EPL

Ronaldo would be 'happy' to see Arsenal win Premier League title

By Sports Desk November 17, 2022

Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted he would be happy to see Arsenal win the Premier League, if Manchester United cannot become champions.

The Portugal star has caught the headlines with an explosive interview aired this week, where he criticised his employers, current manager Erik ten Hag and his former team-mates Wayne Rooney and Gary Neville.

His comments have led to a growing expectation that a swift departure from Old Trafford is on the cards after the World Cup in Qatar when the January transfer window opens for business – and his admission on the Premier League title race will cause a further stir.

United have struggled for stability in the Premier League this season, while Arsenal have lost just once – at Old Trafford – as they look for a first top-flight crown since going unbeaten in the 2004-05 season.

If that were to happen, Ronaldo has conceded he would be happy with the outcome.

"I hope so. Manchester United first, if not, Arsenal. It's a team I like to see play," he told Piers Morgan's Uncensored on TalkTV.

"I like the team, I like the coach. I think they have a good team and if Manchester United don't win the Premier League, then I will be happy if Arsenal do."

Arsenal hold a five-point advantage over Manchester City after 14 rounds of Premier League action, with United 11 points adrift of the Gunners.

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    Premier League clubs have become "incentivised to sometimes push the rules to the limit, if not beyond" and Manchester City may not be the only team to face an investigation into their affairs, according to a leading football finance expert.

    The Premier League announced on Monday it had referred a number of alleged breaches of the competition's rules to an independent commission, with some of those dating back as far at the 2009-10 season.

    In response, City said they had "irrefutable evidence" that would be presented in their defence against the accusations.

    Kieran Maguire, author of the book The Price of Football, said isolating City could be seen as making a "scapegoat" of the Premier League champions, and he suspects investigators will also look closely at the finances of other clubs.

    Speaking to Stats Perform, Maguire said: "Certainly we have seen some clubs, in terms of the financial submissions that they've made, make fairly significant claims as to the impact, for example, that COVID had on their finances, and they've claimed that COVID cost them money in a myriad of ways, some of which have certainly raised eyebrows as far as observers are concerned.

    "So if Manchester City are charged, you would think that Manchester City would say to the Premier League, 'well, you've investigated us and charged us, then surely you have a responsibility to do this for other clubs as well'.

    "If the Premier League don't do that, it could be seen that they're trying to make a scapegoat of Manchester City, who are unpopular with certain other elements of the English football establishment because they represent new money, and old money doesn't like new money in all aspects of life, it doesn't have to be sport.

    "Therefore you can understand why there's likely to perhaps be enthusiasm for this to move on. And that's going to be bad news for football as a whole because then it becomes who's got the best lawyers, and the best accountants, as opposed to who's got the best strikers and centre-halves and midfield players."

    If the independent commission finds City to have breached financial guidelines, they could face a variety of punishments, ranging from fines to points penalties, or even expulsion from the league.

    City are controlled by the City Football Group, which is owned by Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Since a 2008 takeover, the club have invested heavily in infrastructure and players to develop the dominant team in England.

    It remains to be seen how City come out of this saga, if found to have transgressed.

    "There's a lot of politics in English football," said Maguire. "I think that the preferred punishment would be a points deduction, because the argument would be that if it was just a financial punishment, given the wealth of the owners, given that it is effectively a sovereign wealth fund which is the benefactors of Manchester City, that a financial penalty would not actually particularly harm the club.

    "Therefore, you need to do something which would be seen within football itself as being a punishment, and also acting as a deterrent should any other clubs with equally benevolent owners decide to take or consider a similar action."

    Maguire said City face jealousy and "resentment" from rival clubs, and he believes there would not be such interest if a smaller Premier League club came under the microscope.

    "It's because it is Manchester City who have won the Premier League for four years out of the last five, who have reached the Champions League final, who have spent around about $1.3billion in building their squad, that we're having this conversation," Maguire said.

    "There is jealousy, there is resentment, there is envy. And there's not a lot of admiration, because football doesn't operate like that. Football is a very, very snarky business, where everybody's trying to put each put other clubs down.

    "Changing the culture of football into one of ethics, morality, sustainability, is very difficult because of the nature of the people that own the clubs. They tend to be very successful in their own right. And therefore, they are used to getting their own way.

    "And in the world of sport, you can't have 20 Premier League clubs all being successful at the same time. Therefore, they're incentivised to outmanoeuvre each other, and they're incentivised to sometimes push the rules to the limit, if not beyond the limit."

    Maguire said world governing body FIFA, having been tarnished by scandal itself in recent years, was "unlikely to be in a position to take a moral high ground".

    "And it then just simply becomes a game of whack-a-mole, as the authorities find one loophole, they bring a sticking plaster to solve it," Maguire said. "And then you're always in a room with a smarter accountant and a smarter lawyer who will come up with yet another scheme."

  • Ten Hag: Old Trafford fear factor key to restoring Man Utd to former glory Ten Hag: Old Trafford fear factor key to restoring Man Utd to former glory

    Erik ten Hag feels bringing back the fear factor for teams coming to Old Trafford is key to restoring Manchester United to their former glories.

    Ten Hag's men have rattled off 13 straight victories in home matches, helping United to third in the Premier League while also securing their place in the EFL Cup final and the fifth round of the FA Cup.

    United will look to make it 14 consecutive victories at Old Trafford when they host rivals Leeds United on Wednesday, looking to capitalise on Arsenal and Manchester City both losing over the weekend.

    Ten Hag was asked about the importance of getting teams to dread facing United in their own backyard, to which he replied: "It was one of our aims this season to get that back.

    "It's part of the process to restore Manchester United. It's great to have the connection with Old Trafford."

    Despite United's impressive home form, Ten Hag wants his team to play with the same confidence and freedom on the road, having won just five of their 11 league games away from Old Trafford this season.

    "I think home form is good," he added. "The next step is to have that same personality away as we do at home.

    "When we play away we have a lot of fans following us and we can do the same away. Pitches are the same size and it is still 11 against 11. 

    "We can grow, we still have steps to make but happy with that as well."

    The Red Devils will fancy their chances of picking up another three points against Leeds, who sacked head coach Jesse Marsch on Tuesday with the team winless in seven league games and only outside the relegation zone on goal difference.

    Ten Hag acknowledged how important the rivalry was for the two sets of supporters, while also expressing his sympathy for Marsch following the American's dismissal.

    "It's the match of the roses," Ten Hag said. "It's definitely a big game in this part of England and a big game for us.

    "We have City, we have Liverpool, but as well for our fans this game means so much. Our players are aware of that and will know what to do.

    "It's always sad if a manager gets sacked. In general, I don't believe it that you sack a manager and get better results.

    "Most of the time it doesn't work. But the pressure is high with decision-makers at football and they turn, but if you see the facts, most of the time it doesn't work out well."

    Ten Hag will be without a number of key players for Wednesday, with Scott McTominay, Antony and Anthony Martial all absent with injury while Casemiro will serve the first game of his three-match suspension for grabbing the throat of Will Hughes in the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday.

    But Ten Hag is expecting victory and says he will not accept any excuses should they not achieve that, adding: "I always have to play with the players who are available and we have a squad.

    "We have many good players in our squad who are not playing in the starting XI. 

    "After a game, I can't say, 'Casemiro is not there, Anthony Martial is not there'. We have to win. United are capable and we have to win the games no matter who is on the pitch."

  • Chelsea hire All Blacks chief who launched 'no d***heads' policy Chelsea hire All Blacks chief who launched 'no d***heads' policy

    Chelsea have hired the All Blacks mind coach who introduced a "no d***heads" policy as Graham Potter looks to turn the Blues into winners.

    Heavy investment in players since Todd Boehly came in as owner has not yet been followed by success on the pitch, with Chelsea a disappointing ninth in the Premier League.

    Thomas Tuchel was sacked in September and his replacement, Potter, is battling to prove he can be the coach to deliver strong results and trophies to Stamford Bridge.

    Now Gilbert Enoka is heading to the London club after making an impressive impact in rugby union with New Zealand over the past 20 years.

    Enoka, who stepped up from being mental skills coach to become leadership manager with New Zealand, will join up with Chelsea on what New Zealand said was a "short-term consultancy basis".

    The incoming expertise should be a boost to Potter, with the widely acclaimed Enoka having been part of an All Blacks set-up that won Rugby World Cup titles in 2011 and 2015.

    Chelsea have spent around £600million on new players in the past two transfer windows, without their sprees having had any obviously positive effect on results, and installing a positive mindset appears to be what they are looking at achieving.

    Enoka revealed in early 2017 how his famous policy functioned within the New Zealand ranks, saying: "A d***head makes everything about them.

    "We look for early warning signs and wean the big egos out pretty quickly. Our motto is, 'If you can't change the people, change the people'."

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