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    Joe Jones
    Sunderland CEO Martin Bain has claimed that a number of parties are interested in buying the club.
    Current owner Ellis Short has long admitted to wanting to sell the club and with Sunderland's relegation to League One confirmed, Bain says there is clarity for any potential buyer to formulate a deal.
    “There are a few parties who are currently looking at the club in a meaningful way,” Bain told Chronicle Live.
    “I would really hope that now the club knows its position in terms of which league it will be playing in, that might give some clarity to any potential buyer to formulate their thoughts and a deal.
    “I have one single priority at the moment, to try and assist a sale and help full diligence be done.
    “We have an owner who is very actively trying to sell the club and that will be the game-changer for Sunderland AFC.
    “We hope that a new owner comes in, will have a better financial backdrop than what there has been in recent years and will be able to provide that spark.
    “What we have at the club is good people, passionate people, a wonderful fanbase, fantastic facilities.
    “I feel positive because anybody who looks at the club now, can see that it is a distressed asset but one that has all the fundamentals.
    “These things give you hope that someone will see this and see that it is a fantastic club to acquire.
    “It surprises me that it has not been sold before now, maybe that is people seeing what is under the bonnet when they look.”
    Bain added that, despite the club's debt, Short will not put the club into administration.
    "Ellis funds the club's losses, I have spoken to him and he has assured me that he will continue to do so", he stated.
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    Joe Jones
    The German Football Association (DFB) has submitted its bid to host the 2024 European Championship finals.
    UEFA confirmed in March 2017 that the tournament will be held in either Germany or Turkey.
    DFB president Reinhard Grindel handed over the association's bid documents to UEFA on Tuesday alongside bid ambassador and former Germany and Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm.
    The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) will submit its bid this week, with European football's governing body set to announce the host on 27 September.
    "I am certain that we will once again feel great enthusiasm and create a new spirit of solidarity at Euro 2024," said Lahm, who captained the World Cup 2014 winners and is a DFB bid ambassador.
    "We are building bridges between people of different nations, and are making an important contribution to bringing alive both the values of football and those of a modern civil society," added Grindel.
    Euro 2024 will return to a single-host format, after Euro 2020 will be held in 12 cities across Europe.
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    Joe Jones
    Jurgen Klopp has likened Liverpool's habit of enjoying dominant spells against opponents to Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United sides.
    The Reds scored three goals in 19 first-half minutes to take their Champions League quarter-final tie away from Manchester City, ultimately winning the tie 5-1 on aggregate.
    Klopp looks set to employ a similar tactic when they welcome Roma to Anfield for their semi-final first leg on Tuesday, after admitting he wants to use it to the same effect as rivals Manchester United in the 1990s and 2000s.
    "Is there something with Alex Ferguson, Man United," Klopp told Sky Sports. "At a specific time, they scored always twice?
    "Score, score? That is the opportunity. Score once, do it again. Use the momentum in the game. Of course we talk about it, of course we want to use that, but you still have to score.
    "The team is a really enthusiastic team. In a good moment, they jump and that's really good to see.
    "On the other hand, that's why the two Man City games were really special. We dealt with the very difficult circumstances in the two halves here and there on a high level.
    "That brought us to the semis, not that we can score one, two, three in a row.
    "In the moments when we are not in charge of the game, we are still in the game, that's a very important thing and that helped us massively."
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    Joe Jones
    Rafael Benitez has warned Mike Ashley that he cannot perform "miracles" every year after keeping Newcastle United in the Premier League.
    The Spaniard, who has a year remaining on his existing contract, has done superbly to steer an inexperienced Magpies side to safety this season.
    Speaking ahead of Monday's game against Everton, his 100th Newcastle game, Benitez said: "I cannot do miracles every year, so then you have to have the tools to be sure that you can do your job.
    "I like to win, I want to win games and I want to win trophies. I want to be capable of competing and if you want to compete in the Premier League or this market, then you have to compete in everything. Then if you have the tools to compete, you can win.
    "I'd like to do that and at the same time, I like to improve players, coach players, follow a business plan, a realistic business plan in modern football. I have no problem with that because I did it in the past."
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    Joe Jones
    Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has stressed that he has "no problem" with manager Jose Mourinho and that "transfers" are not on his mind.
    Over the last few months, multiple media reports have suggested that the relationship between the two is somewhat strained, leading to rumours of an exit from Old Trafford.
    Asked about the rumours linking him with a summer move, Pogba told Canal Football Club: "Right now, I am at Manchester United and I am honestly only thinking about the present.
    "Transfers are not in my head. We are in the [FA] Cup final and the World Cup is around the corner."
    On the links to a possible summer move to French champions Paris Saint-Germain, he added: "You know, if I listened to everyone, I would be everywhere."
    Questions have also been raised about his relationship with Mourinho, to which he replied: "I don't have a problem with him, and I don't think he has a problem with me.
    "He's the coach and he has to make choices. I am a player and I accept them. I have to answer on the pitch."
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    Bainbridge NCFC
    The footballing world was taken by storm on Friday following the announcement that Arsene Wenger would be stepping down as Arsenal manager after nearly 22 years in charge of the North London club.
    In October 1996, Wenger was announced as Gunners manager. Since taking charge, he revolutionised the English game by introducing his players to strict training regimes including a specific dieting routine.
    He has gone on to win 10 major trophies including 3 Premier League titles and 7 FA Cup titles. In his second season in charge, he won the Premier League and FA Cup double which was matched in the 2001/02 season.
    From his appointment to the early 2000s, he seemed the only manager able to prevent Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson completely dominating the English game, giving us the epic rivalry between the two clubs & managers.
    He remains to this present day the only manager in the Premier League era to go an entire season undefeated. The only other team to accomplish such a feat was Preston North End in 1889, although that was only a 22 game season.
    His Arsenal team would then go on to make it 49 domestic league games unbeaten before losing to Manchester United the following season. This set a new top tier unbeaten run eclipsing Nottingham Forest's longstanding record of 42 games without defeat from 1977-78.
    However, following the Invincible season, just one more major trophy would await Arsenal - the 2005 FA Cup - before a nine-year drought which would be ended with the 2014 FA Cup. The Gunners would claim two more of these cups, in 2015 and 2017, but the league title has eluded them since.
    During these 9 years of waiting for a trophy, there were questions being asked of Wenger whether he was still fit for the job. It's hard to disagree with the fans asking these questions considering what he achieved in his first 8 years in charge transforming Arsenal into serious title challengers.
    Up until the 2016/17 season, Arsenal under Wenger had never finished outside the top 4 and were regulars in the UEFA Champions League, making 14 consecutive appearances in the knockout phase of the competition starting from the 03/04 season most notably making the Champions League Final in 2006 which they ended up losing 2-1 to Barcelona despite having taken the lead through a Sol Campbell goal.
    The only other time under Wenger that Arsenal had failed to qualify for the Champions League was in the 1997/98 season despite finishing 3rd in his first season. In the 1999/00 season, his team was eliminated from the Champions League & relegated to the UEFA Cup in which they finished runners up to Galatasaray losing 4-1 on penalties following a 0-0 draw.
    During his 22 year spell at Arsenal, he has had a successful career but he will certainly be devasted not to win the League Cup, Champions League and UEFA Cup, competitions in which he has finished as runner-up.
    However, with this being his last season in charge could he be about to win a major European trophy in the form of the Europa League?
    Having made the semi-finals, it could be written in the stars to give this legend a great send-off.
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    BradtheMiller
    More vital games at both ends of the League One table in midweek, so let's take a look how they could pan out.
    BRADFORD CITY v MILTON KEYNES
    Simon Grayson's Bantams have hit a bit of form at last and they should be good enough to administer the last rites on MK's woeful League 1 season.
    Prediction: Home win
    BRISTOL ROVERS v WIGAN ATHLETIC
    Paul Cook's Latics can take a giant step towards the L1 Title with victory over a Gas side comfortably in mid table.
    Prediction: Away win
    DONCASTER ROVERS v BLACKBURN ROVERS
    Donny's season is falling away disappointingly after safety was secured and they will be no match for Mowbray's Rovers side who need the points to take the title race to the last day.
    Prediction: Away win
    OLDHAM ATHLETIC v SOUTHEND UNITED
    Oldham simply have to stop drawing winnable games if they want to remain in this division. Southend at home is winnable despite the Shrimpers demolition of MK on Saturday.
    Prediction: Home win
    ROCHDALE v PLYMOUTH ARGYLE
    Dale are another struggling team who draw too many games. Keith Hill's team have to win as do Argyle who's play off charge hit the buffers at Northampton last time out. Something has to give and I'm tipping Argyle to come out on top in a close game.
    Prediction: Away win
    SHREWSBURY TOWN v PETERBOROUGH UNITED
    The Shrews have blown their chance of going up automatically and their form has dipped worryingly as they limp towards the playoffs so they won't be relishing Jack Marriott and the rest of Posh's free scoring side who have to win to keep alive their slim play off hopes. Posh to win this one.
    Prediction: Away win
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    Joe Jones
    Arsene Wenger has admitted that Arsenal fans campaigning for his removal had created a “hurtful” atmosphere that was damaging the club’s reputation on a worldwide scale.
    The Frenchman announced on Friday that he would step down as Gunners manager at the end of the season after almost 22 years in charge.
    Supporters of the club have been increasingly vocal in their criticism of Wenger in recent years and, speaking after Sunday's 4-1 win over West Ham United, the coach expressed his sentiments on the matter.
    "I was not tired," Wenger replied to BBC Sport when asked about his decision to quit.
    "Personally I believe this club is respected all over the world, much more than in England. The fans did not give me the image of unity I want all over the world and that was hurtful because I think the club is respected.
    "I'm not resentful and I do not want to make stupid headlines. I'm not resentful with the fans, I just feel if my personality is in the way of what I think our club is, for me that is more important than me.
    "That is what I want to say, it is nothing to do with the fans. The fans were not happy - I can understand that. That is my job and I have to live with that, I can accept that."
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    Betts1604
    Since the award was established in the 1993/94 season, the Premier League Manager of the Season award has been dominated by the manager whose team has won the title. In fact, only four managers have won the award without winning the Premier League trophy in the same season.
    This season, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is arguably the top contender for winning the award. Although Manchester City were one of the favourites to win the EPL at the beginning of the season, the Spaniard has done this playing his brand of football which was previously seen at former clubs Barcelona and Bayern Munich. His exciting and attractive style of football has lit up the Premier League, whilst proving critics wrong who suggested his style could not work in England. City were crowned champions last week with five games still to play.
    This had led to many critics believing Pep deserves the award. But does City’s sheer dominance of the league automatically mean Pep should be awarded it, or is somebody else more worthy?
    One of the biggest surprises this season has been Burnley FC. Their manager, Sean Dyche, is in his fifth year with the club. During that time Dyche won promotion to the Premier League after a four-year absence. Burnley’s spell in the top flight would initially only last one season as the club were later relegated. However, to Burnley’s credit, the club would keep their faith in their manager as Dyche would later sign a contract extension. This decision would later be rewarded as Dyche guided Burnley to the top flight for a second time in the 2015/16 season. This time Burnley would finish in 16th place and survive the drop.
    At the beginning of this season, the realistic expectation of most Burnley fans would have been of staying in the Premier League for another season. Whilst most of the big clubs invested handsomely in the summer - Manchester City in particular having a NET spend of around 138 million, Burnley’s was a much more modest 15 million.
    However, with both clever investment and Dyche learning from previous experiences, Burnley have been one of the Premier League’s surprise packages this season who are now on the brink of European qualification. They currently sit in 7th position with 53 points. Only a late collapse would see Burnley miss out on playing in Europe next season. In addition to this, Dyche has improved the form of many of his players, giving them the platform to shine at Turf Moor. This has even led to players being called up to play for their respective nations – Nick Pope and James Tarkowski for example being called up to the England squad.
    In an era where the sacking of a football manager is part of the modern game, Burnley have proved that sticking with their manager can lead to amazing results. In doing so, Dyche has defied expectations and critics alike.
    Should Dyche be awarded the Manager of the Season award, or should the overall dominance from Manchester City mean that Guardiola deserves this award instead? Or maybe another manager deserves this award even more?
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    Joe Jones
    MK Dons have parted company with manager Dan Micciche after less than three months in charge.
    The 38-year-old replaced Robbie Neilson in January but won only three of 16 games in his first club managerial job.
    Assistant boss Keith Millen will take charge for the last three games of the season, with MK Dons 23rd in the table and six points from safety.
    "I put every ounce of effort into the job," Micciche, whose final game as Dons boss was a 4-0 defeat at Southend United on Saturday, told the club website.
    "Unfortunately, the fine margins have gone against us and it hasn't worked out in the way we would have wanted."
    Chairman Pete Winkelman added: "I am grateful to Dan for his dedication to the role during this testing period in our history and I sincerely wish him the very best for the future."
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    Joe Jones
    Sunderland have issued a statement after dropping into League One in which they admit that the club is in a "period of uncertainty".
    The Black Cats were relegated to the third tier of English football for only the second time in their history following the 2-1 Championship defeat at home to Burton Albion on Saturday.
    "Confirmation of relegation has been the culmination of what has been a demoralising season for everyone," the statement read.
    "We began the campaign realistic in the knowledge that with the backdrop of relegation from the Premier League and our financial position, it would be a significant challenge to make an immediate return to the top flight.
    "However, it was not envisaged nor expected that we would subsequently be facing the prospect of League One football, which makes this position all the harder to take.
    "Despite the difficulties we have faced, our fans have been a shining light. They have continued to back the team in their thousands, which has been incredibly humbling to see.
    "We are truly sorry that we have not been able to give them the positive outcome such tremendous support deserves.
    "This is also a huge blow for our staff, who have worked tirelessly throughout the season under testing circumstances and uncertainty.
    "We applaud them for their resilience and dedication; they are fans of the club too and like our supporters, they are hurting.
    "Whilst naturally we feel devastated today, there remains a burning desire from within to re-build and re-invigorate the club.
    "As we look at how to best achieve this, it must be recognised that we are in a period of uncertainty in relation to the club's future ownership and the resolution of this will be the driving factor in how we move forward.
    "Sunderland AFC is so much more than a football club. It is an institution that has been at the very heart of its city and community for almost 140 years.
    "It is built on a deep-rooted passion that is proudly passed from generation to generation and it is this enduring and unwavering passion that gives us the strength and fortitude we need in times of challenge.
    "It is through the unstinting support of our fans that Sunderland AFC will rise again."
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    Joe Jones
    The chairman of the sponsors for Chinese club Chongqing Dangdai Lifan has claimed that he is "positive" of the club signing Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta for next season.
    Iniesta, who has a special lifetime contract at Barca, is expected to leave Camp Nou at the end of the season and had been strongly linked with a move to China.
    Securing the services of the Champions League, La Liga, World Cup and European Championship winner would represent a major coup for Chongqing, one of the lesser-known clubs in the Chinese Super League.
    "I am positive on introducing Iniesta," Gong Daxing, chairman of the club's title sponsor SWM, told the state-run Xinhua news agency.
    "Iniesta's arrival would be beneficial for Chongqing and a great bonus for our brand."
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    Joe Jones
    Patrick Vieira has stressed that he is “happy” at New York City FC amid speculation linking him with the Arsenal job.
    Arsene Wenger announced on Friday he will be leaving the Gunners at the end of the season after 22 years in charge.
    The veteran coach had previously suggested that former Arsenal midfielder Vieira "has the potential" to succeed him as manager.
    But Vieira, who won three Premier League titles under Wenger, is enjoying life in his third season in the MLS.
    "I spent nine years at Arsenal which makes the club really special for me," he told New York radio station WNYE. "But that is not enough to coach the team.
    "I am always flattered to hear my name linked with different football clubs. That is good for your ego but at the same time, I am happy here.
    "We will see what will happen in the next couple of years."
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    ChrisCrook
    Ah, Football, 'the beautiful game'. The thrills and spills ignite us, the passion fuels us and the hard grit and determination makes us who we are.
    But when it comes to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), I think of dark cold nights, train delays and international breaks. All of which we try to avoid but they always come back to haunt us.
    It's the most controversial footballing topic on the planet at this moment in time. We all have our opinions, some stronger than others. Some love it and some hate it, it's like Marmite, there's no in-between. But above all, do we really need it?
    For me, I certainly know what side I'm on. I hate it.
    As football fans, we complain constantly about referees. 'They're useless' and 'come on referee, get a grip' and similar things are said by many fans at games. Among thousands of fans each game, there will also be critics of refs who spoil a game by slowing it down. So, why does the Football Association find it appropriate to give referees even more time to decide on the outcome?
    This week, the head of UEFA came out publicly to confirm that VAR will be not used in the Champions League next season. He says it causes: (1) "a lot of confusion" and "If we, or I, can do something to make sure that the World Cup is not decided by a referee's mistakes, then I think it's our duty to do it." Doesn't that hamper VAR's chances of making it into every competitive competition? Well, one can only hope so!
    VAR is specifically used for goals, penalties, straight red cards, and mistaken identity. All of which are very important calls by any referee already, surely, we shouldn’t need another 'video assistant referee' to make the decision for another referee. (2) Report shows technology has been 98.9% accurate in decision-making. If that's the case, then what's the point in having a referee in the first place?
    The way technology is going in today's modern football, we'll end up with a robot as a referee. Ridiculous right? But I wouldn’t put it past the big boys at the top, throwing money left, right and centre at our beautiful game.
    Step forward a few months and the World Cup will be in full swing. Step back a few days (17th February) and remind yourselves of the horrors of VAR once again. Fans across the country were left bemused by a remarkably tight decision, when Manchester United midfielder and Spain international Juan Mata was deemed to be 'just' offside against Huddersfield Town which meant the decision could not be changed due to an 'unclear error' which can only be overturned if the decision was 'clear'.

    VAR caused outrage across social media, when the lines looked wonky, with some calling it a farce. Personally, I think it looks like it has been drawn on by a three-year-old. Maybe it was. All the money in modern football and they can't even afford a ruler!
    It's not just fans who have to deal with this peculiar system, it's lower league football, which should be a number one priority in English Football after the Premier League, so instead of the FA putting all their pennies into a project that isn't necessarily working (and never will!) why don’t they put their time into something worthy. I mean don’t get me wrong, we all love the beauties that the Premier League offers but when it comes to technology, it just ruins it.
    The outcome of VAR hangs in the balance. It's new to our game but something tells me this technology craze is only having a damaging effect on the future of the Premier League's reputation. In other countries, VAR has been tried and tested but when I think of technology, I think - can't we just go back to the good old days?
    The thrills and spills ignite us, the passion fuels us and 'our' team makes us who we are but when it comes to VAR, I Just hope it doesn’t catch on. But after all, at least we still have our 'beautiful game'.
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    Joe Jones
    Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino has claimed that Jose Mourinho is doing a "fantastic job" at Manchester United and "does not need to show anyone that he is one of the best".
    Spurs face United in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday, both sides seeking to get their hands on the trophy as it represents their last chance of silverware this season.
    Mourinho's side moved six points ahead of Spurs in the Premier League table on Wednesday with a 2-0 win at Bournemouth, but the United boss has come under criticism after conceding the title to rivals Manchester City.
    "For me, Jose Mourinho is one of the best managers in the world," Pochettino told reporters. "He does not need to show anyone that he is one of the best.
    "Manchester United are having a fantastic season. Like us, they are disappointed to be out of the Champions League because it is massive for them and for us.
    "We are similar. They are better than us because they have more points in the Premier League. He is doing a fantastic job in his second season in Manchester."
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    Joe Jones
    Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira has been tipped by outgoing manager Arsene Wenger and former teammate Nigel Winterburn to take over at the Emirates Stadium.
    Wenger announced on Friday he will be leaving the club at the end of the season after 22 years in charge, winning three Premier League trophies in that time.
    Vieira, who was an integral part of all three title wins under Wenger, is now in his third season as manager of New York City FC following a spell in charge of youth development at Manchester City.
    When asked by Sky Sports if he could see Vieira succeeding him, Wenger replied: "He works at the moment in New York and he works for Man City. He's a guy who has the potential one day, yes.
    "I've followed his managerial career. I think he does very well but overall, this Premier League is special. You have to come in and there are plenty of former players who played here who have potential, the intelligence and knowledge to do it."
    Former Gunners defender Winterburn, who played under Wenger and alongside Vieira at Highbury, says the current NYCFC boss would bring a winning mentality, but admits there will be many names linked with the job.
    "If it is Patrick Vieira, I would be delighted with that," Winterburn said. "He's learning in America, he is somebody who has been a winner with Arsenal, which is so, so important.
    "I think he will be one of maybe 10 or 12 names thrown about in the coming months.
    "I'd like anybody that can say to me they will move Arsenal back up. I still think it is going to be very, very difficult. I don't think it is a given that the new person will come in and be successful.
    "They'll have to be patient, they'll have to look at the style of play, look at the changes that he is making to the team."
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    Joe Jones
    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that he will step down from his role at the end of the season.
    The Frenchman departs a year before his latest contract was due to expire.
    Arsenal are sixth in the Premier League and set to miss out on a top-four spot for the second straight season.
    Wenger, 68, won three league titles and seven FA Cups, including the Double in 1998 and 2002.
    In a statement to the club's website, he said: "After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season.
    "I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years.
    "I managed the club with full commitment and integrity.
    "I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special.
    "I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high.
    "To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support forever."
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    Joe Jones
    Javi Gracia has revealed that Watford's players have been hit by a stomach virus, with four players in doubt for Saturday's clash with Crystal Palace.
    Gerard Deulofeu, the forward on loan from Barcelona, and defender Sebastian Prodl have both been absent from training due to the illness sweeping the camp.
    Gracia refused to reveal the names of the other two players who were affected, but hopes all four will be fit for the visit of Roy Hodgson's side.
    "Gerard was sick this week and there were other players who have been ill, too," Gracia told Sky Spors. "Prodl has also been ill all week.
    "It is a stomach virus. They are recovered, available for the match and I am sure they are in the best condition."
    The Hornets are nine points above safety, having played one game more than Southampton, but will be overtaken by Palace if their opponents win at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
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    Joe Jones
    Manchester United midfielder Andreas Pereira has confirmed that Valencia have informed his agent they want to buy him this summer.
    However, the 22-year-old says his preference is to return to Old Trafford next season.
    Pereira is coming to the end of a season-long loan at the Mestalla, where he has made 28 appearances this season, scoring once and adding four assists.
    Jose Mourinho expressed disappointment at Pereira's decision to join Valencia in September rather than staying and fighting for his place at Old Trafford but that is exactly what the player hopes to do next season.
    "Valencia approached my agent and said they want to buy me which is flattering, but it wasn't like it was reported in the media," Pereira told the South China Morning Post.
    "People said I'd demanded talks with Jose Mourinho when I've demanded nothing. The Valencia coach speaks with me a lot and we have a good understanding, but as far as I'm concerned I'm still a Manchester United player, with a contract at Old Trafford until 2020 and an ambition to make it at United. I've never sought to leave United."
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    Joe Jones
    Zinedine Zidane has urged other Real Madrid players to stand up and be counted after Cristiano Ronaldo was once again the saviour for the club by rescuing a point against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.
    The Portuguese's 42nd goal of the season, coming three minutes from time, denied Bilbao a rare victory at the Bernabeu.
    Real's 1-1 draw left them third in La Liga, 15 points behind leaders Barcelona with five games remaining.
    Despite their domestic woes, Los Blancos maintain hopes of securing a third successive Champions League title, a feat last achieved when Bayern Munich won the European Cup from 1974 to 1976.
    Indeed, the Bavarians stand in Real's way this season, and Zidane insists his side cannot rely on just Ronaldo when heading to Munich for the semi-final first leg on Wednesday.
    "We can think there will be other players as well as Cristiano who could make the difference in Munich," Zidane told reporters after Wednesday's game.
    "We have to stay focused because it's a Champions League semi-final and we're defending our title."
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