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Swansea’s decision to fire Bob Bradley defies logic in every capacity

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A day removed from Bob Bradley‘s firing after just 11 matches in charge of Swansea City, things still don’t add up.

Opinions have been wildly hurdled at walls throughout the soccer world, most of which really don’t stick all that well. The ones that do all point to the same conclusion.

What on Earth is the Swansea board thinking?

It’s an acceptable take that the Swans, in 19th place in the Premier League and in a dire relegation situation, did not improve under Bradley. That much is clear. But given all that we’ve seen about this team, could any rational observer really have expected much at all in such a short amount of time? The eye test will tell you the players are just not good enough, with the defense in particular looking comically over-matched.

Francesco Guidolin must be snickering as he watches this all unfold. He had little say as Swansea sold both Andre Ayew and Ashley Williams with the only reinvestment on Borja Baston, a striker even Bradley’s attacking mentality hasn’t been able to light the spark. Now, with a Championship-caliber roster, neither Guidolin nor Bradley have been able to right the ship.

Guidolin – who probably shouldn’t have been let go himself – employed a defense-first tactic, much like a number of other Premier League teams throughout the decades battling against relegation: bunker in, hope for a counter or two, and take your chances. It didn’t work. Enter Bob Bradley, who looked to turn things around by changing the entire fabric of the team. If Guidolin’s hunker down style didn’t work, why not try and play the opposite? Except that didn’t work either; they scored more goals, but conceded a ridiculous amount.

So if neither strategy produced results, does the blame truly fall with the manager?

What the eye test will tell you is the players are just flat out not going to cut it. Whoever comes in will need a complete overhaul in the winter to the best of the club’s financial and recruiting ability. They failed to do so over the summer, and are paying the price. Unfortunately, the board has put themselves at a complete disadvantage; whoever is hired will have days – or less – to prepare for the January transfer window. To make matters even more confusing, the favorite to take the position, Ryan Giggs, has never been a manager before, meaning he’s never been in charge of player recruitment. Ever.

So, to wrap this all up, Swansea provided Bob Bradley with a relegation-caliber roster, expected him to turn it around in 11 matches, and when he inevitably couldn’t despite a clear vision for the pathway forward, they dumped him and are considering turning instead to a completely inexperienced name-hire days before the transfer window opens?

Teams have been here before – recently – and it never ends well. Fulham found itself with a Championship-caliber roster after Mohamed Al Fayed insisted on selling the club with pristine books, and they sacked three managers in the 2013/14 season, none of them able to stave off relegation. Aston Villa last campaign fired both Tim Sherwood and Remi Garde with neither able to keep them from going down. Managers can only do so much when given nothing to work with, and now, could they really attract someone capable of preventing relegation with the position suddenly so toxic?

Bottom line is, if Bradley was the right man for the job 11 matches ago, he’s probably still the right man now, and you could probably make the same argument for Guidolin before him. It’s clear the Swansea board has lost its way, and the club will pay the exorbitant price.

Carragher apologizes to Evra over Suarez t-shirts

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Jamie Carragher has apologized to Patrice Evra after Liverpool wore t-shirts in support of Luis Suarez in 2011.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The day after Suarez was banned for eight games by the English Football Association, who found him guilty of racially abusing Evra, Liverpool’s players put on t-shirts with Suarez on the front and back during their warm up in a Premier League game against Wigan Athletic.

Carragher and Evra were both analysts for our partners at Sky Sports in the UK on Monday Night Football for the clash between Sheffield United and Arsenal, and discussed the current problems with racism in the game.

“There is no doubt we made a massive mistake; that was obvious,” Carragher said.

Liverpool’s former vice-captain asked Evra how he felt regarding the situation with Suarez, and the former Man United, Juventus and Monaco left back revealed his disgust at the way the situation was handled.

“When I saw it I was like, this is ridiculous. This is unbelievable,” Evra said. You put your own club in danger when you do those things. You always have to support your player because he is from your team but this was after the ban. If it was before and we were waiting for the sanction, I would understand. What message do you send to the world? Supporting someone being banned because he used some racist words.”

Click play on the video above for the full discussion between Carragher and Evra.

Italy women’s team awarded for ’emancipating’ female game

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ROME (AP) The Italy women’s national soccer team was awarded the Foreign Press Association’s Invictus award Monday for promoting and “emancipating” the female game in the country with its run to the World Cup quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Head coach Milena Bertolini and forward Barbara Bonansea were given the award during a ceremony at the Rome-based association.

With soccer dominated by men in Italy and few opportunities for girls, Bertolini recounted how she had to dress up as a boy to play as a kid.

“Now things are changing, thanks to the Italian federation’s school programs,” Bertolini said.

Bertolini and Bonansea lamented that female players are still not considered professionals and therefore are not permitted to earn more than $33,500 per year by Italian law.

“It’s not about the money, it’s a question of rights,” said Bonansea, who also plays for Italian champion Juventus.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

While Italy’s men’s team is a four-time World Cup champion, the women had not played in a World Cup for two decades and entered as a prohibitive underdog during its opening match against Australia in France in June. But the Azzurre came back from a goal down for a 2-1 win courtesy of Bonansea’s two scores , with her second coming in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

“That goal shaped our World Cup, both in terms of results and in terms of promoting women’s soccer in Italy,” Bertolini said. “The strong emotions on the field were transmitted to everyone who was watching. I still get goosebumps now just thinking about that goal.”

The Azzurre went on to win their group then beat China in the first knockout round before losing to eventual finalist the Netherlands.

In a country of 60 million people, a total of more than 20 million spectators watched Italy’s five matches on RAI state TV, setting audience records for women’s soccer game after game.

The Invictus award is dedicated to “promoting the positive effects of sports in terms of integration and emancipation by the vulnerable sections of society.”

UCL preview: Spurs desperate for a win; Man City host Atalanta

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By the end of the week, we’ll be at the halfway point of the UEFA Champions League group stage, and while some Premier League clubs (Manchester City and Liverpool) are currently in rather strong positions, a couple others (Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea) have some serious work to do to rescue their respective campaigns.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Tottenham’s start to the group stage has gone about as poorly as it could have done, considering the positions in which they’ve found themselves early in games. Going from 2-0 up to a 2-2 draw away to Olympiacos was bad enough, but going from 1-0 up to a 7-2 home defeat to Bayern Munich was the real demoralizer.

Now, last year’s UCL runners-up find themselves third in the group with just one point. However, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is set for a back-to-back home-and-away with (presumed) doormat Red Star Belgrade, beginning Tuesday when the Serbian side visits the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Spurs will continue to be without goalkeeper Hugo Lloris following his dislocated elbow, while midfielders Christian Eriksen and Giovani Lo Celso are back in full training and expected to be available for selection. Tanguay Ndombele was only involved as a second-half sub during Spurs’ draw with last-place Watford over the weekend, so he is likely to return to the starting lineup.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

Man City, meanwhile, are coming off a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace and feeling a renewed sense of PL title contention after Liverpool dropped their first points of the season. While a domestic three-peat is undoubtedly high on the list of priorities for Pep Guardiola‘s side, it’s probably safe to assume that breaking though in the UCL is the main objective for 2019-20. Since Guardiola took over at the Etihad Stadium, City have reached the quarterfinals twice and the round of 16 once. Under the direction of Manuel Pellegrini, City reached the semifinals the season before Guardiola’s arrival.

Outside of long-term knees injuries to Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane, City have a clean bill of health.

Tuesday’s full UEFA Champions League schedule

Atletico Madrid v. Bayer Leverkusen — 12:55 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Dinamo Zagreb — 12:55 p.m. ET

Tottenham Hotspur v. Red Star Belgrade — 3 p.m. ET
Manchester City v. Atalanta — 3 p.m. ET
Galatasaray v. Real Madrid — 3 p.m. ET
Juventus v. Lokomotive Moscow — 3 p.m. ET
Brugge v. Paris Saint-Germain — 3 p.m. ET
Olympiacos v. Bayern Munich

The 2 Robbies podcast: Man United 1-1 Liverpool; Struggles in North London

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe review the key results from Matchweek 9 in the Premier League focusing on Manchester United and Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford (0:50). The chaps also discuss Manchester City’s win at Crystal Palace (16:50), Arsenal’s defeat at Sheffield United (23:25), Tottenham’s draw at home to Watford (35:25) and debate who currently is the 3rd best team in the Premier League (42:05). Finally, the guys name their under-appreciated performances of the weekend (50:50).

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

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