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    Inside Man City’s panicky week after alleged financial rule breaches with top lawyer hired and stars fearing for futures

    PANIC is the word that best sums up Manchester City’s week so far.While City have turned to Lord Pannick KC to get them off the hook from the Premier League charges, many of their star players are in a flap about their futures.
    Pep Guardiola has much to ponder after a difficult week on and off the pitch for Manchester CityCredit: Getty
    City chief Khaldoon Al Mubarak is hoping to defend Man City against Premier League chargesCredit: Getty
    Kevin De Bruyne and co are trying to reel in Arsenal in the Premier League title raceCredit: Getty
    Certainly, there was much to ponder as most of the squad enjoyed a day off yesterday — with their club’s whole future up in the air all of a sudden.
    Boss Pep Guardiola faces a tough task to get their minds back on a huge few weeks in their season when they reassemble later this week.
    On Monday, they heard the news from the Premier League as they prepared to head to the Etihad Campus.
    There had been no mention of it when chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and other execs visited the away dressing room at Tottenham some 15 hours earlier.
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    Yet club sources insist they had been given no heads-up about what was coming down the line.
    So the squad turned up for a warm-down session in the afternoon to recover from the disappointing 1-0 defeat to Spurs.
    But before they hit the training pitches, chief executive Ferran Soriano addressed the squad in the first-team building at the City Football Academy.
    Just as he did when Uefa banned the club from the Champions League almost three years ago, he insisted they have done nothing wrong — and will clear their name.
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    The former Barcelona executive was right that time — the punishment was lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport five months later.
    City players, staff and fans around the world will be keeping everything crossed for a similar outcome this time.
    Yet after training — when the players headed for home — the enormity of the situation started to hit them and it is going to feel uneasy for some time.
    For the next few months at least, and possibly longer, there will be a huge cloud over the Etihad… and not just the traditional grey ones.
    The prospect of the club being kicked out of the Premier League is real and the extraordinary ride City have been on over the last 15 years could be about to come to a crashing halt.
    If they are found guilty and hit with the harshest sanction, where will that leave the first-­team players?
    City’s future is uncertain with the club facing over 100 charges
    Most of them joined City for the chance to play in the Champions League — not the Championship.
    Not many will have ‘relegation clauses’ in their contracts, as few agents would have deemed it to be necessary.
    That hardly matters as without the TV riches, the club could not afford their wages and would need a firesale to balance the books.
    Yet, somehow, they must put it all to the backs of their minds when returning to training.
    As unlikely as it may be given their current form, they are still in the hunt for three trophies this season.
    Nobody can be certain at this stage whether the response will be a girding of collective loins and an increased determination to make a point on the field.
    Lord Pannick KC has been drafted in to Man City’s legal teamCredit: Getty
    Or, if the threat creates a sense of resignation and doom that means players will not run the extra yard that can make the difference.
    So far, we have not heard from Guardiola or any of his players about the charges relating to 115 alleged breaches of Premier League rules over more than a decade.
    Guardiola, as he was three years ago, will be the one whose head is first above the parapet when he holds his press conference on Friday.
    But City fans will look back on the leadership and focus that the Spaniard demonstrated back in February 2020 — and hope they see a repeat now.
    Back then, Guardiola deployed the sort of tactics of which Sir Alex Ferguson would have approved.
    Fergie was the master of fostering a siege mentality, making any perceived slight against his club and players as a cause he expected the entire dressing room to buy into.
    Dark clouds loom over the Etihad after this week’s developmentsCredit: Getty
    That was very much the pose adopted by Guardiola — at least for the consumption of his squad and the wider City supporter base.
    When he gathered his players together in the immediate aftermath of the ban being announced, Guardiola looked them in the eye and told them all: “Whatever league we’re in, I will still be here.
    “Even if they put us in League Two, I will still be here. This is a time for sticking together.”
    And a few days later, he told the world’s media: “I’m completely sure of the commitment of our players.
    “It’s about what they’ve shown for many years. Nothing changes.
    “At the end of the season, nobody knows what is going to happen. With calm, we’ll decide what we want.
    “But for the next three months, the commitment will be incredible.”
    It got the response he wanted. Nobody will forget their brilliant and thoroughly deserved 2-1 win in the Bernabeu against mighty Real Madrid less than two weeks later.
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    By a twist of fate, the last game City had played before the ban was announced was an unexpected Prem defeat at… Tottenham.
    Three years later, it is history repeating. And it will be a similar response that Guardiola needs now. More

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    Erik ten Hag has turned Old Trafford into fortress again as Man Utd boss aims to rekindle Sir Alex Ferguson’s 12th man

    ERIK TEN HAG has rebuilt Old Trafford into a fortress once again.During Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United glory days, it was often said opposition teams would be beaten in the tunnel before kick-off.
    Erik ten Hag has rebuilt Old Trafford into a fortress
    The Red Devils will contest a Carabao Cup final and are in the race for a top-four finish
    United are on a run of 13 wins at home
    Contrast that to last term, when the Red Devils failed to win 13 of their 26 matches on their own turf
    Ten Hag has led United to 13 wins in a row at home in all competitions in his first season in charge.
    Contrast that to last term, when the Red Devils failed to win 13 of their 26 matches on their own turf.
    A 14th Old Trafford victory tonight would put Ten Hag’s men joint-second in the table but the Dutchman has warned they face a real ‘Roses’ battle against old enemy Leeds.
    As things stand, United’s win rate at home in the Premier League under Ten Hag is an impressive 80 per cent.
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    That is their best since Fergie’s final season in charge in 2012-13.
    United’s points-per-game return of 2.5 at Old Trafford this term is also on par with that title-winning campaign under the legendary Scot.
    Ahead of United’s clash with Leeds, a buoyed Ten Hag said: “That was one of our aims this season, to get that back.
    “It was one of our aims as a part of the process to restore Manchester United to the top.
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    United’s home form
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    “Our home form is good. Away we have also good results — but we can still show even more personality and be more convincing.
    “That’s the next step we have to make, to have the same personality on the pitch away as we have at home.
    “But I’m really happy with the process at home, it’s great to have that connection at Old Trafford — but when we play away a lot of fans are following us.
    “Nothing changes really. So in that fact, we can grow.”
    It promises to be another cracking atmosphere at Old Trafford for the visit of Leeds, in the first part of a double header before the Red Devils head to Elland Road on Sunday.
    Ten Hag knows the historic rivalry.
    He said: “It’s the match of the Roses, it’s definitely a big game in this part of England.
    “We have Manchester City and Liverpool — but for our fans this means so much. Our players are aware of that and know what to do.”
    Man Utd’s team stats this season
    United face a club who have just ditched manager Jesse Marsch, with Chris Armas — the ex-Old Trafford coach under Ralf Rangnick — now in temporary charge.
    Ten Hag has warned that having prepared for a certain style of opponent under Marsch his side must be wary of a different approach.
    One of only two defeats for United since the Manchester derby loss to City on October 2 came when Aston Villa had just appointed a new boss in Spaniard Unai Emery.
    Dutchman Ten Hag said: “When Jesse Marsch was at Leeds it was clear how they played — now it’s possible they change.
    “We will only find out on the pitch but we need good anticipation for that. Better anticipation, for instance, than against Villa.
    “The difference when Emery came in was they had a week to prepare and now they don’t have so much time.
    “We will see — but we need to be proactive.”
    Ten Hag does not agree with the sacking of Marsch, insisting such changes rarely work out for the better in football.
    Marcus Rashford’s revival has been one of Ten Hag’s key successes
    He said: “It’s always sad if a manager, a colleague, gets sacked.
    “In general I don’t believe in it, that you sack a manager and get better results, most of the time it doesn’t work.
    “Let the manager finish their work and make a good evaluation.
    “But the pressure is high with decision-makers and they turn.
    “But if you see the facts, most of the time it doesn’t work out well.”
    There are certainly no question marks over Ten Hag’s position and he insists he is very much in it for the long term at Manchester United.
    He said: “I always think about the long term to build a culture, to build a way to play — to develop players and develop the team.
    “In the long term, also, in terms of contracts and transfer windows, because I think that is the way.
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    “I am not here for one year, I am here longer.
    “I see it as a long-term project to build here and how long it is then I have to see. Today you can’t tell.” More

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    Qatar group ‘to bid for Man Utd in DAYS with Ten Hag set for huge transfer kitty as investors confident of Glazers sale’

    QATARIS are in the running to buy Manchester United and are set to launch a takeover bid in DAYS.The Glazers revealed in November that they were willing to listen to offers for either a stake in the Premier League giants or an outright purchase.
    A Qatar-based investment group will bid to buy Man Utd and want to boost manager Erik ten Hag’s transfer kittyCredit: Getty
    The Glazers revealed late last year that they were willing to listen to offers for the Old Trafford clubCredit: AFP
    A redevelopment, or complete rebuild, of Old Trafford wouldn’t bee an issue for the Qataris
    A number of parties have expressed an interest in buying United, which could be purchased for a world-record price for a sports franchise at close to, or above, £6billion.
    Interest comes from the Far East, Middle East and United States with Raines Group, the merchant bank tasked with the sale.
    British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who happens to be a Man Utd fan, is also keen.
    But according to the Daily Mail, a Qatar-based investment group will bid for Man Utd.
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    The report states that “a group of private, high-wealth individuals based in the oil-rich state, buoyed by Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup, have set their sights on” the Old Trafford club.
    An offer is expected to be made in the coming days ahead of the mid-February deadline set by the Glazers.
    The investment group are said to be confident that their bid blow any competition out of the water, and want to significantly boost manager Erik ten Hag’s transfer kitty.
    As well as coughing up more than £6bn for the club, the Qatari group could face a project of redeveloping, or knocking down Old Trafford and building a new state-of-the-art facility.
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    That could cost north of £2bn – but that would not be a problem.
    The Qataris are also putting fan engagement at the heart of their takeover bid.
    They will seek the views of supporters on the future of Old Trafford.
    However, a stumbling block that could block a takeover is Qatar Sports Investments’ ownership of European juggernaut, Paris Saint-Germain.
    One entity cannot own two clubs in the same competition — and United and PSG could meet in Europe.
    The bid for United would come from separate, individual Qatari investors and there is ZERO interest in taking a partial stake – something the Glazers have been interested in.
    A source is quoted as saying: “There are significant funds available.
    “These people are serious. They want to make sure that United are where they should be and they are confident theirs will be the strongest bid.
    “They want to strengthen the squad to put them back at the top but they also want this to be for the good of the community.
    “They also want to build on the success of the World Cup.
    “They recognise that Manchester United is the biggest football club in the world, the crown jewels, and there is a steely-minded determination to buy it and get it to where it should be.”
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    A successful bid would enhance United’s rivalry with Manchester City, who are under ownership based in fierce Gulf neighbours, Abu Dhabi.
    It would also see United go up against Saudi-owned Newcastle.
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    Man Utd cut three stars from Europa League squad but Van de Beek keeps place and new signings added ahead of Barcelona

    MANCHESTER UNITED have announced their Europa League knockout squad for the Barcelona clash with three players being cut for January signings.Departed stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Axel Tuanzebe and Martin Dubravka were all dropped from the Red Devils’ 25-man list.
    Man Utd have announced their Europa League squadCredit: PA
    Donny van de Beek remains in the squad despite being injuredCredit: Rex
    They have made way for January arrivals Marcel Sabitzer, Wout Weghorst and Jack Butland.
    Donny van de Beek, meanwhile, keeps his place in the squad despite suffering a serious knee injury in the 3-0 win over Bournemouth last month.
    The Dutchman is expected to be ruled out of action until the end of the season.
    Boss Erik ten Hag said on Van de Beek: “On the long term, it is looking really good – he will be back for the start of pre-season.
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    “But for the rest of the season, he is out.
    “I think everyone was really [sad], our thoughts are with him.
    “It’s terrible when you are in a season and you get a bad tackle, a bad injury.”
    Man Utd travel to the Camp Nou on February 16, with the return leg taking place a week later on the 23rd.
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    A Premier League clash with Leicester in sandwiched between the Europa tie, and the Carabao Cup final against Newcastle at Wembley follows the second leg on the 26th.
    United are somewhat suffering a midfield crisis.
    Van de Beek, Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen are nursing injuries, while main man Casemiro picked up a three-game suspension in the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace last weekend.
    The Brazil star put his hands around Will Hughes’ neck, and after a VAR check, the summer signing received his marching orders. More

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    Leeds blow as manager target Carlos Corberan signs new four-and-a-half-year contract at West Brom

    CARLOS CORBERAN has signed a contract extension at West Brom despite strong speculation linking him with the vacant Leeds job. The Spanish head coach had been the favourite to take over at Elland Road after Jesse Marsch’s sacking.
    Corberan resigned as Huddersfield boss last summer after taking the Terriers to the play-off finalCredit: Reuters
    Our 𝗕𝗢𝗦𝗦. 🇪🇸We’re delighted to announce @CarlosCorberan has signed a contract extension at The Hawthorns. ✍️— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) February 7, 2023

    But the club have tonight announced he has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract extension, signalling he is going nowhere.
    Albion’s Chief Executive Ron Gourlay said: “I am delighted Carlos has extended his contract at the football club. I have always been impressed by Carlos and my admiration of him as a coach has only grown since he arrived here. 
    “His passion for the game we all love has been infectious for all connected with the club, not least our players, who have clearly benefitted from Carlos’ first-class coaching, tactical knowhow, and attention to detail. 
    “We sat down three weeks ago to discuss the future of the club and Carlos’ vision for Albion is absolutely aligned with my own. Together we are determined to continue taking the club forwards.”
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    The announcement will be a blow to Leeds who are fighting for their Premier League lives and will keen to get a replacement in.
    The Yorkshire club face a Premier League double against in-form Manchester United in the coming days as they desperately search for points.
    Marsch was sacked after failing to guide Leeds to victory in any of their post-World Cup games.
    His final game in charge was Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest.
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    Rayo Vallecano manager Andoni Iraola is now believed to be the favourite for the job.
    Celtic boss Ang Postecoglou has also been linked to the role.
    In contrast to Leeds’ declining fortunes, West Brom fans are enjoying the time of their lives under Corberan.
    He took over from Steve Bruce in October and, after losing his first game in charge, has won nine of the next 11 league games.
    Jesse Marsch was relieved of his duties on Monday afternoonCredit: AP
    The Baggies sat in the relegation zone when Bruce was given his marching orders.
    But they are now in the play-offs and only four points off third-place Middlesborough, who have experienced a similar revival under Michael Carrick.
    Third may be the most achievable position for West Brom, with leaders Burnley 21 points ahead of them and Sheffield United having a 14 point advantage. More

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    Ex-Chelsea star Christian Atsu’s agent in agonising wait for updates as lines down & hospitals packed with quake victims

    CHRISITAN Atsu’s agent is desperately waiting for updates on the ex-Chelsea star after he was rescued from a collapsed building in Turkey.The dad, 31, was left buried under piles of rubble for more than 24 hours after two powerful earthquakes hit the country, killing more than 7,800 people.
    Christian Atsu was rescued after being under rubble in an earthquakeCredit: Getty
    Hatay was badly rocked by the earthquakes on MondayCredit: Reuters
    Former Newcastle defender Atsu is understood to have been on the ninth floor of an apartment block in Hatay when a 7.8 magnitude quake rocked the city at 4am local time on Monday.
    Several of his Hatayspor teammates were dramatically rescued from their homes, but Atsu and sporting director Taner Savut remained missing as a second quake struck shortly before 1.30pm.
    But on Tuesday, the club’s vice president Mustafa Ozat confirmed Atsu had been pulled from the rubble alive.
    His agent Nana Sechere, however, said they now have an agonising wait for updates as the city has been left in ruins with very little communication.
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    He told Ghana radio station Happy FM: “Just to paint you a picture, Hatay is a very small city and hardly anyone speaks English.
    “Right now, the whole city has been devastated they are in a state of emergency.
    “It means the hospitals are inundated with people, injured people, people who are dying.
    “Even if Atsu is in the hospital, there is no way of communicating with Atsu.
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    “In addition to this, all the phone lines are all dead, so just a few people are able to contact these club members.”
    It is understood Ghana ace Atsu was found by rescuers who heard his voice in the rubble.
    Hatayspor spokesman Mustafa Ozat earlier said: “Christian Atsu was taken out with injuries.
    “Our sporting director, Taner Savut, is unfortunately still under the rubble.”
    Atsu, who has three kids with wife Marie-Claire, plays for Hatayspor, who he joined last summer.
    Atsu joined Chelsea from Porto for £3.5million in 2013 but didn’t make a single appearance for the Premier League giants.
    Atsu took in loans at Vitesse, Everton, Bournemouth, Malaga and Newcastle.
    And the Magpies made his deal permanent in 2017 after Atsu played a key role in their promotion from the Championship.
    The ace ended up making 86 appearances for Newcastle before joining Al-Raed in 2021.

    Atsu moved to Hatayspor last summer and has one goal in four games.
    It comes as three Brits are among the 20,000 feared dead after catastrophic quakes rocked Turkey and Syria.
    A massive 7.8 magnitude shock – one of the biggest for 100 years – was followed hours later by another huge 7.5 magnitude quake on Monday.
    Then on Tuesday, another 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck.
    Horror pictures from Turkey show the devastation after tower blocks collapsed – crushing and trapping people inside.
    A baby born under the earthquake rubble in Syria was rescued just minutes after entering the world.
    The tot was pulled to safety after her courageous mother delivered the little girl under the weight of a wrecked building.
    The pregnant woman is believed to have been trapped under the debris for over a day in the northeastern town of Jenderes.
    Sadly she reportedly died shortly after giving birth to the child surrounded by the devastation of Turkey’s terrifying earthquakes.
    It comes as the World Health Organisation has warned the death toll could rocket to more than 20,000 as rescuers find more victims in the rubble.
    So far, more than 7,800 people have been confirmed dead.
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    Turkish authorities say 5,894 people have been killed, while in Syria more than 1,900 have died in government and opposition-held areas.
    More than 24,400 emergency personnel are helping to find survivors among the debris of the demolished cities.
    A woman pulled from a building in KahramanmarasCredit: Reuters
    Hundreds of building across Turkey collapsedCredit: Getty More

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    Chelsea ‘to end £40m-a-year sponsorship deal with Three as Todd Boehly aims to boost revenue after transfer splurge’

    CHELSEA are planning to end their big money sponsorship deal with Three as Todd Boehly pursues a more lucrative deal, according to reports. The American owner has overseen a huge transfer splurge in January as the Blues recruited some of the most promising talent from around Europe.
    Three have had their logo on the front of Chelsea shirts since 2020Credit: Reuters
    The spending has left rival clubs scratching their heads with financial fair play rules meant to restrain the richer clubs.
    With the window closed, Boehly now appears to have turned his attention to boosting the club’s revenue to help comply with transfer rules.
    The Telegraph report that the consortium led by Boehly are looking to move on from the deal with Three.
    The phone company’s logo has featured prominently on the Chelsea kit since 2020 in a deal worth £40m-a-year.
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    But reports say the new ownership believe they can strike a far more lucrative deal than that with Three.
    The club are said to have no plans to extend the contract beyond this season.
    Three angered some Chelsea fans last season after publicly asking for their logo to be removed from the football shirt.
    Their request came amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine when Roman Abramovich came under heavy scrutiny for his relationship with the Kremlin.
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    The issue would eventually lead to Abramovich selling up to the Clearlake group led by Boehly.
    They have overseen a dramatic first season at Stamford Bridge which has included heavy spending during both the summer and winter windows and the sacking of Thomas Tuchel early in the season. More

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    Liverpool vs Everton: Klopp’s men look to recover from Wolves nightmare against noisy Merseyside neighbours – stream, TV

    LIVERPOOL take on Everton in the Merseyside derby with much more than local pride on the line.The Reds are in awful form and have only picked up one point in 2023.
    Liverpool players looking dejected during their 3-0 defeat to Wolves.Credit: Getty
    Everton’s James Tarkowski celebrates his winning goal against Arsenal.Credit: Getty
    Klopp’s men find themselves 10th in the Premier League with one win in their last five league games.
    Liverpool haven’t scored in their last three league matches registering blanks against Brighton, Chelsea and Wolves.
    Dyche who replaced Frank Lampard had the perfect start to life as Everton manager with a 1-0 win against Arsenal but The Toffees still find themselves in the drop zone on goal difference.
    Everton themselves only have one win in their last five league games and need all the points they can get as they aim to avoid relegation.
    When is Liverpool vs Everton?

    Liverpool vs Everton will take place on Monday, February 13.
    The game will kick off at 8pm UK time.
    Anfield will play host.

    What channel is it on and can it be live streamed?

    Liverpool’s clash with Everton will be shown live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League.
    You can live stream the game from your mobile or tablet on the Sky Go app if you have a Sky Sports subscription.

    Can I watch it for FREE?

    No, you must have an active Sky Sports subscription to watch the game.
    Highlights will be available after the game.

    Team news
    Liverpool will be without forwards Diogo Jota and Luis Dias although Jota will return to training this week.
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    Defenders Ibrahima Konate and Virgil Van Dijk are out with the Dutchman still a couple of weeks away from returning following a hamstring injury.
    Fabinho missed the game with Wolves through illness and should be in line for a return to the squad.
    Roberto Firmino and Arthur Melo will also miss out.
    Everton will be without James Garner, Andros Townsend and Nathan Patterson.
    Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Michael Keane could return from their respective injuries.
    Latest odds

    Liverpool 1/2
    Draw 16/5
    Everton 5/1

    *Odds courtesy of Betfair are correct at time of publication More