Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane to be announced as Republic of Ireland managers

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The Republic of Ireland is set to announce the managerial partnership of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane as successors to Giovanni Trappatoni, who was dismissed last September.

According to The Football Association of Ireland’s chief executive, John Delaney, the O’Neill/Keane partnership is a case of “job done” as talks between the two managers are reported to be at an advanced stage. Delaney, who hopes to make a formal unveiling of the pair next Saturday, will employ O’Neill as head coach and Keane as his assistant.

“I don’t see any impediment to that [signing contracts] happening. I hope that this Saturday, this coming Saturday, there will be an unveiling of our new management,” Delaney said. Delaney went on to describe the pair as “two great icons of Irish soccer” and noted that O’Neill “asked what the association’s view would be about Roy being considered and I said absolutely no problem.”

O’Neill quickly emerged as the favorite to take over the head coaching role following Trappatoni’s firing. Delaney wanted to appoint a manager who could implement a more attractive style of football and the former Sunderland boss’ name topped the list with his supporters within the FAI.

At that time, Delaney was also considering names like Mick McCarthy, Brian McDermott and Chris Hughton. When Roy Keane’s name was proposed, Delaney laughed given the pair’s tumultuous history – the former Republic of Ireland captain being sent home from World Cup 2002 and having once said “I wouldn’t take any notice of that man,” referring to Delaney – but nevertheless kept him on the list of possible candidates.

But it was O’Neill who sealed the deal to bring Keane on board when he asked the association its thoughts on making the controversial Irishman his No. 2. Delaney took the high road, “I said absolutely no problem” noting that Irish officials are happy to go along with the wishes of O’Neill. “There should be a line drawn in the sand in terms of Saipan and what happened,” said Delaney. “We were all younger people then and it was 13 years ago.”

O’Neill and Keane, both of whom had spells in charge of Sunderland, have forged a strong bond while acting as pundits for ITV’s coverage of the Champions League. Sources indicate that the duo’s wages for FAI would be subsidized by Denis O’Brien, the businessman who owns Newstalk Radio.

Three seriously injured, 120 detained in Bruges hooligan riot

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BRUSSELS (AP) Authorities are investigating a hooligan riot which seriously injured three people and forced Brugge police to detain 120 following the match between Club Brugge and Antwerp.

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Local police chief Dirk Van Nuffel says one policeman was among the seriously wounded as authorities sought to contain a brawl between Belgian fans reinforced by others who had come from the Netherlands.

By Monday morning all were released but investigators were still seeking to see who was at the core of the fighting. Van Nuffel says such hooligan fighting “hadn’t been seen for years.”

Everton fires Ronald Koeman

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A 5-2 home loss versus Arsenal sent Everton into the Premier League drop zone, and that’s apparently a bridge too far for the Toffees when it comes to their managerial position.

Ronald Koeman is out at Goodison Park.

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Everton sits 18th in the Premier League with eight points, it’s minus-11 goal differential second-worst in the top flight. Its 18 goals conceded are third-worst, and only three clubs have scored fewer goals than its seven.

The Toffees won two rounds in the Europa League, beating Ružomberok and Hajduk Split, but have lost to Atalanta and Lyon while drawing Apollon Limassol in Group E play.

Everton faces Chelsea in League Cup play on Wednesday before a critical early season match at Leicester City on Sunday.

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The Best: Neymar, Ronaldo, Messi — Is there a front-runner?

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While France Football has its Ballon d’Or winner somewhere on a 30-man shortlist, FIFA’s “Best” men’s player is down to an unsurprising three ahead of Monday afternoon’s ceremony.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar are up for the award, and there was no major summer tournament outside of the Confederations Cup — only Ronaldo participated — to help tilt the scales in one’s favor this summer.

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Of course, Ronaldo claimed another UEFA Champions League crown, but was far from the simple standout of the club. In international play, both Ronaldo and Messi’s World Cup qualifying campaigns came down to the wire while Neymar captained Brazil’s dominant ride through CONMEBOL.

The award, which is said to be for on- and off-field behavior, was voted on by national coaches, national captains, select members of the media and fans.

Ronaldo is the favorite according to hardware, while Messi’s numbers and Neymar’s playmaking both can lay claim to the throne.

Stats since start of 2017

Lionel Messi

Club goals: 46
Club assists: 16
Country caps: 6
Country goals: 4
Accolades: World Cup qualifier, Copa Del Rey winner

Neymar

Club goals: 24
Club assists: 21
Country caps: 6
Country goals: 2
Country assists: 3
Accolades: World Cup qualifier, Copa Del Rey winner

Cristiano Ronaldo

Club goals: 31
Club assists: 7
Country caps: 11
Country goals: 11
Country assists: 4
Accolades: Confederations Cup semifinal, World Cup qualifier, Champions League winner, La Liga winner

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Mbappe wins Golden Boy over Rashford, Pulisic, Gabriel Jesus

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Paris Saint-Germain, France, and (former) Monaco starlet Kylian Mbappe has claimed the Golden Boy Award over Ousmane Dembele, Christian Pulisic, and others.

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The Golden Boy is chosen from the top Under-21 players in Europe, and the short list had the above names and 22 more including Gabriel Jesus, Gianluigi Donnarumma, and Marcus Rashford.

Mbappe, still 18 until Dec. 20, has four goals and four assists this season for PSG after scoring 26 goals with 14 assists for Monaco last season. He also has a goal for France.

The teenager likely played the biggest role at the biggest club last season, though Donnarumma was exceptional at Milan, Jesus’ injury conspired against him at Man City, and Marcus Rashford was very good for United.

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