Roberto Martínez hints at $45 million transfer purse, plan to upgrade training ground

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One of the major concerns surrounding Everton’s success has been the Toffees’ dependence on loaned talent; specifically, striker Romelu Lukaku and midfielder Gareth Barry. Yet if Roberto Martínez has even part of the transfer budget he hints at in reporting by The Guardian, finances may not be an issue in retaining those players. If Chelsea is unwilling to sell Lukaku to Everton, a potential $45 million budget means the Toffees will still be able to address their problems.

Speaking about his plans for this summer, Martínez revealed most of the money from the sales of Victor Anichebe, Marouane Fellaini, and Nikica Jelavic is still unspent, with the Everton boss avoiding the January transfer window with the goal of addressing his needs this summer. Those needs include improving the team’s Finch Farm training complex, where Martínez would like to add overnight facilities and a new field.

As relayed by The Guardian, Martínez already has precise plans for his transfer budget and the television money his team’s set to receive, with the first-year boss waiting for the result of his team’s Champions League pursuit before setting his heart on specific targets:

“We’ve got money to spend this summer,” the Everton manager said. “Remember we sold £40m worth of players and we only spent £13m [initially]. That money is there to be spent. The new TV money won’t make a massive difference on the playing side because we’ve got a lot of things we want to do on the training ground. We want to build accommodation here, have bedrooms on site, put a new pitch in and give the training ground a big lift. I’m going to use the money for that.”

While the amount he has to spend will grab most’s attention, his views on the need for an improved training ground were the most fascinating part of his comments. Alluding to the now famous 10,000-hour rule, Martínez outlines the importance of keeping players onsite, explaining that getting players enough training time is “impossible” if they can’t sleep at the facility:

“The 10,000 hours rule [the supposed time required to become expert in any field] is impossible but if you can get a player doing double of what they do the benefits are incredible. Even before games you have to go to a hotel. You don’t create that environment of feeling at home. It is now a must to have bedrooms. Every first-team player should have a bedroom.”

It all makes perfect sense, but you just don’t hear managers at similar clubs speaking like this. Martínez has a clear and (as The Guardian described) meticulous vision of what he wants to do three months from now. He knows how much he wants to invest in the squad, how much should be devoted to the future, and (apparently) how a potential qualification for Champions League will affect both. He knows exact who he wants to bring in, how to prioritize their captures, and how much money he can spend on them. And, by collecting that money over the last nine months (and not blowing any of it in January), he’s illustrating how his current views are the product of careful planning that probably started the day he accepted the job.

That he’s had success on the field help him focus on the future, but you can’t separate that from the overall package. That Martínez is challenging for Champions League is probably a function of the same mindset that’s prioritizing the training ground. It’s all part of a vision of the game that sees style, results, development, and sustainability as related – a complete philosophy that’s led to his name to be connected with a potential opening at Barcelona.

That’s most likely tabloid nonsense. In reality, the doubts that Martínez accumulated through multiple relegation scraps at Wigan have completely dissipated. The FA Cup he won with the Latics looks like the first accomplishment in a long, prolific career instead of some consolidation prize Wigan earned on its way to the second division. Particularly after Owen Coyle struggled (and was eventually let go) in Martínez’s wake, the manager’s value became more obvious. There are reasons why Dave Whelan was remiss to see him go.

Everton fans will hope they don’t have to say goodbye so soon. Though the Blues may not finish much better than they did in their last season under David Moyes, the club has taken huge steps forward. Both in their style on the field and their plans foff, Everton is making meaningful strides forward, closing the gap many thought would be impossible to diminish while the club occupies Goodison Park.

Spanish police dismantle match-fixing scheme in 3rd, 4th tiers

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MADRID (AP) Spanish police have dismantled a match-fixing scheme involving players and clubs in the country’s lower divisions.

Authorities said more than 20 people have been detained as part of the police operation launched on Monday, including players, although no names were immediately disclosed.

The matches under suspicion were in the third and fourth divisions this season and last season.

The match-fixing scheme reportedly involved Chinese betting sites.

The Spanish league said the operation was based on information collected by its analysts about suspicious activities.

UCL preview: Chelsea host Barcelona; Bayern vs. Besiktas

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  • Chelsea vs. Barcelona, at Stamford Bridge
  • Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas, at Allianz Arena
  • Champions League round of 16 resumes on Tuesday

[ UCL: Spurs fight back to draw Juventus | Liverpool thrash Porto in leg 1 ]

Chelsea, mired in some of their worst form since the disastrous 2015-16 season, welcome a Barcelona side enjoying one of the best six-month runs of results in the famed club’s entire history. The Blues have won just four of their last 12 games across all competitions, while the Blaugrana have lost once in 38 games.

On the plus side, Chelsea enter Tuesday’s colossal clash as winners of their last two games — back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018 — having outscored the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Hull City by a combined 7-0. Star striker Alvaro Morata returned to action against Hull after five weeks out with a back injury, thus Antonio Conte has something of a selection dilemma on his hands with the Spaniard perhaps only partially fit, and Olivier Giroud racking up a goal and three assists in the last two games, his first starts for the club.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have conceded just two goals in their last nine games (all competitions) and even managed to overturn their lone defeat, to Espanyol, and advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals (and eventually final). Despite losing Neymar in the summer, Barca mostly cruised through their Champions League group, only dropping points in draws away to Juventus and Olympiacos. Lionel Messi has, strangely, never scored a goal in his eight career appearances against Chelsea, a record which has been spoken about at length in the build-up to Tuesday — similarly to the goal-less record which plagued him against Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, whom he finally bested back in September.

[ MORE: Man City win big away to Basel | Real Madrid 3-1 PSG ]

In the other round-of-16 first-leg matchup on Tuesday, five-time (soon-to-be six) defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich host surprise winners of Group G, Besiktas, ahead of the likes of Monaco, RB Leipzig and Porto.

Since taking over on an interim basis (through the end of the season), Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes has won 21 of 22 games of which he’s been in charge, including four of six games during the group stage en route to finish second behind Paris Saint-Germain, while also racing out to a 19-point lead back home in Germany.

Aguero involved in clash with Wigan fan after FA Cupset

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) Sergio Aguero was involved in a confrontation with a Wigan fan as ugly scenes marred the end of the third-division side’s shock FA Cup win over Manchester City on Monday.

[ MORE: Wigan shock Man City, the world and themselves ]

Fans spilled on to the pitch at DW Stadium as the host celebrated its 1-0 fifth-round win against the runaway English Premier League leader.

Supporters from both clubs were involved in disturbances, while television pictures appeared to show a home supporter and striker Aguero involved in a physical exchange.

Aguero appeared to hit the supporter after the fan said something to the player, and Aguero had to be held back by his City teammates.

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Advertising hoardings were also ripped out and thrown as a pitch invasion by Wigan fans got out of hand while the defeated City players were being escorted off the pitch.

Footage also appeared to show objects, including an advertising board, being thrown at police officers by fans in the City end.

Wigan shock themselves: “Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet”

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Wigan Athletic didn’t just shock Manchester City with their FA Cup fifth-round slaying of the runaway Premier League leaders; nor did they merely shock the rest of the footballing world; they also shocked themselves into disbelief, according to defender Dan Burn.

[ MORE: Goodbye, quadruple! Wigan bounce 10-man City from FA Cup ]

Speaking following Monday’s triumph over Pep Guardiola‘s quadruple-chasing side at the DW Stadium, Burn admitted he himself didn’t know what to make of the night that would undoubtedly highlight and change his own professional career — quotes from the BBC:

“Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet. It was a really tough game. The belief was always there. We’ve got Will Grigg, who does what he keeps doing.

“We pride ourselves on our clean sheets. We had a couple bad results before, so we wanted to prove ourselves, so a clean sheet against the best team in England is great.

“Once we scored, the fans really got behind us, just knew we needed to hang on. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.”

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Manager Paul Cook was able to articulate his happiness and pride only slightly better — “It feels great” — but offered the highest of praises to his players, whom “had to ride [their] luck at times” during the game, and gave everything they had to the cause, because that’s the only way you beat a team like Man City:

“It feels great. It’s such a severe test. They’re such a strong side and move the ball so well. We had to ride our luck at times and the sending off is always a big incident.

“Our lads deserve credit for their work and some of the blocks they made were outstanding, and to beat Man City you have to do that.”