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Roberto Martinez – How well would he fit at Everton?

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Following Everton’s announcement that David Moyes has left the club let’s take a deeper look at the favorite to succeed him, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez.

As laid out earlier today, the list of managerial candidates to fill the Scot’s role is quite extensive, and given the circumstances at Everton, perhaps justifiably so.

There are numerous considerations for both the fans and the club.

Evertonians will prefer a British manager or a ‘foreigner’ who possesses good insight of the English game. Many fans speak of the desire to appoint someone who understands ‘the culture,’ not only in the league but at Goodison Park as well. Things like work ethic, spirit, modesty, courage and passion are all qualities that contribute to the club’s identity. After all, Evertonian’s are “born, not manufactured.”

The club will want a manager who is young, up-and-coming, and can be acquired on the cheap. They’ll want a manager who has proven he can work on a shoe-string budget and knows how to get the most out of his players. The club will also want someone who is in for the long haul and can continue Moyes’ good work of making the dark days of the 1990’s a distant memory.

The consensus is that Martinez is the top candidate to satisfy these needs, although some concerns remain over his four major qualities.

Loyalty

One major quality Martinez possesses is that he is incredibly loyal, which goes a long way at Goodison Park. The problem is, does Martinez’ loyalty to Wigan go too far?

When clubs like Aston Villa and Liverpool made past inquiries about his services he simply reaffirmed his commitment to Wigan and chairman Dave Whelan, whom the manager deeply respects.

The question then becomes, what will it take for Everton to convince the Spaniard to sever his ties with the Latics and become loyal to the Toffees?

The most likely answer is relegation and money. If the Latics go down to the Championship, Martinez will be miles more likely to leave Wigan. Not only will he want to continue managing a club in the top-flight, but if Wigan go down the Spaniard will be forced to take a cut on his £2 million salary. Suddenly, the £4 million per year that Moyes has been making at Everton makes a move to Goodison much more tempting.

Economically Efficient

A second accolade that Martinez possesses is the proven ability to operate Wigan on a small budget.

The financial constraints have forced him to operate with one of the bottom three wage bills in the Premier League yet, year-after-year, he has managed to keep the club in top-flight football.

Eye for Talent

Martinez has a wonderful eye for talent.

In his four year tenure at Wigan he’s signed the current life-force of the Latics by bringing in Shaun Maloney, Ivan Ramis, James McArthur, Jordi Gomez, Franco Di Santo, Arouna Kone and Roger Espinoza. It’s a market savvy that mimics the purchases Moyes has made over his time at Everton and one that will go a long way to impressing the notoriously frugal Toffee chairman, Bill Kenwright.

Style of Play

Martinez’ best quality is that he cultivates a beautiful brand of attack-minded football.

It’s an entertaining style that many Evertonians criticized Moyes for failing to implement. To achieve this, the Spanish manager typically utilizes a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formation, which Everton has experimented with in the past and could foreseeably implement with Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines (assuming the left-back stays at Goodison Park).

Detractors will argue that with Martinez’ offensive flair comes a defensive ineptitude. It’s a point that’s difficult to argue against as the Latics have conceded a league worst 67 goals this season. Of course it should be noted that Martinez’ current portfolio of center-backs includes the likes of Gary Caldwell and Paul Sharner. Nevertheless, a tidy defense is something that Everton has long prided itself on so if Martinez comes to Goodison, he’ll need to be mindful of the tradition.

So how does Martinez feel about a possible move to Merseyside?

Unsurprisingly, the Spanish manager – who’s side plays Manchester City in the FA Cup on Saturday and is in the midst of a league relegation battle – remains mum on the topic. When asked recently whether he has thought about replacing Moyes at Everton, Martinez replied:

“At this moment it would be a waste of time. The most important thing is to be as ready as we can for Saturday and then the two other finals we have in the league after that.

“What goes around on the outside doesn’t affect us. We won’t lose any focus.”

Electricity restored at Maracana after some late bills paid

This Feb. 2, 2017 shows Maracana stadium with a dry field in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Stadium operators, the Rio state government, and Olympic organizers have fought over $1 million in unpaid electricity bills and management of the venue. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rio’s electricity utility has turned the power back on at the famous Maracana stadium after it was shut off for almost a month in a dispute over $1 million in unpaid bills.

The utility on Thursday said power had been restored after the stadium operator paid 1.3 million reals ($430,000) in late bills from November through January. It was shut off on Jan. 26 in the dispute.

The utility said it is still negotiating for 1.8 million reals ($600,000) in unpaid bills from the organizing committee of last year’s Rio Olympics. Rio 2016 organizers still owe millions to companies which helped prepare the Olympics and Paralympics

The stadium has been vandalized over the last month with seats torn out, televisions stolen and the grass field left untended.

VIDEO: FC Dallas youngster Kellyn Acosta unleashes howitzer goal

Arabe Unido goalkeeper Miguel lloyd (1) reaches up to block a shot from FC Dallas as defender Rigoberto Nino (2) and FC Dallas' Kellyn Acosta (23) watch in the first half of a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals soccer match, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017 in Frisco, Texas (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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With FC Dallas taking on Panamanian club Aribe Unido in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, 21-year-old Kellyn Acosta grabbed a second for the Major League Soccer club 10 minutes past halftime.

It wasn’t just any old goal. It was a STRIKE.

The Texas native trailed the play, and with Roland Lamah shut off in the box by solid man-marking on the ball, Acosta was there to provide an outlet, and he blasted a vicious strike into the top-left corner. The find by Lamah was a smart one with a host of defenders closing in, and his calm demeanor was rewarded as his teammate launched a rocket into the back of the net.

The goal is a fodder for those who believe Acosta, who has played full-back for much of his career, should be a midfielder instead. His positioning and ability to trail the play with deadly accuracy is what makes this goal so special.

Acosta would bag a third in the dying minutes of the game, giving FC Dallas a 3-0 lead to take on the road as they travel to Panama for the second leg on March 1st.

Top Premier League Storylines – Week 26

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Claudio Ranieri, manager of Leicester City speaks with his players during the break in extra-time in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round replay match between Leicester City and Derby City at The King Power Stadium on February 8, 2017 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
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Well. This weekend’s return of Premier League action was already slated to be an exciting one, but now with today’s enormous bit of breaking news, it has become even more intriguing.

[ WATCH: Previewing every match in Week 26 ]

There’s plenty to discuss at the top of the Premier League table, as Arsenal and Spurs look to heal their European wounds, but it’s what’s at the bottom that has everyone talking today.

How will Leicester City react after the firing of Claudio Ranieri?

Leicester City vs. Liverpool —  3:00 p.m. EDT Monday on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Well. The Foxes had their work cut out for them coming into this match already, but now it has a whole new flavor. Claudio Ranieri has been dismissed just nine months after winning the Premier League title, and sitting just a point off the drop coming into the weekend (and inside the relegation zone coming into the match?) Leicester City will be lead into King Power Stadium by Assistant Manager Craig Shakespeare and First Team Coach Mike Stowell.

Liverpool stopped a five-match winless streak last time out with a quality 2-0 win over Tottenham, but the Reds defense has been leaky all season, and if Leicester is to break its horrid 610-minute goalless streak, it would be here. The Foxes are without a win in five and have not scored a Premier League goal in all of the 2017 calendar year. Can they respond and begin to play for themselves rather than their former manager?

Can Dele Alli and Tottenham bounce back?

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Stoke City — 8:30 a.m. EDT Sunday on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Spurs looked like they had rediscovered their Champions League form with a comprehensive smothering of Championship side Fulham in the FA Cup. Then, they welcomed KAA Gent to Wembley and promptly lost their heads. Dele Alli was sent off for one of the worst challenges you’ll see, and Spurs were vulnerable as a result, crashing out of the Europa League.

Now, Mauricio Pochettino must regroup the squad and get them ready to host Stoke, a team they clobbered 4-0 in the third match of the season. The squad is still healthy, and the loss of European play may actually help them in the long run. Here, however, it provides them with negative form and a short prep time. They need this one badly to solidify a top four place moving forward, can Poch turn it around?

Can Sunderland get a result against surging Everton?

Everton vs. Sunderland — 10:00 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSports.com

Hull City hosts Burnley. Crystal Palace welcomes Middlesbrough. With those two fellow occupants of the relegation zone playing at home against lower-half sides, the spotlight is squarely on Sunderland. The Black Cats have a tough matchup, on the road at Everton.

The Toffees haven’t lost a Premier League match since falling to Liverpool in mid-December, and have scored 19 goals in the eight matches since that blemish. With that in mind, Sunderland must get some kind of a result to pull off the bottom of the Premier League table. Can they snatch points at Goodison Park?

EFL Cup final could leave Chelsea well out in front

Chelsea vs. Swansea City — 10:00 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSports.com

Chelsea is already eight points ahead of the pack and looks to be the clear favorite to win the Premier League title. It could get even clearer after this week. Manchester United is off, Manchester City is off, and Arsenal is off. Couple that with Tottenham struggling and Liverpool facing a desperate Leicester City side, and it’s entirely conceivable that a win for Chelsea over Swansea City could leave the Blues as far as 11 points clear at the top of the table, albeit a game ahead of some. That would all but wrap things up, wouldn’t it?

Mario Balotelli handed 2-match ban for abusing referee

FILE- In this Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 file photo, Nice's forward Mario Balotelli, of Italy, reacts during the Europa League group I soccer match between OGC Nice and FC Salzburg, in Nice stadium, southeastern France. Nice striker Mario Balotelli’s teammate Alassane Pleas has confirmed he heard Bastia supporters racially abusing Balotelli with monkey chants during the league match on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)
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After being sent off for referee abuse in last weekend’s Ligue 1 win over FC Lorient, Nice striker Mario Balotelli has been handed a two-match ban.

Balotelli earned his second red card of the season in the 69th minute of a 1-0 win that kept Nice within striking distance of the leaders Monaco. It was his second straight red and third sending-off of the season, having already been dismissed in reverse fixture against Lorient after a pair of yellows in the final three minutes of the game.

After the mercurial Italian’s hot start to the season, he has just one goal in the last two months, the third in a 3-1 win over Guingamp. He has not scored a point-winning goal since bagging both in a 2-1 win over Dijon back on December 18th.

Balotelli’s agent, the well-known Mino Raiola, was so frustrated with his client’s continual dismissal problems that he told French media conglomerate RMC Sport that the solution to Balotelli’s problems is to “cut out his tongue.”

“I have already found the solution: you have to cut out his tongue,” Raiola said bluntly. “To play soccer, there is no need for language! In all seriousness, he knows he made a big mistake and he has no excuse. He knows he needs to improve that. He is very sad for him, for the team.”

The suspension leaves Balotelli on the sidelines for tomorrow’s match against 11th placed Montpellier and then on March 4th at 17th placed Dijon. Nice sits in third, level on points with 2nd placed PSG and three back of leaders Monaco.