe news report on 1966 is always worth a look, not least for some jaffas of saves by our man. No patriotic conviviality a few years later when he saved a penalty from Geoff Hurst in a broiling League Cup semi-final between Stoke and West Ham. Enjoy a compilation of his top stops, soundtracked by some delicious 1960s lounge jazz. Certainly more appropriate than Sabrina Vaz (us neither) to go with this clip of the last game Banks played before the car crash that effectively ended his career as a top-class goalkeeper, although as you can see in this Channel 4 interview, he declared the loss of his right eye “not too bad.” Finally … go on then, here it is.2) It’s the rugby league World Club Challenge this weekend, as Wigan take on the Sydney Roosters. Here’s the first official edition of the game, when Widnes turned over Canberra in 1989. And regard the time Wigan won it for the third time, a belter against Brisbane in 1994, featuring the British national anthem as played on a toy Stratocaster. The 2010 edition was a bit weird: Melbourne Storm won the game, beating Leeds Rhinos 18-10 (first half, and second here), only for them to be stripped of the title due to financial irregularities, but rather than give the crown to Leeds it was just…left in the ether. Continue reading...

Valencia and Denis Cheryshev deal Celtic harrowing Europa League defeat

15-02-2019 Valencia’s passage to the last 16 of the Europa League already seems secure. On a bruising night for Brendan Rodgers and Celtic, the Spanish side cantered towards a victory which should render next week at the Mestalla a formality.That Valencia have superior resource to Celtic is hardly breaking news. Nonetheless, a team normally so ebullient at home were curiously flat and error-ridden. Long before full time it had become a question of how many Valencia were of a mind to score. They settled for two, which barring an unforeseen collapse will prove sufficient. Continue reading...

Matt Kuchar defends decision to pay caddie $5,000 after $1.3m victory

15-02-2019 World No22 says he had agreement with David OrtizCaddies usually receive up to 10% of player’s winningsMatt Kuchar has defended his decision to pay his caddie $5,000 following a victory that earned him $1.3m in the Mayakoba Golf Classic.Kuchar ended a four-year winless drought in November with David “El Tucan” Ortiz acting as his temporary caddie in place of John Wood, who usually carries his bag. Caddies can usually expect to receive up to 10% of a player’s winnings depending on their arrangement. However, Kuchar has confirmed that he paid Ortiz $5,000 and that he subsequently offered an additional $15,000, which Ortiz refused, after the story became public. Continue reading...

Olivier Giroud’s backheel helps Chelsea see out first-leg win in Malmö

15-02-2019 European competition has offered Maurizio Sarri some respite. Chelsea may not have dazzled in southern Sweden, and the Italian was infuriated by the late concession that has left the tie more delicately balanced than he would have hoped. But, in the context of the wounds inflicted recently on his team at Arsenal, Bournemouth and Manchester City, any victory away from home, however workmanlike, is to be cherished.Malmö’s late reward, taken neatly on the gallop by Anders Christiansen as he burst away from Mateo Kovacic and on to Markus Rosenberg’s pass, will pep Swedish belief in next week’s return leg. Sarri was still cursing that collective sloppiness when, in stoppage time, Ross Barkley was caught in possession and the home fans briefly, tantalisingly, even sensed they might pull level. That opportunity was snuffed out by a mess of yellow-shirted bodies, though the head coach, a man on edge, made his exasperation very clear. Continue reading...