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.

 

Money from Wembley replay will “support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years”

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Worst-case scenario for Tottenham Hotspur: drawing League One side Rochdale in Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round clash; best-case scenario for the Dale: drawing the Premier League giants and forcing a replay at Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

For a club the size of Rochdale — 10,200-seat stadium, and never been above the third tier of English soccer — the financial impact of raking in half of the game’s gate receipts “will support the club for the next two or three years,” according to manager Keith Hill — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t know how much it is worth but a lot of money has gone into the new pitch. That was a heavy investment for us. Hopefully the money we make will support the club for the next two or three years. We will cut our cloth accordingly and we won’t be in debt.”

As for Steve Davies’ 93rd-minute equalizer, Hill was adamant that it was nothing short of what they “deserved”:

“It was a feeling of reward, not relief, because the performance deserved at least the opportunity for us to go to Wembley for a replay. I’ve always wanted to do that against a Premier League team and manager. Why not take them on and try to win? It could have been football suicide but I thought we gained their respect and to score the goal we did was tremendous. The players were magnificent.”

Tottenham Hotspur, soccer philanthropists.

Try, try again: Messi seeks 1st goal vs. Chelsea in 9th attempt

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LONDON (AP) As unlikely as it sounds, Lionel Messi is still waiting to score his first goal against Chelsea after drawing a blank in eight previous Champions League matches.

The five-time World Player of the Year is likely to get another chance to break his duck this week and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes the past will count for little when Barcelona visits Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

“I hope we maintain this tradition but we are speaking about a fantastic player,” Conte said ahead of the last-16, first-leg Champions League game. “The most important thing is the present.

“We must have great respect but at the same time we must be excited to play this type of game and take on this type of challenge. It won’t be easy because we know very well this player, we are talking about one of the best in the world.”

The teams have produced some epic games in the past although they have not met in the Champions League since Chelsea pulled off a remarkable backs-to-the-wall semifinal victory over Barcelona on the way to winning the trophy in 2012.

Messi missed a penalty in the second leg at the Nou Camp as the London club overcame the first-half dismissal of captain John Terry, and a 2-0 deficit, to draw the game 2-2 and secure an unforgettable 3-2 aggregate win.

Bayern Munich hosts Besiktas in Tuesday’s other game while the following day sees Manchester United traveling to Sevilla, and Shakhtar Donetsk playing host to Roma.

Two weeks ago, the prospect of a Chelsea win over Barca would have been unthinkable after Conte’s men had slumped to successive defeats by two of the Premier League’s lesser lights.

The London club was still smarting from a 3-0 home loss against Bournemouth when it traveled to Watford and succumbed to an embarrassing 4-1 reverse.

Chelsea has got back on track since then, though, easing past West Bromwich Albion 3-0 in the league last Monday before swatting aside second-tier Hull 4-0 in the FA Cup four days later.

Conte has several selection dilemmas. He must choose between captain Gary Cahill and Antonio Rudiger for a place at the back, and between Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud up front.

Cesc Fabregas will also be desperate to play against his former team but may have to settle for a spot on the bench.

Barca has lost only once in 38 matches this season since falling in the Spanish Super Cup to Real Madrid in August. It has a seven-point lead at the top of La Liga and has reached the final of the Copa del Rey.

Messi is having another stellar campaign, scoring 27 times in all competitions, and he helped set up two goals in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Eibar.

Philippe Coutinho is ineligible for Barca following his move from Liverpool.

Mourinho claiming injury crisis ahead of CL showdown

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The next three weeks will go a long way toward defining Jose Mourinho’s second season at Manchester United, with the Red Devils facing not only fellow top-four aspirers Chelsea and Liverpool, but also contesting their Champions League round-of-16 tie with Sevilla.

[ MORE: VAR provider admits incorrect graphic displayed on TV ]

Thus, it’s not exactly the most convenient time for the words “injury crisis” to rear their ugly heads yet again, but that’s the challenge Mourinho claims he faces ahead of Wednesday’s CL clash.

Paul Pogba missed Saturday’s FA Cup victory with a last-minute illness; Marcus Rashford is dealing with a leg injury and remains questionable, as are Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia; Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Marouane Fellaini are all but officially out, according to Mourinho — quotes from ESPN.co.uk:

“I didn’t rest one single player so we had today every player available here. I didn’t rest anyone. I brought two kids that played on Friday 90 minutes [for the under-23s] because I don’t have another player, so we arrive at this crucial moment with some problems.”

“Can we recover some of them to Wednesday? I believe so. I think Rashford, Herrera, Valencia — I think they have a chance.

“Paul, I don’t know. Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Marouane, Zlatan — I don’t think they have any chance.”

Mourinho dealt with a similar rash of injuries very late on last season, as his side barreled its way into, and eventually won, the Europa League final, securing a place in the CL this season. With a top-four finish all but out of reach at the time, Mourinho opted to rest his bare-bones group of first-team regulars in Premier League action and prioritize Europe’s “other” competition.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

This time around, United sit second in the PL table, just four points clear of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur, and the path to winning the CL will prove far more difficult than taking on the likes of Saint-Etienne, Rostov, Anderlecht, Celta Vigo and Ajax.

Serie A: Napoli, Juve hold serve in 1-point title race

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Barcelona now 31 games unbeaten | Real Madrid 17 points behind ]

Napoli 1-0 SPAL 2013

The battle for Serie A supremacy isn’t ending anytime soon, as Napoli and Juventus continue to match one another (nine straight wins for each side) in Europe’s only remaining major title race.

On Sunday, they even traded 1-0 victories — Napoli at home to SPAL 2013, with Juve triumphing over Torino in the Turin derby.

Brazilian midfielder Allan bagged the only goal for Napoli after just six minutes, finishing off a mesmerizing, free-flowing move that’s become synonymous with Napoli this season. The video-assisting referee came into play just after the hour mark, when Marek Hamsik headed home to make it 2-0 before the VAR wiped it away for offside.

Napoli’s current nine-game winning streak is the longest in club history.

Torino 0-1 Juventus

Juve’s victory came at something of a cost, though, as star striker Gonzalo Higuain was lost to an ankle injury after just a quarter-hour (the injury occurred after just three minutes), followed by a potentially serious knee injury for Federico Bernardeschi, who replaced Higuain, in second-half stoppage time. Higuain isn’t expected to miss significant time, with the club calling it a twisted ankle.

In between the injuries came Alex Sandro‘s 33rd-minute winner, a tap-in from close range masterfully set up by Bernardeschi. One additional positive for Juve: Sunday also saw Paulo Dybala return after missing five weeks with a hamstring injury. The Argentine star entered as a second-half substitute.

“Paulo played 30 minutes at a good level,” Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri said. “I’m pleased with his and everyone else’s performance. This is a good result against a well-organized Torino side.”

Elsewhere in Serie A

AC Milan 1-0 Sampdoria
Atalanta 1-1 Fiorentina
Bologna 2-1 Sassuolo
Benevento 3-2 Crotone