Blackpool cancels preseason tour of Spain with just eight players on roster

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Championship side Blackpool has cancelled its preseason tour of Spain to, as its official website put it, “concentrate on player recruitment.”

That might be a good idea.

Soccer requires 11 players on the pitch. This may sound trivial, until you see that Blackpool currently has just eight players on the senior team under contract.

A closer look reveals three defenders, a midfielder, and four strikers on the Blackpool payroll, and not a single goalkeeper.

Blackpool FC chairman Karl Oyston told the official website:

“The manager has taken the decision – and I agree with the decision – to cancel the pre-season tour so that our time is better served to try and get some of the player deals that we’ve been trying to get over the line for some time across the line. Our time will be far better spent preparing here than going over to Spain.”

To say the club is in a period of transition would be an understatement. After losing manager Ian Holloway in 2012 following a near-promotion season, Blackpool has seen Paul Ince, Barry Ferguson, and now Jose Riga (pictured) take charge.

They finished 20th in the Championship last season, narrowly avoiding relegation to League 1 by two points.  Glenn Bowley, chairman of the official supporter’s group, told the BBC a few days ago, “it’s complete and utter shambles.”

However, Oyston doesn’t see it that way. “There is no panic,” he told BBC Sport. “In fact, I see it as a benefit rather than a downside. It allows the manager to bring in his own team, as opposed to a manager picking up a squad that is already overloaded and he doesn’t think is good enough.”

Sure, whatever you say Karl.

Blackpool was meant to take on Spanish clubs Granada and Cartegana in friendlies during their now-cancelled tour.

Instead, it appears Oyston’s son Sam is shooting pigeons inside the ground (the tweet was later deleted) – a great use of time with such a fine state of club affairs on their hands.

The Tangerines have until August 9th – less than a month – to put together a squad, as they open their league season against Nottingham Forest on that date.

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.

[ MORE: Mbappe wins Golden Boy ]

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.

[ MORE: Mbappe named Golden Boy ]

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.

[ MORE: Mbappe named Golden Boy ]

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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