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Solskjaer slams Harry Maguire “disgrace” amid Man Utd treatment

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has defended Harry Maguire, branding the “abuse” the Manchester United star is receiving a “disgrace”.

Solskjaer was in charge when United signed Maguire from Leicester for £80m in 2019, a move which made him the most expensive defender of all time. Solskjaer also appointed him captain just five months after Maguire joined, with the Norwegian impressed by both his leadership skills and performances.

However, Maguire has struggled for form in recent seasons and was stripped of the captaincy by Erik ten Hag over the summer after falling behind the likes of Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez and Victor Lindelof in the pecking order.

England boss Gareth Southgate has kept faith in the 30-year-old despite his lack of minutes for United and launched a staunch defence of Maguire after he was jeered by Scotland fans after coming on as a substitute in England’s 3-1 win.

“I have never known a player to be treated the way he is – not from the Scottish fans but by our own commentators, pundits, whatever it is,” Southgate said. “They have created something that is beyond anything I have ever seen.

“He has been an absolute stalwart for us in the second most successful England team in decades and he’s been a key part of that. I’ve talked about the importance of our senior players and every time he goes on the field the resilience he shows, the balls he shows is absolutely incredible.”

And Solskjaer has echoed Southgate’s comments, telling the Athletic : ” Harry Maguire – it’s a disgrace that he’s getting so much abuse. I feel sorry for him, but he’s a strong lad and I hope it turns for him.

“He raised our defence big time when he arrived and lifted the mood around the place.” United did accept an offer from West Ham for Maguire this summer, but the move ultimately fell apart and the defender says he is determined to fight for his place at Old Trafford.

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Xavi faces sack at Barcelona

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Barcelona are poised to sack coach Xavi Hernandez just weeks after he made a U-turn and decided to stay at the club, Spanish

Barcelona are poised to sack coach Xavi Hernandez just weeks after he made a U-turn and decided to stay at the club, Spanish media has reported.

Catalan radio station RAC-1 said president Joan Laporta had decided to sack Xavi, with daily newspaper Sport confirming the news, while AS said Barcelona were already deciding who would replace the coach.

In January, Xavi said he would leave at the end of the season but, after a run of strong form, in April he and president Joan Laporta agreed the coach would stay for the next campaign, with his contract expiring in June 2025.

However, Laporta did not travel with the team for their 2-0 in at Almeria in La Liga on Thursday, with Spanish media reporting he was angry with Xavi’s pre-match comments.

The coach had highlighted Barcelona’s financial difficulties in comparison to the strength of new Spanish champions Real Madrid and other European giants.

“Barcelona fans have to understand, we’re not in the same situation (as those clubs),” said Xavi on Wednesday.

The coach stood by his words on Thursday when he was asked about Laporta not attending the Almeria match.

“They haven’t told me anything personally… We travelled with the sporting vice-president, more directors, all normally,” Xavi told reporters late Thursday. “I said what I think is real, that we will fight for all the trophies, with a lot of hope, with ambition, but that the situation is not easy.

“We are working very well, the club most of all, to change this situation.”

Barcelona won La Liga last season but were not able to defend the title. They went out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals to Paris Saint-Germain and will end the season trophy less.

Real Madrid thrashed Barca in the Spanish Super Cup final while Athletic Bilbao eliminated them in the Copa del Rey.

In April, Xavi, 44, said he was “full of hope” and that fans, players and “above all the confidence of the president and (sporting director) Deco” was what convinced him to stay.

Laporta said at the time that he was glad Xavi would remain at the helm and that it was good for the stability of the club.

“It’s great news that Xavi is staying,” the president told a news conference.

“The team we have, that is (still) consolidating, with very young players, needs that stability.

“Xavi is a reference for young players and we can see that – today I’m especially pleased, and the board have unanimously supported this decision.”

Laporta appointed Xavi, one of Barcelona’s greatest ever midfielders, to replace Ronald Koeman in November 2021.

As a player, Xavi made 767 appearances for Barcelona, winning four Champions Leagues and eight La Liga titles, as well as the World Cup with Spain.

During his time as Barcelona coach, he lifted the Spanish Super Cup last season, along with the league title.

 

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Kane to miss Bayern’s game at Hoffenheim

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Harry Kane will miss Bayern Munich's final game of the season with a back injury - less than a week before Gareth Southgate announces his

Harry Kane will miss Bayern Munich’s final game of the season with a back injury – less than a week before Gareth Southgate announces his England squad for Euro 2024.

Bayern end their campaign at Hoffenheim on Saturday – live on Sky Sports – but Kane has not travelled with the squad.

“Harry Kane is receiving treatment from his personal doctor,” said Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel. “He can’t travel with us.”

Kane has not played since being replaced late in Bayern’s 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in their Champions League semi-final second leg earlier this month.

Bayern were leading 1-0 in the Bernabeu – and 3-2 on aggregate – when Kane was replaced but conceded two late goals to exit the competition.

Tuchel explained after that defeat that striker Kane had suffered a back injury and on Friday he said: “It was already questionable in Madrid. It’s gotten worse.”

Bayern have endured a difficult campaign, failing to win the Bundesliga for the first time in 12 seasons and exiting the DFB Pokal to third-tier Saarbrucken.

owever, Kane has enjoyed a prolific campaign on an individual level, scoring 44 goals in 45 games across all competitions after joining Bayern from Tottenham in August.

 

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Van Persie lands first managerial role with Heerenveen

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Former Arsenal and Manchester United forward Robin van Persie has been appointed as manager of Eredivisie side Heerenveen, the

Former Arsenal and Manchester United forward Robin van Persie has been appointed as manager of Eredivisie side Heerenveen, the Dutch club has announced.

The 40-year-old, who retired from playing in 2019, has signed a two-year contract in his first role as manager of a senior team.

He has previously spent time working at Feyenoord, the club he began and ended his playing career with, where he took charge of the under-18s side.

Van Persie is the all-time top scorer for the Netherlands national team and was named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2012, one year before he won the Premier League title with Manchester United.

Heerenveen, who are 10th in the Eredivisie, face Sparta Rotterdam in their final match of the season tomorrow.

 

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