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Aston Villa’s Andy Dufresne moment: Alex McLeish finally gone

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One of the most cataclysmically moronic managerial decisions ever has been corrected. Finally. Less than one year after Randy Lerner looked at the relegation of Aston Villa’s arch rival and decided to pay for their manager, Alex McLeish is out at Villa Park.

No word of an official apology from the owner’s office, which is fine. AVFC’s supporters deserve much more, though it’s difficult to figure out exactly how much.

At the risk of going over old ground, it bares reminding how idiotic this move was. Birmingham City won the League Cup, but they also played the most soul-crushing brand of soccer in the Premier League. The style McLeish infused in the Blues embodied every trite cliché soccer haters spew while extolling the virtues of some of our indefensibly mind-numbing pastimes. It was 11 players trying to collide with the other guy’s 11, and if one of his team’s fear-driven long balls happened to generate a goal, so be it.

Imagine being an Aston Villa fan and having to get with that dross. Whereas at one time Martin O’Neill had Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor exploding into counter attacks, McLeish was using Emile Heskey as a midfielder. The results:

  • 37 goals, fewest in the Premier League;
  • 17 draws, five more than any other club;
  • a -16 goal difference;
  • 16th place;
  • a 10-match winless streak to close the season, with only one win in Villa’s last 17 games;
  • Villa’s worst league finish in six years;
  • the club’s lowest point total in 42 years;
  • an intimate relationship with eternal ennui.

The collateral damage: Premier League fans were treated to 38 more games of horrible, horrible soccer.

Randy Lerner and Villa’s board got what they bought. Unfortunately, they had to bring their supporters into their self-induced nightmare. I can’t remember a fan base as morose as this year’s Villans, and who can blame them? It’s as if Dad came, told you he’s marrying the teacher that clearly hates you, and oh by the way, they already had a new baby that they love so much more than you.

Thankfully, bad Mom is gone, and she that crying brat with her. Villa fans may have had to crawl through 500 yards of foulness we can’t even imagine, but today, they got their Andy Dufresne moment:

(warning, one S-bomb in the following video, so it’s debatably NSFW-y)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SheaMMd8H5g]

Report: Manchester City makes final bid for John Stones

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16:  Diego Costa of Chelsea and John Stones of Everton compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on January 16, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
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Take it or leave it.

Manchester City has made a final push for Everton defender John Stones, and has set its last offer at $52 million. Last month, the Citizens made the same exact bid for the 22-year-old, which was rejected by Everton.

[ MORE: Italian legend Christian Vieri looks to join Chinese Super League ]

City is said to be looking to avoid overpaying for Stones, after compensating Porto over $55 million for centerback Eliaquim Mangala two years ago.

While Stones has gone on record saying that he wants to play for manager Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium, it remains to be seen if Everton will part ways with its prized defender.

NASL weekend preview: Rayo OKC faces stiff test against Minnesota

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Following a midweek loss against FC Edmonton, the New York Cosmos will try to rebound at home against Puerto Rico FC.

The Cosmos currently have two losses during the Fall Season, having conceded 10 goals in six matches, which is the second-most in NASL.

[ MORE: MLS weekend preview ]

With no unbeatens remaining, Spring Season champion Indy Eleven looks to keep its place near the top of the table against Miami FC.

Minnesota United looks to build off of its strong start against league leaders Rayo OKC, with the two teams separated by a mere two points.

Meanwhile, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers continue to search for their first win of the Fall Season against the struggling Jacksonville Armada.

Saturday

New York Cosmos vs. Puerto Rico FC

Ottawa Fury vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. Jacksonville Armada

Miami FC vs. Indy Eleven

Rayo OKC vs. Minnesota United

Sunday

FC Edmonton vs. Carolina RailHawks

Liverpool keeper Karius to miss two months

MEYRIN, SWITZERLAND - JULY 22:   Loris Karius of 1. FSV Mainz 05 in action during the pre-season friendly match between 1. FSV Mainz 05 and AS Monaco at Stade des Arberes on July 22, 2015 in Meyrin, Switzerland.  (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)
Harold Cunningham/Getty Images
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He was tabbed to be Liverpool’s opening day starter in goal, but Loris Karius could now miss the first two months of the Premier League season after suffering a hand injury in Wednesday’s International Champions Cup loss against Chelsea.

[ MORE: Real looking at Sissoko, Verratti as midfield options ]

The 23-year-old was brought to the Reds this summer from Bundesliga side Mainz for over $6 million.

Karius opted not to represent Germany at next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in order to avoid missing any game action with Liverpool. Unfortunately, the young keeper will now likely miss between eight and 10 weeks.

Italian legend Christian Vieri looks to make comeback

ROME, ITALY - OCTOBER 19:  Christian Vieri poses with the UEFA Champions League Trophy during the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour 2012/13 on October 19, 2012 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images for UEFA)
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images for UEFA
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His career ended over seven years ago, but former Italy international Christian Vieri is looking to make an improbable comeback in a country that continues to attract big stars.

The 43-year-old Vieri is reportedly coming out of retirement to join the Chinese Super League, and posted a video on Twitter confirming his plans.

Last playing in 2009, Vieri finished his career where it began — in Italy — with Atalanta. During his career, the striker played for 10 clubs in his native country, while also spending time in Spain and France with Atletico Madrid and Monaco, respectively.

Vieri made his name with Inter Milan, where he recorded six straight seasons with double-digit goals. At the height of his career with Internazionale, Vieri netted 27 times across all competitions during the 2002/03 season.