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Sir Alex Ferguson, Roy Keane lock horns following Fergie’s book launch

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Here we go. Get your popcorn ready.

There was always going to be one big storyline that flared up from Sir Alex Ferguson’s eagerly anticipated book launch, and his fiery relationship with former Manchester United captain Roy Keane is now front and center as Fergie lifted the lid on why his ex-skipper left Old Trafford so abruptly.

Ferguson described Irish midfielder Keane as an ‘intimidating, ferocious individual’ and said he had ‘the most savage tongue you can imagine. He can debilitate the most confident person in the world in seconds.’

The former United midfielder, who played 480 times for the Red Devils and scored 51 goals, berated his United teammates in 2005 on MUTV in an interview never aired publicly. After that, Ferguson cut the chord.

“He needs to go, Carlos. 100 per cent. Get rid of him,” Ferguson said to assistant manager Carlos Queiroz at the time. “In one deep sense, him leaving was the best thing that could have happened… a lot of players were intimidated by him.”

Keane, who Ferguson stood up for throughout many red cards, training ground bust ups and off the field incidents, was also lambasted by Fergie for a confrontation with Ruud van Nistelrooy towards the end of his United career.

“His [Keane’s] eyes started to narrow, almost to wee black beads,” Ferguson said. “It was frightening to watch, and I’m from Glasgow.”

Ferguson also stated that Keane “thought he was Peter Pan” as the sun began to set on his career and injuries hampered his appearances. All of that coupled with Keane’s volatile attitude towards club and country was only going to have one outcome.

And here’s what Keane had to say in response..

source: Getty Images
Keane’s rambunctious displays epitomized United’s success for so long… but it often boiled over.

“I’m OK, quite relaxed,” Keane told ITV Sport on Tuesday. “I remember having conversations about loyalty when I was at the club and I don’t think he knows the meaning of the word. To constantly criticize other players that brought him success … I won’t be losing any sleep over it.”

Keane, who has enjoyed stints in charge at Sunderland and Ipswich as a manger since retiring from the game in 2007, believes Frrguson shouldn’t keep releasing books and slating former players.

“I just don’t think the manager needs to do it,” Keane said. “I don’t know how many books he’s written now,” Keane said. “A lot of these players helped win a lot of trophies. It’s just part of modern life. People like to do books and criticize ex-players.”

However, despite all the animosity that obviously now exists between the two, Ferguson praised Keane’s achievements but revealed the swift decision to get rid of Keane was for the best.

“He was a great player for me, a great captain but he overstepped the mark and the right thing was done. We had to cut the strings,” Ferguson said after Keane was shown the door in 2005. “We did honor his playing career by paying up his contract, we honored his testimonial and he did come in and apologize. But he has come out several times over the last few years and really spoiled that.”

We haven’t heard the last of this folks.

Pep Guardiola: “Maybe I’m not good enough”

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Pep Guardiola has admitted he “may not be good enough” for his players at Manchester City.

Ahead of City’s clash against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) Guardiola has been defended his squad after severe criticism from the media.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

City were hammered 4-0 at Everton last weekend, their worst league defeat since 2008 and Guardiola’s worst-ever league defeat as a manager.

With plenty pointing the finger of blame at goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and City’s defense, their manager put himself in the firing line.

“They are good players. I have respect for the guys, so why would I say the guys are not good? So I don’t understand the lack of respect for the professionals when they have been amazing players, and [people saying] they are not good enough for me. Maybe I am not good enough for them,” Guardiola said. “They are Manchester City players, top players. They have a lot of quality. They have shown that many times in the past and this season.”

Mind games.

Guardiola, 46, is no doubt facing the biggest challenge of his season as City look to at least seal a top four spot in this his debut season in England. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has already “said goodbye to the title” and if they lose against red-hot Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium then more questions will be asked of his tactics and if they can work in the Premier League.

So far the possession-based slow build up style has been hot and cold for City, with plenty of counter-attacking teams in the PL (Chelsea, Spurs, Everton, Leicester etc.) having a field day against a shaky defense.

Despite being 10 points off the pace, Guardiola is sticking by his philosophy. One thing really sticks out to me from his first few press conferences in England: “We will see if my style of play can work in the Premier League.”

So far, it’s not.

Watch Live: Liverpool vs. Swansea City (Lineups, Stream)

SWANSEA, WALES - MARCH 16:  Kyle Naughton of Swansea City is closed down by Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Liverpool at Liberty Stadium on March 16, 2015 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Liverpool host Swansea City to Anfield on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Reds aiming to stretch their unbeaten run at home in the Premier League to 18 games.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Jurgen Klopp is a little concerned with the number of games his team have had to play over the past few weeks, but a victory against the struggling Swans would momentarily move his side just four points behind leaders Chelsea who play on Sunday.

As for Swansea, new manager Paul Clement knows a win would take his team out of the relegation zone and with new signings arriving that would be a massive boost. It would also be a massive ask for the Welsh side to get anything at Anfield but this may be a good time to play Liveprool after their midweek trip to Plymouth in the FA Cup and the EFL Cup semifinal second leg against Southampton coming up on Wednesday.

In team news Liverpool start with Philippe Coutinho once again, while Joel Matip is on the bench after the Reds finally settled the dispute with Cameroon. Swansea hand debuts to new signings Martin Olsson and Tom Carroll.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner; Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino. Subs: Karius, Sturridge, Moreno, Lucas, Origi, Matip, Woodburn

Swansea City: Fabianski; Olsson, Mawson, Fernandez, Naughton; Cork, Carroll, Fer; Sigurdsson, Llorente, Routledge. Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, Amat, Fulton, Dyer, Borja, McBurnie

Viktoria Plzen set to sign midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz

Obafemi Martins, Oniel Fisher, Andreas Ivanschitz
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.

Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.

Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.

[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]

No financial details were given.

The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.

Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.

FIFA allows Matip to represent Liverpool during AFCON

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Joel Matip of Liverpool heads to score his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on October 29, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images
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Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.

The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.

[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]

Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.

He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.