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Report: Darren Fletcher ‘leading candidate’ for Man United director

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No, your eyes are not deceiving you. You are not hallucinating. You read the headline correctly.

35-year-old Darren Fletcher, who retired from playing exactly one week ago at the end of the Championship season, is the “leading candidate” for the Manchester United technical director position, according to a report by Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Ed Woodward must be held accountable ]

Fletcher knows Manchester United well, having played for the club for 12 years before departing for West Brom and Stoke City, but he has zero managerial or executive experience. He last made an appearance for Stoke in mid-March, struggling for time in the Potters squad.

Current Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has been reportedly searching for a technical director to take over more on-field executive responsibilities such as player recruitment and contract negotiations, to allow Woodward – a career accountant – to take on a more financial focus with the club. While Fletcher would pair well with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as both played for Manchester United in the recent past, his glaring lack of experience at any kind of executive level is frightening for Manchester United fans who feel the club’s squad slipping in quality since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Should Fletcher sign on, it may signal that Woodward sees the duties of a technical director less involved with important club decisions and more as a liaison between manager Solskjaer and the club hierarchy. That could leave Woodward still saddled with player recruitment decisions he has struggled with since taking over as top club executive in 2013. A number of massive transfer investments, such as Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, and Fred have failed to live up to expectations since joining the club, while the massive wages given to Alexis Sanchez have put the club in a position of difficulty when looking to re-sign stars like David De Gea.

Meanwhile, former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar continues to be immensely successful in a Director of Football role at Ajax, something many Red Devil fans look to with envy.

Watford 0-1 Stoke: Scrappy, invaluable win for Potters

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  • Hornets first back-to-back losses of season
  • Stoke’s first away W of season
  • Fletcher scores 23rd career PL goal

Stoke City fired into a 16th minute lead through Darren Fletcher and held off Watford the rest of the way for a much-needed 1-0 win at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

The Potters rise to 14th with 11 points, while seventh place Watford is passed by Liverpool.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Though Watford came out of the gate well, this was not the same Hornets team we’d seen in recent weeks.

Nor was it the same bunch of Potters, at least in spirit, as Stoke stayed tight defensively and broke through off a clever corner kick.

Xherdan Shaqiri sent his effort to the top of the 18, and Fletcher belted his effort through traffic to make it 1-0 to the visitors in the 16th minute.

Troy Deeney should’ve been sent off for grabbing Joe Allen‘s face, though perhaps the referees did not spy the incident inside of a scrum.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

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Stoke City 0-4 Chelsea: Clinical Morata buries Potters

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  • Morata scores in 2′
  • Pedro doubles lead
  • Stoke give away chances

Alvaro Morata scored his first Premier League hat trick as part of a dominant display as Chelsea punished mistake-ridden Stoke City 4-0 at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday.

Pedro scored the Blues’ other goal, and Chelsea moved third in the league with 13 points.

Stoke sits 15th with five points, one ahead of the drop zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

It was a ruthless start from the Blues, with Tiemoue Bakayoko starting a charge with N'Golo Kante that led to Alvaro Morata 1v1 with an indecisive Jack Butland. There was only one result, as the saying goes, with Morata sliding a clinical finish beyond the splayed Butland in the second minute.

Stoke didn’t shrink away, though, and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting was again a threat for the Potters.

Pedro made it 2-0 off a miscue from Potters’ skipper Darren Fletcher, who chested the Spaniard through on goal.

Stoke had a chance to answer back when Bakayoko gave away a foul atop the arc, but Xherdan Shaqiri‘s effort hit the wall and went out for a corner.

Mame Biram Diouf missed an overhead kick in the 43rd minute as the Potters kept searching for a way back into the match.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Stoke fans were living when Marcos Alonso nearly took a second yellow card in the 53rd minute, let off the hook by Mike Dean.

But Morata took his next chance very, very well, forcing a turnover and racing past Fletcher before making a difficult finish look simple. His hat trick goal was much easier, a tap-in past Butland.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Sigurdsson to Everton, McCarthy to Leicester

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It truly is the summer of Everton, isn’t it?

Gylfi Sigurdsson is a wanted man, but the Icelandic international has stated repeatedly that he’d be happy to stay at Swansea if the right deal does not come through.

[ Saturday Roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

With Everton continuing to spend its Romelu Lukaku haul, Sigurdsson is reportedly high on their wish list, and the 27-year-old could be close to a move, although there are conflicting reports at the moment.

According to the Daily Mail, Everton is preparing a fourth bid for Sigurdsson of $41 million, and that coupled with the boost of a glistening new squad at Goodison Park could turn the player’s head. However, a report by Wales Online states that the Daily Mail report is “premature” citing a Swansea source.


Tony Pulis is looking to replace Darren Fletcher at West Brom, with the 33-year-old moving on to Stoke City at the expiry of his Baggies contract. Pulis, ever wooed by proven, British talent, is reportedly interested in Everton veteran Gareth Barry to take Fletcher’s place, according to a number of articles.

Barry has been with Everton since his move from Manchester City in 2013, making 153 appearances across all competitions. He appeared 32 times in the Premier League last season, 23 of those starts. Barry seemed to lose his place as an every-week starter in December with Everton in the midst of a lengthy winless streak.


The Everton rumors continue to flow free.

Leicester City is reportedly interested in Toffees midfielder James McCarthy, but so far have been priced out of a move, as the Toffees have no desire to let the Republic of Ireland international leave cheaply. According to a host of tabloid reports in England, Everton wants $32 million for the 26-year-old, and that’s leaving some clubs unable to pony up.

The reports state that Leicester have only gotten as far as to inquire about McCarthy’s status, and when told about the asking price, they are considering their options.

McCarthy missed significant time last season with groin and hamstring injuries, but is still a valuable part of Ronald Koeman‘s plans moving forward, as reflected in the asking price.


Reports in Turkey claim that Osmanlispor midfielder Badou Ndiaye is on his way to London to have a medical with West Ham.

The Hammers have been linked to the Senegalese midfielder in the past, but now the 26-year-old is reportedly closer than ever to a move. West Ham apparently had a $6 million bid rejected last month, but they’ve increased that significantly.

The switch would be an attractive one for Ndiaye, who has yet to play in a big European league. He began his career at Senegalese club Diambars before spending time in Norway and Turkey.

The reports have suggested that Ndiaye would cost West Ham somewhere between $9 million and $13 million, a solid return on investment for Osmanlispor who spent $400,000 on his purchase from Norwegian club FK Bodo/Glimt.

Premier League Team of the Week — Round 19

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With all 20 Premier League club having now played 19 games, we’re officially at the halfway point of the 2015-16 season.

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The just-completed 19th round of PL fixtures saw a change at the top of the table, as Arsenal regained the league lead; another potential title contender emerge; the inevitable firing of Louis Van Gaal creep ever closer; and a candidate for game of the season.

From round no. 19 of PL fixtures, this week’s Premier League Team of the Week…

Premier League Team of the Week — Round 19 ARCHIVE ]

Goalkeeper: Petr Cech (Arsenal)

Defenders: Ashley Williams (Swansea City), Gabriel Paulista (Arsenal), Wes Morgan (Leicester City)

Midfielders: Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Darren Fletcher (West Bromwich Albion), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City)

Forwards: Dieumerci Mbokani (Norwich City), Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City), Romelu Lukaku (Everton)