No doubt there will be a few sore heads in the red half of Manchester this morning.
That’s because the title celebrations continued long into the night as Manchester United grabbed the EPL crown back from ‘noisy neighbors’ Manchester City in emphatic fashion. The Red Devils sealed the 2012-13 trophy with a 3-0 win against Aston Villa on Monday night at Old Trafford, clinching the hallowed title with four games to go.
Defender Rio Ferdinand tweeted out this picture of pretty much the whole squad having a drink to celebrate late last night. And incredibly for Ryan Giggs, this is the 13th league title in his United career.
Robin van Persie’s clinical first-half hat trick sealed the title in front of their own fans, as United’s target now switches to registering a record points haul. They can better Chelsea 2004-05 record of 95 points in a season by winning their remaining four games.
So after a stroll in the park for much of this campaign, where does Manchester United’s latest league title rank alongside the others?
Well, it’s right up there. Many wrote United off after Manchester City grabbed the crown so dramatically on the final day of the 2011-12 season. But Sir Alex Ferguson splashed the cash to get RVP on board and United have won 27 of their 34 EPL games this season. I’d say this title win ranks in the top five for United since Ferguson took charge. The 1998-99 crown was crucial, due to it being part of the famous treble, and the first few EPL titles spearheaded by Eric Cantona in the mid 90s were significant in establishing the dynasty that remains today. But this season’s success isn’t far behind, as United have roared back to silence Roberto Mancini’s Man City side by recording their 13th EPL crown in 20 years with consummate ease.
However this United team isn’t a vintage one. Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and RVP have all gone through long barren spells in front of goal and there’s been plenty of scrappy 1-0 and 2-1 wins along the way. But after their acrimonious Champions League exit to Real Madrid, United have rallied admirably to accelerate away from the rest of the EPL with professional and focused displays.
The fact that they’re taking the title away from Manchester City makes it that much sweeter, and with a plethora of players all under the age of 23 — including Tom Cleverley, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Rafael, David de Gea and Danny Welbeck — it seems as though Ferguson’s rebuild has set United up for yet another decade of dominance.
We were treated to a pair of very different but still aesthetically pleasing goals as the first legs of the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League kicked off on Tuesday.
Ajax, Shakhtar Donetsk and Monaco are three of the biggest teams playing at this stage of the tournament, with the first two playing today and one featuring in the goals in question.
[ MORE: Everton to land Gueye? ]
That was Ajax, as PAOK’s Djalma Campos took a walk around wandering Ajax goalkeeper Jesper Cilleseen and cut a goal home from a tricky, tricky angle.
The Dutch legends came back to draw 1-1, but gave up a quality road goal to its Greek visitors.
Romanian powers Steaua Bucharest found themselves a thrilling free kick goal in a 1-1 draw at Sparta Prague.
Nicolae Stanciu is the goal scorer in question, the 23-year-old who’s scored four goals in 7 appearances for the Romania national team since breaking through this season.
This is how he did it today:
Tuesday’s first legs
BATE Borisov 1-0 Dundalk
Ludogorets Razgrad 2-2 Red Star Belgrade
Sparta Prague 1-1 Steaua Bucharest
Partizani Tirana 0-1 Red Bull Salzburg
Viktoria Plzen 0-0 Qarabag
Rostov 2-2 Anderlecht
Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 Young Boys
Ajax 1-1 PAOK
Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 Dinamo Tbilisi
PARIS (AP) French champion Paris Saint-Germain has signed attacking midfielder Giovani Lo Celso from Argentine club Rosario Central on a five-year deal, making him new coach Unai Emery’s fourth signing since replacing Laurent Blanc last month.
The 20-year-old Lo Celso, who operates best as a probing playmaker behind the strikers, scored twice for Rosario last season.
No financial details of the deal were given.
[ MORE: Everton to land Gueye? ]
In recent weeks, PSG has signed France winger Hatem Ben Arfa, Poland midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak and Belgium right back Thomas Meunier.
Lo Celso says he hopes to “follow in the footsteps” of countrymen Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore – who are key players for PSG.
Before joining up with his new teammates, however, Lo Celso will play for Argentina at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next month.
If you’ve read this space at all, you’ll know PST is very high on Aston Villa box-to-box midfielder Idrissa Gueye.
Only N'Golo Kante registered more successful tackles than Gueye in last season’s Premier League, and that came on a Villa side which endured its first PL relegation.
[ MORE: Sounders, Schmid part ways ]
Gueye, 26, has a release clause of $9.3 million, and according to Sky Sports it’s now been met by two teams: Marseille and Everton. Reports say Gueye prefers to stay in England, so Ronald Koeman could have a huge addition to his squad.
It’s not overstating it to say Gueye could revolutionize the Everton squad, allowing players like Ross Barkley even more freedom and giving terrific cover. Gueye has a better offensive acumen than we saw with Villa, and is an invaluable part of Senegal’s set-up.
The underachieving Seattle Sounders have cost their legendary coach his job.
Sigi Schmid and the Sounders have agreed to part ways, the team announced on Tuesday, ending an eight-year run as the only coach in franchise’s MLS history.
Schmid, 63, is one of the most decorated coaches in MLS history, and has four U.S. Open Cup titles with Seattle after a pair of MLS Cup wins between Columbus and Los Angeles.
[ MORE: How did Yedlin, CCV play vs Juventus? ]
He also won three College Cup titles at UCLA between 1980-99.
Here’s Schmid, from SoundersFC.com:
“I want to thank Seattle Sounders FC for the opportunity to lead this club over the past eight years, with particular gratitude to Adrian Hanauer, Joe Roth and the rest of the club’s ownership group. I’d also like to thank my coaches and technical staff for the support they’ve given me, and most importantly I want to thank my players for their tremendous effort throughout the years,” Schmid said.
“I’m proud of the success we’ve achieved in winning five major trophies in Seattle, qualifying for the postseason for seven-straight seasons. My only disappointment is that we were unable to bring home an MLS Cup to our tremendous fans, who have always been supportive through good times and bad. In closing, I want to thank the Sounders FC organization, the club’s fans and the city of Seattle for this amazing run.”
Longtime assistant Brian Schmetzer takes over in the interim, tasked with finding a way to improve on the uninspiring Sounders’ 6-12-2 record.
The Sounders are 10 points out of the final playoff spot and haven’t won since June 22 (2L-4T). They’ve scored the third-fewest goals in MLS. Without knowing what’s going on behind the scenes, the players’ performances over the last few weeks raised serious character concerns. Hopefully a coaching change somehow eases those, as it did for Chelsea.