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England & Rooney’s Return: Sir Alex Ferguson Would Get Best From Wayne – Jose & Southgate Need To

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Contrary to popular opinion, Wayne Rooney, England & Man United Captain, is not finished. With maturity comes it own magnificence and the creative, attacking powers he possesses are unique in the England squad.

He is a different footballer now, true, to the effervescent, world-beating 17 year-old who burst onto the scene for first Everton yet he still has a hell of lot to offer at the top table of both club and international football.

Famously, Sir Alex Ferguson, coaxed the best out of his Red Devils veterans, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, in their twilight years to extend their careers and his and the challenge for Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford and Gareth Southgate at St. Georges’ Park is to do the same for Rooney for the good of their sides.

In what is yet another season of great transition for both England and Man United, Rooney has borne more than his fair share of criticism – even sole blame at times – for the stuttering form of both football teams while he should be seen as an integral part of the solution for both.

What he may now lack in raw pace & power, he makes up with experience, game intelligence, creativity &, as he demonstrated in Turkey with the following wonderful strike against Fenerbahce, that awesome shooting power:

After a period out of the Manchester United side, he has returned to the starting line-up with a vengeance, angrily scoring a late defiant strike in The Europa League before having a hand in all three goals from the left-wing against Swansea in The Premier League that may well prove a turning point in the season.

As Paul Scholes on BT Sports seemed visibly in pain discussing the decline of The Red Devils echoing the wincing Sir Alex Ferguson at Stamford Bridge as a Rooney-less side were thrashed 4-0, Wayne Rooney can still do something about it and arrest the decline of club and country.

“Your people will need your strength and leadership – for duty calls.” The Crown

With The Auld Enemy, Scotland, up next for England tonight, its up to interim manager Gareth Southgate to integrate Rooney successfully into his best starting XI if not indeed build the entire team around him in what is a key fixture for The Three Lions amid PoppyGate.

In the last pair of international fixtures, Rooney was, apparently, disgracefully booed by some England ‘fans’ after playing an influential role in the 2-1 win against Malta before the manager then mistakenly dropped him for the next match against Slovenia.

Without their natural leader and true lion on the pitch, England looked little boys lost as the crown of the national Captaincy weighed heavily on Jordan Henderson, who almost give the game away with a hospital ball back pass to Joe Hart. Pressure at the top level, some can deal with it, others can’t.

A player of a colossal 118 Caps and record-breaking 53 goals for his country should not be discarded or his importance overlooked. International football is different again to the club game with less preparation time so leadership and composure must come from the field itself.

Disgraced arch-prgamatist Sam Allardyce recognised the importance of Rooney to the England side, imbued him with what was effectively a free role and was rewarded with a debut win:

“Wayne played wherever he wanted to,” said Allardyce. “He did play a little deeper than I thought he’d play, but I was pleased with his performance.”

The debate continue as to what Rooney’s best position is now – Mourinho emphatically stated he saw the 31 year-old front man as a goalscorer on his arrival at Old Trafford:

” In football there are many jobs on the field,” said Mourinho. “The one that is more difficult to find is the one that puts the ball in the net. Players change during the years of course, their qualities change, so it is normal that a player at his [Wayne’s] age changes a little bit.

“However, something that will never change is the natural appetite to put the ball in the net. Maybe he is not a striker anymore…but there aren’t as many players who can put the ball in the net. For me he will be a [number] 9, a 10, or a 9-and-a-half, but not a 6 or even an 8.”

Yet after a goal-scoring start to the season at Bournemouth and the start of a promising attacking partnership with Zlatan Ibrahimovich, Rooney has been shunted around the pitch and unceremoniously dropped by a Special One in need of some instant polish for his slightly tarnished reputation.

In many ways, Rooney’s predicament is similar to that of Alan Shearer’s at Newcastle under Ruud Gullit before Mourinho’s great mentor Sir Bobby Robson, reinvigorated the Geordie striker’s goal-scoring career after restoring his confidence and telling him to get back in the box.

The results were instant and spectacular with Shearer scoring 5 goals on Sir Bobby Robson’s first game as Newcastle boss after a barren spell:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rIq7p1w2hY

With his own rocket shot like Shearer’s and instincts, setting natural born goalscorer Rooney up with shooting chances in the box and around the edge of the area could prove highly effective.

Yet equally with Rooney’s versatility, creativity & vision, his situation is comparable to the way Sir Alex adapted Ryan Giggs game from a flying winger capable of beating three men & the keeper to score to a mature midfield performer who would set up teammates and lead by example as Rooney did on Sunday.

With Harry Kane back in the England squad and raring to go after a goal-scoring return with Spurs against Arsenal at the weekend, Rooney could be the key to unlocking the Scotland defence and setting up the bullets for Kane to fire especially in the absence of injured Spurs clubmate Dele Alli.

Rooney’s presence in the England team is worth a goal start especially at Wembley in such qualifiers – the players look up to a man who has been there, seen it and done it all for club and country for well over a decade and he fazes opponents before they step onto the field.

The bigger the occasion, the bigger the need for Rooney for both club and country as he proved at Wembley in The FA Cup Final against Crystal Palace with a barnstorming performance that won Manchester United the trophy.

Come Friday night against Scotland and Gareth Southgate and England will need a similar Captain’s performance from Rooney to show his young compatriots the way forward – they might have the legs and youth but he has the nous and knows how to handle the situation. Cometh the hour, cometh the main man and Wayne Rooney is set to prove himself once again in a Three Lions shirt just like one of his heroes, Gazza did so spectacularly.

 

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Juventus Fans Arrested After Clash with Police

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Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash between Juventus and Ajax has already been marred by violence and controversy, before the teams even took to the pitch.

According to Ansa, citing a report from De Telegraaf, dozens of fans were reportedly arrested in Amsterdam in the hours leading up to the game.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini (h/t Football Italia) took to Facebook live video to state that “around 120” fans had been arrested.

Per the report from De Telegraaf, fans near the Johan Cruyff Arena were “in possession of knives, clubs, pepper spray and flares.” Also, dozens of Ajax supporters were reported to have clashed with riot police in separate incidents outside the stadium and were eventually dispersed with the use of tear gas and water cannons.

The Mirror posted the following images on their Twitter page:

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Man City forward Raheem Sterling Looking to Combat Racism on the Pitch

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Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, who spoke out last month after being subjected to taunts during England’s game in Montenegro, is looking to take his fight against racism to the pitch, saying he would rather stay on the field than let racism force him to walk off of the pitch during a match.

Sterling’s manager Pep Guardiola, stated that he would support players walking off in protest if it happened again, in a strong statement that racism is simply not acceptable.

“I think everyone are entitled to their own opinions. My mum has taught me to be comfortable in my own skin and I am,” Sterling said, according to the Manchester Evening News.

“I wouldn’t personally agree with [walking off], to win the game would hurt them even more they’re only trying to get you down. If you walk off they win, to score or win would be better.

“Everyone’s different. Everyone has their own opinion, how they deal with things emotionally and you have to support everyone.”

Sterling opened up about the racism he has faced in his life, discussing when he first expereinced racism when he moved from North London up to the north-west back in 2010.

“I don’t think trying to make a difference or making a difference, it’s about speaking what you experience. Some people might shy away from it, if more players speak up that might be better.

“It’s offensive but growing up my mum always told me I’m a wonderful black child and I know this. When I hear it, it’s nothing new. I’m happy with it. I’m confident, I’m black and I’m proud. Some people can’t take it but my mum has always told me to love who I am.

“The first time I experienced racism is when I went up north to Liverpool – in London in schools and on a day-to-day basis you’re surrounded by a diverse community. Only a few occasions growing up in the academy in Liverpool, and then mainly in the last couple of years of being a professional.”

 

 

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Birmingham City Fan Jailed for 14 Days for Punching Aston Villa Player

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27-year old Paul Mitchel, a Birmingham City fan has been jailed for 14 days after he plead guilt to assaulting Aston Villa midfielder Jack Graelish during the derby on Sunday.

Mitchell rushed the pitch and took a swing at Graelish when the player’s back was turned at Birmingham City’s St. Andrew’s stadium during the Championship match on Sunday.

Mitchell admitted to invading the pitch and has been officially banned from attending any football match in the U.K. for up to 10 years, and was also ordered to pay £350 in total fines.

Graelish made a statement in which he described how he was “shocked and scared” by the attack.

“I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident,” he said (h/t ESPN). “It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon.”

“He cannot explain what came over himself yesterday morning,” Mitchell’s lawyer, Vaughn Whistance, said on Monday.

“His initial foolish intention was to go onto the pitch to whip up the crowd. He is certainly remorseful today. He is a man with a partner, they have a 2-year-old together and they’re expecting their second child.”

“This weekend a line has been crossed in terms of fan behaviour,” said a spokesperson for the FA.

“On Sunday we saw two separate incidents, at Birmingham City and Arsenal, of individuals entering the field of play and assaulting players.

“Not only is it an offence to enter the pitch, which could result in a club ban and criminal charges for the individual, but it also puts the safety of the players at risk.

“This is entirely unacceptable and we strongly condemn both incidents.

“We will be working with the clubs, the leagues and the police to discuss what collectively needs to be done to protect players and officials on the pitch.

“In addition, we have written to both Birmingham City and Arsenal to seek their observations to examine the security measures they had in place.”

Birmingham City apologized to Grealish and Aston Villa and banned Mitchell for life.

“Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa Football Club for an incident in Sunday afternoon’s derby match,” a club statement said.

“We deplore the behaviour of the individual who committed this act and rest assured he will be banned from St. Andrew’s for life. The club will also support any further punishment this individual may face in the eyes of the law.

“The club will be working with the relevant authorities to investigate all the circumstances and we will be reviewing our stadium safety procedures.

“What happened has no place in football or society. Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this — there are no excuses.

“Again, we apologise to Jack and all at Aston Villa Football Club.”

 

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