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Rooney: With Guardiola, England ‘could have won everything’

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Between 2000-2008, the England National Team had some of the best individual players in their positions in all of world soccer. Yet they never made it past the quarterfinals in any tournament they competed in, and the “Golden Generation” came to a relative end with England failing to qualify for the 2008 European Championship all together.

According to Wayne Rooney, in a sit down with Roger Bennett from Men in Blazers on the Wayne Rooney Podcast, had England had a better coach, they would have won it all.

[READ: USMNT Roundtable from the PST Staff]

“You look at our team ten years ago and we arguably had the best group of players in world football,” Rooney said. “Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Gerrard, Scholes, Lampard, Beckham, Myself, Michael Owen. Our team then, if we had Guardiola, with that group of players, we would have won everything. No doubt about it.”

If you’re like me and you’ve enjoyed Rooney’s honest chats with Rog, it’s not super surprising to hear him speak this off the cuff about a major moment earlier in his career. There’s a lot to break down from this comment, though.

Rooney’s first manager for England was the Swede Sven-Goran Eriksen. Eriksen, when he took over England in 2001, was coming off leading Lazio – yes Lazio – to the Serie A title, and had previous success with Fiorentina, Roma, and Benfica in Portugal.

He was ultimately criticized for his lack of fire and emotion on the touchline, as he watched England get knocked out of the quarterfinals at both the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, and the 2004 European Championships. The 2004 Euros and 2006 World Cup exits were both on penalty kicks, both to Portugal.

Rooney of course was injured against Portugal in the 2004 tournament, and had been injured in the run up to the 2006 World Cup and wasn’t at his best for that tournament either.

Perhaps the biggest indictment against Eriksen’s leadership – and that of the managers before him – was that Paul Scholes retired from international duty at just 30-years old, despite being one of the best holding midfielders in the world. Eriksen had tried, repeatedly to somehow fit Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Scholes into a 4-4-2, with one forced to play along the wing, and Scholes apparently decided if he wasn’t valued enough, he’d quit while he was ahead.

You wonder if Guardiola, or any coach today, with the value played on a good holding midfielder, would have made Scholes the first name on the teamsheet.

Things didn’t get much better for England after Eriksen, and Steve McLaren failed to qualify England for the 2008 Euros and was run out of town, but the damage was done.

So could Guardiola have won the World Cup with the former Golden Generation? Perhaps. But Guardiola would have struggled to get all these individual talents – many of whom were rivals for their club teams – to play together and play for the flag on their chest.

Listen to the rest of Rooney’s chat with Rog below.

PL Golden Boot: Mane, Salah, Aubameyang all win with 22 goals

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For the first time in nearly a decade, there’s no singular winner of the Premier League’s Golden Boot.

Instead, the honor for most goals in the Premier League this season is shared by last year’s winner, Mohamed Salah, his Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane, and Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The trio of stars finished with 22 goals, as Mane and Aubameyang both hit a brace on Championship Sunday.

[READ: Man City win Premier League title]

The last time the Golden Boot was shared was in 2011, when Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov shared it with 20 goals.

For Arsenal, it’s the club’s first Golden Boot winner since Robin Van Persie scored an incredible 30-goals in the 2011-2012 season, before moving to Manchester United and winning a Premier League title. Aubameyang becomes Arsenal’s third Golden Boot winner, following Thierry Henry and Van Persie. Mane meanwhile becomes Liverpool’s fourth Golden Boot winner, after Salah, Luis Suarez, and Michael Owen.

Benitez on lack of goals: ‘You have to spend you have to spend £40M, £50M, £75M’

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Rafa Benitez holds all the cards when it comes to his future at Newcastle United, so it’s worth noting any time he strays from the script.

[ MORE: Match recap | Emery reacts ]

Managing for penny-pinching owner Mike Ashley has been a slog for the former Liverpool and Napoli boss, but Benitez has endeared himself to the Geordie faithful by staying with the club through relegation and saving the club’s Premier League status on (probably) two occasions.

The Magpies fell 2-0 to Arsenal on Monday, a match few thought Newcastle would win at the Emirates Stadium.

“We were close, but it was about chances in the final third. … The final third we have been speaking all season, the final third you have to spend £40M £50M, £75M.”

Newcastle is likely to have broken its transfer record this winter — Miguel Almiron has to meet some contract conditions to get his deal past Michael Owen‘s previous record — but that deal falls short of those big figures.

And as Benitez begins contract discussions with Ashley, Newcastle supporters can run down a list of strikers the Magpies did not buy despite persistent rumors… and what their price tags became once the players met their potential. Names like Batshuayi, Piatek, and Monday scorer Lacazette were all scouted by the Magpies but never arrived at St. James’ Park as a player for the home team.

What do you think? Will Ashley and Newcastle do enough to keep Rafa?

Benitez reportedly reaches Newcastle breaking point over transfers

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The Telegraph claims that Rafa Benitez has issued an ultimatum to stingy Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley: Buy me two players, or I’m done after the season.

The celebrated manager has had success with Newcastle despite its failure to spend on players since promotion back to the Premier League.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

It’s believed that one of the players is Atlanta United’s Miguel Almiron, with the Premier League outfit and MLS club far apart on their valuation of the player.

A move for Almiron would break Newcastle’s transfer record, which has stood since the 2005 purchase of Michael Owen.

According to Football365.com, 15 PL teams have broken their transfer records more than five times since Newcastle set its milestone.

Newcastle’s transfer record is just over $20 million, a figure that was spent more than two dozen times this summer alone.

If Newcastle fails to sign Benitez to a new deal, it’s difficult to imagine them finding a manager anywhere near his level to take over the squad. And given the value of players on its pitch, the club would almost certainly continue its recent pattern of being annual relegation fodder.

That is if the penny-pinching doesn’t again doom Newcastle to the Championship.

Saluting Aguero’s brilliance; Guardiola has one complaint

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Sergio Aguero is a goalscoring machine.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Argentine striker recorded his 10th hat trick for Manchester City on Saturday as Pep Guardiola’s men battered Watford 6-0 at Vicarage Road to go top of the Premier League table.

Starting up front with Gabriel Jesus, Aguero ghosted in three times to finish off flowing Man City moves — which were started time and again by Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva at the heart of their diamond formation in midfield — and the 29-year-old now has 175 goals in 259 games in all competitions for Man City as he continues to motor towards the 200 mark with six goals in six games to start the season.

Last weekend he became the highest-scoring non-European player in Premier League history while only Alan Shearer (11), Robbie Fowler (9), Thierry Henry and Michael Owen (8) have scored more hat tricks in the PL than his six.

Speaking after the game, Aguero was typically nonchalant after another deadly display of finishing.

“I am very happy and I will continue to work as it goes on. I am focused on scoring the next goal but what matters is that we won,” Aguero said.

Even if Aguero was modest, his teammates summed up his brilliance with Ilkay Gundogan calling him a “goal machine” and his last goal “incredible” while Raheem Sterling put it perfectly: “Give Sergio Aguero a chance and nine times out of 10 he’ll score.”

By now we all know about Aguero’s brilliance but the lingering notion that he may not get into City’s starting lineup ahead of Gabriel Jesus this season has well and truly been shelved. The duo have starred up front together in recent weeks and Aguero, for the second game running, set up Jesus for a goal as the South American duo tore Watford’s defense apart.

Guardiola applauded Aguero and the way his team played as City are living up to their tag as the preseason favorites to win the Premier League.

They’ve now scored 15 goals in their past three PL games and 19 in their last four games in all competitions after they thumped Feyenoord 4-0 in Rotterdam on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League.

“It was so good. Especially after an away game in the Champions League. The way we played as a team, we are so happy,” Guardiola said. “I was lucky to manage Barcelona with many outstanding performances but this week has been a lot of goals. We have found our game, we can make short passes and we have a lot of energy from our full-backs.”

However, Guardiola did have one issue with Aguero. Seriously, he did.

In the 89th minute City were awarded a penalty kick after Sterling went down but Aguero let the England winger take the spot kick even though Guardiola wanted the Argentine to grab his fourth goal of the game.

“The people who come from the bench always give us something new. Clean sheets are a consequence of you controlling the game,” Guardiola said. “You have to be serious until the end, goal difference could be important but it is Sergio Aguero’s decision [to give the penalty to Raheem Sterling.]”

Your boatloads of goals can’t always please everyone, Sergio…