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Liverpool’s latest band of misfits on the verge of another unlikely European Cup

Jurgen Klopp was considering the reality of facing Real Madrid. “They are more experienced,” the Liverpool manager said Monday. “It’s a fact.” As Real have become the first team to retain the Champions League in its current incarnation, that is undeniable. But Liverpool have different experience.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal They go to Kiev with a collection of personal tales that makes them both improbable winners and a team in keeping with the club’s European history. Once again, Liverpool have assembled the unlikely lads.

They are the relegated and the rejected, the unwanted and the underestimated. It is mentioned with increasing frequency that Andrew Robertson was a part-time player just six years ago and that his Hull City team were demoted in 2015 and 2017. What is referenced less often is that Georginio Wijnaldum was part of the Newcastle United team that went to the championship in 2016. At that point, Trent Alexander-Arnold had yet to make his first-team debut. A player who had been described as a No. 6, a holding midfielder, in Steven Gerrard’s 2015 autobiography did not make his senior bow until October 2016; it came against Tottenham, whose manager, Mauricio Pochettino, thought the teenager should have been sent off. He did not start a league game until 2017. In 2018, he will begin a Champions League final and go to a World Cup.287

Loris Karius did not begin 2018 in the Liverpool goal. If others are more established, it is easy to envisage situations in which their careers took very different paths, sliding-door moments that could have taken them to mid-table, to obscurity, to anywhere other than a Champions League final.

Jordan Henderson has recently recounted how Brendan Rodgers told him he could go to Fulham as part of an exchange for Clint Dempsey in 2012. Instead, he could join Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard in the ranks of Liverpool’s European Cup-winning captains. If a late injury rules Henderson out, nike cheap nfl jerseys that mantle could instead pass to James Milner; the same Milner some of the club’s power brokers were willing to let sign for Newcastle last summer, the same one who spent last season playing left-back and has not merely been reinvented as a midfielder but has recorded more assists in a single season than any other player in Champions League history. That, to even the biggest fan of the versatile, selfless, perennially underrated Milner, still feels illogical.

Queens Park Ranger hire former Newcastle, England boss Steve McClaren as coach

Former England boss Steve McClaren has been appointed as the new manager of QPR.

The 57-year-old has agreed a two-year contract at Loftus Road, where he worked for three months under Harry Redknapp during 2013 before embarking on his first spell at Derby.

“It’s great to be back — and it’s a challenge that I’m excited by,” McClaren told the Championship club’s official website after being confirmed as Ian Holloway’s successor.wholesale nfl football jerseys

“I must admit that I’ve followed the club closely over the last five years, because of the three months I had here.

“From the outside, I’ve seen the progress, work and changes that have gone on — especially over the last two years — in streamlining the squad and getting the budget down. The board and owners deserve credit for that.

McClaren was in charge at Newcastle during the 2015-16 season before returning to Derby, a managerial role he left in March 2017.

The former England manager, who left that position after failing to secure qualification for Euro 2008, is confident QPR can progress next season following a 16th-placed finish.

“The introduction of younger players has been a breath of fresh air and it’s exciting for the future,” the one-time Middlesbrough boss said. “I like to play attractive, attacking football — and we’ve got young, hungry footballers here who can play that way.239

“The priority is to win football matches — but we want to win them in a certain style.”

Holloway joined the QPR for a second spell as boss in November 2016, signing a two-and-a-half-year deal, but left with 12 months still remaining on his contract.

McClaren, meanwhile, brings with him a wealth of coaching experience, having worked under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and having managed in Europe at FC Twente and Wolfsburg. He had a brief stint with Nottingham Forest in 2011.

QPR director of football Les Ferdinand feels McClaren is the “perfect fit” for the west London club as they look to chart a course back to the Premier League.

“Steve has a fantastic reputation in the game for coaching and developing players,” Ferdinand said. “When you look at the average age of our squad, and the exciting young talent starting to emerge, he is the perfect fit for us.nike nfl football jerseys

“We want Steve to use his expertise and experience to help our players grow. We are delighted with this appointment and, speaking with Steve, I know how excited he is to be here and how determined he is to be a success.”

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte says he’s ‘a hero’ for efforts at struggling club

Antonio Conte insisted he will always consider himself a “hero” for working even harder and better at Chelsea than last season to overcome the “negative situation” he has encountered.

Chelsea face Manchester United in Saturday’s FA Cup final knowing that even victory will not redeem a disappointing Premier League campaign that ended with a fifth-place finish, nfl football jerseys cheap ensuring there will be no Champions League football at Stamford Bridge next season.

Conte is expected to leave Chelsea after months of public and private tensions with the club hierarchy over transfer policy, coupled with a disastrous decline in results on the pitch since the turn of the year.

But the Italian is adamant that he and his players will always have clear consciences for the effort and commitment they have shown in increasingly difficult circumstances.

“My commitment has always been the same,” he insisted. “Maybe this season we worked harder than last season. I don’t know if something has changed… last season we were heroes for Chelsea’s fans. Now our stance, me and the players, has changed.238

“I don’t know [what went wrong]. But in my soul and my heart, I’m always a hero because I gave 120 percent, also this season to solve the problems.

“In every season you must divide the responsibility, positive or negative, with three parts: club, manager and players. Last season we were heroes. This season we are… I don’t know what we are to people, but I don’t care. It doesn’t matter.”

Asked why he felt that he has done a better job than in his Premier League title-winning debut campaign, Conte replied: “Usually, when you have a lot of positive situations, it’s more simple. When you have a negative situation, then you must be prepared to work very ahrd, to work and improve every aspect. I think in this season, I did this together with my staff.”

Conte has never wavered in his belief that Chelsea worked “a miracle” by becoming champions in his first season, repeatedly intimating that he has not been given the resources in the transfer market to build on that success this time around.

“Last season was a wonderful season, because we did fantastic work with the players,” he continued. “Last season we reached an important success.wholesale nfl football jerseys  [But] then you have to understand when you win and the way that you win — if your [team] is going at 300 km/h, or if you are winning and you are going at normal velocity and you don’t risk burning your engine.

Australia trim preliminary World Cup squad to 26 players

Australia have trimmed their World Cup squad to 26 players who will join the Socceroo’s pre-tournament training camp in Turkey.

Six players who had been named to the preliminary squad last week did not make the cut:cheap nike jerseys nfl  forwards Apostolos Giannou and Jamie Maclaren, defenders Alex Gersbach, Aleksandar Susnjar and Bailey Wright, and goalkeeper Mitch Langerak.

Still with the team are two uncapped players: Melbourne City’s 19-year-old forward Daniel Arzani and defender Fran Karacic, who turned 22 on Saturday.

The Socceroos’ all-time leading goal scorer, Tim Cahill, is also still in contention to play for his country at a fourth World Cup.180

The squad features five players from the A-League: Arzani, Joshua Brillante, Dimitri Petratos, Josh Risdon, and James Troisi.

Australia boss Bert van Marwijk must trim three more players before the World Cup, with an announcement set for June 3, two days after a friendly against Czech Republic is Austria.

The final team will then travel to Hungary for a final friendly on June 9 before heading to Russia, where France, Denmark and Peru await in the group stage.

“It is always a challenging task to reduce a squad, however this is the nature of professional sport at the highest level,” said van Marwijk. “Overall, I believe we have named a strong and ambitious squad for our training camp in Turkey and friendly against Czech Republic in Austria.”

“I am sure that in training in Antalya, and in our match against the Czech Republic, cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping we will see players pushing to go to a higher level as they compete for a place in the final squad,” he said.

Russia drop Ruslan Kambolov from World Cup squad ahead of doping probe

Russia cut defender Ruslan Kambolov, who faced a doping investigation, from their World Cup squad on Monday, saying he injured a calf muscle with Rubin Kazan the day before.

Kambolov was replaced on the preliminary squad by 38-year-old veteran Sergei Ignashevich, who came out of international retirement.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

The RFU said coaches dropped Kambolov, “taking into account the training time [until the World Cup begins] and the possibility of exacerbating the problem.”

Kambolov was investigated by FIFA this year following the publication of World Anti-Doping Agency investigations alleging Russian officials covered up earlier doping cases.

Lawyers for Kambolov said last month his case was closed for lack of evidence, though FIFA hasn’t confirmed that.179

The centre-back Ignashevich has made 120 appearances for Russia but last played for the team at the 2016 European Championship.

Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov said he met on Sunday with CSKA Moscow’s Ignashevich, who refused previous comeback pleas.

“Ignashevich heard me out calmly,” Cherchesov said in a statement. “And today he gave his agreement after the results of Kambolov’s examination became clear.”

Ignashevich said the call was a surprise “but I thought saying yes was the right thing to do,” in comments on the team Twitter feed. “After all, it’s the World Cup and moreover it’s happening in our country. I’ll give every effort to help the team.”

Russia are struggling ahead of the tournament with no wins in their last five games. Since the start of 2016, they have played 13 games against teams who will be at the World Cup and won only once, against South Korea.cheap nike jerseys nfl

In Group A, Russia play Saudi Arabia in the opening game of the World Cup on June 14 in Moscow, followed by Egypt and Uruguay.

Ahead of the tournament, Russia scheduled friendlies against Austria away on May 30 and against Turkey in Moscow on June 5.

Russia’s 28-man preliminary squad must be cut to 23 players by June 4.

Jones, Giggs wish former manager Ferguson a full recovery

Manchester United defender Phil Jones has described his former manager Alex Ferguson as a “father figure” and backed him to return to full health after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

Ferguson underwent emergency surgery on Saturday which United said had gone “extremely well” and the 76-year-old is recovering from the operation in intensive care.where to buy nfl jersey

Jones was signed from Blackburn Rovers by Ferguson in 2011 and was part of the Scot’s 13th Premier League title in his final season before retiring in 2013.

“Just devastated, absolutely devastated,” Jones told British media. “He is the one who brought me to the club and gave me that opportunity to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world.

“He’s taken me under his wing like a father. It was shocking, it’s sad, but I know his character. I know he has that fight in him. Hopefully, he’ll recover well.

“When something like that does happen it’s nice that the football world comes together and shows support and we are all rooting for him.”120

Wales manager Ryan Giggs, who was handed his United debut by Ferguson in 1991, said he was praying for his former manager’s recovery.

Giggs was one of “Fergie’s Fledglings”, along with David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Gary and Phil Neville, who were in the United team that won numerous trophies under Ferguson, including the 1999 treble.

“Now is the time to pray and hope he can make a full recovery,” Giggs told BBC Wales.women s authentic nfl jerseys

“He has been the biggest influence in my career, both on and off the pitch.

“I know the operation has been a success – but he is a fighter and that is what makes me think that he will be able to make a recovery.”

Giovinco, Vazquez and Chapman score as Toronto FC blanks Philadelphia Union 3-0

Toronto FC started the day in the Eastern Conference basement and finished it looking more like the team that won the MLS Cup last season.nfl jersey wholesalers

Victor Vazquez, Sebastian Giovinco and Jay Chapman scored as Toronto FC turned in a complete effort in Friday’s 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union on a windy and chilly evening at BMO Field.

The host side had several regulars on the shelf with injuries, but still turned in a quality performance. Quick, precision passes were used to break down the Union defence and Toronto took advantage of its opportunities when it got in close.

Vazquez tallied in the 29th minute and Giovinco scored in the 65th — his first goal of the Major League Soccer season — as Toronto (2-4-1) earned its first league victory in five weeks. Chapman added an insurance goal in the 90th minute.118

“I thought it was a good disciplined, well-organized, composed performance,” said Toronto head coach Greg Vanney.

Toronto moved out of the Eastern cellar — leapfrogging Montreal and D.C. United — with the three points. Philadelphia fell to 2-4-2 on the season.

Toronto forward Jozy Altidore (hamstring) and defenders Drew Moor (quad), Justin Morrow (calf), Chris Mavinga (hamstring), Eriq Zavaleta (quad) and Nick Hagglund (hamstring) all sat out.

Coach Greg Vanney used a 4-1-4-1 formation with captain Michael Bradley anchoring a back line that included Gregory van der Wiel, Auro and Ashtone Morgan. The Union went with a 4-2-3-1 setup.

With the wind howling in the first half, Giovinco tested Andre Blake with a shot from distance that forced the Philadelphia goalkeeper to fully extend for the save.nike nfl jerseys from china

Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono showed his form moments later.

He displayed quick reflexes to get a piece of the ball on a header by Union captain Alejandro Bedoya. The ball hit the bar and was cleared.

Giovinco helped set up the opening goal by finding Nicolas Hasler charging down the right side. Hasler fed the ball into the middle where it was deftly stroked into the corner by Vazquez.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden rule out World Cup return in Russia

LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be coming out of international retirement to represent Sweden at this summer’s World Cup.where to buy nfl jerseys cheap

Ibrahimovic, who retired from international competition after Euro 2016, represented Sweden in the World Cup in 2002 and in 2006.

The 36-year-old striker, who moved to LA Galaxy from Manchester United last month, has frequently hinted at a desire to end that retirement after Sweden defeated Italy in a playoff to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 12 years.

“Zlatan Ibrahimovic has previously said no to playing for the national team — and he hasn’t changed his mind. I talked to Zlatan on Tuesday. He told me he hasn’t changed his mind regarding playing for the national team — it’s still a ‘no,'” says Lars Richt [sporting director].24

“Zlatan Ibrahimovic is therefore, for the same reason as previous national team gatherings, not a candidate for the World Cup squad that coach Janne Andersson will present on May 15.

When asked about the Swedish FA’s decision, Ibrahimovic confirmed he had no intentions of playing in the World Cup.

“I am not part of the national team and that has been since I stopped [retired from international duty].nfl replica jerseys cheap There is no other issue there,” he said, before adding: “But If I’m going to the World Cup? Yes, I’m going. That’s what I’ve been saying all the time.”

Pressed on how he would make it to Russia, Ibrahimovic responded, “I’m flying,” before adding that Sweden were better off without him.

MLS will observe a nine-day break during the World Cup, from the opening match on June 14 running through June 22. The Galaxy resume play at the San Jose Earthquakes on June 30.

NYCFC puts us through our paces at its brand-new training facility

It sounded like one of those ads you used to see for fantasy sports camps with stars of yesteryear. Equipment would be provided, though there was no mention of whether it included a defibrillator and a pair of titanium shin guards, nfl discount jerseys which in my case might come in handy. Regardless, I decided to participate along with about 20 other journalists, and if I managed to survive with ligaments and tendons intact, I was declaring victory.

The invitation was a means to an end of course. New York City FC was unveiling its new state-of-the-art training facility, complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and the “training experience” would allow for a more up-close view of the setup.23

The thought of a new training ground conjures up visions of a vast expanse of buildings and field after field stretching off into the distance. So as I exited my car, I was a bit surprised to see a modestly sized facility, with one low-slung building and the practice field off to the right.

To hear various NYCFC staff describe it, this is intentional, even though team vice chairman Marty Edelman joked that there was “no budget” when it came to building the facility, the third such project that owners City Football Group have embarked on worldwide. Everything connected to the facility is only as big as it needs to be, not as big as it could be. Throughout the day, there was constant talk of flow and versatility.

“There’s nothing over the top that we don’t need,” Vieira said. “Every single room makes sense.”

The locker room is circular, the intention being that it inspires inclusion. A comment uttered on one side of the room can easily be heard on the other.

“There’s no corner where people are hiding, or you can’t see,” said NYCFC forward Tommy McNamara. In other words, if there is any gossiping to be done, it will have to take place elsewhere.

He starts off with a drill I’m familiar with from my days as an amateur goalkeeper;where to buy nfl jerseys cheap hands on the head, while your partner drops the ball and you have to react quickly to catch it. My partner in the drill, YES Network’s Sarah Kustok, is excellent at this, which is no surprise as I find out later she is a former collegiate basketball player. Next we’re given numbers and instructed to toss the ball to the next person in the sequence and complete a short sprint around a nearby pole. It gets a little chaotic, but the brains are working at least.

Chelsea beat Saints to set up FA Cup final against Manchester United

A flash of attacking brilliance from Olivier Giroud and an emphatic header from substitute Alvaro Morata earned Chelsea a 2-0 win over struggling Southampton at Wembley on Sunday and an FA Cup final date with Manchester United next month.china nike nfl jerseys

Giroud muscled and dribbled past three defenders and flailing keeper Alex McCarthy seconds into the second half to poke the ball home from a pass by the ever-busy Eden Hazard.

“I love to play here (Wembley) and I have been unbeaten here so hopefully for the final we are going to keep it up,” Giroud, whose Arsenal side beat Chelsea in the final last year, told BT sport.

Morata, who came on for Giroud, made it two in the 82nd minute, nodding Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross into the net.276

Relegation-threatened Southampton were outplayed for most of the match, but defended manfully during a dour first half, during which Chelsea forward Willian hit the crossbar.

The Saints were forced to move out of their half after Giroud’s goal and came close to equalising in the 72nd minute when Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero’s save kept out Nathan Redmond’s rasping shot.

They also had a possible goal not given when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled the keeper. Austin then hit the post in the dying minutes of the game.

Chelsea will meet Jose Mourinho’s United at Wembley on May 19 after the Manchester side beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the first semi-final on Saturday.nfl jersey wholesalers

The clash will have added spice because of the tension between former Chelsea boss Mourinho and current coach Antonio Conte.

Hazard, who has played under both managers, said: “We gave everything, we played very good football especially in the second half and controlled the game.