To take this bus home, Will Magee will be the driver.
To women’s football now, and a significant change to the lower leagues below the Women’s Super League.
Per a Football Association statement.
The FA Board has this week recommended changes to promotion and relegation between Tiers 2 and 3 of the Women’s Football Pyramid. These changes are subject to ratification by FA Council.
In a significant shake-up of the existing structure which sees one team promoted and relegated, The FA will remove the requirement for the current end of season play-off to determine the side promoted to the Barclays Women’s Championship, which takes place between the respective winners of the FA Women’s National League Northern and Southern Premier Divisions.
Instead, both FA Women’s National League Premier Division title winners will be rewarded for their success with promotion, with two clubs in turn being relegated from the Barclays Women’s Championship.
The changes will come into effect from the 2023/24 season.
The structural change will not impact the Barclays Women’s Super League and the existing system for promotion and relegation to and from the Barclays Women’s Championship.
David Moyes, was raging on Wednesday night, and has held talks with referees’ chief Howard Webb about the VAR controversy in West Ham’s midweek 2-1 Premier League defeat by Liverpool, per PA Media.
Moyes accused the VAR of “disrespect” after West Ham were denied a late penalty when Thiago’s arm hit the ball as he challenged Danny Ings in the box. The Hammers boss was convinced VAR Neil Swarbrick should have at least told on-field referee Chris Kavanagh to review the incident on the pitchside monitor.
But Moyes refused to divulge whether he had received an apology from the PGMOL. “I’ve spoken to Howard Webb and his team, but the conversation was private and it will remain that way,” he said.
David Hytner has added meat on the bones on the Kane to United saga that is bound to sap the will to live from everyone over the next four months.
When the United fans bellowed their chant, which was also in part to taunt the home crowd, Kane could have been excused a sigh. Spurs were 1-0 down and being overrun. They looked inhibited, dropping off United, inviting them to play. Although Spurs created a couple of chances, they gave up many more and the half-time scoreline could have been heavier than 2-0.
Barry Glendenning has been burrowing below the 92 for both warm tidings and clubs accelerating down the plughole.
Another Old Firm derby this weekend. Oh yes. There’s always revenge in the air for something or other, and this time it’s Rangers’ chance to show they can get to Celtic one day soon. Or that poor Mick Beale’s time may be up soon. Ewan Murray casts his critical eye.
Rangers are likely to lose Sunday’s semi-final. Beale, as the man standing front and centre, will field criticism if they do, however it plays out. Neil Banfield, Beale’s assistant, did his boss no favours last week by breathlessly comparing the 42-year-old to Arsène Wenger, Julian Nagelsmann, Thomas Tuchel and Mauricio Pochettino. Rangers duly lost tamely, 2-0 in Aberdeen.
Manchester City go to Fulham on Sunday, no pushover, according to Pep.
Fulham are exceptional; Aleksandar Mitrovic is an important player and he is unavailable but they are a well organised team.
People are saying it is over; it is not. It will be over when it is over, but it is not over. We have seven games; I saw the first 20 minutes at Goodison Park, how good [Everton] were [against Newcastle]. We are in games where everyone is fighting for something.
I saw what happened when we won at the Emirates and everyone said we would catch Arsenal, then we drew at Nottingham Forest. Fulham have a special stadium and an organised team. We will take nothing for granted. There are seven games left; it is not 20 games, but seven games is seven games.
He was wanted by Real Madrid, among others, and has been missed since his injury, but Manchester United have signed up the Argentinian 18-year-old, who will return to training tomorrow, having already made 31 appearances for the senior team.
“When I joined this incredible club, I dreamt of achieving my debut, playing at Old Trafford, scoring my first goal and winning trophies with this badge on my chest. I feel very proud and emotional to have experienced these moments already, together with my family who have supported me every step of the way.
“We are all humbled to have this chance to continue our journey at Manchester United and I have already begun to work on achieving the next set of targets and ambitions.
The manager and his coaching staff have helped me to improve in every way, and with their support, I am developing each day to help the team to be successful. I am relishing the future and can’t wait to create more special memories with this group, in front of our amazing supporters.”
Roberto De Zerbi issues a fitness update for Brighton, who play Wolves.
I think Joel Veltman can play but Evan Ferguson I don’t know at the moment. I don’t want to take risks with Evan. We have another seven games and he is a very young player.
R Lawless gets in touch: “Thanks for the Rico Henry article recommendation 3 hours ago. A good read, just catching up.
“Normally skim through this sort of quote, but just lately hasn’t all the deliberate, obvious faking of injuries that Henry says helps teams “kill the game” actually begun to kill the (enjoyment of) game?
“We’ve been amazing against the top six. Against the lower teams we need to do more. We’ve had draws where we could have won. It’s just putting the game to bed sometimes. Maybe it’s game management. The dark arts, maybe a bit of time-wasting. I saw Arsenal the other day. Gabriel [Magalhães] took a shot on the head and just went down. Stuff like that kills a game. It’s smart from him. We’ve got to do what we can to win.”
Yes, and it’s Newcastle most regularly accused of this at the moment. Thing is, Eddie Howe is unapologetic, and football fans will let their team off anything that helps them win.
“Kerr the Wild Roses Grow?” Joe Pearson enters the Sam Kerr/Nick Cave punathon, to which the response has not been overwhelming.
Bruno’s damaged foot might explain him Ronny Rosenthal-ing that chance immediately after Tottenham’s first goal last night. His great skill had got him into perfect position.
Good afternoon. It seems Anthony T knows what’s what at Tottenham:
“I can decipher and shorten that: So basically all the players said, “get rid of Stellini.”
Bogdan, an Everton fan from Serbia issues a cry for help.
“What do you think, what are the Everton’s chances to stay in the Premier League now? I know that our situation is very difficult but, come on man, give me some hope! I just can’t imagine us playing Championship football, our future doesn’t seem bright.”
Yeah, about that …
Right, I’m going to hand back to John Brewin and grab me some lunch. For those who’ve sent in emails, don’t worry, I’ve forwarded them on and John is on the case.
We’ve got some correspondence, from the enigmatic Gary. “I’m confused as to why the Isak assist wasn’t an assist. Can you enlighten me?” I can Gary, yes: the ball took a significant deflection off James Tarkowski’s elbow and, as such, while Isak’s run was obviously superb, he was denied official recognition.
With Everton in deep trouble after their 4-1 mauling by Newcastle, Sean Dyche has delivered some home truths to his beleaguered players. “It’s going to take playing like we did for the first half and keeping that consistency throughout the whole 95 minutes, because that’s what you have to do,” he said, when asked to reflect on his side’s shortcomings. “You make sure every detail is covered, everything counts in a game of football. That’s what we’re not doing as well as when I first got here.
“Until the second goal [we conceded] it was a very good performance, but after the second goal that’s the big challenge for me. Where did the mentality go? How quickly did that change? Who re-grips it? Who in our team goes: ‘Right, OK, let’s re-grip what we’re doing here’? Because we weren’t a million miles away.
“You can’t wait for it to happen. I always believe there has to be a future in your performances and if we were to lose but play like we did in the first half, there is a future in that because you know on another day that isn’t going to happen with that style and level of performance.
“That’s the key. When it drops off so quickly, you have to ask what’s going on and that’s what we need to nip in the bud. You have to do that on-pitch, you can’t just wait until after the game to correct it.”
In case you missed it, Sid Lowe and Suzanne Wrack were at the Camp Nou to watch Chelsea have their Women’s Champions League hopes dashed by Barcelona on Wednesday night. Here’s our match report, Emma Hayes’s verdict on the game and a well-earned paean to Caroline Graham Hansen:
Fabrizio Romano has the latest on the Messi-back-to-Barcelona saga. The summer is going to be fun, isn’t it?
In news which will interest Manchester City fans, Luka Modric, Real Madrid’s wily old fox in midfield, has been sidelined for two weeks with a muscular injury. He is a concern for the Copa del Rey final against Osasuna on 6 May and, if he’s out any longer, he could miss some or all of the Champions League semi-final tie against City. The first leg, at the Bernabéu, is on 9 May, while the second, at the Etihad, is on 17 May.
“The truth is that Modric picked up a small injury in Girona, he’s awaiting his progress and I don’t know if he’s going to make it to the cup final,” Carlo Ancelotti, the Real Madrid manager, said. “Clearly we are hurt, but in football it can happen.”
Meanwhile, Kane has earned high praise from Ryan Mason, Tottenham’s interim interim coach, who replaced their interim coach, Cristian Stellini, on Monday. “This country probably doesn’t appreciate how good he is, from a footballer’s point of view,” said Mason. “He’s incredible, I’ve always said that. I was fortunate enough to come through the academy with Harry, we played together and, obviously, being on the other side now and watching him as a coach, it’s a pleasure. I’ve thought it many times in the last couple of seasons: to watch him live, this country should appreciate that we’ve got a real special talent.”
Hello, fellow travellers. Let’s start with Harry Kane’s admission that Tottenham’s players had a frank exchange of views with Daniel Levy, the club’s chairman, after their 6-1 demolition at the hands of Newcastle last weekend. “The chairman asked for a meeting,” Kane said after Thursday night’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United. “Obviously I won’t go into what was said but I think it was important [for him] to understand where the players’ heads were at in that moment.
“Obviously coming off the back of that [Newcastle] result … and it wasn’t just that result, it had been building up since the international break when we conceded the two goals against Southampton.
“It was an honest conversation of where everyone is at and what we need to try to do to give us the best possible chance to finish the season with something. We’re still fighting for fourth place but if it’s not fourth we’ll try to finish fifth or sixth, as high up as we can.
“In this league, it’s so competitive, you can easily end up eighth or ninth if you’re not careful. That’s what it was: to give us the best chance and I’m glad we reacted like that.”
Right, the honour passes over to Will Magee for the next while.
Coronation news – and we did discuss Zadok The Priest last night on the podcast – Chelsea goal machine Sam Kerr will be doing royal Sam Kerr things and leading the Australian delegation as Charles gets crowned.
Singer/songwriter Nick Cave, comedian Adam Hills, artist Jasmine Coe and nurse Emily Regan are among the other “outstanding Australians” chosen to represent the nation along with Kerr.
Nick Cave/Sam Kerr puns anyone? Into Your Goal? Your Goal, My Trial? Red Right-Hand Post, The Scoring Song?
News from Serie A where Napoli’s home game against Salernitana, which could seal their first Serie A title since 1990, has been moved back to a 2pm BST kick-off on Sunday for public safety reasons. If Lazio drop points against Inter in the day’s early match, then a win for Napoli will be enough to set off the party of all parties.
There can be few more determined types than Gary O’Neil, who is doing such a good job at Bournemouth. Having slain Southampton, he’s now up against Leeds Leeds Leeds. A tight turnaround for two six-pointers.
It’s right to mention the mental side with the size of the game and the relegation battle, it does make it slightly more tiring emotionally, they put a big effort in last night.
We’ve got some big decisions to make because Leeds are high energy. They bring a lot of energy into football matches and the first thing we’ll have to do is match that.
Quotes coming in to preview Sunday’s games, though a lot of these will come from last night, and have been embargoed.
Eddie Howe’s gone BIG with this comparison for Newcastle Alexander Isak.
There are no two players who are the same but I think he does have some of the characteristics that Thierry Henry had.
He has certainly got the speed and is a similar build and frame. Also the footwork. The assist [against Everton] was truly remarkable, really. He has got a lot of potential to improve and get better, but it’s been a great start for him here.
(It didn’t actually count as an assist. How about breathtaking run, Toon social media team?)
Jacob Steinberg spoke to a breakout player from a team that continues to break beyond what was thought possible.
Henry joined Brentford in 2016. They were a Championship side and he thought they were a stepping-stone club. He soon realised he was wrong. On Wednesday night Brentford went to Chelsea and won 2-0. They are ninth in the Premier League before hosting Nottingham Forest on Saturday and have a chance of qualifying for Europe.
Brentford know how to maximise their resources. They did not panic when Smith went to Villa in 2018. Thomas Frank was an inspired appointment. The Dane led Brentford into the top flight in 2021 and has built a young, hungry side. Brentford flourished after winning promotion and have kept standards high this season. “They say the second season’s the hardest,” Henry says. “But we’ve stayed together. The gaffer said: ‘Don’t take your foot off the pedal.’
Win at Fulham on Sunday and Manchester City will have the title within their grasp.
Barney Ronay considers what we saw on Wednesday in their smashing aside of Arsenal.
What we have instead here is planned, targeted, brilliantly enacted success. Pep Guardiola is the best manager in the world. Therefore we will buy not just Pep Guardiola, but the conditions that make Pep Guardiola work, an entire Pep Guardiola habitat. We will buy the strongest squad. There will be no variables here, just billionaire-backed certainties, aided by the stunning good fortune that this vision is shared by such far-sighted companies as Etisalat, Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi Bank and others.
Jürgen Klopp sees things you’ll never see. Liverpool face Tottenham on Sunday.
Little mistakes can cause massive problems. I don’t know anything about that for Tottenham, but they showed they are outstanding last night. I will be prepared for the best possible Tottenham side. They are the best counter-attacking side in Europe by some distance.
Write in: tell us what was the earliest you have left a match.
Currently wracking brains, and as an anorak who always stays to the end (it’s my job to do so quite a lot of the time), I remember an Altrincham v Barnet game in around 1991, and the ball flying over the Moss Lane stand and hitting the car in front of me and my school friends. We had left with quite a lot left of the game. Why we left early I don’t recall but it will have been to catch a bus or get a lift from someone’s mum. (I was 14).)
Incidentally, that game saw a Barnet fan go into a splenetic anti-northern tirade, and shout about us all being poor and unemployed “ap norf”. His coup de grâce was to either rip up or burn (I forget which) a fiver.
In Altrincham, that Cheshire enclave of stockbrokers, lawyers and footballers, of all places.
A rare foray into poetry corner for the Friday blog.
A reminder of last night’s matches.
One to watch today. The growing suspicion is the Glazers will find a way to stay.
Let’s start in the usual way and a good point made by Louise Taylor.
Newcastle have not staged a 3pm Saturday kick-off at St James’ Park in 2023 and will not this season. In one sense that represents a positive – television executives are so enamoured with Eddie Howe’s side they scramble to book up their matches – but it is also an enormous shame. There remains something special about Saturday 3pm games – and they are a lot more fan-friendly, particularly if you are an away supporter, than 8pm on a Monday night or 4.30pm on a Sunday. Southampton fans can perhaps count themselves relatively lucky to have a 2pm Sunday start, offering realistic travel options. But for those who do not travel by the supporters’ coaches, which depart St Mary’s at 5am on Sunday, the return choices are: the 6.55pm flight from Newcastle airport (one hour to Southampton but the last seats were selling at £272 on Thursday), the 5pm train from Newcastle central station (six hours and two changes with off-peak single seats selling at £198.90, although those who bought in advance could have paid a “bargain” £94.30 single rate) or drive (332 miles to St Mary’s and a minimum of six hours).
The Premier League is hurtling towards the end, in a similar fashion to how packed the schedule was at the very start. A slightly odd Saturday of just three matches, with Crystal Palace v West Ham the battle of veteran managers who need a couple of points more to stay up. It will be tight and touched with grey. Brentford v Nottingham Forest sees the latter in dire need of points though a good win in midweek over Brighton cheered up Steve Cooper no end. Then comes Brighton v Wolves, with the beaten FA Cup semi-finalists trying not to end the season disappointingly. Wolves got a big win over Crystal Palace in midweek.
Sunday is where the real juice is. It’s Six-Pointer Sunday in fact for Bournemouth v Leeds, and Aston Villa v Manchester United could either fire up or extinguish the race for fourth. Newcastle v Southampton could place the latter on the brink of relegation, while Liverpool v Spurs sees a revived Reds taking on the Ryan Mason revolution. And, oh yeah, win at Craven Cottage after Fulham v Manchester City and the champions-elect will actually go top of the table.
Monday too, sees a buttock-clenching battle of Leicester v Everton. We’ll be looking ahead to those and bring you the latest Premier League news, reaction to Thursday’s matches and from across the world of football.