The worst kept secret in soccer is out.
Antonio Conte has been fired as Chelsea’s manager.
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The Italian coach had taken the first few days of preseason training ahead of the 2018/19 campaign, but as he entered the final year of his Chelsea contract it has been clear for months he didn’t want to be around.
And Chelsea released the following statement on Friday, as former Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri is expected to replace Conte in the coming hours.
“Chelsea Football Club and Antonio Conte have parted company. During Antonio’s time at the club, we won our sixth league title and eighth FA Cup. In the title winning season, the club set a then-record 30 wins in a 38-game Premier League season, as well as a club-record 13 consecutive league victories. We wish Antonio every success in his future career.”
Conte won the Premier League title in his first season in charge at Chelsea and he added the FA Cup in his second season, finishing fifth in the Premier League in 2017/18 as they failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. He leaves Chelsea with the best winning percentage (65.1) of any of their managers who’ve managed at least 100 Premier Leaghe games.
The former Italy and Juventus boss revolutionized Chelsea tactically after their disappointing midtable finish in 2015/16 as their title defense went horribly wrong and cost Jose Mourinho his job. The 3-4-3 formation he used was lauded and replicated across the league and his passion on the sidelines was incredible, especially in his debut season in England in 2016/17, as Chelsea won 30 of their 38 PL games.
Last season it was clear from the start he wanted to leave as he signed a new deal in the summer but only on improved terms instead of increased length, plus he clashed with the Chelsea hierarchy over transfer spending and also fell out with Diego Costa, David Luiz and other big name players.
With two trophies in two seasons in charge it is hard to describe Conte’s time at Chelsea as a failure, but the past six months have seen his situation deteriorate rapidly and it was clear he wasn’t going to walk away from the final year of his contract until he was fired.
That’s now happened and it believed Conte will pick up around $12 million in compensation from the club.
Kelley O’Hara is set for some time on the mend as the United States women’s national team begins its preparation for this summer’s World Cup.
O’Hara, 30, will miss 8-12 weeks after undergoing surgery to remove “loose bodies” in her ankle, according to a U.S. Soccer press release.
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That means the 112-times capped defender will not play in next month’s newly-announced European friendlies against Portugal and Scotland.
“It’s all good. These kinds of things come with the territory,” O’Hara said. “This is just the best time to get the procedure done so I’m one hundred percent heading into 2019 and physically ready to perform at the level I want to and need to. It’s a bummer that I won’t get to Europe, but the most important thing is to be healthy for next year.”
O’Hara scored in the 2015 World Cup semifinal, and has an Olympic gold to go with that tournament title. She’s won two SheBelieves Cups and three Algarve Cups.
Manchester United do not travel well. Even in Manchester. Traffic sucks.
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The Red Devils arrived at Old Trafford just 52 minutes before kick off for their huge UEFA Champions League group stage clash against Juventus on Tuesday.
Juve’s team bus also arrived late and United’s manager Jose Mourinho revealed he arrived at the stadium by jumping off the bus then walking among the fans, while wearing a hoodie so nobody would recognize him.
What is all this about?
United turned up late for their last UCL home game against Valencia and were subsequently fined by UEFA as the kick off was delayed with their bus stuck in traffic in Manchester.
Even though United switched hotels to be even closer to Old Trafford ahead of this massive game against Juve, the players were still stuck in traffic for 45 minutes extra as Mourinho said his walk from the hotel to the stadium took two minutes. Of course, the whole United squad could not have walked through the 75,000 fans heading to the game amid safety fears, so something needs to be done to address this situation. Traffic in Manchester is bad, but it is not that bad.
Plus, it appears someone did spot Mourinho…
The pivotal third round of the UEFA Champions League group stage kicks off on Tuesday, with teams across Europe ready to either push on towards the Round of 16 or kiss goodbye to their dreams of being crowned champions of the continent for at least another season.
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There is no doubting where the big game is, as Manchester United host Juventus at Old Trafford with Cristiano Ronaldo returning to his old club. Jose Mourinho’s United have struggled in the Premier League this season but a win against Italian powerhouse Juve would surely set them back on the right path.
Elsewhere, Manchester City head to Shakhtar Donetsk knowing they need a win after losing their opening UCL group game against Lyon which put them in a spot of bother.
Struggling Real Madrid are in action as the three-time reigning European champions are expected to waltz by Viktoria Plzen, but they did lose to CSKA Moscow last time out.
Click on the link above to follow the action live. Below is the look at the full schedule for Tuesday, with all games kicking off at 2:45 p.m. ET.
Ajax v. Benfica
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Manchester City
Hoffenheim v. Lyon
Real Madrid v. Viktoria Plzen
Roma v. CSKA Moscow
Manchester United v. Juventus
The latest Premier League player Power Rankings have arrived. It is time to sort through them after some stunning displays over the past few days.
[ MORE: Full Power Rankings archive ]
The top five are all new entries, while there are also some big drops for big names are subdued displays in Week 9.
Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League and based on them actually playing in the previous Matchweek. If they didn’t play due to injury or suspension, they aren’t going to make this list. Simple.
Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.
- Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) – New entry
- Anthony Martial (Man United) – New entry
- Riyad Mahrez (Man City) – New entry
- Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – New entry
- Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) – New entry
- Jordan Pickford (Everton) – New entry
- Bernardo Silva (Man City) – Up 1
- Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – Down 7
- N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) – Down 3
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) New entry
- Ross Barkley (Chelsea) – Down 2
- Jorginho (Chelsea) – Down 5
- Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton) – Down 10
- John Stones (Man City) – Down 1
- Etienne Capoue (Watford) – New entry
- David Silva (Man City) – Up 2
- Erik Lamela (Tottenham) – New entry
- Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) – Down 16
- Josh Murphy (Cardiff) – New entry
- Paul Pogba (Man United) – Down 16