With David Moyes bound for United, who’s next in line at Everton?

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With David Moyes’ bags packed for Old Trafford the issue now turns to who Everton will bring in to replace the Scottish gaffer. Roberto Martinez tops Everton’s list of candidates, which includes Phil Neville, Neil Lennon and Michael Laudrup.

Here’s a look at the top candidates and some insight as to how well they might fit at Everton.

  • Roberto Martinez: The Wigan manager is the favorite to take the reins at Goodison Park this summer. The Spaniard has led Wigan to Saturday’s FA Cup final against Manchester City and has managed to keep the Latics playing top flight football despite having one of the lowest budgets in the Premier League. With rumors that he denied Liverpool last year during their search for a manger, it could be harder than one thinks to separate Martinez from his beloved Dave Whelan.
  • Phil Neville: Everton’s club captain, who’s contract with the Toffees expires at the end of the season, has made no secret of his desire to step into management, and Moyes would support the decision. Some believe, however, that Moyes may take Neville with him to Old Trafford, setting up a dramatic return to his boyhood club. While recognized by the Everton faithful as a proven leader, Neville’s managerial inexperience is a major worry.
  • Neil Lennon: The Celtic manager famously led the Scottish club to the latter stages of the Champions League, defeating Spanish giants Barcelona along the way. That run led many to believe Lennon could be in line for a move to a club in a bigger league. That sentiment is strengthened by the fact that this could be a tumultuous summer for Celtic, where rumor is the Hoops may need to sell top talent like Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper and could be further hamstrung by a diminished transfer budget. Lennon’s brash nature isn’t appealing to some Evertonians but the Scot could be just the type of personality that Everton needs to reach the next level.
  • Michael Laudrup: Some believe the Swansea manager may top the Toffees list to replace Moyes after the former Barcelona and Real Madrid player has enjoyed huge success at the Welsh club this season. In addition to playing attractive, free-flowing football, Laudrup famously guided their first piece of major silverware in the club’s 100 year history when he hoisted the Capital One Cup earlier this season. The Dane also has proven he can successfully identify undervalued talent such as Michu, Pablo, Chico Flores and Ki Sung-Yueng. The stumbling block here is Laudrup’s hopes for the future as many believe he is one to two years away from a return to La Liga.
  • Rafa Benitez: The Chelsea interim manager has declined to answer whether Everton is a viable future management option for him (claiming he still has “to concentrate on [Chelsea’s next match at] Aston Villa”) but the Spanish manager will be out of a job this summer and does already own a home in Wirral. The major issues with Beintez are two fold: 1) he’s expressed his undying love for Everton’s rival, Liverpool, where he previously coached, and 2) he’s obsessed with managing clubs that possess the resources to help him pad his CV, which just isn’t the case at Goodison.
  • Roberto Di Matteo: Out of work but a Champions League winner, Di Matteo was sacked by Chelsea last November despite winning Europe’s most prized possession as well as the FA Cup. His long wait to return to managing could make the job at Goodison too tempting to turn down. Di Matteo’s unassuming nature could fit in quite well at Everton, although he is a huge under-dog for the position.
  • Vitor Pereira: The Porto manager has already alerted Everton as to his availability and is considered yet another exciting up and coming in European football. The 44 year old’s contract expires at Porto this summer. Pereira

    won the Primeira Liga title in 2011-12, was a runner up in the 2011 UEFA Super Cup in 2011 and is believed to be the next young Portuguese manager (following Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas) hungry for a shot to prove himself in the Premier League. A relative unknown in England, Pereira would be a wild card for the position and many critics downplay his accolades at Porto given the club’s massive stature in the Premieira.

  • Mark Hughes: The former Everton man fancies a return to Goodison Park and admits he is one of the candidates to replace Moyes. “[Everton] is a great club, a club I had the fortune to play for and I really enjoyed my time there,” Hughes said on Thursday. The former Blackburn/City/Fulham/QPR boss has a long list of dissenters  however, including Joey Barton, who threw in his two cents, noting, “Worried about what happens at EFC, if/when Moyes leaves. Mark Hughes would be suicide!”

Other managers currently rumored as potential fits to take over at Everton include Cardiff’s Malky Mackay, Brentford’s Uwe Rosler, Brighton and Hove Albion’s Gus Poyet, Bolton’s Douggie Freedman, Schalke’s Ralf Rangnick, Sevilla’s Unai Emery, Lyon’s Remi Garde, Lille’s Rudi Garcia, Benfica’s Jorge Jesus, Twente’s Steve McClaren and Athletic Bilbao’s Marcelo Bielsa.

 

Sessegnon scores 15th as Fulham equals Man City unbeaten mark

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Fulham equalled the longest unbeaten run in the English top four tiers this season as it defeated sixth-placed Millwall 3-0 on the road to increase its streak to 22 games without a loss and moving the club into position for automatic promotion.

The Whites have not lost since December 16th when they fell 1-0 to relegation-threatened Sunderland. The unbeaten streak matches Manchester City’s run of 22 games to start the Premier League campaign before a 4-3 loss to Liverpool in mid-January broke the spell.

Highlighting the match was the game’s opening goal from 17-year-old Ryan Sessegnon, the young defender’s 15th goal of the Championship season. Just a week ago, Sessegnon was named a finalist for PFA Player of the Year alongside Harry Kane, Leroy Sane, and Raheem Sterling. Also scoring in the win was Newcastle loanee Aleksandar Mitrovic who has bagged 11 goals in 15 matches since moving to Craven Cottage on Deadline Day of the winter transfer window, sparking talk of a possible permanent move should the Whites find themselves promoted at the end of the season. Fulham has not trailed a single second since he stepped on the field for his club debut.

Manager Slavisa Jokanovic has the team firing on all cylinders, outscoring opponents 49-14 during the unbeaten streak and racking up 56 out of a possible 66 points, with just five draws blemishing an otherwise perfect record. The club has scored first in 15 straight matches, and has not trailed since drawing level in the closing minutes of a 2-2 draw with Hull City on December 30th.

USMNT defender Tim Ream has been arguably the club’s most valuable player during the streak, locking down a defense that has picked up 11 clean sheets during the unbeaten run. Ream has played in all but two league matches this season, completing the full 90 minutes in all 41 of his appearances thus far. He has been voted Man of the Match five times this season by the fans on the team’s official website, most recently in a 1-0 victory over Reading on April 10th. He also grabbed the award in a 2-0 win over Championship title winners Wolves on February 24th, a game that saw the Whites out-possess and out-shoot the league champions.

Fulham still has work to do in the Premier League promotion picture, despite the spectacular form. They sit in 2nd position as it stands, leading Cardiff City by two points, but Cardiff has yet to play this weekend, giving them a massive two games in hand. Fulham could ultimately be done in by a slow start to the season that saw them win just twice in the first nine matches of the season as the squad adjusted to a host of new additions. In addition, Fulham suffered a disappointing draw last time out against Brentford as the Bees scored in the 94th minute to deny Fulham all three points, a massive blow to their automatic promotion hopes. Still, Fulham would be considered favorites in any potential playoff run, with Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, and Millwall currently the other teams in playoff positions.

There’s plenty on the line for the club over the next few weeks. Should Fulham fail to gain promotion, it could be a massive blow to the club as Sessegnon could be lured away from Craven Cottage, with Jokanovic and playmaker Tom Cairney also likely to garner speculation of a departure over the summer if the club was to remain in the Championship.

Espanyol fires former Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Espanyol says it has fired manager Quique Sanchez Flores with the club slumping in the Spanish league and in danger of facing a relegation fight to end the season.

Espanyol announced the decision on Friday, adding sports director Jordi Lardin has also been let go.

Sanchez Flores, a former manager of Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Watford, among other clubs, coached the Barcelona-based club for the past two seasons.

Reserve team coach David Gallego will take over for the remaining five rounds of the season, starting with a visit to Girona on Sunday.

Espanyol hasn’t scored a goal in five matches, and has only two wins in the last 15 rounds. It is in 16th place, nine points from the drop.

Brooks yanked after 29 minutes on return from injury

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USMNT defender John Brooks, whose season has been largely ruined by injuries, made his first start since mid-December after finally returning from a knee injury. It didn’t last long – just 29 minutes.

It doesn’t appear to be injury related, however.

After earning a yellow card just 13 minutes in, Brooks was yanked by new Wolfsburg manager Bruno Labbadia in the 29th minute with the club down 1-0 on the road at Borussia Monchengladbach. Brooks was furious as he came off the pitch, and reports from Germany seem to suggest that his substitution was a tactical decision rather than injury-related.

Brooks has made just eight Bundesliga appearances this season, starting the campaign on the shelf with a thigh injury before his knee problem kept him off the field almost four months through the winter and into the spring.

After his withdrawal, Wolfsburg conceded two more goals before halftime as Monchengladbach grabbed a 3-0 lead via goals from Raffael and Christoph Kramer, with Lars Stindl having already given them a lead eight minutes in.

It’s understandable why Labbadia would be cautious with his more aggressive players. Wolfsburg is in danger of the drop, level with Mainz and Freiburg on 30 points with one of them almost assuredly to finish in the relegation playoff position. Still, it’s an unfortunate turn of events for Brooks after finally making his way back to the field, and he was visibly angry as he came off the pitch.

FA Cup semifinal preview: Can Mourinho win Man United another title?

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It’s been a season of highs and lows for Jose Mourinho, but he could put Manchester United on the precipice of another title this Saturday.

The FA Cup semifinals resume this weekend at Wembley Stadium, with Manchester United facing off against Tottenham and Chelsea battling Swansea. It’s a pair of great matchups with plenty of enticing storylines to watch ahead of and during the games.

[MORE: All our coverage of Arsene Wenger’s decision to step down]

Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:15 p.m. ET Saturday

Jose Mourinho lost a lot of the good-will earned after Man United’s win over Manchester City as his side capitulated in a 1-0 defeat to last-place West Bromwich Albion.

Now, with a week to stew on that result, Mourinho is just two games away from raising another piece of silverware for Man United, though it won’t exactly be the trophy the fans were hoping for. At the same time, Tottenham, a team on the up and up, would love to win the FA Cup and take control fully of North London from rivals Arsenal. A trip to the final for Tottenham would be the next step in the club’s climb to greatness.

Chelsea vs. Southampton— 10:00 a.m. ET Sunday

It’s been a disappointing season for both clubs, but on different levels. Chelsea, the defending league champions, has struggled most of the season to consistently score goals and will likely finish outside of Europe – unless they make the final of the FA Cup. So there’s a lot riding on the line for Chelsea heading into Sunday’s match.

For Southampton, with Mark Hughes now in charge, it’s almost a throw-away game. If they win, they could be the first team since Wigan to be relegated and qualify for European football the next season, but it could also be a game in which the beleaguered squad could gain some confidence, beating one of the big clubs in England.