For the first time in two decades, New England Patriots fans will not be able to watch Tom Brady run onto the field as their quarterback when the new NFL season gets under way.

Brady on Tuesday announced his 20-season spell with the Patriots would be coming to an end.

He will take his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom Brady will hope to add to the six Super Bowl titles he won in an unprecedented spell of dominance in New England.

The Patriots enter a new era with the identity of their new starting quarterback very much a mystery.

How will head coach Bill Belichick replace Brady? We look at the potential avenues to filling the void left by the greatest quarterback of all time.


Promote Jarrett Stidham

Probably the least popular option among Patriots fans. New England drafted Stidham in the fourth round last year and the Pats are reported to have high hopes for his future with the team.

Stidham, who played for Baylor and Auburn in college, possesses an NFL-level arm but looked a long way from ready in the limited action he saw as a rookie.

He threw four passes in 2019, only two were completed and one was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

If the Patriots decide to hand the reins to Stidham, they will need to sign a veteran backup as an insurance policy in case that limited sample size from his first year proves a harbinger of sustained struggle for the 23-year-old.

Sign a free agent

The pickings on the free-agent market are growing increasingly slim.

Philip Rivers and Teddy Bridgewater agreed to deals with the Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers respectively, and Marcus Mariota is off to Las Vegas to link up with Jon Gruden and the Raiders.

That leaves Brady's predecessor in Tampa, Jameis Winston, as the most viable unsigned option.

Winston's penchant for baffling interceptions makes him an awkward fit with Belichick, who may find developing Stidham a more intriguing project than trying to turn the former number one overall pick into the astute decision-maker he has never shown signs of becoming.

Draft a rookie

With the 23rd pick in the first round at the disposal, the Patriots have no shot at either of Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa, each expected to be selected in the top five.

Oregon's Justin Herbert and Utah State's Jordan Love are also likely to be beyond their reach.

However, Washington's Jacob Eason, Georgia's Jake Fromm and Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts could all still be on the board by the time the Patriots make their pick.

Of that trio, it is Hurts who may be of most interest to Belichick.

A National Championship winner who transferred from Alabama to Oklahoma after losing his starting job to Tagovailoa, Hurts was a Heisman Trophy finalist last year and is a genuine dual-threat at quarterback with his abilities as a runner and a thrower.

There has arguably never been a coach better at exploiting the weaknesses and minimising the strengths of opponents than Belichick. He would be able to use Hurts' mobility to do that in a way that was never open to him with Brady.

Strike a trade

If the Patriots want an established quality starter to assume the mantle from Brady, then they may need to give up some draft capital to do so.

Andy Dalton is available, with the Cincinnati Bengals set to draft Burrow first overall. He would not set pulses racing in New England but is talented enough to keep them in the postseason mix.

Yet the Patriots could land a quarterback many consider an upgrade on veteran Brady by making a deal for Cam Newton.

Newton has been made available by the Panthers and has proven he can be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL when healthy.

The league MVP in 2015, Newton can devastate opposing defenses with his arm and his legs, and Belichick and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels are ideally qualified to help him rediscover his best after two successive injury-plagued seasons.

Signing New England Patriots icon Tom Brady changes everything for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise who will now look to make history.

The Bucs have not reached the NFL playoffs since 2007 and ended last season very much in the middle of the pack.

But now they are against the clock to claim glory with star quarterback Brady, who will turn 43 before the 2020 season and ended his 20-year stay with the Patriots on Tuesday.

Amid speculation about Brady's future ever since the Pats' Wild Card round playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans in January, the Bucs were not always top of the list of his cited potential destinations.

But it is they who will pair the six-time Super Bowl winner with head coach Bruce Arians, ending former number one overall pick Jameis Winston's role as the team's starting QB.

Fans of the Bucs are already dreaming big, with season ticket enquiries surging in the aftermath of the reports Brady was poised to join, while there has been talk of high-profile players offering up their services.

It is their Raymond James Stadium will play host to Super Bowl LV and no team has ever reached the biggest stage when it has been played at their own stadium. 

But with a proven winner on board, how realistic is a historic championship run for the Bucs?
 

Receiving corps will excite Brady

Brady was not blessed with star receiving talent in his final years with the Patriots.

Last year, an aging Julian Edelman carried the load as Josh Gordon departed, first-round draft pick N'Keal Harry underwhelmed and a mid-season trade for Mohamed Sanu failed to pan out. Antonio Brown was supposed to be the answer, but the saga around the former Pittsburgh Steelers star is one the team will quickly want to forget.

Role players Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers were left to fill gaps and the Pats' tight end depth chart was one of the worst in the NFL after Rob Gronkowski's retirement.

Brady has few such concerns with the Bucs, whose number one receiver Mike Evans has recorded six consecutive seasons with more than 1,000 yards receiving, those remarkable numbers coming despite some questionable quarterback play.

Chris Godwin (1,333 yards in 2019) has emerged as an extremely impressive complement to Evans, while two talented TE options in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate provide added firepower.

Brady played behind a strong offensive line in New England but Tampa, despite some issues at the two tackle spots, had a similarly solid 2019 unit, with Ryan Jensen and Ali Marpet standouts who ensured the Bucs' OL, like that of the Pats, was graded in the top 10 by Pro Football Focus.

Arians' risk-taking, downfield scheme may not be a perfect fit for Brady, but the Bucs coach has the experience and expertise to compromise. He leans heavily on his passing attack and has a proven track record in getting the most out of his QBs.

Winston led the league in 2019 passing yards (5,109), but saw his 33 touchdowns coupled with 30 picks.

Brady, despite his slight decline in recent seasons, is still a clear upgrade on Winston. With a dramatic drop in turnovers likely to follow, the Bucs should continue to be one of the league's most productive offenses without the wild swings we have seen before.
 

Defense: A step forward could prove crucial

The Patriots' offensive inefficiencies last year were made up for by a superb defense that led the NFL in points-per-game and yards allowed.

Brady will not have quite the same support system at his new home.

When Dirk Koetter lost his job after the 2018 season, a failing defense had played a key part in his demise. 

Last season, there was some improvement from the Bucs, particularly towards the end of the year, as they finished 7-9.

But the Bucs were 29th out of 32 teams in points allowed and while that improved to 15th in yards-per-game, they were near the bottom of the pack against the pass.

There are pieces to work with, as NFL sack leader Shaquil Barrett has received the franchise tag, while Jason Pierre-Paul has re-signed. 

Young cornerbacks Jamel Dean, Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting have all displayed signs of promise and the Bucs will need them to kick on, showing more consistency.

They used the number five overall pick on linebacker Devin White last season and will be counting on a second-season improvement from him alongside impressive veteran Lavonte David.

If the offense is firing with Brady, the Bucs may only need a middle-of-the-road defense to be competitive, so they will eye a couple of valuable additions in the draft.

Due to their offensive strength, the Kansas City Chiefs went all the way in 2019 with a defense that was far from perfect but contained playmakers and a similar unit could be on the cards in Florida.
 

NFC South among challenges

The Pats have completely dominated the AFC East, winning it 16 times in the last 17 attempts, and have expertly translated those victories into deep postseason runs.

A winning culture shaped by Brady and Bill Belichick led to a dynasty that may never be replicated, with the QB's leadership now key as he enters a new locker room.

As the Cleveland Browns showed last season, establishing a star-studded roster is no guarantee of success and Brady joins a franchise with only one Super Bowl victory in their history, amid a long playoff drought.

Brady's task is made more difficult as he enters an extremely competitive NFC South.

The New Orleans Saints have won the division for three straight seasons, have one of the NFL's best all-round rosters and veteran QB Drew Brees is back for the next two years.

There is quality elsewhere too, as the Atlanta Falcons, boasting the likes of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, have a score to settle with Brady, while the Carolina Panthers start a new era with Teddy Bridgewater.

With Brady, Arians and an impressive supporting cast, the Bucs are among a group of six to eight Super Bowl candidates, but it would be a leap to place them alongside the top favourites just yet.

Having made a seismic signing, their next moves will be watched with greater scrutiny than ever before as a fascinating offseason continues.

Not many, if any, expected Tom Brady to swap the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A fairytale swansong with hometown team the San Francisco 49ers had been touted, while the Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos were also reportedly in the mix.

However, Tampa Bay will become veteran quarterback Brady's new home after 20 incredible seasons in Foxborough.

From six Super Bowl titles to a team without a playoff appearance since 2007, Brady will reportedly earn $30million per season on a two-year contract with Bruce Arians' Bucs.

But why did the Buccaneers turn their backs on former number one pick Jameis Winston for a 42-year-old quarterback? Well the writing was on the wall…

 

October 13, 2019 – Arians on Winston: He has a habit of trying to be Superman

Now an unrestricted free agent and with starting options running out, Winston frustrated Bucs head coach Arians throughout the 2019 campaign.

After throwing five interceptions and managing two fumbles in a 37-26 loss to the Carolina Panthers in London, Arians had some words for the 2015 number one draft pick.

"Throw the damn ball away. He had avoided one [turnover after losing the ball], you might have avoided two, but you aren't throwing it anywhere to a receiver. Throw it away," Arians told the media after the game. "He has a habit of trying to be Superman. That's been a problem in the past. 

"The fumbles haven't occurred this year until today. But, again, trying to make something out of nothing. It's just a matter of knowing when to quit on a play."

 

December 4, 2019 – Arians not ready to decide on Winston's future

Arians was noncommittal on Winston being Tampa Bay's quarterback after 2019.

Amid a difficult season, Arians was asked if he would throw his support behind Winston if quizzed by the Bucs' hierarchy and he told reporters: "I'm gonna pass on that one. I'm gonna wait until the end of December."

"There's been really, really, really good and there's been some really, really bad," Arians added. "I'm gonna pass until it's over and then we'll make a decision."

 

December 21, 2019 – Winston throws four picks

Winston threw four interceptions as the Houston Texans recorded a 23-20 road win over the Buccaneers to seal the AFC South title.

Quarterback Winston completed 25 of his 48 passing attempts for 335 yards, throwing one touchdown with his four picks.

On the day when it was reported the team had decided to retain his services for next season, Winston made the worst possible start by throwing a pick-six to Texans cornerback Bradley Roby on his first attempt and it did not get much better from there.

December 29, 2019 – Winston backs himself despite making unwanted NFL history

Winston insisted "I'm going to be the best" despite making unwanted NFL history against the Atlanta Falcons.

Winston became the first player to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a season as the Buccaneers ended their campaign with a 28-22 overtime loss.

He joined the dubious 30-30 club after he was pick-sixed by Falcons linebacker Deion Jones on the first play of overtime in Tampa.

Winston – who became the eighth quarterback in league history to throw for 5,000 yards in a season – said: "I'm focused on how I can get better. I know if I eliminate those, I'm going to be the best. Bar none. You'd better check your sheet.

"If you look at the numbers, I'm balling. I've got to stop giving the ball to the other team. It's not a trick question. I know if I eliminate those [interceptions], I'm going to be the best, bar none."

Arians added: "You look at it and there's so much good and so much outright terrible. We got to weigh that and see what happens."

 

December 30, 2019 – Arians says Bucs can win without Winston

"[If] we can win with this one, we can definitely win with another one too," Arians told reporters. "We're going to have this defense."

Pressed on Winston's future heading into the offseason, Arians said: "It will be a while. I would think in a few weeks we will have a decision on which way we want to head. Will we let it out? Probably not. Because you lose your leverage on that one too. So it's 'stay tuned.'"

"Well, free agency, who's available?" Arians added. "What's behind door number two? That's the first question. Then as you evaluate for the draft, that's another question. Are they better than what you have? Then you evaluate and that's when you make your decisions."

 

February 26, 2019 – Arians names Brady as option

Speaking at the NFL scouting combine, Arians said: "As a head coach, you have to decide. Is there a better option?"

Pressed on free agency, Arians reeled off some names to reporters.

"Tom Brady. Philip [Rivers] is another guy. We'll see," he said.

"When those dominoes start falling, other guys are going to be on the market. I don't want to drag it out very long. It's one thing I want to get done soon."

 

March 16, 2020 – Bucs pass on tagging Winston

After throwing for 5,109 yards in 2019, the Buccaneers opted against using the franchise tag on Winston.

Instead, Tampa Bay used it to keep Shaquil Barrett from becoming a free agent.

 

March 17, 2020 – Brady announces Patriots exit

"I don't know what my football future holds but it is time for me to open a new stage for my life and career. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I will always love you and what we have shared - a lifetime full of fun memories," Brady wrote in part via Twitter as he bid farewell to the Pats.

March 20, 2020 - Bucs arrival announced by Brady

Brady confirmed he would be continuing his career with Bucs. In an Instagram post, he wrote: "Excited, humble and hungry ...if there is one thing I have learned about football, it's that nobody cares what you did last year or the year before that...you earn the trust and respect of those around through your commitment every single day. 

"I'm starting a new football journey and thankful for the Buccaneers for giving me an opportunity to do what I love to do. I look forward to meeting all my new team-mates and coaches and proving to them that they can believe and trust in me...

"I have always believed that well done is better than well said, so I'm gonna not gonna say much more - I'm just gonna get to work!"

The coronavirus pandemic continues to leave little in the way of live action on the sporting calendar.

Most events have been put on hold or cancelled across the world due to the spread of COVID-19.

There are still some competitions going ahead on Friday, though, and here are five of the best to look forward to.


Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne City - A-League

Australia's top football division continues, albeit with a reduced schedule and games being staged behind closed doors - including both of Friday's matches.

The Mariners will be out to avoid unwanted club history as they host Melbourne City. Alen Stajcic's team are on a nine-match losing run, just one short of their previous worst streak of 10 in a row.

 

Dundalk - horse racing

Horse racing has been suspended in the United Kingdom until the end of April, but Horse Racing Ireland has opted to carry on racing after implementing stringent controls.

Friday's sole meeting will take place at Dundalk, where Cautious Approach, Juliet Rose and Sebs Star are all in action.

Cage Warriors 113 - MMA

Friday's blockbuster will now be held in Manchester after moving from London and is another event being held without spectators in attendance.

Darren Stewart and Bartosz Fabinski meet in the headline fight, while Mason Jones and Joe McColgan will battle it out for the vacant lightweight title.

Brisbane Broncos v South Sydney Rabbitohs - NRL

The NRL has introduced a self-isolation programme for its players in a desperate attempt to keep games on.

And that means plenty of focus will be on the grudge match between the Broncos and the Rabbitohs, who will both be looking to maintain winning starts to the season.

 

Western Bulldogs v Collingwood - AFL

Aussie Rules football got under way at an empty MCG on Thursday and the action continues with Western Bulldogs taking on Collingwood Magpies.

The Magpies begin their assault for a record-equalling 16th title - and a first in a decade - against their Melbourne rivals at Docklands Stadium.

Live sport is proving difficult to come by amid the coronavirus pandemic, so we looked back through sporting history to identify major events or news to occur on this day.

March 19 certainly wasn't short of options, though we managed to nail it down to five occasions that were particularly notable.

They include the indictment of one former baseball player and another returning to the basketball court where he made his name.

Below, take yourself on a trip down memory lane… Or just get a little sporting education.

 

1978 – Nicklaus wins his third Players Championship

Jack Nicklaus enjoyed many a famous victory during his sparkling golfing career, but his win at the 1978 Players Championship was a peculiar one. In demanding weather conditions, with wind wreaking havoc, Nicklaus won his third Players title, beating Lou Graham by a single shot. No one finished the tournament below par, with Nicklaus' one-over 289 incredibly enough to secure him the title.

1984 – Former MLB pitcher McLain indicted

Regarded as a great during his time as a professional pitcher in baseball, Denny McLain's life away from the sport was rather more chaotic. Having gone off the rails after his career ran its course, McLain was charged with racketeering and narcotics violations on March 19, 1984, before being sentenced to 23 years in prison. He served two-and-a-half years, before an appeals court threw out the verdict and set McLain free. He went back to prison in 1996 on charges of embezzlement, money laundering, mail fraud and conspiracy.

1991 – Phoenix stripped of 1993 Super Bowl

The 1993 Super Bowl was due to be held in Phoenix, Arizona. However, the state's lack of recognition for Martin Luther King Jr. Day saw them stripped of the event. President Ronald Reagan had declared Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday eight years earlier and, at the time, Arizona adhered to the legislature. It wasn't until 1987 when Republican governor Evan Mecham took office that the MLK celebration was cancelled. The holiday returned to Arizona in 1993 following a vote the year before.

1995 – Michael Jordan returns

After 17 months away from basketball, during which time he had a spell in baseball, Michael Jordan was back on this day in 1995. Twenty-four hours after Jordan had announced "I'm back", he was playing once again for his beloved Chicago Bulls, scoring 19 points in an overtime 103-96 defeat to the Indiana Pacers.

2019 – Harden makes NBA history

Just last year, Houston Rockets guard James Harden made history when he became the first NBA player to score at least 30 points against every opponent in the league. He accomplished the feat with a haul of 31 in a win over the Atlanta Hawks. Just the game before, Harden had seen his 32-game streak of scoring 30 points or more end – that remains the second-longest such run in NBA history.

Michael Jordan stunned the world with two simple words 25 years ago.

In an era before innovative social media announcements were the norm, Jordan released a statement through his management company "in response to questions about his future career plans" on March 18, 1995.

His response of "I'm back" signalled the return to basketball of one of the all-time greats.

Here, to mark the anniversary of that press release being issued, we look at Jordan and other greats who performed retirement U-turns.

 

MICHAEL JORDAN

Whether you are an ardent NBA fan or have simply seen Space Jam, you know the story. Chicago Bulls star Jordan retired in 1993 after his team three-peated and shortly after his father's death, stating that "the desire is just not there any more".

For the next year, Jordan turned to baseball as a minor league player as he pursued a dream his father had of his son making it in the MLB. Then, amid rumours he was heading back to the NBA, came that Jordan utterance: "I'm back". 

The Bulls, led by perhaps the greatest ever, would win three successive championships again between 1996 and 1998 at which point Jordan retired once more. He then came back for a two-year stint with the Washington Wizards before finally calling it a day once and for all in 2003.

 

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER

Seven-time Formula One champion Schumacher was 37 when he announced the 2006 season - when he was pipped to the title by Fernando Alonso - would be his last.

However, he remained around F1 as an advisor for Ferrari and returned for Mercedes to race in 2010 saying: "I have the energy back."

He would appear on the podium just once across three seasons, though, and he retired again in 2012, a year before he suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident.

 

KIM CLIJSTERS

A former world number one and the 2005 US Open champion, Clijsters retired at the age of 23 due to a series of punishing injuries.

Clijsters got married and gave birth in her time away from sport, and then after appearing in an exhibition match held at Wimbledon in 2009, the Belgian returned to the WTA Tour. In just her third tournament back, Clijsters won the US Open, becoming the first unseeded woman to win the tournament in the Open era and the first mother to win a grand slam since 1980.

She triumphed at Flushing Meadows again in 2010 and won the Australian Open in 2011, recently returning to tennis for a third time after a seven-year hiatus.

LANCE ARMSTRONG

American Armstrong retired as a seven-time Tour de France champion in 2005. But the story, of course, didn't end there.

Dogged by doping allegations during his career, Armstrong faced questions again when he returned, aged 37, in 2009 and finished third in that year's Tour.

Armstrong retired once more in 2011 while he was the subject of a federal investigation into doping allegations. Another probe from the United States Anti-Doping Agency led to charges which resulted in Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour titles in 2012, with the cyclist publicly coming clean on his doping the following year.

 

GEORGE FOREMAN

There was a full decade between Foreman's 47th and 48th fights.

He lost on points to Jimmy Young in 1977, falling ill in the dressing room after the bout and suffering what he said was a near-death experience, leading him to find God.

A born-again Christian, Foreman returned at 38. Despite defeats to Evander Holyfield and Tommy Morrison in title bouts, Foreman would become heavyweight champion of the world again in 1994 - at the grand old age of 45 - by stopping Michael Moorer.

BRETT FAVRE

Long-time Green Bay Packers quarterback Favre, the king of indecision, bowed out from the NFL in March 2008, passing the baton to a certain Aaron Rodgers. However, he had a change of heart four months later. The Packers, who wanted to move on with Rodgers, traded Favre to the New York Jets.

After one season with Gang Green, Favre retired again. And then he performed another U-turn, paving the way for him to join the Minnesota Vikings, one of Green Bay's arch-rivals.

He enjoyed by far the best year of his career with the Vikings in terms of quarterback rating (107.2) but Minnesota lost the NFC Championship Game. More indecision followed after that, though 2010 would prove to be the final year of a Hall of Fame career.

With the coronavirus pandemic having largely brought sport to a halt, many in the industry have a little extra time on their hands.

For footballers in Europe's top-five leagues - all of which have been postponed until at least early April - this is a good moment to look back on the season to date, assess what has gone right and wrong, and maybe put in a few hours on the treadmill at home.

There are some who have a little more to ponder than others.

Using Opta data, we've taken a look at some of the worst-performing players in their respective positions. Here, we examine those all-important personal-glory-hunters: the goalscorers.

We've analysed six key metrics when it comes to underperforming as a forward: shots off target, shooting accuracy, shot conversion rate, headed shots off target, big chance conversion rate and minutes per goal.

To make things more balanced, we've imposed some cut-off points, which are shown in the results below. These players have also been picked from those to make at least 10 league appearances this season, to make things a little fairer on those trying to mark a rare outing with a goal (here's looking at you, Phil Jones).

THE WORST ATTACKING STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20

BUNDESLIGA:

Most shots off target (Min. 30 shots): Robert Lewandowski (37)
Worst shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Guido Burgstaller (32.14 per cent)
Worst shot conversion rate (Min. one goal scored): Matheus Cunha (7.14 per cent)
Most headed shots off target (Min. 5 shots): Wout Weghorst (16)
Worst big chance conversion rate (Min. 5 big chances): Guido Bergstaller (0 per cent, from 5)
Most minutes per goal: Robert Skov (624.33)

LALIGA:

Most shots off target (Min. 30 shots): Karim Benzema (40)
Worst shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Jonathan Calleri (33.33 per cent)
Worst shot conversion rate (Min. one goal scored): Jonathan Calleri (3.33 per cent)
Most headed shots off target (Min. 5 shots): Joselu (15)
Worst big chance conversion rate (Min. 5 big chances): Sandro Ramirez (0 per cent, from 5)
Most minutes per goal: Jonathan Calleri (1362)

LIGUE 1:

Most shots off target (Min. 30 shots): Victor Osimhen (38)
Worst shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Casimir Ninga (28 per cent)
Worst shot conversion rate (Min. one goal scored): Jonathan Bamba (2.7 per cent)
Most headed shots off target (Min. 5 shots): Victor Osimhen (14)
Worst big chance conversion rate (Min. 5 big chances): Kalifa Coulibaly (0 per cent, from 9)
Most minutes per goal: Jonathan Bamba (1941)

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most shots off target (Min. 30 shots): Raul Jimenez (40)
Worst shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Joelinton (36.36 per cent)
Worst shot conversion rate (Min. one goal scored): Joelinton (3.03 per cent)
Most headed shots off target (Min. 5 shots): Sebastien Haller (14)
Worst big chance conversion rate (Min. 5 big chances): David McGoldrick (0 per cent, from 15)
Most minutes per goal: Joelinton (2237)

SERIE A:

Most shots off target (Min. 30 shots): Cristiano Ronaldo (40)
Worst shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Dries Mertens (33.33 per cent)
Worst shot conversion rate (Min. one goal scored): Suso (4.35 per cent)
Most headed shots off target (Min. 5 shots): Edin Dzeko (19)
Worst big chance conversion rate (Min. 5 big chances): Dries Mertens (16.67 per cent, from 6)
Most minutes per goal: Suso (1361)

AND THE TOP SIX:

Most shots off target (Min. 30 shots): Raul Jimenez (40)
Worst shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Casimir Ninga (28 per cent)
Worst shot conversion rate (Min. one goal scored): Jonathan Bamba (2.7 per cent)
Most headed shots off target (Min. 5 shots): Edin Dzeko (19)
Worst big chance conversion rate (Min. 5 big chances): David McGoldrick (0 per cent, from 15)
Most minutes per goal: Joelinton (2237)

Europe's top five leagues have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and there is widespread uncertainty over the future of the 2019-20 season.

Will tournaments be completed when conditions are suitable? Will things finish as they are? Will the campaign be declared null and void?

With the help of Opta, we look back over the previous 10 seasons to see who would have been crowned champions if the Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga had stopped where there are now.

 

Aguer-no!

It was an iconic moment in Premier League history. Sergio Aguero scored Manchester City's second stoppage-time goal as they came from behind to defeat QPR 3-2 and clinch their first top-flight title in 44 years, beating crestfallen arch-rivals Manchester United to the trophy on the final day of the season.

However, if the campaign had been stopped where it is now it would have been United who were celebrating due to a one-point advantage.

It is the only occasion since 2009-10 that the team on top after 29 matchdays has not won the Premier League.

 

Atleti's title wiped out

Atletico Madrid incredibly broke the Barcelona and Real Madrid duopoly in LaLiga in 2013-14, with Diego Godin salvaging a draw at Camp Nou on the final day to ensure they finished top of the pile.

However, it was local rivals Real Madrid, led by Carlo Ancelotti, who sat three points clear after 27 games of the season, meaning Diego Simeone's crowning achievement would not have occurred.

The only other instance of a team being displaced in the final 11 matches came in 2009-10, when Madrid sat ahead of Barca on goal difference but ended up seeing Pep Guardiola's men go on to win LaLiga for a second straight season.

 

Juventus dominance broken up

Eight straight Serie A titles have seen Juventus create history in Italy, but they would have only managed five if the previous seasons stopped after 26 games – the total the majority of clubs have completed in 2019-20.

The Bianconeri went undefeated under Antonio Conte in 2011-12, although it was Milan who topped the table at this point in the campaign, meaning Massimiliano Allegri would have won successive Scudetti at San Siro.

Maurizio Sarri would also not have had to have waited until winning the Europa League with Chelsea last year for his first major title.

Sarri's Napoli only surrendered top spot to Juve on matchday 27 in 2017-18 and they failed to recover it, missing out on their best chance to finish top since the Diego Maradona era.

 

QSI off to the perfect start

The landscape of Ligue 1 changed dramatically when Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) bought Paris Saint-Germain in June 2011, although no silverware was added to the Parc des Princes trophy cabinet in the first season following the takeover.

However, they would have been crowned champions had the 2011-12 season finished after 28 games, denying a Montpellier side powered by the goals of Olivier Giroud an unlikely first Ligue 1 title.

There would have been bad news for PSG in 2014-15, though, as the trophy would have gone to Hubert Fournier's Lyon due to a one-point margin.

Bordeaux would have made it back-to-back titles in 2009-10, too, with Marseille having made the most of a collapse that saw Laurent Blanc's side slip from first to sixth over the final 10 matches.

 

Bundesliga business as usual

What changes with the Bundesliga title winners if you stop the previous 10 seasons after 25 games? Nothing.

Bayern Munich would have won eight championships to Borussia Dortmund's two.

With precious few sporting events taking place due to the coronavirus, we looked back through sporting history to identify key and major events to take place on this day.

March 18 has proven a busy day down the years, but we have highlighted five particularly memorable or notable occasions.

From the formation of a world-renowned football club, to the suspicious death of a former cricketer, below we have everything you need for a little education, or a trip down memory lane.

 

1900 – Ajax are formed

March 18 is a momentous day not only for Dutch football, but for the entire sport globally. On this day in 1900, Ajax were formed by Floris Stempel (their first chairman), Hen Dade (sports director) and Carel Reeser. Named after the mythological Greek war hero Ajax, most known for fighting against Troy in the Trojan War, the club has since gone on to dominate much of Dutch football history and influenced many of the most famous ideologies and philosophies in the world game.

1942 – Two black players try out for Chicago White Sox

Jackie Robinson is remembered as an iconic baseball player, in more ways than one. Regarded a great for his exploits with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he was also the first black player to break the colour barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947. However, he could have made the move from the 'Negro Leagues' five years earlier, as on March 18, 1942, Robinson and Nate Moreland – who was also black – had a trial with the Chicago White Sox. Manager Jimmy Dykes acknowledged their abilities, but he did not sign either, doubtful the White Sox would allow black players to join.

2000 – England win inaugural Six Nations

The Six Nations has had many forms through the years, initially starting off as a tournament between the British 'Home Nations' and then becoming the Five Nations. It was further expanded to its current guise in 2000 as Italy joined the fold. England won the inaugural Six Nations, thrashing the newcomers 57-12 in Rome – Jonny Wilkinson's kicking and Austin Healey's hat-trick of tries doing the damage.

2007 – Former cricketer and coach Bob Woolmer found dead

On March 18, 2007, one day after his Pakistan team were knocked out of the Cricket World Cup, coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room. Initially he was thought to have had a heart attack, only for another pathologist's report to suggest he had been murdered. Further reports proposed health problems contributed to his passing, but a jury later returned an open verdict, unable to rule out the theory Woolmer was strangled. Other prominent former cricketers have since claimed Woolmer did not die of natural causes.

2012 – Panathinaikos v Olympiacos leads to chaos

Those familiar with Greek football – and specifically the rivalries involved – will not be unaware of the problems often seen when Olympiacos and Panathinaikos face each other. In March 2012, the disturbances were particularly serious, as Panathinaikos were losing 1-0 at home to their bitter rivals. The second half was initially delayed by 45 minutes due to fans throwing flares and Molotov cocktails at police, and the contest was eventually abandoned. Twenty police officers were hurt, 50 fans were arrested, three fire engines were required to tackle blazes, and Pana were docked five points on top of having to play four games behind closed doors.

UEFA convened a conference call featuring its major stakeholders on Tuesday to map out European football's response to the coronavirus crisis.

The governing body's 55 member associations, the European Club Association, European Leagues and the international players' union Fifpro were all represented.

Rescheduling flagship tournaments such as Euro 2020, the Champions League and the Europa League were key matters to address, along with domestic scheduling concerns.

Here, we look at the key decisions taken and what the ramifications might be.


EURO 2020 BECOMES EURO 2021

European club football entered a continent-wide shutdown across its major leagues over the past week, making the completion of 2019-20 competitions on schedule a virtual impossibility.

These circumstances made moving the European Championship an obvious course of action and Euro 2020 has been put back 12 months to 2021, where it will occupy the same June-July timeslot.

The format for the competition remains, with teams and supporters set to travel across 12 host cities throughout Europe – an arrangement at odds with seeking to contain a pandemic - meaning the longer delay is certainly preferable to a mooted November scheduling in this regard.

Interestingly, UEFA intends to stage this month's postponed Euro 2020 qualification play-offs in the international window at the beginning of June this year. The different stages the virus has reached in different countries means all nations involved being safe to play in under three months is far from guaranteed, while there is likely to be stress placed upon club scheduling given Tuesday's other major decision.

 

A COMMITMENT TO COMPLETING 2019-20 SEASON BY JUNE 30

While pushing Euro 2020 back 12 months looks like the common-sense option, UEFA's announcement on club competitions appears fraught with potential difficulties.

The Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A and the Bundelsliga are suspended until the start of April, with further delays expected, while Ligue 1 is on hiatus until further notice.

Even if prompt resumptions are secured, UEFA's ambitious target will come to loom quickly. Further high-profile matches behind closed doors appear likely and necessary.

The motivation of all involved is fairly clear, given a season stretching beyond June 30 is hugely problematic because that is the date when player contracts typically expire. Keeping the 2019-20 season in an indefinite state of limbo would also bring associated financial pressures and uncertainty for many clubs.

 

WOMEN'S EURO, EUROPEAN UNDER-21 CHAMPIONSHIP AND NATIONS LEAGUE TO MOVE

Euro 2020's move 12 months down the line meant it clashed with the Women's Euro 2021 in England.

This would have proved particularly problematic for the women's competition, given it was due to kick-off on July 7 – four days out from the newly scheduled European Championship final at Wembley.

But the tournament will be moved. UEFA has not decided where to in the calendar just yet and there will be similarly unspecified new dates for the European Under-21 Championship in Hungary and Slovenia and the 2021 Nations League Finals.

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar not taking place until November and December of that year could prove handy here.

 

EXPANDED FIFA CLUB WORLD CUP ALSO PUSHED BACK

UEFA thanked FIFA for its understanding in allowing the rescheduling of Euro 2020, meaning a circumstantial detente between Aleksandr Ceferin and the man who preceded him as UEFA chief – FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

One source of friction between the most powerful continental federation and world football's government body has been Infantino's dubious masterplan of an expanded 24-team Club World Cup.

Despite little indication of European support – the ECA greeted the March 2019 unveiling by stating its members' intention to boycott - the tournament was due to launch in China in 2021. But no more. CONMEBOL moving in parallel with UEFA to stage the 2020 Copa America a year later means the nations intended to supply 14 of the clubs to Infantino's jamboree would be in international action.

In a statement, FIFA pledged to seek a new date for the Club World Cup, either later in 2021, 2022 or 2023. This unprecedented situation has brought the cordiality required but expect battle lines to be redrawn down the road.

The previously unthinkable is to become a reality: Tom Brady has confirmed that his "football journey will take place elsewhere".

Brady will not be a New England Patriot when he starts his 21st NFL season, but where he lands in free agency remains unclear.

The Tennessee Titans are ruled out after re-signing Ryan Tannehill while the Las Vegas Raiders' reported acquisition of Marcus Mariota means Sin City is unlikely to be Brady's next destination.

So where is his most likely landing spot? We assess the options.

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

A sporting icon moving to the City of Stars late in his career? See LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers for evidence that can happen.

The Chargers, who would welcome a star acquisition to help sell season tickets for their new stadium, have a lot in the 'pros' column. They have a vacancy following Philip Rivers' departure, the cap space (over $50 million for 2020) and a plethora of offensive weapons such as Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry and Austin Ekeler.

Los Angeles is also geographically appealing for a man who recently launched his own production company. Yet would Brady really want to challenge Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the reigning Super Bowl champions for supremacy in the AFC West?

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Another team heavily linked to Brady has been Tampa Bay, who are letting Jameis Winston hit free agency after he led the league in passing yards in 2019.

Winston also threw more interceptions than anyone else, and that is why a player of Brady's calibre - even at 42 years old - would be appealing to head coach Bruce Arians.

Brady's eyes would light up at the possibility of playing with a receiving duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and the Florida weather is a plus point too. Are the Bucs close enough to contending for a Super Bowl, though? 

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

The aforementioned Rivers seems a logical fit here given his familiarity with the coaching staff and reports suggest the two sides have a mutual interest.

However, if Brady really wanted to stick it to New England and Bill Belichick, what better way than signing for one of their rivals? The Colts are a team still seething at Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' U-turn when he seemed set to become Indy's head coach in 2018.

The Colts have plenty of cap space, a fine roster and could offer Brady the sanctuary of their dome for home games. Yet, it is hard to see Brady winding up at Lucas Oil Stadium given it was the Colts' complaint in the 2014 'Deflategate' scandal that led to the quarterback being suspended.

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Fans of the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills are sure to be among the happiest that Brady is finally leaving the AFC East.

Only what if he does not and Brady takes his talents to South Beach ala LeBron 10 years ago? The Dolphins, awash with cap space, could sign Brady and draft his long-term replacement Tua Tagovailoa to sit behind him and return to fitness.

Brian Flores, the former Patriots defensive coordinator, is the head coach in Miami, but his team are still in the early years of a rebuild - not the type of situation for a 40-something starting QB. Unless he really wants to stick it to Belichick and the Pats....

 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

How about this for a Hollywood ending: The boyhood 49ers fan moves back home and rides off into the sunset after winning a seventh Super Bowl ring.

San Francisco came agonisingly close to winning it all last month only to fall short against the Chiefs, leading to Jimmy Garoppolo's naysayers to raise their concerns about his suitability as a franchise quarterback.

It would be some twist given Garoppolo once backed Brady up and was seen as his heir apparent, though Jimmy G's 2019 performances suggested he should be the present and future for Kyle Shanahan's team.

 

DENVER BRONCOS

Could Brady follow in Peyton Manning's footsteps and head to Mile High? Manning won a second ring as a Bronco in a perfect example of a veteran quarterback taking a talented team over the line, even if he was far from his best in Super Bowl 50.

John Elway drafted Drew Lock last year and though he produced some encouraging signs as a rookie, the Broncos head honcho said they would "always talk" to Brady if he became available. Consider them among the wildcards.

After two decades as a New England Patriot, Tom Brady will be wearing a different uniform in 2020.

The six-time Super Bowl winner was drafted by the Patriots in 2000 and has played 326 games for New England in the regular season and playoffs.

Yet Brady has not agreed a new deal with the Patriots, who in turn will not apply the franchise tag to their quarterback, and he confirmed on Tuesday that he will continue his "football journey" elsewhere.

The 42-year-old is not alone in being a great quarterback who switched late in his career, though, and here we take a look at others who wound up moving away from the franchises they became synonymous with. 

 

PEYTON MANNING

The Indianapolis Colts' Lucas Oil Stadium is known as 'The House That Peyton Built', such is Manning's standing in the Hoosier State

Manning, the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, took the Colts to the playoffs in 11 of his 13 seasons as the starter, but in 2012 Indy cut ties rather than pay an aging quarterback coming off a succession of neck surgeries a $28million bonus.

The Colts also had the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft which they spent on Andrew Luck, then considered the most sure-fire QB prospect since, well, Manning.

But 'The Sheriff' was not done. In four seasons with the Denver Broncos he twice made the Super Bowl, set NFL single-season records for passing yardage (5,477) and touchdowns thrown (55) and added a second ring at Super Bowl 50, after which he headed off into the sunset.

 

JOE MONTANA

Brady's childhood hero won four Super Bowl rings across 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, though he would end his career as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Montana missed virtually all of 1991 and 1992 with an elbow injury and in 1993, faced with one of the biggest quarterback controversies of all time, the Niners decided to apply their succession plan and stick with reigning MVP Steve Young under center.

So Montana was shipped to Kansas City, where he took the Chiefs to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons before calling it a day.

At the culmination of Montana's final season in 1994, the Niners won their fifth Super Bowl title with Young as the starting signal caller.

BRETT FAVRE

Though Favre was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, it was in TitleTown where the gunslinger made his name as he racked up the yards and records across 16 seasons and led the Green Bay Packers to victory at Super Bowl XXXI.

Favre appeared content to bow out in March 2008, when Aaron Rodgers had been identified as his heir apparent, yet things got messy when the veteran performed a retirement U-turn in July.

Green Bay had no interest in trading him to the Minnesota Vikings, their rivals in the NFC North, so Favre was moved to the New York Jets, where he spent one up-and-down season before retiring again.

Yet in 2009 Favre did the unthinkable and signed for the Vikings. Minnesota went all the way to the NFC Championship Game - beating the Packers twice in the regular season along the way - but Father Time appeared to have finally caught up with Favre in the 2010 season and on this occasion his retirement stuck.

 

JOE NAMATH

While his statistics do not measure up to Brady, Manning et al, Hall of Famer Namath is still one of the most renowned NFL quarterbacks of all time.

His "guarantee" that the underdog New York Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III is etched into NFL folklore.

Away from the gridiron, 'Broadway Joe' was perhaps the NFL's first celebrity and it seemed fitting that he went from the Big Apple to the City of Stars, signing for the Los Angeles Rams in 1977 after he had gone 4-17 as a starter in the previous two seasons.

However, by that point, injuries had taken their toll and Namath's time in the NFL ended with a four-interception outing against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. At least he was in the right place to launch his acting career...

A chapter looks set to be closed on one of the most successful eras in NFL history after the New England Patriots confirmed Tom Brady would hit free agency.

New England certainly got plenty of value from their 199th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, Brady establishing himself as a franchise quarterback and leading the Pats to six Super Bowl titles.

With the team and their most iconic player now parting ways, we remember Brady's best moments as a Patriot.

 

A LEGEND IS BORN

Nineteen years ago, the course of the NFL was altered forever when Jets linebacker Mo Lewis delivered a brutal hit on Drew Bledsoe, leaving New England's then starting quarterback with internal bleeding.

The relatively unknown Brady stepped into the breach in Week 2 and led New England all the way to the Super Bowl, keeping his job even after Bledsoe returned to fitness.

Bill Belichick's team were huge underdogs against the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, though with 1:21 to play, the Patriots had the ball on their own 17-yard line and the game was tied at 17-17.

New England had no timeouts left and commentator John Madden famously said they should "play for overtime", but a nerveless Brady drove them into field-goal position and Adam Vinatieri did the rest to kick-start a dynasty.

THE (NEAR) PERFECT SEASON

The 2007 season is remembered for the one loss New England had, in Super Bowl XLII to the New York Giants, but their incredible campaign certainly deserves to be celebrated.

New England acquired receivers Wes Welker and Randy Moss in the offseason and the Brady-led offense proved unstoppable, the quarterback throwing for an NFL record 50 touchdowns - 22 more than he had previously managed in a campaign.

The Pats went 16-0 in the regular season and Brady won the first of his three MVP awards, but the Giants spoilt an otherwise perfect season in Arizona.

 

FIVE TOUCHDOWNS IN ONE QUARTER

Not enough is made of Brady's remarkable performances in cold weather, and his skill in the snow was especially evident during a 59-0 regular-season rout of the Tennessee Titans in 2009.

In the second quarter alone, Brady set an NFL record for touchdown passes in one quarter as Welker and Moss each caught two apiece and Kevin Faulk hauled in a score as well.

This performance came in his first season back from a serious knee injury that kept him out of virtually the entire 2008 campaign.

 

A UNANIMOUS MVP

Three years after being voted the NFL's best, Brady won the respect of his peers again, only this time everyone was in agreement.

All 50 voters selected Brady as the MVP of the 2010 season and he became the award's first ever unanimous winner.

Consistency was the key for the quarterback as the Pats went 14-2, with Brady completing a record streak of 335 throws without an interception at one point in the season.

 

A FIFTH SUPER BOWL RING

Any doubts about Brady's status as the greatest to ever grace the gridiron were surely banished once and for all when he became the first quarterback to win enough rings to furnish one hand.

The Atlanta Falcons were 28-3 up late in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI in Houston, yet Brady, then 39, made history by leading New England to the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.

James White ran in the winning score in overtime, but it was Brady who walked away with his fourth Super Bowl MVP award after throwing for 466 yards in a 34-28 success.

Tom Brady is set to hit NFL free agency, ending a glorious two-decade run with the New England Patriots.

The 42-year-old quarterback will be out of contract when the new NFL year begins on March 18, meaning for the first time in his illustrious career, he is poised to play elsewhere in 2020.

Here we take a look at Brady's records and statistics from his time as a Patriot.

 

199th pick - 198 players were selected in the 2000 NFL Draft - including six quarterbacks - before New England took Brady, an unheralded quarterback from the University of Michigan.

326 games - Brady made a total of 326 appearances for the Patriots - 285 in the regular season and 41 in the playoffs - since debuting in 2000. All but two of those appearances have been starts.

249 victories - No other quarterback can compete with Brady's 249 wins as a starter across the regular season and postseason. Drew Brees, with 171, is the next closest.

Six rings - The Patriots made nine Super Bowls during the Brady era. He owns the most Super Bowl victories among all players, one more than Charles Haley and two more than fellow quarterbacks Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw.

Four Super Bowl MVPs - Brady also leads the way in MVP awards for the big game. Only five players have been named Super Bowl MVP on more than one occasion (Brady, Montana, Bradshaw, Bart Starr and Eli Manning).

14 Pro Bowls - His Super Bowl appearances meant Brady had to miss many of the Pro Bowls he was nominated for, but he holds the record for most nods, along with Tony Gonzalez, Peyton Manning, Bruce Matthews and Merlin Olsen.

45 fourth-quarter comebacks - Peyton Manning may have more fourth-quarter comebacks in the regular season (43 to Brady's 36), yet his great rival has nine in the postseason compared to The Sheriff's two.

58 game-winning drives - In all six of New England's Super Bowl victories, Brady has engineered a game-winning drive. In the regular season, he is behind just Peyton Manning, Brees and Dan Marino in that category.

74,571 yards - Brees is the only signal caller to have thrown for more yards than Brady in the regular season, and the man second on the list is just 2,845 yards behind.

541 passing touchdowns - It's neck and neck between the two in the category of most touchdowns thrown in the regular season, too, with Brees leading the way on 547 scores.

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