Maurice Edu’s introductory press conference in Philadelphia: Eager to “play every game, get stuck in”

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Fresh off his first training session as a member of the Philadelphia Union, midfielder Maurice Edu and two top Philadelphia front office men met with the media.

CEO Nick Sakiewicz and manager John Hackworth were on hand to talk with the media in a press conference that was a little different than your standard “Welcome this DP to America” talk. For one thing, there was the Union’s wrestling with MLS over Edu’s pay and the player’s not-so-sunny time spent in Europe to consider.

First, Edu, who wasn’t shy enough to admit, nor naive enough not to admit that, “the past couple years weren’t ideal. Obviously I would’ve like to play more.” He was asked about his frustrations after leaving a decent time with Rangers in Scotland to be little used by Stoke City and did not hesitate to say how badly he wanted to be an every-match player:

“It’s always frustrating as a player when you don’t play. In this game, you have to be mentally tough because it’s just full of ups and downs. One day you can be on a high, the next you can be on the worst spell of your career.

“Don’t get too down when you hit a low and at the same time when you’re on a high, just make sure you stay level-headed, you maintain a level of composure and a sense of humbleness.”

“I’m eager. This past couple years have been difficult and I haven’t put together a long stretch of games. I’m excited to come here and play, play every game. Do well, score goals, get stuck in on tackles, do all the things that I’m capable of doing.”

Sakiewicz danced around some questions a little bit, perhaps understandably so considering his team was ready to pay Edu a higher figure than MLS preferred. He mentioned that to sign three guys right after the season ended would’ve been foolish.

“We had to find the right guys and today I’m very excited to welcome Maurice to our club. It’s been a long, long journey and we’re delighted that he chose to come back from the Premier League.”

Manager John Hackworth’s excitement comes from working with Edu in the past.

“I had the good fortune of coaching Mo on the national team. He’ll be an integral part of our team moving forward. He knows the MLS well. He started his career here but he’s in his prime and I know how excited he is to be here.”

He also admitted the process of bringing him back was a trying experience.

“I would be lying if I said it wasn’t,” he said. “Anytime you go through a major acquisition of a player, especially bringing a national team back from Europe, there are so many things that have to happen right to make it a reality. You have to be patient.”

There was also a lot of talk about the progression of the league, as Edu spoke of the increasing reputation of MLS around Europe. Sakiewicz added that the league’s upward trending will only continue.

“If you think we’re having fun now, wait another 10 years,” Sakiewicz said. “This country’s really come a long way.”

AT THE HALF: Manchester derby scoreless after 45 minutes

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After 45 minutes, the final Manchester derby of the 2016-17 Premier League season — the one that’ll go a long, long way toward deciding which of the city’s sides will finish in the top-four — is scoreless, but not without incident.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The game’s best chances thus far fell Manchester City’s way, as Sergio Aguero missed a clear-cut chance after 10 minutes — Kevin De Bruyne whipped in the perfect ball to the back post, and Aguero put it wrong side of David De Gea‘s post.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ander Herrera has, once again, be Manchester United’s danger man, combining well with Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but Claudio Bravo made the one save he was forced into during the first half. One thing to keep an eye on during the final 45 minutes: Rashford picked up a knock very early on, and struggled to move around the field after that.

STREAM LIVE: The Manchester Derby

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The third Manchester Derby of the season is the first away from Old Trafford, as Manchester United visits Manchester City (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

There’s much on the line, as the sides sit just two points apart in the race for the Top Four. Man City would leapfrog third-place Liverpool with a win, while United could join the Reds on 66 points with a match-in-hand.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Sergio Aguero starts for Man City, with Gabriel Jesus on the bench.

On the other side, it’ll be a physical middle-third guarded by Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, and Marouane Fellaini. Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard start on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane, Aguero. Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Fernando, Navas, Clichy, Gabriel Jesus, A. Garcia

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Carrick, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan; Rashford, Martial. Subs: Romero, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Young, Lingard, Rooney.

Ex-Liverpool CEO shares biting story of Suarez transfer

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Ian Ayre’s got jokes.

The former Liverpool CEO lifted the lid on some transfer stories during a Merseyside lecture this week.

Of note, Ayre admitted that the club thought Dele Alli demanded too much given what he had produced when the Reds has the chance to sign him as a 16-year-old, and said that Liverpool could’ve landed Alexis Sanchez but the player wanted to live in London (“We couldn’t move the football club to London, unfortunately,” he quipped).

The best part relayed by Sky Sports had to do with Luis Suarez, and shows the relentless nature of the transfer market. Clearly Barcelona had interest in Suarez before the fiery striker bit Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, because, well…

“I remember the sporting director of Barcelona calling me during that game, immediately as Suarez bit the player, and he said to me ‘my friend, he’s bitten somebody, how can this be the price?’ I said ‘he’d already bitten somebody when you first bid!'”

We’re sure there’s a certain amount of storytelling in there, but undoubtedly some truth.

Given Barca paid a reported $84 million for the striker, the asking price couldn’t have started that much higher.

Men in Blazers podcast: Chelsea tops Spurs, Top Four predictions

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Rog and Davo return to discuss Chelsea’s FA Cup semifinal victory over Spurs, update their Top Four predictions (again), and dive into the depths of the relegation zone. Plus, the very important movement to change “Hudson Street” to “Ray Hudson Street.”

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