Gary Neville named new Valencia manager, brother Phil his assistant

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Gary Neville’s first head coaching job is a big one.

It was announced on Wednesday that the Manchester United legend has taken charge of La Liga outfit Valencia until the end of the season.

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Neville, 40, has been working as the assistant manager of the English national team since 2012 but taking over a giant of Spanish soccer is his first full-time gig and he will be the new head coach after signing a deal until the end of the season.

The former United and England right back will link up with his brother and former teammate, Phil, who has been assistant coach at the Mestalla since the start of this season. However, after the the firing of Nuno Espirito Santo last weekend Phil had been placed in temporary charge by Valencia’s Singaporean owner Peter Lim.

Neville has left his role with Sky Sports in the UK as a much acclaimed analyst and it is believed he will continue his work with the English national team as Roy Hodgson’s assistant.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be given this opportunity with Valencia,” Neville said. “Valencia are a huge football club of immense standing and I know from my time as a player the passion and dedication of the Valencia fans. I am really looking forward to working with the club’s talented group of players and am excited about the challenge ahead.”

In a statement on the club website, Valencia’s president Layhoon Chan revealed Neville’s strong credentials for the job.

“We are delighted to have secured Gary so quickly,” Chan said. “He combines top level coaching experience through his role as a senior coach with the England national team and a world-class playing career with England and Manchester United. Throughout his career Gary has always shown great leadership both on and off the pitch. He is hugely respected in English football and it was his personal qualities which persuaded us that he was the right choice to lead Valencia until the end of the season.”

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It must also be said that despite Neville winning every major trophy during his career at United, which saw the local lad play for the team he supported for over 19 years as a pro, he is also closely connected with Valencia’s owner Peter Lim. It has been well documented that along with their former teammates Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt, the Neville brothers bought non-league Salford City in 2014. The former star players helped Salford to promotion to the seventh tier of English soccer in their first season and this weekend they compete in the FA Cup second round. Who is the majority owner of tiny Salford City I hear you ask? Well, it is of course the owner of Valencia, Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim. Ah, that makes sense.

Regardless of the obvious connection, Neville talks a lot of sense and, unlike his brother Phil who was touted to take the Valencia job, he has all of the required coaching badges to manage at the top level.

Valencia face Barcelona in La Liga action this weekend but Neville won’t be in the dugout for that game and will take charge of the team on Sunday with his first game against Lyon in the UEFA Champions League on Dec. 9, a match Valencia must win to have any chance of qualifying for the last 16 of Europe’s elite club competition. The Englishman will look to rejuvenate a side languishing in ninth place in La Liga but they are only five points off the top four and finished fourth in La Liga last season.

This should be very interesting.

Saint-Maximin absence to ask more of struggling Almiron, Joelinton

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Newcastle United lightning bolt Allan Saint-Maximin is going to miss a month with a hamstring injury suffered late in the Magpies’ 2-1 defeat of Southampton at St. James’ Park.

The ebullient Saint-Maximin played deep into the match despite a minor injury, and was on of the main reasons Newcastle won. He helped set up the winning goal, but left the stadium on crutches.

That left Steve Bruce questioning his decision to keep “ASM” in the match.

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Now the electric Frenchman is set to miss fixtures against Burnley, Crystal Palace, Manchester United, Everton, Leicester City, and an FA Cup third round match versus either Boston United or Rochdale.

Saint-Maximin’s absence will hurt Newcastle all-around, but especially when its counter-attack tries to take down bigger sides. His 4.5 dribbles per match makes him one of just three players in the Premier League with more than 3.1 (Adama Traore and Wilfried Zaha).

Ultimately, though, this could provide struggling Joelinton more looks at performing on the wing opposite of Miguel Almiron. The Brazilian will have to work center forward at times as Andy Carroll certainly can’t go every game, and Dwight Gayle, Christian Atsu, and Yoshinori Muto could also be asked to play prominent roles.

And, of course, this will demand much more from industrious but sloppy Miguel Almiron, whose expected goal total is 2.5 (he has zero).

Sessegnon beats Neuer to score first Spurs, Champions League goal

Photo by Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images)Photo by Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Ryan Sessegnon has his first Spurs goal, which also happens to be his first UEFA Champions League goal, and he’ll love telling the tale of it.

The 19-year-old Englishman ripped a rocket past Manuel Neuer of all people, collecting a deflection to equalize early in Tottenham’s match against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

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Sessegnon entered the day with an assist in 30 minutes spread across three appearances for Spurs, and needed just 20 more minutes to find a goal.

He made a big money move from Fulham this summer, having made a remarkable 120 senior appearances. Almost all of those came before he turned 19, and he’s scored 25 times with 18 assists.

Kingsley Coman has Bayern’s goal as the teams remain locked at 1 after Bayern hung 7 on Spurs in England earlier in the group stage.

 

Jesus hat-trick downs Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta qualifies for knockouts

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Manchester City looked sluggish again, but Gabriel Jesus made sure it didn’t matter.

The Brazilian cropped up at a critical juncture for Pep Guardiola, sending Manchester City through into the knockout stage on a winning note as his hat-trick sealed a 4-1 come-from-behind victory that knocked Dinamo Zagreb from European competition altogether.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

The first half was especially lackluster for the English visitors to Stadion Maksimir in Zagreb, with lots of possession but little to show for it. The hosts went in front early on, punishing Man City on the counter on a fabulous volleyed finish from former Barcelona youth product Dani Olmo.

That was the best goal of the day, but Man City picked itself up and pulled back level before the break, with Jesus grabbing his first via a header as Dinamo Zagreb shut off, screaming for Man City to put the ball out with a Zagreb player down. The visitors rightly did not, and Dinamo was punished by the equalizer.

After halftime, Man City was much better, hammering the left flank to take a commanding lead. The second came on excellent work by Jesus in the box to shake a defender and finish with his right, while the third flew in minutes later on a pinpoint Benjamin Mendy cross that Jesus met with a flying karate kick. Pep Guardiola had one eye on the festive fixtures, withdrawing Jesus soon after the hour mark, replaced by Oleksandr Zinchenko who curiously took Jesus’s place at the striker position.

Phil Foden was the best Manchester City player throughout, and finished off the scoreline with seven minutes to go. An excellent buildup down the right saw Bernardo Silva sprung through, and he cut back to Foden at the top of the six-yard box who slid to meet the ball with pace and poke home the cherry on top.

Elsewhere, Atalanta topped Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 in the Ukraine on goals by Timothy Castagne, Mario Pasalic, and Robin Gosens, meaning the Italians secured the second spot in Group A, qualifying for the knockout stage. The Ukranians were left dead in the water after right-back Dodo was sent off 13 minutes from time, leading to the second goal to seal things up. Atalanta’s advancement marks a stunning comeback given the Italian side failed to secure points in any of their first three group stage matches.

That left Shakhtar in third, dropping to the Europa League, while Dinamo Zagreb was left at the bottom of the group, on the outside looking in.

Charlotte MLS club files trademarks for eight potential names

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It is being heavily reported that Charlotte is the next city to earn a club in the rapidly expanding Major League Soccer landscape, and Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has taken the next step towards that possibility.

The new club needs a name, and they appear to be nearing a selection. Tepper filed for eight different name trademarks, according to multiple reports, including The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue who confirmed the filings were made under Tepper’s Panthers address.

Here is the list of names he filed copyright requests for:

“Charlotte FC” would be a bare-bones and generic name that follows in the footsteps of recent MLS expansion clubs such as Orlando City SC, NYCFC or LAFC. Others are a little more colorful, including “Carolina Gliders FC” or “Charlotte Monarchs FC,” while a few others like “Charlotte Town FC” or “Charlotte Athletic FC” clearly call forth thoughts of smaller English clubs.

Rodrigue speculated that the relative lack of “Carolina” encompassing names is potentially due to the possibility of an expansion bid from Raleigh down the road, and a Carolina team would potentially provide an unnecessary roadblock to that future prospect. There is a clear lack of region-encompassing names in Major League Soccer, with “New England Revolution” the only example, and there’s no real reason to break that mold with another potential bid city down the road.

Which name is your favorite? What would you have gone with if you could name the club?