Trouble at Tottenham? Danny Rose opens up can of worms

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Danny Rose‘s outspoken interview with the Sun newspaper on the eve of the 2017-18 Premier League season has created quite a pickle for Tottenham Hotspur.

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With Spurs fighting for the title in each of the last two seasons and accumulating more points over those two campaigns than any other PL club, this moment was always likely to arrive.

Simply put: Spurs’ stars want to be paid the same as star players at Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and the PL’s other big boys. Is that too much to ask?

Right now, that’s not happening and it seems likely to cause an issue for Tottenham’s notoriously savvy chairman Daniel Levy and his talented manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Rose, 27, spoke out against Spurs’ in a brutally honest interview where he stated his ambition to “make sure I get what I am worth” in terms of his salary and he also urged Spurs, who have yet to make a signing this summer, to sign two star players to keep them fighting for the PL title this season.

“As a Tottenham player I’d love to see more signings. It would lift me seeing a top player come through the door. I’ve seen a couple of players previously saying, ‘We don’t need a top signing or signings’. But I am sorry, I am not singing off the same hymn-sheet on that one,” Rose said. “I think we do  need one or two top signings to strengthen the squad. I’m just not buying the idea that we don’t need anyone.”

With Rose reportedly on $80,000 per week, like most of his teammates, he will likely have heard about his former Spurs teammate Kyle Walker (they share the same agent) earning double that amount after his $65 million move to Manchester City this summer. Rose revealed that he urged Spurs not to sell Walker and went on to discuss how he plans to get paid exactly what he’s worth.

“When you’re injured you get a lot of time to think and I’ve had a lot of ‘what if?’ moments. It’s been hard to deal with. One thing is for sure — I know my worth and I will make sure I get what I am worth,” Rose said. “I am not playing as well as I have done not to get paid what I think I am worth.”

The left back who was voted in the PFA Team of the Year for the past two seasons has a point, and that opinion may be shared by many of Spurs’ young, hungry players who have bought into the project managed expertly by Pochettino over the past three seasons. It has been tough for anyone not to get caught up in the wonder of Tottenham over the past few years with their exciting brand of soccer, top young talent and a bright future promised at their stunning new stadium.

With the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld targeted by Europe’s top clubs and reportedly offered to double their wages, Levy keeping a rigid wage structure at Spurs won’t keep them happy forever.

Of course, this measure may only been in place for another few years as Tottenham’s move to a new $1 billion stadium at White Hart Lane needed to be financed by cutting costs elsewhere. Many players will have accepted that when signing new deals over the past 12-18 months as Pochettino posing for a photo with a player who has a pen and paper in hand has become a running joke such is the frequency of new deals being agreed.

All of these Spurs players knew what they were signing up for, but the money the likes of City, United (who are both complemented by Rose for the amount of money they’ve spent) and others are offering has increased rapidly and drastically. Rose spoke about moving back to the north of England where his family are from which prompted links to Man United, while Chelsea are also said to be interested in signing him. Tottenham don’t want to sell Rose, or any of their star players, but he knew exactly what he was doing with these comments.

If Spurs don’t listen to Rose and don’t spend big this summer they will be just fine, their squad is strong enough to challenge for the title and do well in the UEFA Champions League. But if other players are now feeling the same as Rose but just haven’t aired their thoughts in such a public and abrasive manner, that’s where the real problem lies.

This Tottenham squad has always seemed like a harmonious bunch with every player willing to forego increased finances elsewhere to try and end Tottenham’s title drought and at least win one piece of silverware.

Until that happens most of Tottenham’s top players, especially the local lads like Kane, will keep buying into the dream of bringing glory back to White Hart Lane, but just how long will that sentiment last?

Tottenham have no doubt become a victim of their own success.

EFL Cup Final preview: Arsenal, Manchester City fight for different types of glory

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  • These two clubs have never met in a major Cup final
  • With a win, Arsene Wenger would become the 8th PL manager to win all 3 major English trophies
  • Sergio Agüero has scored in all of his last 4 appearances against Arsenal

For Manchester City, it’s the first step of a potentially record-setting season. For Arsenal, it’s the Gunners’ best chance at securing a trophy.

The two teams are fighting for very different levels of glory as the two meet at Wembley Stadium on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. ET. Manchester City, despite losing to Wigan in the FA Cup just a week ago, would still be on track for a Double this season with a win against the Gunners. Meanwhile, Arsenal is outside the Premier League top four, and – as they have done each of the past two seasons in the FA Cup – could salvage an otherwise disappointing league season with a major Cup trophy.

Both teams will be struggling with selection in certain areas. Manchester City is likely missing Raheem Sterling, who could sit out due to an unspecified muscle injury according to Pep Guardiola in his pre-match press conference, while Fabian Delph is suspended after his sending off against Wigan in the FA Cup. That means either Danilo or 21-year-old Oleksandr Zinchencko would start at wing-back. Zinchenko is the likely candidate there, having appeared in four of City’s five EFL Cup games this season so far and playing almost every minute of those four matches. Gabriel Jesus, who missed more than two months with a knee injury, could be ready to make his early return. Claudio Bravo will continue to play in goal for the domestic Cup competitions.

Arsenal, meanwhile, is without new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan who is cup-tied to his previous club Manchester United, while Alexandre Lacazette is not yet recovered from his knee injury suffered in the North London derby, and Mesut Ozil could miss out with an illness. The Gunners are likely, however, to get Aaron Ramsey back in midfield after recovering from a groin injury, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can return to the lineup after his own cup tied absence in the Europa League midweek.

What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on playing Arsenal twice in a week: “We will be happy if we win, sad if we don’t but after the game we have another match against Arsenal. We are going to try and maintain our level, but finals are different, it is not what you have done in the past.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on playing Manchester City: “Manchester City have so many players that you think you have to stop that it is better to focus on the team plan than rather than on any individual. It’s true that I always used to use this competition with a youth team. For us it’s an opportunity. We’ll play with all the regular players.” 

Prediction

Arsenal has often come up big in hotly contested Cup matches, despite poor form in the surrounding competitions, so it would not be surprising to once again see Arsene Wenger hoist a trophy on Saturday to temporarily distract the fanbase and media from larger struggles. However, picking against this Manchester City team would be selection suicide, even after their disappointment against Wigan and considering the absence of under the radar star Raheem Sterling. Manchester City wins 3-1 with a pair of late goals to sink the Gunners, with a newly healthy Gabriel Jesus providing an influential injection off the bench in the final 20 minutes. Pep Guardiola raises another trophy at the site where he won the 2011 Champions League.

Heynckes squashes Lewandowski rumors after Premier League rumors

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The English media – mainly the tabloids – has had a field day over the last 24 hours with rumors of a Robert Lewandowski move to the Premier League claiming, but the Bayern Munich manager is having none of it.

Jupp Heynckes told the German press during his pre-match press conference on Friday ahead of the club’s Saturday match against Hertha Berlin, “I can’t imagine there is a chance [the club executives] will sell Lewandowski.”

“Bayern is not a selling club,” Heynckes went on to proclaim. “They want to, and always will want to, keep their top players.”

The reports stated that Lewandowski was “flirting” with a move to the Premier League, and that while Manchester City and Chelsea were the more logical destination, Liverpool was actually the preferred landing spot as the Polish international was open to a reunification with former boss Jurgen Klopp, whom he worked with at Borussia Dortmund before his switch to Allianz Arena. Lewandowski’s contract at Bayern Munich currently runs through 2021, leaving the player with little say over his future.

While the rumors seem like a long shot, what does make sense is that, at 29 years old, Lewandowski doesn’t a ton of time left to convince a Premier League club he’s worth a heavy investment for the next couple of years. Many top teams – most notably Arsenal – are hesitant to sign players over 30 years old, and would be even less inclined to pay a hefty transfer fee for a player without a long future ahead of them. Manchester United just paid a cut-rate price for Alexis Sanchez, and while that was largely due to Arsenal’s position of weakness regarding the expiry of Sanchez’s contract, Sanchez’s age also partially contributed to that knocked down transfer rate.

Nonetheless, Bayern’s sale history is minimal, having only offloaded surplus players, such as defender Medhi Benatia this past summer, Mario Gotze back to Borussia Dortmund the summer before, and Xherdan Shaqiri to Stoke City in 2015.

Recently retired Ryan Mason receives standing ovation at Hull match

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Midfielder Ryan Mason, who was forced to retire after suffering a fractured skull over a year ago, received a warm ovation at KCOM Stadium before Hull City’s match on Friday against Sheffield United.

Mason, just 26 years old, announced his retirement last week on the advice of medical professionals after over a year of rehabilitation from his injury in an attempt to return to playing. The Tottenham youth product was injured in an aerial clash with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill in January of 2017, and did not return to action.

“Ryan has sought the guidance of numerous world-renowned neurologists and neuro surgeons who have all advised that a return to competitive football is not advised,” Hull City said in a release after Mason’s retirement was announced. “Ryan would like to put on record his thanks to all at the club who have aided his recovery to this point and he his is indebted to them for their support and compassion over the past 12 months.”

Before Hull City’s match against Sheffield, an important one with Hull battling relegation, Mason was brought out on the pitch and received a warm reception from the patchy crowd.

As the club did after his injury, they put a message on the screen with the Twitter hashtag #OneRyanMason.

Mason picked up his first job since retirement over the weekend, commentating on Sky Sports in studio for a Championship match between Aston Villa and Preston North End, which ended in a 1-1 draw. “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind – it’s been crazy. I’ve had a lot of messages and it’s been a lot to take in,” Mason said on the broadcast. “I’ve been quite positive throughout and I’m looking to the next chapter now.”It’s difficult [to accept]. For the last year I’ve been working as hard as I can to get back on a football pitch. But when you’re long-term health comes into it then it’s a lot easier. There is more to life than football.

Wigan boss defends fans after pitch-storming

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Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook is defending his supporters following a memorable upset of Manchester City in the FA Cup.

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Latics fans stormed the pitch at the DW Stadium, a celebratory but dangerous scene which included “disturbances” between supporters of both clubs and a confronration between fans and Sergio Aguero.

But it takes just a look at the above photo to see both sides of the issues, as the photographer at right catches fans and players celebrating together… while Aguero rages behind him.

From Sky Sports:

“You’ve got to remember the pure emotions of the night for Wigan fans,” he said.

“They didn’t really turn up to see us win – that’s the truth of it. I’ve got a picture of my son in the directors’ box – he’s only 12 – with his head in his hands looking at the floor because he couldn’t watch.

“We certainly don’t want to see fans engaging with players. The players’ protection is absolutely paramount. But also the supporters enjoying that moment is a good thing for me.”

There is, also, this photo to show the other side of the scenario. Ultimately in our era, this type should sadly be prevented to defy the potential for the latter. That’s sad, but it’s a litigious world.

Dan Burn of Wigan Athletic celebrates. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)