Roberto Mancini makes excuses for Man City

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The standings don’t lie, right? Not after 30 games? I ask because Roberto Mancini thinks the Premier League chart is being a little dishonest.

Mancini’s Manchester City are fifteen points behind United ahead of Monday’s Manchester derby but the City manager feels that the whole won, lost, tied thing is somewhat economical with the truth.

“We don’t deserve to stay 15 points behind,” he said. “[United] have played well, they have won a lot of games and the last time they lost was at Norwich 18 games ago, so they deserve to stay on the top. But not by 15 points. It is not a true table.”

City were top after 30 matches last season, but only on goal difference from Sir Alex Ferguson’s crew, who’d played one fewer game. They’d scored 72 goals and conceded 22. Today? 55 goals for, 26 against.

“The difference is that we have scored 20 goals less than last year. Only this is the difference,” Mancini asserted. “We have conceded the same amount, we have the best defence again, but we are missing only these goals. We had a lot of injuries, we lost Sergio [Agüero], we lost Mario [Balotelli] and Mario scored 15 goals last season. We need to improve our team. Not like last summer. We are a young team. It is only two years that we have played for the title.”

(MORE: Joe Hart calls gap ‘true reflection’.)

Mancini’s warmed to this theme before, presumably alluding to the fact that United bought Robin van Persie and City didn’t. And last month he lamented the failure to sign another defender in January to cover for the injured Vincent Kompany. But does anyone really want to hear the manager of a club with City’s resources complain about a lack of transfer spending? The failure of last summer’s recruits to pan out is on Mancini. So, too, the loss of form and apparent enthusiasm of some of his players.

As for the “lost” Balotelli – well, Mancini decided to sell him to AC Milan in January.

Maybe the surrender of their long-awaited league title could have been more easily forgiven had City not been so abject in the Champions League.

But City have regressed, Mancini must shoulder much of the blame, and the truth is, they’ve got what they deserved.

WATCH: Camila’s wicked swerving goal for Brazil

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The Tournament of Nations got underway earlier Thursday, with Brazil and Japan drawing 1-1 in Seattle.

While some in the crowd may’ve been waiting to see the United States women’s national team and Australia in the second game of the twin bill, they got an absolute treat from Brazil’s Camila.

[ MORE: Galaxy’s season-changing signing ]

The Orlando Pride midfielder is yet to scoop up 10 caps, but blasted this 25-yard goal home with a wicked outside bend.

The aesthetics are terrific.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.