Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

“You are a fake, little man”: Conte ramps up feud with Mourinho

2 Comments

Antonio Conte called Jose Mourinho a “little man” and “fake” before issuing an apparent challenge as the feud between two of the Premier League’s most high-profile managers intensified on Saturday.

Tensions were already simmering after two days of back-and-forth insults between the pair in news conferences.

Mourinho, the Manchester manager, started the spat on Thursday by saying he did not feel the need to behave like “a clown” on the touchline. Feeling that was a dig at him, Conte, the Chelsea manager, responded aggressively Friday by suggesting Mourinho was suffering from dementia because of the Portuguese’s behavior on the touchline earlier in his coaching career.

Mourinho then came out with the most explosive retort so far late Friday, saying he will never be “suspended for match-fixing.” Conte served a four-month touchline ban in 2012 for failing to report his knowledge of an incident of attempted match-fixing during his time as Siena manager in 2011.

The Italian was acquitted of any wrongdoing over the matter in 2016.

Conte’s latest dig at Mourinho came after Chelsea’s 0-0 draw at Norwich in the third round of the FA Cup. And it set up a potentially explosive meeting between the two coaches when United hosts Chelsea on Feb. 25 in the Premier League.

“The situation is very clear. I don’t have anything to clarify,” Conte said. “It will be the opportunity in the game against United when we go to Old Trafford. Me and him, face to face. I’m ready. I don’t know if he’s ready.”

Conte, 48, seemed unhappy with the 54-year-old Mourinho bringing up his past.

“I consider him a little man, I consider him a man with a very low profile,” Conte said. “When there are these types of comments, before (making them) you have to know very well the truth.

“Before you make this type of comment, before to hurt another person, you must pay great attention. You show you are a little man. I know him very well in the past. In the past, he was a little man in many circumstances, is a little man in the present and, for sure, he will be a little man in the future.”

Conte was more scathing about Mourinho’s behavior, providing the example of Mourinho attending a news conference wearing a training top with the initials “CR” following Claudio Ranieri‘s firing by Leicester in February last year.

“He offended (criticized) Ranieri for his English,” Conte said. “Then when Ranieri was sacked (fired), he put on a shirt (with initials on) for Ranieri. You are a fake.

“If you want to fight a person, you try to kill this person. And then after two years, you try to help this person, because maybe it’s good for you, for your profile.”

Vancouver adds versatile Juarez, formerly of Monterrey, Celtic

Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images
1 Comment

Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.

Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.

Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).

“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”

VIDEO: Asensio goal ends Real Madrid’s winless run

AP Photo/Francisco Seco
Leave a comment

Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.

More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.

Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
2 Comments

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.

2018 MLS Mock Draft: LAFC, Galaxy hold the keys

@MLS
Leave a comment

Major League Soccer’s latest batch of hopeful rookies learn the next steps of their professional careers beginning Friday with the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.

There are several intriguing prospects, including accomplished Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce and dangerous Michigan winger Francis Atuahene.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

An MLS mock draft is always tricky given the wildly varying opinions on players from the college game. This year, it’s even trickier as clubs without picks and some with multiple first round picks may be looking to move up and down even more than the norm.

Here’s how we think the draft could play out:

  1. LAFC – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, CB, Stanford
  2. LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, FW, Wake Forest
  3. DC United – Francis Atuahene, FW, Michigan
  4. Montreal – Joao Moutinho, LB, Akron
  5. Minnesota – Wyatt Omsberg, CB, Dartmouth
  6. Orlando City – Ema Twumasi, FW, Wake Forest
  7. Montreal – Chris Mueller, FW, Wisconsin
  8. New England – Mo Adams, MF, Syracuse
  9. New England – Chris Lema, MF, Georgetown
  10. Real Salt Lake – Justin Fiddes, LB, Washington
  11. FC Dallas – Marcelo Acuna, FW, Virginia Tech
  12. San Jose – Brandon Bye, RB, Western Michigan
  13. Sporting KC – Ed Opoku, FW, Virginia
  14. Atlanta – Alex Roldan, MF, Seattle
  15. Chicago – Mason Toye, FW, Indiana
  16. New York Red Bulls – Alan Winn, MF, North Carolina
  17. Vancouver – Tristan Blackmon, RB, Pacific
  18. Sporting KC – Jon Gallagher, FW, Notre Dame
  19. New York City FC – Daniel Musovski, FW, UNLV
  20. Houston – Mo Thiaw, FW, Louisville
  21. Columbus – Brian White, FW, Duke
  22. Seattle – Tim Kubel, MF, Louisville
  23. Toronto FC – Oliver Shannon, MF, Clemson

There are a few players to keep an eye on for the later rounds that I won’t project for the first round due almost exclusively to first person bias (Some I’ve seen play in college, others at other levels). Afonso Pinheiro from Albany produced like crazy until this season, and Bowling Green defender Alexis Souahy has a skill set that could really transmit to the MLS level.

Mac Steeves (Providence) is a prototypical big body scorer, while Evansville’s heady Ian McGrath has a flair for the absurd and can play almost every position up the center of the pitch. Charleston’s Thomas Vancaeyezeele was a D-2 monster and is probably worth a shot earlier than people suspect.