Monthly Archives: May 2017

Ernesto Valverde appointed as FC Barcelona manager

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FC Barcelona have appointed Ernesto Valverde as head coach of FC Barcelona following after Luis Enrique’s departure following their Copa del Rey victory.

A former Barca player, Valverde, 53, will be formally presented as head coach of the Catalan club tomorrow. He stepped down from his previous role at the helm of Athletic Bilbao last week after four years and having led Bilbao to seventh place in La Liga and Europa League qualification at the conclusion of the 16-17 season.

In his long and varied coaching resume apart from Athletic, Valverde had previously managed La Liga clubs such as Villarreal, Valencia and Barca’s city rivals Espanyol and also two years in the Greece League with Olympiakos.

As a player, Valverde also had a two-year spell as a 24-year-old player in Camp Nou during the late 1980s and will now return to the ground after 27 years. However, he spent much both seasons then sidelined through injury, scoring 8 goals out of 22 matches.

Josep Maria Bartomeu, the President of FC Barcelona believed that the appointment of Valverde was a good direction for his club, a confidence shared by the late Johan Cryuff.

“Valverde has the ability, the judgment, the knowledge and the experience. He promotes the youth players and he has a Barça way,” Bartomeu said. “He is a hard worker and he is a fan of using technology in training and in managing matches.”

“Ernesto is a very hard worker. He has knowledge, experience and has a philosophy similar to ours. He works a lot, he likes using technology.”

Valverde’s appointment comes at a trying time for Barca. While they have won the aforementioned Copa Del Rey, they were unable to progress past the quarterfinals of the Champions League and conceded the La Liga title to bitter rivals Real Madrid.

Meanwhile, before his departure at the end of his 3-year contract, Luis Enrique’s tenure had tenure yielded nine trophies, including a third successive Copa del Rey as Barca beat Alaves 3-1 at the Vicente Calderon on Saturday night. Although he had won the treble with Barca in his first season there as coach, his management was given much criticism as Barca’s defensive flaws were blatantly exposed this season.

Gareth Southgate out to strengthen England-Man United ties

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England manager Gareth Southgate will attempt to improve the relationship between the FA and the authorities at Manchester United after admitting there had been a trust issue.

At present, the Football Association (FA) of England suspects Manchester United have withheld valuable key sports science data regarding England international players because United coach Jose Mourinho and his staff believed that such information will be leaked to rival clubs.

While there are other clubs that share United’s sentiments, the Red Devils were the only club to made their misgivings distinct as Southgate makes it “a case of building up trust” with the Manchester club.

“To clarify, we share our data,” Southgate said. “We don’t always receive data, though. That’s what we would like because it would help us work out a training schedule when they [the players] first come into camp.”

“That can be a big help but we can’t enforce it. That has to be an agreement – sharing – and at the moment some clubs are more comfortable with it than others. One of the dangers, I guess, is the perception of it being leaked.”

However, Southgate insisted that Mourinho’s feelings would not hamper him from making decisions “that are right for England” which includes the selection of Marcus Rashford for two games next month: a World Cup qualifier against Scotland and a friendly against France just three days later.

“I’m not in a position where I can make decisions to keep people happy. I’m not going to achieve that,” Southgate added. “The key for us is not the relationship with Jose, it’s the relationship with Marcus. I didn’t speak to him (Mourinho) about it. I let him know where I was heading with it at the end.”

“Respectfully, none of the managers are going to be around in 10 years, or it’s very, very unlikely, and I think people like Marcus Rashford will be. So there’s always going to be some collision at some point on that and some disagreement on that.”

Luciano Spalletti leaves Roma after record-breaking season

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Luciano Spalletti has stepped down as manager of AS Roma just two days after leading his team to a second-placed Serie A finish.

Spalletti, 58, joined Roma for a second spell in January 2016 only to part ways with the club after Roma defeated Genoa by 3-2 on Sunday as Diego Perotti’s last-minute winner secured automatic qualification for the Champions League.

Under his guidance this season, Roma had won more Serie A points and scored more goals than any side in the club’s history, albeit ultimately falling short of defending champions Juventus by four points in the final standings.

Throughout the season, Spalletti had been one of numerous candidates linked with the coaching job at managerless Internazionale, who have yet to appoint a permanent replacement for Stefano Pioli.

“We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Luciano Spalletti for all of his hard work and the significant contribution he has made to the club since his return,” Roma president James Pallotta said in a statement published on the club’s website.

“This club is on a constant path of growth and that will continue with the appointment of a new coach who shares our values and philosophy and who will continue to help us take AS Roma forward.”

The announcement also comes two days after Francesco Totti’s final game for the club after 25 years — a player who Spalletti suggested back in February that he would walk away alongside if not granted a new contract, according to ESPN FC. However, the coach was also criticised by the Italian media regularly as Totti’s playing time with the club was limited to substitute appearances.

In his first spell of coaching Roma from 2005 to 2009, Spalletti had twice won the Coppa Italia, before he resigned and joined Russian club Zenit St Petersburg.

Arsenal wins record seventh FA Cup under Wenger

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Arsenal won 2-1 against Premier League Champions Chelsea for Arsene Wenger to secure a record seventh FA Cup title in his 21st season as manager of the club.

The Gunners began with all guns blazing at Wembley as Alexis Sanchez scored the opening goal after only four minutes, when referee Anthony Taylor overruled his assistant after he had been flagged for offside against Aaron Ramsey, although Chelsea also complained that Sanchez had handled in the process.

While they had some right to rue that particular decision, they would have none as Victor Moses was correctly sent off by Taylor in the second half after receiving a second yellow card for diving.

As Arsenal dominated the game for long periods, they remained unable to capitalise on their chances as Danny Welbeck and Ramsey both found the woodwork, with Blues defender Gary Cahill also contributing perfect clearances that helped Chelsea stay in the game.

Chelsea striker Diego Costa then equalized as Arsenal keeper David Ospina failed to keep out his deflected shot with 14 minutes left to keep a domestic double in sight for the Premier League winners.

However, Arsenal were not one to be denied as Ramsey — who had scored the FA Cup final winner against Hull City back in 2014 — did it again with a header as Olivier Giroud’s cross found him free.

And as the final whistle sounded, Arsene Wenger would decorate a season of heavy criticism with a record 13th FA Cup win for Arsenal— and a record seventh for the Frenchman.

His team had not been favourites against Manchester City in the semi-final as well as here in Wembley — a point Wenger used to pay further tribute to his team.

“You cannot get two tougher opponents, but we produced two outstanding performances,” he said. “That is what makes me particularly proud, because no one gave us a chance at Wembley and we responded with attitude and class.”

“We had an outstanding performance from the first minute onwards. This team has suffered, but they’ve united and responded. They showed strength and unity and played spectacular football.”