Hope Solo, Mexico v United States

Harvey concedes Manchester City’s interest in Hope Solo, but expects goalkeeper back in Seattle


Manchester City Ladies FC appear to be taking after their men’s side in willing to spend big.

Sources reveal that Manchester City Ladies FC have interest in United States No. 1 and Seattle Reign FC goalkeeper Hope Solo. Reign FC coach Laura Harvey is aware of potential interest in Solo from Manchester City, but she doesn’t expect Solo to leave Seattle.

“I don’t doubt for one minute that there has been interest, but I’m very confident that she’ll be back and have been told by Hope myself that she will be back,” Harvey said Wednesday from England. Harvey said she recently spoke with Solo and received assurances that Solo would return Seattle next season.

Sources say City offered a six-figure contract to Solo. City will join England’s top flight, the FA Women’s Super League (FAWSL), in 2014. Liverpool just claimed their first title on Saturday.

When contacted recently via email, Solo’s agent, Richard Motzkin, said “Hope is contracted with the Seattle Reign for next season.”

Solo played in 14 games for Seattle in 2013 after returning from wrist surgery in late May, and Harvey expects Solo back for a full season next year.

“I would have been shocked if she did go – not anything to do with Man City, just that for her and her career, the States is where she needs to be at the minute to make that extra push for 2015 and 2016,” Harvey said. “I think she was relatively happy towards the back end of last season, in terms of she could see where we were trying to get to.”

[MORE: Analyzing Tom Sermanni’s roster for upcoming USWNT matches]

Reign FC owner Bill Predmore said recently that the club is not in any talks with Manchester City and he is “not aware of any discussions with the league.” The National Women’s Soccer League, run by U.S. Soccer, handles the contracts of all national team players, including Solo. A U.S. Soccer spokesperson said there was an August 31 deadline for national team players to declare their intent to play abroad.

Predmore did acknowledge that if Solo were to choose to play for a club outside the NWSL, she would have the opportunity to do that, much like Megan Rapinoe playing with Lyon in France until June, then joining Seattle mid-season.

The FAWSL season, however, nearly directly mirrors the NWSL season, beginning in April and ending in late September.

Harvey, who coached Arsenal Ladies from 2008-12, said she expects Manchester City Ladies to sign a big name as 2014 rolls around, but is “pretty confident” that Solo will not be that player.

“I think there is a relationship with Hope and Man City, but I don’t think it’s a playing one.”

Reached Tuesday, Manchester City said they won’t be conducting media interviews until the new year, when team operations are more in place.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.