The Three Lions are in the semi-finals of a World Cup, there first in 28 years and Paul scholes has said Pep Guardiola deserved some accolades for the team’s success.

The former Manchester United man, who represented the English national team on 66 occasions, with 14 goals said Guardiola was the brainstorm behind England’s feat at the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Guardiola played three at the back last season, a style Gareth Southgate has been working with during the Mundial.

Scholes poured out praises on Guardiola, telling Bein Sports, “He is definitely an influence on England.

“Especially when you see the way they’ve got the back three, the way they’ve got the goalkeeper playing.

“I don’t think Gareth has made any secret of that. He’s been to see Pep and he’s picked his brain.

“He wants to know how he produces that type of football. As ab England fan and ex-England player, we want to see the best possible football.

“Spain played the best football, Manchester City played the best football, so why not try and copy that type of play?”

 

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The Man City boss has quashed the allegations from Yaya Toure that he had a racist tendency – saying the Ivorian international should have said that to him during their time together.

Yaya Toure who was freed by Man City at the end of last season, in an interview last week claimed the Catalan “was cruel with me.”

The three time African football player of the year said Guardiola would not have treated a European player the way he treated him both at Barcelona and Man City.

“Do you really think he could’ve been like that with Andres Iniesta? ...”

“Maybe us African players aren’t always treated the same by certain people. When you see the problems {Pep} has often had with African players, everywhere he has been, I ask myself questions.”

Speaking for the first time since the said allegation from Yaya Toure, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss said the allegations were all lies.

It’s a lie and he knows it,” Guardiola as quoted by Marca.

We were together for two years and now this is when he says it. He never told me face to face.”

Guardiola, who managed Barcelona for four seasons – winning fourteen trophies with Blaugrana also played down talks of going back to his former side whether as a coach or a president.

He added, “No, I am a coach {not a president} and I am good at what I do, you can’t be everything.

“When I stop coaching, you will find me playing golf. As the coach of Barcelona, it’s over, because I’m not the same and nor do they look towards me the same.”

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The day he picks a team with Five African players I’ll send him a cake.

 

The Ivorian international has accused his former boss of hating on African players.

Yaya Toure left Man City a club he made over 200 appearances – winning three Premier League titles at the end of the season after playing a limited role under Guardiola.

The three time African Football Player of the Year winner experienced the same under the Catalan at Barcelona, which eventually led him to move Man City in the summer of 2010.

Yaya Toure said he felt Guardiola had no love for African players – saying a player like Iniesta would not have suffered all he experienced under Guardiola.

“He was cruel with me,” Yaya Toure, as quoted by Goal.

“Do you really think he could’ve been like that with Andres Iniesta? It got to the point I asked myself if it was because of my colour. I’m not the first, other Barca players asked the question too.

“Maybe us African players aren’t always treated the same by certain people. When you see the problems {Pep} has often had with African players, everywhere he has been, I ask myself questions.”

Yaya Toure concluded, “He’s too intelligent to be caught. He’ll never admit {not liking African players}. But the day he picks a team with five Africans in it, I promise I will send him a cake.”

 

 

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McManaman believes Zidane does not get enough credits

The former Liverpool and Real Madrid winger has claimed Zinedine Zidane’s achievement was being undervalued.

 

According to McManaman, who also played together with Zidane, the Real Madrid boss “does not pat himself enough on the back.”

 

Zidane is on the verge of making an unprecedented record should his side come out victorious in their Champions League final match against Liverpool on Saturday – as he would be the first manager to win the Champions League, three times in a row.

He will also move up to join the duo of Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelloti as the only managers to have won the Champions League on three occasions.

 

McManaman believes Zidane does not get enough credits for these feats and it would have been a different ball game had it been it was Pep Guardiola.

 

“He doesn’t get enough credit,” MC Manaman told Telegraph. “He took over a struggling, dysfunctional team.

 

“The players were not happy when he was appointed. He has gone on to win two Champions Leagues. If Pep Guardiola had done this people would be singing from rooftops.

 

“He does not pat himself on the back enough. He is similar as a manager as a player. He is not outspoken. He gives nothing away. Not extravagant in interviews, but always graceful.”

 

He explained further, “If he wins, everyone says it is down to players, but he is the one who has turned them into a happy bunch.

 

“I understand some managers don’t appear to be so proactive – I had that when I played under Vicente del Bosque. He was not a shouter or a super architect with elaborate training sessions, but he kept the camp happy and everyone knew where they stood. He did not feel the need to give chest-thumping speeches. He let the leaders in the dressing room – the Spanish players – do all that. Zizou looks like he has taken the same approach.

 

“On the pitch, it is Sergio Ramos, or Cristiano Ronaldo who are the leaders.

 

“The ability to control and mould that is a management skill as important as any when you have such a strong dressing room. You can’t tell players like Cristiano what to do. It is the same with Lionel Messi for Barcelona managers. They are too powerful. But you have to keep them happy to get the best out of them.

 

“I am not saying they have a huge ego, but they are superstars – some of the best players in football history – so you need a special character to man-manage them well. Zizou should be there forever, given what he has achieved.”

 

Madrid, on Saturday will be playing in their fourth Champions League final in five seasons.

 

They emerged winners on every occasion – defeating Atletico Madrid twice and Juventus last season.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pep Guardiola has revealed that the duo of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba were offered to Man City during the last transfer window.

The Man City boss said at his press conference ahead of the Manchester derby that Mino Raiola, who is the agent of both Pogba and Mkhitaryan contacted about the availability of the duo.

Guardiola, who Raiola labelled a dog in a recent interview said he told City about the availability of the players but there was no fund to sign Pogba.

“Two months ago he {Raiola} offered me Mkhitaryan and Pogba to play with us,” Guardiola said.

“We don’t have the money to buy Pogba because he is so expensive.”

On Raiola calling him a dog, he added, “Comparing me to a dog is bad – it’s not good. He has to respect the dogs.”

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The Arsenal boss has revealed the Manchester City boss once visited him because he wanted to represent Arsenal.

Wenger did not take up Guardiola’s offer and the Spaniard went on to represent Brescia, Roma, Al-Ahli, and Mexican side Dorados before he hung his boots in 2006.

Pep Guardiola represented the Barcelona senior team for 11 years – appearing in 263 games for the Blaugrana, and Wenger who praised the former Spanish international for his understanding of the game said Guardiola once visited him in order to play for the North London side.

Praising Guardiola’s philosophy in an interview with Beinsports, Wenger said: “I have spoken with him on various occasions, one time he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal.

“He has had some exceptional teams and trained them very well.

“I respect what he does because he has a clear vision of the game and positive attitude and philosophy.”

The Frenchman concluded: “Even if he doesn’t win because of it, I respect him for the influence that he has on the game”

In his first season as a manager, Guardiola guided Barcelona to a treble, winning the La Liga, Copa Del Rey and the UEFA Champions League – in winning the latter, he became the youngest coach to win the competition.

Having departed Barcelona in the summer of 2012, he signed for Bundesliga giant Bayern Munich in 2013 – where he won the Bundesliga in all of the three seasons he spent at the club.

And having putting pen to a three-year deal with Man City in 2016, the Spaniard witnessed his first season without a trophy same season.

Guardiola’s Man City stand a chance to win a quadruple this season - as they are 16 points ahead second-place Man u in the league.

The Citizens will also lock horns with Arsenal in the final of the Capital One Cup next week at the Wembley Stadium and are also in contention to win the Emirates FA Cup the UEFA Champions League.

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With City having over seven first team players ruled out for the 1-1 draw against Burnley last Saturday, Guardiola named only six players on the substitute bench for the game - and that made Garry Neville to refer to the City boss as a ‘joke.’

Though the City U-23 team had a match on Friday night, the former United defender argued that Guardiola should have featured a youth team player on the bench on Saturday.

Neville claimed the academy manager would have felt he was wasting his time at the club.

And at his pre-match conference for the tie against Leicester City, Guardiola said he chose not to name an academy player as his seventh substitute at the Turf Moor because City Under-23 had a game the previous night and he never wanted to upset their plans.

Guardiola said Neville should know about his decision because he was a manager for “a short time”, a reference to Neville’s four months spell at Valencia.

Guardiola said: “This guy {Neville}, the pundit, he has to know my job is serious, it’s not a joke, never is it a joke.

“It’s so serious, and he should know that because he was a manager for a short time.”

Neville has been at the centre of some funny commentaries recently – the 42-year-old last week also said that Karius was at fault as the Liverpool keeper should have done more to save the Wanyama’s strike in Liverpool 2-2 draw at Anfield last Sunday

But what a clap back from Pep! How that lasts is left to be seen.

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Joey Barton has criticised Pep Guardiola over pleas that players needed to be more protected by the referees.

The Manchester City’s boss comments came aftermath the injury Leroy Sane suffered in the game against Cardiff City on Sunday as a result of bad tackling from Bennett, who only saw yellow card although he was later sent off after getting another booking.

Guardiola after the game was quoted by BBC sports to have said, “For football in general players are the artists. The only thing they can do is protect them.

“Referees have to protect – not just mine, all players.”

But Barton has disproved Guardiola’s pleas – saying fans like a contact sport.

According to the outspoken former Burnley midfielder, the physicality nature of the English League was one of the reasons why the league was amassing a large number of followership.

 Barton, as quoted by Marca, “What does he want, a sport without any contact like in Spain or Italy?”

“If you look at Serie A or the French League, they are horrible to watch, there are a lot of stoppages and our league is better because it flows.

“Pep needs to understand that this is English football. Football has moved on, we protect our players a lot more than we used to do,” he concluded.

Guardiola, whose side are topping the league – 12 points ahead of second place Manchester United will have to do without the services of Sane in their next game against West Brom on Wednesday night.

Sane was said to have suffered ankle ligament damage as a result of the tackle from Bennett and some dailies have reported that the German midfielder could be out for up to 3-4 months.

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‘There’s an element of being very satisfied with the performance because we didn’t lose as many predicted we would…’. An element? These days, teams consider narrowly losing to Manchester City a plus, not to talk of holding to a draw, and stopping from them scoring in the league for the first time since the end of April.

But you could understand Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson saying the satisfaction was only to an extent, and the ‘element of frustration’ following their goalless draw at home to the log leaders, as in stoppage time, they were awarded a penalty, but Luka Milivojevic’s attempt was foiled by City goalkeeper Ederson. That moment would have turned a memorable result into a delirious outcome, as the Eagles became the first team to stop City from winning in the league in 132 days.

‘I was proud of the performance and I thought it was excellent in terms of tactical discipline, commitment and their focus, determination and concentration’ said Hodgson. ‘Because you only need to fall asleep for a brief moment against teams of this quality and they’ll punish you’. And to their credit, Palace never fell asleep, never let their guard down, never let themselves get carried away, and even had 10 shots and seven corners, the highest for an opposition side against Man City this season.

City’s frustration was palpable, not least when Leroy Sane kicked the ball away following a mis-timed pass, and saw yellow, and the result means the Mancunians fall one short of Bayern Munich’s domestic record, set by current manager Pep Guardiola in 2013/14. That the stalemate means they’re still 14 points clear at the top means their biggest worry would be injuries to Gabriel Jesus, and most especially Kevin de Bruyne, subject of a cynical (to say the very least) foul by Palace’s Jason Puncheon in stoppage time, although the Belgian said he was okay and was seen walking eventually, Guardiola admitting he didn’t know what the future would be on that, but said Jesus would be out for about a month.

But City’s frustration on the pitch wasn’t just from Palace sitting back, Guardiola had spoken out after the Newcastle win on Wednesday that it’s difficult when ‘opponents don’t want to play’, but Palace did more than a fair bit of playing. ‘ I thought before the game that our best chance to get something from the game would be to score goals because I know how they good they are offensively.’ Hodgson added.

Nevertheless, the South Londoners are only a point and a place outside the relegation, despite this game making it eight games in nine without losing, and they have Southampton in two days, as Hodgson himself noted. ‘The last moment is being aware that this is a nice moment that we can savour for a brief period because we have to go to Southampton with one day’s rest with a lot of injuries’. ‘You’ll have to allow me a few minutes of enjoyment before midnight in sending the crowd, and ourselves, home happy tonight because we played a good game’.

The fans will certainly go home happy, although they’ll know they were only a few yards away from going home ecstatic.

Elsewhere:

  • As for City, Kyle Walker said it’s probably good in a way to drop points, ‘to get us down to earth and get that motivation’. With all eyes bound to be watching on how they will cope with the potential absence of De Bruyne soon against Watford, that motivation will come in handy.
  • Game 811 for Arsene Wenger, and for 83 minutes his side were stuck, until Alexis Sanchez’s free-kick, thanks to a shabby wall, for the Chilean’s fourth goal in three games. That seemed like being enough for three points, until Calum Chambers was deemed to have handled in the area, a rather contentious decision. Not that Jay Rodriguez minded, the Baggies forward burying the penalty with a minute of normal time left, to salvage a point. Cue an incandescent Wenger afterwards. The Gunners host Chelsea on Wednesday.
  • Speaking of Chelsea, they barely had to leave first gear, and didn’t even need Eden Hazard to hit five past Stoke at Stamford Bridge, Danny Drinkwater with the pick of the goals, his first for the Blues. How often is this said now, it was a sorry afternoon for the Potters. They lie 15th, and host 16th placed Newcastle at the start of the New Year.
  • For the third game in a row, it was a draw for Manchester United, but this was probably the worst performance of them all, perhaps of the season, as it ended goalless against Southampton. Trust Jose Mourinho to seek out the penalty claims waved away, although he might have a valid point. These days, it’s all his side has been getting.
  • It’s all rather tight at the bottom, only six points separate 11th from 18th, while bottom placed Swansea hauled themselves into life by scoring two late goals at Watford, the new manager bounce seeing them bag their first away win since August. A welcome start for Carlos Carvalhal.
  • For Swansea’s fellow relegation battlers Bournemouth, it was also late drama, as they left it late to clinch all three points against Everton at the South Coast, thanks to Ryan Fraser’s double. It’s a first loss for Sam Allardyce, and it had been coming in truth. They welcome Manchester United to Goodison by, ahem, next year.
  • For the third game in a row, Leicester scored first but went on to concede two, and for the second game on the bounce, it was a defeat, this time at Anfield. And it’s rather easy to know what that implies, Mohammed Salah found the net. The Egyptian’s double sees his tally for the club at 22 in only five months.
  • Tottenham had the weekend off, but with their game against West Ham pushed to Thursday, it means in the first seven days of 2018, they and the Hammers will play three times. First up, Swansea on Tuesday.
  • Back to the City game, it was quite a sad moment to see Gaby Jesus go off injured, as the Brazilian went off in tears, although it did make for a nice festive reference.
  • Oh. Right. Happy New Year!

Results

Manchester United 0-0 Southampton

Crystal Palace 0-0 Manchester United

Chelsea 5-0 Stoke

Watford 1-2 Swansea

Bournemouth 2-1 Everton

Newcastle 0-0 Brighton

Huddersfield 0-0 Burnley

West Brom 1-1 Arsenal

Liverpool 2-1 Leicester

 

Fixtures

Everton v Manchester United

Burnley v Liverpool

Manchester City v Watford

Swansea v Tottenham

West Ham v West Brom

Southampton v Crystal Palace

Arsenal v Chelsea

Stoke v Newcastle

Leicester v Huddersfield

Brighton v Bournemouth

January 4: Tottenham v West Ham

 

 

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The Frenchman explains the difference between the Arsenal invincible squad and Present City's squad 

The former Arsenal and France midfielder believes the Arsenal squad that went a whole season without losing a league game in the 2003/2004 season is better than that of the present Man City.

Pires appeared in 40 of Arsenal's unbeaten 49 games finding the back of the net 23 times.

While Man City have better the invincibles’ record set in 2003/2004 of 14 consecutive wins by three – winning 17 games in a row, Piresargued that if the two sides were to lock horns, the invicible squad would come out the better over the present high flying Man City squad.

According to him, the team he starred in in 2003 possessed more qualities than the Pep Guardiola’s team.

The invincible squad of 2003/2004 season

“I think my team had more quality," Pires told CNN Sport.

“Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry had more quality than Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.”

"Patrick Vieira is better than Fernandinho. Pires is better than ... De Bruyne..”

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Meanwhile Man City manager Pep Guardiola has insisted that he was not after going the whole season without losing a game but for his team to play a good footballer.

Re-echoing his manager’s stand, City star man earlier this month told Sky it would be impossible for his team to go the season unbeaten.

"The power of the Premier League means every team has a lot of money and every team has a lot of quality players,” De Bruyne said.

“So I think one day or another you will face a team who finds a system to beat you, or they have a better day."

With the win against Newcastle on Wednesday, Man City have made it 17 wins on the bounce – with only Everton the only side to pick a point from them this season.

 

 

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