EPL

Man City fined by FA for pitch invasion after sealing Premier League title

By Sports Desk October 07, 2022

Manchester City have been fined £260,000 by the Football Association (FA) and warned about their future conduct after their supporters invaded the pitch following the title-clinching victory over Aston Villa on the final day of last season.

Pep Guardiola's side secured a fourth title in five seasons with a dramatic 3-2 comeback win against Villa at the Etihad Stadium on May 22.

Thousands of supporters made their way onto the field at the full-time whistle, with smoke flares let off, a goalpost broken and Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen allegedly attacked.

Greater Manchester Police charged two men over the disorder, while the FA formally charged City in August, with the English champions admitting to failing to control their supporters.

An FA statement on Friday read: "Manchester City FC have been fined £260,000 and warned about its future conduct for breaching FA Rule E20 after a Premier League game against Aston Villa.

"The club admitted that it failed to ensure its spectators – and all those purporting to be its supporters or followers – conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and refrained from using threatening and violent behaviour while encroaching onto the pitch after the final whistle.

"An Independent Regulatory Commission imposed these sanctions during a subsequent hearing and its written reasons for them will be published in due course."

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  • Messi and Barcelona deserve one last dance together – Jordi Cruyff Messi and Barcelona deserve one last dance together – Jordi Cruyff

    Lionel Messi is destined to return to Barcelona one day as the player and club "deserve one last dance together", according to the Catalan giants' sporting director Jordi Cruyff.

    Paris Saint-Germain star Messi's 21-year association with Barca came to an end in August 2021 as the club could not afford a new deal under LaLiga's financial fair play rules.

    Messi is now into his second season with PSG, but he is out of contract at the end of the campaign and has been linked with a move to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami.

    The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner turns 36 next year and Cruyff hopes to see him back at Camp Nou in the future, though accepts that it may not be in a playing capacity.

    "It's clear Barcelona and Messi have to be together again one day," Cruyff told RAC1. "It may be after his career, but they deserve a final hug, one last dance together."

    Messi scored 672 goals across 778 appearances for Barcelona and provided a further 265 assists, amounting to 937 goal involvements across that trophy-laden spell.

     

    He featured more times (219) and scored more goals (211) under Pep Guardiola than any other head coach, with the Catalan winning 14 trophies in four seasons at the helm.

    Guardiola has since spent three seasons with Bayern Munich and is into his seventh season with Manchester City, where he remains under contract until July 2025.

    Speaking this week, Guardiola said he would return to Barcelona one day if the club needed him, adding that "nothing is comparable" to managing a club so close to your heart.

    Asked about the possibility of Guardiola managing the Blaugrana again further down the line, Cruyff said: "He's reached the level of being able to choose his own destiny.

    "Not many have reached that point; it's the dream of every professional. Whether he returns or not, I have no idea. I think he's happy at City."

  • Rumour Has It: Real Madrid identify Benfica's Enzo Fernandez as new top target Rumour Has It: Real Madrid identify Benfica's Enzo Fernandez as new top target

    Real Madrid have reportedly pivoted away from Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham and are now treating Benfica's Enzo Fernandez as their top transfer target.

    Bellingham, 19, was considered the top priority for the Spanish giants, but a report from Marca claims they now believe he is destined for the Premier League and will instead focus their resources on 21-year-old Fernandez.

    Fernandez arrived at Benfica in June after they were able to pry him away from River Plate for a deal worth up to €18million including add-ons, but his exploits on the Champions League stage – including assists against Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus – have that price looking like a steal.

     

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    Fernandez was handed his international debut as a 20-year-old back in November 2021, and his continued growth on the European stage earned his spot in Argentina's World Cup squad.

    Not content to purely come along for the ride, Fernandez was brought on as a substitute in each of his side's first two group games, and against Mexico he became Argentina's youngest goalscorer at a World Cup since Lionel Messi in 2006.

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    ROUND-UP

    – According to Relevo, Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag views the Netherlands' World Cup hero Cody Gakpo as his ideal replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo.

    – Fichajes is reporting Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are all showing interest in 22-year-old Ajax midfielder Mohammed Kudus amid his excellent performances for Ghana.

    Bayern Munich remain interested in Tottenham's Harry Kane and are working on an offer between €80-100m, per Sky Sports Germany.

    – The Sun is reporting Chelsea are not happy with both Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga and will look to bring in a new first-choice goalkeeper.

    – With Rafael Leao likely leaving Milan at the end of the season, Gazzetta dello Sport claims they will try to fill the void with RB Salzburg's 22-year-old Swiss international Noah Okafor.

  • Berhalter believes 'American spirit' will win over World Cup viewers as United States advance Berhalter believes 'American spirit' will win over World Cup viewers as United States advance

    Gregg Berhalter believes his United States team will capture the imagination of viewers at home after drawing on the "American spirit" to reach the World Cup's last 16 at Iran's expense.

    Christian Pulisic's close-range finish fired the USA to a 1-0 win over Iran at the Al Thumama Stadium on Tuesday, ensuring the Stars and Stripes leapfrogged their opponents to finish second in Group B, behind England.

    Pulisic was forced out of the contest after colliding with Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beyranvand as he scored the goal, but that blow was not enough to dampen Berhalter's spirits.

    With the 2026 tournament taking place across the USA, Mexico and Canada, much of the talk around Berhalter's team has focused on their ability to win over new fans at home, and the head coach believes his men have done just that.

    "I'm sure there was a bunch of people back home watching, and I think the US reporters have talked about defining this group, and it starts to take shape on these performances," Berhalter said.

    "You see how unified this group is, how much energy they put into every game, and along the way there was some good soccer. 

    "That's the American spirit, and I think people will appreciate that at home.

    "There's no need to project how far this team can go. It's great to be in this knockout format, we will relish it, and we'll stick together and enjoy the experience. 

    "The end of the game is really what I'm most proud of, to hang on in there, to get the win and not buckle. This is the first time in 92 years we've had two shutouts at a World Cup."

    Having reached the round of 16 in each of their last three World Cup participations (2010, 2014 and 2022), the USA will take on the Netherlands at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday.

    Chelsea attacker Pulisic has been involved in both of the USA's goals at this year's tournament (one goal, one assist), and only Landon Donovan in 2010 (three goals) has ever contributed to more for the team at a single World Cup.

    Pulisic's recovery will undoubtedly be a key talking point in the build-up to Saturday's game, but Berhalter was unwilling to speculate on his condition.

    "He was taken off due to injury," Berhalter said. "He was taken to hospital as a precaution. It was a blow to his abdomen, an abdominal injury. 

    "We FaceTimed him after the game from the locker room, we got to see him and he's in good spirits.

    "The goal was something we'd been taking about for a while, to get the team to shift over to one side. 

    "That's the special quality Christian has, as soon as the ball is wide, he goes in with intensity, he crashes the box and makes it very difficult with his change of pace."

    The USA have only reached the World Cup's quarter-finals on one previous occasion (in 2002), but Berhalter says they are not content with their achievements to date.

    "It's a great opportunity, but we're not going into it thinking it's an honour. We deserve to be in the position we're in, we don't want to go home," he said. 

    "Now it's about how we recover and prepare to play against this Dutch team, who have a very clear idea and are very well coached. We have to come up with a way to beat them."

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