Sir Alex Ferguson’s influence

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The statistics of San Marino’s national football make for some grim reading…

They have zero points in the FIFA world rankings and are dead last.
They have won once in their history and lost an incredible 111.
They have scored only 16 goals although one of them was the fastest goal in World Cup history against England while conceding an eye watering 465.

These stats courtesy of Daniel Taylor in Serravalle for the Guardian however with San Marino no more than an afterthought for the English team, the pre-match niceties were always going to swerve into Rio Ferdinand territory.

In his piece, Taylor talks about the influence that Sir Alex Ferguson has on his players in terms of international play.

Ferguson has basically held the international game hostage since beginning his iron rule at Old Trafford and one would’ve thought that the respective home football associations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) would at some point put a stop to his manipulation. Instead the respective FA’s stand meekly aside.

Ryan Giggs, undoubtedly the best Welsh player since John Charles would’ve had a century of caps for his country under any other manager but Ferguson would keep him in Manchester with the sniffles.

In a 14 year career for Ireland, Roy Keane amassed only 67 caps often withdrawing from the squad at the last moment.

David Beckham who relished playing for England was shipped out of Old Trafford after Ferguson said that he was trying harder for his national team than club.

And now we have Ferdinand who reading between the lines has been told to choose your country or United.

When your employer calls the tune, you have no choice but to jump however it does appear that Ferguson has always been tougher on all nationalities bar Scottish players.

At the end of the day Ferdinand would make zero difference in the San Marino contest but Tuesday night versus Montenegro is completely different as his experience would be vital. If England should lose the defender will take the brunt of the criticism but in reality Ferguson would be the man to point the finger at.

Scenes from around the UCL final

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We’re just hours away from kickoff in Kiev, Ukraine, and the streets are lined with football supporters ahead of the year’s biggest club final.

Liverpool and Real Madrid will meet at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on Saturday, as the latter aims for its fourth UEFA Champions League crown in five seasons.

Let’s take a look at the sights around Ukraine and abroad ahead of the UCL final.


Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox took to Twitter to show their support for the Reds, with both teams owned by John Henry.

Los Blancos go for an unprecedented fourth UCL title in five years, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. aim to assert their dominance once again.

Reds legend John Arne Riise took part in Liverpool’s last UCL title in 2004/05, and holds the giant piece of silverware once again.

Supporters from both sides are out in full force in Kiev, with the Reds hoping to spoil yet another UCL triumph for Madrid.

Supporters all over the world will have their eyes on the most important club competition in football, with the Champions League hosting viewing parties in Shanghai, London and Rio de Janeiro.

Report: Napoli’s Sarri in as next Chelsea manager?

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Antonio Conte hasn’t been relieved of his managerial duties at Stamford Bridge; at least not yet, however, reports out of Italy are suggesting the Blues are in line for a new boss.

Gazzetta del Sport is reporting that Chelsea is preparing to hire Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri, who remains under contract with the Serie A side.

The report says that Sarri is preparing his staff to make the move to London, although both managers are currently tied to their clubs.

Additionally, Sky Italy has stated that an agreement in principle has been reached between Sarri and Chelsea, assuming Conte leaves the Blues.

Chelsea wouldn’t have to pay Sarri’s $9 million release clause if they wait until after Thursday to complete a deal.

Conte endured an up-and-down 2017/18 season with the Blues, however, Chelsea did manage to close the year on a high note with an FA Cup title.

Meanwhile, Sarri has held his post at Napoli since 2015, guiding the club to top three finishes in all three seasons in Italy’s top flight.

Video: Modric, Milner show off in training ahead of UCL final

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The UEFA Champions League final hasn’t even kicked off yet, and Liverpool and Real Madrid are already trying to show each other up with some gorgeous golazos.

[ MORE: Everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s UCL final ]

Both sides had their final training sessions on Friday, and there were several unforgettable moment for each club.

We start with Real, who even got manager Zinedine Zidane involved in a crossing and finishing drill with some of his players.

This is where Luka Modric’s stunning volley came into play (below).

Meanwhile, in an inter-squad scrimmage amongst Liverpool’s team, James Milner unleashed this brilliant curling effort into the top corner (below).

LIVE: Aston Villa, Fulham battle for Premier League promotion

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The task is quite simple for the two sides competing at Wembley Stadium on Saturday; win and you’re back in the Premier League.

Aston Villa and Fulham will battle it out for the third and final promotion spot into the PL (12 p.m. ET) after boasting tremendous 2017/18 campaigns.

LIVE UPDATES FOR THE PLAYOFF FINAL 

For both clubs, there is a significance about restoring their role as a PL club, with Fulham last competing in the top flight four seasons ago and Villa two seasons removed.


Aston Villa: Johnstone; Chester, Snodgrass, Grealish, Hourihane, Jedinak, Hutton, Terry, Elmohamady, Adomah, Grabban. Bench: Whelan, Hogan, Bree, Onomah, Bjarnason, Kodjia, Bunn.

Fulham: Bettenelli; Fredericks, Sessegnon, Odoi, McDonald, Johansen, Cairney, Ream, Targett, Mitrovic, Kamara. Bench: Button, Fonte, Ayite, Norwood, Piazon, Christie, Kalas.