Travis Head proved he is a "champion player" with his decisive Cricket World Cup final innings against India, according to Madan Lal.

It looked like India were on course to record a brilliant World Cup triumph on home soil when they won every match en route to last week's final and then reduced Australia to 47-3 in their pursuit of 241.

But a pivotal 192-run partnership from opener Head and Marnus Labuschagne slowly took the game away from India and quietened the home crowd as the Aussies claimed a record-extending sixth World Cup.

Head remained at the crease until the final over, scoring 137 from 120 balls, with 15 fours and four maximums.

Ex-India captain Madan Lal, who won the Cricket World Cup in 1983, was most impressed by how Head was able to manage the situation before moving up the gears as he recorded the second-highest score by an opener in a men's final, after compatriot Adam Gilchrist's 149 in 2007.

"Travis Head's innings was one of the best I've seen in a World Cup – and I have watched a lot of World Cups, I played in two World Cups," Madan Lal said to Stats Perform. 

"But any innings under pressure, when you score 137 and your team wins, it’s always going to be very high in my mind. 

"He didn't panic. Normally, he's a player who hits the ball, he hits every ball. But he altered his game according to the situation of the game, according to the scoreboard. 

"He played like a champion, a champion player."

Head is in the Australia squad for a five-match T20I series between the teams which begins in Vishakhapatnam on Thursday as the gruelling international cricket calendar continues.

Pat Cummins, meanwhile, is rested for the T20 series after winning praise for his captaincy in the tournament.

He was the first skipper to triumph in a World Cup final after winning the toss since 2007, with his decision to put India in to bat paying off spectacularly. 

Madan Lal added: "All the credit must go to Pat Cummins because of his leadership quality. 

"He's also a wonderful person, because if you look at him when he's playing the game, I've never seen him getting angry or getting upset with someone.

"The calmness is there and that is why I think I rate him, because you have to control that situation, that is very, very important for the leader. A leader like Pat Cummins respects all the players and all the players respect him."

When Australia reached the final, Madan Lal knew India had a huge challenge despite the hosts' fine form throughout the tournament. 

He added: "If you look at Australia's performances in the World Cup, we are always going to rank them very, very highly, as the number one team. 

"They know how to do it because Australia has a sporting culture. They never give up. They are always trying something. And the other thing which I like about them is that they enjoy the game. 

"You cannot win nine games on the trot after losing the first couple of games. Only this type of Australian team can do it. You can never, ever take an Australian easily, because when Australia reached the final, everybody in India knew that they were going to be a tough match.

"When Ricky Ponting was captain, that team was very, very good, but this team is also good. See, the captain is only good when the team is good, and you can produce the result.

"They have won the World Test Championship, now they've won the World Cup. That's where you have to appreciate this team. They produced the result and that's what matters."

India had a "mental issue" in their Cricket World Cup final defeat to Australia, according to their former captain Madan Lal.

Travis Head's 137 propelled Australia to a six-wicket victory in Sunday's final at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

Head's knock is the second-highest score by an opener in a men's World Cup final. 

And Madan Lal, who played for India between 1974 and 1987, believes the tournament hosts had a mental slip at the most inopportune moment.

"It is a little bit of a mental issue, you can say that," he told Stats Perform.

"In a final, if you make mistakes, then you have no chance of winning. You have to make less mistakes [than the opposition] as that is the only way you are going to win.

"You can say [India are having] mental issues because in the last 10 ICC tournaments we've played in the finals [knockout rounds], but we didn't win any. That can be addressed.

“Definitely [this was their best chance] because of the way the team was playing and the way their bowling attack was performing.

"I was thinking that India would go through and win, but at the end of the day, when Australia came into the final, then I said it was a 50-50 game. It's not a game that can be easily won.

"I think it's a bit sad. India had done very well. They won all their ten matches, but in the last one, they couldn’t cross the line."

Virat Kohli starred for India in the World Cup, scoring 765 runs.

He tallied a half-century in the final, having plundered a ton in the semi-final, which took him above India legend Sachin Tendulkar in the all-time rankings for ODI centuries.

"He’s fantastic, a world champion, a superb player," Madan Lal said of Kohli. 

"The good thing about him is the way he looks after himself, the way he approaches the game, his attitude.

"Plus, if you see when he's batting, we always know that if he bats for 15 minutes, he will get 100 runs.

"And another good thing about him is that he looks at the scoreboard. He plays according to the situation of the game, like Head did [in the final]."

Glenn Maxwell's unbeaten 201 in Australia's win over Afghanistan should be considered as the "greatest ever" ODI innings.

Earlier in November, Maxwell dragged Australia – who were chasing a target of 292 – to victory from 91-7 despite battling a back injury that was hugely limiting him.

On Sunday, it was fittingly Maxwell who struck the winning runs as Australia overcame hosts India by six wickets in the final.

And former England bowler Sidebottom thinks Maxwell's knock against Afghanistan will likely go down as the best in 50-over cricket.

"As an ODI innings, I've been lucky enough to watch and see many great ODI innings, but that has to be one of the best ever," Sidebottom told Stats Perform.

"It was just some serious hitting and display. I was in awe, it was seriously one of the best things I've ever seen.

"And again, I've got to say, Afghanistan were brilliant throughout this tournament.

"Afghanistan could have quite easily qualified [for the semi-finals]. It was a truly wonderful innings and to see how he played was just something very, very special."

Asked to consider other great innings, Sidebottom pointed to Ben Stokes' heroics for England in 2019, but thinks Maxwell's tally, which came off 128 balls and included 21 fours and 10 sixes, is the greatest.

"There's been so many from so many greats," he added.

"Stokes in the 2019 World Cup final because of the situation and England were struggling a little bit at the time.

"I look at how they go about the innings when their teams are under pressure. But Maxwell was under pressure to score 200 on his own to win that – it has to be probably the greatest innings ever."

Sam Billings has defended the "phenomenal" Rob Key despite England's early World Cup exit, saying people have "short memories".

England's defence of their World Cup crown came to a dismal end, crashing out at the group stage and suffering defeats to the likes of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

The miserable elimination has led some to criticise Key, England's managing director, but Billings has come to his defence, praising the work he has done since being appointed in 2022.

"I think Rob Key has been phenomenal," Billing told Stats Perform, speaking on the Pro Am Padel Tour. 

"People have ridiculously short memories. He's accountable for everything that's been a positive change over the last 15 months.

"So yeah, I think people always like to shoot people at the top. I think it's all just paper talk, but you look at where English cricket is at the moment – it's an interesting time for cricket as a whole.

"There are so many options. There are so many different competitions around the world, and so multifaceted where you're trying to juggle everything so I think they're doing a fantastic job."

Billings believes England's terrible World Cup campaign is a reminder of how quickly fortunes can change in sport, saying: "Without stating the obvious, it's hugely disappointing.

"But it's just a reminder of how brutal sport is. There are no guarantees, we prepare the best we can as athletes, the best we can as a team, but ultimately, there are no guarantees and every single team, regardless of how good they are or how good they've been, can have off days that can kind of mount up.

"It's just been one of those things – I think it's important to keep perspective in a time like this where it's been five weeks, probably, of poor cricket over an eight-year period. When you put it in perspective like that, I think that's pretty much all I can say about it. I just think it's important to keep perspective."

Bobby Zamora hailed Jude Bellingham's talents as "mind blowing" and believes the 20-year-old can star for England for many years to come.

Bellingham's meteoric rise has seen him come through the ranks at boyhood club Birmingham City before signing for Borussia Dortmund at just 17. His performances in the Bundesliga and Champions League caught the interest of Europe's elite, and Real Madrid swooped in to acquire his signature for an initial €101million (£88.5m) before this season.

Bellingham has enjoyed a staggering start to life with the Spanish giants, scoring 10 goals in 11 LaLiga matches so far, more than legendary midfielder Zinedine Zidane ever managed in a single campaign for the club.

Zamora has lauded Bellingham for his incredible performances at such a young age and predicts the midfielder will prove to be an England mainstay.

"He just keeps improving and keeps getting better, and he's absolutely mind blowing really," Zamora told Stats Perform, speaking on the Pro Am Padel Tour.

"He is still at such a young age and to be performing at that level week in week out for Real Madrid and England as well. It's a real bright future for him and a bright future for England as well."

Bellingham's excellent displays in 2023 were enough for him to receive the Golden Boy award, given to the best player aged 21 and under in Europe's top-flight divisions.

Former West Ham midfielder Mark Noble said Bellingham is exceeding expectations, even with the lofty hopes placed upon him.

"Everyone knew the dude was special at a young age," said Noble.

"But I think he's surprised everyone too, probably even himself. Not many people would go to Real Madrid and start like that.

"So good luck to him. He's a fantastic asset for the country and I hope he does really well."

Belgium international and former Tottenham star Jan Vertonghen has ruled out immediately starting a coaching career once he brings down the curtain on his illustrious playing career.

The 36-year-old, enjoying the challenge of rejuvenating Belgian giants Anderlecht after a disappointing campaign last year, now has his eyes firmly set on investment opportunities off the pitch.

Despite being coached by the likes of Roberto Martinez and Mauricio Pochettino, Vertonghen does not see the lure of being back on the grass when he calls time on his playing career in football.

"I have my A licence, I did it just to understand how coaches think and what kind of work they need to put in," he said to Stats Perform.

"So, when I'm sitting on this side of the room in a meeting, I understand where it comes from. It's important for me to understand people, how they think, what work they have to put in, how the data works, and the physical load.

"That's why I did it, to understand that side and for me, it's not an option – definitely not for the first couple of years – mainly because I am looking for the right balance in my life.

"I feel that the husband I want to be, the father that I want to be and the coach that I want to be, I can't see it will work because I see the work they put in.

"They arrive at seven, they go home after seven. I want to see my kids, as I said, my son has started playing football. I want to go to his training sessions. I want to go to his games. I want to take my daughter to dance class. I want to pick my other son up from school.

"And that life doesn't exist being a coach or being an assistant coach or a physical coach. And if you take a job like this, you can't disrespect the job. You have to put the hours in, and I can't do that at the moment."

Vertonghen joins other elite athletes to work with investment company APEX to invest in the sports, media and entertainment industry.

APEX boasts 15+ investments among an athlete community of over 100 from the world of F1, football, boxing and surfing.

Antonio Cacorino, APEX co-founder and chief executive, believes having Vertonghen on board, along with the other global sporting stars, reinforces that notion athletes are keen to make the most of their potential away from their respective fields.

CaCorino said: "Traditionally, the thought was, 'Let me only think about investing or being active in something different when I retire. Let me focus 1,000 per cent on sports'.

"Unless you are Cristiano Ronaldo or a few other athletes in the world, when you retire, you just become irrelevant. It's unfortunate but it's the reality.

"We work with guys like Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly. In football, Siem de Jong, Luuk de Jong, Christian Eriksen, Raphael Varane. Anthony Joshua is a big boxer, so just really building a very strong, diverse asset community.

"We created an amazing athlete community of athletes from all over the world who have this sort of entrepreneurial mindset and this like-minded approach to how they want to position themselves beyond pure athletes."

Vertonghen, an Athlete partner at APEX, reveals meeting the young and ambitious co-founders, along with a star-studded list of sports stars involved, gave him the confidence to get involved with the Lisbon-based company.

"When you invest in a company with other high-profile names, most of the time they're surrounded by the best possible people," added the defender, who is Belgium’s most-capped player with 153 appearances for the Red Devils.

“They invest in the best possible companies with great opportunities.

"It makes a bit less sense if I invest in software from any kind of thing. For me, it's a sport-minded company where I can have my input, where I can talk to anyone who I want, where I can get the information that I want."

However, Vertonghen has no intention of hanging up his boots just yet, nor is he ready to give up keeping clean sheets either.

After a difficult 2022-23 season, which saw Champions League regulars Anderlecht finish in a lowly 11th place, he takes satisfaction in what has been a positive start to the campaign.

He continued: "Last year was a very, very bad and disappointing season, but we had a very good transfer window, great signings.

“[The manager] brought some great young guys in, experienced players like Kasper Schmeichel, for example, just leaders and guys who just want to win, and that's what we needed. The atmosphere in the team is great.

“In Belgium, it works with a play-off system. If you get into the top six, you go for the Champions Playoffs, and that's our ambition, to be in that top six.

“And then whoever's in the top six can be champion. It's just important for all the teams who have the ambition to achieve the highest things, to be in the top six.”

The Premier League has "opened Pandora's box" after Everton were deducted 10 points for breaching financial regulations.

That is the view of John Blain, the vice-chairman of the Everton Shareholders' Association and of Toffee TV.

Everton were hit with the largest points deduction in Premier League history on Friday, after being found guilty by an independent commission of breaching the competition's Profit and Sustainability rules.

The commission found that Everton had lost £124.5million over a three-year period, which is £19.5m over the £105m threshold.

Everton's punishment comes amid the backdrop of Manchester City facing 115 charges, while Chelsea are under investigation after reports detailed a series of payments, worth tens of millions, were made during the tenure of former owner Roman Abramovich. The deduction has taken Everton from 14th to 19th in the Premier League.

The Toffees have confirmed they will appeal the decision, and Blain believes the Premier League wanted a "show trial" in a bid to put off the installation of a government-backed independent regulator.

"A fair amount of this document is like a subjective VAR decision. In every place where it can't be proven, because the onus of proof is on Everton, then it's come down as bad for Everton," Blain told Stats Perform.

"The commission says: 'We agree with the Premier League that the requirement of punishment, deterrents, a vindication of complying clubs, and the protection of the integrity of the sport demand a sporting sample'. I think it's quite hilarious that it thinks it is protecting sporting integrity by doing this to this football club at this time, and the report itself says that Everton did not breach the rules deliberately.

"Yet we have other clubs, notably Manchester City, where there's no sign of the integrity being protected by bringing them to the courtroom. I think the Premier League has opened Pandora's Box – other clubs are in the tunnel, and at the end of the tunnel, you meet one of these commissions.

"It is interesting that when Everton were referred to an independent commission, the Premier League did not have any method whatsoever for calculating what the punishment would be, yet they sought to influence the commission by creating one as recently as August.

"The commission chose to ignore that guidance, but those rules that were put in place in August, should – and I suspect they won't – apply to clubs who have made huge losses.

"They appear to have opened Pandora's Box and they can't close it now. The next league game for Everton is at Goodison Park, and is against Manchester United, and I think people around the world will see what Everton fans think of this.

"We as fans are talking about the policy and process of the Premier League that we're objecting to – a fit-for-purpose sanction would not be 10 points. This will hang over Everton for a good chunk of the season, but also those clubs that think Everton getting deducted 10 points will stop them getting relegated. Those clubs won't know how many points they'll need to be safe until the end of the appeal process. It's crazy."

While Everton feel hard done by, Blain pointed out that Farhad Moshiri's leadership has left much to be desired.

He said: "Moshiri's legacy will be one of mismanagement and not making the board more effective. He has the good fortune that a new stadium, which will be seen across Europe when the Euros are here, will probably be the legacy that he quite likes.

"But the rest of it is not going to cover him in glory at all. The sad thing is the people who are culpable, who were running the business at the time of the transgressions, most notably the former chief executive [Denise Barrett-Baxendale] and chief financial officer [Grant Ingles], chose not to submit a witness statement to this commission.

"The chief executive of the Premier League made a witness statement, and the CFO of the Premier League made a statement – there was only one side of the story; that in itself is quite damning.

"If Everton were to be relegated because of this 10-point deduction, then clearly it would be the most damning of legacies. That the complete and utter failure to run the business probably resulted in the ultimate sanction of a founding member of the Premier League falling out of it for the first time ever."

Blain does, though, feel Sean Dyche's side are well-equipped to stay up despite the sanction.

"The team, and the management on the sporting side is in a far better place than it has been in many years," he said. "We will be "safe" from relegation and probably miss it by more points than in the last few years.

"We've been to the well as Everton fans and really suffered due to the ineptness of our sporting side, but it's getting sorted out. So perversely, this points deduction is not as emotive as it might have been if the policies and procedures of the Premier League were in place and they'd been able to take the club to court quicker.

"That's the thing that might upset other clubs, who all believe they would not have been relegated had this happened sooner. We will never know, and there's a fair amount of precedent inside the document that these are just normal business hurdles that you have to overcome."

Tottenham got the "deal of the century" when they signed James Maddison from Leicester City in the summer.

That is the view of their former striker Bobby Zamora, who has been impressed by the start Ange Postecoglou has made as manager after joining from Celtic.

It was a dramatic transfer window for Spurs as they sold talismanic striker Harry Kane to Bayern Munich, with England international Maddison, goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario, defender Micky van de Ven and winger Brennan Johnson among the players brought in.

England international Maddison has been ruled out until January with an ankle injury after making a stunning start for Spurs, scoring three goals and five assists in 11 Premier League matches after joining for around £40million.

His form has helped Tottenham fourth in the table, just two points behind leaders Manchester City, with Zamora – who played for the club in the 2003-04 season – liking what he sees.

"They are very impressive," Zamora said to Stats Perform, speaking on the Pro Am Padel Tour.

"The manager, I really like him as well. They have made a couple of good signings and when you see Maddison, he has certainly been on fire.

"I can't believe the price they paid for him and it's the deal of the century to be honest. 

"They're looking in a really good place and it'll be interesting to see if they can continue that form for the whole year or not."

After the international break, Spurs are back in action with a crunch home match against in-form Aston Villa on November 26.

Kane, meanwhile, has made a sensational start with Bayern. He has scored 17 goals in just 11 Bundesliga appearances, the highest total in Europe’s top five leagues, adding five assists as well.

He has scored another four goals in the Champions League too and Zamora understands the England captain's move given his desire to play at the highest level and desire to finally win some silverware.

Zamora added: "He has gone out there to win something, which I don't blame him for. 

"He spent a lot of time at Tottenham and has done fantastically well for them.

"If he wants a bit of silverware, I think he's moved there to Bayern and he's going to get some silverware.

"Plus [it helps] that he has not gone to any rival clubs in and around Spurs."

Ryan Sidebottom does not think any England players will have their legacies tarnished by the dismal 2023 ODI World Cup campaign.

England, who went into the tournament as reigning world champions, failed spectacularly in India.

Jos Buttler's team won just three of their nine matches – with two of those coming late in the group stage – as they finished seventh in the overall standings.

Indeed, until those latter two victories, England were rooted to the bottom of the standings, which would have seen them miss out on qualification for the ICC Champions Trophy in 2025.

Yet despite the dreadful defence of their title, England's players still have their legacies intact for winning the 2019 World Cup and 2022 T20 World Cup, so says former Test and one-day bowler Sidebottom.

"No, I don't I don't think anything will be tarnished," he told Stats Perform.

"I think they'll all be bitterly disappointed with their performance. This team has created a legacy. There's no doubt about it, not just this 11, but there's probably 20, 25 players who have been exceptional and set so many high standards for themselves.

"Creating history with run chases, high scores, they've been brilliant to watch. So, they have created something very special.

"They're allowed to play badly, and they have done, and I don't think it will happen again.

"Most of this team can go on and play in the next World Cup quite comfortably. They're still young enough, and I still feel there's a lot more to give with this team."

Sidebottom does also not agree with calls for captain Buttler and coach Matthew Mott to step down.

"You look what they've done so far," he said. "Yes, they've had a bad World Cup, but I think Buttler is a wonderful one-day performer and is arguably up there with the best in the world.

"He runs this team well and has gained a lot of experience from Eoin Morgan in his time.

"I think changing captains and coaches after one bad tournament is probably not going to be the right way to go about things. So, you stick with these guys.

"Jos has held his hands up. He said he's not played very well, individually, and I'm sure there are probably five or six players who would say they've not played well individually.

"But you can't keep changing coaches or captains, they've done a great job so far."

Harry Maguire has demonstrated his mental strength upon his return to Manchester United's team, according to Emile Heskey, who says the defender should be shown greater compassion by the media.

Maguire began 2023-24 out in the cold at Old Trafford, having reportedly turned down a move to West Ham to fight for his place, despite receiving fierce criticism from some quarters.

However, injuries to fellow centre-backs Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane forced Erik ten Hag to recall Maguire, who has started United's last eight games across all competitions.

Though the Red Devils have been inconsistent this season, with Ten Hag coming under pressure following a 3-0 rout at the hands of neighbours Manchester City and a chaotic 4-3 Champions League defeat at Copenhagen, Maguire has earned praise for his displays. 

Maguire has helped United earn back-to-back shutout wins over Fulham and Luton Town, and Heskey is pleased to see the 30-year-old respond to the criticism he has received. 

"He's got to be mentally strong, and I think this is one of the things where we forget that they are human," Heskey told Stats Perform. "We batter them and think they should just accept that. 

"We forget that players are mentally very, very strong to deal with those sorts of scenarios. But they still need help because we don't know how they're coping away from here. 

"I can talk to you here and say all the right things, but away from here, you don't know whether I'm crying. You don't know whether I'm pulling my hair out because it's not going right. 

"It's great that now he's showing his full strength of character, being back in the team."

Maguire's lack of playing time at club level has led to criticism of Gareth Southgate's decision to select him in England teams, and he was repeatedly booed by the Three Lions' fans last year.

Heskey recalled his experience of receiving harsh treatment from the press towards the end of his own international career as he called for the media to act in a more considerate manner.

"You've got to have thick skin. I got a lot of it, a hell of a lot of it," Heskey recalled. "I remember coming back from the wilderness in 2007 or 2008. I hadn't played for four years. 

"Coming back, everyone was like; 'Oh, no, not him again'. Now, that's fine, if that's your opinion, but now you're telling everyone else to have that opinion. 

"By putting that in the news, putting that on the back of a newspaper, you're telling them to have that opinion. 

"I was in a great place and it didn't really bother me. But going back years, it might have bothered me because I was younger. 

"At that time, I think I was 28 or something like that. I'd played 11 years of football so it really didn't bother me then. But you've got to sell papers, I get you. You've got to build your profile within social media. 

"Don't forget that it is a human being that you're talking about, and he's got kids, he's got family, he's got friends, he's got all these different people that can be affected by that. 

"I wasn't. I don't know if Harry Maguire is affected by it. He's not showing that he's affected by it. So that's a good thing, but he could be."

Your #ThreeLions for their final camp of 2023!

— England (@England) November 9, 2023

Reflecting on the way he saw off-pitch issues impact players' performances, Heskey added: "I remember one coach talking to me about a player and it was to do with his performances. 

"He couldn't go to the manager, so he went to the coach and he sat down with the player. He opened up, he'd got a newborn baby and he hadn't slept for like two weeks. 

"So they gave him a week off, he came back and he was fine. People don't know what's going on in people's lives, beyond actually being on the football pitch or being at work."

Emile Heskey will be stunned if Mauricio Pochettino isn't given time to rebuild Chelsea, who are beginning to show signs of life under the former Tottenham boss.

Chelsea have spent over £1billion in the transfer market in 18 months since Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital took over, and they have been inconsistent since embarking on another spending spree ahead of Pochettino's first campaign in charge.

After a below-par start under the Argentine, Chelsea have shown encouraging signs in recent weeks, thrashing nine-man Tottenham 4-1 in a remarkable London derby before playing out a thrilling 4-4 draw with Manchester City on Sunday.

That latter game – the first in the Premier League to feature four equalising goals since Liverpool and Arsenal's iconic 4-4 draw in April 2009 – saw Cole Palmer convert a 95th-minute penalty to deny his former club victory.

Chelsea went into the November international break five points adrift of the Premier League's top six, and with the team starting to show positive signs, Heskey believes Boehly will have greater patience with Pochettino than he did with predecessors Graham Potter and Thomas Tuchel.

"If you haven't negotiated that you need time at Chelsea, a club that was going through so much turmoil at that time, it would be silly," Heskey told Stats Perform.

"I'd be very surprised if he hasn't gone through that with them; 'We need time to actually build this and make sure we've got the time'. 

"The reality is that if you look at some of their games, they've battered teams but not won. So there's something else there in play where the confidence of the players to go and finish, they've lost that. 

"You can't say that you created 26 chances and not scored. There's something right there because you're creating 26 chances, but something's fundamentally wrong when that composure to finish isn't there. 

"That could be with the stadium, the crowd, the tension that comes with that. They've never had it before because you've had all these top forwards who were just banging in goals. 

"They were ruthless. They were relentless. Now they haven't got that, they need something. 

"They've got players that need an arm around them, and they've got players that are low on confidence. How do you bring them back up?"

Chelsea are yet to win a trophy under the Boehly regime, though Pochettino has led them to the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup, a competition which appears wide open with City, Manchester United, Spurs and Arsenal already being knocked out.

Heskey won that competition four times during his playing career, twice with Leicester City and twice with Liverpool, also finishing on the losing side in another two finals. 

While many consider Chelsea among the favourites to win the trophy, Heskey feels they face a tough task in the last eight, adding: "If I look at the next round, they've got Newcastle and that's not an easy job. 

"Newcastle are flying at this moment in time. And for me, if I'm Eddie Howe, that's the competition I want to win."

Ange Postecoglou has done a phenomenal job since taking over at Tottenham and was a natural choice to oversee the club's rebuild due to his charismatic personality.

That is the view of former England striker Emile Heskey, who came up against Postecoglou in the A-League during a two-year spell in Australia with Newcastle Jets between 2012 and 2014.

Postecoglou has had a remarkable impact on Spurs since taking charge, making the best start by any manager in Premier League history by overseeing a return of 26 points from his first 10 games in the competition.

Tottenham trail champions Manchester City by just a single point at the summit ahead of Saturday's trip to Wolves, having suffered their first league defeat under Postecoglou last time out.

Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie were both sent off as Spurs fell to a 4-1 defeat to Chelsea on Monday, though Postecoglou still earned praise for implementing a daring high line with nine men.

Heskey thinks Postecoglou's openness and willingness to take inspiration from different cultures has helped him succeed, telling Stats Perform: "Ange has been fantastic. 

"I obviously played in Australia for two years, and I saw some of the stuff that the Aussie coaches can do, [it's] very, very technical. 

"A lot of them work off the Dutch philosophy, but with a bit of Aussie grit, they love that. But then he obviously went over to Japan in different places, so he probably learnt the discipline from them.

"Working with that and getting some of that stuff, bringing it over to Europe… what he did at Celtic was phenomenal. 

"Now taking that step into Spurs – and Spurs is a big club – we've got to give it to them. 

"The training ground, the stadium, they're building a squad, they're in London. They should be where they are right now. 

"He's probably the right manager to actually build that, the right manager to take a lot of the pressure away because he's approachable, he's charismatic, he's got everything. 

"He takes a lot of the pressure away from the place that so they can actually perform as well."

Tottenham's flying start to the season has come despite the loss of their all-time leading goalscorer Harry Kane, who is in exceptional form for his new club Bayern Munich, scoring 19 goals and adding seven assists in just 15 appearances for the Bundesliga champions.

Though Heskey accepts Kane's departure may have altered expectations at Spurs, he does not believe it can be seen as a positive for the club.

"I don't know if it [losing Kane] was a bonus," Heskey said. "You can't say getting rid of Harry Kane was a bonus because of what he's doing and what he's done. 

"But I think it's a different focal point now, isn't it? I think it's more of a team focal point. Not just one player. 

"You've got Son [Heung-min], he has to step up to the plate, you've got [James] Maddison, who will always step up to the plate, that's just his temperament. 

"You've got all these players that are now having to pull their weight because they're not just relying on one person."

Postecoglou is looking to avoid back-to-back defeats when Spurs visit Wolves on Saturday, having not lost consecutive league matches since he was in charge of Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan, losing three in a row between November 2020 and February 2021.

Manchester United have lost the air of "invincibility" which characterised Alex Ferguson's trophy-laden reign at Old Trafford.

That is the view of former England striker Emile Heskey, who sees Erik ten Hag's Red Devils as a group of expensively assembled individuals, rather than a coherent team. 

United have made an underwhelming start to their second season under Ten Hag, sitting eighth in the Premier League table after 11 matches despite Saturday's last-gasp 1-0 win at Fulham.

In Europe, the Red Devils began their Champions League group-stage campaign with back-to-back defeats to Bayern Munich and Galatasaray before needing Andre Onana to save a stoppage-time penalty in a hard-fought 1-0 win over Copenhagen.

With Ten Hag attracting criticism from supporters and pundits, Heskey believes his tenure shares many similarities with those of his predecessors Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jose Mourinho.

Asked why Ten Hag has failed to revive United's fortunes, Heskey told Stats Perform: "It's the million-dollar question, isn't it? You look at Ole… he never got [United into form], Jose never got that either. 

"There's a consistency with… I wouldn't say this bunch of players, but with the club bringing players in that they're not able to string together and gel. 

"I don't see them as a team, I don't see them as a team that's going to fight for each other. Look at Spurs, a team that's going to really dig down and fight for each other. 

"It happens with eras, you go through that. They've lost that invincibility. 

"[United] won the game before the actual game started in my era. Teams that would go there and you're already set up to lose. 

"[Now] teams are actually going to Old Trafford and saying, 'Well, we're going to win this, this is how we're going to set up'. They've lost that invincibility."

Forward Marcus Rashford is among the United players attracting scrutiny after failing to reach the heights he hit last term, when he scored 30 goals across all competitions. 

Rashford was criticised by Ten Hag for going out to celebrate his birthday just hours after 3-0 defeat to rivals Manchester City recently. Having missed Saturday's win at Fulham through injury, he then hit out at what he described as "malicious rumours" regarding his future on social media.

Rashford signed a new five-year contract with United in July, but Heskey does not believe that has impacted his form, saying: "I don't think it's anything to do with the contract. 

"As fans, we're looking for something. The reality is there's a lot of onus on him being a local lad, there's a lot of pressure on him. 

"He needs to figure out how to deal with that pressure again, like he did last season, because there was a lot of pressure on him but he managed to still get the goals. 

"The fascinating thing is he's probably giving the same sort of performance as last season, but he was finishing his chances. 

"Now, when you're not finishing your chances, everyone's looking at the money, everyone's looking at your lifestyle. Everyone's looking at what you do here, what you don't do there.

"You just want to concentrate on football. But if you just concentrate on football and it eats away at you and you have a mental breakdown, then you're saying, 'why didn't you go and do something else outside of football?'

"I think for Marcus, he just needs to figure out, 'what's good for me?'"

Rashford has only scored once in 14 appearances for United across all competitions this season, despite attempting 38 shots totalling 3.82 expected goals (xG) in those matches.

Emile Heskey cannot choose between Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski, as he claimed there are "parallels" between the duo.

Kane scored a hat-trick – his third for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga – in a 4-0 rout of Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker on Saturday.

The England captain has now scored 15 league goals for Bayern, setting a new record for goals from a player in the first 10 games of their maiden Bundesliga season. He is only the fourth player to score at least three goals in three different games in his debut season in the Bundesliga.

Bayern had been in search of a focal point to lead their line since Robert Lewandowski's departure to Barcelona in 2022, with Sadio Mane having failed to fill the Poland forward's boots following his switch from Liverpool.

Asked if Kane has been the ideal replacement for Lewandowski, who holds the record for the number of Bundesliga goals from a foreign player (312), former England striker Heskey told Stats Perform: "They're similar sort of players. When you're when you're talking about goals, I think it's a parallel.

"You can't really say there's an upgrade or downgrade or whatever it is. They're parallel, they're giving you goals.

"They might give you a different style of play, though, because I think Lewandowski is more runs in behind, he's really, really special with his movement off the ball when trying to get in and trying to get a one on one.

"Whereas Harry is more of a player who will come in, link, turn, have his shot, score goals from halfway line."

Kane has also scored twice in three Champions League games. He is just two goals from surpassing Paul Scholes as the third-highest English goalscorer in the competition. 

Heskey is unsure if Kane will prove the "missing piece" for Bayern's Champions League hopes, though the 30-year-old will do their chances no harm.

He said: "He'll perform but yeah, definitely, when it comes to goals, he'll definitely perform in that sense. Whether he's the missing piece and will take you to the final and eventually win it, only God will know.

"But he will definitely get you goals in any form of competition that he plays in. I remember Owen Hargreaves talking about when he first went to [Manchester] City, and they were talking about them winning the Champions League, and he said they were miles off it.

"He was saying, well, defensively, you can't be so open.

"Now I think if Bayern can be like what they're usually like, when it's quite close, quite compact, it's hard to beat with a Kane up front. You're going to get goals, you're going to get results."

Novak Djokovic could still win three majors next year but Gilles Simon reminded tennis fans the world number one is not "eternal" as he heads towards the end of his career.

Djokovic triumphed in three of the four majors in 2023, with September's US Open success taking him level with Margaret Court's record 24 grand slam triumphs.

Defeating Daniil Medvedev in the final, Djokovic – aged 36 years and 111 days – became the oldest winner of the men's singles title at the US Open, as well as winning a trio of majors in a year for the fourth time.

That saw him surpass Roger Federer – who won three grand slams in a year on three occasions.

Simon, though, warned that Djokovic cannot play on forever.

He told Stats Perform: "I think he can win some [majors, but] I think he's getting to an age where it is going to become difficult.

"Most of the observers want to believe that a player is eternal but none are more eternal than the others.

"I think he can win a lot next year; will he win one, two or three? Next year he can do one more big year, but I also think that it will be his last."


The 36-year-old Djokovic acknowledged the retirement speculation after his US Open victory, asking how long he can continue.

Simon likened the twilight of Djokovic's career to fellow great Federer, whose playing days were curtailed by injury and fitness issues.

"At one point like every player there's going to be a break, that was the case for Roger Federer, remember when he won in Australia at the age of 37 playing incredible tennis," Simon added.

"At Wimbledon, he could have won because he lost against Novak Djokovic on match point. Time never had a grip on him, he had never been injured, he played really well, and then all of a sudden he disappears."

Another of tennis' 'Big Three', Rafael Nadal has not played since January 18 at the Australian Open – again owing to injury problems as years of toiling on the court takes its toll on even the best.

"We have Rafael Nadal who we hope to see again next year, who got us accustomed to more traditional injuries, longer injuries and with doubts," Simon continued.

"Once again he wins the Australian Open, he wins at Roland Garros even with his history with his foot, he again has a semi-final at Wimbledon.

"We say no about Novak because he is more careful, but we said the same about Federer, he expends less energy, he has a more fluid game and technique, he preserved himself from injury.

"I think next year will be very interesting because it’s a year where he can again win, where he still has an advantage [ahead of the rest] but we saw him lose against [Carlos] Alcaraz at Wimbledon.

"I thought he would have more advantage on grass because of the experience he has compared to others and his game works so well on grass – but he is beatable."

Age has shown no sign of slowing Djokovic down yet after he lifted the Paris Masters trophy for a seventh time on Sunday, defeating Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets.

That victory marked his second hard-court ATP-1000 title of 2023, Djokovic managing multiple Masters titles in a single season for the ninth time in his career. Only Federer, having won multiple such events in a year six times in his time, can get near to that feat.

Yet Simon suggested 30 major triumphs may be out of Djokovic's reach due to the emergence of Alcaraz, who won at Wimbledon this year, and a gruelling schedule.

"He's so strong he knows how to prepare himself, but he can't do a series of tournaments," said the Frenchman, who won 14 career titles and reached a high of number six in the ATP rankings.

"If everything was going well he would be playing every week like when he was 25 years old, so that is what is missing.

"He looks after himself, ultra-professional and very strong. The US Open was important for him, I see him maybe doing one or two next year, but I am waiting to see for the next few years after that.

"I can't see him reaching 30 [majors] for example when Carlos Alcaraz could win two or three a year – I wish it for him but I don't see it like that."

The Rolex Paris Masters became the first Masters 1000 to broadcast its qualifying matches on Twitch, live on Rivenzi's channel.

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