Claudio Ranieri

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Roma slips in race for Champions League place

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AS Roma could be in serious trouble in the race for a Champions League race with just a week to go after a 0-0 draw at 10th-placed Sassuolo in heavy rain.

The visitors came close, as Edin Dzeko and Justin Kluivert both found iron, each hitting the post in the second half, while a potential Federico Fazio stoppage time winner was pulled back after Dzeko was ruled offside. Otherwise, the Roma attack offered little up front despite the high stakes of the match.

The draw pegs Roma back after a confidence-boosting win over Juventus the week before and sees their Champions League hopes placed on life support. They currently sit fifth in the table, a point behind fourth-placed Atalanta with all other top-nine teams set to play tomorrow. While Atalanta is forced to visit confirmed champions Juventus in Turin, sixth-placed AC Milan could leap into fifth with a win over relegated Frosinone.

Claudio Ranieri took over Roma in early March with the club in fifth, and he has been unable to resurrect their season to the club’s lofty standards. A brutal stretch in March saw the club lose three of four, and while they haven’t lost in the eight league matches since, the four draws in that span have been lethal. Roma has competed in the Champions League each of the last five seasons, reaching the knockout stage in three of the last four.

The draw completes a brutal week for the club which announced days ago that team legend Daniele de Rossi would depart at age 35 after 15 seasons with Roma.

Biggest flops of the Premier League season

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We’ll try not to be too harsh as our review of the Premier League season continues with the most disappointing performances of 2018-19.

[ SEASON REVIEW: Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal ]

[ SEASON REVIEW: Man United, Wolves, Everton, Leicester, West Ham ]


— Fulham — You can’t pin it on any single manager, nor a single transfer flop. There was just something around Craven Cottage that didn’t allow the men to mesh on the big stage. Andre Schurrle petered out, Alfie Mawson stumbled when healthy, Jean-Michael Seri wasn’t as advertised, and Claudio Ranieri couldn’t summon any saviors after Slavisa Jokanovic also failed to find the right chemistry.

— Max Meyer, Crystal Palace — The 23-year-old just couldn’t quite adapt after being hailed by many including us as a remarkable free transfer from Schalke.

— Gonzalo Higuain, Chelsea — Part of this blame lives with us: The expectation that came with Maurizio Sarri‘s favored man arriving to make good on the failures of Alvaro Morata was too high; Higuain finished with five goals in 1100 minutes.

— Mohamed Elyounoussi, Southampton — Maybe his Premier League adjustment will come in Season Two, but zero goals and plenty of days outside the Saints’ 18 hardly make for good value.

Fred, Manchester United — Cost the Red Devils about $3.5 million per league appearance. Shoulder shrug emoji, as Pep Guardiola also reportedly viewed the Brazilian as a fix for his midfield.

— David De Gea, Manchester United — While not a new signing, the Red Devils’ perennial savior was not close to his standards in 2018-19. In fact, the Spaniard was basically league average and couldn’t bail out his defenders (which underscores Jose Mourinho’s assertion regarding their quality).

Season Review: Huddersfield, Fulham, Cardiff, Brighton, Southampton

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As the 2018/19 Premier League season has come to a close, it’s time to take a very brief look back at each club’s campaign and review how they did. First, we look back at the bottom five sides and work our way up the table.

Huddersfield Town, Fulham, and Cardiff City were relegated to the Championship, while Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton both managed to stay up, barely. Each team took its own path to where they finished in the table, so here’s a look back at some of the journeys.

Huddersfield Town

Finishing position/points total: 20 / 16pts
High point
: Doing the double over Wolves.
Low point
: Losing 5-0 to Liverpool to cap a stretch of 8 losses.

Our opinion: They struggled to score all season, with just 22 goals in 38 league matches. Shut out in a whopping 19 Premier League matches, they never had the firepower to compete.
Star player
: Aaron Mooy
Most memorable goal
: Isaac Mbenza equalized on an assist from goalkeeper Jonas Lossl to draw Manchester United on the penultimate day of the season.


Manager grade: David Wagner: C- / Jan Siewert: F
Hopes for next season
: Huddersfield needs to stabilize and regroup next season, and a top-10 Championship finish should be the target, building towards a promotion campaign the following year. Siewert wasn’t able to do anything of note in charge during the second half of the Premier League season, and the jury is still out on if he’s the right man to lead them through the Championship.

Fulham

Finishing position/points total: 19 / 26pts
High point
: Winning 3 straight under Scott Parker.
Low point
: A 4-1 loss to Watford to mark 9 straight.

Our opinion: An absolutely woeful defense doomed what was an otherwise entertaining attacking club. With a change of manager came a change of style, but nothing improved at the back. Fulham needs to sort out its back line for next season or a quick return to the Premier League can be thrown out the window.
Star player
: Aleksandar Mitrovic
Most memorable goal
: Jean-Michael Seri blasted an absolute stunner against Burnley early in the season. Andre Schurrle also victimized Burnley with a glorious volley as well.


Manager grade: Slavisa Jokanovic: D- / Claudio Ranieri: F / Scott Parker: C+
Hopes for next season
: The club did well to secure a permanent manager so quickly so they can get to work strengthening the squad for a promotion campaign to come straight back up. The priority this offseason will be looking to secure assets like Mitrovic, Jean-Michael Seri, and Ryan Sessegnon while looking to improve the defense.

Cardiff City

Finishing position/points total: 18 / 34pts
High point
: Beating Manchester United on the last day of the season.
Low point
: Failing to score in 4 straight, confirming relegation.

Our opinion: A club that many through would finish bottom of the league, or close to it, gave it a real fight and came close to staving off relegation a few times. The season clearly wore on Neil Warnock, who said there isn’t “a cat’s chance in hell” he ever manages in the Premier League again.
Star player
: Victor Camarasa
Most memorable goal
: Junior Hoilett‘s wonderful curler to beat Wolves in November pulled the club out of the relegation zone for the time being, but it can’t beat Camarasa’s unbelievable strike to beat Leicester City in stoppage time.


Manager grade: Neil Warnock: C
Hopes for next season
: They will be a real challenger for promotion in the Championship and should do well if they can improve the playmaking abilities up front.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Finishing position/points total: 17 / 36pts
High point
: Winning 3 straight in October, critical to staying up.
Low point
: 8 straight without a win Jan-Feb in a relegation battle.

Our opinion: Brighton was one of the most fun teams this season, with a combination of suffocating defense and an attack that could crop up at any time against any club. While they often fired blanks, when they came alive it was exciting and enjoyable. Still, the attack was too inconsistent and they’ll want to make smart improvements.
Star player
: Shane Duffy
Most memorable goal
: Glenn Murray‘s winner against Wolves capped off a critical 3-game winning streak and ultimately proved vital in keeping the club alive.


Manager grade: Chris Hughton: C-
Hopes for next season
: Sacking Chris Hughton, the man who pulled the club out of the muck and brought them to the promised land, is a bold decision. This is a team with good assets and a solid base, and they should be able to stay up again next season with the right leader.

Southampton

Finishing position/points total: 16 / 39pts
High point
: Beating Arsenal 3-2 in December.
Low point
: 6-1 loss to Man City as part of a 12-match winless run.

Our opinion: Southampton started off the season horribly and was a real candidate to go down until Ralph Hassenhuttl saved them. His management kept this team up and there’s real hope for the future with a young, scrappy squad that needs improvement.
Star player
: Nathan Redmond
Most memorable goal
: It wasn’t the best goal of the season (that would be the Redmond curler to finish off the campaign on Sunday?) but the most memorable is Charlie Austin‘s in the 85th minute to beat Arsenal and end their long unbeaten run. It sparked the turnaround for Southampton, marking their first league win in over three months and beginning a nine-match run where they picked up 15 points.


Manager grade: Mark Hughes: D- / Ralph Hassenhuttl: A-
Hopes for next season
: With Hassenhuttl in charge and improvements to the defense this summer, Southampton should be able to show more consistency next season. On their day, they’re capable of beating any team in the league and that should lead them to a belief in a top 10 finish. This team shouldn’t be battling for Premier League survival again.

La Liga and Serie A: Godin’s Atleti goodbye, Real lose again; Roma beat Juve

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ MORE: Final Premier League standings of the 2018-19 season ]

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Sevilla

Captain Diego Godin made the 388th appearance of his nine-year Atleti career on Sunday, marking the final time he’ll take the field in the Spanish capital for Los Rojiblancos. Godin was honored by a capacity crowd, all on their feet, after the game.

Koke put second-place Atleti ahead in the 30th minute. Pablo Sarabia drew sixth-place Sevilla level in the 70th.

Real Sociedad 3-1 Real Madrid

Real Madrid suffered their 11th league defeat of the season (17 across all competitions, for the first time since 1998-99) after going 1-0 up in the 6th minute, courtesy of Brahim Diaz, and being reduced to 10 men in the 39th (Jesus Vallejo).

Mikel Merino (26th minute), Joseba Zaldua (57th) and Ander Barrenetxea (67th) got the goals for eighth-place Sociedad.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Barcelona 2-0 Getafe
Valencia 3-1 Alaves
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Celta Vigo
Leganes 0-2 Espanyol
Rayo Vallecano 1-2 Real Valladolid
Girona 1-2 Levante
Real Betis 2-1 Huesca


Roma 2-0 Juventus

Roma’s quest for Champions League qualification got a massive, and somewhat unexpected, boost in the form of a victory over champions-elect Juventus. Claudio Ranieri‘s side were three places and four points off fourth place, but now they sit just two place and one point back of Inter Milan with two games left to play.

Alessandro Florenzi (79th) and Edin Dzeko (90th+1) did all of Roma’s damage late against a full-strength Juve side. Following a disastrous start to the season (just five wins from their first 15 games), Roma have righted the ship and are now unbeaten in their last seven league games and have lost just three of their last 19.

Elsewhere in Serie A

SPAL 1-2 Torino
Torino 3-2 Sassuolo
Frosinone 1-3 Udinese
Sampdoria 2-1 Empoli

Fulham hires Scott Parker as full-time head coach

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Fulham has taken its first step towards next season in the Championship by locking down a boss, hiring interim boss Scott Parker as full-time head coach, the club announced on Friday, signing a two-year deal.

Parker spent the final four years of his playing career at Fulham, making 128 appearances for the club before retiring in 2017 and joining the backroom staff. He remained part of the coaching staff through multiple managerial changes in the Premier League this season, finally being tabbed as caretaker manager after the dismissal of Claudio Ranieri in late February.

Under Parker’s guidance, Fulham finished the season strong despite being strapped with relegation. They lost their first five matches under Parker, but three of those came against Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool. They then won three in a row against Everton, Bournemouth, and Cardiff City in mid-April despite having won just four matches all season previously.

“Scott was brave to accept a very difficult challenge in February when appointed as our Caretaker Manager,” said club chairman Shahid Khan in the official team announcement . “Since that time, day by day, whether in training or on matchday, we’ve undeniably become a better football club. Scott will now have another challenge to face, and that is to return Fulham to the Premier League. I fully believe Scott is more than up to the task.”

The 38-year-old former Fulham captain feels he is ready for his first managerial gig, having previously played nearly 600 career matches for Charlton, Chelsea, Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham.

“Now, the challenge lies with me to move things forward,” said Parker in the official team release. “Ultimately, success comes from a culture and a desire – that needs to be our foundation. We’ll drive a culture here that our fans will recognize.”

A big focus for Parker is the atmosphere in the dressing room, which Parker believes he can influence as a recent player. “I’ve got 20 years of playing experience and 20 years of being in changing rooms,” Parker said. “I want to use that experience to help the club be successful and move things forward.”

The job ahead is a tough one moving forward given the Fulham squad is in a state of horrible flux. Young winger Ryan Sessegnon is out of contract next summer and therefore likely to be sold unless he changes course and signs and extension with the club. Striker Aleksandr Mitrovic and midfielder Jean-Michel Seri could also be out the door given their level of talent, potentially avoiding dropping down a league with the club. Sergio Rico, Calum Chambers, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Havard Nordveit, Andre Schurrle, and Luciano Vietto are all loanees scheduled to return to parent clubs after the season ends. Denis Odoi, Floyd Ayite, and Neeskins Kebano are all out of contract this summer and could depart as well.