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Spurs players ready for ‘people upstairs’ to invest, starting with Eriksen

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Tottenham Hotspur players see the writing on the wall: their massive, and continued, overachievement is at risk of being undone by the club’s decision makers if they don’t get on board and back the first team this summer.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Week 36 ]

Danny Rose has called upon the hierarchy, with Daniel Levy chief among them, to start moving in that direction by re-signing Christian Eriksen to a new contract this summer. Eriksen, whose contract is set to expire next summer, is reportedly one of the first names on Real Madrid’s shopping list. Rose is adamant that losing the Danish playmaker would be a crippling blow for the team, as tends to be the case when he’s not playing — quotes from the Guardian:

“It’s obviously vital [that Eriksen re-signs]. If you look over the five years that the manager’s been here, Christian has played the most games and that says a lot. When Christian doesn’t play, there are questions that we don’t look the same. He links everything up for us. The lads in the changing room trust the people upstairs to hopefully get him to sign.”

Mauricio Pochettino has clearly been brilliant in leading a young squad to the brink of a fourth straight top-four finish while also guiding Tottenham to the Champions League semifinal next week, when they’ll face Ajax for a chance to compete in club soccer’s premier fixture. Yet, it all feels so tenuous after the club’s hierarchy elected to make not a single signing last summer or in January.

[ KLOPP: Whatever happens in title run-in, Liverpool will have “no regrets” ]

Injuries have ravished a thin squad, which was only exacerbated by post-World Cup fatigue for so many players, but Pochettino has found a way to make it work. Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks became a formidable midfield duo against all odds, while Son Heung-min has ascended to superstardom. These are bold rolls of the dice which came up Spurs. That’s no way to operate a club at the highest level, though, and Rose knows it.

“We have every possible foundation at the club — the training ground, the stadium now, the fanbase, the players. But it’s not just the foundations that attract players and make players want to stay. It’s out of the players’ control. We just have to trust that the people upstairs are going to do whatever they see fit to help us make that next step. We know that our manager is a winner. He demands the best from us and he wants to win something, as well. So while everybody is on the same page, we can just look forward to next season and see what it brings.”

Then again, this time last year had most bystanders, this writer included, thinking the exact same thing — “They have to bring in reinforcements, because there’s no way Pochettino can string this thing together with bubble gum and shoelaces for another year” — and here we are, with Spurs 180 minutes from the Champions League final and and four points clear of fifth-place Arsenal with three games left to play.

It’s a different story altogether, though, when an influential member of the team like Rose comes out and says so plainly what everyone else is thinking. Because if he’s thinking it and saying it publicly, everyone else in the locker room is thinking it, too.

Finlay goal gives Minnesota win over former club Columbus (video)

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It had to be him.

As Columbus continues to search for itself under new management, it’s no surprise that one of its old heroes broke its heart on Saturday.

[ RECAP: Man City 6-0 Watford ]

Ethan Finlay, he of the 166 Crew appearances before being traded to Minnesota United, said earlier this week, “I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t want to beat up on them pretty bad.”

So of course Finlay scored a 70th minute tap-in to give his Loons a 1-0 win over Columbus on Saturday in St. Paul. It wasn’t “pretty bad,” but it probably felt pretty good.

The goal was Finlay’s first of the season for United, keeping the hosts unbeaten at home.

Columbus falls to 1-5 away from home under Caleb Porter, and has won just once in its last seven outings.

Brighton ready to pay release clause for Swans manager

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Brighton and Hove Albion is ready to bring one of England’s brightest managerial prospects into the Premier League.

The Seagulls are set to pay a $3 million release clause to lure Graham Potter away from Swansea City, one year after the manager left Swedish club Ostersunds FK.

[ RECAP: Man City 6-0 Watford ]

Potter was 35 when he was hired by the Swedish club in 2010, and helped Ostersunds to three promotions before moving to Wales in 2018.

Swans finished 10th this season, its first in the Championship after relegation from the Premier League.

Brighton regressed in a big way during the second half of this season, and remains in the top flight largely because Cardiff City was unable to take advantage of the Seagulls’ huge struggles.

The report says Swansea offered Potter a new deal to stay at the Liberty Stadium, but the manager wants to try the Premier League.

If he takes the job, Potter will manage against one of his former clubs; Potter played eight times for Southampton in the Premier League.

Pep: Domestic treble harder than winning Champions League

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Manchester City won its third tournament of the season on Saturday, battering Watford 6-0 at Wembley Stadium to add an FA Cup to its League Cup and Premier League titles.

[ RECAP: Man City 6-0 Watford ]

In doing so, City is the first club to win a domestic treble. Manager Pep Guardiola wants to win every competition he enters, but said winning all three is extra special.

“I love the Champions League but it is more difficult to do what we have done than to win the Champions League,” Guardiola said.

Wait, what?

From ManCity.com:

“It’s not easy being there every three days. We lacked a little bit of energy but it’s normal. It’s been so tough this week. We could not have had more energy but we kept it at the right time.”

Well, that makes sense. Whereas Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp risked less with his cup lineups, knowing his desire for the Premier League and Champions League, Guardiola’s lineups were aimed at winning everything.

And that’s largely why they’ve done it. City might’ve needed penalty kicks to beat Chelsea in the League Cup Final and a John Stones clearance to win the Premier League (or a Vincent Kompany thunderbolt), but the treble is impressive.

AC Milan boss Gattuso insists fifth “not a failure”

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For a solid four months, it appeared AC Milan was on track for a return to the Champions League for the first time in six years. Then, it all fell apart.

Still, manager Gennaro Gattuso is insisting their season is not a failure, adamant that a fifth-placed finish would not be considered a disappointment for the club. His reasoning will not be exactly endearing to fans.

“Fifth place absolutely wouldn’t be a failure, not because I want credit myself, plus what would Roma and Lazio say?” Gattuso said during his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s game against Frosinone. “There’s regret because for two months we’ve had our fate in our hands and we dropped so many points, but it’s not a failure.”

Milan was as high as third place in the Serie A table in mid-March and seemed close to wrapping up a return to Champions League play, but a stretch of one win in seven league matches saw them tumble down into the crowded battle below, with Atalanta, Roma, Torino, and Lazio all in a pack. AC Milan now sits sixth, and while they still remain in the mix for the fourth position, they would need to make up a three-point deficit in just two matches. Fifth-placed Roma drew today, so they can jump to fifth with a win against Frosinone.

Milan was a European powerhouse for decades until the club declined following its 2007 Champions League victory, ultimately falling out of the running for Europe’s top competition, with just a few Europa League appearances since 2014. Gattuso’s comparison to Lazio and Roma, two strong Italian clubs without Milan’s history, is bound to infuriate fans, along with his acceptance of the club’s shortcomings.

The late-season collapse has called Gattuso’s job security into question, but he said that will wait until the end of the season. “Both the club and I have put aside our small talk to reach our objective,” Gattuso said during the presser. “There will be time to talk about the future.”

“There are two games left and we’re still playing for our objective.”