Harry Smith

Harry Smith is the Bestselling author of 6 novels. He lives in Manchester, England with “the wife,” “the kids,” “the dog,” “that cat,” and he occasionally wears pants.

West Ham’s David Gold says agents are ‘sucking tons of money’ out of football

The West Ham co-chairman David Gold has launched a stinging attack on football agents, declaring they are “sucking tons of money” out of the game. Gold’s outburst comes after Premier League executives called for a ban on clubs paying agents. The 20 clubs collectively aired their frustration with so-called “dual representation”, whereby the agent is paid twice, once by the player and once by the club. They are understood to have the Football Association’s backing in abolishing the practice, which has led to agents being paid increasingly astronomical transfer fees. Gold, who has been joint chairman at West Ham since 2010, said: “They are starting to run football. They are certainly sucking tons of money out of football. We are all trying to pay less, they are doing nothing for football. I can’t believe it is even a discussion. Other than agents, everybody else is against them.” Asked if they were disrupting the game, he added: “That goes with the territory. They are certainly doing that.” The Premier League has also received backing for a number of other proposals it hopes will reduce the influence of agents. These include an exam, a check they have a working UK bank account and a requirement that they provide an annual financial statement to the league. The increasing power of agents has led to them becoming among the most influential figures in football.

Mino Raiola, who represents Paul Pogba, earned £41m from the £86m transfer of the midfielder from Juventus to Manchester United two years ago, taking money from both clubs.

Jorge Mendes, whose clients include Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho, is reportedly the wealthiest agent in football and much of his money comes from fees paid by clubs. Football intermediaries collectively earned more than £220m in fees paid by clubs in England and Wales last year, including £211m from top-tier sides.

Gold and other executives made a move towards abolishing completely the process of clubs paying agents at a Premier League meeting in London. “The FA certainly is in line with our feelings that something has to be done,” Gold said. “From the beginning, it’s not been something that we want and they don’t want. Now it’s Fifa and Uefa we need to come into line and we are hoping they come up with something.” Sign up for The Fiver, our free daily football email. Until 2015 dual representation was illegal in England but that was reversed when Fifa deregulated the way agents operate. HM Revenue & Customs is also understood to be looking at the way dual representation could be used to circumnavigate tax laws. Last season there were 541 player transactions involving Premier League clubs and at least 426 of these, 79%, involved dual representation. Moreover, every single one of Manchester City’s 52 transactions involved dual representation, as did almost all of those deals that involved Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. Meanwhile, it is understood the Premier League has made headway on finding a replacement for Richard Scudamore, who will leave his post as executive chairman on 14 December. A list of 35 has been whittled down to a shortlist of 10 prospective candidates to replace Scudamore after 20 years in charge.


England 1-0 Switzerland: Marcus Rashford secures victory in friendly

England 1-0 Switzerland: Marcus Rashford secures victory in friendly

Marcus Rashford’s five international goals have come at four English venues – Wembley, Sunderland, Leeds and Leicester.

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England returned to winning ways after three successive defeats as Marcus Rashford’s second-half volley gave them victory over Switzerland in a scrappy and subdued friendly at Leicester’s King Power Stadium. Manager Gareth Southgate made nine changes from the side that lost 2-1 to Spain in the Uefa Nations League game at Wembley on Saturday – and for long periods it showed. Switzerland were the better side in the first half and Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri should have given them the lead early on, only to strike the post after England goalkeeper Jack Butland’s poor clearance played James Tarkowski into trouble. England, as they had to do, improved after the break and the decisive goal came in the 54th minute when Rashford arrived at the far post to turn in Kyle Walker’s cross after Switzerland failed to clear a corner.

Rashford – England’s big success Rashford was one of those in Southgate’s squad hoping to use the Nations League game against Spain and this friendly with Switzerland to provide a reminder of his worth for his country and perhaps kick-start his season at club level. Manchester United’s 20-year-old forward has only played 122 minutes for his club this season, has not started since the opening game against Leicester and was sent off after coming on as a substitute in their last game at Burnley. Rashford put all that behind him to emerge as one of the big winners in these two England games, showing he has the potential to ease the goalscoring burden on captain Harry Kane and proving what an important future role he has to play under Southgate. He was England’s biggest threat against Spain, scoring their goal in the 2-1 defeat and also having chances to add more – and he was lively again here.. Rashford still has an understandable rawness about him but he also has pace, fearlessness and an eye for goal. He was the beneficiary of Raheem Sterling’s absence through injury and has given manager Southgate food for thought with two goals in two games, especially as the Manchester City forward has gone 26 games without hitting the target at international level. Tough night for Butland Jack Butland proved more adept as a shot-stopper than when playing out with his feet

Everton’s Jordan Pickford is firmly established as England’s first-choice goalkeeper after his brilliant World Cup in Russia – but this was an opportunity for Stoke City’s Butland to demonstrate why he can be regarded as his closest challenger. It was a difficult night for the 25-year-old in the early stages when he miscued a clearance across the face of his own goal then played Tarkowski into trouble, Shaqiri wasting that chance to give Switzerland the lead. Southgate now sets great store in his goalkeeper’s ability with his feet and Butland’s uncertainty was in sharp contrast to the confidence shown by Pickford and the manner in which he sets the tone for playing out from the back. Butland made amends with a couple of blocks with his feet but, even though he has many qualities, he did not produce a performance that will put Pickford under any additional pressure. England still a work in progress It has been back to reality for England after the euphoria of Russia and that run to the World Cup semi-final. They were put firmly in their place by Spain – although that result can perhaps be placed in context by the 6-0 thrashing the Spanish handed out to England’s World Cup conquerors Croatia in their Nations League game on Tuesday. Southgate, at least, was able to enjoy a victory after three successive competitive losses and that return to winning ways will be welcomed as he and England try to build on what so many regarded as great World Cup success. He is, above all, a realist and two largely subdued performances will only have confirmed in his mind that he still has much work to do as he attempts to continue England’s development.

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Man of the match – Danny Rose (England). An assured display at left-wing back from the Tottenham man on a night when England struggled for consistency


What Dani Carvajal Did After He Couldn’t Find Luke Shaw In England’s Dressing Room Is Class

What Dani Carvajal Did After He Couldn’t Find Luke Shaw In England’s Dressing Room Is Class

Dani Carvajal brilliantly reached out to Luke Shaw following his nasty aerial injury during England’s international fixture against Spain. After a superb start for Manchester United, Shaw was rewarded with a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad. The left-back not only returned to the international fold but also started on Saturday night, creating a goal for Marcus Rashford. Though his evening was cruelly cut short after a sickening clash with Carvajal in the second-half. Shaw was substituted and eventually transported to the hospital. But he’s “doing fine” after providing an update on social media. Thank you for all the love and support I am doing fine and am in the best hands. I’m a fighter so I will be back soon! :heart::muscle:- Luke Shaw

England and United fans, among others, wished Shaw a speedy recovering ahead of the resumption of the Premier League this weekend. Not to mention Carvajal who accidentally collided with Shaw. And after recording a 2-1 victory over England, the Real Madrid full-back tried to find Shaw in England’s dressing room. However, he was being treated elsewhere. Carvajal then asked Shaw’s club teammate, David De Gea, for his phone number.

The Spaniard reportedly sent Shaw a text message, apologising for his completely-accidental role in the incident per Marca. Class. Nice touch. As well as Carvajal, Spain’s captain Sergio Ramos also issued a get well message to Shaw. The 23-year-old will miss England’s international game versus Switzerland on Tuesday, and is set to return to his club for further test.

The Time Wayne Rooney Tried Acting In The X-Men Film Trailer

The Time Wayne Rooney Tried Acting In The X-Men Film Trailer

Don’t get me wrong, Wayne Rooney will go down in history as one of the great Premier League strikers, but when it comes the big screen, the guy seriously can’t act – sorry, Wayne.

Manchester United teamed up with X-Men: Apocalypse to create a truly memorable commercial to promote the new movie and you guessed it, Rooney plays the starring role towards the end of the trailer.

In 2016, we quickly discovered that the former England international had absolutely no future in the film industry. Just incase you haven’t managed to stumble across this piece of genius, here’s the hilarious X-Men: Apocalypse trailer: Stand out lines include: “Anything for the team!”, “Hello Charles!” and “Bloody hell!” as well as the standard try and look serious face.

Unfortunately for the former United striker, he did not receive any BAFTA nominations for this performance in particular, which in my eyes is an absolute disgrace considering the talent on show.

This isn’t the only trailer Manchester United have released in years gone by. Oh no. More recently, the club announced a partnership with ICICI Bank in India, a decision that has brought us one of the most bizarre commercials you’ll ever watch. The club’s relationship with ICICI, who have been labelled as one of India’s most reputable banking groups by Manchester United Group’s managing director Richard Arnold, means that supporters will be offered co-branded credit and debit cards. Let’s dive straight into this advert, which caused quite a stir on social media after its release. From the extreme dabbing in 2018 to those incredible Manchester United socks, we might have watched the above three times in the past hour.

Here’s how United’s managing director Richard Arnold described the partnership: “The club has enjoyed numerous visits to India over the past few seasons, with our #ILOVEUNITED fan event held in Mumbai in January, attracting almost 5,000 fans to the live match screening.” he said.


Alastair Cook: England great to retire from international cricket after fifth Test

England won 24 of Alastair Cook’s 59 Tests as captainEngland’s highest Test run-scorer Alastair Cook will retire from international cricket after this week’s final Test against India.

The opener, 33, has scored 12,254 runs and made 32 centuries in 160 Tests – all England records. “There is nothing left in the tank,” said Cook, who captained his country in a record 59 Tests. The fifth Test of the series, in which England have an unassailable 3-1 lead, starts on Friday at The Oval. Cook is sixth on the all-time list of Test run-scorers and has made a record 11,627 runs as an opener. He added: “I have achieved more than I could have ever imagined and feel very privileged to have played for such a long time alongside some of the greats of the English game.”

Cook had not scored a century in 27 innings. Calls for him to stand down were growing louder by the day. He may not have made it to three figures, but he received a standing ovation for playing what he claimed was the most pressurised innings of his career. England won the series and he remained as skipper. 263 v Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, 2015: If ever an innings defined Cook’s career, this is it. Showing all his fabled concentration and patience, Cook batted for almost 14 hours in the desert heat – the third longest Test innings in history. Only bad light prevented England from pulling off a remarkable victory.


Jose Mourinho comes up smiling as Manchester United beat Burnley

Jose Mourinho comes up smiling as Manchester United beat Burnley

Jose Mourinho is the bookmakers’ favourite to be the first Premier League manager to leave this seasonAfter a week of turmoil and questions, this was Jose Mourinho’s day. Two first-half goals from Romelu Lukaku were enough for 10-man Manchester United to beat Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor, avoid a third successive Premier League defeat and quell the intense speculation that had been building around Mourinho’s future after two years as manager. “I am delighted with the result,” he said in his post-match media conference. “But I think some of you must be disappointed. [For you] it would be much better if we lose.” He was adamant it was about the team and not him, because “the manager does not play”. But from the moment 20 minutes before kick-off when a plane flew over Turf Moor, trailing a banner reading ‘Ed Woodward – a specialist in failure!’, until 20 minutes after the full-time whistle when he won a jocular argument with his media officer about which of two questions he should answer in his news conference, this was Mourinho’s day. The banner was flown over Burnley’s ground about 20 minutes before the match kicked off

The Portuguese said it had not been “a sad week” at United following Monday’s 3-0 home defeat by Tottenham. He also said he had not read the newspapers. Mourinho would also have needed to avoid the radio and TV to miss the discussion about his future, fuelled, in part, by his relationship with United’s executive vice-chairman Woodward. Expressly against Mourinho’s own wishes, moves to sell France forward Anthony Martial and buy an additional central defender were blocked before the transfer window closed on 9 August. Such is Woodward’s close relationship with the Glazer family, who own United, Mourinho cannot win an internal power battle. However, he has a few allies, not least a secretive fans’ group ‘A Voice from the Terrace’ who paid for the plane and the banner which criticised what they view as five years of bad decisions by Woodward, who effectively replaced David Gill as chief executive in 2013. In the absence of a director of football, they hold Woodward responsible for Mourinho not getting his way this summer. Asked about the banner, which flew as his team were warming up and he was in the tunnel, Mourinho said: “I didn’t see planes. I am not looking to the sky unless I am asking the guy for help. “Ed Woodward won this afternoon. Ed Woodward won 2-0.” The fans are on Jose’s side too Jose Mourinho acknowledged the support from the fansThe 2,433 United fans at Turf Moor first sang Mourinho’s name as the teams warmed up. They repeated it as their 55-year-old manager walked out of the tunnel in the corner of the stadium and across the field to the visitors’ dugout. Thereafter, barely five minutes went by without Mourinho hearing his name being chanted. Occasionally, he responded with a wave. Sometimes he was too engrossed in the game to notice. But at the end, he walked straight to his left, directly to those same fans, right up to the very edge of the seats they had spent the previous two hours not sitting on and started applauding. As he walked down the length of the away support he kept applauding. It took him about as long as he spent standing in front of the Stretford End on Monday after the 3-0 loss to Tottenham and cost him a coat, which was handed to one lucky fan. Ultimately, supporters do not decide the fate of managers. But they can certainly make it hard to remove them. Mourinho said: “I feel a bit sorry we didn’t score a couple of goals in front of them because it would be magic.” Rashford is a naive boy – Mourinho

And finally, Mourinho was asked two questions at the same time. He wanted to answer one about starting midfielder Marouane Fellaini, but his press officer signalled him to deal with the other one instead. “You are killing me,” he laughed. “It is the only question anyone is going to ask where I can say ‘it was my decision’.” The media officer relented and when Mourinho had finished eulogising over the Belgian, he went back to the question she wanted to take from an Italian journalist who, it transpired, wanted to talk about United’s Champions League opponents Juventus. “After Liverpool they have probably spent more than anyone this summer,” he said. Asked whether he had considered bringing Juve’s Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford this summer once it became obvious he would be leaving Real Madrid, Mourinho thought about whether he should answer for a moment, before eventually settling on this: “Cristiano was never on my table to say yes or no to come to us.” In this instance, Woodward was not mentioned.


Geraint Thomas finds climb near home too steep in Tour of Britain

The Welsh heart was willing, the dragon-flag-waving crowds were willing Geraint Thomas on up the steep final ascent of Belmont, eight kilometres from the finish here, but four weeks of partying since the local hero won the Tour de France had taken their toll. Thomas was perfectly set up by his teammates and put in a searing attack, but when the Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe came flying past, Thomas looked like a man who realised suddenly and painfully that he had bitten off more than he could chew. “I had to give it a go, being on home roads and so close to where I grew up. I knew the climb but once I went I was thinking: ‘What have I done?’” Thomas said. “When Alaphilippe went over the top I thought there was no way I could go with that, so I got back in the wheels. It was nice to have a dig but I don’t have the legs to finish it off.”

Team Sky’s collective effort was enough to briefly sow chaos in a peloton that had looked to be heading inexorably for a bunch finish, but the riders they impelled off the front were from Quickstep Floors, hot favourites for this race along with Thomas’s squad. Alaphilippe and Bob Jungels escaped with the Frenchman Jonathan Hivert and the Dane Mads Würtz Schmidt and Thomas was forced back into a team role to ensure that Sky’s nominal leader, Wout Poels, did not lose ground. After the finish, Thomas was whisked away for yet another round of glad-handing, this time to celebrate the renaming of the national velodrome – which stands out from the centre towards the Llanwern steel works – in his honour. “It’s strange,” he said. “You dream of winning bike races and getting across the line first, not the aftermath and everything that goes with it, having velodromes named after you, going pitch side at the Emirates, Arsenal jerseys with Thomas on the back. It’s really nice.” Jungels sped clear of Alaphilippe and company, but was retrieved in the final kilometre where the second part of the Quickstep pincer movement came into play: the sprinter Fernando Gaviria gained a couple of lengths lead in the last 200m, only to be overhauled by the Australian Caleb Ewan and the German André Greipel, with the latter veering right to take his sixth Tour of Britain stage win and with it the leader’s jersey. Students of sprint politics could savour the moment.

Greipel, a loyal servant to Lotto-Soudal since 2012, had been abruptly dumped over the summer as they opted for a newer, shinier sprinter in Ewan. Afterwards, he made tactful noises about his happy history with the Belgians, but he must have been laughing inwardly. Thomas had led the field out of the start among the sand dunes and pines of the Pembrey Country Park on the coast south of Carmarthen – and around part of a new custom built racing circuit for future Thomaslets – en route for 108 miles that turned into a second triumphant homecoming after his official return to Cardiff following his Tour de France win in July. Tiny villages such as Kidwelly and sedate market towns such as Llandovery were a sea of Welsh dragon flags and it was all of three miles into the race before the first fan in full Welsh national dress, stovepipe hat and all, could be spotted on the roadside. Life-size leeks and daffodils were in evidence as well, along with tots in jerseys celebrating Wales’s other hero of the summer, Gareth Bale. On Monday, the race takes on a different tenor, with a raft of hills in the heart of Devon – one sprint is at the appropriately named village of Nomansland – before a brutal loop out and home from the finish town of Barnstaple, up on to Exmoor through Bratton Fleming for a rollercoaster ride along the North Devon coast. The combine harvesters may be largely back in their barns now with the wheat fields empty, but the chaff should be sorted out well before the final sprint alongside the river Taw.


Liverpool maintain 100% start with nervy win at Leicester

Liverpool maintain 100% start with nervy win at Leicester

Sadio Mane has had a hand in four goals in his last four league games against Leicester (two goals, two assists)Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Alisson’s horrendous error “was clearly going to happen one day”, after his side maintained their 100% start to the season with victory at Leicester. Klopp’s team looked on course for a comfortable win when, after Mo Salah had uncharacteristically missed an open goal, Sadio Mane pounced in the penalty area to poke Liverpool in front after only 10 minutes. Liverpool’s position looked even more secure when Roberto Firmino stole in on James Milner’s corner to double their advantage with a header on the stroke of half-time – but they then proceeded to make life difficult for themselves. And the main culprit was Alisson, the £67m summer signing from Roma, who was embarrassed as he gifted Leicester a goal after 63 minutes when he was robbed by Kelechi Iheanacho while inexplicably performing an elaborate turn with the ball at his feet in the area, Rachid Ghezzal scoring following the ensuing chaos.

Leicester pushed for the equaliser but Liverpool closed out victory to make it four wins out of four at the start of a league season for the first time in 28 years – and leave keeper Alisson the most relieved man inside the King Power Stadium. “It was clearly going to happen one day,” Klopp said of Alisson’s error. “I didn’t think it was going to happen in the next match [after his successful showboating against Brighton last time out, when he chipped an on-rushing attacker]. It’s all OK. He knows he could have cleared the situation. “I said last week we need to get used to it. Don’t constantly give the goalkeeper the ball, there are other solutions. He’s a fantastic goalkeeper who makes fantastic saves and of course in this situation he did not do what he should have done, but it’s all good.” Leicester 1-2 Liverpool: Alisson knows what he did wrong – Jurgen KloppLiverpool win – but suffer in victory Liverpool can call on an old saying to bolster their confidence even further after making it four wins from four at the start of the Premier League season – namely that it is a sign of champions that you can still win when well short of your best. And this certainly applied here with Klopp’s side mediocre for long periods, yet still emerging victorious in the face of Leicester’s spirited challenge. Liverpool opened in the sort of blistering fashion that has blown teams apart in the past, with Salah missing an open goal even before Mane pounced on a rebound off Harry Maguire to score after only 10 minutes. They then, surprisingly, became subdued and went into their shell, only to score against the run of play as Firmino guided in Milner’s corner on the stroke of half-time. Liverpool looked rocky under pressure as Leicester stepped up the pace after the break, with even the normally unflappable Virgil van Dijk rattled as he was put under a thorough examination. They could not control midfield, while Salah was, for once, totally out of sorts and could have had no complaints when he was eventually replaced by Shaqiri. For all that, Liverpool dug deep and secured another three points in a season when they and Klopp know there will be little or no margin for error.

On another day Salah will shine, their defence will be in control and goalkeeper Alisson will not make the sort of horrendous error that turned up the heat on Liverpool even further. There will be days throughout Liverpool’s season when the result will over-ride the performance – and this was undoubtedly one of them. Alisson has to learn quickly Rachid Ghezzal’s goal was the first club goal Alisson had conceded since last season’s Champions League semi-final second leg.

Alisson has already raised eyebrows and attracted attention for his confidence with the ball at his feet, notably his willingness to audaciously chip an oncoming Brighton attacker during last weekend’s victory at Anfield. There is, however, a time and a place – and the time he chose at the King Power Stadium was definitely not it. Alisson was trying to be too clever by half when he embarked on a dainty turn and backheel as Iheanacho chased down Van Dijk’s slightly wayward back pass. For all the modern thinking, this was an occasion when the big boot should have been applied – as manager Klopp’s emphatic gesture on the touchline subsequently suggested. Alisson decided otherwise, played himself straight into trouble and the whole calamity ended with Ghezzal scoring. It gave Leicester the sort of opportunity that could have proved very costly. Liverpool have suffered enough at the hands of goalkeeping errors, such as those of Loris Karius in the Champions League final, so this moment will have revived some uncomfortable memories. Liverpool spared Alisson’s blushes by holding on for the three points but you suspect the Brazilian will be on the receiving end of a sharp reminder from manager Klopp not to repeat those sorts of mistakes.

The 2018/19 Champions League Group Stage Draw

The 2018/19 Champions League Group Stage Draw

Champions League group stage has been drawn out.

The draw below:

Atletico Madrid Borussia Dortmund AS Monaco Club Brugge

Barcelona Tottenham Hotspurs PSV Eindhoven Inter Milan

Paris Saint-Germain Napoli Liverpool Red Star Belgrade

Lokomotiv Moscow FC Porto Schalke Galatasaray

Bayern Munich Benfica Ajax AEK Athens

Manchester City Shakhtar Donetsk Lyon Hoffenheim

Real Madrid AS Roma CSKA Moscow Viktoria Plzen

Juventus Manchester United Valencia Young Boys

Match day one takes place on 18-19th September with the final round of group games commencing on 11-12th December. The knockout round kicks-off in the new year. The final will be played on 1st June 2019 at the Wanda Metropolitano – the home of Atletico Madrid. Of course, Real Madrid are the defending champions following last seasons 3-1 victory against Liverpool in Kiev, Ukraine.

The Spanish giants have won the competition an incredible three years on the bounce but are without Zinedine Zidane’s managerial tutelage, not to mention Cristiano Ronaldo, whose transferred to Juventus, for this campaign. Who will raise European silverware in Madrid? Manchester City? Juventus? Barcelona? Real Madrid? Bayern Munich?

‘GOAL’ Voted The Greatest Football Film Of All Time

‘GOAL’ Voted The Greatest Football Film Of All Time

Santiago Munez’s journey to stardom is like no other. The lad went from working in a Chinese restaurant after his father smuggled his penniless Mexican family over the US border to seek a better life in L.A, to playing in front of thousands at St James park with that really annoying bloke, Gavin Harris.

For many of us reading this, the fictional tale of this talented Mexican is up there with the very best. In fact, to put the public’s adoration for the film into perspective, GOAL has been voted the greatest football-related film of all time by fans and we couldn’t be happier. There was over 28,000 votes cast to decide the eventual winner, with the likes of Bend It Like Beckham, Green Street, The Football Factory and Mike Bassett: England Manager in the running for the coveted prize. GOAL came out on top with 6,136 votes, while GOAL 2 and Green Street made up the top three. Lovers of the film Mean Machine and Escape To Victory might be disappointing to learn that they fall into the bottom three alongside Fever Pitch.

Here are the results in full:

1) GOAL – 6136 votes

2) GOAL 2 – 5488 votes

3) Green Street – 2887 votes

4) The Damned United – 2912 votes

5) The Football Factory – 2080 votes