5/2/23 Man City sit top, US/Fulham’s Ream breaks arm, Big TV Games, American Stars Buy Soccer Teams, Good Luck State/Pres/Challenge Cup Teams with weekend at Grand Park


Huge news that Messi has been suspended by PSG for 2 weeks following an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia for Promotional obligations – perhaps opening the door to Messi to MLS Miami rumors again, of course Rumors have him to Saudi Arabia for $300 millon a year – oof.  Man City’s Wonderkid Viking Striker Erling Haaland breaks single season EPL goal record at 35 goals with 5 games to go.   Juergan Klopp pulled a muscle celebrating the game winning goal this week – his continued battle with the refs has got to stop. (read all about it in the Ref section below).  Cool news that NFL Star JJ Watt is joining the list of athlete/celeb owners in soccer see em all here.  Portland’s Bella Bixby scored this game tying GK goal at the buzzer vs my daugher’s Angel City.  Naples celebrated their Scudetto (first Italian League title in 33 years), this after Wrexham had their parade with Hollywood Owner’s Ryan Reynolds + Rob McEelhenney after winning promotion.  

Games to Watch

Of course Champions League Semi-Finals on Tues/Wed leads the list of huge games this week.  Its Real Madrid hosting Man City Tues 3 pm on CBS in the REAL Final, then Wed has the battle for Milan – Inter vs AC at 3 pm on CBS. (Coverage starts at 2 pm).  Sat at 1 pm the NWSL takes center stage on CBS as the Washington Spirit with US players Rodman, Hatc, Sanchez and Sullivan host the San Diego Wave with Alex Morgan, Girma and Kornieck.  The EPL is coming down to the last couple of weeks with Top 4 – Champs League, Top 6/7 – Europe, and of course a relegation battle royale.   The biggie is Sunday as #3 New Castle hosts #2 Arsenal at 11:30 am on USA Network.  Sat Leeds United and American’s McKinney and Aaronson will have new coach Sam Allardcye trying to help save them from relegation vs league leaders Man City on USA at 10 am, Liverpool / Brentford follows at 12:30 pm on NBC. 

Indy 11 @ Loundon United Sat 7 pm after 1-1 tie

An 81st minute goal from Jack Blake pulled Indy Eleven even to earn a 1-1 draw with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC Saturday night at IUPUI Michael A. Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis. With the draw, Indy snaps a three-game losing streak in regular season play and moves to 1W-3L-3D on the young USL Championship season, The Lady Eleven kick off their season Wed Kay 10 at 6 pm vs St. Charles – 3 away games in May mean they won’t be home until Fri, June 2 vs Racing Louisville.  Next up, the Indy 11 Men hit the road for a pair of matches, first stopping at Loudoun United FC Saturday at 7:00 p.m. ET (live on ESPN+). The Eleven returns home Saturday, May 20, against Colorado Springs for Military Appreciation Night. A portion of each ticket purchased via this link will directly support HVAF of Indiana. Indy Eleven will match each ticket purchased via the Military Giveback Link, ensuring that a veteran/military member will have the opportunity to attend and be recognized. Buy Tix now via indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100   Full Schedule   Promotions 

Good Luck to all the Team’s Playing in Challenge Cup  & other State Cup games at Grand Park this weekend.

Hopefully everyone will remember this — this big tourney weekend.


(American’s names in Parenthesis)

Sat, May 6

9:30 am ESPN+                  Ausberg vs Union Berlin (Pfok)

10 am USA                          Man City vs  Leeds United (Mckinney, Aaronson)

10 am Peacoclk                 Tottenham vs Crystal Palace (Richards)

12 noon ESPN+                 Roma vs Inter Milan

12:30 pm NBC                    Liverpool vs Brentford

1 pm CBS                     Washington (Rodman, Hatch, Sanchez, Sullivan) vs San Diego Wave (Morgan, Girma, Kornieck)

4 pm ESPN+                        Real Madrid vs Osona  

7 pm ESPN+                Loudon United vs Indy 11

7:30 pm Apple TV       Cincy vs DC United  

7:30 pm Apple TV       NY vs Philly  

7 pm  Para+                Houston Dash (Campbell) vs OL Reign (Rapinoe) NWSL

10:30 pm Apple+        Portland Timbers vs Austin

Sun, May 7                         

6:30 am Para+                    Atalanta vs Juventus  

11:30 USA                   New Castle vs Arsenal

2 pm Peacock              West Ham vs Man United

4:30 pm FOX                       Seattle Sounders vs Sporting KC  

6 pm ESPN+                        Las Vegas Lights vs San Antonio (Jordan Farr)

8 pm Para+, SiriusXM     Angel City (Thompson, Ertz) vs KC Current (Franch) NWSL

Tues, May 9        Champions League Quarterfinals

3 pm CBS                             Real Madrid vs Man City                               

Weds, May 10

3 pm CBS                             AC Milan vs Inter Milan                                 

Thur, May 11       Europa League

3 pm Paramount+            Roma vs Leverkusen

3 pm Para+                         Juventus vs Sevilla                            

Sat, June 10                       

2 pm CBS                             Champions League Final

Thurs, June 15

10 pm                                    USMNT vs Mexico  Nations League Semi’s

Sat, June 24

9:30 pm                                USMNT vs Jamaica (Soldier Field) Gold Cup

July 21                                  USWNT vs Vietnam Women’s World Cup

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

Wow what a Great Idea — I for one have changed the way I coach and Spectate now that I am a referee!


US Players Take a Beating Literally this past weekend

Women’s World Cup + NWSL

Why FIFA’s threat of Women’s World Cup TV blackout in Europe is ‘outrageous’

Former Wisconsin star JJ Watt and wife, Kealia, buy stake in Premier League soccer team

The Top 10 US Women heading to the World Cup The 18 

Predicting the US Women’s Team – The 18
Lionesses reeling after Fran Kirby becomes latest name ruled out of World Cup

England draw Scotland in Women’s Nations League

Path to Paris Olympics set for European women’s soccer teams


LAFC makes recent history by advancing to CONCACAF Champions League final

MLS Power Rankings: DPs win games, Mukhtar has Nashville rising
World’s 50 Most Valuable Soccer Clubs: Man United Leads, MLS Lands 18 Spots


Struggling Leeds appoint Allardyce after axing Gracia

Leeds United sack Javi Gracia and director of football Victor Orta ahead of crucial match against Manchester City

Sam Allardyce to land £2.5m if Leeds survive – and is willing to stay as manager

Premier League: The Big Six era is OVER, with a new era now taking its place

Unstoppable Haaland equals Prem goal record
Haaland goalscoring heroics a ‘surprise’, says Guardiola

Mauricio Pochettino is no magician – Chelsea will take years to rebuild

Frank Lampard has made Chelsea worse than they were under Graham Potter

Tracking English Premier League managers sacked in 2022-23



Ryan Reynolds shares his ‘mission’ for Wrexham

Messi’s PSG future in doubt after suspension over Saudi trip

Champions Napoli return home as city revels in victory hangover

Outstanding Olmo steers ten-man Leipzig to German Cup final

Griezmann is at home at Atletico again, looking like LaLiga’s player of the year
   Graham Hunter

Indy 11

Recap – IND 1:1 PIT

Diz Pe Named to USL Championship Team of the Week

Indy Falls 1-0 to Columbus in US Open Cup Play

Season tickets

Full Schedule   Promotions 

new stadium


Goalkeeper Goal – Thorns Bixby Scores on Corner to Tie game at Buzzer
Message on a bottle: How Pickford made vital penalty save to boost Everton’s survival hopes
  2hChris Wright
‘Maddison needs to learn his lesson’: Jordan Pickford taunts Leicester City midfielder after penalty save

Spurs keeper Lloris ruled out for rest of season


Man in the Middle – Champions League Reffing Documentary on Paramount +   
The VAR Review: Red cards for Jota, Skipp; Richarlison penalty claim
  ESPN Dale Johnson

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp Risks Ban Over Feud With Referee  SI 

PGMOL Review Recording Of What Paul Tierney Said To Jurgen Klopp And Find Referee “Acted In A Professional Manner”

 Jurgen Klopp reveals exactly what referee Paul Tierney said to him during Liverpool’s 4-3 win against Tottenham
‘The referee said it wasn’t a penalty’: Fulham left fuming after official admits to costly mistake in Liverpool game

Become a Referee Must be 13

I got to ref Girls College Showcase games at Grand Park with a guy from West Virginia and Ft. Wayne on Sunday. Good times !
Man Ref Assignor Nate Sinders outdid himself on Sunday as this Bar BQ Beef was to die for – 9 Piggies Nate !! Good eatin in the Ref rooms at Grand Park this past weekend. Thanks again Nate!

Fulham’s Tim Ream breaks arm in City loss, done for season

Apr 30, 2023 James OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FC

United States international Tim Ream will miss the rest of the season with a broken arm, Fulham boss Marco Silva has confirmed.The 35-year-old left the field during the first half of Sunday’s 2-1 home defeat against Manchester City with his arm in a makeshift sling after falling awkwardly following a tussle with Julian Alvarez.Ream went to the hospital along with Andreas Periera, who was stretchered off in the second half after a challenge with Manuel Akanji.”A tough afternoon for us because we lost another two players in Tim Ream and Andreas Periera,” Silva said. “Both look like really serious injuries so it is a tough moment but we have to keep going, more games to play.”Asked whether both players would be out for the season, Silva told BeIn Sports: “Tim Ream for sure, unfortunately for us. He has broken his arm. Let’s see on Andreas, I hope it is not so serious, but I have to wait for more [information].”Erling Haaland and Alvarez scored City’s goals either side of Carlos Vinicius‘ 15th-minute equaliser as Pep Guardiola’s side returned to the top of the Premier League for the first time since Feb. 15. Fulham sit in 10th place with 45 points from 33 games.

Ream’s involvement with the USMNT’s busy upcoming summer is now unclear, but the veteran played a key role during their run to the round of 16 at the World Cup last December. The Americans will compete in the CONCACAF Nations League final in June and then take part in the Gold Cup beginning in July.

Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos join Mahomes, LeBron, Durant, Reynolds, Ferrell as celebrity soccer club owners

5:00 AM ET ESPN FC ==Gustav Elvin & Chris Wright

Mark Consuelos (left) and Kelly Ripa (right) see Italian club A.S.D. Campobasso 1919 as ‘the quintessential underdog story.’ 

U.S. television personalities Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos have joined the ever-expanding group of celebrity football club owners after purchasing a stake in a small, lower-league Italian team.Taking a leaf out of Wrexham owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s book, married couple Ripa, co-host of ABC’s morning talk show “Live With Kelly and Ryan,” and Consuelos, former star of soap opera “All My Children,” are now proud part-ownrs of A.S.D. Campobasso 1919, a club playing in the regionalised fifth tier of Italian football, one rung below Serie D.Nicknamed “Lupi” (“Wolves”), Campobasso played in Serie B during the 1980s but have never since managed to rescale those lofty heights, going through several collapses and reformations in the meantime.

The Lupi did achieve promotion to Serie C at the end of the 2020-21 season but “administrative irregularities” saw the Italian Football Federation step in and ban them from participating. In turmoil, the club were forced to merge with another local side and re-enter the football system in the fifth tier. Still unsure as to whether they would be able to compete in 2022-23, Campobasso were saved from the brink when they were purchased by North Sixth Group.

Ripa and Consuelos have now come on board as minority investors whose combined 5.4 million Instagram followers have all now been told of an obscure European club’s existence.

“The Campobasso project is the quintessential underdog story,” Consuelos said. “When I heard the story about these fans being at risk of losing the sport they love, Kelly and I wanted to get involved and be part of the solution.”https://www.instagram.com/p/CkyU-GtrAcR/embed/captioned/?

Campobasso are part of an increasing number of soccer clubs who have famous faces as part of their ownership. Whether it is ex-footballers such as David Beckham (Inter Miami CF), dominant athletes in other sports such as Patrick Mahomes (Sporting KC), Kevin Durant (Philadelphia Union) and LeBron James (Liverpool), music icons from Elton John (formerly the chairman of Watford) to Christina Aguilera (Angel City FC) or Hollywood stars including Ryan Reynolds (Wrexham), Will Ferrell (LAFC) and Natalie Portman (Angel City FC), club ownership is becoming an increasingly appealing proposition to celebrities.

It might be a passion for the sport, a personal connection, strictly business or, frankly, just because they can, but we are seeing more and celebs dipping their toes into football ownership for all sorts of reasons. In that vein, we looked at other celebrities who have ownership stakes in football clubs around the world.

This article has been updated since it was first published June 16, 2020

Kealia and J.J. Watt (Burnley)

NFL legend J.J. Watt and former United States midfielder Kealia Watt announced that they had become minority investors in Burnley in May 2023, shortly after the English club had won the second-tier Championship and with it secured promotion back to the Premier League. The pair attended some matches at Turf Moor as Vincent Kompany’s side returned to the top flight just a year after being relegated, but it’s not just the men’s team that they have their eye on. Kealia Watt said: “In the US, I’ve seen the NWSL grow into something really incredible, and we’d love to be a part of growing the women’s team here and be a part of their journey.”

Christina Aguilera (Angel City FC)

In February 2022, Christina Aguilera became one of the most recent high-profile additions to the star-studded ownership group at NWSL franchise Angel City FC alongside Natalie Portman, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria, Serena Williams and many prominent former members of the USWNT such as Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm, Shannon Boxx and Julie Foudy.

Patrick Mahomes (Sporting KC and KC Current)

Not content with merely being the Kansas City Chiefs’ star quarterback, Mahomes is also part of the ownership groups of his adopted city’s MLS and NWSL teams. Mahomes joined the ownership group of the Kansas City Royals baseball team in 2020, purchased a stake in SKC in 2021 and in January 2023 it was announced that he had become the first active NFL player to have equity in an NWSL club. “I am thankful for the chance to join my wife as part of the Kansas City Current’s ownership team,” the Super Bowl LIV winner said. “Brittany and the Longs have done an incredible job building a world-class organization. I am excited to join another championship-caliber club as it continues to make history.”

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney (Wrexham FC)

Actors Reynolds and McElhenney joined forces to spearhead a surprise Hollywood takeover of Wrexham in November 2020, with the club sitting 14th in the fifth-tier National League. The 157-year-old Welsh club have been playing non-league football since 2008 when they last dropped out of the Football League, but that didn’t dissuade Reynolds and McElhenney from vowing to awake the “sleeping giant” and transform the Red Dragons into a “global force.” Wrexham went on to finish eighth in 2020-21, missing out on the playoffs by a single point, some way short of their highest-ever league finish: 15th in the old Second Division (now the Championship) back in 1978-79. The duo have been having lots of fun in their new role as sports owners, and a Disney+ show about their adventures at The Racecourse Ground called “Welcome to Wrexham” premiered in August has proved to be a huge success among fans.

Kevin Durant, Philadelphia Union (5%)

NBA superstar Kevin Durant announced in June 2020 that he had purchased an ownership stake in Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union. The Brooklyn Nets forward and former NBA MVP bought an initial 5% stake in the club with an option to purchase an additional 5% in the future. The move “just made sense” according to Durant, who twice previously made attempts to join the ownership group of D.C. United. “I’ve been a fan of the sport, and then seeing how fast the popularity of the league was growing, seeing more fans pop up in different cities around the country, and then seeing how these franchises impact the city’s businesses and people individually was very intriguing,” Durant told ESPN in an exclusive interview at the time. Just a few months after Durant came on board, the Union claimed the Supporters’ Shield as the first-place team in Major League Soccer’s regular season.

– Captain America to the rescue! Union celebrate with fake Supporters’ Shield

LeBron James, Liverpool (2%)

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar has won four NBA titles, four league and finals MVP awards and has been an All-Star 17 times, and also owns a minority stake in Premier League club Liverpool. The future Hall of Famer bought 2% of the Merseyside club in 2011, and has that investment paid off! In 2018, Business Insider reported that James’ $6.5m investment was worth $32m. Since then, Liverpool have won the Champions League and been crowned Premier League champions for the first time in 30 years, so suffice to say, James has over 32 million reasons to belt out “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Will Ferrell, Magic Johnson, Mia Hamm, Nomar Garciaparra, LAFC (undisclosed)

LAFC is preparing for its fifth season in MLS, but the Los Angeles new boys already have a real Hollywood feel to them. While the majority of the club is owned by local investors Brandon Beck, Larry Berg and Bennett Rosenthal, comedian Will Ferrell, NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, ex-USWNT legend Mia Hamm and Hamm’s husband and former MLB All-Star Nomar Garciaparra all also own a stake in The Black and Gold. On the field, LAFC has been one of the league’s best and most exciting clubs since its inception, winning the Supporters’ Shield in 2019, while off it there have been plenty of laughs thanks to Ferrell. The former “Saturday Night Live” star — also a Chelsea supporter — marked the side’s first-ever contest by conducting an interview with ESPN as “Anchorman” character Ron Burgundy.

James Harden, Houston Dynamo (5%)

Durant’s former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate James Harden purchased a 5% stake in the Houston Dynamo in July 2019. The Dynamo, who also count former world champion boxer Oscar de la Hoya among their owners, missed the playoffs in Harden’s first season aboard but are valued at a lofty $475m. The club even made him feel at home by giving their entire roster “The Beard” treatment on the club’s official site.

Elton John, Watford (owned up to 93%)

An ever-present at Vicarage Road, the British pop icon has owned Watford on two separate occasions, first from 1976 to 1987 and later from 1997 to 2002. Still an honorary life president of the club, John regularly attends Watford home matches and even had a stand named after him in 2014. John’s first spell as chairman coincided with Watford rising from the fourth tier to the top flight, highlighted by a second-place finish in 1983 and an FA Cup final run in 1984. The artist’s hit “I’m Still Standing” was named the Hornets’ official club anthem in 2019, while John’s son Zachary joined Watford’s Academy in 2018.

Drew Carey, Seattle Sounders (initially bought 7.5%)

The actor, comedian and game show host became one of the first American celebrities to get into soccer ownership when he bought a 7.5% stake in MLS expansion side Seattle Sounders in 2007. An avid Cleveland sports fan, Carey first became interested in soccer after visiting Spain and his love for the game has only blossomed from there. The “Whose Line Is It Anyway” and “The Price Is Right” host’s involvement with the Sounders has been fruitful as Seattle has won two MLS Cups (2016, 2019) and emerged as one of MLS’ most valuable clubs. Carey is not an absentee owner, either, as he regularly attends home games and serves as the president of Sounders FC Alliance, the club’s official membership group.

Matthew McConaughey, Austin FC (undisclosed)

“All right, all right, all right.” The “Dazed and Confused,” “The Lincoln Lawyer” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” star bought into his beloved college city’s foray into soccer in 2019. Austin FC then joined MLS in 2021, making their league debut with a fairly underwhelming run of six straight defeats. Arguably, the franchise had already scored their first major victory by managing to get McConaughey — the unofficial mayor of Austin — on board in the first place. Their first league points came courtesy of a resounding 4-1 drubbing of Portland Timbers in early July. This was after McConaughey had delivered a motivational drum performance before the previous home game against San Jose Earthquakes in scenes eerily similar to his chest-thumping, rhythmic-humming, trance-like cameo in “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Hammarby (25%)

Everything Zlatan does seems to make headlines, so it was no surprise that the brash striker’s announcement that he was buying 25% of Swedish club Hammarby in 2019 ruffled some feathers. A product of the Malmo youth system, Ibrahimovic’s decision to invest in a rival club like Hammarby was labeled a “betrayal” in Malmo and even provoked Malmo supporters to vandalise and then topple a statue of the striker outside of the club’s home ground. Zlatan wasn’t too fazed by the backlash, calling the group “kindergarten level.” Remember, this is a man who has compared himself to lions, Ferraris and even God!

Russell Wilson and Ciara, Seattle Sounders (undisclosed)

They love their sports and stars in Seattle, so it is fitting that Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and wife and Grammy award-winning singer Ciara joined the Seattle Sounders ownership group in 2019. At their unveiling as owners, the Pro Bowl QB called soccer a “transformational sport” and added that the unifying power and inclusiveness of the sport played a huge part in the couple’s decision to get involved.

Ronaldo, Real Valladolid (82%)

Real Valladolid are a rather inconspicuous club, having flip-flopped between Spain‘s Primera and Segunda Divisions for much of their history. That didn’t deter Ronaldo. The Brazil legend, who won two World Cups and two Ballon d’Ors during his illustrious playing career, bought a 51% share in the Spanish club in 2018 for €30m and now holds an 82% stake in the Blanquivioletas. Valladolid lasted three seasons in LaLiga before they were relegated last season.

Diplo, Phoenix Rising (undisclosed)

One of the world’s most popular and successful DJs, Diplo is another celebrity who has a real affection for “The Beautiful Game.” The three-time Grammy award winner bought a stake in USL side Phoenix Rising in 2016 and makes up a star-studded ownership group that includes Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz and ex-MLB pitcher Brandon McCarthy. The club still has designs on joining MLS, and previously featured Diplo’s record label Mad Decent as a jersey sponsor.

Steve Nash, Mallorca and Vancouver Whitecaps (undisclosed)

Ex-NBA star Steve Nash’s love for football is well-documented, with the former point guard a die-hard Tottenham Hotspur supporter and an occasional Champions League analyst. Born in South Africa, Nash comes from a soccer family. His brother Martin earned 38 caps for Canada, while his sister Joann captained her college soccer team for three years. The former Phoenix Suns star and two-time NBA MVP first bought into his hometown Whitecaps back in 2008 and then Spanish side Mallorca in 2016. Nash’s investment in Mallorca (he was part of a group that purchased a $21m stake) has proved a masterstroke as Mallorca has earned back-to-back promotions and this season are back in La Liga for the first time since 2013.

Class of ’92: David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Salford City (10% each)

The “Class of ’92” consisting of David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt rose to prominence in Manchester almost 30 years ago, winning a combined 120 trophies at Old Trafford under legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson. In 2014, five of the six returned to the Manchester area to purchase eighth-tier Salford City, whose ground resides just 5 miles away from the bright lights of “The Theatre of Dreams.” Beckham joined his former teammates by also buying a 10% stake in 2019, and the club has flourished since. Salford, thanks largely to the financial backing from the Class of ’92, has earned four promotions in five seasons to reach the fourth tier (League Two) and the Football League for the first time ever. The club unveiled a new stadium in 2017 and are the subject of the docuseries”Class of ’92: Out of Their League,” which is available on Netflix. Beckham has also struck out on his own, and he is the president and co-owner of MLS club Inter Miami.

Man City take top spot in Premier League as Erling Haaland scores 50th goal in win at Fulham

11:30 AM ET James OlleySenior Writer, ESPN F

LONDON — Manchester City went top of the Premier League for the first time since February with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Fulham on Sunday.

Erling Haaland scored his 50th goal of the season in converting a third-minute penalty as the visitors established control early, only for Carlos Vinicius to equalise against the run of play with a quarter of an hour played. Julian Alvarez reestablished City’s lead on 34 minutes when firing a superb dipping drive over goalkeeper Bernd Leno from 25 yards but Fulham kept fighting in a competitive second half.


– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

The home side thought they should have had a penalty midway through the second period when Kyle Walker challenged Bobby De Cordova-Reid in the box, but referee Simon Hooper was unmoved.

City hung on for a precious victory that takes them to 76 points, one ahead of Arsenal and still with a game in hand.

Rapid reaction

1. City finally move above Arsenal

The momentum has been with Pep Guardiola’s side for some time and now the Premier League table proves it. City are top of the league for the first time since beating Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Feb. 15. The psychological impact of that could be profound, especially coming in the same week when the Gunners were well beaten in the reverse fixture.

Premier League Table

1 – Man City32+5476
2 – Arsenal33+4075
3 – Newcastle33+3465
4 – Man United32+1063
5 – Liverpool33+2356
6 – Tottenham34+654
7 – Aston Villa34+454
8 – Brighton31+2152
9 – Brentford34+850
10 – Fulham33045

The defending champions weren’t at their best at Craven Cottage. In fact, Fulham may feel they should have earned a point in a battling second-half display as Guardiola’s side struggled to control the game in their customary style.

Yet Ederson was not forced into any meaningful saves and their defence held firm to earn a victory that extends their recent record to 13 wins from their past 14 matches across all competitions — the only blemish was a 1-1 draw at Bayern Munich in a Champions League quarterfinal they were already winning 3-0 from the first leg.

They have clicked into gear at precisely the right time and look extremely difficult to catch in the home stretch.

2. Haaland’s half-century

As City go through the gears in the title race, Haaland continues to surpass individual milestones in what is rapidly becoming one of the most remarkable debut seasons in English football history. There are plenty of stats to choose from, but everyone will have a favourite.

Haaland’s third-minute penalty was his 50th goal of the season, making him the first player to reach that mark in a single season at an English club since 1931. The half-century is composed of one EFL Cup goal, three FA Cup goals, 12 Champions League goals and 34 in the Premier League — the most in a 38-game season. Haaland is now tied with Andy Cole (1993-94) and Alan Shearer (1994-95) for the most goals in any Premier League season and it is simply a matter of time before he breaks that record.

It seems almost perverse to suggest this, but Haaland hasn’t even been that efficient of late. He missed a series of glorious chances against Arsenal and could have scored more on Sunday, admittedly in part denied by some fine goalkeeping by Leno. But that is a minor criticism.

Haaland is the most feared forward in the land for a reason; the banner held up in the away end, “Feed the Yorkshire Viking and he will score” is hard to argue with. Dixie Dean’s all-time 63-goal haul is not an impossibility with a maximum of 10 more games to play this season.

3. City adapt without De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne was instrumental in Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Arsenal and his absence from the matchday squad through injury here could have been a significant blow for City.

But whereas De Bruyne and Haaland carved Arsenal open down the middle of the pitch in midweek, they switched up their approach with Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish causing Fulham problems on the flanks.


The switch of play to Grealish in particular was always an outlet ball for City in possession, although this wasn’t an afternoon when the England international made the most of those opportunities.

Instead, Alvarez came to the fore in an all-action display which featured a sublime 25-yard strike. The Argentina forward popped up all over the attacking areas of the pitch to help City overload Fulham and his useful contributions continue to exist largely in the shadow of Haaland’s headline act. That said, Guardiola will obviously want De Bruyne back as soon as possible — especially with a Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid to come.

Best and worst performers


Julian Alvarez, Manchester City: Won City’s penalty and scored a superb long-range effort that proved to be the matchwinner.

Erling Haaland, Manchester City: Continues to show real signs of developing his link-up play — he is more than just a finishing machine.

Bernd Leno, Fulham: Made several good saves, perhaps the best from Grealish in the first half and Haaland early in the second, to keep Fulham in the contest.


Tosin Adarabioyo, Fulham: The former Man City youth player lost both tackles he attempted, won one of four aerial duels and struggled to cope with Haaland.

Bobby De Cordova-Reid, Fulham: Struggled to make an impact against City’s defence, although had a penalty shout turned down.

Antonee Robinson, Fulham: Unable to cope with Mahrez in the first half and gave the ball away too often, much to the frustration of Fulham fans.

Highlights and notable moments

Haaland’s record-breaking season is rightly taking the attention, but Julian Alvarez reminded everyone of his own quality with a stunning goal that proved to be the winner.

After the match: What the managers, players said

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: “It’s important to go top but on Tuesday, Arsenal will play. The important [thing] is the West Ham game, it’s a game in hand. After that we’ll be top of the table and it will be more real.

“The game was so tight until the end, we could not expect anything differently. This amount of games is a lot but we knew that after we beat Arsenal at home that winning these types of games is really important. The players behaved amazingly.”

Fulham manager Marco Silva: “A tough afternoon for us because we lost another two players in Tim Ream and Andreas Pereira. Both look really serious injuries so it is a tough moment but we have to keep going, more games to play.

“Tim Ream for sure [is out for the rest of the season], unfortunately for us. He has broken his arm. Let’s see on Andreas, I hope it is not so serious but I have to wait for more [information].”

Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

Erling Haaland has scored all seven of the penalty kicks he has taken in the Premier League this season.

The player with the record for taking the most penalties in the Premier League without missing is former Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure, who scored all 11 of the spot kicks he took in the competition.

Haaland equalled the record for most goals in a single Premier League season. His 34th of the campaign drew him level with Alan Shearer and Andy Cole, who both reached the total in 42-game campaigns, when there were 22 teams in the division.

Up next

Fulham: Fulham may be on course to finish the season firmly in mid-table, but they will still have a say in the race for Europe and the battle against relegation as they travel to Liverpool on Wednesday before hosting Leicester City on May 8.

Manchester City: Next up for City is Wednesday’s visit of West Ham United to the Etihad Stadium, before they travel to Elland Road next Saturday to play Leeds United — a team they have scored 14 goals against over their past three meetings.

Man United in pole position for Champions League spot, but can’t take their eyes off Liverpool

10:00 AM ET

Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Diogo Jota not only kept Liverpool‘s season alive with a 94th-minute winner in Sunday’s dramatic 4-3 victory in the Premier League against Tottenham Hotspur, his goal also put more pressure on fourth-placed Manchester United as they attempt to secure a return to the Champions League.Even though they are seven points clear with a game in hand, United can’t take their eyes off Liverpool; if they do, they could surrender the top-four spot they’ve held for more than half the season.


In that sense, Jota’s goal against Tottenham could prove to be one of the most significant of the 2022-23 campaign. Without it, Liverpool would have lost their momentum and left United needing only two wins and a draw from their final six games to clinch a top-four finish. But the picture for both clubs has changed now.If you look at the Premier League table today, with the season into its final month, the race for the top four seems to be all but over. Newcastle United, in third, claimed an eighth win in nine league games by fighting back from a goal down to beat bottom-club Southampton at St James’ Park — a win that put them nine points clear of fifth-placed Liverpool with five games to play.United, meanwhile, overcame in-form Aston Villa 1-0 and steady themselves following a recent wobble that had seen them win just one of their previous five games in all competitions. (The FA Cup semifinal win over Brighton came via a penalty shootout following a 0-0 stalemate at Wembley.)Erik ten Hag’s team are in pole position to qualify for the Champions League and if they win their game in hand on Newcastle, they will climb to third. But the final month of the season is never quite as straightforward as casting an eye over the league table and assuming that a healthy lead or a run of comfortable fixtures makes the finishing positions a formality.

Premier League Table

1 – Man City32+5476
2 – Arsenal33+4075
3 – Newcastle33+3465
4 – Man United32+1063
5 – Liverpool33+2356
6 – Tottenham34+654
7 – Aston Villa34+454
8 – Brighton31+2152
9 – Brentford34+850
10 – Fulham33045

United, who have been hit hard by injuries to key players in recent weeks, such as centre-backs Lisandro Martinez and Rafael Varane, must summon the energy and performances to pick up nine points from their final six games if Liverpool continue to win.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are the ones in form, with four straight league wins and 15 goals. By contrast, United have struggled to score in their recent games and have managed fewer goals (14) in their last 12 outings.The number of goals scored at the end of the season could yet come into play as a decisive factor. If United win two, draw two and lose two of their remaining six fixtures, they will end the season on 71 points. That has been enough to qualify for the Champions League in each of the past three seasons, but Liverpool can also finish on 71 points by winning their five remaining fixtures and their goal difference is vastly superior to United’s: +23 to +10 in their favour. That advantage was built up in one game … the 7-0 win against United at Anfield in March.

Will Liverpool’s dramatic win vs. Spurs inspire a late top four push?

Janusz Michallik believes Liverpool could make the top four race “interesting” after their 4-3 win over Tottenham.

Looking at the remaining fixtures, it’s clear that United have a much tougher run of games, but they should still have enough to get the nine points they need. United’s next game is a trip to eighth-placed Brighton, a team looking to secure European football for the first time and one that beat United at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season. After that, the fixture list reads: West Ham (a), Wolves (h), Bournemouth (a), Chelsea (h) and Fulham (h).

Ordinarily, United would expect to collect a healthy total of points from games against sides much lower in the table, but they will need to find the physical and mental energy to get over the line. Those three home games could be the key, especially with United losing just once at Old Trafford this season and having the best defensive home record in the league.Liverpool will push them hard. Had Jota not scored his late goal on Sunday, that final run of games would have looked much less stressful for United. But with Liverpool finishing the season with games against Fulham (h), Brentford (h), Leicester (a), Villa (h) and Southampton (a), Klopp’s players could amass all 15 points from their remaining games if they maintain their recent form.A place in next season’s Champions League is in United’s hands, though, and they could make life so much easier for themselves by getting a result at Brighton on Thursday. Win that one and it would deliver a hammer blow to Liverpool’s hopes. But it’s never that straightforward.

A Long Road Prepared Anthony Hudson for His Moment As USMNT’s Interim Coach

The former Gregg Berhalter assistant is looking to leave his mark on the U.S. after a career that took him from England’s lower tiers to MLS and from Bahrain to New Zealand.

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Anthony Hudson really wanted to coach, and he was willing to do it for free.The future could wait. Certainty and stability mattered less in the moment than simply being on the field that day. So during the 2011–12 English soccer season, shortly after being fired by fifth-tier Newport County, the 30-year-old was spending time as a volunteer coach at Dagenham & Redbridge, a club in east London that would finish its campaign just six points above the League Two relegation zone.

“It was just an amazing opportunity,” says Hudson, who lasted six months at Newport. “I used to drive in every day, do some work with the first team, finishing, help out where I could.”Dagenham’s veteran manager John Still had told Hudson the smartest thing to do after getting sacked was “to get back to work straight away.” And it was shortly before a home game against Gillingham that Hudson’s eagerness to do just that paid off.Still introduced Hudson to Peter Taylor, a friend and well-traveled coach who’d recently left Bradford City to coach Bahrain’s national team. Still departed for a pregame meeting with Dagenham’s players, and left Hudson and Taylor to hang out in his office.“We chatted and got on really well. He’s telling me they were playing Sweden soon, and I was like, ‘That must be amazing,’” Hudson recalls.“Then like two weeks later, he called me up and he said, ‘Look, do you want to come and be our Olympic coach?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, absolutely.’ I remember flying out there a few weeks later, and I went straight to Japan because the under-23s had a [qualifier] against Japan,” he continues. “It was my first camp. And I just remember landing, dropping my stuff at the hotel, and then I’m on the training field in Tokyo putting cones down, and like a week before I was at Dagenham & Redbridge. Life’s crazy.”


A passion for the game that’s flourished despite disappointment, a readiness to embrace unconventional or modest opportunities, and a warmth and eagerness that transforms acquaintances into advocates have taken Hudson on a one-of-a-kind ride through coaching. He’s worked with rising stars like Harry Kane and once opposed Cristiano Ronaldo. He toiled on the muddy fields used by lower-level teams in England and the U.S., where he managed a USL side that played at a Maryland high school. He’s been in charge at continental championships and World Cup qualifiers, and was a couple of goals away from taking New Zealand to Russia in 2018. Hudson worked with reserves and loanees under Harry Redknapp at Tottenham. He was a player-coach in Wilmington, N.C. And he’ll be leading the U.S. men’s national team when it hosts rival Mexico on Wednesday night in Arizona.


There’s never been a long-term plan. Hudson, 42, was rarely plotting two or three steps ahead. The Seattle-born son of Alan Hudson, a renowned former midfielder who enjoyed lengthy spells at Chelsea and Stoke City before joining the Sounders in 1979, Anthony was enchanted by the excitement and glamor of the game but also determined to blaze his own trail. His ties to both the U.S. and England helped pave the way to Wilmington in 2006. The Hammerheads’ manager at that time was Englishman David Irving, who’d played on both sides of the Atlantic. They connected through a mutual friend.

“One of the big reasons for me moving to America was to build a career for myself, because I was always the son of—even growing up I had to consciously really look at myself because all my beliefs and all my ideas, and everything that came out my mouth wasn’t me. It was my dad,” Hudson explains. “He was my hero growing up—what he did in the game. So I used to copy, and he had such a big opinion about the game and players. So I had to go and sort of really get to know who I was and build a career for myself. And that was probably another motivation for going to the States.”


If making his own name was the motivation to come, then rebuilding it was a reason to stay. Hudson was a rising star when he resigned from New Zealand, and it looked like a bit of a coaching coup when the Colorado Rapids hired him ahead of the 2018 MLS season. He’d been linked to Sunderland, among other opportunities, and Rapids sporting director Pádraig Smith called Hudson “one of the top and up-and-coming coaches in world football,” at his unveiling.

But the ensuing 17 months were a disaster. Nothing went right. Several signings didn’t work out and consistency proved elusive as Colorado won only eight MLS matches in 2018, finishing 21st overall with the league’s 11th-highest payroll. A 0-7-1 start to the ’19 campaign left Hudson feeling like the walls were closing in. That’s how it worked in England, after all. So he vented at a postgame press conference following a loss to Atlanta United, saying, “We are fighting at the bottom with a bottom group of players. … There are teams with a lot more quality than us, and that’s what we’re competing against.”


He was fired a few days later.“I take full responsibility. I’m not gonna start pointing the finger at different things. I came in with probably a bit of an ego thinking I knew the league better than I did,” Hudson said last week.“I think you have to have key principles or an overarching way of playing,” he continues. “But then when you’re handed a group of players, it’s important to adapt and set the team up in a shape, in a way, that helps get the best out of them. And I didn’t do that. I basically tried to put my way onto a group of players that probably didn’t help get the best out of them. So I came away from that learning a very big lesson. It was a tough one.”https://007a2c5aa0ac40497d5cb4962abeb1f4.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-40/html/container.html

It was a sharp blow to that “top and up-and-coming” reputation he’d been developing, one that led to opportunities like the week Hudson spent with José Mourinho at Real Madrid back in 2013. U.S. fans and media didn’t follow Bahrain or New Zealand. They knew only that Hudson flamed out fast in Colorado. It would’ve made sense if he was on the first flight back to London.“It was tough. You’re a foreigner in another country. I had no family over in the States,” he says. “Getting fired is tough, and I thought about moving and then I thought, ‘You know what? I just can’t keep moving. I’ve been to the Middle East. I’ve been to New Zealand. I’ve been to America and after three or four years you build up all these good connections and good relationships, and you build a foundation of some type of community and then you leave?’


“So I decided, ‘Look, I’m here now. And even though it’s not gone well, I still want to build relationships. I believe in the game out here. I see some amazing things happening in the game here, and I want to help out in any way I can.’ So it was just a case of just one step at a time, trying to rebuild.”

Hudson loves the U.S. He says his father “especially” loves it, and that Alan, capped twice by England, insisted that his local pub in Chelsea hang American flags inside during the Qatar World Cup. And so Anthony stayed, hoping the same qualities that impressed the likes of Redknapp and Taylor might lead to something here.


“It’s really strange because I’m actually not someone who’s super extroverted. I don’t go out of my way to keep connections going. Like my personal life is—I don’t really like my phone. I don’t. I want to be left alone. I love my dogs,” says Hudson, who runs a rescue and shelter assistance organization called Forgotten Dogs Foundation in his spare time (the board includes Redknapp and U.S. women’s star Rose Lavelle).

“But also along the way you meet—I don’t have a huge amount of friends—but you meet some good people along the way that you instantly hit it off and you have a respect for, and I think I’ve been fortunate in that way to just, you know, bumble along sort of meeting people like Gregg [Berhalter],” Hudson continues. “You strike up a relationship, and you want to learn from them and ask advice and stuff like that. And yeah, there’s all these little connections where that’s happened, for sure.”


Berhalter competed against Hudson while at the Columbus Crew and believed his MLS adversary remained a coach with promise. So once Berhalter took over the U.S., he and former sporting director Earnie Stewart hired Hudson to coach the U-20s. In 2021, he was elevated to senior team assistant. He was with the U.S. when it won the Concacaf Gold Cup and Nations League that summer, as it navigated World Cup qualifying and then through the four matches in Qatar. That sort of promotion and responsibility might have seemed odd to those familiar only with what happened at Colorado. But bigger names have failed, improved and moved on.

“I can’t control what people say or what people think or what people write,” Hudson says. “I think in so many jobs, you know things are not always as good as everyone writes how good they are, and they’re also not as bad as people write how bad they are.”


Kellyn Acosta agrees. The U.S. and Los Angeles FC midfielder was a Rapid when Hudson arrived with fanfare and departed under a cloud. It’s worth noting when Acosta was contacted to speak about Hudson’s rebirth with the national team, LAFC was between a midweek Concacaf Champions League game and Sunday’s derby against the LA Galaxy. If Acosta had nothing nice to say about Hudson, he easily could’ve declined without prompting inference or suspicion. But he wanted to talk.

“In a coach’s career, similar to a player’s career, obviously we all have times in our career that don’t go as planned,” says Acosta, who was out of the national team for two years before returning in 2021 and evolving into an easy choice for the World Cup squad.


“I think as time goes on you evolve, you learn, and you adapt, and I think that he’s done just that. I’ve known him from the Colorado days, and we struggled when I first got there, but he’s a guy that I admire greatly—even working under him at Colorado. He’s a guy that’s super passionate and detail oriented,” Acosta adds. “He’s a delight to work under.”

Hudson was appointed interim U.S. manager when Berhalter’s contract expired, and his potential reappointment was scuttled by the scandal sparked by Claudio and Danielle Reyna’s accusations and then Stewart’s subsequent departure. Hudson coached last month’s Nations League group-stage wins over Grenada and El Salvador. He’ll be on the bench in Wednesday’s friendly outside Phoenix, and then he’ll almost certainly be in charge for June’s Nations League final four and this summer’s Gold Cup. U.S. Soccer is nearing the end of its search for Stewart’s successor, who will be charged with appointing the permanent national team coach. Hudson’s contract runs through August.


Meanwhile, Hudson’s appearance at last week’s Gold Cup draw in L.A., where he carried Concacaf’s most prestigious trophy onto the stage as reigning champ, was a reminder this is very real. The former Dagenham & Redbridge intern and Colorado Rapids washout is the U.S. coach, and he’ll be leading the American men in their biggest games this year.

To an outsider, the next three months represent a priceless and tantalizing opportunity. Do well, and that awkward year and a half in Colorado recedes further into history, perhaps destined to be a footnote on a lengthening résumé. Win a trophy or two, and doors inevitably will open—whether that’s with U.S. Soccer or MLS, or beyond.

Some insiders see it that way as well.


“Your failures aren’t who you are, and people shouldn’t hold on to what he experienced four years ago. That’s not who he is and that’s not what he wants to be known as,” Acosta says. “He has a great opportunity to kind of showcase all that he’s learned, all that he’s absorbed, and the direction he wants to head towards. … This is a huge opportunity for him to showcase himself and be in a better light.”

But Hudson doesn’t. He can’t. His journey has been about answering the door each time there’s a knock, and about doing whatever he had to do to be on the field that day. He learned hard lessons about what happens when there’s ego involved. So he’s not campaigning for the U.S. job—or any job for that matter. Just about every time he’s asked about his own plans or ambition, he defers to his players, to the program, to the progress he feels the team made under Berhalter and to his obligation to be the best steward possible.


“It’s just not in my thinking,” he says. “I don’t wake up every day and think, ‘You know what? I’m going to prove them wrong.’ I’ve moved on. A lot has happened since Colorado and a lot happened before Colorado. There’s more to my working career than Colorado Rapids.

“I’m more about just purely looking forward, wanting to grow, wanting to do a good job. I believe in what I do.”

There may be some small tweaks on the field (the U.S. played in more of a 4-2-3-1 last month), and the way things are discussed or communicated will vary simply because Berhalter and Hudson are different people. But Hudson says there’s no compulsion to make his mark or put his stamp on the team. He has too much respect for what Berhalter accomplished—“Gregg did an incredible job,” he says. There’s also a veteran’s belief that if he maintains a supportive and successful environment and shepherds the program in the right way, the people who matter—those who may knock on his door—will recognize it.


“He just wants to work. He loves the game, and sometimes you need to take a step back to go a step forward,” Acosta says. “You always want to have the head coaching role, but I think this time for him, maybe he needed to reset and find himself again, gain that confidence to be where he’s at now.”

The future is unknown, and the scoreboard ultimately will tell a lot of the story. But Hudson’s American roller coaster, from capsizing in Colorado to coaching in Qatar, has only strengthened his connection and affection for this country. He was raised inside a footballing cauldron, the son of a famous player who often was tabloid fodder, and now finds himself charmed by the growth of the game in his birthplace. Even though those stakes have made him a target at times, they elevate the work he’s doing now. It’s all he’s ever wanted.


“I feel how much the game means to people here. I get it. This role, especially, the responsibility … the people I work with, the staff, the players, are desperate—you can see it in their eyes—desperate for this game to keep moving forward. [And] the fans,” he says. “I truly feel the passion and the desire for the game to grow here, and I feel it’s a privilege to be in this spot for this moment in time.”

Premier League: The Big Six era is OVER, with a new era now taking its place

Mark White Tue, May 2, 2023, 1:00 AM EDT·9 min read Four Four Two

The Big Six has defined the Premier League, at least on Sky Sports, for a while now… whether you love, loathe or just feel indifferent to the term.

It’s been inescapable. ArsenalChelseaLiverpoolManchester CityManchester United and Tottenham Hotspur fought it out for four Champions League spots and two Europa League spots for over a decade: Super Sunday was often built around two of them facing off, while the other 14 teams in the league all fought to stop them from motoring into the distance – sometimes literally, with threats of breakaways. Pick any two and you could find beef. Pair any one with another club and it would be watchable.

Well, everything comes to an end. The Premier League is 31 years old this year: it’s an era in itself of English football. But within that time, there have been subtle changes brought about by new managers, new owners and new developments. We’re just entering a brave new world for the Prem once more, as another chapter closes at the end of this season.

Each Premier League era, up to the Big Six… 1992-97: The Kings of the North Era

Eric Cantona has a claim as the most transformative footballer that English has ever known: equal parts continental flair with that fire that made our audiences warm to him immediately. The Frenchman’s move from Leeds United across the Pennines brought Sir Alex Ferguson his first Premier League title – and together, they’d win a second shortly after.

Blackburn Rovers would win in 1995, Liverpool and Newcastle United would memorably push for the crown, too, as the power lay in the north of England for at least the first few Premier League campaigns. Aston Villa were the southernmost club in a top three before Arsenal managed it in 1997. That feels bonkers now, right?

Fergie defined this time with his mind games, his Class of 92 and his ever-evolving United team – but it wasn’t without its challengers stepping up, in the form of Keegan, Dalglish and others. For some, this era of the Prem will never, ever be beaten. Yes, mainly United fans.

1997-2004: The Duopoly Era

Once again, it was a Frenchman who would change English football, bringing the Premier League title down south for a first time in 1998.

For six years, realistically, the title was either going to be won by Arsene Wenger or Sir Alex Ferguson, as the pair formed arguably the division’s greatest rivalry. It felt like the Battle of Britpop as north faced south in a bitter war of cultures and identities – and though other teams would breach the top occasionally during this time, the title either swung one way or the other.

Other clubs would have success in cups, some would go deep in Europe. But these were the two forces of English football: it was Sir Alex and Arsene who defined the Premier League at this point, with the former pipping the latter 4-3 for titles during this time.

2004-2010: The Big Four Era

In 2003, Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein described new Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich as parking, “his tanks on our lawn and firing £50 notes at us”. Yet it was the Reds who would win the Champions League before the Blues.

Liverpool and Chelsea joined the party in the mid-noughties, with Rafael Benitez and Jose Mourinho taking charge of each side respectively. Don’t believe it was now a top four? Check out this FourFourTwo cover from 2008 which specifically references such a concept…

As Wenger had revolutionised English football in the late 90s, Benitez and Mourinho reshaped it tactically again, their 4-3-3s and continental styles proving better-suited for European glory. Wenger would refocus around Cesc Fabregas with his Gunners side cash-strapped from building the Emirates Stadium; Ferguson would recalibrate with a thicker midfield, too, before conquering Europe again in 2008.

Between 2005 and 2010, only two teams other than these four would finish in those Champions League spots. Everton did it under David Moyes in 2005, failing to make the group stage after qualifying – though Liverpool qualified as European champions that year – before Tottenham pipped the Reds in 2010 to bookend this era.

2010-2016: The Big Six Era pt. 1 (Rises and Falls)

In 2010, Manchester City were beaten 1-0 at the Etihad by a Peter Crouch strike, as Tottenham secured Champions League football for the first time. City needn’t have worried about being left behind, mind.

A new decade brought a new force in Manchester – backed, of course, by riches that we’d only seen at Stamford Bridge. City would land an FA Cup in 2011 as a foreshadowing of what was to come in the league the following year: but the Big Four was extended by another two, as Tottenham would get into Europe every time from 2010 to 2016, finishing in the top four three times. In 2013, Ferguson stepped aside and this really felt like open season, with unpredictable title races.

Really, this was an era of turbulence for English football, while Spain ruled the roost. A World Cup in 2010 for La Roja was followed by Champions League titles in 2011 and 2014 through to 2018 for El Clasico, while no English side reached a Champions League final between 2013 and 2017. Real Madrid and Barcelona were the two most glamorous sides on Earth, with Bayern Munich and Juventus close behind. England struggled to attract the best managers and players during this time – and it showed. Even in the seasons immediately before Fergie left, United were a shadow of some of their better sides.

It took Leicester City winning a title in 2016 to stop the Big Six from being quite so complacent in the league and actually reassert their dominance for good…

2016-2022: The Big Six Era pt. 2 (The Super Gaffers)

Just as Arsene and Jose had done before him, Pep Guardiola brought the next era to English football, complete with his ball-playing keeper, false nines and dual 10s. From 2016 onwards, the Big Six grew stronger and more ruthless than ever.

Each of the big guns had a manager to match. Jurgen Klopp brought heavy metal football to Liverpool, Antonio Conte won a first league title with a back three in England at Chelsea, with Pochettino at Spurs, Wenger at Arsenal and Mourinho at United completing a box office lineup. At the start of the 2016/17 season, the FourFourTwo Season Preview cover announced ‘The Season of the Super Gaffer’, complete with illustrations of all 20 managers – and it felt like a brave new world from post-Fergie malaise.

Naturally, not every manager would last but, of course, the kingpin manager feel continued, as some clubs opted for club icons as coaches in the absence of true A-list bosses – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at United, Mikel Arteta at Arsenal and Frank Lampard at Chelsea, but to name a few – while the likes of Marcelo Bielsa, Carlo Ancelotti and Manuel Pellegrini all managed “smaller” teams.

Leicester would push close, Arsenal would drop out of the top six a couple of times (albeit winning trophies in this period) and the quality of the Premier League would continue to grow. The Premier League thrived in Europe a little more but most importantly, it caught up tactically once more with Spain and Germany. England actually doing better at the World Cup in 2018 was proof of the Prem’s improvement, right?

2023 onwards: The… Super Billionaire Era?

Between 2016 and 2022, it was argued that Leicester City could displace one of the underfiring giants from the Big Six altogether. Just one problem with that: nothing about the very nature of Leicester’s model was “big”.

In 2023, there are big hitters – and those doing things on a smaller scale are competing with the bigger clubs. Newcastle are set for Champions League football as possibly the richest club on Earth but they’re yet to overhaul the players who were in relegation scraps. Chelsea have overhauled their squad with new owners but lie midtable, while Liverpool and Manchester United could both have new investors by next season, and Tottenham fans are angling for Daniel Levy’s exit. This could be the era of brand-new owners. But one thing’s for certain: the Big Six as we know it is over.

Were a Super League to rear its head, Newcastle would be among those interested. Is it now a Big Seven? Possibly – but who knows whether Brighton & Hove AlbionFulham and Brentford have enjoyed one-off stunners this season or can maintain that trajectory, with the gap between themselves and some of the traditional Big Six closer than ever. With smaller clubs and players bought for less competing at the top, have we reached the point where money doesn’t matter quite so much? That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Or is this the mad one-off season akin to 2015/16 before something more familiar next season?

Whether we’re set for a Big Seven, a Big Six without Chelsea, a Big Eight, a Dominant Top Half or the Big Four is to be re-worked once more, we’re due this update. Football moves in cycles, after all. It’s reassuring in a way to know that everything will pass. Including who the “big clubs” at the top of the table are.

Bella Bixby’s teammates react to her shocking game-tying strike against Angel City FC this weekend.

Goalkeeper goal draws Portland level at the death
Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports Portland and Angel City played to a blockbuster 3-3 draw on Saturday evening, in a game with the most unlikely of endings.Portland’s Bella Bixby scored only the second goalkeeper goal in league history in second-half stoppage time to keep the Thorns undefeated.The game held attacking fireworks long before Portland’s result-saving punch.No. 1 draft pick Alyssa Thompson struck first for Angel City, showing off her speed while scoring her second goal of the season in the 10th minute.Portland then drew even on a penalty after Julie Ertz committed a foul in Angel City’s 18-yard box.Morgan Weaver put Portland ahead, before two set-piece goals (including a header by Ertz) gave Angel City a shot at an upset.Bixby emptied Portland’s net in search of a final equalizer, backheeling the ball into the goal off a corner kick.“I still can’t believe it, but it’s like a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I gotta really absorb it,” the goalkeeper said after the match.

Teenagers ruled the NWSL this weekend.

  • 18-year-olds Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave) and Alyssa Thompson (Angel City) scored in their respective matches over the weekend, while 17-year-old Olivia Moultrie (Portland Thorns) notched a key assist.

Bigger picture: As professional soccer opportunities grow in salary and stature, more teenagers have gone pro in the NWSL rather than play in college first.

  • Two 15-year-old players made appearances this weekend: Washington’s Chloe Ricketts and San Diego’s Melanie Barcenas.
  • Barcenas became the youngest active NWSL player in league history, making her debut at 15 years and 177 days old on Saturday.

Shaw now has three goals on the season, tying her with Alex Morgan for the most tallies on San Diego in 2023.

  • Thompson has two goals this season, tying her with Katie Johnson for the most scored for Angel City.

Bottom line: The future of the NWSL is already here, and they’re keeping pace alongside league veterans as the 2023 season nears the quarter mark.

FA Cup Final sells out Wembley Stadium
HARRIET LANDER/CHELSEA FC VIA GETTY IMAGESThe women’s FA Cup has sold out Wembley Stadium for the first time ever, marking women’s football’s meteoric rise in England.Manchester United and Chelsea will face off for the Cup on May 14 in front of more than 70,000 fans.Crowds for the Lionesses have soared since England’s Euros win last year, and the momentum has firmly crossed over to the domestic club game.Arsenal sold out the Emirates for the first time during their Champions League semifinal tie against Wolfsburg on Monday.Arsenal also attracted a WSL record crowd of 47,367 for the North London derby earlier this year.

PGMOL Review Recording Of What Paul Tierney Said To Jurgen Klopp And Find Referee “Acted In A Professional Manner”

  • he PGMOL, the organization responsible for Premier League referees, has refuted Jurgen Klopp’s claim that Paul Tierney said something unacceptable to him during Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Tottenham on Sunday.Referee Tierney showed Klopp a yellow card after the Liverpool manager had shouted something in the face of the fourth official while celebrating Diogo Jota’s late winning goal.Speaking to the media after the game, Klopp suggested that Tierney had an agenda against him and his team. Klopp also told Sky Sports: “What he said to me when he gave me the yellow card is not ok.”

Klopp refused to reveal what Tierney had said o him but the PGMOL has since listened to the conversation by reviewing a recording from the referee’s microphone.A statement read: “PGMOL is aware of the comments made by Jurgen Klopp after his side’s fixture with Tottenham Hotspur.”Match officials in the Premier League are recorded in all games via a communications system.”Having fully reviewed the audio of referee Paul Tierney from today’s fixture, we can confirm he acted in a professional manner throughout including when issuing the caution to the Liverpool manager.”So, therefore, we strongly refute any suggestion that Tierney’s actions were improper.”

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