Carlo Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti shares thoughts on Ronaldo, Higuain, Kaka and Bale

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After three years of verbal jousting and incendiary remarks by former Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, Madrid-based media outlets must be bored silly by new manager Carlo Ancelotti.

The 54 year old Italian has to be one of the kindest, most soft-spoken and pragmatic managers in all of world football.

For Madrid-based news sources like La Marca and Diario AS – who love nothing better than some sharp-toothed controversy – keeping things exciting in the Spanish capital could prove a real challenge this season.

Today the new man at the Bernabeu helm talked shop about a number of players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain, Fabio Coencetrao, Kaka and even Tottenham’s Gareth Bale.

And somehow, he managed to do so without igniting one iota of controversy.

As to Ronaldo, Ancelotti said he is a “superstar” and a “great player” who he expects and hopes will sign a new deal (despite having two years left on his contract). “I am not responsible for the renewal of his contract,” Ancelotti explained, “but it won’t be a problem.”

Straight-forward, complementary, simple. Tough to poke holes in that.

When discussing Higuain, Ancelotti explained that he had spoken with the striker but it was a “private conversation.” The Italian then admitted that “[Higuain] is currently a Real Madrid player and I am happy to have him here.”

Again, clear-cut, private, complementary.

As for Coentrao, Ancelotti called him a “quality left-back” and a “useful player to have in the squad.” Like Ronaldo and Higuain, Ancelotti described the Portuguese international as “a Real Madrid player and I am happy to have him here.”


As to Kaka, Ancelotti gave perhaps his sharpest comment, admitting “he knows that he has to perform better than last year.” But the manager counter-balanced this by  explaining that Kaka has started well, is a Madrid player and “is very confident and looking forward to the season.”

Ok, so Ancelotti gave us a little more here but given Kaka’s troubling form over the last few seasons, these comments are basically non-starters. It sounds like Kaka is in the same boat he’s always been in at Madrid – if he plays well and wants to stay, he’ll play.

But what about Bale, the man Zinedine Zidane has been pining over for ages?

Nothing to see here, folks. Ancelotti refused to be drawn on speculation, explaining “I am happy with the squad and I don’t want to talk about other players out of respect for those who are here.”

In short, Ancelotti is happy with the squad. Likes his players. Isn’t interested in speculation.

Yikes, if Madrid news outlets are going to continue to captivate they’re going to need to get a whole lot more creative during the 2013-14 season.

You can find Mike on Twitter @mprindi

Koeman “very pleased” at notion Rooney could rejoin Everton

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 08:  Wayne Rooney of England in action during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Group F match between England and Malta at Wembley Stadium on October 8, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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With Wayne Rooney‘s future left uncertain at Old Trafford, could a potential return to Everton be in the works?

[ MORE: Liverpool rises to top of PL Power Rankings ]

Toffees manager Ronald Koeman certainly hopes so.

[ MORE: Is 2016/17 the tightest PL title race ever? ]

Rooney, 31, has fallen out of favor with Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho recently, leaving the Englishman on the brink of a move away from the Red Devils.

The veteran attacker has posted just one goal and two assists in eight Premier League matches this season, leaving Koeman optimistic about a Rooney return to Goodison Park for the first time since 2004.

“First of all, I think it is a great player, and he has still not finished his career,” he said. “I do not know how his situation is, and I need to respect that situation. That’s not my problem.

“But even when we get one time the possibility that Rooney is an option for Everton, I’m very pleased.”

While it’s merely speculation at this point that Rooney will in fact leave Old Trafford this season, Mourinho’s recent tendencies of dropping the attacker suggest that the long-time England goalscorer will find a new destination.

Koeman has reinvigorated Everton since his arrival over the summer, bringing the Toffees up to sixth in the PL.

Dynamo officially name Wilmer Cabrera as head coach

Wilmer Cabrera
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Following a third straight year without playoff soccer, the Houston Dynamo have turned to face in an attempt to revitalize the club.

[ MORE: Valdez knocks Sounders past Sporting KC, into West semifinals ]

The Dynamo announced on Friday that the team has hired Wilmer Cabrera as the organization’s fourth head coach in franchise history, following a recent coaching stint with the Dynamo’s USL affiliate Rio Grande Valley FC Toros.

“I am excited to join the Houston Dynamo. It’s a great club with a great history, and I am ready for the challenge,” Cabrera said via a press release from the club. “I look forward to working with the ownership group, management, our staff and the players to return the Dynamo to the level that the club and our fans deserve and expect.”

[ MORE: Impact advance to face Red Bulls, dispatch of D.C. United ]

Cabrera, 48, holds a wealth of experience as both a player and manager, which includes his playing days with the Colombia national team during the 1980s and 1990s. The former defender previously managed now-defunct MLS side Chivas USA as well as the U.S. Under-17 national team.

Azpilicueta: Biggest thing is “we haven’t conceded goals” since 3-4-3 switch

SWANSEA, WALES - SEPTEMBER 11:  Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea and Modou Barrow of Swansea City chase the ball during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at Liberty Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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Antonio Conte has been called a mastermind in the past for his unconventional tactics. Now, it’s those same tactics that are making him look the part of a genius yet again at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Is 2016/17 the closest Premier League title race ever? ]

Since changing his system to a 3-4-3 following Chelsea’s gutting 3-0 defeat against Arsenal last month, the Blues have gone on to win three straight Premier League matches, including a recent 4-0 drubbing of Manchester United on Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge.

As important as the results are for Chelsea at the moment, the even more impressive aspect is the way that the Blues are winning matches. In their three consecutive victories, Conte’s side has failed to concede a goal, which has helped bring Chelsea to within a point at the summit of the PL.

Not only do the supporters appreciate Conte’s willingness to adapt and build a team that plays up to its greatest potential, but defender Cesar Azpilicueta is one of the many players that have uttered similar sentiments about the Italian’s tactics.

“I find it good. The most important thing for me is the team and since we changed the system we haven’t conceded goals in the Premier League,” he told Sky Sports.

“I try to play my part in the team. The most important part of the system is the spirit of the team and the way we work. The tactics make a difference but what was most pleasing was the way the team work made it happen. Some players have different roles now but we have all week to work on that and we have a very clear idea what to do in the game. We have different options from the attacking fullbacks now.”

[ MORE Guardiola says he needs “time to learn, to improve” at City ]

Azpilicueta has been one of three key figures for Chelsea at the back since Conte made the switch defensively, joining Gary Cahill and David Luiz in a partnership that looks hard to crack at the moment.

Report: Mexico open to hosting 2026 World Cup despite potential joint bid with U.S., Canada

PASADENA, CA - JUNE 09:  Chicharito #14 of Mexico celebrates after his goal in front of Andre Blake #1 of Jamaica to take a 1-0 lead during Copa America Centenario at the Rose Bowl on June 9, 2016 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Despite some talks linking a possible two or even three nation bid for the 2026 World Cup, Mexico has opened the door for El Tri to host the world’s biggest football competition for a record third time.

[ MORE: Liverpool reaches summit of latest PST Premier League Power Rankings ]

Mexico Football Federation president Decio de Maria recently told ESPN that he and his country are prepared to go ahead with a bid for the 2026 edition of the tournament with or without any hypothetically joint bid.

“I don’t know [whether we would pursue a joint bid] but the rules are already open to it,” De Maria said. “What was agreed upon makes the path perfectly clear.

“Mexico will be in the hunt to host the 2026 World Cup.”

In addition to Mexico, the United States has been considered an early favorite to be named hosts in 2026 after losing out to Qatar for the 2022 competition. The U.S., Mexico and Canada have also been linked with a joint bid between the three CONCACAF nations, as the region looks to bring the World Cup back to North America for the first time since 1994 (when the U.S. hosted).

Mexico previously hosted the World Cup in 1970 and 1986, and is one of four nations to have held the tournament on home soil more than once.