When England’s attack coach, Scott Wisemantel, discusses the state of Pacific Island rugby it pays to listen. When he urges the Rugby Football Union to arrange tours to Tonga, Samoa and Fiji – “I don’t think that just because it’s England you can think you’re above everyone else” – and to share with them their autumn gate receipts it is worth listening to.For Wisemantel has first-hand experience of working in the South Seas, for the past two years coaching at the Pacific Islands combine – an initiative to develop young players from the three countries, placing them with professional clubs abroad but crucially ensuring they are not poached by tier-one nations. Support The Guardian England in action against Samoa against Twickenham. Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters The scheme is part of World Rugby’s £20m investment in Pacific rugby over the last four years but it is open to question whether that is enough.How can it be when more than a fifth of all professional players, and an estimated 15% of those taking part at the World Cup, can claim Pacific Island heritage that it would be a considerable shock if Fiji, Samoa or Tonga reached the quarter-finals? Tonga, England’s opening World Cup opponents on Sunday, were recently beaten 92-7 by New Zealand and there is growing concern that Pacific Island players are being put under increased pressure by their professional clubs to make themselves unavailable for Test rugby.The combine initiative at least attempts to address that by ensuring players are “captured” by their countries before moving abroad but progress is slow. Should we really be surprised when the Pacific Islands threaten to boycott the World Cup amid suggestions of a proposal to shut them out of World Rugby’s Nations Championship plans?There is still no Super Rugby franchise based in Fiji, though Wisemantel questions the wisdom of that proposal, while Samoa’s Test against England in 2017 laid bare the financial inequality.Samoa earned around £650 per player, England £22,000, and while the RFU made a goodwill donation of £75,000, a percentage of the millions recouped from Twickenham would have made more of a difference. Rugby World Cup Share on Messenger Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Lost in translation? World Cup has arrived in Japan but don’t tell everybody Rugby World Cup 2019: Fiji team guide Since you’re here… Share on Pinterest Topics Reuse this content Tonga rugby union team Twitter Rugby World Cup 2019 Facebook England rugby union team Share on WhatsApp Share on Facebook New Zealand played their first Test in Samoa in the buildup to the 2015 World Cup while Tonga have hosted Ireland in 2003 and Wales were due to visit two years ago, only for stadium concerns to force a move to Auckland. England however, have not been to the Pacific Islands since the dawn of professionalism.“They do need that competition,” said Wisemantel. “They need to play consistently against the best. The problem is the revenue, whether financially it can be done, that’s the biggest issue. Potentially a solution is that in the November window, the Pacific nations get to play one of the big dogs at one of the big stadiums and they get a piece of the pie.“There’s no reason you couldn’t go there. Other teams have been there. I don’t think that just because it’s England you can think you’re above everyone else. There’s no reason you can’t go there, if you tack on a game against Australia or New Zealand, then you make it viable as a tour. But it’s a long way to go.” Rugby union news Fiji rugby union team Pinterest Samoa rugby union team … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Wisemantel is not holding his breath, however. “I’d like to see it happen but will it happen? I don’t think so. It’s important to keep building the base for them. Yes, I want to win [on Sunday] and we’d like to win well, but at the same time, I want it to be a contest. Eddie has given a really good overview of the motivations of the Island teams, which is the pride of a small nation doing well. And the second one is the ability to get a contract. He has also spoken about the importance of family, extended family in the village.”On Sunday Wisemantel fully expects James Faiva, a fly-half who was part of this year’s combine and subsequently earned a move to Europe, to be part of Tonga’s squad.Wisemantel’s role is to spend a week overseeing what is in effect a trial for players who have been purposely “captured” by either Samoa, Fiji or Tonga, then set about finding them clubs in nations such as New Zealand, Australia, the USA and Japan, or even France and Spain.“It gives you an appreciation of why they play and what they play for,” added Wisemantel. “You’ve got hit shells, balls, cones, all the testing equipment to do their strength and conditioning testing, but outside that it’s bibs, maybe a few agility poles. That’s it, it’s very raw but from a personal point of view it’s deeply rewarding. You see a guy come in at the start of the week from a village and then at the end of the week he’s off to play professional rugby to get paid. It’s brilliant.” Read more Share via Email Read more
1) New ZealandNormal service has been resumed. After the surreal scenes of the All Blacks not being No 1 (Wales were, then Ireland!) they enter the quarter‑finals back at the top of the rankings, rated by the bookies as twice as likely to win the tournament as the second favourites. Don’t be so sure. It goes without saying they remain the best when on form, but that cancelled game might well be more of a hindrance to them than anyone, given that their last meaningful fixture will have been four weeks before their quarter‑final against Ireland. At least Italy would have been semi-meaningful. These All Blacks are not invincible at the best of times. Current world ranking: 12) EnglandThe same concerns apply to England. Nobody should be under any illusion that the cancelled game will help them. Their draw had been perfect, a series of Tests neatly escalating in difficulty. But when the fourth rung was removed, quite a leap was created to a quarter-final with Australia. Otherwise, England are in good shape. Defence remains a big question-mark, but defence is so 2007. Only Wales seem to bother with it these days. In attack, England are as threatening as anyone. Off-the-cuff counterattacking remains the speciality of the All Blacks, but England have developed a variety of ways to undo defences, including at the start of games when everyone is fresh and there are no excuses. Current world ranking: 33) South AfricaIn these curious times in which New Zealand are not necessarily miles ahead, a lot of people – uncomfortable with the idea of Wales, Ireland or, God forbid, England as likely candidates – have ventured South Africa as their tip. They won the Rugby Championship this year, after all (although no team has ever won that and the World Cup in the same year). They certainly boast as formidable a tight five as any, a pleasing blend of spark and ice at half-back, and Cheslin Kolbe. Oh, Cheslin Kolbe. Defensively, though, the 2007 vintage this is not. Current world ranking: 54) WalesWhich brings us to the defensive masters. We have long been told that defences win these competitions — in which case, hand the gong to Wales now. There is a sense, though, that things have changed. Wales have embarked on quite the campaign of late, gathering a grand slam, a record winning run and the kudos of being No 1 in the world — and they’ve done it with scarcely a whiff of the sort of try to quicken the pulses back home. They’ve done it with scarcely a try full stop, registering 10 of them in that grand-slam campaign – the same as Italy. But they’re still here, they’re still winning. Current world ranking: 2 Share via Email Twitter Sportblog Since you’re here… The Breakdown: sign up and get our weekly rugby union email. Facebook Twitter 10) FijiFiji too would be worthy quarter‑finalists. They have produced an astonishing array of attacking talents — and that’s not counting all those they’ve supplied to other countries. Wins against Australia or Wales would not have flattered them. Defeat by Uruguay is borderline unfathomable. Current world ranking: 1111) ArgentinaSemi-finalists last time out, and here they are in 11th. This business of fielding the same team at international level as domestic isn’t working. They could have picked some overseas players but with what message to those who stay at home? A dilemma. Current world ranking: 1012) TongaBetter and better with each game – oh, what would a level playing field do for these Island teams? They finally clinched that win against USA, after a whisker away against France. There are 110,000 people in Tonga. That’s the population of Chesterfield. Current world ranking: 1313) GeorgiaEurope’s answer to the Pacific Islanders, but a natural affinity for the muscular gets them only so far without the flair. Still, the same questions apply: what might they become with regular exposure? There’s no sign of any solution to that conundrum. Current world ranking: 1414) UruguayAuthors of the second biggest upset in World Cup history. Uruguay’s overturning of a 30-point handicap with the bookies against Fiji is second only to Japan’s 42-point handicap against South Africa four years ago. Against Wales, they flirted for a while with equalling the latter upset. Incredible. Current world ranking: 1815) ItalyNo scope for them to progress or regress. Isolated in the middle of their pool, way below the top two, way above the bottom, third was all they were ever going to get, even with a bonus two points against the All Blacks. Current world ranking: 12 Rugby World Cup … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. New Zealand rugby union team Reuse this content Pinterest Share on Twitter Sergio Parisse and Jayden Hayward challenge Willie Le Roux in Fukuroi. Photograph: Mark R Cristino/EPA Share on Pinterest Facebook 5) JapanJapan, meanwhile, are doing so much more than win rugby matches. They are dismantling all received wisdom about how this game should be played and by whom. The hateful notion of tiers one, two and three has been exploded. As successive members of the old guard are dispatched, what should really terrify rugby’s establishment is that this team hail from a country of 125 million whose economy is the third largest in the world. If rugby can bite even modestly into Japan’s national consciousness, everything changes. A new centre of gravity could emerge to rival the current black hole that is England and France. America next. Current world ranking: 76) IrelandThe world rankings have received a lot of ridicule of late, never more so than when Ireland attained top spot on the eve of this competition, despite a string of recent indignities to embarrass 2018’s grand slam winners. The truth is, though, the rankings are very tight now with no one having to do much to top them – and that feels about right. Here Ireland are, sixth on our list (fourth on World Rugby’s), but they are genuinely capable of winning this thing, given a realistic upturn in form. Rugby has never had so much competition among its top teams. Current world ranking: 47) AustraliaAnd here we have Australia, World Cup finalists last time and twice champions. They too, it should not be particularly contentious to assert, are capable of winning this with a run of form. There is something by-the-seat-of-the-pants about this lot, but they will be relishing a crack at England, who seem so highly regarded after their humiliation by this side four years ago. Barely a few weeks ago Australia put nearly 50 on none other than the All Blacks. They are a long way from favourites, but an Australian triumph cannot be ruled out either. Current world ranking: 68) FranceDare we say the same of France? No, we dare not say anything about the French. This vintage is no different from any other – mutiny in the air, players sent home under suspicious circumstances, captains dropped, games won and nearly lost, chaos all round. And yet our eighth-ranked team are thrice finalists. Some of the rugby they have played has been devastating – and not just to themselves. They will look on Wales in the quarter-finals and shrug. Win there, and neither Japan nor South Africa would quite daunt them. They will not win the tournament, surely … but, well, you get the drift. They could. Current world ranking: 89) ScotlandA sobering few days, but let’s be clear: no team in the top 10 would have reacted any differently to the prospect of elimination without playing. They would sit comfortably in this top eight, but that no-show against Ireland will, and should, haunt them. Current world ranking: 9 Support The Guardian Share on Messenger Pinterest Rugby World Cup 2019 19) NamibiaAt one point their very participation was in doubt, World Rugby concerned about the integrity of Namibia’s governing body. No doubting that of Phil Davies and his happy band. They troubled teams rated far higher. A great shame their final game against Canada was cancelled. Current world ranking: 2320) CanadaThe decline of Canada is one of World Rugby’s more perplexing dilemmas. The former quarter-finalists should not have fallen so low. Much hope is invested in America’s new domestic league and this will hopefully help revive them, but too soon for this World Cup. Current world ranking: 22 Japan rugby union team Twitter 16) USADisappointing. Partly because expectations were high. USA had been rising steadily through the teens in those rankings, but they were flat in their opener against England and never quite discovered themselves. A Japan-USA final in 2043, anyone? Current world ranking: 1717) SamoaThey will always, along with Fiji and Tonga, hold the moral high ground, such are the gifts they have bestowed on a rugby world that gives so little in return. Alas, here they gave their fair share of gifts to the opposition too. Current world ranking: 1518) RussiaThey snuck in through the back door and found themselves opening the tournament against the hosts in Tokyo. Won a lot of friends with a feisty display in defeat, including the tournament’s opening try, but that was it for them and tries. Current world ranking: 20 Topics South Africa rugby team Wales’ centre Owen Watkin dodges a tackle by Uruguay prop Mateo Sanguinetti. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images Pinterest Share on Facebook Facebook Chris Harris escapes the attentions of Japan’s Ryohei Yamanaka. Photograph: Shutterstock Share on LinkedIn Australia rugby union team Share on WhatsApp features England rugby union team
Transfers Liverpool would be a great club for Zaha, says De Boer Iain Strachan Last updated 1 year ago 22:37 1/14/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Transfers Liverpool Crystal Palace Premier League Crystal Palace v Burnley The striker could make a significant impact at Anfield or another big club should he leave Crystal Palace, according to the Dutchman Frank de Boer feels Liverpool would be a great option for Wilfried Zaha, who could “play for a much bigger club than Crystal Palace”, according to the Dutchman. Zaha suffered a knee injury in De Boer’s first match in charge of Palace in August. A nightmare start to the campaign in the forward’s absence then prompted the swift dismissal of the former Ajax and Inter boss. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player The return to fitness of the Ivory Coast international has coincided with a major upturn in the Eagles’ form under De Boer’s successor Roy Hodgson.Zaha failed to make an impact after moving to Manchester United in 2013, returning to Selhurst Park on loan before re-joining Palace two years later.De Boer, though, feels the 25-year-old is equipped to perform at the highest level. “I was really a little bit unfortunate that he was injured in the first game,” De Boer told Omnisport.”I missed him in the coming six games. He has a major impact for Crystal Palace because he can make something out of nothing. “He can play for a much bigger club than Crystal Palace, that’s for sure, I’m 100 per cent convinced.” Asked if a January move could benefit Zaha, De Boer said: “Not really right now, because he has to play every game, every week, I think that’s important for him right now.”Liverpool would be a great club for him, but I’m going to see what he does in the future. I’m very interested in him because I think he has a great potential.” Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the web
Transfers Neymar to Real Madrid links nothing but hot air, insists Mbappe Ryan Benson Last updated 1 year ago 19:36 4/1/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Transfers Real Madrid PSG Ligue 1 Primera División Neymar Kylian Mbappé The Brazilian is reported to be a target for Real Madrid, though his attacking partner in Paris is convinced it is mere speculation Rumours linking Neymar with a move to Real Madrid at the end of this season are “nothing but hot air”, according to his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe.Neymar has only been at the Parc des Princes since PSG smashed the world transfer record to bring him in from Barcelona in August.But not long after his €222 million move was complete, speculation connecting him with a return to Spain and Barca’s bitter rivals Madrid started to circulate. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Madrid have continued to be linked with the Brazil star – who is currently out injured – in the Spanish media, but Mbappe is adamant it is all just speculation.When asked whether Neymar might leave, Mbappe told Telefoot : “It’s nothing but hot air.”Neymar sends me messages, gives me news. I wished him a good World Cup, but not to win it.”Of course, I have the goal of winning the World Cup. It’s even a dream. If we progress well, we can achieve something.”Mbappe’s coach Unai Emery is expected to leave PSG at the end of the season when his contract expires, likely a consequence of the club’s underwhelming performance in the Champions League for a second season running.Though Mbappe does not see the situation as cut and dry as some, he is adamant this has still been a good season as they march on towards the Ligue 1 title after lifting the Coupe de la Ligue on Saturday.MVP #PSGASM #ICICESTPARIS pic.twitter.com/EZD6OJo1YV — Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) March 31, 2018 “I’m not sure that Emery will leave, even if he is at the end of his contract,” Mbappe added.”I don’t know if he talks to the club. We’ll see who will replace him if he leaves, but he is not leaving at the moment.”With PSG it’s a good season, even if we failed in Champions League. It will serve us well for next year, I hope. We will never forget it, that’s football. We simply didn’t deserve to progress.”
Liverpool Meet the Liverpool fan who’s been to every one of the club’s European Cup finals Neil Jones Click here to see more stories from this author Liverpool Correspondent 16:00 5/25/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Liverpool Real Madrid v Liverpool Real Madrid UEFA Champions League Stephen ‘Mono’ Monaghan has followed the Reds around Europe since the 1960s – here, he shares his fondest memories If a Liverpool fan ever tells you he or she “goes everywhere” to watch the Reds, there’s an easy way to check if they’re telling the truth.Ask them if they know ‘Mono’. Or better still, ask ‘Mono’ if he knows them. If he does, you’ve found yourself a genuine travelling Kopite.‘Mono’ is Stephen Monaghan, a 59-year-old Liverpudlian from Halewood. Known affectionately as ‘The King of the Kop’ he’s been following the Reds since the late 60s. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Sorry, Cristiano! Pjanic is Juventus’ most important player right now And, boy, does he have some stories to tell.On Saturday, he will attend his eighth European Cup final with Liverpool. And he’s as excited about this one as he was his first, back in 1977.“I’m 59, but it’s as if I’m still 16,” he tells Goal. “I haven’t slept properly in days, I’m so worked up! It’s just been ‘Kiev, Kiev, Kiev!’”When we meet, he’s spent the day finalising flight and accommodation details for his travelling party – “a nightmare!” he grins – and is about to record a podcast with three fellow lifelong Reds. Brazilian TV have been asking to speak to him this week. The price of fame? “I’m not famous, mate,” he laughs. “I’m just a Kopite!”Well, not quite. He’s the King of the Kop, a prominent member of the Spirit of Shankly supporters’ union, the man whose ‘Leather Bottle’ banner can be seen everywhere the Reds go. He’s the kind of fan every club needs.Here, he talks us through his memories, from Paris down to Turkey, and everything in between…Rome 1977“They say your first love is always the best,” Mono says, smiling at the thought. “For me, that’s spot on. Rome will always be special to me. I love the place.”Mono had started going to Liverpool through his dad, John, in the late 1960s. John was a football man, the co-founder of Halewood Junior Football Club (which still runs to this day) and a friend and father figure to all. His nickname locally, Mono tells us, was “Shankly”. By the time 1977 came, young Stephen was well on his way to becoming a veteran. He’d progressed from the Boys’ Pen to The Kop, obtaining his first season ticket for the 1973-74 season. He had a taste for it; there was no turning back.“It just became my life,” he says. “It sounds strange, but it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Football always came first. Other people would save money for nights out or for the pictures, whatever. I’d be saying: ‘I can’t come out tonight mate, I’m going to Ipswich on Saturday!’”For Mono, like many Liverpool fans, Rome was where it all began in terms of European trips. “We took 30,000 over there,” he laughs. “Nobody expected that. People were selling cars, selling washing machines, selling tellies, just so they could go.“Our trip started the previous Friday, getting the coach from Halewood to London for the FA Cup final. Manchester United beat us, and we were devastated. But we were at Victoria station the following morning and we were off to Rome on the Transalpino, £52 return!”Some Liverpool fans made that trip on the old ‘Football Special’ train from Lime Street, spending the best part of two days in squalid conditions. “Ours was luxury travel by comparison,” Mono laughs, though he remembers arriving in Rome and being confronted with a fountain outside the station. “We were straight in. Those fountains were full of Scousers that week!”The game itself went to plan, a 3-1 win over a fabulous Borussia Monchengladbach side sealing a first European Cup for Bob Paisley’s side.“The best,” Mono says. “I love Rome and I always will, because of that night.”Wembley 1978A year later, Liverpool were back in the final, facing Bruges at Wembley.“It meant the world to us,” Mono says. “To be the best team in Europe, it was everything. We were a great team, and we wanted to prove it.“I hitch-hiked to that final with a mate of mine, Terry. One of our other pals emigrated to Canada two weeks before it, what a bad decision that was!”Kenny Dalglish’s iconic goal settled the game. “He was my hero,” Mono admits. “When I was 50 a few years ago, one of my friends got me a signed picture and message from Kenny as a gift.“He wrote on it ‘To Mono, King of the Kop? There’s only one King!’ But I like to think I got there first!“He nearly got me killed on his debut for Liverpool, Kenny. It was at Middlesbrough, Ayresome Park, he scored after about seven minutes. We were in with the home fans because the Liverpool end was pretty crowded. We jumped up and I just remember getting booted! They chased us all over the place after that.“Kenny, to me, is the greatest player ever to pull on the red shirt. My dad’s hero was Billy Liddell, and Steven Gerrard in the modern generation came close, but Kenny was the one for me. He’s the real King.”Paris 1981After seeing their European supremacy briefly threatened by Brian Clough’s emerging Nottingham Forest, it was back to business for Liverpool in 1981, with Real Madrid beaten at the Parc des Princes in Paris.“That was the only final I never took a camera to!” Mono remembers. “I used to take pictures everywhere I went but, for whatever reason, I didn’t that time.“I just remember the song everyone was singing: ‘On the dole, in Paree, drinking wine!’ That was how it was in Liverpool at the time; the place was suffering, the Thatcher government was doing what it did and money was tight in the city.”The Toxteth riots came a few weeks after that final, and loads of people I knew were leaving Liverpool to go looking for work. I remember you’d go down to London for a game, and on the train back it’d be full of Scousers returning home with all their work gear, they’d be going back down there on the Monday morning.“That final, though, was great. Real Madrid were THE European team, as far as we were concerned. Whenever we were in Europe, we wanted to get drawn against them. It was exciting, something new, the biggest challenge. They were a great side, and we beat them. It wasn’t a great game, but it was a great night!”Rome 1984Three years later, Liverpool – players and fans – walked into the lion’s den.Rome ’84 is notorious among Kopites for what happened after the game, with travelling Reds subjected to brutal, indiscriminate attacks from home supporters.Mono, though, has rather fonder memories of the trip.“It was one of the best I ever had!” he says. “We were meant to stay in a place called Ostia, which was where the rich and famous went. We ended up in a place called Ladispoli, which was a one-horse town, a hotel out of an Alfred Hitchcock film and one bar called ‘The International’!“Anyway, on the first night some of the lads went for a wander and ended up being chased by Italians on scooters with chains and all kinds. This was five days before the final!“Later that day, hundreds turned up ready to fight. It was scary. But I’ll never forget it, we were inside the one bar, ‘The International’, and this fella appears from nowhere, a police officer with a gun. He asked to speak to us, asked us if we wanted any trouble, we said no and he said: ‘You will get no more trouble now, I promise!’“Angelo, his name was. And after that, the hooligans were as nice as pie. They drank with us, they sang with us. Me and my mate Philly ended up speaking to their leader, and being invited to his house for a meal. We took flowers for his mum, she cooked us steak, spaghetti Bolognese, the works. It was mad, mate!”So was the football, in fairness. Graeme Souness delivered a masterclass, Bruce Grobbelaar’s spaghetti legs bamboozled Roma’s penalty takers and Alan Kennedy delivered the killer blow, just as he had in Paris. Liverpool were four-time European Champions.“The atmosphere for that game was something else,” Mono says. “We were in awe of it, to be honest. But what happened afterwards was chaos, it was frightening.“Everyone was getting attacked, women, children, the elderly. I remember seeing a mate of ours from Halewood, the day after the game. He was walking round with a ripped t-shirt and he didn’t know what day it was. He’d been attacked the night before, taken to hospital and checked himself out. He had no passport, no money, no plane ticket. We had to bunk him onto a flight back to England, honestly!”Me being the smallest, I had to hide under the seat so we could get him on. We all took it in turns to go to the toilet so there would be a seat. You’d get 10 years for that now, probably!”Istanbul 2005The events of Heysel, of course, would cast a shadow over Liverpool, club and city, and bring an end to their era of European dominance. They would be banned from continental competition for six years, and it would be 20 before they were back in a European Cup final.“Sad, incomprehensible,” says Mono, understandably keen not to dwell on that fateful, tragic night in Brussels.By the time Liverpool got the chance to lift the trophy for a fifth time, the competition had been rebranded as the Champions League, Mono had a son, Joe, who was raised in the way of the family; he was a Red, and a passionate one.The 2004-05 season was a poignant one. John, Mono’s father, passed away the day before Liverpool played Olympiakos in the December. “When Steven Gerrard scored, I burst out crying,” he remembers. “And Joe did too. I remember someone near us saying: ‘Look at that, that’s passion!’ but it wasn’t, it was for my dad.”Liverpool, under Rafa Benitez, continued to defy the odds. Leverkusen fell, then Juventus, then Chelsea. AC Milan, Europe’s best, were next.“I still get emotional, even now,” Mono says. “I cried again in Istanbul when we did it. I remembered all those games, all those memories. He’d have loved it, but he’d have loved the thought of me and Joe being there together, witnessing that.“My next door neighbour left at half-time, I still give him stick about it now! It’s a life lesson as far as I’m concerned. Believe and support. I sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ at half-time out of defiance; it’s down in folklore now that it made a difference. I’d love to think it did.”Kiev 2018?And what of this weekend, then?Liverpool’s last Champions League final ended in defeat, in Athens in 2007, but now, 11 years on, they’re ready to go for number six.It’s already been some journey. They’ve been to Hoffenheim, to Seville and to Porto. Moscow brought a memorable run-in with Jose Mourinho, in which the unsuspecting Manchester United boss posed for a photograph wearing a Spirit of Shankly sticker. Grinning next to him, of course, was Mono.“We’d been out on a cruise round Moscow, so we’d had a few bevies!” he laughs.“We were staying at the Radisson, and the Manchester United team was there too. Mourinho was in the lobby so we just went for it. It was done and dusted in two seconds, I stuck the sticker on him, we took the picture and we were away.“I saw him again the next morning when I was having breakfast. I just winked at him ‘Alright, Jose, mate?’ He didn’t say a word!”The knockout stages brought more incredible moments; Porto saw the birth of the ‘Allez, Allez, Allez!’ chant which will soundtrack Liverpool’s weekend in Kiev, while trips to Manchester City and Roma will live long in the memory.And now, finally, to Ukraine. Mono will be there, so will his son. The man he bought his first season ticket with, John Nicolson, will be sat next to him as he always is. They’re ready.“I’ve already got my clothes ironed and ready, I can’t wait,” smiles the King of the Kop.“It gives me a shiver down the spine, just thinking about the flags and the noise and the songs. I’ve been going for years, but I still get that feeling. I always will.” Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the web
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Australia’s Masters squads commence their 2015 World Cup campaign this weekend when the contingent trains together in Sydney. The six squads will train over the weekend with all squad members looking to impress in their first camp in the lead up to the World Cup in April/May next year at C.Ex Coffs International Stadium, Coffs Harbour. There has been strong interest in all the squads due to the World Cup being on home soil in 2015, with the last World Cup held in Australia being 15 years ago. Australia will be looking to retain the Masters World Cup trophy that they won at the 2011 World Cup in Edinburgh, Scotland.Touch Football Australia wishes all squad members the best of luck for the training camp this weekend. To keep up-to-date with all the latest news and information from the Masters Training Camp, please stay tuned to the Touch Football Australia social media pages and website:Website – www.touchfootball.com.auFacebook – www.facebook.com/touchfootballaustralia Twitter – www.twitter.com/touchfootyaus Instagram – www.instagram.com/touchfootballaustralia Related LinksMasters Training Camp
About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Carragher: Van Dijk improving every player at Liverpoolby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool legend Jamie Carragher hailed the performance of Virgil van Dijk for victory at Wolves last night.Van Dijk scored the decisive second goal at Molineux and his efforts to help his side keep a clean sheet earned him man of the match. Carragher told Sky Sports: “He makes other people play better around him. Tony Adams made the rest of that Arsenal back four better. He does the same.”He scored a great goal for Holland a few weeks ago. His goal record isn’t great considering his size but the type of goal he got there, how many centre backs would put that over the bar?”The win over Wolves sent the Merseyside club four points clear at the top of the table before Pep Guardiola’s side play Crystal Palace at the Etihad on Saturday.
Marco Silva demands Everton responseby Ansser Sadiq10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveMarco Silva wants his side to show their quality in their next game on New Year’s Day.The Toffees ended 2018 with a disappointing loss to Brighton, which put them 10th in the league.Their manager now wants them to bounce back against Leicester City at home.”It is important to be strong again and ready for the next match in three days,” Silva told the club’s website.”We don’t have time to prepare in the normal way but that is the schedule and we have to put in our players’ minds how important the next game is.”We have to change our recent form at home and give a different answer.”It will be a tough match but we have to give 100 per cent to win it.” About the authorAnsser SadiqShare the loveHave your say
Sarri frustration over Chelsea transfer policy continues to growby Freddie Taylor9 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea manager Maurizio Sarri wants two players to arrive at the club this month.The Blues have been linked with AC Milan striker Gonzalo Higuain, who Sarri worked with successfully at Napoli.And the Italian hinted that his demands were not being appeased by the Chelsea board.”As you know very well I am not in control of the transfer market,” he said”In my opinion we need two players, but it’s up to the club. As you can understand, I cannot tell you where [we need to strengthen]. The club knows my opinion.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say
McTominay defends Man Utd boss Solskjaer: He’s the right manby Freddie Taylor25 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United midfielder Scott McTominay is fully behind the club’s manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.McTominay believes that Solskjaer is the right man to lead United to success domestically and in Europe.The Norwegian has come in for significant criticism after his side’s dismal start to the season.They face a tough home clash against Arsenal on Monday night.”It takes time for a new manager coming in,” the Scotland international told The Mirror. “It’s not all of a sudden just going to click straight into place.”Once Sir Alex left, it was going to take time for the club to find the right manager, and I do believe that we have the right manager now in Ole.”You see different eras in football teams – everybody goes through transitional stages and we’re going through one right now.” About the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say
Twitter/@keola_vWell, this was probably inevitable. N.C. State fans really, really don’t like North Carolina, and many have gotten a lot of joy out of the recent academic scandal in Chapel Hill. We’ve seen many fans get custom license plates, many of which are used to taunt rival fans. This “UNCCHE@T” license plate was bound to be made—the only real question was whether a Duke fan would be a State fan to the punch.School spirit I guess, lol #ncst #unc #wolfpack #tarheels #acc #ncstate #Duke pic.twitter.com/RrLYLryobI— Keola Victorino (@keola_v) July 7, 2015We’re sure the Tar Heels fans in the area really appreciate seeing this on their daily commute.
The 2019 MLS draft is little more than a week away and the league is putting the finishing touches on the class of college underclassmen who will headline the draft class, including one U.S. youth national team standout. U.S. Under-20 midfielder Frankie Amaya and Syracuse University forward Tajon Buchanan headline a class of seven players who have signed Generation adidas contracts, sources have confirmed to Goal. Amaya, who finished his freshman season at UCLA and started for the U.S. U-20s in their 2-0 win against Mexico in the Concaaf Championship final, heads into the draft as the highest-rated prospect available. The skilled central midfielder impressed at the Concacaf Championships, and is very much a possibility to go as the first overall selection in the 2019. Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Canadian forward Buchanan is regarded as another one of the top prospects in the draft. The 19-year-old forward/winger was a first-team All-ACC selection, registering eight goals and four assists for Syracuse. University of Kentucky junior forward J.J. Williams will be in the running for the top pick in the draft as well. The American striker earned All-American honors for the Wildcats after scoring 18 goals and adding eight assists in 2018. University of Maryland goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair helped lead the Terrapins to an NCAA title and will be looking to follow in the professional footsteps of fellow Maryland goalkeeping alumnus Zack Steffen, who completed a transfer to Manchester City in December. A 6-foot-4 junior, St. Clair recorded 12 shutouts to help Maryland win its first NCAA title in a decade. University of North Carolina sophomore John Nelson has also signed a Generation adidas deal and should be one of the first defenders selected in the draft. The Tar Heels left back earned second-team All-ACC honors and is a former U.S. Under-17 World Cup player. Indiana University forward Griffin Dorsey was a teammate of Amaya’s on the U.S. Under-20 national team that won the Concacaf Championship in November and now joins Amaya as a Generation adidas signing. The sophomore earned first-team All-Big Ten honors on a Hoosiers team that reached the NCAA final four. Virginia Commonwealth midfielder Siad Haji is another player with a lengthy U.S. youth national team resume. The winger/attacking midfielder has played for the United States on the U-17 and U-19 level, and is expected to earn a call-up to the U.S. Under-20 team for its next camp. Hadji recorded five goals and 10 assists for VCU in 2018. The Generation adidas program is the MLS mechanism for signing top college underclassmen to go through the MLS draft. Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Brad Guzan and Jack Harrison are some of the top players to pass through the program. MLS has succeeded in securing most of its top 2019 Generation adidas targets, but not all of them. U.S. Under-20 national team right back Manny Perez would be one of the highest-rated players in the 2019 draft if he signed with MLS, but is weighing transfer offers in Europe. Sources tell Goal that, as of Tuesday, signing a Generation adidas deal is still a possibility for the North Carolina State defender. UCLA forward Mohammed Kamara is another prospect who had been considered a candidate for a Generation adidas contract, but sources say he is weighing offers in Europe, with German club Paderborn a strong possibility. Akron University forward David Egbo is another player who has drawn consideration as a Generation adidas target after scoring 13 goals for a Zips squad that reached the NCAA final four, but as of Tuesday he has not signed a deal. The members of the Generation adidas class will join the top college seniors at the MLS combine, which kicks off on Saturday in Orlando, with the 2019 MLS draft set for January 10 in Chicago. Expansion side FC Cincinnati currently holds the first overall pick in the draft.
Ross McCormack has officially left the Central Coast Mariners in another blow for the struggling A-League club.Fresh from being thumped 5-2 by Sydney FC on Friday night , the Mariners released a statement on Saturday announcing the on-loan Scottish striker’s recall to parent club Aston Villa.McCormack was sent back Villa for specialist treatment on a knee injury earlier in December, but was expected to be back for the Mariners’ clash against Perth Glory on New Years Eve. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? However the 26-year-old was spotted watching former club Motherwell play after when he was supposed to return to Australia – in a clear sign he wasn’t coming back Down Under.— Del Sommerville (@Del1589) December 29, 2018 ”I would like to thank the Central Coast Mariners and the fans for welcoming me on the Central Coast with open arms. Although I was only there for a short period, everyone made me feel very welcome from day one.” McCormack said.”The opportunity for me to return to the UK is something that I couldn’t turn down and will allow me to see my children more, which is something that is very important to me.”I wish the playing group and coaching staff all the best for the rest of the season.”McCormack scored one goal in five appearances for the Gosford-based club – a long way short of the 14 he struck for Melbourne City last season.The Mariners have had the worst start in A-League history and remain rooted to the bottom of the table with no wins and only two points from their 11 matches.
YouTube/WatchNDIt’s FlightAware season, college football fans. Time to speculate which flights around the country could be carrying head football coaches to their new jobs.Wednesday’s action? There is a flight currently scheduled from South Bend, Indiana to Eugene, Oregon at 4:40 p.m. ET tonight. Considering some fans think Brian Kelly could be a candidate for the now-vacant Oregon job, screenshots of the flight pattern on FlightAware.com are making the rounds.BREAKING: Private Jet flying from South Bend, IN going to Eugene, OR later today. Could be a coincidence, but Oregon also fired their coach pic.twitter.com/c6zNqINjta— Chief (@BarstoolChief) November 30, 2016Well well well. Private plane flying from South Bend to Eugene, Oregon. ? pic.twitter.com/UIN4ALxdRz— Kevin Burke (@kevinjburke423) November 30, 2016Flight from South Bend to Eugene could simply be a recruiting trip. As I said, could just be a coincidence. https://t.co/sXsjzgExVY— Chief (@BarstoolChief) November 30, 2016@Matt_Fortuna Private jet going from south bend to Eugene, OR today, coincidence? Doubtful pic.twitter.com/1hrZz062gE— Geno Freeman (@PapaGeno773) November 30, 2016For anyone curious, you can see the South Bend-Eugene private flight for yourself right here: https://t.co/0o8bUVSnS1#GoDucks— Mike Konowitz (@MikeKonowitz) November 30, 2016Keep in mind, this means nothing – other than the obvious fact that college football fans love to speculate. Right?
Twitter/@TheSpunOhio State will likely be one of the four teams selected for the College Football Playoff. ESPN’s Mark May, who often criticizes the Buckeyes, does not like it.Ohio State is ranked second in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings, released on Tuesday night, behind only Alabama. We only have two years of data to work with, but thus far every team to make the field has been a conference champion. Ohio State lost a tiebreaker with Penn State, which beat the Buckeyes head-to-head, and does not play in tonight’s Big Ten Championship. Still, FiveThirtyEight‘s most recent College Football Playoff forecast gives the Buckeyes a rock solid 92-percent chance to make the Playoff, in part because they do not have a chance to lose today.Mark May, often an antagonist of Ohio State football, does not like that the Buckeyes could get in over Penn State, even if the Nittany Lions win the conference championship. On ABC opposite Mack Brown, May expressed his disagreement with the Buckeyes’ candidacy.Mark May, still biased as hell when it comes to Ohio State pic.twitter.com/Jco6E21E58— The Spun (@TheSpun) December 3, 2016Penn State fans are also not big on May, and couldn’t believe that the former Pitt Panther stood up for the Nittany Lions.Mark May advocating for #PSU. Has hell frozen over?— (((Der Kommissar))) (@RadarPSU) December 3, 2016@BlueLion13126 i’m assuming this is a different Mark May and not the one that once played for Pitt . Is this like Mark May the plumber?— Cliff Dressler (@CliffDressler) December 3, 2016And 2016 continues to be weird as Mark May said Penn State should get in over Ohio State if they win tonight…— Jim (@PandaPSU) December 3, 2016Penn State has the head-to-head win over Ohio State, and can win the Big Ten with a win over Wisconsin tonight, but two losses—including a 39-point drubbing at the hands of Michigan—could be too much for James Franklin’s club to overcome.
Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles has praised the tactics of Steve Bruce and said the new manager has had an immediate impact.Bruce finally joined the Magpies on July 17 after a long period of speculation over who would replace Rafael Benitez at the helm at St James’ Park.The ex-Sheffield Wednesday boss watched from the stands as his new club beat West Ham 1-0 in Shanghai to finish third in the Premier League Asia Trophy. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Bruce selected the Newcastle XI and novel 3-5-2 formation, but took a watching brief, allowing the interim pair of Ben Dawson and Neil Redfearn to direct proceedings.Despite his absence from the touchline, Lascelles said Bruce’s influence could already be felt by the players.“We set up in a different formation today which I think suited us perfectly with our personnel,” the 25-year-old defender told the Premier League’s official website.“All of the instructions he gave to us we tried to do them to the best of our ability.“We’ve had him for two days now in training and straight away we’ve picked up and we’ve adapted very quickly.“When a new manager comes in you are always going to want to impress. The workrate has always been there because that’s what type of group we are.”It was not just Bruce’s team who were impressed with his tactics for the game.Defeated West Ham midfielder Jack Wilshere was also struck by the way Newcastle set out to play and conceded that it had confused the Hammers.“In the first half I think Newcastle played well – let’s give them some credit,” the former Arsenal man said.“They set up differently to what we expected and maybe they caught us by surprise.“We didn’t know who should press the centre-back and who should stay and when you’ve got a player like [Jonjo] Shelvey in the middle controlling the game it makes it difficult.”While Bruce has convinced the players early on in his reign it may take more than a good performance in pre-season to convince the fans.The former Manchester United great admitted after his appointment that he had big boots to fill, replacing the popular Benitez, with his appointment not universally welcomed by the Toon Army support. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
DALLAS – OCTOBER 7: Flagbearers wave the Burnt Orange and White flags of the Texas Longhorns in the Texas endzone before the game against the Oklahoma Sooners during the Red River Shootout at the Cotton Bowl on October 7, 2006 in Dallas, Texas. The Longhorns won 28-10. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)After a wild and crazy Week 5, we can now look ahead to Week 6 of the college football season. There are a number of pivotal games on the horizon.None loom larger than the Red River Showdown between Oklahoma and Texas in Dallas, and Notre Dame’s trip to Virginia Tech Saturday night. We can’t wait for those two contests, but there are a number of other intriguing matchups on the docket as well.OddsShark’s computer has released its predictions for Week 6.Here’s what it is saying for the biggest games.You can view all of OddsShark’s predictions here.
TALLAHASSEE, FL – OCTOBER 27: Deondre Francois #12 of the Florida State Seminoles throws a pass while under pressure in the second quarter of the game against the Clemson Tigers at Doak Campbell Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)The Clemson vs. Florida State game, usually one of the most anticipated of the season, is an absolute joke this year. The Tigers currently lead the Seminoles 59-3 early in the fourth quarter. One former FSU star is losing his mind on Twitter.Jacobbi McDaniel, who played at Florida State from 2009-2013 and helped the program win a national title, has taken to Twitter with some thoughts on the contest. In short, he’s beyond disappointed with what the Seminoles are doing on the field.It’s hard to blame him. Florida State, after holding Clemson scoreless in the first quarter, has given up 59 points since. The team’s offense hasn’t been much better.Here’s what McDaniel had to say. Some of it is quite colorful.Debo tryna put up 35 in the first half! Sheesh lol.— Jacobbi McDaniel (@JacobbiJustice) October 27, 2018They out there being friendly with Clemson players. And literally getting their ass beat… wow.— Jacobbi McDaniel (@JacobbiJustice) October 27, 2018During the play you Tuck your tail between your legs,but after the play you stick ya chest out. That’s ass backwards. Am I the only one that notice that? During the play it’s nothing but after the play or side liners notice how all that wolf talk come about?? #ass #backwards— Jacobbi McDaniel (@JacobbiJustice) October 27, 201852 points in your house?! This is a fucking(sorry for my language) disgrace. All of you need ya ass whipped! This has to do with pride pride pride. It’s no way Fsu should get their ass beat this bad.. what’s really going on man. Frfr. Trash as hell! Unacceptable— Jacobbi McDaniel (@JacobbiJustice) October 27, 2018Wanna be fucking(sorry for my language once again) fashion designers and shit. I normally hold my thoughts but ya boys trash! About to get 60 hung on ya at ya own fucking stadium.— Jacobbi McDaniel (@JacobbiJustice) October 27, 2018At an fsu game.. psh. Smh https://t.co/4TCGABP9Hz— Jacobbi McDaniel (@JacobbiJustice) October 27, 2018It’s these players man. It’s pride!! It ain’t coaching its pride! https://t.co/1Wo50njdh6— Jacobbi McDaniel (@JacobbiJustice) October 27, 201870 points?! In house??In ya house??!!!! Evrybody souls leave the stadium. They don’t deserve no ones time. This is pride man. Coaching has nothing to do with it. Jimbo has nothing to do with it. So don come at me about Jimbo nor the coaches now. Hold these kids accountable!— Jacobbi McDaniel (@JacobbiJustice) October 27, 2018With the remaining schedule Fsu may go 4-8 wowww.— Jacobbi McDaniel (@JacobbiJustice) October 27, 2018Clemson, with the win, is now 8-0 on the season and looks like a virtual lock for the College Football Playoff.Florida State, meanwhile, falls to 4-4. The Seminoles will need to finish 2-2 to compete in a bowl game.
LUBBOCK, TX – SEPTEMBER 08: Alan Bowman #10 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders scrambles with the football during the game against the Lamar Cardinals on September 08, 2018 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. Texas Tech won the game 77-0. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)Texas Tech football is looking to shake up the College Football Playoff picture against Oklahoma tonight, but it caught some serious bad luck at halftime.The Red Raiders led OU 31-28 at the half, with Alan Bowman dealing.He was 21-for-26 for 227 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. And yet, it is Jett Duffey behind center for the Red Raiders in the third quarter.According to a report, Alan Bowman was hit by a football during halftime warm-ups, and now he’s in the locker room for evaluations.It is unclear what exactly happened to cause a potential Alan Bowman injury, but Duffey has handled the first two drives for the Red Raiders.Bowman was in a nice shootout with Heisman candidate Kyler Murray, who had three total touchdowns but two interceptions leading to 14 Texas Tech points in the first half.Murray is taking advantage so far in half No. 2. On OU’s first drive, Murray led the team on a four-play, 69-yard scoring drive, capped by a 46 yard touchdown toss to Lee Morris.ARE YOU KIDDING ME? LEE MORRIS?? #BoomerSooner pic.twitter.com/IhPROzy6oP— FballMedia (@fballmedia) November 4, 2018The Sooners are driving again. They got a real scare in the first half, but Texas Tech may need to stem the tide here soon.