What happens with Pep if Man City’s ban is upheld?

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As of this very moment, Manchester City is set to be banned from European competition for two seasons, in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

[ MORE: Man City banned from European action ]

While there still remains a long, winding legal battle to be waged in various courts of appeals, the first question on everyone’s minds once the banned was announced was: Is Pep Guardiola going to leave Man City? For many, it might have even been an assumption that yes, indeed, he would.

The first factor we must consider is this: What are Guardiola’s greatest motivators as a manager? From everything he’s said and we’ve seen during his brilliant managerial career, it would appear that winning trophies ranks at the very top of the list. Namely, it’s the Champions League by which the game’s elite managers are rated.

Without being able to compete in the competition for two seasons — beyond the current expiration date of his contract, in the summer of 2021 — the one trophy which has eluded him in his first three seasons at City, plus his three at Bayern Munich, would be off the table altogether. The wildest of wild cards which could change Guardiola’s entire equation is this: what happens if he guides City to Champions League glory this season, and his highest of high goals has been completed? These are the kinds of questions — so many questions — which will have to be answered over the course of the next six months.

[ MORE: Report: Man City facing possible PL points deduction ]

The biggest question of all is this: How will Guardiola’s trust in the club’s owners be affected by this outcome? He has routinely stuck his own neck out on the line in the press, stating he has full confidence and belief in everything told to him by his superiors. If that undying — almost blind — trust has eroded in any way throughout this entire ordeal, it’s very easy to imagine Guardiola making his decision — that City is no longer a tenable working situation for him — an easy one, regardless of the appeal’s outcome.

It’s quite a strange situation — a reversal of roles, if you will — as the manager becomes the one with almost unilateral power to determine the short- and medium-term future of the club’s leadership, while the executives who typically do the hiring and firing — many of whom will perhaps have been at fault in the first place — are left powerless, only to hope and wish that one of the world’s premier managers might stick around and bale them out of a terrible situation.

Fernandes scores first goal, says Ronaldo backed Manchester United move

Bruno Fernandes Ronaldo
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It’s probably not a surprise that a young Portuguese player would fancy Manchester United given the heroics of Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford early his career.

Bruno Fernandes admits that those images danced through his head well before he signed with the Red Devils in January.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It’s also not a shock that United would turn to their former player for a take on the playmaker before buying him from Sporting Lisbon.

Fernandes says he’s grateful that CR7 endorsed BF18. From Sky Sports:

“I know some people asked Cristiano what he thought of me and what I was like as a player and a person,” Fernandes said. “I know he spoke highly of me and gave me a good reference, so I sent him a message after to thank him for his kind words.”

Fernandes has 19 caps and two goals for Portugal, while Ronaldo has a few more with 164 and 99.

He now has a goal and an assist in four appearances for United. Ronaldo finished with 118 goals and 69 assists in 292 appearances for the Red Devils.

Here’s the finish:

Eden Hazard suffers fracture ahead of Man City in UCL, El Clasico

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Eden Hazard is set to miss the Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League first leg against Man City with a broken fibula.

Hazard had only returned to the lineup for two matches following a three-month absence with an ankle injury.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 29-year-old has made just 15 appearances for Real since arriving in a big-money move from Chelsea, scoring once with five assists.

He has never appeared in less than 30 league matches over the course of his career, five times missing one or zero matches.

Of course, all of his absences show that Real is very comfortable playing and winning without Hazard. Zinedine Zidane’s men lost Sunday to drop behind Barcelona in La Liga, but that was just its second loss of the league season.

Real will be taxed in depth like its rivals, with Wednesday’s visit from Man City followed by an El Clasico at the Bernabeu on March 1. Barcelona hosts Napoli on Tuesday.

Whether you like the playmaker or despise him, there must be some sense of sympathy for his latest ailments (even if Man City and Barca fans will likely offer a Jerry Seinfeld-esque, “That’s a shame”).

Watch Live: Manchester United, Wolves host bottom three battlers

Manchester United Watford live stream link
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A pair of Premier League basement dwellers face stiff tests in their bids to win another season in the top flight.

Manchester United hosts Watford on NBCSN while Wolves welcome Norwich City on CNBC as both home sides aim to improve the health of their top four hopes in 9 a.m. ET kickoffs.

[ WATCH: Man Utd-Watford | Wolves-Norwich ]

Lineups notes from both matches:


Manchester United



Norwich City

Three Serie A matches suspended due to virus deaths in Italy

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ROME (AP) Three Serie A soccer matches scheduled for Sunday in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto were suspended late Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the virus from China.

On orders from the Italian government, the games called off were: Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria, Atalanta vs. Sassuolo and Hellas Verona vs. Cagliari.

Three other matches in Genoa, Turin and Rome on Sunday are going ahead as scheduled.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown on Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the coronavirus from China, and a growing cluster of cases with no direct links to the origin of the outbreak abroad.

“The government is working on urgent measures to decisively confront and contain the cases of coronavirus contagion,” read a letter from Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora to Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago shortly before midnight local time on Saturday. “Those measures also include the sports world in order to prevent risks and to better take care of the health of those involved in the events and competition.

“Following measures taken by the cabinet for protective reasons and maximum precaution, on orders of the government I’m asking you to suspend all sports events of every level and discipline planned for the Lombardy and Veneto regions on Sunday.”

The secondary contagions prompted local authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, businesses and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and Masses.

The mayor of Milan, Italy’s business capital and the regional capital of Lombardy, shuttered public offices.

A 78-year-old man infected with the virus died in Veneto. A postmortem on a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy came back positive, though it wasn’t clear if illness from the virus caused her death.

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

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf