Tottenham Hotspur manager Villas-Boas gestures during their English Premier League soccer match against Swansea City in London

Villas-Boas: “I will not resign, and I’m not a quitter”

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The time for deflection and denial is gone. After today’s 5-0 loss at White Hart Lane, the question isn’t whether Tottenham Hotspur manager André Villas-Boas is under fire. He clearly is. Instead, the question is whether he can survive, a question the second-year boss addressed directly after his team’s embarrassment.

“It’s not my call. I can’t control that,” Villas-Boas told the assembled media after today’s game in North London (as reported by The Guardian). “I won’t resign and I’m not a quitter.”

[MORE: Tottenham 0-5 Liverpool: Reds pummel erratic Tottenham defense to go second – Video]

Between today’s loss and Spurs’ 6-0 defeat at Manchester City on Nov. 14, Villas-Boas appears to be running out of time. Although most reports about Villas-Boas’s tenuous future rest on conjecture over knowledge, it’s rare to see a would-be Champions League contender suffer this kind of dip. When they do, their manager’s future is naturally a point of speculation.

“This is a top-four squad but in the Premier League the form isn’t there,” Villas-Boas confessed, implicitly alluding to the team’s 6-0-0 record in Europa League. “It’s not the points tally that prevents us from dreaming with our position in the league. It’s actually the expression of the results which has been difficult, from 3-0 at home to West Ham, to 6-0 at City and now 5-0 here. These things are costing us much more.”

Translation: It’s the way Spurs are losing more than the actual results, something that shouldn’t need spelling out to anybody. If Tottenham were losing one-goal heart breakers, this would be bump, not a swoon. Few would be speculating as to “AVB’s” future.

Instead, Spurs are suffering the type of inexplicable losses that have people questioning whether he’s lost the ability to motivate his team. And if he hasn’t, what other excuse is there for these types of performances? Because as Villas-Boas concedes, the talent is there.

Tottenham’s management isn’t averse to changing managers midseason. They did so with Martin Jol (Oct. 2007). They did so with his successor, Juande Ramos (Oct. 2008). If a manager isn’t meeting expectations, Spurs will move on.

The question is whether expectations that have changed since Harry Redknapp helped the team become a consistent threat for Champions League spots. Jol and Ramos’s clubs got off to near-bottom starts with teams that were expected to compete for Europe. Villas-Boas, on the other hand, is already in Europe with a team that currently sits in seventh place.

Given new standards at White Hart Lane, is Villas-Boas about to go the way of Jol and Ramos? Or will chairman  Daniel Levy have a different perspective on whether Spurs should move on?

 

Video: Ranieri gets emotional after seeing Leicester fans tribute

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Claudio Ranieri in on the verge of leading Leicester City to the most improbable feat in Premier League history.

[ MORE: Pochettino verbally agrees to return to Tottenham ]

While the Foxes have given the club’s supporters the greatest ride they’ve ever seen, the fans put together a tribute video describing what the 2015-16 season has meant to them.

[ MORE: Previewing every Premier League match for Week 36 ]

Fans of all ages put in their two cents regarding the team’s quirky manager, and the 64-year old Italian began to shed tears.

We likely won’t ever see a team like Leicester again, not only in the Premier League, but any sports league. The club’s assembly of players and Ranieri have coincided perfectly and the Foxes faithful are clearly grateful for what they’ve witnessed at the King Power Stadium this season.

Follow @MattReedFutbol

Premier League Preview: Newcastle vs. Crystal Palace

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Georginio Wijnaldum of Newcastle United and Joel Ward of Crystal Palace compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Newcastle United at Selhurst Park on November 28, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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  • Newcastle has won one of their previous 10 PL matches
  • Palace is unbeaten in five of last six
  • Benitez is 1-3-3 since taking over Magpies

Newcastle host Crystal Palace on Saturday at St. James’ Park (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra) with the Magpies among the three sides battling to stay in the Premier League for the 2016-17 season.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA LIVE EXTRA

Crystal Palace isn’t mathematically out of the woods in the relegation battle, but they’re more than likely to remain in the PL next season. Palace has been in decent form of late, securing a win over Watford and draws against Arsenal and Everton. Yohan Cabaye and Connor Wickham are among the dangerous attackers that Newcastle will need to be wary of, each scoring five PL goals on the season.

[ MORE: Arsenal can put a damper on Norwich’s season with a win Saturday ]

A 5-1 drubbing towards the end of November gave Palace bragging rights, but at this stage of the season Newcastle must forget what happened in the past. While draws against Manchester City and Liverpool were certainly encouraging, the Magpies need wins. Anything else simply won’t do, particularly with Sunderland and Norwich each holding a game in hand.

The two-headed monster of Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic will be crucial if Newcastle is to pick up a vital three points at home for the sixth time this season.

What they’re saying…

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez: “I don’t bet. Obviously, I agree we have to win. In my experience, it’s the players who make the difference, not the managers. I can prepare for the game, but to talk about mind games, I don’t take too much notice.”

Palace boss Alan Pardew: “I’ve always encouraged other coaches and managers to be involved, with comments from them. I asked a bit of advice at the weekend from a couple of people which was very sound. I expect, as I do on occasion, to get calls from some of the players I’ve coached to ring me. You have to keep your network big.”

Prediction

Newcastle needs this game, or at the very least a point. Given the team’s poor goal differential though, this isn’t something Rafa Benitez and company will want to leave up to fate. Palace has dropped plenty of points this season, leaving Newcastle in an opportune position to gain ground on the coveted 17th place. The Magpies will push hard and I think they’ll be able to pull this one out at home, 2-1.

Follow @MattReedFutbol

Sevilla’s Krohn-Dehli out 7 months after knee surgery

BILBAO, SPAIN - APRIL 07:  Michael Krohn-Dehli of Sevilla and Javier Eraso of Athletic Club Bilbao battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa League quarter final first leg match between Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla at San Mames Stadium on April 7, 2016 in Bilbao, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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SEVILLE, Spain (AP) Sevilla says midfielder Michael Krohn-Dehli will be sidelined for at least seven months after undergoing surgery on a broken left knee.

The Denmark midfielder suffered the gruesome injury on Thursday during the 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League semifinals.

He was carried off the pitch in the 73rd minute, less than 15 minutes after going on as a substitute.

The operation took place on Friday once the team had returned to Spain.

Sevilla, the two-time defending Europa League champion, will host the return leg of their semifinal next week.

The 32-year-old Krohn-Dehli joined Sevilla at the start of this season from fellow Spanish club Celta Vigo.

Men In Blazers: Music Pod Special

Men In Blazers
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You are in for a treat as this is a Men in Blazers Pod Special with Aaron Dessner of The National, Chris Baio of Vampire Weekend and Nathaniel Motte of 3OH!3.

The focus, obviously, is music.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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