Ryan Nelsen will join Toronto FC on February 1

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So that wasn’t so bad after all. While we all had a little chuckle and shook our heads when we heard new Toronto FC head coaching hire Ryan Nelsen was still obligated to England’s Queen Park Rangers, now comes news that he will leave West London after QPR’s game against Manchester City on Jan. 29.

The center-half has been a consistent choice for Harry Redknapp in the middle of QPR’s defense, and with a contract that runs through the end of the season, it was unclear when the 35-year-old would be allowed to begin his stewardship of the Reds.

Now, as reported here by the CBC, Nelsen’s set to join Toronto on Feb. 1:

There was speculation Nelsen would have to finish the season in England, where QPR is in last place in the Premier League and fighting to avoid relegation to a lesser league.

“I just had to be respectful to my club, and obviously the media is pretty ruthless, the fans are pretty ruthless, so it just had to be handled properly,” Nelsen said. “It was always going to happen, once we sat down with QPR and had an adult conversation, and that’s been done.

“I’m just really looking forward to properly being here full-time.”

Nelsen will join the team Feb. 1 in Orlando to continue training camp in the warmth of the Sunshine State.

Even better, Nelsen’s thoughts on the effect his departure will (or should) have on his soon-to-be old team:

“I’m 35-and-a-half, if they’re relying on me to get them out of situation like that, then they’re in a bit of trouble,” he said laughing. “They understood when I came in that I’ve had job offers before in coaching, and they knew I was going to go at some stage.”

In related news, Nelsen’s also called time on his international career, answering another question posed by his surprise appointment. The New Zealand captain had made 49 appearances for the All Whites but recently informed head coach Frank van Hattum that he has decided to walk away:

“When you’re not enjoying the playing side as much as other aspects of football, you know it is time to move on.  That time is now and I want to commit all my energies into my coaching career with Toronto FC,” he said.

STREAM LIVE: The Manchester Derby

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The third Manchester Derby of the season is the first away from Old Trafford, as Manchester United visits Manchester City (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

There’s much on the line, as the sides sit just two points apart in the race for the Top Four. Man City would leapfrog third-place Liverpool with a win, while United could join the Reds on 66 points with a match-in-hand.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Sergio Aguero starts for Man City, with Gabriel Jesus on the bench.

On the other side, it’ll be a physical middle-third guarded by Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, and Marouane Fellaini. Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard start on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane, Aguero. Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Fernando, Navas, Clichy, Gabriel Jesus, A. Garcia

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Carrick, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan; Rashford, Martial. Subs: Romero, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Young, Lingard, Rooney.

Ex-Liverpool CEO shares biting story of Suarez transfer

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Ian Ayre’s got jokes.

The former Liverpool CEO lifted the lid on some transfer stories during a Merseyside lecture this week.

Of note, Ayre admitted that the club thought Dele Alli demanded too much given what he had produced when the Reds has the chance to sign him as a 16-year-old, and said that Liverpool could’ve landed Alexis Sanchez but the player wanted to live in London (“We couldn’t move the football club to London, unfortunately,” he quipped).

The best part relayed by Sky Sports had to do with Luis Suarez, and shows the relentless nature of the transfer market. Clearly Barcelona had interest in Suarez before the fiery striker bit Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, because, well…

“I remember the sporting director of Barcelona calling me during that game, immediately as Suarez bit the player, and he said to me ‘my friend, he’s bitten somebody, how can this be the price?’ I said ‘he’d already bitten somebody when you first bid!'”

We’re sure there’s a certain amount of storytelling in there, but undoubtedly some truth.

Given Barca paid a reported $84 million for the striker, the asking price couldn’t have started that much higher.

Men in Blazers podcast: Chelsea tops Spurs, Top Four predictions

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Rog and Davo return to discuss Chelsea’s FA Cup semifinal victory over Spurs, update their Top Four predictions (again), and dive into the depths of the relegation zone. Plus, the very important movement to change “Hudson Street” to “Ray Hudson Street.”

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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De Rossi admits desire to beat young teammates with bat

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Daniele De Rossi doesn’t like the modern world.

Okay, okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the Roma legend dropped a funny quote when discussing the differences between young players these days and those when he began his career.

A one-club man, the 33-year-old De Rossi has played in 556 matches for i Lupi and admits that he probably flummoxed veterans when he began his career because that’s the cyclical nature of adulthood.

From Italia Football:

“When we started out, it was all different, that was 20 years ago. Now a 20-year-old will get into the first team and have more Instagram followers than Messi. When I was young, the older players would say ‘it wasn’t like in my day’ – that’s life and it always will be.

“Mind you, some of them irritate me too. When I see them do live Instagram videos from inside the locker room before a game, I’d like to take a baseball bat to their teeth… But they’re 18 years old and in 20 years’ time they will find themselves complaining about the youth of today.”

Mmmm, tastes like ash and hickory.

It’s a safe bet that De Rossi isn’t wild about Stephan El Shaarawy’s hair, we imagine, but living legends generally get a little leeway with their comments in the media.

Plus, it sounds like he has the wisdom to understand the “why” and at least channel his angry into tackles.