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Ferguson, on Mancini’s Manchester City dismissal: ‘It is quite amazing’

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Unless we’re talking about Rafa Benìtez, if you’re a Premier League manager, Alex Ferguson is going to be somewhat supportive. Even Arsène Wenger, who at one time had quite a tete-a-tete with the Manchester United boss, has since earned Ferguson’s public admiration. Unless you come after him (which has happened more than a few times), Ferguson tends to be pretty respectful of his peers.

So it’s no surprise that the outgoing boss has expressed his surprise at the sacking of rival manager Roberto Mancini. The Manchester City boss was relieved of his duties on Monday after it became known the club planned to dismiss him at the end of the season.

Predictably, there was a degree of gasp-shock-awe at a man being let go one year after claiming the Premier League title. Ferguson was no different:

It is quite amazing … He has won the FA Cup, been in the final, second in the league and won the league and it’s not good enough? I was surprised, but actually no, you can’t say you are surprised not with some owners today. You can’t be surprised, but I still don’t think it was right.

I was with the chief executive of Liverpool at our reserve game the other night and he told me that Brendan Rodgers, who has not been in the job a year, is the 30th longest-serving manager in the country. That’s incredible.

Honestly, that last factoid is pretty incredible. Even if you assume Ferguson means just the Football League, it’s hard to fathom, but when you look at the Premier League and see only eight men (Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, David Moyes, Sam Allardyce, Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew, Martin Jol, Roberto Martinez) were at their job this time last year, the number starts to make sense.

And, of course, Ferguson is moving on. Moyes is switching jobs. Roberto Martinez seems likely to leave Wigan, while there are questions whether Pulis, Pardew and Jol will return. If Arsenal stumbles on Sunday, you never know, and with Real Madrid’s coaching position set to open up, Sam Allardyce may yet get the kind of job he feels he deserves (ah, old jokes).

Back to Mancini. On one hand, what Ferguson says make sense. He doesn’t spell it out, but it is pretty absurd that a number of clubs have created expectations that FA Cups and league titles can’t fulfill. On the other hand, that’s the clear state of the modern world. If your team falls flat with the kind of payroll Mancini’s was carrying, you’re going to get reevaluated.

For some, it’s unfortunate. But changes like the one Manchester City’s made are, as Ferguson said, not surprising.

Bayern’s Vidal says “ugly” Atletico not deserved UCL finalists

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27: Juanfran of Atletico Madrid and Arturo Vidal of Bayern Munich argue during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at Vincente Calderon on April 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.

Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.

Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.

They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.

The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.

Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.

[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]

Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.

Europa League preview: Liverpool, Shakhtar look to overcome Spanish foes

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 28:  Cedric Bakambu of Villarreal is watched by the Liverpool defence during the UEFA Europa League semi final first leg match between Villarreal CF and Liverpool at Estadio El Madrigal on April 28, 2016 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]

Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0

Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.

[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]

Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw 

Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.