News of all that’s transpired on and off the football field
Spain coach Robert Moreno is to be dismissed from the role, according to Spanish media reports on Monday, after his side thrashed Romania 5-0 in their final Euro 2020 qualifier.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported that former Spain coach Luis Enrique is set to make a sensational return five months after resigning from the role due to the illness of his daughter Xana, who tragically passed away in September.
The Spanish soccer federation did not respond to a request for comment on Moreno’s future but announced that their president Luis Rubiales and sporting director Jose Francisco Molina will hold a news conference on Tuesday.
Moreno, Luis Enrique’s long-time assistant who was given the top job in June, refused to give the usual post-match news conference and did not speak to any media, with El Mundo saying he bid farewell to the players after the game in tears.
Moreno won four out of six games in charge of Spain and drew two, with his side clinching a place at Euro 2020 last month with a 1-1 draw away to Sweden.
Spain also won all three games when Moreno took temporary charge between March and June while Luis Enrique was on leave. They finished top of Group F, taking 26 points from 10 games.
Moreno, an international relations graduate who had no playing career, was thrust into the biggest job in Spanish football in unusual circumstances following Luis Enrique’s resignation in June.
He revealed he felt “bittersweet” about getting the role, and in September said he would be happy to step aside if Luis Enrique decided he wished to return to the job.
Questions about Moreno’s suitability for the role began to emerge following sluggish 1-1 draws away to Norway and Sweden in October, although Spain responded to those results by hammering Malta 7-0 on Friday to clinch top spot in Group F.
Doubts grew about Moreno’s future when federation president Rubiales declined to say whether he would be in charge at Euro 2020.
Moreno said before the Romania game that he was not ruffled by Rubiales’ dithering over his future and suggested he was confident he would remain in charge.
“It’s normal that you are questioned in your job, especially if you are in the spotlight, and all I can do is focus on my work. I think I have a 10 out of 10 chance of staying,” he said.
Pele is incomparable: Brazil coach Tite
Brazil coach Tite has rubbished the ongoing comparisons between Argentine striker Lionel Messi and former star Pele, saying the latter is incomparable.
He also said that the comparisons between both the stars have no credibility.
“Pele is incomparable. Anybody who wants to compare Pele to any other athlete…do you know what I do? I hear but I don`t listen. It’s as if this person doesn’t know the history of this man’s quality… this guy was phenomenal,” Goal.com quoted Tite as saying.
“Once I said that Messi is extraordinary. I meant he’s extraordinary to the present time and among humans, with his creativity. Pele is out of normal patterns and I’m not saying this because I’m a Brazilian. You can’t find a defect. If somebody comes to me and starts to make comparisons, for me it has no credibility,” he added.
Tite and Messi had clashed on the field in the match between Brazil and Argentina last week, and the Brazil coach had claimed that the Argentine told him to ‘shut his mouth’.
Argentina had managed to defeat Brazil and this loss meant that the Copa America winners have now gone five matches without scripting a victory.
Tite’s side has lost matches against Argentina and Peru, while their games against Colombia, Senegal and Nigera ended up as a draw.
“I am not desperate to win. I am happy to be where I am. I am aware of the pressure but I have no desperation. I don’t have any of this. What I do want is to make a great game,” Tite said.
Brazil will next take on South Korea in a friendly match later today.
Euro 2020 likely to decide my future, says Southgate
Gareth Southgate says England’s performance at the European Championship next year is likely to determine whether or not he is in charge at the 2022 World Cup.
“That will depend very much on how we get on next summer,” said Southgate, who will travel to Qatar to run the rule over England’s Liverpool players at the Club World Cup.
Qatar will also host the World Cup in 2022.
“When you have a week like you’ve had, you sense that people can fall out of love with you,” he added, referring to the backlash for dropping Raheem Sterling over disciplinary issues.
“If there isn’t a warmth for you to continue, then that can start to affect the team. I’m realistic about how quickly those tides can turn.”
Southgate, who took over the England role on a permanent basis in 2016 and has a contract until 2022, led the side to the World Cup semi-finals last year and topped their Euro 2020 qualifying group to earn a seeding at the finals.
England are set to play their group stage matches at Wembley, which will also host the semis and final, and Southgate said he was aware of soaring expectations.
“We’ve dealt well with the expectation over the last 18 months,” he said. “We’ve not shirked from that in the qualifying matches where, in the past, there’s been a tension around the performances and the style of the games.
“Securing qualification is a little bit joyless because I’m expecting us to win these games and I’m always looking at how to get better… For me, it’s about what’s next and I know we’ll always be judged ultimately by the tournaments in the summer.”
Henry hopes to learn from past mistakes as coach of Montreal
Thierry Henry needs no reminder about his brief stint in charge of AS Monaco but the former France striker said on Monday he hopes the experience will benefit him in his new role as coach of Montreal Impact.
Henry failed to spark a change in fortunes at struggling Monaco and was sacked in January after just 103 days but is not about to let his first head coaching role define him as he gets set to take charge of a Major League Soccer club.
“You guys always remember the good stuff, but I became a better player in the darkness,” Henry, who won a World Cup in 1998, said at his introductory news conference in Montreal.
“Hopefully that’s going to help me to become a good coach.”
During Henry’s stint as coach of French Ligue 1 side Monaco, where he also played five seasons and won the league title in 1997, the squad lost 11 of their 20 matches.
But despite Henry’s turbulent introduction to being a head coach, the 42-year-old Frenchman said it would be a mistake to just give up and not try to show what he has learned.
“It didn’t work out in Monaco. I can give you a lot of excuses but at the end of the day it didn’t work out and I am here as a coach of Montreal,” said Henry.
“I learned a lot there. The only mistake you can make is not learning from what happened. You have to confront it.”
Prior to Monaco, Henry had worked as assistant coach to the Belgian national team but had never been in charge of a team in his own right.
Henry, who scored 51 goals in 123 appearances for France and played at four World Cups, is eager for the chance to show the world he has what it takes to be a successful coach.
“It’s about fighting all the time, this isn’t only my story it’s the story of everybody in life. You are going to fall but it’s how to get up,” said Henry.
Henry will be at the helm of his new team as of mid-January when training camp begins and takes over a Montreal squad that went 12-17-5 this year and missed the MLS Cup Playoffs for a third consecutive season.
Henry said he long ago fell in love with French-speaking Montreal, a diverse city where he hopes to have a long adventure with the Impact.
“If you take the best part of Europe and the best part of North America you will arrive in Montreal,” said Henry.
Real Madrid’s Rodriguez set for spell out with knee injury
Real Madrid’s Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez is likely to be out of action for the rest of the year after suffering a knee injury on international duty.
“After undergoing tests by Real Madrid’s medical staff today, our player James Rodriguez has been diagnosed with a strained internal ligament in his left knee. Pending evolution,” said a statement from Real.
Real did not say how long the midfielder would be sidelined but reports in Spanish media said he would be ruled out for around six weeks, meaning he will miss the rescheduled ‘Clasico’ against Barcelona on December 18.
Rodriguez has made seven Liga appearances this season but has not featured for Real since coming on as a substitute in their 1-0 Champions League win at Galatasaray on Oct. 22.
He was called up to the Colombia squad for the friendlies against Peru and Ecuador but returned home early from their base in Miami after hurting his knee in training.
The 28-year-old had surgery on the same knee last year after damaging the ligament, forcing him to miss over two months of action while he was on loan at Bayern Munich.
Spanish women’s soccer players agree to suspend strike
Spain’s top-flight women footballers have temporarily suspended their strike after they edged closer to securing a collective deal with the government over pay and conditions, the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) said on Monday.
The strike led to the postponement of last weekend’s women’s Primera Division games but matches for next weekend will go ahead as scheduled.
AFE’s statement said players had agreed to halt the strike and resume working until Dec. 20 after receiving an offer from the ministry for employment which guaranteed players a minimum salary of 16,000 euros (£13,672.50) per year as well as full-time contracts.
“The strike has achieved its objective, which was to bring to light the problem our colleagues face,” said the statement.
“AFE wishes to state that the majority of the players think the offer made by the ministry for employment is positive and our association has told them we are ready to accept it.”
Four Australia under-23 players banned for ‘unprofessional conduct’
Football Federation Australia has handed lengthy bans to four members of the country’s Olympic squad for “unprofessional conduct” at the end of an under-23 tournament in Cambodia in March following a complaint from a woman.
Nathaniel Atkinson, Lachlan Wales and Brandon Wilson were banned until Aug. 10 2020, meaning they will miss the Tokyo Olympics. Captain Riley McGree was banned until April 1 next year.
All four would participate in “education courses and counselling” as directed by the governing body, the FFA said in a statement on Tuesday.
The four were found to have breached the FFA’s code of conduct during a night out at the end of the Asian Football Confederation U-23 championship qualifying tournament.
“Specifically, the FFA Board found that the players engaged in unprofessional conduct,” the FFA said.
“The matter came to the attention of FFA in April, 2019 following a complaint by a woman.”
It was unclear what the nature of the complaint was.
State broadcaster ABC reported the complaint had been made earlier in the year to government funding agency Sport Australia.
The FFA said it had launched an investigation shortly after receiving the complaint but that it had taken months to complete due to its “complexity”.
The players were due to travel to China on Nov. 9 to prepare for the AFC U-23 championship in January but were held back pending the sanction. They have recourse to appeal the decision to an independent committee, the FFA said.
“These sanctions are commensurate to the nature of the breaches,” FFA Chairman Chris Nikou said.
“Upholding our commitment to respect and responsibility cannot be compromised.
“The players have understood the gravity of their actions and have positively commenced respectful relationship programs that will ensure they appreciate these values in the future.”
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