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    KB1862
    The talk of Fixture Congestion in English football, most notably in the Premier League, has led to discussions about how the issue could resolve. This has seen the Winter Break come in to play for the first time this season as it’s been used for many seasons in other European leagues. It has also been spoken about that FA Cup Replays should be scrapped as well as the League Cup competition all together.
    But now, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has had his say by claiming it would be better for everyone if the English FA scrapped the League Cup. France have already agreed to scrapping their League Cup as from next season which might put pressure on England to follow suit.
    The whole point behind scrapping the League Cup is too “Help reduce fixtures and prevent congestion”. But, look at the bigger picture which is the fact that UEFA want to expand the Champions League. When you consider this proposal of an expanded Champions League and scrapping of the League Cup, it only benefits the bigger clubs in England. There is already a huge divide within English Football between the Premier League and the EFL so this would just add to the division.
    UEFA are also looking at the option of having a summer competition. Some of those teams in talks with joining the tournament, are the same teams who are the ones that believe the footballing calendar is already congested. But, rather than reject the proposal of a expanded Champions League or a Summer European club competition, the Premier League and “Elite” teams in the Premier League would rather see competitions like the League Cup scrapped. Money talks in football and that can surely be the only factor driving this.
    Rather than scrapping the League Cup, just have those who are participating in European competitions exempt from the League Cup. That way, the tournament will have back that competitive edge it so desperately needs after years of negativity resulting in the tournament being referred to as the Mickey Mouse Cup. Competiveness would definitely be brought back by this because of the end result that the winner would have European Football the following season which in more ways than one would be beneficial to many teams lower down. It would also mean that the competition is guaranteed a new winner every season due to entry to European competitions.
    In cases like these with UEFA looking to interfere with the English game and thinking of new competitions as well as expanding an already existing tournament in the Champions League, are we growing ever closer to the possibility of a European Super League?
    The “Big Dogs” that play European football are the only ones being considered by this. Those teams lower down are losing out because of the actions from those higher up which are pandering to the “Elite”.
    There is a way of adapting to scenarios without completely ridding of a competition. Whether it’s received negativity or not, the fact remains that the League Cup is still part of English Football Tradition.
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    KB1862
    We all know all about the magic of the FA Cup. The fact that you could have a Non-League team come face to face with one of the Premier League Big Boys. A David and Goliath situation. Giant killings have been a theme of the tournament and it’s what makes it so special to each fan. But recently, there has been talks of scrapping replays within the Cup. It’s fair to say that the talks have receive both negative and positive feedback. But should the Cup really abandon replays?
    Those who have wish for the Cup to abolish replays have come up with some suggestions to adapt the Cup into life without replays. Such ideas have been...
    - If, after 90 mins, the scores are level, the match should go straight to a penalty shootout. As is the case in the Carabao Cup
    - Minnows to play at home when they face a Premier League team
    Minnows being at home could guarantee a sellout crowd, it could be beneficial to the club by having such a high profile club visit the stadium and could also give them the advantage needed to progress to the next round. But what if it doesn’t happen as it’s supposed to?
    Replays could be financially beneficial to lower league clubs. We’ve seen it in recent times where a club from League One or Two or even as far down as Non-League where clubs have found themselves struggling financially. Some have even faced winding up orders, some even liquidated. Simply because they could not afford the money needed to keep them afloat. FA Cup replays could well stabalise a club and help them move forward.
    Granted, rather than a replay and being able to go straight to penalties might give a minnow the chance to get through to the next round which would be huge in terms of prize money. But, that is not a guarantee. Where as, getting a replay guarantees them an income and possibly the chance to earn extra based on TV Coverage.
    The minnows being at home almost certainly guarantees a bumper crowd especially if the likes of Liverpool or Man City come calling. However, it could be a stadium with a max capacity of 5,000, which yes would be good for the club to sell out, but had if there was a replay you have the chance to visit Anfield or the Etihad where you could be taking more than 3x the amount you’d have at home. Imagine the finances behind those ticket sales.
    It comes as no surprise that it’s mostly those with associations to the “elite” clubs in England that have called for this rule change to be applied, based on fixture congestion. But no body seems to bat an eye lid when it comes to Non-League clubs starting there season early in FA Cup qualifications and then to fit in a congested fixture list of their own, despite with in some cases not every player is full time. Some of the clubs that appear in the FA Cup and can cause giant killings have players that work outside of football, some have even gone to the match straight from work or vice versa going to work from the match.
    It’s not just the fact of the money earnt, which in fairness, the bigger clubs aren’t one bit concerned about as much as a club from the lower tiers would benefit hugely from. But when you take into consideration that a club from a lower tier could take a big club to a replay and possibly experience playing at a Premier League ground, something many would have dreamed about and the fans would love to see. That’s what the FA Cup is all about, that’s the magic. Taking away replays would all but kill the competition.
    The Carabao Cup is already seen by most fans and teams alike as a nothing tournament until the Semi Final, so taking away replays and adapting a format in the FA Cup similar to that of the Carabao Cup would transform it into another nonsense Cup that clubs won’t want to compete for. Then all that magic will disappear.
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    KB1862
    The Premier League introduced VAR for the first time this season but it hasn’t been without controversy. During its debut season, it’s received a lot of negative feedback, there has been social media takes on VAR which has prompted groups to form against the technology and use #VAROUT.
    Football Law Makers have already stated that the use of VAR within the Premier League is not being used correctly and should only be used for clear and obvious decisions, not the nit picking offside decisions we have seen that has caused most of the outrage to form against. When you look at some of the decisions it’s not hard to see why people want to see the end of it already, there has been offside decisions against someone for having an armpit in an offside position, a heel in an offside position. We’re talking millimetres offside which wouldn’t be visible to the Naked eye in real time. It won’t be long till we are seeing someone called offside for having a hair or even nose in an offside position.
    Just last week, there was a decision made by VAR in the game between Sheffield United and West Ham. Sheffield United were leading the game 1-0 when in the 90th minute Robert Snodgrass grabbed what looked like being the equaliser for the hammers but for VAR to disallow the goal for a handball against Declan Rice in the build up to the goal. But even replays show that the ball was headed onto the arm of Rice and those who seen the replay would agree that there was no stopping this and the handball was totally accidental. Even VAR didn’t get the decision right.
    Since VAR has been introduced, the linesman has to keep his flag down and let play progress. But say a player is played in behind the defence and he chases the ball and damages his Hamstring or is brought down by the defender and suffer a nasty injury, all that could have been prevented if the linesman flagged for offside. If the decision is clear, that a player is standing offside, the linesman should flag and free kick awarded as happened before VAR.

    The FA Cup introduced VAR last season and has continued this season, but the technology is only used at Premier League grounds. Which gives an unfair advantage and could determine winners and losers in games. An example of this exact occasion could be seen during the Chelsea v Nottingham Forest game, where Forest were denied a goal because of an arm being offside and VAR ruling the goal out. But had that been at the City Ground, the goal might have stood and been a completely different game because VAR wouldn’t have been in operation. A lower tiered club could benefit financially from a replay but with VAR decisions not at their ground, it gives an unfair advantage.
    But, VAR is not all bad. Believe it or not, VAR has some good points to it’s game. Take for example the 2018 World Cup. VAR was used the way it should have been, yes the games were slowed down but the decisions were correct and on the biggest stage of them all, it saw many teams benefit from vital decisions. The game in the 3rd round of the FA Cup between Derby and Crystal Palace, the referee used it the way it was designed to be handled. After an altercation between Huddles tone and Milovjevic, the referee awarded both players a yellow card. But the referee was informed of the altercation by those in charge of VAR. Rather than listen to what they had to say, like most referees have this season, he went over to the monitor and reviewed the situation himself which resulted in Palace’s Milovjevic being sent off.
    VAR can be included in the game, but there is a lot to be improved with the technology if it is too succeed and continue to be a part of our game. It might slow the game down, it might take a while for the referees to get the decisions right but in time the process will be speeded up. All that needs to change is use the technology the way it was designed, that is for clear and obvious errors and stop nit picking at tiny little details. The referee should also take charge more, review the situation himself and make the call based on what he has seen rather than listen to those in the VAR room and trust their judgement. Until the main issues are addressed, fans and pundits alike will continue to push VAR out.
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    J1894S
    League sponsors, television deals, football kits and managers. All these have changed over the last nine years in the Premier League with one constant remaining: David Silva being the best Spanish import English football has ever seen.
    In the following paragraphs, I am going to give my opinion on why Silva is worthy of this title.
    Signing from Valencia in July 2010 for £26 million, the attacking midfielder known as ‘El Mago’ joined Manchester City stating that he wanted to bring success and trophies to the Cityzens. Mirroring his playing style, Silva managed to assist City in bringing trophies to the Etihad Stadium, winning the club’s first league title since 1968 in the 2011/2012 season thanks to the world famous Aguero goal in the dying seconds of the last game of the season. Going on to lift the league title again in 2014 and 2018 David Silva was instrumental in another moment in Manchester City’s history adding more silverware to his collection. Only winning player of the month once so far in September 2011, this also represents how underrated the World Cup winner is. 
    Being compared to fine wine by fellow Spanish national and current City manager Pep Guardiola, the attacking playmaker is getting better as the years roll one. Relating his performances in the Premier League to his statistics, Silva boasts 54 goals and 81 assists to date after appearing 275 times in the division. In total, he has contributed to 135 goals since arriving in England, which is an impressive feat from a midfielder, who has to track back and defend more in Pep’s playing style since arriving in 2016.
    Being the best Spanish player in Premier League history is not easy task for City’s magician with 133 Spanish players gracing the league since it formed. The best being considered alongside Silva are the likes of: Fernando Torres firing for Liverpool and Chelsea in his peak, Xabi Alonso being irreplaceable in 2005 when Liverpool won the Champions League, and Cesc Fàbregas’ involvement in a winning Arsenal and Chelsea side not going unnoticed.
    Contribution to goals is vital for developing and playing in a team that desires and craves a winning mentality and philosophy. Standing at 135 goals and assists so far with two more years on his contract will allow Silva to strive for a round 200 which would establish him as the best Spanish player in Premier League history as well as one of the best creative midfielders the league has ever seen in my opinion.

    Fernando Torres ended his Premier League career on 85 goals and 29 assists after playing for Liverpool and Chelsea, winning the Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League all with the latter club. With a total of 114 goals contributed to, Torres was once considered the best Forward in the Premier League during 2011. Tailing off towards the end of his Chelsea career, as a striker I believe Torres although having a clear eye for goal, does not come close to knocking Silva of the top spot due to Silva contributing more to the game from a position further down the pitch.
    Xabi Alonso made 143 appearances in the league, scoring 14 goals and assisting 17 during this time. Like Torres, Alonso never lifted the league trophy, an achievement he has often said he had achieved during his career at Liverpool. Alonso’s creativity from box-to-box allowed beautiful spraying passing to open up opposition defences and to control the midfield, but what tips Silva over the mark for me is the recognition of lifting the League trophy not once but three times in his career so far in England while being a prominent name in the City line-up.
    Following the trend of Spanish maestro’s in England, Cesc Fàbregas became a fan favourite during his time at Arsenal with his array of passing and sensational goals. Second of the all-time list for league assists behind Ryan Giggs’ record of 162, Cesc Fàbregas tallied 111 during his time at two London based clubs, captaining Arsenal and Chelsea retrospectively. With 50 goals also attached to Fàbregas’ record in the league, an impact of 161 goal contributions puts him second on the list in my opinion.
    So why does Silva tip Fàbregas to the best Spanish player in the history of the Premier League?
     
    David Silva is 26 contributed goals of being the best performing Spaniard in the league’s history, and with two years left on his current contract, he is sure to break this record. His incredible feat of numbers is unmatchable when compared to his appearance rate of 275 games played in the league, 69 appearances fewer than Cesc Fàbregas. The impact he creates at City to help win games and trophies while improving his scoring rate each year while aged 33 is testament to how vital he is to the Manchester City team and their quest to continue winning titles and helping to improve the players around him is why I believe David Silva is the best Spanish player in Premier League history.
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    KB1862
    Over the years, Football fans have been divided in opinion whether it be the teams they choose to support or the English midfielder debate of Lampard v Gerrard. Players have often been compared to others that have never played at the same time together and often compared in both prime times. But one rivalry that has got fans debating for the past 10+ years has been that of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. It has been an age old battle between 2 of European Footballs greatest ever players. The real question though shouldn't be who's better but should we appreciate these 2 great footballers rather than compare them? As we may never witness another battle quite like this ever again. 
    Some fans will argue the case that Ronaldo has been there and done that in conquering the Premier League and then moving to Spain to conquer more records ,and most recently ventured off to Italy for another challenge, where as Messi has only ever played for Barcelona, a team that has had bags of talent over the years with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Co. pulling the strings. There is also the argument that Ronaldo has something Messi has failed to achieve in his career, an International Trophy, with Portugal winning Euro 2016. Despite the efforts of Messi finishing runners up on 4 occassions with Argentina. 
    On the flip side, many people argue the fact that Messi is more of a team player than Ronaldo and will pass up oppurtunities to benefit his team rather than have personal glory. Despite having the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Co. Is Messi the real reason for Barcelona's dominance since the young Argentinian prodigy arrived on the scene in 2004? His own personal records speak volumes as to say that he could light up any team no matter the players that he is surrounded by and if he was to have joined the same clubs as Ronaldo has been to, might of replicated or beaten his rivals records.
    Since Ronaldo's arrival at Real Madrid in 2009, there have been 38 El Classico's with Messi's Barcelona coming out the better with 17 wins compared with 10 wins for Ronaldo's Real Madrid and playing out 11 Draws in the timespace from Ronaldo joining and leaving Real Madrid in 2018. It can also be added that during this time, they have a combined 640 La Liga goals in 601 games. Messi 329 goals in 309 games and Ronaldo 311 goals in 292 games. Both goal ratio's are unbelievable, which seems unlikely to be replicated anywhere else in the footballing world.
    Records and Achievements speak for themselves and these 2 goaliths are not shy when it comes to awards and trophies. Combining the records achieved by both these exceptional players are stats that seems too good to be true.
    1,177 goals in 1,464 games at club level - 
    Ronaldo (592 goals, 793 games) 4 different clubs
    Messi (585 goals, 671 games) 1 club
    Record goalscorers both Club & International Level - 
    Ronaldo (85 goals, 154 Caps Portugal) (450 goals, 438 games Real Madrid)
    Messi (65 goals, 128 games Argentina) (585 goals, 671 games Barcelona)
    Combined personal Awards - 268
    Ronaldo - 135
    Messi - 133
    Both winning the Ballon D'or a record 5 times.
    Combined Trophies at club level - 58
    Messi - 32
    Ronaldo - 26
    Since Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2009 - 40
    Messi - 25
    Ronaldo - 15
    Combined Champions League Goals - 228 in 293 games
    Ronaldo - 122 in 163 games
    Messi - 106 in 130 games
    Ronaldo's notable achievements - 
    - Only player to score 50 or more goals in 6 consecutive seasons
    - Only player to score 60+ goals in a calendar year for 4 consecutive years.
    Messi's notable achievements - 
    - World record 91 goals for both club and country in a single calendar year in 2012
    - Only player to win more than 1 Club World Cup golden boot
    Considering all these records, these 2 players will forever go down as Legends. We may never see a battle quite like this ever again and we may never see players destroy records like both Ronaldo and Messi have done over the years. Stats will forever remain and this will forever go down as one of the greatest battles between players in footballing history. There is no comparing these players in their prime, as we are living in the moment of 2 of footballs greatest ever players. But as always, fans will forever be divided as to who is the better player. Should we just appreciate the players while they are still playing? Should we argue as to who was better when both these players retire? 
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    KB1862
    Here at Football Manics, in our own opinions we are analysing the Top 5 Players from the Premier League.
    Here is a list, in no particular order, of the players I personally believe to be the best in each league with explanations of why I have chosen these players to be included in the list. There will also be an additional list of players who may have gone under the radar and deserve notable mentions.
    The Premier League, arguably the best league in the world.
    Top 5
    Eden Hazard - Footwork that could mesmorise and terrorise any defence. The only way that defenders manage to stop him in his tracks is usually to bring him down. Though many believe him to blow hot and cold, when he is on his game, Chelsea usually benefit from him being in the squad. There is no surprise that Real Madrid wanted to recruit him as a replacement for a certain CR7.
    Sergio Aguero - That moment against QPR to win the title for Manchester City in the 2011/12 season is enough to make him a legend. A prolific goal scorer who can score goals whether it be a simple tap in or an outrageous strike outside the box. He has written himself in both Manchester City and Premier League history books by being Manchester City's all time top goalscorer and only the sixth player to score or assist 200 goals for one club in the Premier League.
    Virgil Van Dijk - The Liverpool defender has become a firm favourite with his club since his £75million move from Southampton. A solid no nonsense defender who has shown his class in defence which he has shown on multiple occassions which has lead to Liverpool becoming title contenders this season most notably due to a great defensive record which has also been helped by the recent addition of Alisson in goal who has formed a great partnership with his centre back.
    Christian Eriksen - On his day the Spurs playmaker can change the whole complexion of the game with excellent passing ability and great striking qualities. Whether it be a long range pass or simple keep ball passing he finds himself time and again opening up defences and setting away Spurs front players. If he's not assisting he's more than likely taking a pop at goal and usually finding the net or at least troubling goalkeepers.
    Kevin De Bruyne - The goal against Brazil and the counter attack he lead against Japan to seal a win for Belgium in the World Cup is just one of the many qualities in which De Bruyne possesses. He was pivotal in Manchester City's record breaking title winning season last season. His distribution to perfectly land the ball at the attackers feet, given that you have the likes of Aguero, Jesus and Sterling up top, it's no surprise that he usually has an assist to his name in most games.
    Notable Mentions
    Gabriel Jesus - Coming into the Manchester City will be hard for any striker considering that they are challenging Sergio Aguero for a starting position but Jesus has shown game after game that he is capable of competing with Aguero to become City's main striker. At one point, with Pep Guardiola's squad rotation system, Jesus was often picked ahead of Aguero and kept him out of the team for a few games. Deadly in front of goal with him netting in virtually every game he plays.
    Gylfi Sigurdsson - Possibly Everton's best player in recent seasons. He is a very similar player to the likes of Christian Eriksen in terms of playmaking abilities and passing ability. Sigurdsson is virtually involved in every goal in which Everton score, whether it be scoring a free kick, assisting an attacker with a delicate through ball or even in the build up play, he will be there heavily involved.
    Bernardo Silva - Has become a firm favourite with the Blues of Manchester. He shows the abilities of what a great midfielder should possess to become a decent player. His passing is next to none, which you'd expect from a Pep Guardiola team, but also he manages to find himself in pockets of space even when there are players around him watching him every step.
    David Silva - An ever present for Manchester City, works hard for the team and his passing has been shown to be excellent for years gone by. He finds the space to pop up inside the box to find a way to either square the ball or find the space to take a pop at goal which usually has one outcome which is to hit the back of the net.
    Andrew Robertson - One of the major factors in Liverpool's push for the title. An excellent left back with the ability to drive forward with the ball and go from defence to attack in a matter of moments. Liverpool have been looking for a left back to fill a void which has been left for years since the days of John Arne Riise but Robertson might just be the answer to there problems.
    However, the battle for the Premier League's top goalkeeper is still there for the taking. Hugo Lloris, Alisson and David De Gea are all the main contenders. De Gea has stuttered during last years World Cup and at the beginning of the season for his Club but has since shown why he was once regarded as a World Class goalkeeper. Hugo Lloris has been Spurs undoubted number 1 for years and Pochettino has been sure of that having not bought in a serious contender for his number 1 spot showing him the support which any player would love to have and he has certainly repaid his managers faith by making outstanding saves and being a huge part in Tottenham's rise to be a top 4 team in recent years. Alisson may have been an expensive purchase for Liverpool in the summer but he has certainly shown why Liverpool paid all that money for him with his solid performances in goal which has lead to Liverpool being one of the toughest teams to score against this season. Although, early in the season he was almost caught out multiple times with him keeping the ball a little too long trying to play out from the back.
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    KB1862
    On the 12th of February 2019, the footballing world was shocked and devastated to hear about the passing of England's World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks. Here at Football Manics, we would like to take a moment and pay tribute to a legendary goalkeeper.
    Gordon Banks is proclaimed as England's greatest ever goalkeeper, not only because he is the only goalkeeper in England's history to win a World Cup, but because he was an outstanding goalkeeper in every aspect.
    Who could ever forget that save against Pele during the 1970 World Cup. The ability and athleticism to get down low and tip the ball round the post and over the bar from a perfect downwards header from Pele himself. The commentary in itself suggests how good that save was on its own "what a save". Not only is this save made famous because it was England v Brazil or whether it was because it was Pele in his prime but the way Banks saved the ball which was certainly destined for goal is absolutely astonishing.
    During his time at Leicester City, Banks had a huge impact on what was to be his successor at both club and international level, Peter Shilton. There is no doubt that Peter Shilton and Gordon Banks are regarded as England's best ever goalkeepers but having been the understudy to Banks for years, it is with no surprise that Shilton was as good as he was.
    In 1972, Gordon Banks lost sight in his right eye following a car accident which ended his career at both International and Top-Flight level.
    Not only is the achievement of winning the World Cup with his country and being the only goalkeeper thus far to win the World Cup with England impressive enough, he also has a few other honourable mentions to his name.
    In May 2006, Banks was inducted as the first legend to be inducted into a new Walk of Fame, where you will see a plaque outside Sheffield Town Hall. In July 2008, outside Stoke City's Stadium there was an unveiling of Banks holding the world cup 4 years before making that incredible save against Pele. Banks was also inducted into the City of Stoke Hall of Fame in March 2011.
    In 1965, during a game between Leicester City and Manchester United at the old Filbert Street, a stray dog entered the pitch. Who else but Gordon Banks to dive down and get to grips with the dog. The picture of him with that stray dog is absolutely legendary and will never be forgotten. Not only was he a master at saving a football, he shown us that his goalkeeping ability goes far beyond that.
    Gordon Banks will always be remembered, not only by football fans but by many people across the World. An inspiration to many, a hero to most and a legend to everyone.
    Rest in Peace Gordon Banks. Thank you for the wonderful memories you have provided over the years.
    FM-News
    Pep Guardiola has claimed that Manchester City will be judged "failures" if they do not win the Champions League.
    A point away at Lyon on Tuesday night will guarantee qualification for the knockout stages while victory will ensure they progress as Group F winners.
    Guardiola's side have won both their away fixtures in the competition so far, but he believes it is not enough to satisfy their critics.
    "For the people who don't love us too much, who use money as an argument, then we have failed if we don't win the Champions League," he said.
    "For the other people, especially our fans, the people who say, 'OK, we enjoy watching our games, we are happy with what the guys are doing', I am pretty sure they don't have regrets about what these guys are doing for the last 12, 14, 15 months every three days.
    "That is the best compliment, the best success a team can have.
    "But we want to qualify [for the last 16], continue that level in the Premier League, being solid away and at home, and arrive in the best condition possible [at that stage] with everyone fit and [ready to] compete.
    "Then - OK, try it again, why not? And if we go to the quarter-finals and maybe you are lucky to go forward. After that, the competition it speaks for itself. A lot of desires, a lot of wishes we can have at the end.
    "The competition is so tough, so clinical, to say if you are better you are going to win, if you don't, you are going home."
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    FM-News
    Mick McCarthy has been confirmed as Republic of Ireland manager.
    The Football Association of Ireland [FAI] turned to McCarthy after Martin O'Neill stepped down last week following a run of one win in 11 games.
    He will be assisted by former Wolves boss Terry Connor and Ireland's record goalscorer Robbie Keane, who made his debut under McCarthy during the 59-year-old's first spell in charge.
    A former Ireland captain who won 57 caps and played at Euro 1988 and the 1990 World Cup, McCarthy succeeded Jack Charlton as Irish manager in 1996.
    After missing out on qualification for two major tournaments following play-off defeats to Belgium and Turkey, McCarthy led Ireland to the 2002 World Cup.
    He has signed a two-year contract and will be succeeded by Stephen Kenny after the Euro 2020 finals - Kenny has left his post with Dundalk and take charge of the Ireland U21s.
    "I'm honoured and excited to be back with the Republic of Ireland. I am delighted that the FAI board and CEO have given me this opportunity to lead the team to Euro 2020," said McCarthy.
    "I have been involved in club football for the last 15 years, so this will be a new challenge but one that I know well. I'm delighted to have Terry Connor, a trusted colleague and excellent coach, and Robbie Keane, one of the finest players who I had the pleasure of managing, helping me as assistant coaches.
    "I am looking forward to getting started and embracing this challenge to qualify for Euro 2020, where it would be fantastic to play in front of the Ireland supporters in Aviva Stadium."
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    FM-News
    Maurizio Sarri has admitted that he doubts Chelsea would keep him as head coach if he went four years without winning a trophy at Stamford Bridge.
    Sarri's Tottenham counterpart Mauricio Pochettino has managed precisely that feat, with the two coming up against each other for the first time in the Premier League on Saturday.
    They both share the unwanted distinction of not having won any silverware in their managerial careers, but Sarri admits that his drought probably needs to end if he is to remain in his post.
    Asked if he would be afforded four years at Chelsea without a trophy, Sarri told Sky Sports: "I don't think so, but I don't know.
    "It's up to the club - if it's more important to win, or more important to improve the players.
    "I want to win something, just to avoid this question. Sometimes there are the conditions for winning. Sometimes not.
    "It's clear he (Pochettino) is a very important coach, with a trophy or without a trophy."
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    FM-News
    Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has categorically ruled out making any signings during the January transfer window.
    The Spaniard confirmed on Friday that Benjamin Mendy will miss the next 10-12 weeks following surgery.
    Asked if that might prompt him to look at reinforcing his squad in January, Guardiola said he would not be making any further additions to his squad.
    "In January, no window. No, no," Guardiola told Sky Sports.
    "We're not going to spend anything. I am so happy with the squad and the people that are coming back. No, no.
    "When we created the squad at the beginning of the season it was [so that we] don't go to January [and make transfers] except if you have problems. but I have enough in the squad. I trust all of them.
    "We are not going to go the market in January, no way."
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    FM-News
    Paco Alcacer has signed a permanent contract with Borussia Dortmund after impressing on loan from Barcelona.
    The 25-year-old moved to BVB on a season-long loan in the summer but has now signed a contract until 2023.
    Alcacer has been instrumental in the Bundesliga outfit's impressive start to the season, scoring nine goals in all competitions so far.
    "I'm very happy in Dortmund, at BVB and in this wonderful team," Alcacer told the club's website.
    "Borussia Dortmund was and is exactly the right decision for me. I'll do everything I can to say thank you for your trust!"
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    FM-News
    Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante has signed a new contract which will take him to 2023.
    The France international has put pen to paper on a new five-year deal, the club confirmed on Friday.
    Kante signed for Chelsea in the summer of 2016, following a debut season in the Premier League which ended with a title medal with Leicester City.
    "I'm happy to extend my time with Chelsea, it has been two beautiful years and I wish for more to come," Kante told Chelsea's official webiste.
    "Since I came, I completely improved as a player, challenged myself and got some awards I never thought about. I like the city, I like the club and I am happy to be here for more time."
    Kante won another Premier League title in his debut season with the Blues, before going on to lift the World Cup with France in Russia this summer.
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    FM-News
    Brighton & Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton has stated that he is not interested in taking over as Republic of Ireland manager.
    Martin O'Neill left his role as ROI manager on Wednesday after a disappointing Nations League campaign.
    Hughton, who played 53 times for Ireland between 1979 and 1991, has been in charge at Brighton since 2014 and has guided them to 12th in the Premier League so far this season.
    The 59-year-old also worked as Ireland's assistant manager for two and a half years under Brian Kerr.
    When asked if he was interested in the Ireland manager's job, Hughton said: "No. What I am very interested in is the job that I am doing here.
    "I have got a group of players that have worked very hard to get into this division and that is where all my thoughts and concentrations are."
    Under O'Neill, Ireland managed just one win in 11 games since last November and were relegated from Nations League group B without winning a single match.
    Speaking about Ireland's current poor form, Hughton added: "I think it is probably the normal challenges that come with international football.
    "You are always going to get periods of time when the squad is particularly strong but over the last few years there have been changing dynamics of the squad.
    "At international level it is always about qualifying for major championships and that will be the job for the next manager."
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    FM-News
    Martin O'Neill has stated that he left his role as Republic of Ireland manager "with a heavy heart", having fulfilled one of his "lifetime ambitions" by taking on the role.
    His five-year tenure as Republic boss ended on Wednesday after Ireland failed to win a game as they were relegated from Nations League Group B.
    The Football Association of Ireland said O'Neill's departure, and that of Roy Keane as his assistant, was by mutual consent, adding that its board "will meet promptly to discuss the process of recruiting a new manager".
    In a statement released by the League Managers' Association, O'Neill said: "I have had the great honour of managing the Republic of Ireland national football team for the past five years and it is with a heavy heart that I leave this role.
    "It was one of my lifetime ambitions to take charge of the Irish senior squad and I would like to thank the FAI board for giving me that opportunity.
    "I will not forget the night in Lille when we beat Italy to secure the nation's best-ever achievement in the Euros competition, the terrific night we beat the world champions Germany at home in Dublin, or James McClean's goal in that euphoric win against Wales in Cardiff that put us through to the play-offs for this year's World Cup.
    "The Irish fans have been a source of motivation to myself, the team and the whole backroom staff, embodying the passionate Irish spirit, and I thank them for their fervent support of the team.
    "I am also very proud of the relationships I have built with the players, who have carried that very same spirit, imbued by the fans, on to the field of play."
    O'Neill added: "A special thanks to Roy Keane my assistant, an inspirational figure in the world of football, Seamus McDonagh, Steve Guppy and Steve Walford for their brilliant contributions and to those backroom staff at the FAI that were of enormous help to me.
    "Knowing that the past year would be a transitional phase for the squad, I have capped 12 new players in the last nine games, with the aim that they become significant international contributors in the coming campaign.
    "To the players, I reserve great praise and admiration for the phenomenal commitment they have shown whilst wearing the Irish shirt. Having had these great experiences in my spell as the Irish international manager, I am looking forward to my next adventure in football."
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    FM-News
    Wales manager Ryan Giggs has hit out at his "complacent" players after their 1-0 friendly defeat in Albania.
    Tuesday's loss in Elbasan was Giggs' fifth in nine matches in charge.
    Wales wasted several chances before conceding a second-half penalty, which Bekim Balaj converted to condemn the visitors to defeat.
    “The performance was not good enough, we deserved what we got,” said the Wales manager.
    “We totally controlled the first half and we thought it was going to be easy. It’s nothing to do with hard work or the ability of the players.
    “Quite simply, it was concentration and complacency. We just turned up thinking we would win, someone would score the goal, someone would get us out of trouble.”
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    FM-News
    The agent of Roma midfielder and reported Manchester United target Lorenzo Pellegrini says his client is not considering a move away and is "only thinking about Roma".
    The 22-year-old Italy international has a £27m release clause in his contract and has reportedly attracted interest from United boss Jose Mourinho following a fruitful start to the season.
    However, agent Giampiero Pocetta dismissed speculation that Pellegrini is set to join the Red Devils, despite reports they were ready to make a move for him as soon as January.
    "I'm sorry that rumours have spread about financial aspects relating to him and his team-mates, that for Lorenzo have never been important," Pocetta told Corriere dello Sport. "He doesn't live for meetings, especially financial ones.
    "He's getting what he deserves on the pitch, and the rumours about the transfer market have never distracted him nor disturbed him.
    "Pellegrini is only thinking about improving with, and for, Roma.
    "These issues don't count for now, it's normal that Pellegrini is liked. Lorenzo is happy though, he's already chosen Roma once.
    "Then, when it's time, we'll sit down with Monchi [Roma sporting director] again."
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    FM-News
    Andy Robertson has revealed that he came close to joining Stoke City instead of Liverpool.
    The Scotland captain joined the Reds for £8m in 2017 following Hull City's relegation and, after a slow start, has become one of Jurgen Klopp's most important players.
    Robertson, however, has revealed Stoke and their manager at the time, Mark Hughes, were keen to sign the left-back.
    "Stoke were quite interested in me," Robertson said in an interview with YouTube channel Open Goal.
    "Mark Hughes had liked me and I think there was a wee bit of chat with them.
    "So I was thinking they were a really good option; I think they finished top 10 that season and I was trying to get my head on a move to Stoke.
    "I was thinking they were really keen, and at that point, under Mark Hughes, they were playing good football. They had Erik Pieters; I wasn't sure if I was going in as back-up to him as he was flying that season."
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    FM-News
    Marouane Fellaini has claimed Manchester United are not far from matching Manchester City's quality.
    The Citizens beat their city rivals 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium in the final league game before the international break, leaving them eighth in the Premier League and seven points off the top four.
    However, Fellaini told Sky Sports thatJose Mourinho's side are not as far away from the Premier League leaders as the table suggests.
    When asked if the result had emphasised a significant gap between the two teams, he said: "I don't think so. I remember when I arrived in England it was a top four, now it is a top six, so every year it is more difficult.
    "Next season we will see how it changes and in two and three years I think every year it is more difficult, the intensity is higher, so that's why the Premier League is attractive.
    "Manchester City are strong, but I think they will lose. Ok, they are very good and they have good players but it's possible to beat them. We lost, but we have the second game at Old Trafford and we will see."
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    FM-News
    Corry Evans has claimed that Northern Ireland can take confidence from their Nations League campaign even if things did not go their way.
    Valentino Lazaro struck a stoppage-time winner for Austria as Norn Iron lost 2-1 on Sunday evening, making it four defeats out of four for Michael O'Neill's men who have suffered relegation to League C.
    Evans had earlier scored his first international goal in eight years to cancel out Xaver Schlager's strike, and it had looked like being enough to give Northern Ireland their first Nations League point.
    "It's always disappointing when you lose the game with the last kick of the ball," the Blackburn Rovers man told Sky Sports. "But we can take a lot of positives out of the performance.
    "The manner of the way we played; going a goal down we came back to level the game and at that stage it looked like we were the only side going to go win the game, but it wasn't to be.
    "We have to take great confidence from the way we have been playing in the campaign and take that into the Euro 2020 qualifiers."
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