Postecoglou’s bravery makes football better, says Guardiola

Postecoglou’s bravery makes football better, says Guardiola
Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola hails Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou's attacking approach as a blessing for the Premier League ahead of their first meeting on Sunday (X/@SpursOfficial)
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Updated 01 December 2023
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Postecoglou’s bravery makes football better, says Guardiola

Postecoglou’s bravery makes football better, says Guardiola
  • The Australian has drawn criticism for his refusal to adopt a more conservative style
  • Guardiola said: “I think he makes football a better place, people like Ange”

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hailed Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou’s attacking approach as a blessing for the Premier League ahead of the first meeting between the pair in England on Sunday.
Postecoglou’s stunning start to his reign took Spurs to the top of the table, but Tottenham have since suffered three consecutive defeats to slip to fifth.
The Australian has drawn criticism for his refusal to adopt a more conservative style, even while Spurs are without a number of key players through injury and suspension.
James Maddison, Micky van de Ven, Rodrigo Bentancur and Richarlison will all be sidelined for the trip to the Etihad, while Sergio Romero completes a three-game ban.
But Guardiola said Postecoglou’s history of success in his homeland, at Yokohama Marinos in Japan and at Celtic, where he won five trophies in two seasons, proves he should stick to his beliefs.
“Every team plays to the desire of the manager,” Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.
“He’s done in the past in Japan and of course in Glasgow with Celtic and now. I think he makes football a better place, people like Ange.”
Spurs have taken an early lead in all three of their recent defeats to Chelsea, Wolves and Aston Villa.
And Guardiola believes only fine details have changed from a 10-game unbeaten run that gave Postecoglou the best start of any new manager to the Premier League.
“The courage,” added Guardiola on what he admires of Postecoglou’s style.
“So dynamic. It happened at Glasgow and now here. I know they lost the last games but did you see who they play?
“I see a lot of similarities when they were winning. Football is like that sometimes, two red (cards) against Chelsea, bad moments, but the dynamic is always positive.”
City head into the weekend one point behind leaders Arsenal after their 23-match winning streak at home was ended in a 1-1 draw with Liverpool last weekend.
Guardiola bemoaned the sleepy atmosphere at the Etihad for a lunchtime kick-off and has called upon the City fans to lift his side on Sunday.
“The stadium is all the time full and we have to play as best as possible and create as much as possible to energise and make our people with us,” added Guardiola.
“The games last season, semifinals, quarter-finals, important games like against Arsenal when we played for the Premier League, they were there like animals and we need that.
“In my humble opinion, to be successful we need our fans, all the time, being here. Thank you for coming, because without that it is impossible. Together we are stronger.”
Jack Grealish, Mateo Kovacic and Matheus Nunes are expected to miss out for City due to illness and injury.
John Stones is nearing his comeback but is not yet fit to feature, while Guardiola is hoping Kevin De Bruyne will return early in the new year from a lengthy hamstring injury.


Foden strikes as title chasing Man City beat Bournemouth

Foden strikes as title chasing Man City beat Bournemouth
Updated 4 sec ago
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Foden strikes as title chasing Man City beat Bournemouth

Foden strikes as title chasing Man City beat Bournemouth
  • With Liverpool in League Cup final action against Chelsea on Sunday, City took advantage to close the gap in their game in hand on Jurgen Klopp’s side
  • Foden netted in the first half at Dean Court and City survived a rocky second half to win for the 13th time in their last 14 games in all competitions

BOURNEMOUTH, UK: Phil Foden fired Manchester City to a 1-0 win against Bournemouth as the Premier League title chasers moved within one point of leaders Liverpool on Saturday.
With Liverpool in League Cup final action against Chelsea on Sunday, City took advantage to close the gap in their game in hand on Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Foden netted in the first half at Dean Court and City survived a rocky second half to win for the 13th time in their last 14 games in all competitions.
Chasing an unprecedented fourth succesive Premier League title, Pep Guardiola’s men weren’t at their best on the south coast but displayed the resolve required to grind out a vital victory.
While Liverpool remain in pole position, City are hot on their heels after extending their unbeaten run in all competitions to 17 games since losing at Aston Villa in December.
City head to Luton in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday before hosting Manchester United in a crucial league game next weekend.
Guardiola left Kevin De Bruyne on the bench, but City were quickly into their stride.
Foden flicked a pin-point pass to Erling Haaland, who swept toward goal only to misfire with a drive that whistled wide.
Bournemouth almost made Haaland pay for that miss when Milos Kerkez’s well-struck effort forced a fine save from Ederson.
But City were quickly back on the offensive as the live-wire Foden brought Bournemouth keeper Neto into action for the first time with a long-range blast.
It was a warning Bournemouth failed to heed as Foden put the visitors ahead in the 24th minute.
Haaland muscled his way into the penalty area and drilled a shot that Neto could only push out to Foden, who had the simple task of tapping into the empty net.
Foden’s 16th goal in all competitions this season was almost followed by a Bernardo Silva moment of magic when the City midfielder curled narrowly wide.
Bournemouth are without a league win in seven games since Boxing Day, but they recovered to give City a genuine scare.
Ederson saved well from Ryan Christie’s strike just before half-time and the Brazilian was called into action again immediately after the interval.
Justin Kluivert was given too much time and space outside the City area and the Bournemouth forward’s low drive was repelled by Ederson at full stretch.
After another narrow win against Brentford in midweek, Guardiola was again shifting uneasily on the touchline as Bournemouth grew in confidence.
Marcus Tavernier wasted a chance to equalize with a poor finish from Antoine Semenyo’s cross.
Tavernier was guilty of an even worse miss moments later, scuffing wide from 10 yards with the goal at his mercy.
Usually so unruffled, City were reeling for once, but Ederson preserved their lead with a superb save from Dominic Solanke’s header.
In his last action before being replaced by Julian Alvarez, Haaland’s powerful surge ended with a good save by Neto.
City were nervous right up to the final whistle, but Bournemouth’s Dango Ouattara squandered a good chance before Enes Unal’s header crept inches wide.


Kane’s injury time goal saves Bayern against Leipzig

Kane’s injury time goal saves Bayern against Leipzig
Updated 13 min 14 sec ago
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Kane’s injury time goal saves Bayern against Leipzig

Kane’s injury time goal saves Bayern against Leipzig
  • Bayern had lost three matches in a row for the first time in nine years
  • The win reduced the gap to leaders Bayer Leverkusen to eight points with 11 games left

BERLIN: Harry Kane scored two goals in the second-half, including an injury time winner, to snatch Bayern Munich a 2-1 home win over RB Leipzig on Saturday, ending the side’s worst run since 2015.
Bayern had lost three matches in a row for the first time in nine years before the club announced this week that coach Thomas Tuchel would leave in the summer.
Bayern captain Manuel Neuer told Sky “it might seem a bit like the good old Bayern luck, but we deserved to win today.”
The win reduced the gap to leaders Bayer Leverkusen to eight points with 11 games left.
Neuer said Tuchel’s exit “cast a bad light on us as players, that we weren’t able to make it work with a top coach like Thomas Tuchel.
“It’s our mistake. We want to keep things going professionally until the end.”
Kane broke the deadlock midway through the first half but Leipzig hit back with 20 remaining minutes, Benjamin Sesko equalising for the visitors.
With Bayern in danger of conceding further ground to Leverkusen in the title race, Kane stepped up and scored in the first minute of injury time, his 27th league goal of the season.
Kane had a golden chance to release the pressure on the home side just five minutes in but his point-blank header was pushed onto the post by Janis Blaswich.
The England captain went close once more just before half-time but a bicycle kick was directed straight at Blaswich.
Kane finally broke through after 56 minutes, slamming a low shot into the Leipzig goal, his 26th strike in 23 games.
Leipzig, who had not lost to Bayern in the league in two years, pressured the German champions, breaking through after 70 minutes through Sesko.
Sesko collected a short Dani Olmo pass and drove his shot low, with the ball deflected by Leon Goretzka and rolling into the net.
The match looked set for a stalemate until Kane latched onto a pass from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, before volleying past Blaswich to seize a valuable win.
Stuttgart were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Cologne.
Stuttgart were without injured Brighton loanee Deniz Undav, who had scored five goals in his past four league games, picking up the slack from striker Serhou Guirassy, who has only recently returned to club action after the Africa Cup of Nations.
Stuttgart took the lead in the 53rd minute, Enzo Millot finishing off the type of well-worked team move which has become the hallmark of Sebastian Hoeness’ side this season.
Cologne drew level nine minutes later, though, Eric Martel tapping in after being left unmarked at the far post from a free-kick.
After needing to win a two-legged relegation play-off to stay in the top division last campaign, Stuttgart have been this season’s Bundesliga surprise packages and stay third as they bid to return to the Champions League for the first time since 2010.
A disappointed Stuttgart captain Waldemar Anton said: “If you want to play international football you have to come out on top in games like this.”
Elsewhere, Union Berlin drew 2-2 at home to Heidenheim.
The visitors forged ahead through Nikola Dovedan on just three minutes thanks to a defensive blunder.
Germany left-back Robin Gosens drew Union level in the 44th minute, sending an ungainly shot across the face of goal and into the net, moments before Andras Schafer gave the hosts the lead.
Heidenheim, who are surprisingly within touching distance of the European placings in their first top-flight season, equalized through Jan-Niklas Beste, who chipped the ball home after a counter-attack.
Borussia Moenchengladbach thumped Bochum 5-2 at home, picking up a crucial three points to move eight clear of the relegation play-off spot.
Darmstadt went within inches of a third win of the season, having two goals chalked off in the dying stages for offside and handball in a 1-1 draw at Werder Bremen.
The result keeps Darmstadt last on 13 points.


Barcelona thump Getafe to go second

Barcelona thump Getafe to go second
Updated 24 February 2024
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Barcelona thump Getafe to go second

Barcelona thump Getafe to go second
  • The defending champions climbed above Girona and have 57 points from 26 games
  • Leaders Real Madrid have 62 points and play their game in hand at home to Sevilla on Sunday

MADRID: Xavi’s rejigged Barcelona side thrashed Getafe 4-0 on Saturday to climb to second in La Liga with recalled duo Joao Felix and Raphinha getting on the scoresheet.
The defending champions climbed above Girona and have 57 points from 26 games.
Leaders Real Madrid have 62 points and play their game in hand at home to Sevilla on Sunday.
Real Madrid hope to take their La Liga unbeaten tally to 20 matches as they await old boy Sergio Ramos, who returns for the first time since he left in 2021 to join PSG.
Joao Felix and Raphinha missed the midweek Champions League 1-1 draw at Napoli and their return paid dividends
Brazilian forward Raphinha broke the deadlock on 20 minutes latching onto a deep pass with a well-timed run and slick shot into the bottom corner.
Raphinha was involved in the build-up to the second goal as Felix doubled the lead with a far post tap in after 53 minutes, just after Getafe had hit the post.
Robert Lewandowski thought he’d made it 3-0 just before the hour but was ruled off-side.
The Pole has netted nine goals in his last 13 appearances, but was also twice denied by good saves on Saturday.
Dutch midfielder Frenkie De Jong did make it 3-0 just after the hour with a well struck shot from outside the box before Fermin Lopez tapped home a rebound in time added on.
A minute’s silence was observed before the match as a mark of respect following a fire tragedy at a 14-story apartment block which killed 10 people in Valencia.
The scheduled Liga game between Granada and Valencia was postponed.


Fulham puncture Man Utd’s feel-good factor, Villa hit Forest for four

Fulham puncture Man Utd’s feel-good factor, Villa hit Forest for four
Updated 24 February 2024
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Fulham puncture Man Utd’s feel-good factor, Villa hit Forest for four

Fulham puncture Man Utd’s feel-good factor, Villa hit Forest for four
  • United had won their previous four Premier League games to rekindle hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League
  • A 2-1 defeat leaves them eight points adrift of Villa

MANCHESTER, UK: Manchester United’s air of optimism was punctured as Alex Iwobi’s 97th minute winner handed Fulham their first win at Old Trafford since 2003, while Aston Villa surged clear in fourth by beating Nottingham Forest 4-2 on Saturday.
The completion of Jim Ratcliffe’s minority stake in United this week and a spell of good form had brought hope of a fresh start for the Red Devils.
United had won their previous four Premier League games to rekindle hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, but a 2-1 defeat leaves them eight points adrift of Villa.
Ratcliffe revealed his ambition to topple Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of the English game within three years.
But the work that lies ahead of the British billionaire on and off the field was exposed as Fulham dominated a ragged United for long spells.
Rodrigo Muniz came closest to opening the scoring before half-time when he hit the post.
Fulham finally took one of their chances midway through the second half when Calvin Bassey lashed home his first goal for the Cottagers from a corner.
United looked to have snatched a point against the run of play late on when Harry Maguire tapped in after Bernd Leno spilled Bruno Fernandes’ effort.
But there was another twist in the tale as Fulham secured their first away win since the opening day of the season.
Adama Traore left Maguire trailing in his wake before teeing up Iwobi to curl inside Andre Onana’s near post.
Villa opened up a five-point lead over Tottenham in the battle for a top-four finish despite a wobble either side of half-time against Forest.
Unai Emery’s men were coasting toward a first home win of 2024 as they led 3-0 inside 39 minutes.
Ollie Watkins tapped in Leon Bailey’s cross to open the scoring after just four minutes.
Douglas Luiz then struck twice to take his tally for the season to nine Premier League goals, all of which have come at Villa Park.
Forest remain just four points above the relegation zone and reacted too late to help their survival hopes.
Moussa Niakhate pulled a goal back deep into first-half stoppage time before Morgan Gibbs-White’s delightful dink cut Forest’s deficit to one just three minutes into the second period.
However, Villa quickly restored their two-goal cushion when Bailey tapped in after Watkins’ initial effort was saved.
Oliver Glasner got off to a dream start as Crystal Palace manager with a 3-0 win over 10-man Burnley.
Palace had won just three times in 20 games stretching back to September to bring Roy Hodgson’s second spell in charge to an end.
Former Eintracht Frankfurt boss Glasner could not have wished for a kinder fixture to start against a Burnley side seemingly destined for an immediate return to the Championship.
Any hope of a first win this year for Vincent Kompany’s men disappeared with a first-half red card for Josh Brownhill.
Chris Richards opened the floodgates 22 minutes from time as Palace moved eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Jordan Ayew made it 2-0 before Jean Philppe-Mateta’s penalty rounded off the scoring.
Everton were denied a huge win in their battle to beat the drop by Lewis Dunk’s 95th minute equalizer for Brighton in a 1-1 draw at the Amex.
Jarrad Brainthwaite’s thumping finish on 73 minutes opened the scoring before Brighton were reduced to 10 men when Billy Gilmour saw red.
But Everton could not hold on as Dunk headed in Pascal Gross’ corner.
A point edges Sean Dyche’s men one point clear of the relegation zone.
Manchester City and Arsenal are in action later on Saturday as they look to close the gap on Liverpool in the title race.
City can move to within one point of the leaders with victory at Bournemouth.
Arsenal then host Newcastle aiming to extend their five-game winning streak in the Premier League.


Newcastle United double injury boost for Arsenal as Eddie Howe snubs Man United chief’s comments

Newcastle United double injury boost for Arsenal as Eddie Howe snubs Man United chief’s comments
Updated 24 February 2024
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Newcastle United double injury boost for Arsenal as Eddie Howe snubs Man United chief’s comments

Newcastle United double injury boost for Arsenal as Eddie Howe snubs Man United chief’s comments

NEWCASTLE: Alexander Isak and Joe Willock have handed Newcastle United a huge boost ahead of their trip to Premier League title challengers Arsenal.

The Magpies head to the Emirates Stadium in the late kick-off on Saturday hoping to net their first win at the venue for more than a decade. You have to go back to 2010, for an Andy Carroll header in a 1-0 smash-and-grab to find the last time Newcastle left the red half of North London with three points.

Coach Eddie Howe has confirmed his injury-ravaged squad will be boosted by the return of top-scorer Isak and former Gunners’ midfielder Willock, who has barely kicked a ball for Newcastle in the last 10 months.

“They’ve trained this week, it’s been good to see them back on the grass,” said Howe.

“It’s been a long time for Joe but he’s a huge player for us. It’s been great to see him back among the group, he’s a very popular member of the squad. Really pleased for him.

“He was battling so hard to come back and then he had a couple of setbacks along the way, they’re difficult moments because a player just wants to play, be fit and express themselves in a positive way.

“Joe has had that limitation placed upon him with his body and it’s been very difficult for him. I think he has handled himself really well. I think we’ve seen him mature in the last few months where he’s had to show a different side of his character to come through this period and I think as long as he comes back full pelt, we’ll see a better Joe Willock for that experience.”

On Isak, Howe says he will be careful, especially with the player repeatedly missing so much football this campaign due to a groin problem.

“With Alex again, a really important player, he’s trained well so we’re happy with both players. We’ll have to wait and see, we’ve got one more training session but I’ve been pleased with their progress.

“We’ll only play him if we feel he is fit to play. We won’t take any risks. We’re in the hands, really, of Alex and the medical team and we’ll make the right decision for both the short and long term.

“I hope the best is yet to come (from Isak). It’s a difficult one. People will talk about his injuries but he’s still contributed massively. He’s an incredible player, there’s nobody else like him in the Premier League in my opinion. He has talents that can transform our team and I’d love to see him stay fit and get the goals he’d love to score for us.”

Meanwhile, Howe was asked about the situation in relation to the club’s soon-to-depart sporting director, Dan Ashworth.

This week, newly rubber-stamped Manchester United shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe described any talk of Newcastle not allowing Ashworth to switch to Old Trafford in a timely manner as “silly” and batted away suggestions he would sanction the Red Devils paying a huge fee to cut short any waiting period.

Ashworth was this week placed on gardening leave by the Magpies after an official approach by Manchester United. However, it is understood that period of leave extends to 2026, as well as his contract containing a substantial compensation fee. Newcastle could be tempted to cut that short, if Ratcliffe coughs up yet more cash to free Ashworth up — although, that is very much at the Magpies’ discretion.

When asked if the Ashworth talk has been unsettling or disruptive this week, Howe said: “The day-to-day running of the football club, not at all. It’s something that has happened away from the players and training ground. It’s been business as usual for us. A normal week.

“Certainly the events this week have given that certainty. I said in my press conference last week is what we needed as a football club. We’ve got that now and look forward to the future.”

When asked about Ratcliffe’s comments on Newcastle’s demands being “silly” and “absurd,” Howe responded: “I don’t think I can respond to that. I don’t think that’s for me. I’m not involved in those discussions and I’ll stay well away.

“In these situations it’s about Newcastle from our perspective. But that is for other people to make those decisions, I’m not involved in that in any way, shape or form. I’m preparing the team to play Arsenal.”

Newcastle’s move to recruit Ashworth’s successor is already underway, with talk of the likes of Monaco’s Paul Mitchell in the frame.

Howe does not expect to be consulted on the process, even if he does have a clear opinion about what should happen next.

He said: “I don’t think I’ll be involved in the decision-making process but I think we will have discussions on the role and how I see that. But again I don’t think that will be definitive, it’ll be the club’s decision and rightly so. But of course it won’t just be my opinion that they will listen to, they’ll be listening to lots of different opinions from lots of different people.

“Hopefully at the end we just come to the right solution for the football club because hopefully the next person that comes in will be at the club for many years and will be able to take the club in the direction everyone wants it to.”