Hope for Hoffenheim under new coach

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Hoffenheim’s new coach enjoyed a winning start as his team beat Fortuna Duesseldorf 3-0 today to keep alive their faint hopes of avoiding relegation.

The German club booted coach Marco Kurz and general manager Andreas Mueller on Tuesday and brought in Markus Gisdol, a 43-year-old who used to coach their reserves.

Kurz replaced former Germany, Liverpool and Bayern Munich defender Markus Babbel at the helm in January but lasted only ten matches, collecting just two wins and two draws. When he left, Hoffenheim were nine points adrift of safety. Thanks to this afternoon’s victory, they’ve cut the gap to six as Duesseldorf sit fifteenth, one place outside the drop/relegation play-off zone. But Hoffenheim have only six matches left.

Left back Fabian Johnson started for Hoffenheim but his fellow U.S international, midfielder Daniel Williams, was left out of the line-up.

Relegation after five seasons in Germany’s top tier would close the chapter on a remarkable rise that’s both romantic and routine.

The club from near scenic Heidelberg in south-west Germany were minnows playing fifth-level soccer as recently as 1999-2000, and everybody loves to see an underdog thrive. But how much of an against-the-odds tale is it? After all, much like Wigan Athletic in England, the club has been bankrolled and cultivated to a size far beyond its natural limits by a generous benefactor. In Hoffenheim’s case, that’s Dietmar Hopp, one of the founders of software giants SAP.

WATCH: Rashford sends arrow home to put Man Utd up two

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Seemingly everything he touches turns to gold goals.

Marcus Rashford scored twice in the first 17 minutes of Wednesday’s League Cup third round match versus Burton Albion at Old Trafford, and the second was a beaut.

[ MORE: Everton fines Rooney ]

It was a classy little chipped finish that made it 1-0, but Rashford unleashed from outside the 18 to beat a flying goalkeeper and put a jewel on the scoreboard.

Well, not really a jewel, but picture that “2” as real shiny.

Rashford now has five goals in eight matches for Manchester United this season, and 22 in 78 for his career. He turns 20 next month, which is nice.

Everton fines Rooney two weeks’ wages

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Wayne Rooney‘s move back to Everton was always going to benefit the Merseyside community, though it wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Everton has fined Rooney two weeks’ wages following his admission earlier this week to a drunk driving charge.

[ MORE: PL Player Power Rankings ]

According to the BBC, “Everton intend to give the entire sum – thought to be about £300,000 – to local projects through their Everton in the Community scheme.”

At a Monday court date, Rooney learned that he would not be allowed to drive for two years. He was also fined and assigned 100 hours of community service.

Rooney has two goals and an assist in nine appearances, all starts, for the struggling Toffees. He is not in the 18 for Everton’s third round League Cup tie versus Sunderland on Wednesday.

LIVE: Man United, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal enter League Cup

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Five more League Cup third round games take place on Wednesday with Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton all hosting lower-league opponents.

[ LIVE: Latest League Cup scores ] 

Holders Man United welcome Burton Albion to Old Trafford, while Arsenal host Doncaster Rovers, Chelsea welcome Nottingham Forest to Stamford Bridge, Everton clash with recently relegated Sunderland and Manchester City head to West Brom.

On Tuesday five Premier League teams were knocked out of the competition as Liverpool lost at Leicester City, Stoke were upset at Bristol City, Burnley lost to Leeds United on penalty kicks, Brighton lost at Bournemouth and Huddersfield were knocked out by Crystal Palace.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s League Cup roundup ]

Below is the full schedule for Wednesday’s League Cup games with all games kicking off at 2:45 p.m. ET unless otherwise stated.

Click on the link above for live updates on all five games, while the fourth-round draw takes place after the games have finished.


Wednesday’s League Cup schedule

Arsenal vs. Doncaster Rovers
Chelsea vs. Nottingham Forest
Everton vs. Sunderland
Manchester United vs. Burton Albion – 3 p.m. ET
West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester City – 3 p.m. ET

Men In Blazers podcast: Chelsea-Arsenal, Rooney, Pep

Men In Blazers
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Rog and Davo break down Arsenal’s draw at Chelsea, Wazza’s return to Old Trafford, and a robotic performance from Pep’s City side. Plus, a musical number at the end.

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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