Daily Archives: March 17, 2017

Guardiola set for City clearout after Champions League exit

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Pep Guardiola is set to make a grand overhaul of his Manchester City squad this summer, with the future of 18 players hanging in the balance.

This comes after City’ shock exit from the Champions League after Monaco handed the Manchester team a 3-1 defeat in France (6-6 on aggregate, Monaco advances through away goal advantage).

It is expected that Guardiola will have a minimum budget of £150m, before any wage budget, to spend on players but extensive focus will go on who to sell or release too.

Seven of City’s first-team squad members will be out of contract in July: Yaya Toure, Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta, Willy Caballero, Jesus Navas, Bacary Sagna and the young central defender Tosin Adarabioyo.

There are also five on loan: Joe Hart, Eliaquim Mangala, Samir Nasri, Wilfried Bony and Jason Denayer.

Others with questionable futures include striker Sergio Aguero, who was dropped for Gabriel Jesus until the Brazilian broke a metatarsal; team captain Vincent Kompany, who is in the midst of another injury-blighted campaign; Aleksandar Kolarov, whose deal ends in summer 2019, plus out-of-favour Fabian Delph, Fernando and Kelechi Iheanacho.

Although Guardiola will not be expected to sell them immediately, there will be considerable trimming as the Spaniard shifts his focus to strengthening their defense.

City will be visiting Liverpool on Sunday, who are in fourth place in the Premier League, a point behind City having played a game more.

This comes at the start of a run of consecutive league games for City against the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea — a run which potentially decides whether they could return to the Champions League next season.

Prediction:

Liverpool 1 – 1 Manchester City

Jermain Defoe recalled to England squad but Rooney dropped

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Sunderland’s 34-year-old striker Jermain Defoe has earned a surprise recall to the England squad from national coach Gareth Southgate.

Defoe’s last appearance for England was his 55th cap against Chile in November 2013.

His re-enlistment will see him join the English squad that will play Germany away in a friendly on 22 March before a World Cup qualifier against Lithuania on 26 March.

“You can have the young players who are hungry and the old players who are hungry as well,” Southgate said. “I think we can’t just look at young players all the time. I think we have to get results now and also plan for the future.”

On the other hand, Wayne Rooney had been left out of the England squad despite declaring himself fit and he is no longer seen by Gareth Southgate as the team captain.

According to Southgate, while the news was unwelcome for Rooney he understood the reasons Southgate based his decisions on.

“We have to look at Wayne as a No10, which is his predominant role,” Southgate explained. “In the last two games we’ve played Dele Alli there and we’ve played Adam Lallana there.”

“Both are playing very well, scoring and assisting for their clubs. Ross Barkley has been playing very well for his club. So there’s competition. I can’t dress it up any other way. There are some very good players and it’s a battle to get in this squad.”

Man United survives nervy Rostov encounter with Mata goal

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Manchester United edged past Russian team FC Rostov in a nervy encounter at Old Trafford to reach the Europa League quarter-finals with a 1-0 (2-1 on aggregate) victory, thanks to a Juan Mata goal.

In what had been a largely frustrating night for United, the Manchester team dominated for large periods without really threatening and also lost midfielder Paul Pogba to a hamstring injury.

Their best chances before the goal came in the first half, when Henrikh Mkhitaryan shot wide when one-on-one and Ibrahimovic twice hit the post

In an almost lifeless game, United got their act together sufficiently to grab the goal midway through the second half.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic started the move, rolling the ball out to Mkhitaryan on the right, then moving into the area for the return. All he got on the cross was a back-heel flick but it was enough to find Mata at the far post who was able to turn the ball over the line.

The Red Devils also needed two good saves from Sergio Romero late on as Rostov threatened to drag the game on to extra-time.

Starting in the place of first-team regular David De Gea, the United goalkeeper saved United from blushes by first keeping out Sardar Azmoun’s flicked header before thumping away Christian Noboa’s free-kick.

United will find out later today who they will play in the quarter-finals. Manager Jose Mourinho will no doubt will be holding out for a weaker team as the Premier League team will be keen on avoiding to rely solely on finishing at the top four for a Champions League spot.