Britain Soccer Premier League

Arsenal joins Wayne Rooney chase; Manchester United fans have to love this


In the four years since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Real Madrid, Manchester United have played out a Wayne Rooney era that needs to end, be that with his move to another club or the player accepting a new role within the team. While at one time Rooney was talismanic, now only the most loyal of  fans would see the 27-year-old as needed, let alone wanted. On huge wages that only add to his mounting baggage, it’s a bit perplexing that any top club wants to add him to their payroll, let alone pay a $30 million fee to the privilege.

But that’s what Chelsea are rumored to have offered to Manchester United for the want-away striker, a bid that was reported rejected by the Red Devils. Provided technical director Michael Emenalo doesn’t up the ante, Blues fan should see United’s decision as a $150 million bullet dodged. Between transfer fees and wages Rooney would garner should a club sign him a to five-year deal at his Manchester salary, that huge bill would accompany the England international to his new home.

Despite Rooney scoring 100 times (all competitions) in 164 games since Ronaldo left Manchester, that’s crazy money to throw at a player who turns 28 in October – a forward that scored only 16 times last season. But what’s even crazier is that Chelsea may not be the only bidder. According to reports out of England late Wednesday, Arsenal is ready to compete with their London rivals for Rooney’s signature.

Given Rooney’s wages, the chances of him moving to Arsenal having to be long, but if Arsène Wenger suddenly decides players making almost double what he might pay Gonzalo Higuaín would be acceptable, the move would be worse for the Gunners than the the Blues. Rooney is just not a player any team should be committing $150 million to right now, let alone a team that’s unlikely to compete for a title.

Regardless, Manchester United fans have to love this. Not only does it seem a player who has become a problem might be sold (though the team insists he’s still not for sale), but the Red Devils could make a major dent in a rival’s finances if they sell in league, using the generous fee somebody’s willing to pay to invest that in a capable, less expensive replacement.

In a more rational world, Manchester United would be stuck with their egregious mistake, but in the decidedly irrational world of club soccer, their error might pay off.

VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week – Matchday 9

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There was some eye-popping moments in the Premier League this weekend, yet still very little debate who shone brightest.

Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri scored a pair of Goal of the Month competitors in the same day in the Potters’ 2-0 win at Hull City on Monday.

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The first was a curling wonder from distance, while the second came from a bit closer as the big-calfed Swiss attacker bamboozled the Hull wall and goalkeeper.

The Potters are up to 16th in the Premier League table with nine points.

Finnish fans celebrate surprise title for IFK Mariehamn

IFK Mariehamm
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HELSINKI (AP) Fans of IFK Mariehamn have gathered in the main square of the remote Finnish town to celebrate their team’s surprise league title.

“I feel very proud,” the club’s managing director, Peter Mattsson, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that “thousands” were expected to turn up for the party.

Watched by more than 4,000, Mariehamn clinched the Finnish title on Sunday with a 2-1 home victory over Ilves, from the industrial city of Tampere.

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Mariehamn held off 11 other teams, including the traditionally strong Helsinki club, HJK, and defending champion SJK from western Finland. It ended three points clear of second-placed HJK for its first league title.

Local media dubbed the team “Leicester” after the surprise English Premier League champions last season.

Mariehamn, which has a population of 11,500, is the capital of the Aland islands off the southwestern Finnish coast

Kroenke: “Very high” on Wenger who is “very hard” to replace

Jeff Fisher
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LONDON — Arsenal remains “very high” on Arsene Wenger and it will be “very hard” replacing the manager who is in the final year of his contract, owner Stan Kroenke told The Associated Press on Monday.

Wenger this month celebrated 20 years in charge of Arsenal and has offered no indication whether he wants to sign a new deal into next season.

The 67-year-old Frenchman became the Premier League’s longest serving manager when Alex Ferguson retired from Manchester United in 2013. United is now on its third manager in three years and has not competed for the Premier League title since Ferguson’s departure.

In a rare interview about Arsenal, Kroenke noted the tricky post-Ferguson succession at United while discussing the challenge of eventually replacing Wenger.

“You see it (at United), you bring up a comment like that,” Kroenke told the AP after Arsenal’s annual general meeting. “It’s very hard. He’s a great manager.”

Wenger signed his last three-year contract extension in 2014.

“We will sit down and discuss the future at the appropriate time,” Arsenal chairman Chips Keswick told shareholders at a meeting where Wenger didn’t address his contract situation in his speech.

Although Wenger has won the Premier League three times, the last success came in 2004 – a drought which frustrates fans.

“He’s been a wonderful influence on the club,” Kroenke said. “We are all very high on Arsene. We are (joint) top of the table right now.”

Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool are only separated on goal difference at the summit. Despite Wenger only winning the FA Cup twice since 2004, the team is in the lucrative Champions League for the 19th successive year thanks to its runner-up finish last season. Wenger is yet to win European football’s top prize.

“I know a number of (sports team) owners that are very successful that say the same thing – the hardest thing to do is be consistently competitive at the top of the league,” said Kroenke, who also owns the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. “Arsene has always done that and Arsenal has always been in that position. We have always been competitive.

“We may not always win the things we want to win. We are very focused on winning for sure the league. Arsene’s been consistently at the top and I will tell you – it’s very, very hard to do if you look around sports.”


2016 MLS Cup playoffs bracket in full

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Michael Bradley #4 and Jozy Altidore #17 of Toronto FC celebrate a goal by teammate Tsubasa Endoh #9 during the first half of an MLS soccer game against FC Dallas at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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With Major League Soccer’s Decision Day 2016 in the books, we now know who will battle it out for MLS Cup.

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Up first on Wednesday and Thursday are the four knockout round games, then the Conference semifinal first legs kick off this weekend.

We get into it thick and fast.

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The PST crew already selected their picks for the postseason and filled out their bracket. You can see that by clicking on the link above. FWIW, I have Toronto FC beating the Seattle Sounders in MLS Cup…

[ MORE: Ranking MLS playoff teams ]

Below is the MLS playoff bracket in full so you can make your picks and let us know who you went for in the comments section below.


MLS Playoff bracket, 2016

MLS Playoff bracket, 2016