Black Cats sack Adam Johnson

28-year-old winger Adam Johnson has today been sacked by Sunderland AFC after the footballer pleaded guilty to one charge of grooming and one count of participating in sexual activity with a child under the age of 16 years.

The Black Cats had announced earlier in the day that Johnson would be unavailable for their Premier League match on Saturday with Manchester United.

There could still be parts of the story to unfold as the midfielder will face two further counts of sexual activity with a child on Friday – but this is something he currently denies.

Sunderland released a club statement 7:35pm which read as follows:

“In light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.

The club will make no further comment.”

The Sunderland born player has also had his boot sponsorship deal with Nike severed today too, as many of those who were closely linked to him look to distance themselves from association quickly.

“Adidas can confirm that it has terminated its contract with footballer Adam Johnson with immediate effect.

“This follows his guilty pleas entered earlier this week.” A statement read.

Johnson had enjoyed his final game in Sunderland’s red and white having been a major part of the club’s fight back from 2-0 down at Liverpool, as he scored direct from a free kick to make the scores 2-1 – before Jermaine Defoe equalised seven minutes later to finish the game at 2-2.

Let’s take a look at how Twitter reacted (Including an old one from another Adam Johnson from around the time the story first unfolded):

(The views in the tweets do not necessarily match mine. Just thought they were share worthy.)

Luca Toni: The evergreen Italian

Inspired by Betway’s recent article nod to FA Cup cult heroes, we decided to change the scope slightly from England’s bloodied and battered stalwarts to Italy, and the colourful characters that have populated Serie A across the decades.

There have, of course, been many reluctant idols on the Italian peninsula, but perhaps none so intriguingly underrated as one currently on the verge of retirement: Hellas Verona’s Luca Toni.

Think classic Italian striker and perhaps Roberto Baggio, Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti, even Gianfranco Zola or Antonia Cassano in his pomp, are the first on your dream team sheet; adaptable attackers, keen to work the channels and create, in the ilk of a ‘fantasista’, blurring the lines between playmaker and striker with abandon.

Yet, there have also been great goalscorers, of which pure poacher Toni is undoubtedly one, though the Verona man may gather dust in the archives of Serie A and Azzurri history, when situated next to more feted forwards such as Christian Vieri.

Here are a few reasons why it’s worth standing back and admiring this ageing artist of the Italian goal mouth, while you still can…

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A classic number nine on edge of extinction

As the game adapts and grows there are fewer of these Toni-style centre forwards than ever, with the fashion demanding fluid forwards that can do it all. However, as Andy Carroll occasionally shows in the Premier League, having a striker in the traditional mould can still prove to be a handy card up your sleeve.

Aggressive he may be, but Toni is no blunt battering ram. Yet, he is a fine focal point, a canny target man in the truest sense, albeit one with all the positive hallmarks of an unabashed hitman.

Strong with his back to goal, a torrid presence in his heyday for the opposition defence due to his stature and spirit and adept at holding up the ball, it is tough to think of a more effective foil for any wily winger pumping crosses into the box. Oh, and he is also pretty handy with his head.

Cast your mind back to last Serie A season, with the current and final campaign in Italy’s top-flight for Toni yet to prove fruitful, when the 6ft 4in striker found himself facing former club and champions Juventus.

Latching onto the ball in the Old Lady’s area, Verona’s old man pulled the trigger on a low finish like only a seasoned pro can. It was Toni’s 22nd strike of the term, ensuring he finished joint-top Serie A scorer aged an incredible 38, the oldest leading marksman ever to claim it in Italy, alongside young whipper-snapper Mauro Icardi.

Though, this is far from the first time tenacious Toni, a known gobbler of loose balls and half-chances, has been crowned Capocannoniere, with a first top scorer trophy awarded much earlier in his career during a first fledgling stint at Fiorentina; with this honour acting almost as a bookend to his time in Italian football.

 

Hitman heroics from the ultimate journeyman

Yet, despite individual accolades, plus being a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006 and a Bundesliga and DFB Pokal victor with Bayern Munich in 2008, there is still a smidge of snobbery regarding Toni’s career.

Indeed, the soon-to-be 39-year-old was once famously criticised by Mark Lawrenson for being: “Like 6ft 4in of blancmange…more Swiss Toni than Luca Toni.”

While the context of that comment was his international exploits with Azzurri, with Toni disappointing at Euro 2008, it appears that his outings in royal blue have impaired views on what has been an otherwise prolific career.

A return of 16 for Italy in 47 is nothing special, but 51 in 83 for Palermo, 57 in 99 over two Viola stints, plus 58 in 88 for Bayern Munich are stats not to be sniffed at. Luca Toni 2More than the tally, it is the importance and timing of those strikes which made Toni terrific, ensuring a cult status at several clubs. His journeyman nature, taking in 15 clubs across 26 seasons, beginning in Serie C with minnows Modena back in 1994/95 and now set for the final act with the Mastiffs in 2016, has perhaps prevented the veteran frontman from becoming a legend for any.

Though, that may not matter, when considering it was Toni’s club-record 30 goals which incredibly propelled Palermo to Serie A promotion in 2003, and a further 20 strikes for the Rosanero helped them to a first ever qualification for the UEFA Cup, leaving a lasting legacy still today for the Sicilians.

There was also the small matter of claiming the European Golden Shoe as the first Italian winner after notching 31 (the first time in half a century that a Serie A player scored more than 30 strikes in a season) for Fiorentina.

But take your pick of perfectly-timed Toni moments, for there are plenty: A 100th Serie A goal on his debut for Juventus – headed, of course, from 16 metres out; a rampant return to Viola, scoring as a super sub with his first touch versus Catania; grabbing the DFB Pokal extra-time winner for Bayern, with two last-gasp goals also for the Germans against Getafe in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals.

Outspoken antics and career’s end

For all his action on the pitch, Toni has never held back off the field either, and infamously ran into trouble when taking his Italian passion to Germany.

Reportedly fined for driving home at half-time after being substituted by then-Bayern boss Louis van Gaal, ticked off for slouching and then farmed out to Roma for apparent further disagreements with the coach, Toni saw his (until then successful) time in Bavaria come to an abrupt end.

His career never quite hit the same heights, until a recent renaissance with Verona, and Toni has always been outspoken about that fork in the road, providing some memorable gems like the ones below.

“Van Gaal simply didn’t want to work with me, he treats players like interchangeable objects,” Toni once told press before going on relate a story about Van Gaal’s changing room demeanour.

Toni reportedly also said: “The coach wanted to make clear to us that he can drop any player, it was all the same to him because, as he said, he had the balls.

He demonstrated this literally (by dropping his trousers). I have never experienced anything like it, it was totally crazy. Luckily I didn’t see a lot, because I wasn’t in the front row.”

Though, with the curtain about to be drawn on his distinguished career, Toni appears to have mellowed. As, the striker recently stated: “I think the time has come to stop.

“I hope to celebrate it by keeping Verona safe in Serie A. We want to do it; we should not give up now.”

With his side rock-bottom of Serie A and still winless, are there more Toni heroics left in the tank?

Which Premier League team travels the most this season?

The Premier League is the most watched football league around the world. Watched across the globe by millions and loyal fans, it also is the highest paid league with footballers paid wages that we can only dream of.

The Premier League season 2015/2016 has been a turbulent one so far, with Leicester surprising us all. It has been great to see the underdog lead the pack, but could this be because they don’t travel far to matches on average? Compared to teams like Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United?

Harrison and Rowley have done the number crunching figures and bring to you an infographic showing how much each Premier League travels over the course of the 2015/2016 season and the results we found were surprising. Newcastle, Sunderland and Swansea lead the top 3 positions as the most travelling teams. As they are situated far in the North it is understandable that they have to travel more then central teams. The teams in the bottom 3 that travel the least are Aston Villa, Leicester and West Brom, the Midlands teams.

Could travelling less be the reason why Leicester City are top of the league? With Newcastle the most travelling team could this be the reason why they are at the bottom of the league? Well we shall let you decide for yourself, in the meantime how does you team rank? Let us know!

Premier_league_table

Hiddink is the man to replace Mourinho

Guus Hiddink is all set to become the interim manager at Chelsea following Jose Mourinho’s dismissal on Wednesday evening.

The former-Netherlands coach was in London on Friday to hold talks with the hierarchy at the Blues, as the two parties look to iron out a deal.

Saturday’s visit to Sunderland will be a game too soon for Hiddink, with the Chelsea players looking to bounce back from Monday nights 2-1 loss to unlikely Premier League leaders Leicester City.

Hiddink, who has hosted a host of clubs, had managed Chelsea before as the interim coach back in 2009. He won the FA Cup with the club that year.

Mourinho endured jubilation at the end of last season as he led his Blues to the Premier League title, but his joy was short-lived, as seven months later he is now without a job having led Chelsea to one of their worst first halves of the season in recent times.

Chelsea sit in 16th place, one point above the relegation zone going into Saturday’s game.

Rumours of the dressing room being against Mourinho may have been quashed by club captain John Terry, who described Wednesday as a sad day for Chelsea on his personal Instagram.

“Going to miss you boss,

“The very best I have ever worked with, unbelievable memories together. Thank you doesn’t seem enough.”

Terry was not alone in thanking his former boss, as Cesar Azpilicueta also claimed it to be a sad day.

“I would publicly like to thank Jose Mourinho for his contribution to this club and for everything he has taught me over the years.

“He will always be remembered. Thank you mister.”

Hiddink’s challenge for the remainder of the season will be to try and lead his team up the table and into the European places – whether that be the Europa League or Champions League, at a push.

Cherries suffer more injury woes

On a large, it hasn’t been too bad a start to the season for AFC Bournemouth, who are enjoying life in their first year in the big flight of English football. – But the club have had yet another set back today, as club Captain Tommy Elphick has been ruled out until 2016 at the earliest.

Above reigning champions Chelsea, and eight points from eight games, – that would have probably pleased fans of the Cherries before the season started, with the club more importantly three places above the dreaded relegation zone – which swallows up and spits out three unlucky clubs each season.

However it’s not all been fairytales for the club thus far. Striker Callum Wilson picked up where he left off from the previous season, scoring for fun – and this time at a higher level. Five goals from the opening seven games left Wilson on England manager Roy Hodgson’s mind, that is until he suffered a rupture to the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a match against Stoke City in late September, ruling him out for up to six months.

The injury curse seems to be sticking with the club, as Elphick has been ruled out until the New Year after surgery on an ankle injury that has plagued him since August.

Elphick hasn’t appeared for the club since the 3-1 loss to Norwich last month, with Cherries boss Eddie Howe telling the press of the bad news earlier on today, whilst given an update on Wilson too.

“Tommy has had surgery on his ankle and could face 10 weeks out. It could be shorter.

“He (Wilson) has had surgery on his knee and he’s in good form.

“Callum is a guy who has got a great mentality. Whether he’s playing or he’s injured, that doesn’t really change.

“He’s focused on his rehab and coming back stronger than ever. Although he faces a long recovery time, he’s in good mental shape.”

Bournemouth face the difficult task of a trip to the Etihad on Saturday to face Manchester Cuty in a 3pm kick off against the league leaders.

Klopp must change Liverpool from doubters to believers

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Liverpool unveiled Jurgen Klopp as their new manager on Friday morning, following the sacking of Brendan Rodgers after Sunday’s 1-1 draw with inner-city rivals Everton, and described himself jokingly as ‘The normal one’.

The 48-year-old German signed a three-year deal reported to be worth in the region of £15,000,000, and has been out of work after ending his seven year stay with Borussia Dortmund in May to take a sabbatical.

Zeljko Buvac and Peter Krawietz are expected to quickly follow Klopp to Anfield, as the two were his assistants during his time with Dortmund in Germany.

Klopp has been talking to the press this morning following the unveiling, and described himself as “The normal ‘one'”, after a question related to Jose Mourinho being the ‘Special one’.

“I don’t want to describe myself,

“I am a totally normal guy. I am the normal one maybe? I had a great opportunity to take Dortmund for seven years. And now I am here. I want to enjoy my work. People have told me a lot about the English press. It is up to you to show me they are all liars.”

The new Liverpool manager told of how he needed to work with his squad to bring the belief back to their game.

“At the moment, the LFC family is a bit too nervous and pessimistic. It is a great atmosphere in the stadium but they don’t believe right now. History is great but only to remember. We need to be as successful as we can be.

“The message to the Liverpool supporters: we have to change from doubters to believers, now.”

With the international break this weekend Liverpool are without a game, but will have the chance to climb from their current position of 10th when they travel to Spurs a week tomorrow.

Liverpool sack manager Brendan Rodgers

Liverpool will be on the hunt for a new manager from tonight onwards after the club announced the sacking of Brendan Rodgers with immediate effect, just a few hours after their 1-1 draw with rivals Everton.

Rodgers took Liverpool to within a whisker of the Premier League title in the 2013/14 season, but having lost Luis Suarez to Barcelona, and then Daniel Sturridge to injury for large parts of last season, the club failed to live up to the hype they built the previous season.

Liverpool sit 10th in the league after today’s draw, with the club statement stating the decision had been a difficult one.

“Although this has been a difficult decision, we believe it provides us with the best opportunity for success on the pitch.

“The search for a new manager is underway and we hope to make an appointment in a decisive and timely manner.”

The Northern Irish manager was told just under an hour after the final whistle had gone at Goodison Park that he would be leaving the club.

Principal owner John W Henry, President Mike Gordon and Chairman Tom Werner released a press statement of their own following the dismissal.

“We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Brendan Rodgers for the significant contribution he has made to the club and express our gratitude for his hard work and commitment.

“All of us have experienced some wonderful moments with Brendan as manager and we are confident he will enjoy a long career in the game.”

“Ambition and winning are at the heart of what we want to bring to Liverpool and we believe this change gives us the best opportunity to deliver it.”

Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City First Half as it happened

Source: Skysports.com

Kevin De Bruyne’s creativity was evident with a matter of seconds on the clock, as Yaya Toure played him in on the wing, with the Belgian winning a corner – but they couldn’t make anything of the set piece.

City had started the game well, and were almost gifted a goal by Spurs as Hugo Lloris attempted to clear but instead played it into the path of Raheem Sterling, but thankfully for the shot stopper Sterling used his arm to control the ball and a free kick was awarded to the home team.

Things went quiet for ten minutes or so with both teams struggling to create any serious opportunities. Toure found the ball laid into his path in a position he usually thrives from, but he mishit it and let Spurs off the hook.

That Toure shot seemed to wake City up a bit, as Sergio Aguero’s dipping shot from the edge of the box forced Lloris into a smart save. City couldn’t capitalise on the corner, and the chance was gone.

The games first goal came on 25 minutes courtesy of the highly impressive De Bruyne. Spurs had the corner, but once City cleared they broke quickly with Toure, who played the perfect pass through to the Belgian – he still had his work cut out from the angle he was at – but from the right of Lloris’ goal he gave the Frenchmen no chance and it was 1-0 to the league leaders.

After the City opener Spurs got on top of the game, but when a big chance fell to Eric Lamela, he fluffed his shot and let the away team off the hook.

Just as it seemed City would get to the half time break with the lead, Spurs equalised. After a dangerous ball into the box was cleared it fell straight into the path of Eric Dier who smashed it hard and low from 30-yards-out, levelling things at 1-1.

And that is how it would remain until the half time whistle was blown, with Spurs equalising at the most perfect time. Sadly the editor of this article had to rush out and missed the second half, but without any spoilers – Spurs won 4-1.