Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United – United lose the midfield battle as Barca seal Champions League triumph

Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United The motto of Barcelona is “more than a club” but on the evidence of the Champions League final they are also more than the best team in Europe. The way that they brushed aside the best that the Premier League have to offer has put this side on a different plane to anything that has come before them. Whilst Real Madrid may have won five successive European Cups in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, the level of play and intensity of competition was far different…

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Champions League final defeat signals start of vital summer for Manchester United

Manchester United’s comprehensive Champions League final defeat at the hands of Barcelona on Saturday night ended an excellent season for Sir Alex Ferguson on a sour note, and, as the recriminations over the defeat begin, this summer could be a pivotal time for the Old Trafford side. With Edwin van der Sar now retired, Paul Scholes possibly following suit and Ryan Giggs not far behind, Ferguson has lost or is about to lose three of his old heads, the players that set the tone for the rest of the squad.…

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Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United – Guardiola leads Barca to Champions League glory

Goals from Pedro Rodriguez, Lionel Messi and David Villa gave Barcelona a 3-1 victory over Manchester United in the Champions League final at Wembley. Wayne Rooney was on the score sheet for the Premier League champions but it was their La Liga counterparts who were deserving winners. Half an hour into the first-half and viewers would be forgiven for wondering if they were watching a replay of the 2009 final rather than a new game. Manchester United started with all the verve and swagger that they did two years ago,…

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Club Focus – Barcelona – Guardiola on brink of history ahead of Champions League final

On Saturday evening, Barcelona have the opportunity to lift their fourth European Cup when they face Premier League champions Manchester United in the Champions League final at Wembley. Pep Guardiola’s side have charmed the continent with their style of football this season and to cap off a record-breaking campaign domestically by being crowned kings of Europe would surely cement their place as the finest team ever to wear the iconic Blaugrana stripes. The opportunity to do so at the scene of their first European Cup triumph in 1992 means that…

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Club Focus – Manchester United – Ferguson hoping that team remain focused ahead of Barcelona

From the second the whistle went weeks ago and saw Barcelona through to play Manchester United in the Champions League final, the build-up to the match has been almost ceaseless. Countless articles and thousands of words have been written on whether Javier Hernandez should start ahead of Dimitar Berbatov, of how best to combat Lionel Messi and a dozen other questions that Sir Alex Ferguson will have to answer. The comparisons to 2009 have been made, countered and restated by every football analyst around. The core question should be how…

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Celtic news – Ledley urges Bothroyd move, Wilson relief at signing, Celtic No 1 matchday experience in Britain

Wilson relief at signing. Kelvin Wilson has finally become a Celtic player after signing a pre-contract agreement with the Parkhead last January. Central defender Wilson, 25, has not started for Nottingham Forest since then and he expressed relief at finally being given the chance to get his career back on track north of the border. “It has been hard because your heart is somewhere else,” he told the Nottingham Evening Post, “and Forest understood that. January was probably the right time to come but I didn’t and it was hard…

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Arsenal news – Belgian midfielder link, Benzema cool on rumours, Wilshere gives Utd tips

Belgian midfielder link. The father of young Belgian midfelder Axel Witsel has admitted that his son is ready to move to one of the top leagues in Europe, Sky Sports reports. Arsenal are rumoured to hold high interest in the 22 year old Standard Liege player, who is considered one of the hottest prospects in Europe, but the Reds will face stiff competition from Milan giants Internazionale and AC along with Premier League giants Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. Witsel’s father said: ‘Axel is ready for one of the world’s…

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Manchester United vs Barcelona Champions League final exclusive build-up

Greg Simkins – on behalf of A Different League and courtesy of Heineken – travelled to Wembley on Friday, where the preparations for Saturday’s Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona were well underway. Sir Alex Ferguson was understandably cagey in his pre-match interview. The United manager dismissed suggestions that his side would seek to use their height advantage over their Catalonian rivals from set pieces – claiming that the game would instead be decided in ‘open play.’ Ferguson praised the unity and experience of his side, qualities he…

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Liverpool news – Reds get Coentrao boost, N’Gog can leave, Flanagan delight at award

N’Gog can leave. The Liverpool Echo reports that Liverpool striker David N’Gog can leave the club, but only for £8 million. The 22-year-old Frenchman is seeking regular first team football and the Reds are prepared to let the striker go, with a high amount of clubs making enquiries about N’Gog. However, none of these bids have met the valuation that Liverpool have placed on the 22 year old, who the Reds believe is a relatively experienced Premier League striker. Since his £1.5 million move from PSG three years ago, N’Gog…

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Aston Vila release 10 players including Carew and Reo-Coker

Aston Villa have released a host of players on free transfers, including midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker and striker John Carew. Reo-Coker joined Villa from West Ham in a £7.5m deal in 2007, and has made 123 appearances for the club. Carew signed from Lyon in 2006, and has gone on to score 52 goals for Villa, but spent much of this season on loan at Stoke City, where he scored one goal in seven appearances. In addition, eight other squad players have been released: Moustapha Salifou, Isaiah Osbourne, Robert Pires, Harry…

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Man Utd close in on £15m Young

Manchester United are moving closer to securing a deal for Aston Villa and England winger Ashley Young, according to reports by talkSPORT. Young, 25, has been strongly linked with a move to United’s rivals Liverpool in recent weeks, and is thought to be keen on a move away from Villa Park. Scroll down for rest of article However, it now appears that Man Utd have won the race for the former Watford man, and are ready to complete a £15m move for Young, once the Champions League final is complete.…

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Celtic news – Lennon in transfer market hurry, Collins: Celtic job holds no appeal, New boy can´t wait

Lennon in transfer market hurry. Neil Lennon is in a hurry to enter the transfer market as he begins plotting for next season, reports the Glasgow Evening Times. The Celtic manager is already thought to have outlined his strategy to major shareholder Dermot Desmond and the board, and he will work closely with chief executive Peter Lawwell to try and land his targets. The players are due back in training on June 23 before flying to Australia for a pre-season tour and Lennon wants his squad to begin taking shape…

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Pardew sympathy for West Ham plight

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has revealed his sadness at West Ham’s relegation from the Premier League. Pardew managed West Ham in 2003-2006 after resigning from Reading, leading the Hammers to promotion via the play-offs, and then a ninth place finish in the Premier League and an FA Cup final appearance. However, the 2006-7 season started poorly, and Pardew was sacked in December. “I have a love for them that will never leave me. When you are manager of a club like that who lives and breathes the game you…

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Pardew happy with progress but wants summer reinforcements

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew is pleased with his first season in charge of the club, and hopes the club can continue their progress next season. “In terms of what has happened to us and losing Ben Arfa to a terrible injury and the sale of Andy Carroll, our second half of the season we have done extraordinarily well. “Players have stepped up to the plate and have been fantastic. Players like Shola, Joey, Kevin Nolan, Gutierrez all in around that group have been superb to work with.” Pardew is…

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Liverpool news – Dalglish wants defensive duo, Downing keen on move, Adam open to exit

Downing keen on move. Liverpool target Stewart Downing has stalled on contract talks with his current club Aston Villa, Sky Sports reports. The 26-year-old is reportedly a target for Reds manager Kenny Dalglish and despite rumours that Villa are prepared to make Downing the highest paid player at the club, the England international wideman is seeking a move away from Villa Park. Downing said: ‘I am 26 and at a major crossroads in my career, so I won’t be committing to a new deal at the moment’. With two years…

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Chelsea recognised for best behaviour

The Barclays Premier League released the Fair Play Table for the 2010-11 season and it was Chelsea who finished at the top. The Blues were followed by Tottenham and Manchester United who finished second and third respectively. The points in the table take into consideration a team’s ability to avoid red and yellow cards in each game, while a score is also given for positive play, as well as the behaviour towards the opposing side and the match officials, and finally the behaviour of the club’s staff at the game.…

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Season Review: Everton – Toffees secure seventh in Premier League despite familiar failings

Everton’s 2010/11 campaign followed a frustratingly familiar pattern: pre-season optimism, early season disappointment and New Year rejuvenation. In the relegation zone as autumn turned to winter, David Moyes rallied his players after Christmas to finish seventh; a place higher than last season, despite continuing to work under strict financial restraints that prevented reinforcements in the January transfer window and enduring a mid-season injury crisis that, at one point, forced the manager to name a substitutes’ bench without a senior outfield player. The season got off to a bad start when…

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Can Giggs and Scholes adapt once more to help Manchester United overcome Barcelona?

Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, much like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez et al, head into Saturday’s Wembley final looking for their third Champions League crown. Whilst Barcelona’s reputation as the world’s best club team is founded on the side’s strong technical ability, the British pair’s technique has allowed them to adapt and enjoy unparalleled longevity at the summit of the European game. In enjoying such success in their twilight years, the pair exemplify the benefit of strong technical ability on the ball. In terms of style, neither…

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Season Review: Blackpool – Seasiders’ emotional Premier League ride comes to unhappy end

Blackpool arrived in the Premier League full of noise and fanfare, and, during a brief but memorable Premier League stint, added colour and vitality to an often bland campaign. They came, saw and conquered hearts. Ian Holloway’s rag-tag rabble contained few household names and was constructed on less than the proverbial shoestring. Journeymen like Marlon Harewood and DJ Campbell were signed to an assortment of players who surprisingly gained promotion with little or no top flight pedigree between them. Campbell in particular – with 13 league goals – was a…

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Football League Daily – Reading and Swansea City getting ready for a spicy Championship play-off final

The most prestigious game in the world of club football, the UEFA Champions League Final, takes place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday but it is Monday’s Npower Championship play-off final which is dubbed “the richest game in football.” The reason for that are the vast sums of money on offer to the club who make it in to the Premier League, not just the following season, but with the promise of parachute payments to come, even if the top flight dream turns to dust inside one season. Bank Holiday Monday…

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Season Review: Birmingham City – Final day relegation overshadows Wembley glory for Blues

This season should’ve been remembered as one of success and celebration for Birmingham City after their Carling Cup Final victory over Arsenal at Wembley in February. Instead, Blues fans have been left with a feeling of resentment and regret after their slide down the table saw them relegated from the Premier League on the final day of the season. A slow start to the season, in which City won just one of their first eight games, was book-ended by five defeats in their last six, hardly the form of a…

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Season review – Wolverhampton Wanderers – Wolves earns third successive Premier League season

Premier League survival was the reward for Wolves perseverance, both for manager Mick McCarthy and for the personnel who started the season so poorly. An impressive haul of 31 points from their final 24 games saw Wolves – to the joy of their fans – consign Carling Cup Winners Birmingham to an unexpected relegation, ensuring a third consecutive top-flight season for the men from Molineux. Indeed, the season had started very brightly from Wolves; a commendable five points from their opening three fixtures suggested that McCarthy’s side would not be…

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Season review – Manchester City –Mancini carries out Arab owners´ remit

Manchester City´s owners made it clear to boss Roberto Mancini what their objectives were at the start of the season: a top four finish and possibly a first piece of silverware for the first time in 35 years. Having achieved both makes it the most successful year in the club´s recent history, yet the ambitious project outlined when the Arabs took over is still very much a work in progress. In the summer transfer window almost £130m had been spent on new players, and early wins over Chelsea and Liverpool…

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Season review: Newcastle United – Season of redemption for Magpies

Newcastle fans can feel satisfied with a 12th place finish in their first season back in the top flight following a short absence. In traditional style the campaign has been full of drama with plenty of highs and lows along the way. Expectations were relatively low on Tyneside last summer with safety very much the number one priority, especially with a limited transfer budget available to then-manager Chris Hughton. Yet the fact that the club were never in serious relegation trouble shows what a fine job the close-knit squad of…

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