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Ramos interviews himself to discuss Madrid crisis

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MADRID (AP) With Real Madrid still recovering from one of the worst weeks in club history, team captain Sergio Ramos felt some issues needed to be addressed publicly.

So he did it himself.

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In a self-interview posted on Instagram, Ramos talked about the “disastrous” recent events that ended Madrid’s hopes of winning another title this season. The Spanish team collapsed in a week in which it twice lost to Barcelona and once to Ajax, being eliminated from the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, and seeing its Spanish league title chances all but end.

“As footballers we like to do our talking on the pitch but this season is not turning out that way,” Ramos wrote on Monday in English. “I’m not hiding. We are not hiding. We the players are primarily responsible and I, as captain, more than anyone. That’s why I thought that the most honest way to answer the questions that are circulating around us would be to tackle them directly.”

[ MORE: Zidane to return as Real boss?

He said forcing a yellow card in the first leg against Ajax – so he could be available for later phases of the competition – was “an error and I take the blame 200 percent.”

He downplayed a supposed heated discussion with president Florentino Perez following the 4-1 loss to the Dutch club at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, saying “dressing room issues are discussed and resolved in the dressing room. There’s no problem whatsoever and everybody has the same interest: Real Madrid.”

He also addressed criticism for allowing a film crew to shoot a documentary about him during the Ajax match at the Bernabeu.

“There are certain commitments made and it never remotely went through my head that the game could have turned out as it did,” he said. “The recording itself was scaled down as the game went on.”

Ramos also dismissed having a problem with left back Marcelo after reports surfaced about a discussion between the veteran players during a recent practice session.

“We have exchanges in every training session,” he said. “It’s part of working with pressure. But it’s just an anecdote like so many others that happen from day to day. (Marcelo) is like a brother to me.”

Ramos could not play in Madrid’s 4-1 win at Valladolid on Sunday because of a suspension, but made the trip with the squad because he “wanted to be close and support my teammates.”

He said he didn’t criticize the rest of the squad after the consecutive home losses that practically ended the team’s season.

“We always talk and motivate each other in the dressing room and always in a constructive way,” he said.

Ramos also commented about Madrid’s coaching situation, with Santiago Solari on the brink of being fired.

“It’s a decision that’s not ours to make and in which we never interfere,” Ramos said. “We have enormous respect for the position and we always support the Real Madrid coach.”

Ramos closed his post by saying “these reflections are, without doubt, the result of a deeply disappointing season but if success didn’t stop us, we’re not going to let defeat stop us. It’s our obligation to carry on, to work and to evolve.”

“And to remember that some of us are lucky enough to play for (at)realmadrid, some of us are lucky enough to form part of its history, but (hash)RealMadrid was, is and will always be (hash)RealMadrid. No one name makes the legend of Real Madrid, but we have all written that legend together. Together we have to work for the future and restore our hope.”

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World record-holding manager Gutendorf dies at 93

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The world record holder for most teams managed has died at the age of 93.

Rudi Gutendorf, who managed in the United States with the NASL’s St. Louis Stars (1968), last managed in 2003 when he led the Samoa national team.

[ MORE: Maguire shining for Man Utd ]

Those are two of 55 teams he led onto the pitch, 22 of which were national teams. He led teams from CONCACAF (Trinidad and Tobago), CAF (Ghana), CONMEBOL (Chile), OFC (Fiji), and AFC (Australia).

The German-born Gutendorf did a lot of his club work in Europe, leading clubs as big as Hamburg, Schalke, Real Valladolid, and Hertha Berlin.

Gutendorf managed Rwanda in the wake of the country’s dark civil war. From DW.com:

“Such hate, you cannot believe. I was able to unite these two tribes to play football, and good football,” he said in a 2013 interview of the mixed Rwandan team of Hutu and Tutsi players.

What a fascinating career Gutendorf had, and the stories he’s told.

Man Utd’s Maguire “showed what a man he is” versus Leicester

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Manchester United is still working to find its form as a team, but center back Harry Maguire continued his run of fine performances when the Red Devils beat his former team on Saturday.

United beat Leicester City 1-0 on the day, a Marcus Rashford penalty the difference, but Maguire and fellow new back Aaron Wan-Bissaka were again exceptional.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 1-0 Leicester City ]

Ashley Young has been through a few iterations of Manchester United, and the long-time club offered up lofty words to credit Maguire’s contributions to the team.

“Again he showed today what a man he is,” Young said. “You know, I think the manager’s said about him, he talks non-stop, he’s a real leader and he can play as well.”

Maguire won five aerial battles and two tackles while completing 83 percent of his passes and managing two shots against his former side (WhoScored). On the season, only Anthony Martial has consistently been more important to the team.

He also did not record a loss of possession, and seemingly was unbothered by plenty of criticism from the traveling fans. From The Manchester Evening News:

“I don’t think it bothers (Maguire) whatsoever,” said Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. “You’ve got to be that way and when you play, when you coach, when you manage, we don’t get carried away when we win a game that we maybe didn’t deserve to win, but we don’t get in the dumps when we don’t win.”

Solskjaer also loved Maguire and Victor Lindelof for their performance against pesky Leicester star Jamie Vardy.

“I’ve got loads of admiration for Vardy,” Solskjaer said. “I think he’s my type of centre forward, runs in in behind, harasses and you’ve got to be spot on with the decision-making, when to stay up, when to drop off, and both of them proved their worth today. There were a couple of races and Harry did well.”

Maguire didn’t love being on the other side of Vardy, either.

“It was tough playing against Jamie,” he said. “I’ve played with him for two years and he is a top player who can terrorize defenses when he is on his game. … We knew it was important to get the win, especially after the international break. We have to build on a solid base and we want to keep clean sheets, especially at Old Trafford. We are always going to score goals with the attacking talent we have.”

United hosts Kazakhstan’s Astana on Thursday in the Europa League before visiting West Ham United on Sept. 22.

Watch Live: Bournemouth v. Everton

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Dominic Calvert-Lewin gets the start up top as Everton looks to take down hosts Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Alex Iwobi, Gylfi Sigurdsson, and Richarlison join Calvert-Lewin in attack for the Toffees, who can go fourth with a win.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Bournemouth enters the day in 16th, a point ahead of the bottom three, but can rise into the top half with a win. Early season vibes.

LINEUPS

Bournemouth: Ramsdale, Rico, Ake, Cook, Stacey, Solanke, Billing, L. S. Cook, Wilson, King, Wilson. Subs: Boruc, Surman, Lerma, Ibe, Fraser, Simpson, Mepham.

Everton: Pickford, Digne, Mina, Keane, Coleman, Delph, Schneiderlin, Iwobi, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin. Subs: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Walcott, Sidibe, Bernard, Davies, Kean.

USWNT legend O’Reilly scores stunner on night to honor her career

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USWNT hero and North Carolina Courage playmaker Heather O’Reilly gave her special day its just desserts.

The 34-year-old New Jersey native scored a sweet goal late in North Carolina’s 6-1 demolition of Orlando Pride on Saturday night, which just so happened to be the evening chosen to celebrate her 17-year career.

[ MORE: Fan banned from all NWSL games ]

O’Reilly dribbled down the left before cutting to the middle and slashing a shot across the goal and inside the far post.

She has 231 USWNT caps with 47 goals, a Women’s World Cup crown, three Olympic gold medals, three top-flight domestic titles, two Women’s College Cups, and an FA Cup with Arsenal Ladies.

The Courage have four matches left in the regular season and look set to again be the No. 1 seed, so O’Reilly may yet have more memorable moments left in her playing career.