Manchester City's 2018-19 season concluded with players celebrating on the Wembley turf last weekend, just like it did 20 years previously.

The parallels end there.

While Pep Guardiola's all-conquering domestic treble winners spent the campaign pushing to higher levels of excellence, their counterparts from two decades ago often threatened to chart new depths of farce - or "Cityitis", as then manager Joe Royle termed it.

Treble fever also hit Manchester in 1999, but for United and Alex Ferguson, who famously added a last-gasp injury-time triumph in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich to Premier League and FA Cup glory.

Meanwhile, City were grappling with life in Division Two – the third tier of English football – for the first time in their history.

"It is unthinkable now but it was only 20 years ago, a generation ago," said Nicky Weaver, the former England Under-21 goalkeeper who would end his breakthrough campaign in 1998-99 as City's saviour. "They're at Wembley every other week now."

"It was my first season playing, so for me it was just a thrill to be involved in it all. The fans probably didn't think so, going to places like York and Colchester and Lincoln and Macclesfield and places like that.

"It took us four or five months to get into our stride. I think everyone thought it was going to be a lot easier than it was."

City had been in the Premier League as recently as 1996 but two relegations in three seasons sapped morale at their tired former home of Maine Road.

A 3-0 win over Blackpool on the opening day of the season proved a false dawn as a bloated and ill-equipped squad slogged away with mixed results. Across town, United were heading for the footballing stratosphere.

A December loss at York City left Royle's pre-season promotion favourites 12th in the table and in danger of slipping into oblivion. However, no-nonsense captain Andy Morrison came in to add some steel to the backline and the corner was turned in the nick of time.

"I remember going to Wrexham on Boxing Day," Weaver said, of a game when Dutch defender Gerard Wiekens scored the only goal for City. "Ian Rush was playing for Wrexham. That was a big thing for me at the time, playing against someone like Ian Rush.

"We won 1-0 and then we beat Stoke at Maine Road and went on a really good run."

Regular goals from Shaun Goater, wing wizardry from United loanee Terry Cooke and Weaver's increasingly sharp keeping were all factors as Royle's men stormed up to third.

Automatic promotion proved out of their reach but, after a tense semi-final against Wigan Athletic was negotiated 2-1 on aggregate, Wembley – of the twin towers vintage - awaited.

Tony Pulis' Gillingham were betting outsiders but ‘Cityitis’ struck again as Carl Asaba and Robert Taylor beat Weaver with late goals. It was 2-0 heading into the final minute of the 90 and many of the Manchester contingent were heading for the exits when Kevin Horlock lashed in an apparent consolation.

Then came some hope from the touchline.

"I always thought the biggest thing was the five minutes of injury time. That was a little bit dubious," Weaver chuckled.

"Mark Halsey [referee] is a very popular man in these parts! I've got images of Tony Pulis going mad on the bench."

If Pulis was going mad there was full-scale pandemonium in the City end shortly afterwards when Paul Dickov steered a finish past a familiar face in Vince Bartram, best man at the City striker's wedding, in the Gillingham goal – an 'Aguero moment' before such a thing existed.

Extra time passed without incident before Weaver took the virtue of inexperience into the penalty shoot-out.

"I don't think I'd even been in one in a school tournament," he said. "Nowadays, you look at where the last few penalties have been, you have all the information and statistics.

"There was none of that then. I just thought, 'make yourself look as big as you can, pick a way and go that way'.

The method worked as Weaver thwarted Paul Smith, while Adrian Pennock blazed high and wide. Successes from Horlock, Cooke and - despite not having a senior goal to his name - Richard Edghill meant Guy Butters had to beat Weaver, or City were up and out of the abyss.

"He hit it well enough. It wasn't right in the corner but he got plenty of power on it," the goalkeeper recalled.

"Fortunately, I managed to get two hands on it. I waved the lads over and sort of pulled a face. I don't know where that came from."

Weaver's delirious celebration – halted only by a typically robust intervention from Morrison – is still fondly remembered by City supporters to this day, despite their vastly altered reality.

"If City had just been a mediocre Premier League club now, no-one would talk about it as much as they do, but the fact of where they are and where they have come from, it just makes the story so much bigger and so much better," Weaver said.

"If we hadn't done it, who knows what would have happened? It certainly wouldn't have been any easier.

"The new stadium followed a few years later, and then obviously the big investment came after that. If the stadium hadn't come, the investment might not have come and we might not have been sat here."

For all that Guardiola's unprecedented success is rooted in meticulous attention to detail, it owes a significant debt to the guess work of an unassuming terrace hero.

Andre Villas-Boas has no interest in returning to the "chaotic" Premier League because he wants to work somewhere with a different philosophy.

Villas-Boas arrived in England with Chelsea in 2011, having built a reputation as a promising coach with Academica and Porto, and went on to manage Tottenham after failing to impress at Stamford Bridge.

The Portuguese left Spurs in December 2013 and subsequently took charge at Zenit and Shanghai SIPG, although he has been out of work since November 2017.

Villas-Boas, who took to rally driving after parting ways with Shanghai, is not enthused by the idea of another Premier League job.

Discussing his future options, Villas-Boas told Omnisport from the Bilbao International Football Summit: "The Premier League? No.

"I've been and lived the experience of the Premier League and, no doubt, it's the league with more investment right now, with the best players and teams.

"But I really like to be in a league that understands philosophy in a different way and the way of playing football. Everything in England is a little more chaotic.

"So let's see. I look forward, maybe, to some options in France, in Spain, you never know."

England goalkeeper Nick Pope has signed a long-term contract extension at Burnley, the Premier League club have confirmed.

The 27-year-old has committed to life at Turf Moor until June 2023, with an option of a further 12 months.

Pope's performances last term earned him a place in Gareth Southgate's squad for the 2018 World Cup, although a dislocated shoulder sustained during a Europa League tie at Aberdeen last July left him sidelined for five months.

He then found his route to the first team blocked by Tom Heaton and Joe Hart, with only a pair of FA Cup appearances to show for his efforts, but Pope is relishing the challenge of re-establishing himself under Sean Dyche in 2019-20.

"I am in a good place. The shoulder feels good and I'm looking forward to coming back ready for next season," he told Burnley's official website.

"With the contract being for a further four years that will carry me through the majority of my career.

"When you look at a long deal like that, you take into context the club you're at and the people you will be around every day.

"I love being where I am and working with the lads every day. It's an enjoyable place to be."

Pope had 12 months to run on his previous deal and Dyche is pleased to have the player's future secured.

"After a difficult, injury-affected year, through no fault of his own, Nick lost a season's work," he said.

"But we are absolutely delighted that he has now agreed a new long-term deal, which mirrors the aim of the club.

"We have always said we want to be strong in the market and that includes when it comes to other clubs trying to get our players. This is a clear sign of that.

"Nick has shown himself to be a real professional and we are delighted to have him at the club until 2024 and look forward to continuing the good work he has already achieved."

Huddersfield Town goalkeeper Jonas Lossl will join Everton when his contract expires at the end of June.

Lossl joined Huddersfield on loan from Mainz for their first Premier League season in 2017 and earned a permanent move at the conclusion of the campaign.

However, the Denmark international endured a tough second term in England as Huddersfield were relegated to the Championship.

Lossl, 30, has signed a three-year deal at Goodison Park, where he is likely to serve as back-up to England star Jordan Pickford.

Leroy Sane joining Bayern Munich would be welcomed by Germany head coach Joachim Low after Bayern Munich again stated their interest in the Manchester City winger.

Bayern are reported to be readying an €80million bid for Germany international Sane.

The 23-year-old scored 10 goals and supplied as many assists as City defended their Premier League title as part of a domestic treble this season, including strikes in the pivotal wins over Liverpool and Manchester United.

But Pep Guardiola frequently left Sane on the bench during the closing weeks of the campaign, preferring Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva as his first-choice wide attackers.

A spell out of favour evoked memories of the player's shock omission from Germany's 2018 World Cup squad, although Low has since brought Sane back into the fold and believes a switch to Bayern could be beneficial for all parties.

Speaking at the Sport Bild 100 summit, Low said: "If the transfer happened it would be a good story for him, for Bayern, for the national team and for the Bundesliga."

Later at the same event, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge suggested Bayern would press to bring in Sane – as they did three years ago when he joined City from Schalke for a reported initial fee of £37m.

"There have not been any talks so far. He's an interesting player and we will try," Rummenigge said. "I cannot promise whether it will succeed."

Rummenigge went on to state that the departure of veteran wingers and club greats Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery creates an opening Sane would not have enjoyed when he left Schalke.

"We already had the idea when he was still with Schalke," he added.

"But at the time we did not have a guaranteed regular place for him. Robben and Ribery were the top of the top three years ago."

Derby Counter owner Mel Morris is not concerned by reports linking manager Frank Lampard to Chelsea.

Blues great Lampard won three Premier League titles, the Champions League and the Europa League while at Stamford Bridge, but he has made his first steps into management with Derby.

The 40-year-old has guided the Rams to Monday's Championship play-off final against Aston Villa, although the build-up to a pivotal match has been dogged by suggestions he might depart the club.

Lampard is said to be a candidate to replace Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri, who continues to be the subject of speculation despite a strong end to the season.

Derby chief Morris will work to keep Lampard, but admits there is little he can do to stop the former midfielder's name being discussed.

"Frank's always going to be linked with Chelsea," Morris told BBC Radio Derby.

"Is anyone surprised that lots of people would be interested in him given what he has achieved this season? His style of football has been fantastic.

"Right now, Chelsea have got a massive game coming up next week [the Europa League final against Arsenal] and we've got a massive game coming up.

"I can guarantee that no-one wants any focus on anything other than those two games.

"For Frank, he should view it as a compliment that he is being connected with that opportunity. But he always will be."

Lampard signed a three-year contract at Derby at the start of the season and has overseen the development of Chelsea loan men Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount.

Former Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas thinks Gareth Bale returning to the Premier League is the most likely outcome if the forward leaves Real Madrid in this transfer window.

Bale is seemingly surplus to requirements at the Santiago Bernabeu having not featured in any of Madrid's last three games, with returning head coach Zinedine Zidane admitting the Wales international faced an uncertain future.

However, with Bale under contract until 2022 and reportedly on £600,000 a week, moving him on is likely to be a challenge for Los Blancos.

Villas-Boas was in charge of Spurs for Bale's final season before he left for Spain in 2013 and the Portuguese believes Premier League clubs are most likely to give the 29-year-old a way out of Madrid.

"I have no idea what he wants to do," Villas-Boas told Omnisport from the Bilbao International Football Summit.

"He was extremely successful at Real Madrid. He left Tottenham to chase trophies and achieved that immediately, scoring in Champions League finals.

"Of course, at the moment, there's a lot of bad noise surrounding him. A lot of criticism, [there is] probably not a lot of confidence from the coach right now.

"It looks more likely that he's going to leave and you would expect him to go to England now."

Despite playing a major part in Madrid's three successive Champions League triumphs, Bale has battled injuries throughout his time in Spain.

He featured in 33 league games under Villas-Boas in his final season at Spurs - more than any of his campaigns in Madrid - and his old boss admitted Bale had to be managed carefully.

"He always suffered a lot of muscular and back pain, so we gave him a lot of work with the physio to have him 100 per cent for the matches and he always performed for us," Villas-Boas added.

"So, with him, it's reaching that balance, but at a club like Real Madrid you are always under pressure and expectation.

"Real Madrid have access to the best players in the world in every single transfer window so, yes, at the moment, I think Gareth is under pressure and the most likely move for him will be the Premier League but he's a player that can play anywhere in the world."

Massimiliano Allegri has claimed his Juventus successor will be "a manager of Manchester" amid speculation linking Pep Guardiola with a shock move to Turin.

On Thursday, Italian news agency AGI reported Manchester City boss Guardiola had agreed a four-year contract worth €24million annually to take over at Serie A champions Juve, claiming the deal will be announced on June 4 before a presentation 10 days later.

Speaking before City completed an unprecedented domestic treble by hammering Watford 6-0 in last weekend's FA Cup final, Guardiola insisted he had no intention of moving to Juventus and club board member Alberto Galassi told Sky Italia the renewed reports were "a load of nonsense".

However, Allegri made a mischievous contribution to the saga when he attended a restaurant opening in Dairago, Milan.

Local newspaper Sport Legnano reported Allegri was asked by a Juventus fan who the club's next head coach would be and he replied: "A manager of Manchester is coming."

Allegri confirmed last week he would leave Juventus after guiding them to a fifth consecutive Scudetto this term.

Success in the Champions League proved elusive for the former AC Milan boss, however, with Ajax ending the Italian club’s interest at the quarter-final stage this time around, following final losses to Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively in 2015 and 2017 finals.

Guardiola has two years remaining on his current City contract and has swept to five of the previous six major domestic honours on offer in England.

Arsene Wenger is eager to return to football, but the former Arsenal boss is unsure if his comeback will be in management.

Wenger, 69, ended a 22-year stay with the Premier League side at the end of last season before stepping away from management for this campaign.

The Frenchman, who has reportedly turned down numerous opportunities, said he would return, although he is unsure in just what role.

"I will go back into football, for sure," Wenger told The Guardian.

"In what position I don't know, whether that is as a manager or not. The appetite, the desire, is still there."

Wenger, who led Arsenal to three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, said he would quickly decide what kind of position he wanted.

"Originally I said I want to manage straight away again. After that I thought maybe I take a little distance," he said.

"I came to the conclusion that I want to share what I learned in my life. Because life is only useful if at some stage you share what you know. In what way will it be, will it be just winning football games or in another way? That's what I have to decide. That decision will come very quickly.

"Football is still my passion. That's the only thing I have a little bit of a feeling I know a little bit about."

Manchester United have announced they will be playing against manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's hometown club Kristiansund during pre-season.

Both the United men's and women's teams will play in Oslo, with Solskjaer's side tackling Kristiansund on July 30 at the Ullevaal Stadium, while Casey Stoney's will take on Valerenga at the Intility Arena the next day.

Solskjaer said: "I am delighted we are playing a match against Kristiansund BK, they are from my hometown in Norway, which is an added bonus for me.

"We have a massive following in Scandinavia and it's great that I meet United supporters wherever I go in Norway.

"This match will be really important in terms of our preparation for the new season.

"We want to hit the ground running and give ourselves a chance to challenge once the new campaign starts and the best way to do that is with some momentum behind you."

Former striker Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho in December and, although late-season results saw United miss out on a Champions League spot, he proved to be a popular appointment as permanent boss with the club's fans.

Jurgen Klopp has revealed how he acts as a "reserve tank" for his Liverpool players during games, even if they have become accustomed to his touchline antics.

The Reds boss is not one to suppress his emotions when watching the game unfold from his technical area, even venturing out onto the pitch to hug goalkeeper Alisson after a dramatic late winner in the Merseyside derby against Everton this season.

Klopp was just as animated at times on the sidelines when in charge of Borussia Dortmund but insists he has mellowed through the years.

Still, the German believes there are moments when he needs to motivate his team during matches, hoping that a few choice words – not always necessarily positive – will prompt a reaction on the field.

"There are two reasons why I'm so energetic on the sidelines," Klopp said in a video on the club's Twitter page. "One is my character, obviously. I’m already much calmer than I used to be, to be honest.

"I'm [also] kind of the reserve tank for the boys, when I feel the energy level goes a bit down, then I'm still there and can kick their butt, or whatever they need in that moment.

"It's better to be angry with me than to think, 'It's too intense today'. You always need something like a response, how I understand. I needed that as a player as well.

"The boys I think they are used to it by now, because if I give some credit or some compliments they look exactly the same way as when I shout something not so positive.

"That's my problem, with the face, but meanwhile they are used to it."

Despite Klopp's encouragement, Liverpool missed out on the Premier League title, finishing a point behind champions Manchester City.

They may yet secure silverware in the 2018-19 campaign, though, thanks to a second consecutive appearance in the Champions League final, with Tottenham awaiting them in Madrid on June 1.

While Klopp has rightly received plenty of plaudits for his work at Anfield since taking charge in October 2015, he insists it is far from a one-man show.

"I know I’m good in a couple of things, really good at a few things, and that's enough," he said. "My confidence is big enough that I can really let people grow next to me.

"That's no problem. I need experts around me, it’s really important that you're empathic, that you try to understand the people around you and that you give real support to the people around you. Then, everybody can act.

"That's what leadership is; having strong people around you with better knowledge in different departments than yourself, don't act like you know everything – be ready to admit, 'I have no clue in the moment, give me a couple of minutes then I will have a clue'.

"That's not really philosophy, it's just my way of life."

Vincent Kompany was chosen as the new player-coach of Anderlecht after one six-hour meeting with the club, according to technical director Frank Arnesen.

It was announced last Sunday that the Manchester City captain would return to his childhood club in the close-season after 11 years at the Etihad Stadium, having won his fourth Premier League title this term as part of a domestic treble.

Arnesen has revealed the process behind hiring the Belgian centre-back and believes the 33-year-old can restore the club to their former place as the country's leading side.

"We went to City and we had a meeting with [Kompany] for six hours," Arnesen told Sky Sports News.

"I was really amazed and when we went home after this meeting I fully agreed.

"There are so many ups and so few downs. Anderlecht is on the floor at the moment. That is why I came in four months ago.

"Vincent as a player will not bring us one step ahead, [but] maybe three, four steps ahead. We have no leaders.

"Everything football-wise is fantastic [with his appointment]. I was very impressed with his explanation about the philosophy, how we will do and what he is doing.

"Vincent said I will do it about four weeks ago."

Anderlecht, who have won only one of their 10 matches in the First Division A since the start of the Championship play-off round, are 20 points behind leaders Genk.

Manchester City winger Leroy Sane is a target for Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, club president Uli Hoeness has confirmed.

The 23-year-old has shone since moving to the Etihad Stadium from Schalke three years ago, but found himself down the pecking order towards the end of the Premier League season.

Bayern are in the market for reinforcements on the flanks, with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben both drawing a curtain on their illustrious careers at the Allianz Arena at the end of the campaign.

Speculation has increased over the previous few weeks that they were looking to Germany international Sane as a potential signing.

 

From us all at #FCBayern, DANKE! @R13_official @FranckRibery@ArjenRobben pic.twitter.com/cl9KG92soi

— #MEIS7ER (@FCBayernEN) May 23, 2019

When asked by Suddeutsche Zeitung about Bayern's interest in Sane, Hoeness replied: "We are considering him."

Hoeness' revelation comes just a day after star striker Robert Lewandowski claimed Sane could "immediately take us higher".

Bayern have also been linked with RB Leipzig star Timo Werner and Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodri.

A report that Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has agreed to take over Juventus is "a load of nonsense", according to a member of the Premier League champions' board.

Italian news agency AGI claimed on Thursday that Juve had reached an agreement with Guardiola for him to succeed Massimiliano Allegri, whose departure was announced last week, as head coach.

According to the outlet, the Catalan was set to sign a four-year deal worth €24million per season with the Bianconeri on June 4 and be presented to the media 10 days later.

However, City Football Group executive Alberto Galassi categorically rejected the rumour and stated Guardiola wishes to stay at the Etihad Stadium, something the manager said himself prior to last weekend's FA Cup final against Watford.

"As a Manchester City board member, I was very surprised to read such a load of nonsense," Galassi told Sky Sport Italia.

"Firstly, our coach wants to stay and has another two years on his contract. Secondly, any club like Juventus would never have allowed the release of such news.

"It is not possible to think that there will be a presentation in a few days and that City is unaware of it before they have even contacted us. It is totally groundless and false.

"[Guardiola] is a great professional and he can't believe his words are not listened to. He does not want to leave. Therefore, the problem does not exist because the whole matter does not exist."

Galassi confirmed he has spoken with Juve vice-chairman Pavel Nedved about the rumours.

He added: "We had a laugh. We both realised the issue had become ridiculous. I'm sorry for Juventus fans, but they will need to find another coach. Let Pep enjoy his holidays."

Emiliano Sala was not keen on joining Cardiff City from Nantes, a voice message from the striker has revealed.

The Argentinian expressed his concerns over the £15million move to a friend two weeks before he tragically died when the light aircraft he and pilot David Ibbotson were travelling in to Wales crashed on January 21.

L'Equipe obtained the WhatsApp recording and included it in a documentary published on Wednesday.

Sala said: "Last night, I sent a message to Meissa [N'Diaye, Sala's agent]. He called me a few hours later.

"We had discussions and he told me the last night Franck Kita [son of Nantes owner Waldemar] sent him a message to talk, so he called him. They spoke. And, they want to sell me.

"There is an offer from Cardiff today. On their side, they have negotiated to get a lot of money, so they absolutely want me to go there.

"It is true that it is a good contract but from a football perspective it is not interesting for me. They are trying in every way to get me to go there.

"Me, I am not scared to go there, because I have battled throughout my career, so to go there and fight, that does not make me scared. On the contrary.

"But I'm also thinking to myself that Meissa must find me something better between now and the end of the [transfer] window. Meissa has said no to Cardiff because he does not want me to go there.

"He thinks that, in terms of football, in terms of where we are today, we are in a position of strength in every way, in terms of on the pitch, the contract, all of that. But I don't care about that and I do not want that. I don't give a f*** about being in a position of strength.

"It is true that I would like to find something interesting in terms of contractually and also from a football perspective, but sometimes you can't have both."

The clubs wrangled about the payment of the transfer fee in the aftermath of Sala's death. Nantes made a complaint to FIFA as Cardiff stalled on the instalment, with Bluebirds chairman Mehmet Dalman pointing to alleged "anomalies" in the deal.

Nantes president Waldemar Kita, who was played Sala's voice message during the documentary, said he no longer has any interest in receiving payment for the striker.

"The truth is, I don't even want that money, and I may never get it," Kita told L'Equipe.

"I don't want to make money on someone who died tragically. I'm not interested in that."

When asked why he had therefore not brought the issue to a halt, Kita replied: "I am not involved at all in the case. The lawyers are in charge of it."

Page 1 of 305
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.