Chelsea post £96.6m loss after season out of Champions League

Chelsea recorded a loss of £96.6million for the 2018-19 season, the club announced on Tuesday.

The Blues had posted profits in the previous two years, but a club statement reported the loss was due to player signings, a lack of Champions League football and the dismissal of Antonio Conte and his coaching staff in July 2018.

Conte led Chelsea to a fifth-placed finish in 2017-18, meaning they missed out on Europe’s elite club competition in the following campaign.

However, with the arrival of Maurizio Sarri, along with the signings of Kepa Arrizabalaga, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, Chelsea then finished third and won the Europa League.

Christian Pulisic’s arrival was also included in the results.

The club’s revenue improved to £446.7m for the year ended June 30, 2019, and, despite the losses, the statement said they “continue to comply with UEFA’s break-even criteria under the Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations”.

Chairman Bruce Buck said: “Consistent revenue growth and careful financial management over recent seasons has allowed the club to make significant levels of investment in the playing staff while maintaining compliance with Financial Fair Play regulations.

“This has contributed to another Europa League victory at the end of the 2018-19 season and a return to the highest level of European competition.

“This solid commercial foundation, allied to a young and exciting team now led by Frank Lampard, means that the club is well-placed to sustain its pursuit of success both on and off the pitch, as well as maintain its financial stability over the coming years.”

Chelsea served a transfer ban ahead of the 2019-20 season after FIFA found the club to have breached regulations relating to the international transfer and registration of players aged under 18.

However, the two-window suspension was cut in half in time for Chelsea to make signings in the upcoming January market.

Former Premier League ref Bobby Madley reveals sacking for discriminatory ´joke´ video

Former Premier League referee Bobby Madley has revealed he was sacked for sending a video in which he mocked a disabled person.

Madley left his role in August 2018 and refereeing body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) said at the time he had “decided to relocate due to a change in his personal circumstances”.

However, the 34-year-old explained in a blog post on Tuesday – titled ‘Time to move on’ – that he had been “dismissed with immediate effect for gross misconduct on grounds of discrimination”.

Madley wrote that he sent a video to a friend, which was later passed to his employers, in which he captioned a clip of a person with a walking impairment: “F*** me, I have a chance of winning the parents race this year.”

The official said he had been “fat shamed” in the media and described as “Blobby Bobby”, so he had intended the message as a private joke.

“Out of context, I accept this reads shamefully. I accept that,” Madley wrote. “However, my intention was that the joke was aimed at myself.”

He added: “I regret taking the video, I regret sending that video, and while it was a dark humoured joke, it was just that: a joke.

“It was not intended to shame anyone, it was not intended to be seen by anyone other than the person I sent it to privately in a text message on my own personal phone.”

Madley, whose late father was disabled, said he was “stunned” over his dismissal by PGMOL for a “badly misjudged joke”.

He wrote: “I started refereeing at 16, my career was over at 32. I had my dream job, a well paid and incredibly enjoyable job that I loved every single minute of.

“The footballs and medals are now all I have to remember those years of dedication and hard work.”

The fall of Man Utd: How the Old Trafford climate changed 2009-2020

Carrington, December 31, 2009. Alex Ferguson is spending his birthday, again, looking out at the training pitches.

United have just thrashed Wigan Athletic 5-0 to move to within two points of leaders Chelsea. They won’t win the league this season. But they did the last. And they will the next.

Ferguson has no idea what will come in the next decade. Failure for United is second place, not three years without a trophy. The idea of three seasons out of the Champions League is preposterous. Finishing seventh is unimaginable. It’s Manchester United, for goodness’ sake.

There is no way they could get to that point. Someone would notice. Someone would do something.

FERGIE TIME RUNS OUT

The years between 2009 and 2020 will forever mark United’s crashing fall from their perch, unable to extricate themselves from a cesspool of anti-Glazer protests, mismanaged managers, dividends and transfer misfires.

The signs were there for Ferguson, even as he lifted the Premier League for the 13th time in 2013. Manchester City had been spending hitherto unseen sums to revolutionise what it meant to run a football club, while only four United signings between January 2010 and that day in May – Robin van Persie, David de Gea, Ashley Young and Javier Hernandez – can be considered entirely successful.

United underestimated City, as they underestimated Ferguson’s power to turn average teams into winners and the damage of losing CEO David Gill at the same time as the manager. Any fear about David Moyes and the longer-term future was dismissed as idle scaremongering, an inconvenient truth to be squashed under silverware.

The result is there are matchgoing United fans born this decade who have never seen them get close to winning the league. Hearing grown-ups talk of Moscow, Barcelona, trebles, double-doubles and ’20 times, Man United’ must sound like a Netflix fantasy series. It’s not hard to imagine a seven-year-old gazing up at the Alex Ferguson statue, outside the Alex Ferguson stand, and turning to her parents to shake her head in defiant incredulity, much like a future child staring at the world’s last surviving polar bear at the zoo might exclaim: “But, mummy, the arctic was never REALLY frozen over, was it?”

Carrington, December 31, 2019. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks out at the training pitches.

Marcus Rashford and team-mates have been hard at work, buoyed by a battling win at Burnley but thinking of Arsenal on New Year’s Day. The mood is positive, but trepidation lurks in their minds. They are fifth in the Premier League and were never even in the title race. The next setback never feels far away.

Solskjaer sighs, pensively. It wasn’t always like this.

‘WE WILL LOOK BACK ON IT AS A GIGANTIC FALSE ALARM’

Solskjaer the United manager is the product of three failures.

First came The Chosen One in 2013. David Moyes was Ferguson’s preference, had worked wonders at Everton and earned a chance on a grander stage.

Moyes later said he was promised Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Cesc Fabregas for his first season by new executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, while Cristiano Ronaldo had also been a target. It was a bold statement from one new man to another, a chest-out assurance United would swat away the competition. What Moyes got was deadline-day Marouane Fellaini, an elbow-flailing augur of doom.

Moyes bemoaned a lack of world-class players as United suffered their worst start to a league season for 24 years. By Christmas, fans were disquieted. By March, home humiliations against Liverpool and City had them angry. After plane banner protests and a 2-0 loss to Everton, Moyes was gone, nine months into a six-year contract.

United’s aura had splintered like an ice shelf. They needed a real expert, a man of facts, figures and a matchday folder.

In came Louis van Gaal on a wave of positivity after taking Netherlands to third place at the World Cup. Woodward, having almost failed to sign anybody the year before, tried to sign everybody. In came British record signing Angel Di Maria and pricey loanee Radamel Falcao in a huge squad upheaval. The ‘Gaalacticos’ had assembled. United fans found their belief. Then, Van Gaal lost his.

A 5-3 defeat to Leicester City, noteworthy for a sublime Di Maria goal and the beginning of the end of Tyler Blackett’s Premier League career, seemed to shake the manager’s faith in how to play matches. Over the next 18 months, his team would shrink from ‘attack, attack, attack’ like a melting glacier, the players terrified of trying anything that might prompt one of those telling-off emails from Van Gaal. It seemed amazing Van Gaal’s team could be so predictable, so boring when the man himself was a source of constant entertainment, decrying “sex-masochism” on live television, diving on the touchline against Arsenal and presenting the press with mulled wine, mince pies and “Mr Mike Smalling”.

A single, short Champions League campaign and an FA Cup triumph were not enough. Leicester (Leicester!) had won the league and Pep Guardiola was going to City. This was a full-blown crisis. United put up the flood defences.

TO THE TIPPING POINT

“I want everything: I want to win matches; I want to play well,” Jose Mourinho vowed in 2016. United spent big again on Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the best players in Italy, France and Germany the previous season. In 2016-17, they won the EFL Cup and Europa League but only finished sixth in the league, and Mourinho was not wholly content. United still had obvious concerns; they denied them.

United were second in 2017-18, their highest league position since their last title, as champions City obliterated the record books. Mourinho waspishly claimed it was his greatest achievement. He had begun warring with Woodward over transfers, sniping Pogba and Anthony Martial in training, and sulking through news conferences in which he said as little as possible when he wasn’t reminding the room how good he used to be.

Mourinho’s verbal microplastics had seeped into Old Trafford and turned it toxic. A 3-1 loss at Anfield was the last straw. Desperate, United put the battle for their very future in the hands of a bright-eyed, baby-faced Scandinavian and an emboldened band of youngsters up for the fight.

“There have been ups and downs,” was Solskjaer’s assessment last week, with stunning early form and a famous win in Paris undermined by 2019 defeats to Everton, Bournemouth, Watford, Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and Cardiff City. But with six wins in eight, victories over City, Chelsea (twice) and Tottenham and the chance of trophies in early 2020, maybe, at last, United have taken decisive action.

“I think we’re on the right track,” he added. ” We will come strong this decade, definitely. That’s just in the nature of this club.”

Nature can be fickle, though.

Carrington, December 31, 2029. The Manchester United manager looks out at the training pitches.

Led by captain Marcus Rashford, player spirits are high. They’re the champions of Europe and top of the league. It’s been a good 10 years.

The manager sighs. It wasn’t always like this. Manchester used to be cold in December.

Coverciano: The coaching school behind another decade of Italian winners

Buoyed by two wins from two as Everton manager, Carlo Ancelotti begins the new decade back in the division where he was the first title-winner of the previous one.

Tactical thought in the 2010s was dominated by the Dutch-Catalan school’s influence, as Pep Guardiola refined Johan Cruyff’s vision to stunning effect with his dominant Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City sides, throwing in some South American seasoning as a Marcelo Bielsa disciple.

Guardiola, of course, has a more than worthy adversary in Jurgen Klopp, who looks to be at the beginning of his own imperial period at Liverpool. The gegenpressing master has refined his high-octane approach to find something utterly relentless – more motorik krautrock than heavy metal football.

Whenever major clubs make a managerial appointment nowadays, talk of “philosophy” and an overarching vision are rarely far away. This is the age of high-concept football.

Amid all of this, despite Serie A losing some of its lustre and the Azzurri humiliatingly failing to make the 2018 World Cup, Italian coaching remains something of a gold standard.

Ancelotti was the first of four of his compatriots to win the Premier League in the 2010s. Roberto Mancini lifted Manchester City’s first English title for 44 years in 2011-12, leaving in place foundations Guardiola has built handsomely upon.

Mancini is now in charge of an Italy side that has not looked in such good health since Antonio Conte’s time at the helm. Former Juventus boss Conte left after Euro 2016 and promptly won the Premier League with Chelsea. In doing so, he followed a countryman into the winner’s enclosure.

Claudio Ranieri’s 2015-16 march to glory with Leicester City stands apart as the outstanding club football achievement of the past 10 years.

A mix of football cultures

Ranieri and ex-Bayern Munich boss Ancelotti have also worked with distinction in Spain and France, while Mancini’s route back to home came via stints at Galatasaray and Zenit.

All four men have some similarities in their approaches but do not speak of a uniform style. They are testament to the flexible and shape-shifting qualities of an ingrained Italian tradition.

“We have to make a mix of our football culture with the cultures of other European countries,” said Renzo Ulivieri, the director of the Scuola Allenatori – Italy’s coaching school.

“I think that our best quality is we are not closed, but we are open to other football cultures. We mix our culture with others.”

Omnisport spoke to Ulivieri during a visit to the Italian Football Federation (FIGC)’s Coverciano headquarters, which was bathed in the glow of late autumn sunshine last month.

A picturesque location around five kilometres east of Florence, nestled below Monte Cereci where Leonardo da Vinci tested his flying machine half a century ago, Coverciano is where the latest generation of Italian coaches seek to take their country’s proud tradition of tactical excellence to new heights.

Along with being home to all of Italy’s national squads and a treasure trove of a museum celebrating each of their four World Cup triumphs, Coverciano is a campus that exists as football’s equivalent to Harvard and Oxford.

Ulvieri oversees the UEFA Pro License course, already known as Il Master before it took on the standards of the highest coaching qualification set by European football’s governing body.

Back to school with Pirlo and Toni

A Coverciano coaching education still stands apart. Alongside intensive tactical and technical elements, psychology, communication and sports medicine form part of the studies.

Andrea Pirlo, Luca Toni, Thiago Motta and Walter Samuel were among the 2019-20 intake, who found themselves trading free afternoons following training for eight-hour classroom days.

The course concludes with a set of oral exams and the completion of a detailed tactical thesis, which students present in the same oak-panelled room where we sat down with Ulivieri, resplendent in a federation tracksuit and speaking via an interpreter with a twinkle-eyed enthusiasm that belied his 78 years.

“It’s a sort of obsessive thing for me,” he said, when discussing the adaptability that has helped Italian coaches continue to thrive throughout a fast-changing period.

“A football coach has to arrange things with the players that he has. Being able to arrange is the main topic because, for the names like Marco Rossi, the coach of Hungary, it is more difficult to be a coach in these countries, instead of being a coach in France, in England.

“Italian people are a population who travel so much, so they have to arrange to go in other cultures. I want to explain to [the students] what will be their future life.

“There are some coaches, for example, who make a good season and then the other seasons are not so good. These are coaches who have not adjusted their football and arranged for the players they have.

“The future of football will be with a very big flexibility in tactics, because the tactics of a football team do not only change from match to match but also within the same match. Now we are seeing this. In future, football teams will play in two or three different ways.”

A passion for tactics

Ulivieri’s longevity is evidence he practiced what he preached.

Starting as an amateur coach in the mid-1960s in his native Tuscany – a region he still proudly proclaims to be a hotbed, with the exploits of Massimiliano Allegri, Maurizio Sarri and others backing up the point – Ulivieri boasts a bulging Serie A CV that features spells in charge of a young Mancini at Sampdoria, Cagliari, Parma, Napoli, Torino and Roberto Baggio’s renaissance at Bologna.

His last top division post was with Reggina in 2007-08, although the obsession remains.

Alongside his day job at Coverciano, Ulivieri continues to coach women’s Serie C side Pontedera, where he is still keen to throw around the odd bold tactical scheme.

“With the team, we are in a low level but I am still a coach because I have the passion and I want to try something. I want to try some tactical concepts on the field,” he explained.

“Recently, I was speaking and I told them we will make a tactical approach that no team is doing.”

Asked to elaborate, Ulivieri eagerly took Omnisport’s notepad and sketched out a sort of 4-2-4 formation, featuring a rhombus of forwards where width would be provided by the central midfielders overlapping into wide areas.

A discussion of Sheffield United’s successful adaptation to the Premier League followed, with Ulivieri fascinated to learn of Chris Wilder’s roving wide centre-backs.

“I will study it,” he exclaimed, before sounding a note of caution for Wilder and his contemporaries.

“In the past, tactical innovation could last four years, now maybe one year. We have to change always.”

Back to the future

Coverciano’s latest intake studied England’s 1966 World Cup winners towards the end of 2019, with Ulivieri highlighting the movements of Roger Hunt, Martin Peters and Bobby Charlton as useful ploys against zonal defences of the modern day.

“Sometimes the past comes back,” he said. “When Guardiola says my first forward is the space, before Guardiola was England with Bobby Charlton and the great Hungary team before that.

“Ideas in football come back always. We have to know everything. We have to know the past but we have to guess the future. Guessing the future is our main topic.”

So, what will that future look like?

“More flexible,” Ulivieri reiterated. “We will work for principles, not for schemes. We see this today in the big teams with big players.

“In the future, we will have players who are able to do many things, not just one. These things [Sheffield United’s tactics] would be unthinkable with the players of 20 years ago. These players have to be athletic.

“In the future, we will have players who will be able to play here, there and in all parts of the field.”

Thanks to their impeccable education and tradition, if feels safe to assume Coverciano’s next alumni will lead these versatile stars with distinction, leaving their marks all over the 2020s as their predecessors did in the decade just passed.

Leicester City 3/5 to beat Newcastle in Wednesday’s Premier League contest

Competition: Premier League

Market: Leicester win

Odds: 3/5 @ Bet 365

Looking to make it back-to-back victories over Newcastle after their thumping 5-0 victory back in September, Leicester will make the trip to St. James’ Park on New Year’s Day.

Starting with the hosts, although a very eye-catching run of form entering December may have shocked many across the Premier League, Newcastle have started to slow down the pace. Hit with a 2-1 defeat against Everton in the North East, their first defeat on home soil since opening the opening weekend of the 2019/2020 campaign, Steve Bruce’s side have lost three of their last four contests and they have shown some worrying issues at the back. Shipping six goals in their back-to-back defeats and losing their top-half status, Newcastle have recorded just a single top-tier clean sheet at St. James’ since the start of October.

As for the visitors, despite making a string of changes against West Ham over the weekend, the Foxes picked up a deserved 2-1 win at the London Stadium and the mood in their camp is still at a high. Despite being hit with back-to-back defeats against Manchester City and Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers’ men still sit second and a Champions League return is firmly on the horizon. Welcoming back Jamie Vardy on New Year’s Day and with the Foxes winning five of their last six Premier League matches away from the King Power, we’re backing a similar outcome in the North East in midweek.

Bet: Leicester City 3/5 to beat Newcastle in Wednesday’s Premier League contest @ Bet 365

New Everton Boss Carlo Ancelotti Likes to ‘Live a Normal Life’ (Video)

The newly appointed Everton manager, Carlo Ancelotti says he likes to ‘live a normal life’, nothing special.

His team are set to play against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on the first day of 2020.

Young Arsenal Fan Asks Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold to Join the Gunners (Video)

You can’t help feeling for this young lad who asked Liverpool’s right-back sensation Trent Alexander-Arnold to join Arsenal.

Wolves´ former Barca star Adama Traore would be open to joining Real Madrid

Wolves winger Adama Traore would have no problem forgetting his ties to Barcelona if a move to Real Madrid presented itself, though a return to Camp Nou appeals more.

Traore, 23, spent most of his formative years in Barca’s academy and had been considered one of La Masia’s crown jewels for a long time.

The rapid forward even made his first-team debut in LaLiga as a 17-year-old in November 2013, playing seven minutes in a 4-0 win over Granada.

Barca allowed him to leave for Aston Villa in 2015, with Traore revealing the following year he had become frustrated with a lack of development at the Catalan club, as they kept him in the second team instead of helping him push on.

Concerns over his footballing mindset and end product became apparent at Villa and persisted after moves to Middlesbrough and Wolves, but this season he has taken on a key role at Molineux, even earning a Spain call-up.

As such, talk of a move to a bigger club has surfaced in recent times, and he would not close the door on a potential switch to Madrid, even though it is not a priority.

“If I do not have the option of Barca and I have to go to Real Madrid, I do not close any doors,” he said on La Sexta show Jugones, before hinting at a previous issue with La Blaugrana.

“There was a misunderstanding with Barca. Something happened that I didn’t like, but I prefer to keep it for myself.”

And while Traore is open to returning to Spain, he has a goal to achieve in the Premier League first.

“Yes, why not [return to Spain],” he said. “But I made a promise to become one of the best in England.”

Suarez confident of Barcelona contract extension

Luis Suarez is confident he and Barcelona will come to an agreement regarding a new contract as he eyes second place in the club’s list of record goalscorers.

Suarez joined Barca from Liverpool in 2014 and has gone on to enjoy a wonderful spell at Camp Nou, both in terms of individual accomplishments and success with the club.

In that time, he has scored 190 goals and won every trophy possible, including a LaLiga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble in 2014-15.

Now 32, Suarez has shown signs of decline in the past year or so, with recent media reports suggesting Barca want to replace him with Inter’s Lautaro Martinez, despite the former Ajax star boasting a commendable tally of 10 in 16 LaLiga games this term.

But the Uruguay international appears set for a few more years at the club, as he is seemingly expecting to agree an extension to his current deal, which runs out in 2021.

“I’m very happy at the club,” he told Sport. “I have always given myself to the fullest. The statistics and the numbers back that up.

“I think I am up to the task and when it comes to [contract] talks, we will arrive at a good conclusion.”

Suarez’s haul of 190 goals means he is just four behind Barca great Laszlo Kubala – but the main target he has his eyes on is Cesar Rodriguez.

Cesar netted 232 times from 1942 to 1955 and is second only to Lionel Messi in Barca’s list of all-time goalscorers, though Suarez accepts catching his team-mate – who is way out in front on 618 – will be impossible.

“I always said that personal challenges have to be left aside, but in this case, when there is so little to match or overcome a historic player like Kubala and get in there [the top three], you feel very proud,” he continued.

“Second place is obviously a more difficult challenge, but that does not take it out of sight.

“You always try, but it will be done over time. First place is unattainable, but it is very exciting to be able to reach Cesar’s numbers.”