Another EPL manager goes, as Tony Pulis leaves Stoke City

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Yesterday this news was circling around the British press.

This morning, it is official.

Stoke City and Tony Pulis mutually agreed to end his seven year stay at the Britannia Stadium, after the Potters failed to kick on after a promising start to the 2012-13 campaign.

The Staffordshire club were just one point off the top four going into December, but they won just four of their final 23 games of the season to get sucked into the relegation battle before eventually surviving with a game to spare.

short statement on the clubs website confirmed Pulis’ exit, as the Welshman will look elsewhere for a new challenge.

“Stoke City and Tony Pulis confirm that they have mutually agreed that Tony will leave the club with immediate effect.”

Despite this being on the cards for a while, Pulis has delivered yet another solid season in the EPL. Since Stoke’ EPL debut in 2008-09, they haven’t finished lower than 14th. However they haven’t finished higher than 11th, with Stoke’s chairman Peter Coates and other directors seemingly frustrated with the stagnation and lack of progress over the past few seasons.

With Pulis gone, Stoke are rumored to be lining up Rafael Benitez as the new manager. That would be a major move for Stoke’s soccer identity and future aspirations. We shall wait and see if Benitez returns to the North West of England where he has such fond memories whilst at Liverpool. What does this mean for the USMNT trio of Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea and Maurice Edu? Who knows.

But Pulis’ departure hits home just how short a manager’s lifespan in England is these days. Pulis became the 56th Premier or Football League manager to leave his job since the start of the 2012-13 season. This is incredible.

There are 92 professional clubs in England’s four divisions, so well over half will have new managers for the 2013-14 season.

So far this season in the EPL, Mark Hughes, Roberto Di Matteo, Nigel Adkins, Martin O’Neill, Brian McDermott, Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Roberto Mancini and Pulis have either been fired or stepped down from their job.

Nine clubs will have different managers in charge when the 2013-14 season kicks off. Nine. Plenty of new names and faces will be arriving this summer, as the Premier League undergoes a huge facelift in terms of managers with a new global image the mantra.

It has been a ruthless and stormy EPL campaign. The main reason behind all this is the astronomical amounts of cash on offer next season. Chairman’s nerves were tested to the max and the huge new TV deal will see the EPL’s bottom side get over $100 million next year… the same amount Manchester United got this season for winning the title.

Were the nine managers who left, or where politely (we assume) told to leave, treated correctly under mounting pressure?

Transfer rumor roundup: PL clubs losing ground for Dembele and more

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With all the major leagues across Europe either closing or already have finished it’s the season of transfer rumors once again.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s FA Cup win vs. Chelsea ]

Here are several of the juiciest pieces from Sunday:

Three London sides could potentially miss out on Celtic star Moussa Dembele as AC Milan has emerged as a favorite to sign the top-rated Frenchman. Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have all expressed great interest in the promising attacker, who scored 17 goals this season for the Scottish champions.

After struggling at times this season to keep goals out, Liverpool could turn to France as a potential outlet to fix the cracks in their back line. AS Monaco’s Benjamin Mendy already has significant PL interest from Manchester United and Manchester City, but Jurgen Klopp‘s side could also put up a fight.

West Ham is looking to bolster its attack this summer, and with Pep Guardiola likely making significant changes at the Etihad Stadium, Kelechi Iheanacho could be on his way to the Hammers ahead of the 2017/18 PL season.

Manchester City higher ups are keen on having Guardiola bring back goalkeeper Joe Hart from Torino this summer. Hart spent last season on loan with the Italian club after Guardiola sent him away from England early in his managing tenure at the club.

Luis Enrique leaves with feeling of mission accomplished

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MADRID (AP) Luis Enrique leaves Barcelona with no regrets and the feeling of mission accomplished.

[ MORE: Arsenal edges Chelsea to earn FA Cup crown ]

The coach capped his three-year stint with the Catalan club by winning the Copa del Rey title with a 3-1 win over Alaves on Saturday.

Now it’s time to enjoy some much-needed time off after three “intense” seasons, and let the club move on under fresh leadership.

“There is no sadness at all, just happiness,” Luis Enrique said. “I’m the one who decided to stop, and I think that it was a wonderful decision for me, for the players and for the team as well. The intensity of this profession demands maximum dedication every single day and there is a natural wear out.”

He said players always need new challenges and will benefit from a change in leadership, and the club will certainly keep winning despite his departure.

After missing out on the league this season, the Copa del Rey was Barcelona’s second title of the campaign to go along with the Spanish Super Cup, but Luis Enrique has won nearly everything since replacing Gerard Martino in 2014. The former midfielder led Barcelona to the treble of the Spanish league, Copa del Rey and Champions League in 2015. He also managed the league-Copa double in 2016, and also won the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup in 2015.

He said he was “proud” to have helped Barcelona fans celebrate so many accomplishments during his time at the helm.

“If someone had told me when I arrived that I would have the opportunity to help my team win nine titles out of 13 that we played, I’d say that these would be good numbers,” he said. “It would have been nice to have won La Liga and contended for the Champions League title this season, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I believe that the fans recognized the effort and the sacrifice of all the players throughout the season. I have enjoyed the opportunity to make them happy.”

Luis Enrique said he was also lucky to have had the chance to coach a player like Lionel Messi.

“He is extraordinary, extraterrestrial,” Luis Enrique said about the Argentina forward, who scored the team’s first goal on Saturday. “I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy Messi at his best, performing at the highest level. He is the very best, without a doubt.”

Neymar and Paco Alcacer also scored at the Vicente Calderon Stadium to help Barcelona win its third straight Copa del Rey title, and 29th all-time.

Luis Enrique celebrated with his seven-year-old daughter by his side, waving his winner’s trophy and singing the club’s anthem in front of the Barcelona fans who traveled to Madrid.

Barcelona is expected to announce this week that its new coach will be Ernesto Valverde, who left Athletic Bilbao a few days ago.

Luis Enrique’s future remains up in the air.

“I don’t know what I’ll be doing, really. I’m open to every possibility, including changing sports,” the 47-year-old Luis Enrique said, with a smile on his face. “I do know that I’m very competitive and it’s been like this since I was born. Right now I’m looking forward to the opportunity of enjoying my friends and my family.”

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Report: Reus could miss six months after sustaining knee damage

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Marco Reus missed much of the 2016/17 season with injuries, and the Borussia Dortmund attacker had that unfortunate spell continue on Saturday.

[ MORE: USMNT tops Group F and more from the U-20 World Cup ]

The 27-year-old exited the club’s DFB Pokal final win against Eintracht Frankfurt at halftime after suffering a knee injury.

According to German outlet Bild, Reus will miss at least six months as he rehabs and prepares to make a comeback.

Despite the bad news for Dortmund, Thomas Tuchel’s men captured the title behind goals from Ousmane Dembélé and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Day 9: USMNT tops Group F and more from the U20 World Cup

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Five teams booked their place in the knockout phase at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup on Sunday, including Tab Ramos and the U.S. after the Americans picked up a valuable point to finish atop Group F.

[ MORE: Allardyce steps down at Palace ]

USMNT U-20s 1-1 Saudi Arabia

An unbeaten record in group play has Ramos and Co. moving on to the Round of 16, where the U.S. will meet New Zealand. Brooks Lennon inked his name on the scoresheet for the first time at this month’s World Cup just prior to halftime, before Abdulelah Alamri equalized with almost a quarter hour left to play.

Senegal 0-0 Ecuador

A draw was all Senegal needed to ensure it would continue its run at the World Cup, while Ecuador fell short of a final 16 bid after only managing two draws during Group F play.

New Zealand 0-2 France

With nine goals for and none conceded during Group E play, France remains one of the heavy hitters at the conclusion of the group phase. Les Bleus received a strong contribution from Bastia winger Allan Saint-Maximin, who netted twice in the first half.

Honduras 2-0 Vietnam

Honduras scored twice in the final 14 minutes-plus added time but neither nation reaches the Round of 16 with Sunday’s result.