Rickie Lambert says Southampton firesale forced players away (VIDEO)

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Now that Rickie Lambert has successfully rejoined his boyhood club, he’s taken a sort of passive approach towards the team he spent five years with and helped promote to the top flight.

However, after Liverpool’s season-opening win Sunday, he gave us a bit of a look into the inside of Southampton’s firesale.

After making his official Liverpool debut, reporters asked Lambert to contrast his reception from Southampton fans, which was mostly warm, to that of Dejan Lovren, which was quite hostile.

“Obviously, a few of the players have took a bit of stick,” Lambert said. “They’ll take the stick, that’s football. It’s been surprising that it’s all been the players and none on the owners, which I have found a bit surprising.”

Then, he threw in this nugget as well.

“There’s obviously a reason why the gaffer [Former Southampton and current Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino] went and I think that was the moment that it became clear to the players what the ambition of the club was going to be.”

It’s pretty obvious that Lambert had a good relationship with the manager, and when the club didn’t make a competitive attempt to keep Pochettino, the players knew it was a sign of things to come.

It’s no surprise Southampton did what they did, as many smaller clubs have player resale high on their priority list when doing business.  However, it certainly is a disappointment to the fans and players that it all had to come at one time.

In fact, it’s even more surprising that the club finally drew a line in the sand and stopped Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez from leaving, something that left the former angered.  However, Schneiderlin played very well in the season opener and that can let fans rest easy that they can probably get another quality season out of the Frenchman and still have the opportunity to sell high.

Lambert also said that while their focus on the blame may be misguided, he still loves the supporters.

“I love Southampton fans,” Lambert insisted. “I’ve got a good relationship with them, so it was nice that they acknowledged me in the way they did. I tried to acknowledge them back in the same manner, the same kind of respect. I’ve got nothing but respect for Southampton, the players and the fans.”

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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