Kevin Phillips has no regrets about launching his managerial career away from the limelight in which contemporaries Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney have operated.

The former England striker is currently in charge at National League Hartlepool having started in the seventh tier of the pyramid with South Shields, whereas Lampard and Rooney were both handed their first big chance in the Sky Bet Championship by Derby and Gerrard took up the reins at Scottish giants Rangers.

Phillips had expressed frustration in the past about the lack of opportunities which came his way as he looked for a first managerial job but has sympathy for Lampard, who is out of work after bruising spells at Chelsea and Everton; Rooney, sacked by Birmingham after less than three months; and Gerrard, currently rebuilding his career in Saudi Arabia after being ditched by Aston Villa.

The 50-year-old told the PA news agency: “When you go to that level, you’re so scrutinised. If you don’t get it right straight away, the media are on you. I’m not saying we don’t have that here, but it’s not Championship, it’s not Premier League.

“There’s still pressure, don’t get me wrong, because you still need to win football matches no matter where you are – and don’t forget, those guys are high-profile names.

“I think if you asked Wayne Rooney what went wrong at Birmingham, he’d probably say, ‘I don’t know’. He tried everything, he had good players, it’s just one of those things.

“Frank did well when he went in at Derby first, and so did Rooney, keeping them in the league. It can be tough. I just think you’re more scrutinised.”

Phillips, who had worked in coaching roles at Leicester, Derby and Stoke, was unsuccessful after putting himself forward for the Sunderland job after Phil Parkinson departed in 2020, and ultimately took his first step on the ladder at South Shields.

Asked if he would rather have travelled a similar path to the likes of Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney, he said: “It’s always a difficult one, isn’t it, because if you get offered a big job, it’s hard to turn down, I would imagine.

“That’s a question for those guys, but I’ve certainly enjoyed the route that I’ve come.

“I suppose it was a slight gamble going in at South Shields because if it hadn’t worked out, you could probably say that my managerial career would have finished there and then.”

Phillips, who guided the Mariners into the National League North at the first attempt but left by mutual consent weeks later, took on the challenge of attempting to drag Hartlepool back into the Football League last month.

He continues to learn on the job, and some of the lessons are difficult.

He said: “The hardest thing as a manager is leaving a player out. I’ve heard (Manchester City boss) Pep Guardiola saying it.

“We’re human beings. When you have to tell a player at the end of the week, ‘You’re not playing’, it’s hard to see the disappointment in their face.

“I’ve had to learn very quickly to deal with that and there’s a way of doing it, but for me, no matter how you address it or how you try to get round it, it’s still the toughest thing to do.”

Pep Guardiola is confident Kalvin Phillips is back to full fitness, having described the midfielder as 'overweight' following his return to Manchester City from the World Cup.

Phillips played twice for England in Qatar, coming on as a substitute against Wales and Senegal, but Guardiola was not entirely satisfied with his condition upon his return.

Having struggled with a shoulder injury during the first part of the season, which limited him to just one Premier League appearance, Phillips had to endure an extended wait to return for his second involvement in the league.

That came in Thursday's 1-0 Premier League triumph over Chelsea, where he was introduced off the bench in the 86th minute, and he is now pushing to make his first City start in the FA Cup against the Blues on Sunday.

While Guardiola is unsure whether he will be handed that opportunity, he believes Phillips is back in his best shape.

"I don't know whether Kalvin will play, on Sunday we will see. I had a good feeling last week, that he's back," he told reporters.

"He wanted to change our mind with the way he's going to play, maybe it will be a good lesson for him in the future.

"I have the feeling that a football player, for 12 months, has to be perfect, even on holiday. You can enjoy and do what you want but you must be ready because this game is so demanding.

"Last season with Leeds, for long parts he was injured, he came and couldn't train, he struggled with his shoulder. He fought to go to the World Cup, he got it.

"It was a long period without playing, without rhythm that was not there for five or six years. We need Kalvin, we need all the players."

Having beaten Chelsea in the Premier League, Guardiola is aware the Blues could change their approach for the FA Cup tie – particularly having been ravaged by injury issues, losing both Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic in the early stages of Thursday's game.

"It is better for us to play Chelsea at home with our fans, after a victory it is much better," he added.

"It will be a different game, maybe Graham [Potter] will change his shape, I know they are struggling with injuries. We have three days to think about it."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola heaped praise on England World Cup hopeful Jack Grealish after a "magnificent" display in Wednesday's 2-0 EFL Cup win over Chelsea.

Grealish is expected to be named in Gareth Southgate's 26-man World Cup squad on Thursday and offered a timely reminder of his quality against the Blues.

The 28-year-old midfielder forced Edouard Mendy into a couple of saves early in the second half and was full of confidence and energy in the absence of Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden.

"Jack was magnificent," Guardiola told reporters. "He played really well. I want Jack to have responsibility when we play with Kevin or Phil.

"When he gets the ball and attacks the backline, his intention is always to pass the ball.

"All the time we tell him to go to score a goal. He has the body language to pass the ball, but tonight his body language was 'I am going to score a goal'. He didn’t score, but one day he will do it. Jack is playing really good."

The game marked Grealish's 13th start for the season, having only managed one goal in 16 appearances.

City teammate Kalvin Phillips, who returned from a shoulder injury as a 50th minute substitute, hailed Grealish.

"Jack has trained hard every single day," Phillips said. "He's not had the luck with scoring and assists, but I think he brings a lot more to the team than just that.

"When you see him play and he plays like that, it's a joy to watch."

Edinson Cavani's stay at Manchester United seems to be coming to an end.

Signed as a free agent from Paris Saint-Germain in 2020, Cavani has found his game-time limited this season by both injury and managerial preferences, while it has also been claimed recently he has opted out of playing.

He is out of contract at the end of the season and appears determined to find a new club.



Fabrizio Romano has reported that Cavani's preference is to join a team in LaLiga.

The 35-year-old, who has scored two Premier League goals this season, has not yet played in LaLiga, having previously starred for Napoli in Serie A before his move to PSG in 2013.

Cavani was previously linked with a move to Atletico Madrid, prior to joining United. Romano also reports that Argentine giants River Plate have approached the Uruguay international, but that potential move does not interest the striker.


- Barcelona want to tie up deals for Ajax full-back Noussair Mazraoui, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Milan's midfield powerhouse Franck Kessie, who are all approaching the end of their contracts, reports Romano.

- The Daily Mail, citing The Mirror, are reporting that United will consider making a move for Tottenham star Harry Kane at the end of the season.

- Aston Villa are one of the clubs monitoring Kalvin Phillips' situation at Leeds United, so say The Daily Mail.

- SPORT claim that Sergino Dest is willing to leave Barca and join Roma.

- According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Juventus and Milan are both keeping tabs on Lille midfielder Renato Sanches.

The futures of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe, arguably the two most sought-after players in world football, could be determined by the end of the January transfer window.

While the forwards look set to stay at Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain respectively this month, moves away at the end of the campaign look increasingly likely.

And despite intense competition from fellow heavyweight clubs, Real Madrid are determined to win the race for both players.



Madrid had two bids knocked back for Mbappe last year but, according to Marca, they remain in pole position to sign the France international in six months' time.

Landing Haaland could prove to be a little more complicated, though, given he will still have two years to run on his contract at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

However, the Spanish publication reports that Madrid are willing to spend big on the prolific striker, who is thought to have a €75million release clause in his deal.

On top of triggering that, it is claimed that Los Blancos will have to set aside cash for Haaland's father, agent Mino Raiola and a hefty salary for the player himself, which could total around €350m.



- Madrid may be considered the frontrunners to sign Mbappe and Haaland, but they already have a back-up plan in place should either of those moves fail to materialise. According to El Nacional, Fiorentina's in-demand Dusan Vlahovic is also on the Spanish giants' radar.

- CalcioMercato reports that Milan have joined the queue to sign Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen. Christensen, who comes out of contract at the end of this season, is being chased by Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.

- Newcastle United could beat Manchester United in the race for RB Leipzig's Amadou Haidara, with The Mirror reporting that the newly-rich Magpies are set to make an offer.

- The Everton board got together on Saturday to discuss manager Rafael Benitez's future in the job, according to Sky Sports. Everton have won one of their past 13 league games and lost to bottom club Norwich City 2-1 on Saturday.

- PSG, Bayern and Madrid are among Kalvin Phillips' suitors. El Nacional reports that Leeds United have a battle on their hands fending off interest in the midfielder, who has been capped 19 times by England.

- The Mirror reports that Chelsea are considering a move for Inter's Ivan Perisic. The Blues are in the market for a versatile player who can play at left-back while Ben Chilwell recovers from a long-term injury.


Is Erling Haaland's future close to being resolved?

Borussia Dortmund, up until now, have been unwilling to part with their top asset.

But Chelsea are reportedly making progress to bring Haaland to London.



Chelsea have agreed personal terms with Erling Haaland and now just need to agree a fee with Borussia Dortmund, according to the Transfer Window Podcast.

Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus.

But Chelsea have reportedly made a breakthrough in their pursuit to prise the Norway forward to Stamford Bridge.



- Sport claims Madrid are targeting Inter star Nicolo Barella or Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli. Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips has also been linked. Locatelli is attracting interest this off-season, with Juventus, Arsenal, Inter, Dortmund and City reported admirers.

Arsenal are chasing Leicester City's James Maddison, according to Chris Wheatley. Chelsea and Liverpool are believed to be also tracking the England international.

- Eurosport reports Real Sociedad winger Mikel Oyarzabal is on City's radar. Pep Guardiola's side could make a move if Bernardo Silva – linked with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid – or Raheem Sterling leave.

Atletico are set to sign Rodrigo De Paul from Udinese, says Fabrizio Romano. The Argentina international has been wanted by Liverpool, Juve and Leeds United.

Milan are looking to sign Stuttgart forward Sasa Kalajdzic, according to Calciomercato. Chelsea's Olivier Giroud, Torino star Andrea Belotti and Madrid outcast Luka Jokic have also been linked.

- Bild claims Bayern would be willing to sell Kingsley Coman for the right price amid interest from United and Liverpool. The Bundesliga champions are also considering the futures of Niklas Sule and Corentin Tolisso.

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