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Wigan through to FA Cup finals, Millwall fans play to type

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Whatever thin Cinderella story Millwall carried into today’s FA Cup semifinal became trite with the opening whistle, the beginning of a stretch of one-sided play that left Wigan up one a halftime.

It’s not that the Latics were convincing or mustered many threats. They just didn’t give up the ball. They were never really asked to. As they effortlessly played between midfield and defense, looking up at regular intervals to see if Millwall’s defense had slipped, the gap between a Premier League side and their Championship equivalent became evident.

Unless Wigan screwed up, they weren’t going to lose, and when Callum McManaman’s built on  Sean Maloney’s opener, all that was left was the inevitable. Wigan was moving on to the FA Cup final with a 2-0 win, a result that brought out the worth in Millwall’s fans.

As the matches final minutes passed, announcers began describing in-fighting among the Lions’ supporter, behavior playing to a stereotype that seems unwilling to fade into anachronism.

From a Guardian scribe on site:

Sachin Nakrani had a decent overview of the Millwall problem yesterday, within which you’ll find:

It is impossible to ignore the negativity. This, after all, is a club that had to close their old stadium in Cold Blow Lane due to crowd disturbances as far back as the 1920s, and in practically every decade since their fans have been involved in controversies and flashpoints, none more infamous than the riot at Kenilworth Road 28 years ago that led to 47 injuries and 31 arrests.

In light of today’s events, the words of one prominent supporter seem paradoxical, a defense of fans’ current state one day before today’s embarrassment:

In any case Graeme Smale, secretary of the Millwall Supporters Club, insists these are isolated incidents. “We are not blameless but I remember seeing Clyde Best being abused by West Ham fans in the 70s, and rioting by fans at many other clubs, yet none of them have got Millwall’s reputation,” the 55-year-old says. “Our fans have given up on ever being given a fair chance and that is where the ‘nobody likes us’ chant comes from. It is a siege-mentality created by people who are angry and fed up.”

Today’s incident was unfortunate, particularly since it happened at Wembley. It’s important to add the caveat: This was likely a small portion of the support. Still, if Millwall supporters have a reputation for this, continuously play to that type, and yet it’s still allowed to happen, all those of us sitting on the outside can do is shrug our shoulders, shake our heads, and say “that’s Millwall.”

Oh, small footnote: Wigan have never won a major trophy, and now their in a final, and it’s an amazing achievement for a club that constantly fights for Premier League survival, and Cinderella lives. Yeah, all this deserved to be discussed, too.

Ronaldo shows no sign of injury while hanging with Conor McGregor

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Cristiano Ronaldo may not be ready for the UEFA Super Cup, but he’s no longer limping around.

To explore the Real Madrid superstar’s Instagram is to see Ronaldo, sometimes clothed, hanging out with celebrities.

In the last couple weeks we’ve seen him with Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, and now his “bro” Conor McGregor.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

Wait, what?

Yeah, Ronaldo is friends with the MMA star, and showed no ill form (and no brace of any kind) in several posed photos with McGregor.

Although admittedly, McGregor’s IG game is a bit better: The Irish fighter posted a photo of himself sunning in his briefs with the caption, “I’m gonna get him on the Forbes list by next year. But I’m gonna get him on the tan by next week.”

Good luck with both, bro.

Great to see you bro!!💪🏽🔝

A photo posted by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on Jul 24, 2016 at 3:48pm PD

Bruce pens letter to Hull fans: “Desperately wanted to make it work”

YORK, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Steve Bruce manager of  Hull City ahead of the pre-season friendly match between York City and Hull City at Bootham Cresent on July 23, 2014  in York, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
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Many Hull City fans didn’t want Steve Bruce to leave the club, and this open letter shows why.

After leaving the club by “mutual consent” on Friday — it was first widely reported that he quit — fans protested at Hull’s game on Monday.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

Bruce may’ve had his problems with Hull’s ownership, but he certainly got his supporters’ feelings right down to the core.

From the Hull Daily Mail:

My biggest regret is having to walk away but it was a decision I had to make for the sake of the club. The last 12 months have been very tough and it felt like the right step for the club to move forward in a different direction and with someone else in charge.

I desperately wanted to make it work this summer and be a Premier League manager again but, sadly, it wasn’t to be. Nevertheless, I’ve left Hull City with some fantastic memories that I’ll always cherish, including just eight weeks ago in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

Class from the longtime boss, and we imagine he’ll have a job very soon if he wants it.

Report: Everton to activate release clause of Stoke’s Arnautovic

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Marko Arnautovic (1st L) of Stoke City competes for the ball against Seamus Coleman (2nd L) and Gareth Barry (1st Rof Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Stoke City at Goodison Park on December 28, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
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Everton is going to activate Marko Arnautovic‘s $16 million release clause to bring the Stoke City striker to Goodison Park, according to a report out of Austria.

Stoke had been trying to sign Arnautovic to a contract extension, but the player was reportedly prepared to play out the final year of his deal.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

The huge 27-year-old Austrian has been with Stoke since 2013, and broke through with 11 Premier League goals last season.

Arnautovic would give Everton support behind Romelu Lukaku, and insurance in case the Toffees do wind up selling their Belgian striker. Everton also has Arouna Kone as a potential target forward, but Oumar Niasse is expecting to leave after less than a year at Goodison Park.

Chelsea wins the League… of Hate; Bournemouth, Leicester not hated

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Diego Costa of Chelsea celebrates his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Chelsea at St Mary's Stadium on February 27, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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A family of English newspapers conducted its annual survey of which teams are the most hated in the Premier League, and there’s a new champion.

Manchester United has dropped to second in the table to Chelsea in what the Manchester Evening News called the “League of Hate”.

[ MORE: Rooney’s England position not set ]

According to the MEN, 10,000 fans were quizzed on their love and hate:

A national survey asked fans of each top flight club which sides they hate, and which they love, and the west London club came out as the most disliked club overall.

United, who won the dubious accolade last year, have been revealed to be the next most reviled side.

It’s no surprise that the league’s more successful sides sit atop the table while newer PL clubs like Bournemouth and Burnley are not reviled. That said, Leicester’s dream story has them 19th. How much more success do they need to have before shooting up the hate table?

Here’s the Top Five, and all results:

1) Chelsea
2) Manchester United
3) Liverpool
4) Manchester City
5) Arsenal