Pellegrini

Will a stagnant summer cost Manchester City home and abroad this season?

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It’s been a busy summer in the transfer market around the top of the Premier League table.

Chelsea, hoping to fix their dire need at the striker position, splashed for Diego Costa while also splurging for Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas to replace the legendary Frank Lampard.

[RELATED: PL season previews]

Liverpool added eight players hoping to replace last year’s Player of the Season Luis Suarez.

Manchester United looks poised for a rebound under new manager Louis van Gaal after snatching up Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera and are still in play for a number of big name players look like good fits for the new boss’s rare formation.

Everton bagged Romelu Lukaku for a club-record fee after years of relative penny-pinching for a top-quarter club.

Even Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger bucked his reputation and splashed cash early in the transfer window by throwing heaps of money at Alexis Sanchez and Callum Chambers along with a few others.

But one team is sorely missing from this list.

The defending champions Manchester City, owned by Shiekh Mansour and all his money and grandeur, had spent a grand total of $33 million on three players until the club snatched 23-year-old central defender Eliaquim Mangala on Monday for an appalling $53 million fee.

source: AP
Can Kompany and Pellegrini lead City to glory once again this season?

Again, we repeat that they are the defending champions, and it’s well known how studded with talent that roster is. However, there’s the common phrase that resonates around every professional sport’s offseason:

“If you aren’t getting better, you’re getting worse.”

With the purchase of Mangala, City finally spent some money, that much can’t be denied. The club, remember, is shackled (not really) by Financial Fair Play rules indicating they can not spend more than $80 million net loss in the transfer market.

However, with the surprise improvement of Martin Demichelis and the prior existence of one of the Premier League’s best defenders in Vincent Kompany, where will Mangala fit? The club is already looking to sell promising young central defender Matija Nastasic, who was a key component of their 2nd-place season two years ago and is still just 21 years old, because he’s not finding time. Why not just keep him instead?

So despite the club’s unquestionable ability to open the books, fans are undeniably pondering still: will Manchester City’s inability to purchase key players this season suddenly make them underdogs?

A wider lens must be used to capture the answer to that question. Despite City’s success the past three seasons in the domestic competition, they’ve struggled mightily abroad. The club has never fallen to lesser competition in the Champions League over the last few years, but they’ve never been able to make the leap to elite status, finding themselves eliminated far too early by clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and Sporting CP.

If the Citizens wish to get over the European hump, they haven’t shown it this offseason, sitting around watching clubs scoop up top talents before making an inflated purchase for a player the club doesn’t really need. In fact, more players are still rumored to be on their way out (Javi Garcia, Nastasic) than on their way in (???).

It must be said that their business to capture Bacary Sagna and Frank Lampard for little to no money is good business, but how much can they truly bring? Lampard is quality in a midfield that needs cover badly, but he’s 35 now and will struggle for a full season.

It goes without saying that Manchester City is loaded with talent, and they could still easily win the Premier League with this team.

However, their relative failures in the transfer market this summer will no doubt leave them scratching and clawing for even a modest Champions League finish, and could also doom them domestically should the clubs around them hit with all their big-money gambles. In fact, the most exciting news to come from the Etihad this summer is the signing of David Silva and Vincent Kompany to long-term contracts.

Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri, David Silva, Yaya Toure, and the rest of the star-studded cast will still likely lead a Premier League campaign worthy of a title challenge. But this club has aspirations bigger than that, and without smart buys in the transfer market, those lofty goals will continue fall on deaf ears.

Remember, this is the club that fired Roberto Mancini the year after winning the Premier League title for finishing second. Good luck, Manuel Pellegrini.

Goteborg apologizes over crowd trouble at abandoned match

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - OCTOBER 31:  IFK Goteborg receives the silver medal after the match between IFK Goteborg and Kalmar FF at Gamla Ullevi on October 31, 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden.  (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images)
Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images
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GOTEBORG, Sweden (AP) Swedish club IFK Goteborg has apologized for crowd trouble that resulted in a league match against Malmo being abandoned after a firework landed next to a visiting player warming up on the sidelines and he responded angrily.

Wednesday’s game was interrupted in the 77th minute, with the score at 0-0, when a firecracker tossed from the crowd exploded next to midfielder Tobias Sana, a former Goteborg player. Jolted by the loud bang, Sana reacted by throwing a corner flag into the stands.

[ WATCH: Sana throws corner flag into Goteborg fans ]

Match officials decided to abandon the match, saying a linesman who was also near the firework when it exploded was shocked by the incident.

Sana, who said he had a headache and ear pain following the incident, apologized for his actions.

“Now that I’ve gotten over the shock, I feel it was the stupidest decision of my life,” Sana said Thursday in statement. “There are many young people who look up to me so I really want to apologize.”

Malmo said that Sana wouldn’t face any sanctions from the club.

In a move suggesting the firework was thrown by home fans, Goteborg posted an apology on its website directed at Malmo, match officials and the spectators. The club could face sanctions from the Swedish football association’s disciplinary committee.

There was another security incident on a chaotic evening in Goteborg. After the match was suspended, a Norwegian hockey player ran onto the field, reportedly as part of a bet with teammates at recently crowned Swedish champion Frolunda.

[ MORE: The latest on MLS in Detroit — 2020? ]

Newspaper Aftonbladet said Mats Rosseli Olsen, who played for Norway at the Sochi Olympics, was charged with a public order offense and could face fines.

Frolunda director Christian Lechtaler told Swedish news agency TT that Olsen’s behavior would have “consequences” but didn’t elaborate.

“Mats is very regretful and doesn’t feel good at all about this,” Lechtaler said.

Swedish football has been marred by crowd problems for years, including fans throwing objects at players and match officials and brawling with each other before or after games. Two years ago, a Djurgarden fan was killed after being attacked by hooligans ahead of an away match against Helsingborg.

Flores on future at Watford: “I need to feel happy”

during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Watford at the Boleyn Ground, April 20, 2016, London, England
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
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On the surface, it sounds crazy: Why trade a manager who led a first-year Premier League club to relatively quick safety in England’s top flight and a FA Cup semifinal?

But Watford is not any club when it comes to their views on managers, having parted ways with Slavisa Jokanovic after the Serbian manager led them to promotion. Oh, and when hired Jokanovic was the Hornets fourth coach in five weeks.

[ EUROPA: Villarreal 1-0 Liverpool | Shakhtar 2-2 Sevilla ]

So current manager Quique Sanchez Flores isn’t safe despite the Hornets’ 12th place status. That probably has a lot to do with Watford’s four points since the start of March, a tough schedule run that included Leicester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham.

So, could he be gone this summer? Flores has a break clause after this season, and Watford may not have a choice even if they want to keep the Spaniard around.

From Sky Sports:

Asked if he wanted to stay, Flores said: “This is not the question for me now.

“I know the kind of people I want to work with. That’s the only thing I can say. In the last four or five years I work from my feelings. I work around people I feel completely protected with.

“These are my feelings. When we finish the season I will check what the conditions are but I need to feel happy.”

Who needs who the most? Flores’ season has been impressive even with the late struggles, but Watford’s managerial merry-go-round happened before the club advanced into the Premier League and they’ve survived despite making a change in the summer. Still, we’d do our best to keep Flores at Vicarage Road.

Ex-soccer star Weah to run again for president of Liberia

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 25: Liberia soccer legend George Weah speaks during the 2010 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw at the ICC convention centre on November 25, 2007 in Durban, South Africa.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) Former world footballer of the year George Weah says he will make a second bid to become president of Liberia.

The ex-AC Milan striker announced on Thursday he will stand as a candidate in elections next year, when current president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s second and final term ends.

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Weah, who formed the Congress for Democratic Change party, lost to Sirleaf in the 2005 election.

Declaring his intention to stand again, Weah told supporters he sympathized with the plight of many poor Liberians. He said “there were times I didn’t have school fees. I continued to strive with the hope that one day life will get better.”

Weah was the world footballer of the year in 1995. He is a senator in his West African homeland.

MLS Preview: Timbers, KC, 4 more dealing with double game weeks

Portland Timbers goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey, second from left, gets a piece of a shot by Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco, left, as Timbers midfielder Diego Chara (21) looks on during first-half MLS soccer game action in Toronto, Saturday, May 23, 2015. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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Beware the double game week.

That’s something on our minds as we look ahead to the weekend in Major League Soccer. For whatever reason, the league doesn’t seem to ensure that its teams with mid-week matches square off with similarly-rested teams a few days later.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

That’s a distinct advantage for Toronto, L.A., Colorado and Orlando City this weekend, as New York City FC’s Saturday game with Vancouver Whitecaps is the only pairing of teams that battled this Wednesday.

Portland Timbers vs. Toronto FC — 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday

In the span of 7 days, Portland will have played in Oregon, flown across the country to draw New England, and now have to go home to face a Toronto FC team that’s been thriving away from BMO Field (The Reds’ home opener isn’t until next week).

Will Johnson is reunited with his home fans, and may make a record turn from hero to villain. Timbers Army can claim they’ll rise above it, but let’s wait until the first trademark Johnson tackle.

Sporting KC vs. L.A. Galaxy — 8 p.m. ET Sunday

The Galaxy have just poured goals past opponents over its last two matches, 4-1 and 5-2 wins over Houston and Real Salt Lake (the latter had allowed 1 whole goal over its previous 3 matches so, yeah).

KC’s inexplicably poor run since the return of Benny Feilhaber — now 1W-4L-1T since a 3-0 start — now sees the Galaxy come to town. Oh boy.

Montreal Impact vs. Colorado Rapids — 4 p.m. ET Saturday

It’s amazing what adding a 58-times capped freak of nature to go with a two-time Swiss League Golden Boot winner can do for a club. Colorado is flying with Jermaine Jones and Shkelzen Gashi, and doesn’t show any signs of stopping a run of wins that includes Seattle, RBNY and Sporting KC.

Next up, though, is East-leading Montreal. The Impact have fallen on hard times, with just one point in its last two matches.

Elsewhere

Columbus Crew forward Federico Higuain (10) battles for the ball against Seattle Sounders midfielders Osvaldo Alonso (6) and and Marco Pappa (10) during the first half of an MLS soccer game in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, May 9, 2015. (Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch via AP)
(Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch via AP)

New York Red Bulls vs. FC Dallas — 7 p.m. ET Friday
Philadelphia Union vs. San Jose Earthquakes — 4 p.m. ET Saturday
New York City FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — 4 p.m. ET Saturday
Seattle Sounders vs. Columbus Crew — 4 p.m. ET Saturday
Chicago Fire vs. DC United — 5 p.m. ET Saturday
New England Revolution vs. Orlando City — 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Real Salt Lake vs.Houston Dynamo — 9:30 p.m. ET Saturday