Williams slams Neville for showing 'lack of respect' to England Women

England Women’s legend Fara Williams SLAMS Phil Neville for showing a ‘lack of respect’ after admitting his time as boss was always going to come to an end as he eyes up ‘day-to-day’ role next

  • Phil Neville will leave role as England boss at end of his contract in July 2021
  • He has admitted he wants to get involved in the ‘day-to-day’ running of a club 
  • Fara Williams has since slammed Lionesses boss Neville for his latest comments 

Fara Williams has slammed Phil Neville for showing a ‘lack of respect’ towards women’s football after he revealed he wanted to take up a ‘day-to-day’ managerial role next.

The former Manchester United and Everton star is set to leave his role in charge of the Lionesses at the end of his contract in July 2021, when he will have spent three years at the helm. 

And Neville recently admitted that he always knew his time as coach of the Lionesses was going to come to an end, before revealing he wanted to cut his teeth in club management.

Phil Neville will leave his role as England Women’s coach when his contract expires in July 2021

Williams – England’s record appearance-maker with 172 caps – has since admitted that she has been hurt by Neville’s comments.  

Williams, who has fallen out of Neville’s consideration for selection, told Sky Sports: ‘The comments… I was disappointed with [them]. The fact that you can come out and say you was using our national team as a stepping stone, that disappointed me.

‘I was hurt by those comments. I am no longer with that squad but I certainly know what it means to me to play for England. I know what it means for the girls there currently, staff that are there currently [and] that were there before.

Fara Williams has slammed Neville after he said he wants to step into ‘day-to-day’ management

‘Comments like that are not needed in my opinion. I think he could have probably handled that, or the comments could have been made a little bit better.

‘I just think it shows a little lack of respect for our game and, as I say, where it was and where we are trying to get it to.’ 

Since Neville’s appointment as Lionesses manager, he has guided them to SheBelievesCup glory in 2019 while taking them to a fourth-place finish at the World Cup in the same year.

However, he is now seeking a new challenge as he wants to work with players day-in day-out.

‘My plan was always just to go for the three years and then get into the day-to-day running of a club job, which would be what I wanted to do,’ Neville told beIN Sports’ Keys & Gray Show.

Neville took over in 2018, guiding England to a fourth-place finish at the 2019 World Cup

‘It’s been brilliant and I’ve loved every minute of it, but ultimately you don’t get to see the players. You don’t get to impact them every single day, which is now what I feel I need to do. 

‘The plan was always to do the three years. I had a World Cup, I had the Olympics – which [would have been] this summer – and then there’s the Euros in England next summer. That was my three-year stint at international football.

‘I think international football for a 41, 42-year-old can get quite frustrating — so I thought, get some managerial experience, which is unbelievable in terms of going to major tournaments, and then cut my teeth in day-to-day running with the energy that I’ve got.

‘With the coronavirus, there has obviously been no Olympic Games, no Euros — which meant that obviously I had to make the decision early.’ 




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Get ready for a Premier League festival of football like never before

A freakish festival of football: Get ready for a mini-season like never before as Liverpool’s peculiar procession continues, the race for the top four resumes and the fight for survival reaches its conclusion

  • English football will be returning on June 17 after coronavirus halted the season
  • The Premier League will be back to bring a memorable campaign to an end 
  • Liverpool are close to clinching the title while the race for the top four is on
  • Top-flight sides such as Newcastle and Watford are battling to avoid the drop 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

 The covers are off. The ball is rolling. Touch your toes, reach for the sky, on your marks. Prepare yourselves for a summer of sport, albeit one like never before.

No strawberries at Wimbledon. No warm ale at extortionate prices and beer snakes in the Hollies Stand. No unseemly brawl in best bib-and-tucker by the champagne tent after the final race on the card at Ascot.

For football, no major international tournament, no crushing disappointment and soul-loathing for England. No circus of globe-trotting friendlies.

To the delight of many, including Liverpool (pictured) football is coming back in June

Here are all of the key dates and TV information you need to know ahead of football’s return

Instead, limber up for a mini-season like never before with a blur of 92 midsummer matches in the Premier League.

Behold Liverpool’s peculiar procession towards their first league title in 30 years. It may or may not be at Anfield. 

Unfortunately, it will not be in front of their passionate supporters. But it will be no more than Jurgen Klopp and his team deserve for 18 months of excellence.

The campaign is distorted but distorted for all. At least this way — and with no second wave of coronavirus — it can be settled in a sporting arena.

Jurgen Klopp (pictured)’s side are so close to their first Premier League title in 30 years

It will certainly seem freakish but we can immerse ourselves in a sprint for the top four. Or top five, perhaps, if Manchester City fail to overturn their UEFA ban.

Can Leicester City hang in there? Can Sheffield United or Wolves interlope? Can Frank Lampard finish an impressive first season at the helm at Chelsea? 

Will Manchester United’s fine form since the turn of the year and the signing of Bruno Fernandes survive? Will Tottenham or Arsenal recover and be involved in Europe next season, whatever that is going to look like? It is nicely poised.

Can Jose Mourinho guide his Tottenham side to a top-four spot ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal?

Spurs were in a terrible run of no wins in six. By the time we resume it will be four months since their last win. 

With the return to fitness of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, they ought to benefit from the time-out.

But how will Jose Mourinho cope, unburdened by the excuses of injuries, no time to work and the distractions of other cup competitions?

At the bottom, after weeks of political posturing by those against the concept of relegation, the survival fight will reconvene.

It looks like any three from six but with an other-worldly element of the unknown thrown in.

What about at the bottom of the table? Newcastle and Watford are trying to avoid the drop

Those in good form have lost momentum. Watford became the first to beat Liverpool in the Premier League but that seems like another lifetime and Nigel Pearson’s plans have been hit by positive Covid tests and some players, including captain and talisman Troy Deeney, with concerns about a return to work.

Will Steve Bruce’s Newcastle be energised or distracted by the Saudi takeover attempt? Will Leeds end their 16-year exile from the top flight? 

Will West Bromwich Albion, Fulham or Nottingham Forest be back? Or can Preston or Brentford reach the Premier League for the first time?

While there are no shortage of sub-plots in the Championship, the FA Cup is well set with four blue-chip clubs accustomed to finals and silverware in the modern era against four who have waited years for success in the world’s oldest competition. 

The FA Cup will be returning in June – with clubs currently competing at the quarter-final stage

Newcastle have not won it for 65 years, Sheffield United not for 95, Leicester and Norwich have never won it.

Of course, it will not be the same. Not without the noise in the stadium to turn up the intensity. 

We will miss the joy of the shared experience. The heat of June and July will slow the pace and extra substitutions will break the flow.

Our summer of sport will lack quintessence but pull up a chair and keep your eye on the ball because there will be drama. 

There will something for football fans to savour. Who knows, we might even enjoy it.    




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Jadon Sancho booked for 'Justice for George Floyd' message after Dortmund goal

Dortmund superstar Jadon Sancho was given a yellow card for revealing a ‘Justice for George Floyd’ message in his side’s game against Paderborn.

The England winger doubled Dortmund’s lead on the hour mark when he tapped home from close range to score his 15th goal of the season.

The 20-year-old removed his jersey during his goal celebration to reveal a ‘Justice for George Floyd’ message on his undershirt.

Floyd died after a police officer kneeled on his neck following his arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, has been charged with third-degree murder after videos emerged of the 44-year-old persisting with the kneeling after Mr Floyd pleaded: ‘I can’t breathe’.

Sancho has become the latest to do so with his message but the winger was sadly cautioned for his actions afterwards.

Bundesliga rules stipulate that the removal of jerseys during goal celebrations should be met with a yellow card, while all political messages are banned.



It’s unclear which of the rules Sancho was cautioned for but as he technically broke both, the referee was within his rights to caution him.

Nevertheless, Sancho will feel it is a worthy punishment to raise awareness for an issue that has sparked outrage across the world and has shined a light on the ill-treatment of black people at the hands of the police.

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10 players who could leave for free this summer

Thomas Meunier to Manchester United, David Silva to join up with David Beckham and Adam Lallana to reunite with Brendan Rodgers… 10 players who could leave for free this summer and where they could end up

  • Many players across Europe will see their contracts expire in the summer
  • Some players could find themselves playing for a different club mid season
  • PSG stars Thomas Meunier and Edinson Cavani could both leave Ligue 1
  • Man City star David Silva could join David Beckham at Inter Miami in the MLS 

Players across Europe are currently in limbo with no certainty over when the football season will resume and many of their contracts set to expire in the summer.

While there have been reports of special rules being created to allow such players to continue to play for their clubs until the season finally concludes, there have also been suggestions that some players could walk out of their clubs before the end of the season under the terms of their contract.

These are some of the biggest names in the game who face uncertain futures due to their deals are expiring this summer – and the clubs who also face a major headache as a result. 

Manchester United are weighing up a move for Paris Saint-Germain right-back Thomas Meunier, who looks set to leave on a free transfer this summer. The Belgian is not a regular in the PSG side and there appears to be no sign of a new contract.

A report from Le Quotidien du Foot earlier this month said that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has identified the Belgium international as a potential signing, suggesting he is looking to find cover for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and the option of switching up his full-backs.

The 28-year-old Meunier has other admirers – German giants Borussia Dortmund and Italian side AC Milan, plus Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham.

Manchester United are weighing up a move for Paris Saint-Germain defender Thomas Meunier

Edinson Cavani

Like his PSG team-mate, Edinson Cavani is also available this summer. In fact, his mother has stated ‘many clubs’ are interested in signing the forward but his preference remains a move to Spain.

The 33-year-old has just two months left on his contract at the Parc des Princes, and has been linked with several South American clubs, including Boca Juniors and Flamengo, in recent weeks.

But Cavani’s mother Berta Gomez has maintained that her son plans to continue playing in Europe. Atletico Madrid have long been at the front of the queue, but the club are in financial turmoil due to the coronavirus crisis.

PSG striker Edinson Cavani has just two months left on his contract at the Parc des Princes

David Silva

David Beckham’s Inter Miami are competing with AC Milan for the signature of Manchester City star David Silva, according to Corriere dello Sport. 

Milan have already entered talks to sign the Spaniard when his City contract expires in the summer. 

The 34-year-old has enjoyed 10 successful seasons in England but has confirmed he will depart the Etihad Stadium this year.

Milan have contacted the player’s representatives with a view to completing a free transfer. His other option is Las Palmas, a low-key move but one that would take him home to Gran Canaria and see him reunited with his family.

David Beckham ‘s Inter Miami are competing with AC Milan for the signature of David Silva

Mario Gotze

Mario Gotze has confirmed he is ready to move away from Borussia Dortmund this summer. Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc confirmed this week Gotze will not remain at the club after his current deal expires.

The gifted midfielder, who is still only 27, is out of contract at the end of the season and is attracting interest from a number of clubs in England and across Europe.

Gotze, a World Cup winner who has made 63 appearances for Germany, scoring 17 goals, signalled his intent to change direction in his career by switching to top agent Reza Fazeli from International Soccer Management (ISM), who also represent the likes of Emre Can plus coaches Lucien Favre and Peter Bosz.

He is not a guaranteed starter for Dortmund, with his career dip continuing following his World Cup final goal and subsequent health problems. Yet he remains a prodigious talent, and West Ham and Everton are reported to be keen. 

Mario Gotze has confirmed he is ready to consider a move away from Borussia Dortmund

Pedro

Roma are set to offer Chelsea winger Pedro a contract as they look to convince him to join on a free transfer.

The winger’s current deal with the Blues is set to expire at the end of June and it is expected that he will leave Stamford Bridge. He has expressed a desire to stay at the club but talks over a new contract have collapsed.

Roma are eager to sign Pedro and are ready to offer him a contract of £2.7million a year plus bonuses.

Roma are set to offer Chelsea winger Pedro a contract as they look to convince him to join

Adam Lallana

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers denied the club have made any approaches for Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana earlier this year.

This is despite Lallana, 31, being out of contract in the summer and it has been reported that the Foxes have made enquiries with his representatives.

Rodgers was in charge at Anfield when Liverpool signed Lallana from Southampton for £25million in 2014, and his technical gifts would make him a perfect fit in Leicester’s midfield alongside the likes of Youri Tielemans and James Maddison. 

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers denied the club have made any approaches for Adam Lallana

Willian

Willian’s search for a new club is on hold, with the Chelsea star’s agent insisting that neither the player nor interested clubs feel comfortable discussing a move amid the coronavirus crisis. 

The Brazilian is almost certain to move on from Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, with the winger’s contract running down after talks of a new deal fell flat. 

The Blues’ second longest-serving player has, however, committed to staying on until the season has been completed, so past the end date of his contract.

It remains to be seen whether that would be possible, but if it is then any move would become complicated. An injury suffered after the resumption could put off any suitors. Barcelona have tried to sign Willian on numerous occasions. 

The Brazilian winger is almost certain to move on from Stamford Bridge this summer

Dries Mertens

Chelsea are reported to have made a fresh bid to sign Dries Mertens this week, but Inter Milan and Newcastle, once they are flush with cash from their new Saudi owners, are ready to provide competition.

The Blues made an offer for the 32-year-old forward back in January but this was turned down.

Now they have been offered encouragement to try again with reports in Italy suggesting Mertens is now reluctant to commit his future to Napoli.

The Belgian is the club’s all-time top goalscorer but seems to want a new challenge. He is not just a finisher too – he can play in any forward position, wide or centrally. 

The Blues made an offer for the 32-year-old forward back in January but this was turned down

Ryan Fraser

Arsenal are confident they are favourites to sign Ryan Fraser, with the Bournemouth winger set to be a free agent in the summer. 

Fraser earned interest from the top six in the 2018-19 season after providing Eddie Howe’s side with 14 assists – the second best tally in the league – and seven goals. 

This season has been more challenging for the Scot, tallying just four assists amid the Cherries’ tight battle against relegation. 

Yet the good impression he has made in the Premier League looks set to land him a move to a bigger club.

The former Aberdeen man signed for Bournemouth for less than £500,000 in January 2013, when the south coast side were in League One. After over 200 appearances, he looked ready to finally move on before the coronavirus crisis hit. 

This season has been more challenging for the Scot as he tallied just four assists

Jan Vertonghen 

Inter Milan are reportedly leading the race to sign soon to be out of contract Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen.

The Belgian’s deal expires in June and with no new terms agreed with the North London club, he looks set for a summer exit.

Some Spurs fans might not be too unhappy with that, as Vertonghen has recently looked a shadow of his former self. He has long been considered one of the Premier League’s best defenders and Jose Mourinho is a fan, but his time at the top could be running out at the age of 32.

However, Inter are interested and will face competition from Serie A rivals Napoli and Roma for his signature, according to Italian outlet Gazzetta dello Sport.

Inter Milan are reportedly leading the race to sign out-of-contract defender Jan Vertonghen




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Tiger Woods set for star-studded return to the golf course

Tiger Woods set for star-studded return to the golf course as he and Peyton Manning take on Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in ‘The Match: Champions for Charity’ with $10m to be donated to fight Covid-19

  • Tiger Woods will return to the golf course for the first time since mid-February 
  • He and NFL star Peyton Manning will take on Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady  
  • It follows last week’s fundraiser at Seminole which included Rory McIlroy 
  • The huge $10million prize fund will be donated to help Covid-19 relief efforts 

Tiger Woods will be seen on a golf course for the first time since mid-February when he partners NFL legend Peyton Manning in a charity match on Sunday against Phil Mickelson and superstar quarterback Tom Brady.

Woods complained of a sore back after shooting a final-round 77 which saw him finish last at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles.

‘How my back feels now is like night and day to how it felt then,’ he said. 

 Tiger Woods will be seen on a golf course for the first time since mid-February on Sunday

Woods and Peyton Manning will take on Phil Mickelson and superstar quarter back Tom Brady

‘I feel a lot better than I did then. I’ve been able to turn a negative into a positive and been able to train a lot and get my body to where I think it should be.’

The match will be shown live at 8pm on CNN International and the purpose is to raise £8million or more for COVID-19 relief efforts, and provide entertainment with four of the biggest stars from the PGA Tour and NFL.

Another appeal to the Sunday made-for-TV exhibition, ‘The Match: Champions for Charity,’ is a chance to see Tiger Woods swing a golf club for the first time in 98 days.

The match will be shown live on CNN with the aim of raising £8million for Covid-19 relief funds

Woods complained of a sore back after shooting a final-round 77 at the Genesis Invitational

Woods was last seen on television on February 16 at the Genesis Invitational, where he moved cautiously in California’s chilly late winter weather and posted weekend rounds of 76-77 to finish last among the 68 players who made the cut at Riviera.

He skipped a World Golf Championship in Mexico City, and said his surgically repaired back wasn’t quite ready in sitting out the opening three weeks of the Florida swing. And then the pandemic took over, and there has been no place to play. 

Woods and retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning will face Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady, who won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and signed this year with Tampa Bay.

Rust is to be expected for players who haven’t competed in nearly two or three months

The match will be at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida which is Woods’ home course and about 20 minutes from Seminole, where last week Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff ushered golf’s return to live television.   

Just like last week, rust is to be expected for players who haven’t competed in two months – three, in the case of Woods. 

No fans will be allowed, just like last week at Seminole. One difference is the players will be in their own carts, whereas the four PGA Tour players last week carried their bags. 

No fans will be allowed but players will be in their own carts after carrying their bags last week




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Chris Woakes happy for Alex Hales to make England return

Pace bowler Chris Woakes says he would be happy to see Alex Hales return to the England side.

Batsman Hales has not played for England since being removed from the World Cup squad in May 2019 for an “off-field incident”, reportedly failing a drugs test.

“We all try to pull in the right direction,” said Woakes.

“If Alex is willing to do that then I imagine everyone would be happy to see him back playing for England.”

Cricket is set to return from the coronavirus shutdown in July, and England will next week name an enlarged group of about 30 players who will resume training with a view to playing Test and limited-overs matches.

  • When will cricket return – and what will it look like?
  • England bowlers resume training this week

With a revamped schedule likely to be congested, necessitating separation between the Test and limited-overs squads, England could call on 31-year-old Hales, who averages almost 38 in 70 one-day internationals.

When Hales was dropped, captain Eoin Morgan said it was because of a “complete breakdown in trust” and that the rest of the squad supported the decision.

In February, Morgan said it would take a “considerable amount of time” to regain that trust.

Woakes, 31, said: “He’s gone through a tough time, being left out of the World Cup. Going on to see that team lift the trophy must have been difficult for him.

“If people have gone away for a time and worked on their weaknesses, they should be allowed a second chance.”

Hales’ highest score of 171 was once the England record, and he was the second highest run-scorer in last winter’s edition of the Big Bash League, Australia’s domestic Twenty20 competition.

“Alex is as a world-class player,” said Woakes. “I don’t 100% know what will happen, but I’d be happy to see Alex back in England colours.”

Woakes, 31, was among the England bowlers who returned to training on Thursday, at his home ground of Edgbaston.

As part of the protocols put in place by the England and Wales Cricket Board, Woakes was required to take his own temperature, enter information into an app, arrive at the ground in his training kit and wash his hands before the session began.

He has also been given his own set of six cricket balls that no-one else will touch.

“It’s my job, so it was nice to have some form of normality by going back to training,” he said.

“It’s been two months since I last bowled, and I was a little sore this morning. The first waddle to the toilet was a bit interesting, but the body is not too bad.”

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Lionel Messi nearly signed for Getafe on loan from Barcelona

Lionel Messi nearly signed for Getafe on loan from Barcelona as a youngster, claims Spanish minnows’ president… and he says they just missed out on snatching Pep Guardiola away from the Nou Camp too!

  • Getafe chief claims a deal was close to being complete to sign Lionel Messi
  • But a move for the then 17-year-old was blocked by manager Frank Rijkaard
  • Spanish minnows also tried to hand Pep Guardiola his first managerial role
  • Despite talks, Barca opted to hand current Man City boss his big break instead 

Getafe’s president has claimed he was tantalisingly close to signing Lionel Messi on loan from Barcelona at the start of his senior career.

Messi broke into the Barca team as a 17-year-old under Frank Rijkaard during the 2004-05 season and has since gone on to become a club legend as well as being renowned as one of the world’s greatest players.

But following Messi’s first small steps at the Nou Camp, Getafe chief Angel Torres claimed he had held discussions with then Barca sporing director Txiki Begiristain over bringing him to his side to help him gain first-team experience, only for Rijkaard to block the move.

Getafe have claimed they nearly signed Lionel Messi from Barcelona when he was 17-years-old

‘In Messi’s first or second year [in the first team], we came really close to bringing him to Getafe on loan,’ Torres told Marca .

‘In the end, [then manager Frank] Rijkaard didn’t agree to it and we were left with just our desire.’

It seems Torres’ eye for talent stretched to the dugout too as when looking for a new manager to replace the outgoing Michael Laudrup, who was linked with Barca before joining Spartak Moscow.


Messi made his debut during the 2004-05 season but any loan move to Getafe was blocked by his then manager Frank Rijkaard (right)

Getafe chief Angel Torres has been left to reflect on just missing out on signing Messi

Torres claims discussions were again held with Barca, with whom he holds good relations with the board.

But they were left short again when Barca appointed Guardiola to replace Rijkaard, despite president Joan Laporta being uncertain with the current Manchester City boss who back then had no senior managerial experience.

‘One day, [Barcelona sporting director] Txiki [Begiristain] was at a European draw in Switzerland and the idea was that Laudrup would go to Barcelona and we would get Guardiola as a replacement because, to start with, Laporta wasn’t convinced by Pep at all,’ Torres added.

Four years later in 2008, Getafe also had an approach for Pep Guardiola turned down




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10 things to look out for when the Bundesliga returns this weekend

The Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho connection, players adapting to the new normal and why the match of the week may NOT be Dortmund’s derby with Schalke… 10 THINGS to look out for when the Bundesliga returns this weekend

  • The Bundesliga is back as starved football fans finally get to watch some action
  • It all restarts on Saturday with Dortmund hosting arch-rivals Schalke in the derby
  • Title rivals Bayern Munich travel to minnows Union Berlin on Sunday afternoon 
  • Here, Sportsmail picks out 10 things to look out for when football finally returns 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Finally, we have some football on our TV screens again! 

The Bundesliga is back this weekend and promises to fill the giant sporting void in our lives during the current coronavirus crisis.

Action returns with a barnstorming Revierderby on Saturday afternoon as Borussia Dortmund and Jadon Sancho welcome arch-rivals Schalke to the Westfalenstadion while Bayern Munich travel to take on plucky underdogs Union Berlin on Sunday.

All nine games will be broadcast on BT Sport as the sporting calendar takes its first steps to normalisation. With a set of interesting fixtures lined up, Sportsmail gives you some of the things to keep an eye out for.  

Football is back this weekend as the Bundesliga prepares to return with a full set of fixtures

The Haaland and Sancho connection

Apart from Liverpool’s blockbuster front three, there is probably no attacking line-up more exciting in world football than these two at Dortmund.

Since Dortmund won the race to sign Erling Haaland in January he has scored nine goals in eight Bundesliga appearances, taking his ridiculous tally for the entire campaign to 40 goals in 33 appearances.

Sancho’s output in front of goal has also been ridiculous this season. He has 14 goals and 15 assists in 23 Bundesliga matches and they were combining effortlessly before the season was halted. 

Their relationship will face a test in the derby against Schalke on Saturday with Haaland yet to play against Dortmund’s bitter rivals. Sancho, though, netted the winner in the away fixture last season.  

Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland were in devastating form for Dortmund before the shut down

The new ‘normal’ 

Bundesliga football will look very different this weekend as it adapts to the new normal. There have been a very strict set of instructions sent out to players, managers and clubs to follow if matches are to be played out safely.

This week, teams have been in quarantine camps where the ideal scenario was for clubs to have either entire hotels or floors to themselves. 

If that has not been possible, squads have had to use their own entrances, lifts and team meeting rooms to avoid contact with other visitors is advised. 

Teams have to use multiple buses with enough space for players to sit at least 1.5 metres apart on their way to stadiums. Players and staff must wear masks on arrival. Home players are allowed to travel in their own cars but car sharing is forbidden. 

Players are going to have to adapt to the new rules put in place to get the season back on

Players are limited to a maximum of 40-minute stints in dressing rooms, where they must keep masks on. 

On the field, everyone bar the active players and officials has to wear a face mask, although managers can lower theirs to shout instructions.

Balls will also be disinfected before and during the game and players have to use personalised, disposable bottles. Substitutes must sit at least one seat apart, or in the stands if the benches are too small. 

Players can no longer celebrate in groups, high-five or embrace, and they have also been asked not to spit, other than when re-hydrating.

The derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke will be played in front of empty seats

Plenty of British interest 

In recent seasons we have seen increasing amounts of under-valued English players head to Germany to kickstart their careers.

Sancho is the obvious example but more and more are taking the plunge. This season there are a number of talented youngsters plying their trade in Germany.

Chelsea’s Ethan Ampadu is on loan at RB Leipzig under the tutelage of Julian Nagelsmann, while Wales’ Rabbi Matondo is enjoying a breakthrough season with Schalke.

Ademola Lookman ditched Everton permanently last summer and signed with RB Leipzig after a promising loan spell there in 2017-18.

Former West Ham prodigy Reece Oxford represents struggling Augsburg and Jonjoe Kenny, on loan from Goodison Park, will have the tough task of handling Sancho for Schalke this weekend.

Welshman Rabbi Matondo has enjoyed his breakthrough season at Schalke at just 19 years old

Lewandowski vs Werner 

Everybody wants to see goals and these two are the best in the business in that department in Germany. They sit at the top of the Bundesliga scoring charts with Lewandowski (25) just ahead of Werner (21). 

The Pole had an outrageous start to the season, becoming the first player in the league’s history to hit double figures after six games, and he also netted in each of the club’s first 11 top-flight games.  

Werner has been just as impressive, firing RB Leipzig into title contention. Amid the constant links to Liverpool, Manchester United and even Bayern themselves, Werner has terrorised defences with his searing pace and precise finishing. 

Bayern, Dortmund and Leipzig are all in the hunt for the title but the battle for the Golden Boot promises to be just as fascinating. 


Robert Lewandowski (left) and Timo Werner (right) are leading the race for the Golden Boot 

Frankfurt vs Borussia Monchengladbach 

Aside from Schalke’s trip to Dortmund, this well could be the match of the weekend.

Despite not having the star names of their rivals, Frankfurt are always capable of upsetting the odds with the energetic brand of football played by Adi Hutter’s side.

They took Chelsea to penalties in last season’s Europa League semi-finals before losing at Stamford Bridge. Frankfurt also beat Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium earlier in the season.

Impressive form last season led to a huge transformation in attack after they lost Luka Jovic to Real Madrid, Ante Rebic on loan to AC Milan and Sebastien Haller, who was a big loss despite his woeful form for West Ham.

Frankfurt smashed Bayern Munich earlier in the season and have the ability to cause an upset

Monchengladbach were top earlier on in the season but their recent form has seen them drift

They have not been quite as good this season and sit 12th but they did dismantle Bayern 5-1 in November. Keep an eye out for Serbian winger Filip Kostic, he’s their star man now. 

Monchengladbach, meanwhile, are flourishing under manager Marco Rose after his arrival from Red Bull Salzburg in the summer.

The offensive trio of Marcus Thuram (Lillian’s son), Alassane Plea and Breel Embolo had them leading the Bundesliga in the early stages of the season before a slight drop off in form.

They also have Denis Zakaria, a player tracked by Liverpool and Manchester United, and the impressive German midfielder Florian Neuhaus. World Cup winner Matthias Ginter is at the heart of their defence, too.

OPENING WEEKEND TV SCHEDULE

May 16- Borussia Dortmund v Schalke, 2pm, BT Sport 1

May 16 – RB Leipzig v Freiburg, 2pm, BT Sport 2

May 16 – Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin, 2pm, BT Sport 3

May 16 – Augsburg v Wolfsburg, 2.30pm, BT Sport Extra 1

May 16 – Fortuna Dusseldorf v Paderborn, 2.30pm, BT Sport Extra 2

May 16 – Bundesliga – Goals Show – Matchday 26, 2.30pm, BT Sport Extra 3

May 16 – Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Monchengladbach, 4.45pm, BT Sport 1 & 5.15pm, BT Sport Ultimate

May 17 – Cologne v Mainz, 2.15pm, BT Sport 1

May 17 – Union Berlin v Bayern Munich, 4.45pm, BT Sport 1

May 18 – Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen, 7.15pm, BT Sport 1 

A whole new viewing experience

It will be tough to get used to at first. 

We have all watched matches play out in front of sparse attendances but the matches played behind closed doors before football was shut down was bizarre.

The echoing of the players’ cries for fouls will become the new normal and TV companies are going to have to adapt to bring viewers a product that still has plenty of excitement, despite the flat atmosphere.

For British viewers BT Sport will have the first go at broadcasting football with its new backdrop.  

The main fixtures will be analysed by a live punditry team, starting from 2pm on Saturday with James Richardson and Raphael Honigstein in the studio, joined by former Bayern midfielder Owen Hargreaves remotely from his home.

On Sunday, coverage from the studio will begin at 2.15pm, led by Lynsey Hipgrave and Honigstein from the studio, with Hargreaves from home. 

Alongside the live games will be the Bundesliga Goals Show, which will bring viewers all of the action and all of the goals as they happen, from every single Saturday Bundesliga game, live. 

The Goals Show has been a success story of BT’s Champions League coverage. 

BT Sport is the home of Bundesliga action and will show every game for the rest of the season

Hennes still at home

Due to the strict guidelines that have been put in place in order for the Bundesliga to return, some of the club’s mascots will not be able to attend matches.

Perhaps the most famous of them all is Cologne’s goat, Hennes IX, who will not be in attendance when they take on Mainz on Sunday at the RheinEnergieStadion. 

It will be Cologne’s first match without their mascot since 2008 and Hennes will be joined on the sideline by Frankfurt’s, Attila the eagle.

Attila normally flies around Frankfurt’s 51,000-seater Commerzbank Stadium before home games and helps to whip the crowd into a frenzy but that won’t be happening this weekend when they host Monchengladbach. 

Cologne will be without their famous goat mascot, Hennes, when they play Mainz on Sunday

Young stars in the making

The coming weeks will give Premier League fans a flavour of some of the players being linked with summer moves to their club.

Nobody is more in demand than Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz with Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Chelsea all interested in the 20-year-old No 10.

He has 10 goals and eight assists so far this season, a little short on his numbers from last campaign when he scored 20 goals from midfield.

Kai Havertz is arguably the pick of the bunch when it comes to the Bundesliga’s youngsters

There is also Bayern’s flying full-back Alphonso Davies who tore up Chelsea’s defence in their Champions League win at Stamford Bridge earlier this year.

Lethal going forward and equally adept in his defensive duties, the Canadian could make Manchester United regret not signing him when he was about to leave the Vancouver Whitecaps. 

Elsewhere, there is American starlet Josh Sargent at Werder Bremen, Leverkusen’s January arrival Exequiel Palacios and RB Leipzig midfielder Christopher Nkunku.

A relegation battle humdinger

Saturday afternoon brings us a huge match at the wrong end of the table as basement boys Paderborn travel to take on Fortuna Dusseldorf. 

It was always going to be tough for Paderborn to stay in the top flight after winning promotion last season and that has proven to be the case.

Paderborn resume the season bottom with 16 points from 25 games. They are six points off Dusseldorf, who currently occupy the relegation play-off spot and 10 points behind Mainz who are safe as it stands.

Paderborn have to take three points if they are to have any hope of surviving while Dusseldorf could kill off one of their relegation rivals if they get across the line. 

Basement boys Paderborn travel to Fortuna Dusseldorf in a huge match at the bottom

David and Goliath

There would not be a bigger mismatch in any of Europe’s top five leagues if they were all up and running than Union Berlin against Bayern Munich.

Union are as traditional as they come. The Stadion An der Alten Forsterei holds 22,000 but 18,000 of that is terracing, for example. Unfortunately it will be empty when Bayern show up. 

Many predicted their arrival to the Bundesliga would not last long but, currently sat in 11th place, they look likely to still be there next season. It will delight their fans, who once gave blood to save the club from bankruptcy. 

Union Berlin restart their season with the toughest task, playing host to Bayern on Sunday

It is a far cry from the might of Bayern, who roll up on Sunday looking to claim their eighth consecutive league title. 

It seemed for a while Bayern would be too far off the pace, given the underwhelming start they made under Niko Kovac. The Croatian was sacked and in came Hansi Flick, who has now been named the club’s new permanent manager.

With Flick, Davies and Thomas Muller all given new contracts during the shut down and Miroslav Klose brought in to coach the first team, Bayern are in a good place and on track to win the title again. Given how they were playing before the shutdown, you would not bet against them in the Champions League if it were to conclude. 




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Angel Gomes looked ready for his big break but is now close to an exit

Angel Gomes looked ready for his big break at Manchester United after shining in Shanghai last summer, but is now at a crossroads with just over a month left on his contract… so, will he reject £30,000-a-week for a fresh start with Chelsea or Barcelona?

  • Angel Gomes scored his first senior goal against Tottenham during pre-season
  • Big things were expected of him but he has only made six appearances this term
  • Gomes is yet to sign a new £30,000-a-week contract with Manchester United
  • Barcelona, Chelsea, Arsenal and Dortmund are all keen on the 19-year-old star
  • He must now decide whether to stay and fight or leave Old Trafford this summer 

When Angel Gomes scored a late winner for Manchester United against Tottenham on tour in Shanghai last July, a bright future seemed to be opening up for the diminutive teenager at Old Trafford.

It was Gomes’ first senior goal for the club and underlined a potential that had long been talked about in the academy ranks at United. To do it against Spurs in a showpiece pre-season game at the Hongkou Stadium made it all the more special.

So was this to be Gomes’ year? Would he be at the forefront of an exciting new order under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, one built around youth and attacking intent?

Angel Gomes looked to have made a breakthrough with a pre-season goal against Tottenham

United fans in Shanghai celebrate after watching Gomes score his first senior goal for them

The answer, 10 months on, is a definitive no. Gomes has made just six appearances in total including three starts, all of them coming in the Europa League.

There have been no goals, no assists and no highlights to speak of like that lovely effort in China, running into the box after a one-two with Juan Mata and slipping the ball past Paulo Gazzaniga.

It has come against a backdrop of persistent speculation over the 19-year-old’s future at United as he nears the end of his contract with talks over a new one deadlocked.

Gomes will be a free agent at the end of next month. Free to join a foreign club for minimal compensation or free to join an English rival if they are prepared to pay significantly more under the rules governing academy products.

Barcelona have been monitoring the situation for some time, with Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund understood to be among the other foreign teams who have been free to speak to him since January 1.

Arsenal and Chelsea have also been linked with the London-born player who began training with United at the age of six.

The talented 19-year-old has only made six first-team appearances for United this season

Gomes plays a pass at United’s Carrington training base shortly before the season was halted

United want to keep him and an offer of £30,000-a-week is understood to be on the table. The club have given themselves until next week to decide whether or not to improve those terms.

It would certainly feel like a setback if Gomes was to leave Old Trafford without making his mark on the first-team.

After all, this was the boy who became United’s youngest ever debutant since Duncan Edwards in May 2017 when he played at the age of 16 years and 263 days, and was voted the club’s young player of the year that same month. Nani’s godson, no less.

Just like 2018 winner Tahith Chong, he has become a symbol of the academy’s success. Whereas United were able to end their contract stalemate with Chong in March, concerns are growing that the Gomes situation will play out differently and the England Under-20 midfielder will leave at the end of next month after a grand total of 10 first-team appearances.

Tahith Chong signed a new £30,000 a week contract at United but Gomes is yet to commit

Gomes plays a pass under pressure from Kyle Walker during the Carabao Cup semi-final 

If that’s the case, there will be a sense of what might have been on both sides.

After Gomes scored in Shanghai, the stage was set for him to make a breakthrough this season. United were crying out for creative talent and, in Solskjaer, he had a manager committed to promoting young, homegrown players.

However, Dan James had already been signed for £15million from Swansea and Mason Greenwood also took his opportunity to shine on tour. 

While Greenwood has gone from strength to strength since then, Gomes has largely disappeared back into the shadows, hampered too by an ankle injury in mid-season.

The £68m signing of Bruno Fernandes in January has filled up another slot in attack, and the way forward for Gomes at United seems far less clear now at a time, and age, when he wants more first-team football.

Gomes has found it even tougher to get minutes since Bruno Fernandes (right) was signed

The midfielder has had to get used to being a substitute under boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 

Greenwood, Scott McTominay, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe are now firmly established in Solskjaer’s plans. Gomes, on the other hand, is still on the outside looking in.

He has reached a crossroads in his young career. Does he sign the new contract and try to make a success of himself at United? To be part of what the club are trying to build under Solskjaer? Or does he go for the higher offer and a fresh start somewhere else?

‘It’s what I want to go on to do – win trophies for the club,’ he said last month. ‘I’ve seen it over the years, coming up from the academy and being at United my whole career.’

Events off the pitch suggest his future is less clear. There is still time for him to follow Chong’s example and sign the contract, but it is rapidly running out.

It would be a shame if Shanghai was as good as it got for Gomes.

Many thought Gomes (right) would thrive under Solskjaer, but he has not seized his chance




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What's next for Tony Ferguson? Sportsmail weighs up his next move

What’s next for Tony Ferguson? After seeing his SEVEN-YEAR unbeaten streak end brutally at the hands of Justin Gaethje at UFC 249, a fight with Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier or Dan Hooker could be Mexican-American’s way back to Championship glory

  • Tony Ferguson was brutally beaten by Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 on Saturday
  • The 36-year-old suffered a broken eye-socket in the fifth-round TKO defeat
  • Following the end of his 12-fight winning streak, he will consider his options
  • But who could the American fight after suffering such a brutal defeat in Florida?
  • Here, Sportsmail weighs up Ferguson’s next moves and potential opponents

On Saturday night, MMA fans saw one of the sport’s best winning streaks come to an end after Tony Ferguson was brutally beaten by Justin Gaethje in the main event at UFC 249.

Ferguson won 12 fights over a seven-year period, making him one of the best to grace the octagon in recent years.

But all good things must come to an end and Gaethje made sure of that as he outclassed the 36-year-old to claim the interim lightweight title inside an empty VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

Tony Ferguson was brutally beaten by Justin Gaethje in the main event at UFC 249 on Saturday

Gaethje (left) outclassed Ferguson before claiming a fifth-round TKO victory in Florida

The defeat also brought an end to hopes of a dream bout between Ferguson and long-time rival Khabib Nurmagomedov, with Gaethje now first in line to face the Russian for his UFC lightweight title.

It leaves Ferguson licking his wounds before considering a route back to the summit of UFC.

But who could the Mexican-American fight next and what are his options? Here, Sportsmail weighs up his next moves and what lies ahead in terms of potential opponents.

Fans have been robbed of the chance of seeing Khabib Nurmagomedov (left) vs Ferguson

CONOR MCGREGOR

This match-up was teased as Dana White fought to find UFC its new home in the midst of the pandemic.

With fights being rearranged, readjusted or just completely cancelled, Ferguson kept himself busy by calling out the likes of Khabib (who he was originally supposed to fight) and ‘Notorious’ himself, Conor McGregor.

Before Gaethje was announced as Khabib’s replacement, Ferguson called out the Irishman.

He told Ariel Helwani: ‘Nobody else deserves that a** whooping [besides] two people. That’s McNuggets and Team Tiramisu. That is Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor.’

Conor McGregor (pictured) and Ferguson would fight for the chance to face Khabib

And right now, the fight makes sense.

Should the bout take place, the winner would get a shot at the lightweight title, which could see McGregor or Ferguson take on Khabib should the Russian retain against Gaethje.

UFC president White loves putting on a spectacle and the chance to see two of the best trash-talkers in the business go face-to-face will surely whet his appetite.

DAN HOOKER

In the wake of Ferguson’s defeat on Saturday, Dan Hooker’s opportunities in the division just blew wide open.

The Kiwi, who is ranked fifth in the lightweight division, has set his sights on the title picture and was slated to take on Dustin Poirier at UFC San Diego on May 16 before the pandemic saw the event called off.

Now, following Ferguson’s defeat, Hooker is looking to get there even quicker and has voiced his opinion over who he would like to take on next. 

‘The Poirier fight is definitely on the cards,’ Hooker told Newshub. ‘I would take that fight.

Dan Hooker, who is ranked fifth in the lightweight division, has set his sights on the title picture

‘But Tony Ferguson, that’s another interesting match up. He was the No 1 contender. We’ll see how the rankings play out after that, if he’s ranked higher than Dustin.

‘I want the highest-ranked fight possible, so I would take that [Ferguson] fight in a heartbeat.’

While it would be an interesting contest, a win for Ferguson would see him re-establish his credentials in the sport by putting one of the division’s rising stars in their place.

While it may not be a fight fans are clamouring for, it would certainly be a fight Ferguson should be considering coming off last weekend’s brutal defeat. 

DUSTIN POIRIER

The aforementioned Poirier was being lined up to take on Hooker this weekend before the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The former UFC lightweight title challenger is in a similar position to Ferguson with the pair coming off defeats in big fights while their sights are firmly set on a shot at the title.

As Ferguson searched for a new opponent following Khabib’s withdrawal from UFC 249, Poirier offered to step in despite the timeframe to prepare for the fight.

Poirier currently sits ahead of McGregor in the rankings and would present a similar route the Irishman would offer back into the title picture for Ferguson. 

Like Hooker, a win over Poirier would see his stock go back up in the lightweight division while he’d be emulating Khabib’s and McGregor’s feat of beating the 31-year-old.

Dustin Poirier could offer a route back into the title picture given his ranking in the division

RETIRE

In life, some things aren’t meant to be. Ferguson vs Khabib can also be added to that list considering it’s a bout that has been cancelled five times up until this point.

And the fact of the matter is, Ferguson isn’t getting any younger. At 36, he is no spring chicken and his fighting style does him no favours in terms of prolonging his stay in UFC.

He is also set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after Gaethje broke his eye-socket that will see him serve a lengthy medical suspension.

Saturday’s defeat was also damning in the extent of just how it happened. While he may have claimed to have trained to face Khabib, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Gaethje took this fight on with just five weeks of preparation – and Gaethje still outclassed him.

His time in recovery should allow him to reflect on whether his motivation to reach the pinnacle of the lightweight division is still there or whether now would be the time to call it quits on a stellar career. 

Ferguson (left) faces a lengthy spell out after suffering a broken eye-socket against Gaethje




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