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As Pochettino lashes out, do Spurs have big problem?

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Mauricio Pochettino has certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons with his fiery comments.

Tottenham Hotspur’s manager told journalists that they should probably stop referring to him as that and just as Spurs’ head coach as he has nothing at all to do with buying or selling players or extending contracts.

Since then #BackPoch has been trending on Twitter and Tottenham’s fans have been lashing out at chairman Daniel Levy.

Pochettino’s title was changed from head coach to manager when he signed a new contract in 2016, but he believes it should now be changed again.

“I know nothing about the situation of my players,” Pochettino told journalists in Munich after Spurs beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the Audi Cup on Tuesday. “I am only coaching them and trying to get the best from them. Sell, buy players, sign contract, not sign contract – I think it is not in my hands, it’s in the club’s hands and [chairman] Daniel Levy. The club needs to change my title and description. Of course I am the boss deciding the strategic play, but in another area I don’t know. Today, I feel like I am the coach.”

Should we read too much into this?

Pochettino’s command of the English language has got better but sometimes he isn’t able to understand questions, however this doesn’t seem like a misunderstanding. Not at all.

The Argentine coach knows what he is doing here. He is cranking the pressure up on Levy to get deals over the line.

In previous press conferences this summer Pochettino has made it clear he doesn’t know anything about the arrival of new players and he wants everyone to know he cannot be blamed for the lack of new additions. Yes, Tanguy Ndombele has arrived for a club-record $80 million but that has been it. Youngster Jack Clarke has been loaned back to Leeds United for this season, so Spurs’ squad is pretty similar to what it was last season.

With William Saliba joining Arsenal over Spurs and Paulo Dybala now looking likely to head to Manchester United, two of Spurs’ top targets are going elsewhere in the PL.

Add to that Giovani Lo Celso not arriving and the futures of Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld not clear, plus losing Kieran Trippier to Atletico Madrid, and Pochettino doesn’t seem that impressed with what’s going on behind-the-scenes.

Spurs have played really well in preseason, for the most part. They’ve used plenty of youngsters like Troy Parrott, Anthony Georgiou and Oliver Skipp and have beat Juventus and Real Madrid and lost narrowly to Man United.

What Pochettino is saying is this: I am doing my job preparing this team for another season of overachievement on the pitch. Mr. Levy, can you do yours and bring in top-class players and sign our best players up to new contracts?

Ndombele’s arrival should have been the first of many given Spurs’ incredible run to the Champions League final and yet another top four finish last season amid playing most of the season at Wembley due to delays at their stunning new venue.

Perhaps Pochettino doesn’t want Levy and Spurs’ board to use the move to a new stadium as an excuse anymore. All in all, Poch seems pretty fed up that Spurs aren’t making the strides he would have hoped in terms of player recruitment this summer. Levy doesn’t deserve to be lambasted by Tottenham’s fans. He has helped them build a stunning new stadium, he hired Pochettino in the first place and he has always been the driver behind developing young talent in the academy.

But just like Pochettino should take his share of the blame for poor performances on the pitch, so too should Levy if he isn’t able to get deals across the line in the boardroom.

This could spell big trouble for Spurs, especially with Real Madrid continuing to struggle under Zinedine Zidane.

How long will it be until Pochettino heads to the Santiago Bernabeu if he and Levy start to lock horns on a more regular basis?

That might seem drastic now, but Pochettino is a man of principles and if he doesn’t feel like he is being supported properly he will walk away quickly.

Both Pochettino and Levy have worked wonders to get Spurs to where they are right now. The final step of winning a major trophy and consistently challenging for titles is the toughest hurdle to negotiate.

That pressure is already starting to show.

Coronavirus: Italy may lift ban on sporting events by Monday

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MILAN (AP) The Italian government could lift its ban on sporting events by Monday in areas affected by the coronavirus if the number of cases stabilizes.

The outbreak forced a number of sporting events to be called off throughout the country this past weekend, including four Serie A matches in the north of Italy.

This week, the ban on sporting events was extended from Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont – the areas hardest hit by the outbreak – to also include the regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia Romagna and Liguria, until March 1.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“If, as I hope, the statistics don’t give us different signs then maybe already by Monday these measures won’t be continued,” Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said. “But it’s only Tuesday today and we have to wait and see what happens over the next few days. The health of the Italian citizens is the most important thing.”

Italy reported a 45% increase in the number of coronavirus cases Tuesday, from 222 to 300. Ten people have died, all of them elderly or suffering from other ailments.

“Obviously, I can’t say I’m not worried because I don’t want anyone to think we’re underestimating this emergency,” Premier Giuseppe Conte said before meeting with visiting World Health Organization representatives. “But we trust that with the measures we have implemented, there will be a containing effect in the coming days.”

Italy has closed schools, museums and theaters in the two regions where clusters have formed and troops are enforcing quarantines around 10 towns in Lombardy and the epicenter of the Veneto cluster, Vo’Euganeo.

Serie A matches this weekend are set to be played behind closed doors, including Juventus’ key match against Inter Milan. That game is not only potentially crucial to the title race but also sees the return of former Juventus coach Antonio Conte.

Inter’s Europa League match at home to Ludogorets on Thursday will also take place without any fans allowed in.

Serie C canceled all games in two leagues which have teams in the north. Volleyball and rugby games were also suspended nationwide through next weekend.

The Italian Winter Sports Federation suspended all of its events throughout the country for an entire week, although it said that “for now” next weekend’s World Cup ski races in La Thuile in the Valle d’Aosta region were still set to go ahead. Those races are operated by the International Ski Federation, which has already canceled races this season in China that were slated to test the course for the 2022 Beijing Games.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

El Tri winger Jurgen Damm headed for MLS this summer

Jurgen Damm
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This season’s Liga MX invasion of MLS continues with Jurgen Damm announcing that he’ll leave UANL Tigres this summer after five years with the club.

TUDN has the destination as Atlanta, though previous reports have linked Damm to the LA Galaxy is the spot.

And MLSSoccer.com scribe Tom Bogert says the Houston Dynamo have his “discovery rights” (which remains the worst concept in the entire league).

Reports emerged over the past 48 hours that the El Tri man was headed for an MLS club.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 12-times capped winger has one goal for Mexico, but has not been capped since Oct. 2018. He has spent his entire career in Liga MX.

Damm spent the early part of his career with Tecos and Pachuca, but has been with UANL Tigres since 2015.

He won four league titles with UANL, as well as the 2018 Campeones Cup.

Ex-Arsenal man Gnabry: “London’s still red” after Bayern beats Chelsea

Serge Gnabry
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Ex-Arsenal man Serge Gnabry still has love for the club.

Gnabry tweeted that “London is still red” after he scored twice for Bayern Munich in a 3-0 beating of Chelsea on Tuesday in the first leg of a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

This after scoring four times against Spurs in a previous Champions League group stage match and Tweeting that “North London is Red.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

So what’s with the London form?

“I’ve got a lot of friends here,” Gnabry said after the game. “A lot of them were in the stands tonight, and it seems they give me a lot of good power.”

Gnabry only scored once during his time in England with Arsenal and West Brom but is a bona fide star in the Bundesliga.

With a three-goal advantage over Chelsea heading to Munich for a second leg, however, he’s not got his head in the clouds.

“Three goals ahead gives us a little bit of confidence, but we need to be prepared for the second leg. We can’t take it not seriously enough. … We’ve seen it last year with Liverpool beating Barcelona, so we have to be careful. We have to go into the second leg with all of our focus.”

Gnabry now has 51 goals and 29 assists in four seasons since returning to Germany from Arsenal. Not terrible production for a player the Gunners offloaded to Werder Bremen for under $6 million in 2016.

What color will London be when Chelsea buys him next year? We kid, we kid…

Champions League preview: Real Madrid renews rivalry with Pep; Lyon hosts Juve

UEFA Champions League preview
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The final two ties of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 begin Wednesday when Manchester City and Juventus head to Spain and France.

The focus for many will be on the former, as City continues to weather UEFA drama while its manager prepares for his fiercest foe as a player and manager.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Pep Guardiola has managed against Real Madrid 17 times and boasts a 9-4-4 record between Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The Catalan wizard has lost his last three versus Real, two with Bayern and once in his final El Clasico as Barca boss.

Even as Guardiola stresses preparation and plan, he knows there will be bounces and that both teams will have to cope with them.

“We have to be strong, have quality and need to have luck,” he said, via The Manchester Evening News. “At this stage, it’s important but we cannot control that. We can control what we can control and we will see. This competition, last season, against Liverpool, there are decisions. You have to overcome. You need incredible concentration in our game and game plan plus try to be a little lucky.”

Real Madrid living legend Sergio Ramos has earned the ire of Guardiola on plenty of occasions, one of the few things Liverpool and City fans have in common.

Ramos wouldn’t get drawn into rivalry talk, sying the stage somewhat negates the opponent.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Ramos said via the club’s web site. “I think he’s a fantastic coach, with loads of experience, and his numbers speak for themselves. We’re motivated by the Champions League, regardless of the players or coaches who may have been rivals in the past. We’re up for the Champions League and our next task is to beat City. From a personal point of view, I’m just focused on making the next round.”

[ MORE: Key battles for Real-Man City ]

Wednesday’s other match sees a club long linked with Guardiola, as Juventus will play the role of heavy favorites against Lyon.

Maurizio Sarri‘s side is to bidding to win what’s eluded all Juve bosses since Marcello Lippi beat Ajax in 1996. If they succeed, it will be by going down a different path than it’s traveled in recent years.

Here’s Leonardo Bonucci, via Football-Italia:

“What the coach asks of us now is basically the opposite of what the previous coach did,” Bonucci mused. “It was usually individual against individual, now it’s more about organized team movements. Obviously, you need to train consistently to get that down and playing every three days makes it difficult. But we started this journey well aware of the positives it could bring and the difficulties of getting there.”

Lyon has been maddeningly inconsistent this season, sitting seventh in the Ligue 1 table, but has the tools to surprise if Juve doesn’t bring its best. That starts in France on Wednesday.