Category Archive : Boxing

Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte has been approached by Napoli (Shutterstock)

Antonio Conte is ready to become Napoli’s new head coach as the Serie A club line up a replacement for Rudi Garcia, according to reports in Italy.

The Serie A champions have endured an inconsistent start to the new campaign under Garcia, with five wins, three defeats and two draws from their first 10 games in all competitions.

Conte, meanwhile, has been out of work since he was sacked by Tottenham in March.

According to widespread reports in Italy, Conte is now due to meet with Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis to discuss the possibility of returning to Serie A and replacing Garcia, who was brought in as Luciano Spalletti’s successor in the summer.

It’s understood that Conte would accept a move to Napoli, but would demand a significant say in the club’s transfer strategy before agreeing a deal.

Rudi Garcia, Head Coach of Napoli
Rudi Garcia is under pressure after Napoli’s inconsistent start to the new season (Getty)

When asked about a possible move to Napoli on Tuesday evening, Conte said: ‘For now I’m enjoying my family, I made a clear choice when I left England.

‘Then you know that a lot of things can happen along the way.’

Meanwhile, former Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly has urged the Italian club to give Garcia more time.

‘Garcia is a great coach and he needs time to adapt, just like other coaches did in the past,’ Koulibaly said in an Instagram live interview.

‘The players are with him, I spoke to two or three of them and they confirmed that to me.

‘They just need to keep working and everything will go well. I hope for him that the club has patience to let him get on with the job.’

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Luton Town v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Ange Postecoglou is yet to lose a league game with Tottenham (Photo: Getty)

Paul Merson believes Tottenham won’t stay top of the Premier League table but could well have an ‘unbelievable season’.

Eight games into the 2034/24 campaign, Spurs find themselves in the unprecedented position of being atop of the table and yet to lose a game in the league.

Of course, it is far too early to call the title race, especially as they are level on points with Arsenal and only ahead of goals scored, with Manchester City and Liverpool also within touching distance.

But even for those who sung the praises of Ange Postecoglou over the summer, the speed at which Tottenham have transformed under the Australian manager is truly remarkable and they do like like title contenders at the very least.

Arsenal legend Merson isn’t so sure, but has nonetheless praised the Lilywhites following their hard-fought win over Luton and says that even top four finish would be a great success for the side.

‘It was a funny game! I was sitting there in the first 15 minutes thinking, “if Harry Kane was playing now, the game would have been over”, given the number of chances they missed,’ he wrote for Sky Sports.

‘Then Spurs did not look like scoring after that, bar the goal. But fair play to them, going down to 10 men and digging in and getting a result, you have to hold your hands up.

Arsenal FC v Manchester City - Premier League
Arsenal are level on points with Spurs after their win over Man City (Photo: Getty)

‘I know Luton are right down at the bottom, but it is still hard. Spurs gave away a few chances, but in the end I thought they dug in and showed a new side to Tottenham.

‘So fair play to them, they are top of the league at the moment – will they stay there? No, but that is not the point. If they were to get in the Champions League next season, then that would be an unbelievable season for Tottenham.’

As for who he thinks will the league, Merson, like many, believes City are still the team to beat, though their loss at Arsenal last Sunday has made the title race very interesting.

Premier League champion 2023/24 odds:

Man City – 8/11

Arsenal – 7/2

Liverpool – 5/1

Tottenham – 10/1

Newcastle – 40/1

Brighton – 66/1

Chelsea – 80/1

Man Utd – 80/1

Odds courtesy of Betfair

‘A couple of weeks ago you were thinking, “if Man City win at Arsenal, they are going to go seven points clear of them and that is the end of it for Arsenal”,’ he added.

‘Now all of a sudden they have beaten them and that will give them so much confidence – if they had beaten them just once last year, they would have gone on to win the league. So that is how big it is.

‘People are getting carried away, though, as Man City are slow starters. Do not get me wrong, it is game on, as they have just lost again, but they are the only team in the league who can win 13-14 games on the trot when it gets past Christmas.

‘You look at their squad and it is much bigger than everyone else’s – any side that finishes above Man City this season will be league champions. There is no way two or three teams will finish above them.

‘And for Arsenal, it was an unbelievable result. It’s also nice for the league as it brings a lorryload of teams into it other than Arsenal.’

MORE : ‘Great to see!’ – Harry Kane reacts to Tottenham going top of the Premier League table

MORE : Manchester United star Mason Mount will be ‘questioning his decision to leave Chelsea’, says Glen Johnson

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Xabi Alonso has impressed at Bayer Leverkusen (Photo by Oliver Kaelke/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Xabi Alonso has impressed at Bayer Leverkusen (Photo by Oliver Kaelke/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Xabi Alonso has a clause in his Bayer Leverkusen contract that would allow him to replace Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.

The Spaniard has made a sensational start to his managerial career with Bayer Leverkusen.

Leverkusen are top of the Bundesliga this season, and Alonso has the German giants playing an eye-catching brand of football.

Though there’s no suggestion that Klopp will imminently leave Anfield, Alonso is many fans’ choice to replace the German on Merseyside.

Alonso spent five years at Anfield before leaving in 2009 to join Real Madrid.

Alonso spent five years at Liverpool (Photo by LFC Foundation/LFC Foundation via Getty Images)
Alonso spent five years at Liverpool (Photo by LFC Foundation/LFC Foundation via Getty Images)

In his illustrious career, Alonso played under Rafael Benitez, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola.

That’s given the Spaniard a sensational back catalogue of coaches to call upon in his own managerial career.

And Bild say that Alonso has a clause in his Leverkusen deal that would allow him to move to Liverpool.

His current contract expires in 2026, but Alonso has a clause that would allow him to join Liverpool, Bayern or Real Madrid should they come calling.

MORE : Roy Keane explains why wants management return and Ian Wright why has no interest at all

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Belgium's Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku was expected to join Inter on a permanent deal at the start of the summer (Shutterstock)

Romelu Lukaku has described events leading up to his Chelsea exit this summer as ‘shocking’ and claims there were moments before his move to Roma that made him ‘explode’.

The striker spent last season on loan at Inter and was expected to complete a permanent move to the Serie A club in the summer transfer window.

However, Inter were angered after learning that Lukaku had also been negotiating with Juventus, whose own supporters staged multiple protests against signing the Belgium international.

Lukaku eventually returned to Chelsea in the summer but was made to train away from Mauricio Pochettino’s first-team squad before he eventually joined Roma on loan.

‘Most of the people in the room know me. You know that I don’t like to beat around the bush. I will speak in time but if I really said how it all went last summer everyone would be shocked,’ Lukaku said during a press conference with Belgium’s national team on Wednesday.

‘There were moments when I really could explode, five years ago I probably would have done that too.

‘Now I have concentrated on what I can do best – playing football.

‘As soon as the negotiations [with Roma] started, I became well informed about the club, the supporters. I must also thank Radja [Nainggolan] who gave me a lot of information. I spent a lot of time talking to Jose Mourinho. The rest is work.

Jose Mourinho head coach of AS Roma gives instructions to Romelu Lukaku of AS Roma
Romelu Lukaku says Jose Mourinho has helped him rediscover his form at Roma (Getty)

‘I worked very hard alone this summer to the point of surprising the Roma staff. I was in a positive mindset, I hadn’t played at my true level for two years and I had to do my best to be back. I was lucky to be able to count on great teammates and staff who helped me.

‘It was said that I was going to sign there or there but that was false. I preferred to remain silent.

’90 per cent of what was said in the media was false and it was hard to keep my mouth shut. I take an example from LeBron James. Every year we hit him. I’m not LeBron but he had the character to always respond and show that he’s there.

‘During the summer I saw what people said about me and I trained to be there the day I had to perform. One day I will tell the truth. The others will also have to assume it at that time.’

When asked about interest from Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal in the summer, Lukaku said: ‘I was honoured by that interest but after the conversations I was not completely convinced.

‘They are the biggest club in the Middle East and the league there will become one of the biggest in the world, but I didn’t want to leave Europe yet.’

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SL Benfica v Rangers: Group D - UEFA Europa League
Brandon Barker left his mark on Trent Alexander-Arnold (Picture: Getty Images)

Trent Alexander-Arnold says the only player to ever ‘destroy’ him on a football pitch is Brandon Barker, a 27-year-old who is currently without a club.

Barker came through the youth ranks at Manchester City, making one appearance for his childhood club in an FA Cup contest in 2016 but never turning out in the Premier League.

The winger had loan spells at the likes of Preston, Hibs and NAC Breda from City before leaving for Rangers on a permanent move in 2019.

Since then he has played for Reading and Omonia but is now without a club after being released by the Cypriot side.

However, he certainly made an impression on a young Alexander-Arnold when Manchester City Under-21s beat Liverpool U-21s and Barker got the better of the future England international.

‘I would say Brandon Barker, played for [Manchester] City,’ Alexander-Arnold told Liverpool’s YouTube channel when asked the the best player he has faced who never reached the top of the game.

‘I was 18, playing for the Under-21s, first ever time at Anfield, got beat 3-0. He scored two and got an assist. I came off at 60 [minutes].

Barker played for Omonia against Manchester United in the Europa League last year (Picture: Getty Images)

‘Still to this day, he’s the opponent I think that just destroyed me, man. I’ve never had it like that before.

‘At that point, I’m thinking “this kid is going to be the best player in the world”. Because I’d never seen someone move so quickly and sharp and effectively, so I’d say Brandon Barker.’

Celtic v Rangers - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
Barker had a brief stint at Rangers under Steven Gerrard (Picture: Getty Images)

It is not the first time Barker has received fantastic praise, with former Rangers midfielder Andy Halliday saying the winger is the best player he has ever seen in training/

‘Brandon Barker. One of the best trainers I have ever seen,’ Halliday told Open Goal. ‘I know for a fact if you ask anyone who has played with him at any club – whether it’s Hibs or Preston – they’d all say the same thing.

‘Josh Ginelly when he came to Hearts, had played with him at Preston, and he said the exact same thing. He said: “Brandon Barker was the best I’ve ever seen in training”.

‘He was at Man City when he was younger and apparently he was the one coming through at Man City at that time.

‘Honestly, in training he would get the ball off the goalie, dribble by the full team and score.

‘I’m not saying people thought Brandon Barker was s**** but fans would say he’s not good enough but in training…’

MORE : Howard Webb breaks silence on Tottenham vs Liverpool VAR mistake controversy and says ‘steps taken’ to solve problems

MORE : Manchester United star Mason Mount will be ‘questioning his decision to leave Chelsea’, says Glen Johnson

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Harry Maguire playing for Manchester United
Harry Maguire wants to stay at Manchester United. (Photo by Richard Sellers/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire says the opportunity to join West Ham United ‘wasn’t there’ because the two clubs failed to agree a fee.

The defender was expected to leave Old Trafford last summer after being stripped of the club captaincy.

West Ham boss David Moyes made no secret of his desire to sign Maguire and a fee of £30million was said to have been agreed between the two clubs.

It was reported, however, that Maguire wanted to stay at the Theatre of Dreams in order to fight for his place.

However, Maguire says the ‘opportunity’ to move to east London was not there because the two clubs failed to settle on a fee.

Harry Maguire celebrates playing for Manchester United
Maguire has two years left on his deal (Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)

‘Regular game time is really important to me, it has been throughout all my career,’ said Maguire.

‘The actual opportunity to go to West Ham wasn’t really agreed between both clubs and myself, so it wasn’t just my chance to say ‘yes’ and I’m doing.

‘The actual opportunity wasn’t there because we didn’t get far enough down the line with it.

‘West Ham are a massive club, my focus is still on Manchester United.

‘I want to fight for my place, but, of course, game time is really important to me.’

MORE : Manchester United star Mason Mount will be ‘questioning his decision to leave Chelsea’, says Glen Johnson

MORE : Manchester United players ‘not having’ Erik ten Hag, claims Alan Brazil

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Mason Mount during a Champions League game for Manchester United
Mason Mount has struggled since moving to Man Utd (Photo: Getty)

Mason Mount is having regrets over leaving Chelsea for Manchester United following their awful start to the season, according to former Blues defender Glen Johnson.

The midfielder made the shock decision to swap Stamford Bridge for Old Trafford over the summer after rejecting the chance to extend his contract with Chelsea.

Mount had been at the club since he was just six-years-old, and was a key part of the team that won the Champions League and Club World Cup in 2021, with many expecting him to be there for many years to come.

But he decided to head to United in a deal worth an initial £55million, with Erik ten Hag a big fan of the England star, even handing him the iconic No.7 shirt.

However, he has struggled to adapt at his new club, registering just one assist in his first six appearances, with the Red Devils enduring a woeful campaign thus far, losing six of their first 11 games.

They are currently 10th in the Premier League table, eight points off leaders Tottenham, and having previously been tipped as title contenders, many believe they will struggle to even finish in the top four.

Asked if Mount will be regretting his move to United, Johnson told Betfred: ‘At the moment he will be. Manchester United are a very big football club, but you don’t join them in the expectation that you’re going to be part of a team that’s tenth in the Premier League.

Mason Mount holds the Champions League trophy with Chelsea
Mount won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2021 (Photo: Getty)

‘You only want to go there to challenge for major honours, and I know that Chelsea aren’t in a better position at this very moment, but you don’t move to Old Trafford in the expectation that you’re going to struggle.

‘I don’t know why he decided to leave Chelsea, but I’m sure he’s questioning his decision at this very moment.’

As Johnson points out, the Blues are also struggling in 11th place, a point behind United, though it should be said that results haven’t truly reflected the performances of Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

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They got a much needed three points against Burnley last Saturday and Johnson ‘absolutely’ believes things are beginning to take shape for the new-look side.

The former full-back added: ‘They’ve shown a lot of character to bounce back from their early season form and hopefully scoring four goals away from home is an indication that they’re going to start climbing the league table over the next few games.

‘With the players they’ve got at their disposal, Chelsea should definitely not be sat in mid-table.’

MORE : ‘Great to see!’ – Harry Kane reacts to Tottenham going top of the Premier League table

MORE : Howard Webb breaks silence on Tottenham vs Liverpool VAR mistake controversy and says ‘steps taken’ to solve problems

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Wayne Rooney as DC United manager
Birmingham have put their faith in Rooney (Picture: Getty)

Wayne Rooney has been appointed as the new Birmingham City manager on a three-and-a-half-year deal.

The former Manchester United player, who is joined in the Midlands by Ashley Cole and John O’Shea, will have work to do to convince the St Andrew’s faithful that he is the right man for the job due to his slightly underwhelming managerial record to date.

Rooney only left his role at DC United at the weekend, but the US-based owners have moved quickly to appoint the former England captain as a replacement for the departed John Eustace, who had guided the club to sixth position in the table at the time of his dismissal.

Let’s take a look at Rooney’s stats as a manager, including his win percentage so far in his coaching career.

What was Wayne Rooney’s managerial record at Derby?

The Birmingham job is Rooney’s third in the managerial hot seat following those spells in the East Midlands and America.

Rooney won 25 of his 84 games in charge at Derby between November 2020 and June 2022, giving him a win record of 29.8%.

Wayne Rooney as Derby County manager
Rooney did a noble job at Derby (Picture: Getty)

However, despite the disappointing win percentage, Rooney was widely praised for the job he did at the Rams, having first taken charge on an interim basis before being appointed permanently in January 2021.

The legendary striker managed to keep Derby in the Championship, securing their second tier status on the final day of the 2020/21 season by a solitary point.

The club were then slapped with a 21-point deduction for the following season due to entering administration and breaking accounting rules, which left Rooney with an almost impossible task of keeping Derby in the league once again.

And in the end it turned out to be one step too far, with Derby finishing seven points adrift of safety.

But Rooney ensured Derby didn’t go down without a fight, and had it not been for the points deduction, they would have finished with 55 points and stayed in the division.

Rooney stepped down in the summer of 2022 ahead of their League One campaign, admitting the club needed ‘fresh energy’ under their new owners.

What was Wayne Rooney’s managerial record at DC United?

Later that summer, Rooney returned to Washington as the DC United manager, whom he played for between 2018 and 2019.

Wayne Rooney as DC United manager
Rooney had a tough time in the States (Picture: Getty)

Across his 15 month tenure in the American capital, Rooney oversaw 14 wins (13 draws and 26 defeats) in his 53 games as boss, giving him a win record of 26.4%.

The MLS side elected to relieve Rooney of his duties following the conclusion of the 2023 regular season having finished ninth in the Eastern Conference.

This saw the club fail to qualify for the playoffs for a second consecutive year.

What is Wayne Rooney’s overall managerial record?

In total, Rooney has won 39 of his 137 games as a manger, earning him a career win record of 27.7%.

Rooney has drawn a further 34 matches and lost 64.

MORE : Roy Keane criticises ‘overweight’ Eden Hazard and ranks ex-Chelsea star outside his Premier League all-time top 10

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Eden Hazard playing for Real Madrid
Eden Hazard failed to make an impact at Real Madrid after his £88.5m move from Chelsea (Getty)

Roy Keane has criticised Eden Hazard for being ‘overweight’ at Real Madrid and believes the former Chelsea forward should not be considered among the top 10 Premier League players of all time.

Hazard, who turned 32 this year, announced his retirement from football this week after spending the summer as a free agent following his departure from Real Madrid.

The ex-Belgium international won six major trophies during his time at Chelsea, including two Premier League titles, and was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2015.

But Keane believes Hazard should not be regarded as one of the Premier League’s all-time greats.

Asked if Hazard has achieved everything people thought he would, the former Manchester United captain said on The Overlap: ‘No, no.

‘Listen, brilliant player at Chelsea but when he turned up in the condition he turned up at Real Madrid… not good.

Eden Hazard poses with the Premier League trophy as a Chelsea player
Eden Hazard won two Premier League titles during his time at Chelsea (Getty)

‘He’s had injuries, talented boy, but the fact when you talk about Real Madrid, I find it hard to…

‘It’s sad to see because he’s a talented player but it goes to show your talent isn’t enough.

‘He didn’t look like he had the full package in terms of his mindset when he went to Real Madrid, you can’t turn up overweight for your first pre-season at the club.

‘It can be difficult to go to any big club but you turn up in the best shape to give yourself the best chance, he didn’t give himself a chance, even if the club was maybe, he was going to the club at a bad time, but you can still turn up in shape.

‘I still wouldn’t put him in, with the players you’ve mentioned, the brilliant players in the Premier League, with [Alan] Shearer, [Thierry] Henry, I still wouldn’t put him in that bracket.

‘I still think if it’s less than three or four years, I think that’s not long enough when you start talking about other amazing players who have done it for eight, nine, 10, 11, 12 years, for two or three years, for me, is still not long enough.’

Eden Hazard celebrates scoring a goal for Chelsea
Roy Keane believes Eden Hazard is not one of the Premier League’s all-time greats (Getty)

Jamie Carragher, meanwhile, disagreed with Keane and believes Hazard would be in contention to make an all-time Premier League XI.

‘I think he was one of the best players I’ve ever seen in the Premier League. He was one of the best players in a World Cup when Belgium finished third, he won Player of the Year a couple of times,’ Carragher said.

‘I do think there’s something about Barcelona and Real Madrid, for me, I think they are the two biggest clubs in the world in that the best players in the world always play for those teams.

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‘And he hasn’t done that last bit what Roy’s talking about where you think of what Ronaldinho did at Barcelona, what [Cristiano] Ronaldo did when he went to Real Madrid, what [Jude] Bellingham looks like he’s doing when he’s gone to Real Madrid. I think you elevate yourself to another level if you produce the goods at those two clubs and he [Hazard] just hasn’t got there.

‘I think a lot of that is what Roy said, how can you go to Real Madrid like that? I can’t understand that.

‘But in terms of the Premier League I think he’d be close to an all-time Premier League XI, I think he’d definitely be in the discussion, I thought he was brilliant for Chelsea.’

MORE : Manchester United star Mason Mount will be ‘questioning his decision to leave Chelsea’, says Glen Johnson

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FC Bayern München v Sport-Club Freiburg - Bundesliga
Harry Kane has scored nine goals in his first 10 games for Bayern Munich (Photo: Getty)

Harry Kane says he is thrilled to see how radically Tottenham have improved since he left and hopes they can win the Premier League title this season.

The England captain made the tough decision to leave his boyhood club over the summer, joining Bayern Munich in a deal worth £100million.

Over the course of 14 years, Kane established himself as one of Spurs’ greatest ever players and all-time top goalscorer, with 280 goals in 435 appearances.

However, the striker was unable to win any silverware while in North London, and with the club enduring a turbulent last few seasons, that dream looked as far away as it had ever been – a key factor in Kane’s decision to move on.

But since his departure, Spurs have looked completely reborn under Ange Postecoglou, playing free-flowing, attacking football and still scoring goals at a fantastic rate despite the departure of their key talisman.

They are unbeaten after eight league games and currently sit top of the table, level on points with arch-rivals Arsenal but ahead on goals scored.

‘It’s great to see. I think I’ve said before, the manager is doing great for them with the way they’re playing,’ Kane said.

Luton Town v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Tottenham are unbeaten in the Premier League under Ange Postecoglou (Photo: Getty)

‘The fans are right behind the team and it’s definitely what they needed after the last few years. I’ll always keep an eye on Spurs and the Premier League.

‘Of course, there’s still a long way to go, but like the manager said, there’s no reason why the fans shouldn’t be excited and happy with the way things are going. Hopefully they can continue.

‘I have made it clear my whole career I am a Tottenham fan and I would love to see Tottenham do well. There is no other team in the Premier League I would want to win than Tottenham.’

While Spurs are top of the Premier League, Kane’s Bayern are only third in Bundesliga – two points behind leaders Bayer Leverkusen after seven games – though the striker has had little trouble fitting in, scoring nine goals in his first 10 games across all competitions.

‘Also, I have to be respectful to Bayern Munich and of course, the fans know I will always have a soft spot for Spurs – there is no question about that – but I have got to put all my attention on Bayern Munich and to make us as successful as possible,’ the 30-year-old added.

‘So, I know there will be questions, for sure, particularly when Tottenham are doing well. Of course, I hope they do as well as possible but my main attention is where I am now and trying to perform for Bayern.’

MORE : Howard Webb breaks silence on Tottenham vs Liverpool VAR mistake controversy and says ‘steps taken’ to solve problems

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