Everton v Manchester United - Premier League

David Moyes vilified on return to Everton, as Manchester United nightmare continues

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LIVERPOOL — Boos rang around Goodison Park as David Moyes stood on the edge of his technical area before Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat to Everton on Sunday.

Every time he was shown on the big screen Everton’s fans showed their distaste and the home fans finished off the game with a rendition of “You’re getting sacked in the morning” just to rub salt further into the wounds.

This is not the homecoming the former Everton boss would’ve wanted on his first trip back to Goodison since he left last summer.

United were outfought, outplayed and looked inferior across the board as Everton recorded the double over United for the first time since the 1969-70 season, following their 1-0 win at Old Trafford back in October. With the victory Everton kept their top four hopes well and truly alive, while United saw theirs vanish mathematically.

(MORE: Everton 2-0 Man United – Toffees rampant in miserable return for Moyes)

After the match Moyes insisted his side played well, much to the bemusement of the assembled press, but with Champions League soccer out of the window for next season, the former Everton boss knows his side are struggling.

“It hurts [not finishing in the top four], it’s part of this club,” Moyes said afterwards. “We are doing everything we can to get ourselves back in it again. I think the supporters have been behind the team incredibly. I think they’ve realized it has been a difficult season. The supporters are supporting the team and they understand it has not been good. I recognize it hasn’t been good. It needs to be better.”

While United need to do better, Everton have reached 69 points for the first time in Premier League history. Throughout their win over United on Sunday, it was a strange sight seeing the man who’d been the hero of Evertonians for over 11 years, vilified by the fans who had adored him.

source: AP
Baines, a transfer target for Moyes and United, came back to haunt his old boss.

As Moyes brought his United side back to Goodison Park for the first time since he left the Blues last summer, instead of a heroes’ welcome, Moyes got a mouthful from angry Everton fans all afternoon.

They taunted him with songs (“Moyesy, Moyesy give us a wave”) and a home fan wearing a Grim Reaper costume with an inflatable scythe stood behind Moyes for the opening 15 minutes. That about sums up Moyes’ mood right now.

“We should’ve played better, we didn’t create chances,” Moyes said. “We passed it well enough but we could’ve done better. We didn’t do it today, we had a lot of the ball but we didn’t make it count. Everybody knows we are on track to make changes and do some different things. We are rebuilding. We’ve got things we want to do, today there were things we didn’t do well.”

United didn’t play well, at all, and Everton’s fans were lapping it up on the terraces. Yet, why the animosity towards a man who turned Everton from regular battlers against relegation to perennial top four challengers?

The United manager tried to raid his old team last summer, as he eventually signed Marouane Fellaini for $37.5 million and tried to lure Everton left back Leighton Baines to the Red Devils. The rhetoric Moyes used to try and unsettle both players angered the Everton faithful and with the subsequent success of new Blues boss Roberto Martinez and Moyes’ rough start to life at Old Trafford, Evertonians now believe life under Moyes wasn’t as grand as it once seemed.

Martinez spoke of Moyes’ past tenure at Everton and how he is reaping the benefits from the carefully laid plans the Scotsman put in place.

“I was a very fortunate man to walk into a football club where everything was in place,” Martinez said. “The work that David did over 11 years was there. Yes, I wanted to change many things, but I didn’t want to lose anything. I brought 10 player sin which is a big amount, the senior players were very open to play in a different manner and we gave a massive role to the younger players. That is the big difference in this squad. I thought David Moyes’ job at Everton provided the platform for the performances we have been able to put in this season.”

Following a number of poor performances this season, Moyes is now undertaking a total rebuild of United’s playing squad.

“We’re doing that behind the scenes and we will continue to do that behind the scenes just now,” Moyes said. “We will do everything we possibly can to get a team that is capable of winning better than what we’ve been doing recently.”

source: AP
Mirallas grabbed Everton’s second and was a constant thorn in United’s side down the right flank.

Make no mistake about it, Moyes worked wonders on a shoestring budget with the Toffees as he guided them to fourth place, guaranteed a top 10 finish and brought in plenty of profit from many shrewd transfer dealings. Moyes put the building blocks in space for Martinez to succeed, yet the free-flowing attacking soccer Everton now roll out on a weekly basis is in stark contrast to the restrictive and simple soccer Moyes deployed.

That was evident on Sunday, as Everton marauded down the right-wing effortlessly — with Seamus Coleman, Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku ganging up on Alexander Buttner to devastating effect — as United’s defense couldn’t handle the Toffees’ inventive and forthright approach. Moyes’ own United team looked lightweight, with Shinji Kagawa, Juan Mata and Nani trying to get on the ball but as soon as the ball was lost none of them got back to defend. That left United horribly exposed, as the Red Devils knocked the ball from side to side with no real purpose and lacked creativity in the final third.

Moyes admitted, his current side failed to compete with the team he meticulously assembled and is now watching flourish from afar.

“We had good control of the game, we had the bulk of the ball,” Moyes said. “Everton area a threat on the break, their first goal was a big kick up the pitch from Ross Barkley, nodded down, picked up and for us to conceded a goal like that was terrible. The second one was a better move, but we should’ve defended them much better.”

Does Moyes deserve to be a villain at Goodison Park?

The Scotsman has done nothing wrong, yet in a world were instant success is now expected and legacies are quickly forgotten, what he left behind at Everton is now being built on as Martinez takes the Blues to the next chapter.

UEFA Champions League dreams are real at Goodison Park with three games to go this season, while Moyes’ United have been overtaken by the side he left to further his coaching career, win trophies and play in Europe. Oh, the irony.

Report: Chelsea’s Diego Costa, Antonio Conte agree truce

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 20:  Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea celebrates victory with Diego Costa after the Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Chelsea at Riverside Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Middlesbrough, England.  (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
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The feud is over. For now.

[ MORE: New rules stop Costa move

After Diego Costa was left out of Chelsea’s traveling squad for the win at Leicester City last weekend, he has been training on his own amid reports of a back injury which his manager Antonio Conte

It seems very likely that this situation was about much more than a back injury as Costa and Conte reportedly had a bust-up on the training ground, while links surrounding a big-money move to China continue as Costa’s agent, Jorge Mendes, was seen visiting owners of Chinese Super League clubs last week.

A report in The Times states that Costa and Conte have decided to put their differences aside and the Spanish international is back in contention to start against Hull City on Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

It was also stated that although everyone is buddy-buddy for now, Costa could still leave in the summer as his volatile nature is far from impressing Conte who continues to stamp his authority not only on the players but the entire club.

It’s clear Conte is boss but he can’t have Costa undermining him as seems to have been the case over the past week and it was also the case earlier on in the season when Conte demanded Costa remained on the pitch.

That said, Costa’s importance to Chelsea can’t be understated as he is the join-top goalscorer in the Premier League with 14 goals and he’s added another five assists this season. With reports linking Chelsea with a summer move for Alvaro Morata, it appears Conte is already trying to plan for life without Costa.

Can the Blues win the PL title this season without Costa’s goal and presence up top? Despite a seven-point lead, probably not. That’s why Conte calling a truce in his instance makes sense.

That said, he now has six months or so to line up a long-term replacement for Costa.

The cracks have been papered over for now. But how long will it be until two fiery characters collide once again?

Lionel Messi discusses his Barcelona future

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 11:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on during the Copa del Rey round of 16 second leg match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club at Camp Nou on January 11, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Lionel Messi has addressed speculation linking him with a move away from the only club he has ever known.

[ MORE: Who are title favorites? ]

Messi, 29, has been at Barcelona since the age of 13 and the Argentine superstar has won every possible trophy with the Catalan giants, plus has been crowned the World Player of the Year on five occasions.

Time for a new challenge?

Reports had suggested that Barcelona have wanted to start talks over a new contract with Messi for quite some time but with just 18 months left on his current deal, Messi and his representatives are yet to hold talks.

“I have always said that Barcelona has given me everything and I am here for as long as they want me to be,” Messi said in Coach magazine.

Hmm.

Messi also spoke about his former manager and mentor, Pep Guardiola, and his challenging start to life in the Premier League as manager of Manchester City.

“It is a very competitive league, last season showed that, so it makes it very difficult to predict,” Messi added. “Of course Pep is a very successful coach, he will be adjusting to the league, but I am sure that he will be successful.”

Will Messi be part of Pep’s success at City?

It is obvious Barca will want him to stay but if a huge offer comes in for Messi from Man City this summer, or others in the Premier League, then surely he will think twice about it.

If Pep can coax Messi to join him at City, who can clearly afford him, then it would be another glittering star in their attacking line. That said, if Guardiola is going to be successful then he’ll have to add plenty more quality in defense as City currently sit 10 points off leaders Chelsea with 17 games to go in the PL season.

Loss to Sevilla quickly puts Real Madrid’s Zidane on the defensive

SEVILLE, SPAIN - JANUARY 15:  Head Coach of Real Madrid CF Zinedine Zidane looks on prior to  the match against Real Madrid CF during the La Liga match between Sevilla FC and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on January 15, 2017 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)
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MADRID (AP) Real Madrid’s first loss after a 40-game unbeaten streak was enough to put coach Zinedine Zidane on the defensive.

Two days after Madrid’s unbeaten record was halted by a 2-1 defeat at Sevilla in the Spanish league, Zidane was forced to defend some of his players against criticism from fans and local media.

[ MORE: Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over absurd Matip situation ]

Most comments were aimed at goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who failed to stop Sevilla’s injury-time winner on Sunday. Navas got to Stevan Jovetic‘s long-range shot but was unable to keep the ball from going in.

“He’s having a really good season,” Zidane said on Tuesday. “You can always ask for more, but if up until now we had gone 40 games without losing, it’s for a reason, and he has been there all the way.”

There have been calls for Zidane to give reserve goalkeeper Kiko Casilla a chance, but the coach said there was “no need to go over this again.”

Zidane also dismissed talk about signing a new goalkeeper.

“These are rumors,” he said. “We are focused on what we are doing this year. Whatever happens next I’m not interested and it’s not the time to talk about it. The three goalkeepers we have are important, they’re doing well and I’m very happy with them. I don’t want to change anything we’re doing.”

[ MORE: How Sevilla hope to break up the Madrid-Barca duopoly ]

Zidane defended forward Karim Benzema, who lost possession near midfield in a mistake that led to host Sevilla’s winner on Sunday.

“Everyone can say and write what they want,” Zidane said. “On a field, playing 90 minutes, you can’t do everything right. There is talk of lack of concentration, but we only had five bad minutes and that happens in football.”

Benzema also missed a chance to score from close range in the game, but a few days earlier it was the French striker who netted in stoppage time in a Copa del Rey match against Sevilla to help Madrid set the Spanish unbeaten record.

Zidane downplayed the end of Madrid’s unbeaten streak. The club hadn’t lost since a 2-0 defeat at Wolfsburg in the Champions League in April.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday | Thursday ]

“These things happen,” he said. “Nothing is going to change in what I’m going to do. Those who are not Real Madrid fans will want us to lose, but we must be ready and think that what we’re doing is fine. We lost a game, something that happens, and now we have to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Madrid hosts Celta Vigo on Wednesday in a first-leg match in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.

Celta has won all four matches this year.

“I am not surprised by Celta’s record because they’re a very good team, they fight and play very good football,” Zidane said. “It’ll be another complicated match for us.”

FA fines Man City’s Sagna over “10 against 12” Instagram message

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Scott Arfield of Burnley (L) tackles Bacary Sagna of Manchester City (R) during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Burnley at Etihad Stadium on January 2, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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LONDON (AP) The English Football Association has fined Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna 40,000 pounds (around $50,000) for an Instagram post about a referee.

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Sagna posted a photo with the caption “10 against 12.. but still fighting and winning as a team” on the social network site following City’s 2-1 win against Burnley on Jan. 2.

Sagna later amended the post to read “still fighting and winning as a team” after a match that saw referee Lee Mason send off midfielder Fernandinho.

[ MORE: Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over absurd Matip situation ]

The FA also warned Sagna about his future conduct.