Getty Images

Did Kompany help seal the title in possible final home game for Man City?

2 Comments

If that was Vincent Kompany‘s final match at the Etihad Stadium as a Manchester City player, it was just about a dream finish for the veteran defender.

Kompany’s 30-yard blast found the top corner, whooshing past the diving Kasper Schmeichel as Manchester City kept its hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over Leicester City. Kompany, 33, is in the final two months of his current contract with Manchester City, and could conceivably retire or head to a new club come June 30, unless he reaches an agreement with the club to extend his stay. Although he’s pound-for-pound one of the best centerbacks in the world, he’s started less than half of Man City’s matches in each of the last four seasons, struggling with a myriad of muscular injuries.

[MUST-SEE: Kompany fires Man City back into Premier League lead]

“I said before the game ‘no shoot Vinny’,” Pep Guardiola said, jokingly, via Man City’s website. “He was right to not follow my thoughts. Incredible. The desire to win every game. There are important players in that club, it is more than one century history this club, not a lot of titles in trophy cabinet but a lot of players help us to be where we are right now.

“When fit, Vinny is an incredible player. He is real defender with personality and leader happy for him for the club and everybody.”

For most of his career for club and country, Kompany has been much more known for keeping goals out than scoring them. And even when he has scored, it’s often been with his head, or on a scrum in the penalty area. His goal on Monday showcased the brilliant technical ability he has. In the Premier League of the past, players of his strength and stature were more brute and brawn than finesse. Think Robert Huth or Philippe Senderos.

And yet, what sets Kompany apart from the rest of the pack is, when fit, he’s lightning quick, can play quick, zip passes on the ground or in the air, and he apparently can strike a ball as good as a forward or midfielder.

Following the match, Guardiola also lauded Kompany for what he did at Manchester City. Though Kompany is from Belgium originally, you don’t think of Man City without thinking of Kompany. Since his arrival at Man City, he’s seen the club go from a basically mid-table team with big ambitions to within a half dozen years, win the Premier League, and then within a decade, become one of Europe’s most ambitious and talented clubs.

Kompany is a big reason for that, even if his impact has been muted by injuries the past four seasons.

Ultimately, with Kompany’s contract running down, this may have been his last Premier League game in Man City colors at the Etihad. While Guardiola clearly appreciates what Kompany can bring, he also likely wants to have someone who will be fitter, and younger, especially with Man City surely attempting the quadruple again next year. Per Guardiola, we won’t know what will happen regarding Kompany until after the season. But talks are ongoing. So perhaps this wasn’t goodbye, just yet.

“We spoke with him and his agent,” Guardiola told the BBC. “At the end of the season we are going to talk to him. He is an incredible human being and he helps me a lot. Always I was sad I could not use him a lot but this club is what it is because of people like Vincent. At the end of the season after the FA Cup we will see.

“We will finish the season and after are going to talk. We spoke with him three weeks ago, one month ago. We spoke fluently. We are going to take a beer together and decide what is best especially for the club.”

Berhalter made almost as much as Ellis in first few months

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) American men’s soccer coach Gregg Berhalter earned nearly as much from the U.S. Soccer Federation in his first four months as women’s counterpart Jill Ellis took home in 12.

[ MORE: Messi says Barcelona is “home,” but he “sees weird things happening” ]

Berhalter, hired on Dec. 2, 2018, had compensation of $304,113 from the USSF in the year ending last March 31, according to the tax return released by the federation on Wednesday. That figure included a $200,000 signing bonus.

Ellis, who became women’s coach in May 2014, had compensation of $390,409 in the fiscal year. She went on to lead the Americans to their second straight World Cup title, was voted FIFA Women’s Coach of the Year, then left in October. Any bonus she earned as a result of the title likely will be listed on the next year’s tax return.

Her base salary was raised to $500,000 in late 2018, a person with knowledge of her contract told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the USSF has not announced that.

The USSF has said she was the highest-paid women’s coach in the world.

Tab Ramos, who was the men’s under-20 team coach before leaving in October to become coach of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo, outearned Ellis with compensation of $460,772.

Ellis did earn more than Earnie Stewart ($291,667), hired as men’s general manager in June 2018, and Dave Sarachan ($241,869), interim men’s national team coach from October 2017 until Berhalter was hired.

[ MORE: Guardiola will not leave Man City: “Truth will prevail” ]

Jürgen Klinsmann, fired as men’s coach in November 2016, was paid $1,475,000 on Feb. 1, 2018. He received $3,354,167 in the year ending March 31, 2018.

Bruce Arena, who replaced Klinsmann and led the men’s team through its failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup , was not listed on the latest return. He received $1,249,348 in the year ending March 31, 2018, which included what was listed on that return as a $300,000 settlement.

Earnings were listed for several of the players on the U.S. women team, including Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd (both $313,390), Crystal Dunn ($312,142), Lindsey Horan ($304,142) and Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher and Megan Rapinoe (all $304,140).

Their salaries ranged from $164,642 to $171,140 and include $100,000 for time with the national team. The remainder is what the federation pays for the time with clubs in the National Women’s Soccer League.

Bonuses were from $133,000 to $146,000 and include per match fees and the payment for qualifying for the 2019 World Cup.

Women’s national team players have filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the USSF that is scheduled for trial starting May 5 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The top two salaries of the administrative staff were chief executive officer Dan Flynn ($899,440) and chief commercial and strategy officer Jay Berhalter ($779,765), the coach’s brother. Flynn retired in September and the federation said Jay Berhalter is leaving at the end of February.

Messi says Barcelona is ‘home,’ but he ‘sees weird things happening’

Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lionel Messi is not sure what to make of recent allegations that Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is responsible a social media campaign which set out to criticize the club’s top players while also aiming to rebuild his own reputation.

[ MORE: Pep’s not-so-subtle warning to Barcelona: “Don’t talk too loudly” ]

Messi once again called Barcelona his “home,” though he also admitted that he “sees weird things happening,” presumably referring to statements made in recent months and weeks by members of the Barca hierarchy, including Bartomeu and sporting director Eric Abidal.

For a club of Barcelona’s size and stature to be airing this much dirty laundry for the world to see is certainly weird, to say the least. Messi sounds like he’s desperate to remain at the club and finish his career there, though it’s beginning to sound as if certain individuals have other ideas — quotes from the Guardian:

“I was a little surprised because I was not present, I was traveling. When I arrived, I discovered it all bit by bit. The president told us the same things he said in public, the same things he said at a press conference — what was the situation, what had happened. And I cannot say more.

“The truth is that I see weird things happening. But, it was also said that there would be evidence. We will have to wait to see if it is true or not. We can’t say much and we have to wait and see what happens. Frankly, the subject seems strange to me.”

“I love Barcelona, although I miss Rosario very much.

“This is my home, I was here longer than in Argentina. I love Barcelona, the place where I live, Castelldefels, and I live a life that I like very much.”

Pep’s not-so-subtle warning to Barcelona: ‘Don’t talk too loudly’

Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester City and Pep Guardiola are currently neck-deep in legal troubles after UEFA handed the Premier League side a two-year European ban last week, leading a handful of clubs and figures from around the continent to delight over their current predicament.

[ MORE: Guardiola will not leave Man City: “Truth will prevail” ]

Guardiola’s message for those folks, including some longtime friends and former co-workers at Barcelona? Essentially, don’t throw stones if you live in a glass house.

Earlier this week, allegations were made that Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who voiced his full support of the punishment handed down by UEFA, was involved in a campaign to bash a number of key players and figures at the club while also attempting to boost his own reputation.

“I don’t know if they spy me, but they know me. It is not necessary to spy me. If they are happy we are suspended, I say to the president of Barcelona, give us two appeals. I ask right now the people trust what they have done. Don’t talk too [loudly], Barcelona. That is my advice because everybody is involved in situations. We are going to appeal and hopefully in the future we can play Champions League against Barcelona.”

Players ‘absolutely dead’: Mourinho finds no faults in Spurs’ performance

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
1 Comment

Jose Mourinho can find few, if any, faults in Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-0 defeat to RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday, as he is simply making do with the very limited and exhausted tools presently at his disposal.

[ MORE: Spurs fall under nonstop pressure from RB Leipzig (video) ]

“[Lucas] Moura was absolutely dead, [Steven] Bergwijn was absolutely dead, [Giovani] Lo Celso was absolutely dead,” Mourinho said as he ran through the list of players forced to play all 90 minutes despite desperately needing a reprieve.

Given his side’s current injury list — Harry Kane, Son-Heung Min, Moussa Sissoko and Juan Foyth are all out, while Lo Celso, Erik Lamela and Ben Davies have only just returned to the team in recent days — Mourinho was emphatic in stating his players “did everything they could do” — quotes from the BBC:

“What do you mean by ‘the real Spurs?’ Come on, let’s be loyal to the boys and tell them they did everything they could do.

“Lamela — you know how many training sessions with the team? Zero. Direct from injury to recovery with physios and then direct to 20 minutes in the Champions League.

“There are two perspectives — an amazing group and amazing guys, but another side you see how we are at the moment. It’s a situation like going to fight with a gun without bullets.

“You can say we had luck in some moments, but a great goalkeeper made two magnificent saves. I’m not worried with the 1-0. We can go there and win. What worries me is that these are our players for the next however many matches.

“Moura was absolutely dead, Bergwijn was absolutely dead, Lo Celso was absolutely dead. We are really in trouble. If it was just this game I’d say no problem but we have FA Cup and Premier League games.

“I know Lamela could only give us 20 minutes and I knew Ndombele could not play for 90 minutes. I tried to manage the pieces I had. Don’t tell me Lamela and Ndombele could have started the game, they couldn’t have started the game.

“Here we go, Chelsea [Spurs’ opponent at 7:30 a.m. ET on Saturday], drinking sparkling water with lemon. Saturday morning [looking at the interviewer — the game was moved for television coverage] — thank you very much for the choice.”

Tottenham’s recent “winter break” was reduce from 14 to 10 days when they were forced to face Southampton in a fourth-round FA Cup replay two weeks ago today.