Manchester City star Raheem Sterling revealed he voted for Tottenham striker Harry Kane to receive the PFA Player of the Year award, not Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk.

Sterling and Liverpool defender Van Dijk are the frontrunners for the award ahead of the PFA ceremony in London on Sunday.

Van Dijk said he voted for Sterling – who has scored 17 Premier League goals and tallied nine assists for reigning champions City this season.

However, Sterling did not return the favour, instead opting for England team-mate Kane, who did not make the six-man shortlist.

"It's nice to be recognised on that front but, to be honest, if we don't win the Premier League, I don't really want to be in contention," said Sterling.

"What I want to do is win the Premier League, win the FA Cup, then think about stuff like that, even though the awards are before that. Without that, it doesn't mean much to me, really.

"I voted for Harry Kane. My vote for him is because he scores so many goals every year, he does so much for the team, gives so much for his team.

"There was a lot of talk about Virgil van Dijk. I knew he would have a lot of the votes, so I looked at someone I thought being around him in the national team, how he puts in his work, his work ethic, how he looks after himself.

"He's always there, especially coming back from injury, as a professional I looked at him and that's my reason for voting for him, seeing him on a day-to-day with the national team."

Sterling's City team-mates Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva are also in the running for the award, as well as Liverpool forward Sadio Mane and Chelsea star Eden Hazard.

Manchester City star Raheem Sterling believes far more can still be done to put an end to racism in football.

The England international has repeatedly spoken out about the issue following a rise in incidents of racial abuse throughout the sport.

Sterling has already called for harsher punishments to be handed out for clubs whose fans are found guilty of targeting players because of the colour of their skin, insisting the current sanctions in place are not enough to stop some people.

But the 24-year-old only expects things to change should the relevant equality and inclusion organisations, such as Kick It Out, receive sufficient backing.

"It's not any disrespect to Kick It Out but the campaigns, with the t-shirts and stuff, I feel it shows people what you're trying to say but what is actually being put in place? We need to help people like Kick It Out push it a bit more," he told Sky Sports.

"The other day the Premier League suggested to post this blackout thing. Again, it was just like 'Ok, it goes on social media. Then people see it. But what does that do? What does that actually do? What is the outcome of that?'

"Is it a campaign for three days and it blows over or are we going to do something that says, 'this is what we're doing and from now on. This is how it's going to go'.

"That's what we, every player who has been in this situation, would like. I don't think these social media posts, these t-shirts are doing anything. It's not going to change anything.

"It needs to be at first within football - because that's where I am and I can't say about in everyday walks of life - to help people in our environment. And for people that have been suffering these things to have something that they know when they go on the football field that no one will dare to even chat one word at them. That's what I'm aiming for."

Sterling, who has enjoyed another incredible campaign on the pitch with 17 Premier League goals and nine assists, hopes the next generation of footballers can avoid the same type of abuse received by himself and his team-mates.

"No one really says anything. No one expresses their feelings, and I think that's wrong," he said. "But, at the same time, no one really wants any backlash or if any of it went wrong. 

"But when I wanted to say something it was purely just to get people on the outside to understand what it's really like for some of these players. I probably had it lightly because I haven't had that many experiences growing up. It was more, as I keep explaining, when I came up north.

"But speaking to players like Fabian [Delph], growing up in Leeds, Bradford, and then telling me about some of their experiences, it's crazy to know some of this stuff happens here to 15, 16-year-old kids.

"We have an opportunity and a chance to make something that's not just now but that, in 10 years' time, players know when they get on a football field that stuff like that can't happen. That's what we need to put in place. Something that makes people think more than twice."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United have to prove they can be consistent if they are to compete with Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title next season.

Ahead of a derby clash with rivals City at Old Trafford on Wednesday, United are 24 points behind leaders Liverpool, although they have played one match fewer.

Solskjaer's side face a battle for Champions League qualification with United, who have lost six of their past eight games in all competitions, three points behind Chelsea in the race for a top-four finish.

United have not won the Premier League since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and Solskjaer is uncertain over how competitive the Red Devils can be in 2019-20.

"I don't think we've got the consistency to do that," Solskjaer told reporters when asked if United can fight City and Liverpool for the title next season.

"Over the last 18 games, we're not far away from them but it's doing it over the course of a season. We've done it for half a season now. Let's see. You can never say never.

"You cannot expect things to happen overnight and we know that. It will happen gradually and we have to be realistic enough as a club that we have to take it step by step. 

"That's not changing 10 players now and bringing 10 players in. It's slowly, slowly but surely. It has to be the right quality, right personality, the right standards to get us back to where we want to be."

United fans have been left to weigh up whether they would rather see neighbours City or equally fierce rivals Liverpool be crowned champions.

"It's not about taking something away from others," Solskjaer added. "We have to want to overtake them, and not just because it's City and Liverpool.

"For a supporter, as I am, and as a manager now as well, we know [them well] because they are so close in the vicinity. 

"We want to be the best, we have been the best and it's not nice seeing those two at the top."

Pep Guardiola insisted Manchester City have not been offered Manchester United star Paul Pogba again despite the Frenchman being linked with the Old Trafford exit.

Pogba has endured another erratic season at United, finding himself in and out of the team under Jose Mourinho, before suffering another dip in form recently.

Although consistency continues to elude Pogba, he has managed to score 13 Premier League goals this term and set up another nine.

Pogba was linked with City last season when Guardiola claimed - just before the derby - his agent had offered him to United's rivals, while Real Madrid are said to be circling following the return of Zinedine Zidane as coach.

But, ahead of Wednesday's Manchester derby, Guardiola refused to stoke any pre-match controversy again, insisting City have not been offered the World Cup-winning midfielder once more by agent Mino Raiola.

"No. No, no, definitely not," Guardiola told reporters when asked if Pogba had been made available to him. "He's a player for Man United."

Guardiola is already spoilt for choice in midfield, even with Kevin De Bruyne expected to miss the derby through another knee injury.

Phil Foden impressed against Tottenham last time out, scoring the only goal of the game in just his second Premier League start and he could start against United for the first time in De Bruyne's stead.

"Yes, he [Foden] is ready," Guardiola said of the Stockport-born 18-year-old.

"I don't know the importance to be a Man City fan or if being involved in that is going to help or not, but he is ready, of course.

"He would not be here [if he wasn't ready]. We'll see [if he starts] - I have to dream tonight."

Pep Guardiola has strongly denied a claim from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that his Manchester City side deliberately set out to commit fouls.

Former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho previously complained about what he described as "tactical fouls" from Guardiola's City.

And Mourinho's successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer followed suit in his pre-match news conference, claiming "there will be fouls" in Wednesday's Premier League clash at Old Trafford.

Victory in the derby would put City in pole position in the title race, moving them back above Liverpool by a point with both sides having three games to play.

And Guardiola bristled at Solskjaer's suggestion City cynically bringing counter-attacks to an end is one of his tactical instructions.

"Receive a lot of fouls? So we are going to make fouls to them? Did he say that?" Guardiola said to reporters. "With 75 per cent the average, or 65 or 70 per cent of the ball, how you do that? I don't have any comments about that.

"I never prepare a game in my 10 seasons as a manager thinking about this kind of thing. Never. And my players can talk better than me about that.

"I'm concerned many, many other things about the game to have to play to beat them than this kind of thing.

"So I don't know. Tomorrow in the press conference after the game you can ask him again about that. So I don't know."

Guardiola indicated he feels Solskjaer's words were an attempt to influence the match referee Andre Marriner.

"I don't like it. I don't like it," the City manager said when asked again about the Norwegian's comments. "My team, our team is not built to think and create for that, not at all. I know exactly what I say to my players from the day one, from the last day.

"So we want to play, want to try to attack, we have to be honest and of course there is contact, of course there are fouls, but when it happens and you arrive late and yellow [card] - that's why there are referees to make a yellow card or a red card, or whatever they decide.

"We want to do our game, I want to do our game. Sometimes it's not possible because the others play too, the people sometimes [find it] difficult to understand that, but the other teams play too. But never, never... I prepare the game to do my, our own game, that is what I want."

Guardiola does not expect Solskjaer's comments to have an impact on the referee, though.

"No I don't think so," he added. "We shouldn't do that.

"Really I don't know. I will be suspended [if we talk about referees]. I will be in trouble."

Trent Alexander-Arnold says he will be among the Liverpool fans cheering on Manchester United in this week's derby against the Reds' title rivals Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola's side play their game in hand at Old Trafford on Wednesday knowing a victory would move them back above Liverpool in the Premier League table.

City have won 10 league games in a row in a relentless run, but Jurgen Klopp's men have kept up the pressure on the defending champions by going unbeaten since losing at the Etihad Stadium on January 3.

Former City midfielder James Milner said he would not be tuning into the Manchester derby as he feels it is "a waste of energy" to wish for his old club to slip up.

Alexander-Arnold's England team-mates Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard could also boost Liverpool's chances of winning their first title of the Premier League era.

But although Reds supporters would not ordinarily find themselves hoping United win, Liverpool-born Alexander-Arnold feels it is a small price to pay.

"It's a funny one," he told reporters. "At this stage of the season you sometimes need to support someone you wouldn't normally like.

"There's no secret, for our ambitions and goals we need a team to do us a favour somewhere along the line.

"On Saturday we all supported Tottenham [against City] and on Wednesday the majority of Liverpool fans I think will want United to get a win.

"Without even saying it they [Rashford and Lingard] know they'll be doing us a massive favour if they get anything.

"With what they're going for and going for the top four, they probably need to get a result. I'm sure it will be a good one.

"I probably will watch it. I don't know if there are any other games on, but I'll watch. It's exciting, but you try not to get too caught up in hoping that City lose."

Manchester City must learn to manage Kevin De Bruyne's fitness ahead of next season, according to Pep Guardiola, who has ruled the midfielder out of Wednesday's derby against Manchester United.

De Bruyne went off with a knee injury against Tottenham on Saturday, and will miss the game at Old Trafford, though Guardiola is hopeful the playmaker will still be able to feature before the season is out.

The injury is the latest in a string of set-backs for the 27-year-old, who has been restricted to 30 appearances in all competitions for City this term, making just 11 Premier League starts.

And manager Guardiola confirmed that City will reassess how they treat De Bruyne moving forward, in order to ensure he avoids a repeat of his injury hit campaign next season.

"It is a muscular problem, and we will see in the next days how it is," Guardiola told a news conference. "It's getting better but he is not available [for Wednesday].

"Unfortunately it was one injury and then another one and another one. Before in the past he was safe, especially from muscular problems, but now he has had two or three as a consequence of his knee.

"But with all the competitions we have in England, we don't have time to make preparation when they come back from injury. That is not the best way.

"Now we have to pay more attention in the little details, see if he can play one, two more games before the end of the season, then next season have a good pre-season and take care of himself.

"He has a lovely family, his life is organised in training, rest, prepare for the next game. We are going to speak with the doctors, everybody, to make the problem go and for him to be safe and fit. That's what we are trying to do from now on."

De Bruyne's absence has been felt by City over the course of the season, as the Premier League title race with Liverpool promises to run to the wire.

Victory at Old Trafford would see City move back above their rivals with three games to play, and Guardiola did not downplay the magnitude of Wednesday's fixture.

"Four games left, we have to win all four games to keep the title," he said.

"It is not an easy place to go, but at the same time a nice place to go. We know exactly what we need to do, they are fighting for top four and we are fighting for the title. We will go there to play a good game."

Pep Guardiola sympathises with Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for the difficult period he is going through and insists he supports the Norwegian ahead of their first derby meeting.

Solskjaer was brought in initially as an interim replacement for Jose Mourinho in December and enjoyed a stunning impact as they lost just one of his first 17 matches at the helm and reached the Champions League quarter-finals against the odds.

Back-to-back defeats to Arsenal and Wolves did not put United off from hiring him full-time at the end of March, but a subsequent run of two wins and four defeats has prompted many to question the club's decision to hand Solskjaer a contract through to 2022.

Their most recent defeat was undoubtedly the nadir, as United were humiliated 4-0 away to Everton on Sunday, severely denting their top-four hopes.

Up next on Wednesday is the derby against champions Manchester City in a game which could have major consequences in the title race, and Guardiola showed empathy towards his opposite number.

When asked in his pre-match news conference if he felt it was right for Solskjaer to be questioned, Guardiola said: "I don't know. We [managers] don't have time.

"I understand his position perfectly. We are alone, I am alone and that's why I understand completely his position.

"It happened to me, it happened to all the managers around the world. We can sustain it if we win, if we don't we are in danger.

"That is the reality, we have to accept it. It is what it is. I understand perfectly and I am with him, I support him, honestly."

At the time of Solskjaer's interim appointment and subsequent full-time hiring, much was made of his close connection to the club, having spent the majority of his playing career at Old Trafford as well as his early coaching days.

Guardiola – who managed Barcelona after playing for them – agrees that such a background can be beneficial.

"To know the club is better," he said. "I know this club now more in my third season than I did in my first season.

"He came back here after being a formidable player. He knows everything [about the club], so it's an advantage, of course."

Despite United's recent woes, Guardiola is expecting them to be at their very best in the derby, and while he believes pride to be at stake for Solskjaer's men, he downplayed the influence of their Everton loss on the game.

Asked if United will be eager for a response, Guardiola said: "A little bit more, maybe, but if they won [against Everton] the confidence would be a little bit more, and it is a derby.

"All the derbies here or in Germany or Spain are always special games and the players do their best for the fans and the team.

"I expect the best United, for sure. They have pride, their pride to do their best. We are going to do what we do and try to win the game."

Pep Guardiola insists that out-of-favour winger Riyad Mahrez will not be leaving Manchester City at the end of the season.

The former Leicester City favourite has endured a difficult campaign since making a club-record £60million switch to the Etihad Stadium and has made just 13 starts in the Premier League.

He has failed to make it off the substitutes' bench for City's last three games, watching on as Phil Foden – preferred ahead of the Algeria international – scored the only goal in Saturday's vital 1-0 win over Tottenham.

Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva's outstanding form in wide attacking positions has not helped Mahrez's cause but Guardiola maintains he has no doubts over his quality and expects him to remain at the club for the foreseeable future.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of City's Premier League clash with Manchester United on Wednesday, Guardiola said: "He will be with us next season, and the next one and the next one.

"I don't need to speak to him; he will be here next season. We are delighted with him and the way he has played.

"Riyad is not going to move, he is going to stay here. Everyone knows the competition here, but he is happy and we are happy. It is not necessary to speak with him."

Mahrez has made 42 appearances in all competitions this season for Guardiola's side – 16 of which have been from the bench – and scored 11 goals.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident he is the right man to get the best out of Manchester United's players, despite a poor run since his appointment as permanent manager.

United slumped to their heaviest defeat of the season on Sunday, losing 4-0 at Everton, and must now try to bounce back when they face Manchester City in a derby clash on Wednesday that could have huge ramifications for the Premier League title race.

Having enjoyed a stellar three months at Old Trafford following his appointment as interim manager in December, Solskjaer was given the job in a permanent capacity on March 28, but United have lost four of the six games since then in all competitions.

The capitulation at Goodison Park followed a Champions League exit at the hands of Barcelona, with Solskjaer apologising to United's travelling support on behalf of his players.

But the former Molde boss believes that he is the right choice to lead United forward, even if the squad will need altering in the close season.

"I would like to think so," Solskjaer told a news conference when asked if he could improve United's players. 

"I like all these boys, I love them, but I've got to manage for the club and I'm managing the club and the players and I've got to put all my effort into making sure we do what is right for the club.

"Of course, you learn about players and now is not the time to talk about making wholesale changes in the squad that's been doing so great, City and Liverpool have taken more points than us in the last 18 games and that's it.

"We really gave it a go, and you can see loads of United standards, the DNA in these players. 

"You have to get players in and some players will go out. There's always a crisis at United whenever you lose a game or two, but the boys have done fantastic, we don't enjoy losing games, we've lost three out of the last five league games, that's a bit too many but that's football.

"You see Chelsea-Burnley, Arsenal-Palace but the way we lost at Everton that was the lowest we have been and was the worst performance."

Solskjaer was scathing of his side on Sunday, but has not lost belief in his squad, accepting that he is just as responsible for United's form as his players are.

"We focus on Wednesday and I'm sure we'll get a response," Solskjaer added.

"You don't punish them as in run up to the mountains and back. We believe in them, these players know they let themselves down as individual, as a team, me as well.

"I'm in charge and I'm the one giving instructions how we're going to play and it's my duty to get them performing better than that and I'm sure we'll get a response."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has lit the blue touch paper ahead of Wednesday's derby by saying Manchester City "snap at your ankles and kick you".

Pep Guardiola's title-chasing City side visit Manchester United knowing three points would take them back above Liverpool to the top of the Premier League table and put them in pole position to retain the title with three games to go.

Yet United are also desperate for the win having slipped to sixth in the table following a rotten run of results since their improbable Champions League victory over Paris Saint-Germain at the start of March.

And Solskjaer, whose team have lost six of their past eight games in all competitions, has followed the lead of his predecessor Jose Mourinho by indulging in some mind games prior to the City clash.

"We've got to be ready for the press, for their pressing because they've got quality on the ball," Solskjaer told reporters at a news conference.

"We've got to defend well. When we win it, we've got to be ready for their aggression, they will snap at your ankles and heels and kick you.

"They are not going to allow us easy counter attacking. There will be fouls, absolutely no doubt about it, because when you watch them games they commit so many players forward.

"They will be stopping us as high as they can, I think."

The desire of United's players was questioned after Sunday's 4-0 thrashing at Everton.

Solskjaer revealed that his squad held talks following that drubbing and insists the visit of City is the ideal chance for them to show a response at Old Trafford.

"That's the best game we could ask for now, with players hurt, as they were definitely were," he added.

"We had a meeting after the [Everton] game and you can see all the players are definitely, definitely disappointed, but really, really hurt by that performance.

"The City game is the perfect one, there's no hiding place on the pitch.

"Our fans will back you whatever result there will be as long as you give that effort. Against a City side that's been very, very good, we have got to turn up."

Raheem Sterling believes football chiefs are doing "nowhere near enough" to tackle racism and has called for radical changes.

Manchester City forward Sterling has been a victim of alleged racist abuse several times this season, while in action for his club and on international duty with England.

The 24-year-old has received plaudits for his stand against racism, while players and football clubs boycotted social media for a 24-hour period to protest online abuse on Friday.

Sterling's England team-mate Danny Rose has been another high-profile recipient of abuse, with the Tottenham defender saying he is looking forward to retirement due to the authorities' failure to act. 

In Italy, Juventus youngster Moise Kean was subject to alleged racist chanting in a Serie A match against Cagliari.

And writing in The Times, who have released a manifesto calling for changes to be made throughout football in order to fight racism, Sterling insists the current efforts to eradicate the issue are not up to scratch.

"When I was a boy growing up in London, I didn't know what racist abuse was because I never suffered any," Sterling wrote.

"So it seems crazy that, in 2019, I feel the need to write a piece in a newspaper calling for radical changes to the game that I love. But I do because the racism problem in football is so bad, runs so deep and is nowhere near being sorted.

"You will all have read about the various high-profile racist incidents in recent months: the abuse I received playing for Manchester City away to Chelsea; the booing that the black England players were subjected to in Montenegro; the nastiness that Moise Kean of Juventus endured in Italy and the endless insults thrown at players on social media.

"But that is sadly just the tip of the iceberg. Up and down the game, across the world, black and Asian players, fans and coaches are subjected to racism. Every day, from park football to the Champions League.

"In my opinion, the people who run the game are doing nowhere near enough to solve the problem. And that's not good enough."

Discussing the manifesto, Sterling put forward his ideas, adding: "I'd call for an automatic nine-point deduction for racist abuse.

"It sounds harsh but which fan will risk racist behaviour if it might relegate their team or ruin their title bid?

"The club should have to play three games behind closed doors. That way, they lose revenue as a direct consequence of racist behaviour.

"I don't know how long it'll take for things to change but we have to start now. I don't want the next generation of black players to have to put up with this evil."

Former Celtic captain and manager Billy McNeill has passed away aged 79, the club confirmed on Tuesday. 

McNeill captained Celtic's famous 'Lisbon Lions' side of 1967, becoming the first British player to lift the European Cup when the Glasgow club beat Inter 2-1 in the Portuguese capital.

Having spent his entire senior playing career at Celtic, winning nine league titles, McNeill moved into management and took over at Park Head in 1978, guiding the club to three top-flight championships during a five-year spell.

Following a three-year stint at Manchester City, McNeill returned to Celtic in 1987, winning a domestic double in his first season back at the club.

A statement from McNeill's family, released on Celtic's website, read: "It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our father Billy McNeill. He passed away late last night (Monday, April 22) surrounded by his family and loved ones.

"He suffered from Dementia for a number of years and fought bravely to the end, showing the strength and fortitude he always has done throughout his life.

"Whilst this is a very sad time for all the family and we know our privacy will be respected, our father always made time for the supporters so please tell his stories, sing his songs and help us celebrate his life."

Robbie Fowler cannot see Manchester United denying City in their derby clash in their current form, but the Liverpool great is hopeful.

Liverpool are hoping for a favour from their rivals, with Jurgen Klopp's men two points clear atop the Premier League but with Manchester City holding a game in hand.

United go into Wednesday's derby at Old Trafford on the back of six losses in their past eight games, including a 4-0 thrashing at Everton.

Fowler, appointed coach of A-League club Brisbane Roar on Tuesday, said it was hard to see United turning their form around.

"I think obviously everyone knows my allegiances are massively with Liverpool and I think if we're being totally honest it's going to be tough for them because you feel as though Manchester City can beat anyone on their day," he told a news conference.

"They've got four games to play and obviously they're four winnable games.

"So, to use a little bit of mind management if you like, I think Manchester United need to pull off a big favour for Liverpool.

"I think the way they're playing at the minute, you can't see it happening, but stranger things have happened."

United are chasing a Champions League qualification place, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men three points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea ahead of the derby.

Liverpool midfielder James Milner will be supporting Manchester United for the first time, but he will avoid watching their clash against City.

Wednesday's Manchester derby shapes as being vital in the Premier League title race, with Jurgen Klopp's men two points clear at the top but City holding a game in hand.

Milner, a former City and Leeds United midfielder, said he would be supporting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men.

"First time in my life," he said.

"But I won't be watching. It's a bit of a waste of energy, willing the ball in the other goal.

"I can't do anything about it. I'll maybe put my phone away for a few hours and check it after. I've no idea what I'll do, maybe go out for some food."

With three games left, Liverpool are up to 88 points and could finish the campaign with 97 but still not win a first league title since 1990.

While Liverpool have matches against Huddersfield Town, Newcastle United and Wolves left, Manchester City will meet Burnley, Leicester City and Brighton and Hove Albion after the derby.

"There's three games left after that [derby]. People think United is a challenge, but it's not the only one," Milner said.

"It's an old cliche, but the Premier League is tough – whoever you play, teams battling at the bottom."

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