Pitchside

  • The ugly truth about Sam Allardyce and West Ham United's rocky relationship

    Liam Happe explains why West Ham and 'Big Sam' parting ways was not only inevitable, but better for all parties in the long run.

    It was swift, it was cold, and at the time it seemed as though West Ham United had unceremoniously dumped their manager, Sam Allardyce.

    And yet, when Allardyce trudged back to the TV area at St James’s Park after his side’s 2-0 defeat to Newcastle, he didn’t at all come across as the party on the short end of the decision.

    His interviewer adopted that bleak, funeral-esque tone as he told Allardyce that the club had announced they wouldn’t renew his contract almost as soon as the final game of the season had concluded.

    “I know,” Sam swiftly replied. “Why are you telling me that?”

    Within

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  • Five truths: Real Madrid would be wise to show faith in Carlo Ancelotti

    Plus: Pep under pressure, Barcelona treble chances and Phil Brown's brilliance.

    Carlo Ancelotti.Carlo Ancelotti.

    1) Real Madrid should come out to confirm Carlo Ancelotti is staying at the club

    There is a natural urge for Real Madrid to pursue other candidates, but it would be classy and common sense if they decide that the likeable Carlo Ancelotti is not such a bad coach after all. He isn't. He really isn't. Milan would have him back in a heartbeat, and if a few results had gone here and there in Spain and the Champions League this season, the Italian would been basking in more silverware.

    When you study the alternatives available to Los Blancos - Rafael Benitez or even Juergen Klopp - Ancelotti's CV

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  • Xavi's 6 Most Memorable Barcelona Moments

    It's the end of an era as the legendary midfielder prepares to say farewell to his career club - here's an amazing career in six key moments.

    It's the end of an era as the legendary midfielder prepares to say farewell to his career club - here's an amazing career in six key moments.

  • European Match of the Weekend: Juventus v Napoli

    Juventus continue their preparations for the Champions League final, but all the attention is on Napoli boss Rafa Benitez and a possible switch to Real Madrid.

    Napoli's coach Rafa Benitez holds the Italian Cup trophy (Reuters)Napoli's coach Rafa Benitez holds the Italian Cup trophy (Reuters)

    Juventus host Napoli in Serie A on Saturday, with the pre-match chat focusing on one man: visiting manager Rafa Benitez.

    Multiple sources across the continent suggest the 55-year-old is being lined up to replace Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid next season.

    The Spanish tactician would be a free agent, as his contract with Napoli is due to expire next month and he does not appear intent on a renewal.

    Ancelotti is expected to be dismissed after failing to bring any silverware to the Bernabeu in 2014/15, falling behind Barcelona in the Liga standings and bowing out to Juve in the Champions League

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  • Euro Papers: PSG ready ‘£89 million Cristiano Ronaldo bid’

    Paris Saint-Germain have made a ‘permanent €125 million offer’ for Ronaldo, while Real Madrid face some turmoil over their managerial situation.

    Paris Saint-Germain have made a ‘permanent €125 million offer’ for Ronaldo, while Real Madrid face some turmoil over their managerial situation.

    Euro PapersEuro Papers
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  • Newcastle deserve to go down after awful run under John Carver, but they probably won't

    WhoScored's Ben McAleer says Newcastle will be extremely lucky to avoid relegation, but it looks as though Hull will be the unlucky ones on Sunday.

    Newcastle manager John Carver looks dejectedNewcastle manager John Carver looks dejected

    Sunderland’s 0-0 draw at Arsenal on Wednesday night meant the battle to stave off relegation became a two-horse race. Hull currently occupy 18th place in the Premier League and are the favourites to go down given the task at hand. Steve Bruce has never beaten Manchester United in 21 attempts as a manager, losing 17 times to his former side, so Sunday would be the perfect time to end his dire run against the Red Devils.

    “Maybe Manchester United owe me something after wrecking my knee, my hip and my ankle,” Bruce said after Hull’s 2-0 defeat at Spurs at the weekend left them on the brink of

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  • David De Gea owes Manchester United nothing

    Squawka’s Greg Johnson charts the progress of David De Gea at Manchester United, from flimsy youngster to Old Trafford’s leading man. His conclusion? The Spaniard owes his club nothing.

    Manchester United's David de Gea celebrates (Reuters)Manchester United's David de Gea celebrates (Reuters)

    Judging by the noises - and social media statuses - that have been emanating out from within the more reactionary recesses of Manchester United’s online fan base, it seems that David De Gea may just be about to commit a most grievous act of betrayal, grand in scale and devoid of gratitude.

    After all, this was the club that plucked him out of obscurity as a nobody, and gave him the platform to prove himself to the world, right? Not exactly. De Gea arrived at Old Trafford in 2011 for £17.8 million, as per The Telegraph, as a 20-year-old Europa League and Under-21 Euro Championship-winner with

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  • Back to square one: Why Jack Wilshere has to prove it all again at Arsenal

    Tom Adams reports from Emirates Stadium, where Jack Wilshere made his first start for six months in an Arsenal team which has moved on in his absence.

    Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson in action with Arsenal's Jack WilshereSunderland's Sebastian Larsson in action with Arsenal's Jack Wilshere

    In the six months since Jack Wilshere last started a game for Arsenal, civilisations have not crumbled and dynasties have not collapsed. It has been, by most measures, a relatively short period of time.

    But in those six months Arsenal's complexion has nevertheless changed and Wilshere's place is now uncertain. His future seems likely to be one of the most persistent themes of the long summer ahead.

    The game when he injured his ankle again, a 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United in November, seemed to confirm everything we knew about Arsenal. But since then perceptions of this team have subtly

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  • Xavi to leave Barcelona: Stats show just how much the king of passing will be missed

    Opta break down Xavi's passing record at Camp Nou as he prepares to say goodbye to Barcelona ahead of a move to Al Sadd.

    FC Barcelona's captain Xavi Hernandez attends a news conference held after a training session near Barcelona, August 22, 2014FC Barcelona's captain Xavi Hernandez attends a news conference held after a training session near Barcelona, August 22, 2014

    On Saturday in Barcelona, an era will come to an end when Camp Nou rises to acclaim Xavi for the final time in La Liga.

    At the end of the season Spain’s greatest ever midfielder will be departing his boyhood club to join Al Sadd and Qatar, leaving a gaping hole in Barcelona’s squad.

    And just a week after Steven Gerrard waved goodbye to Anfield, Xavi will be the subject of tributes from another cathedral of football, which has cheered him on to three Champions Leagues and eight La Liga titles.

    While Barcelona will play at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey final next weekend, chasing the second part

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  • History will be kind to Steven Gerrard, despite the sneers

    Scott Murray says Steven Gerrard doesn't need a Premier League winners' medal when he is loved and adored.

    Steven Gerrard waves goodbye to his adoring fans at AnfieldSteven Gerrard waves goodbye to his adoring fans at Anfield

    The English call it French leave, while the Americans know it as an Irish goodbye. But perhaps the most apt term here is ‘filer à l'anglaise’: to leave English style. It's the art of leaving a party without saying your farewells. And there's much to recommend it: no awkward small chat, no emotional longueurs, no embarrassing, gauche, clumsy exits.

    Steven Gerrard, planning the leaving of Liverpool after 16 years as the heartbeat of the club, did not opt for the filer à l'anglaise. If the former England captain had his time again, he'd surely consider it. The announcement of a six-month-long

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