Pitino challenges son to game over WWE match

Rick Pitino is back in coaching, and he’s already ready to “wrestle” with his son’s team.

The new Iona coach tweeted out a challenge: If Brock Lesnar beats Drew McIntyre in their championship bout airing Sunday during WrestleMania 36, Richard Pitino’s Minnesota team will play at Iona. If McIntyre wins, Iona will play at Minnesota.

Richard Pitino tweeted back that he can’t root against Lesnar since he wrestled at the University of Minnesota. He said that if the terms were reversed, he was in. His dad has yet to respond.

WrestleMania 36 was scheduled to take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, but the coronavirus pandemic stopped that. The Lesnar-McIntyre match took place at WWE’s Performance Center in Orlando, without a crowd. It was taped earlier this week — before Florida issued a stay-at-home order — and will be shown on the pay-per-view Sunday night.

WWE is one of the only sporting events taking place during the pandemic.

Rick Pitino, 67, was named Iona’s coach last month. The 67-year-old hasn’t coached in college since October 2017, when Louisville fired him after an FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball. The NCAA has not announced penalties for any of the programs connected to the FBI investigation, but the expectation is they could come down sometime this spring or summer. It’s unclear whether there will be any penalties handed down to Pitino.

Richard Pitino has coached Minnesota since 2013. The Gophers made it to the round of 32 in 2018-19 — his best NCAA tournament showing — but slipped to 15-16 this past season.

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Joshua insists he and Fury are denied the respect they deserve

‘We never get the respect from the world media’: Anthony Joshua insists he and Tyson Fury are denied the plaudits they deserve as heavyweight star opens up over ‘real tough year’ following shock Andy Ruiz Jr defeat

  • Anthony Joshua is the reigning WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion
  • Compatriot Tyson Fury holds the WBC title after defeating Deontay Wilder
  • Joshua won back his world titles in December in a rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr 
  • However, he has relived his ‘real tough year’ following his initial loss to Ruiz Jr 

Anthony Joshua has claimed that British boxers are not given enough respect overseas despite their recent success.

Joshua is the reigning WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion, while compatriot Tyson Fury recently defeated Deontay Wilder to win the WBC equivalent, with a mega-fight between the pair in the pipeline somewhere along the way.

Joshua’s comments come after regaining his world titles in December following a victory over Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia.

Anthony Joshua believes British boxers are not given enough respect by overseas media

The win came six months after a shock loss to the Mexican on the Brit’s United States debut where he was floored four times in a seventh round stoppage loss.

The 30-year-old admitted the rollercoaster period in his career had been a testing period.   

‘It was a difficult time in my career. Last year was a real tough year, he told Sky Sports.

Joshua holds three heavyweight titles, while compatriot Tyson Fury is the WBC equivalent

‘As a British heavyweight fighter, we never get the respect from the world media, which is governed by America to a certain degree, because we’re British.

‘Americans are going to take care of Americans. So when I lost… you take challenges, the goal is to win 100 per cent.’

Joshua was set to defend his world titles against Kubrat Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20 before the coronavirus chaos led to its postponement. 

Andy Ruiz Jr celebrates after his dramatic victory over Joshua in New York in June 2019

 

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What happened to Macheda 11 years on from THAT Man Utd goal vs Villa

Federico Macheda became an instant Manchester United hero with THAT stoppage time goal against Aston Villa… but 11 years on why did he not kick on to become a Red Devils star?

  • It has been 11 years since Federico Macheda made an astonishing debut
  • The then Manchester United striker scored a wonder goal in stoppage time
  • Striker earned United a 3-2 win over Aston Villa and sent them top of the table
  • However, Macheda struggled to keep up his form during his Old Trafford career 

Football has a great history of teenagers exploding onto the scene before going on to become stars of the game.

Manchester United had a whole class of them come through at once in the early 1990s, and then there is Federico Macheda.

In 2009, the then 17-year-old striker was named on the bench for Manchester United’s huge clash against a handy Aston Villa side who despite a poor run of form were in the mix for a Champions League place.

Federico Macheda celebrates his crucial goal against Aston Villa in 2009 on his senior debut

Macheda’s goal came in the third minute of stoppage time at Old Trafford to earn three points 

1️⃣1️⃣ years ago today, Federico Macheda did this… . #repost • @manchesterunited 🤯 The technique here is just something else ✨ #MUFC #GoalOfTheDay #Macheda

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For United the stakes were even higher. Heading into the game they had lost their previous two Premier League encounters and slipped behind Liverpool at the top of the table a day previously in a season they were looking to match the Reds’ record 18-top flight titles.

Despite going 1-0 up at Old Trafford, Villa hit back to take a 2-1 lead before the hour mark in the 58th minute. Desperate times for Sir Alex Ferguson called for desperate measures and in turning to his bench, he gave Macheda the nod to make his senior debut in replacing Nani with 29 minutes to play.

Cristiano Ronaldo equalised with 10 minutes left but Sir Alex Ferguson’s stuttering side badly needed three points to get their title bid back on track.

The goal sparked delirious scenes at Old Trafford as Macheda was mobbed by his team-mates 

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson congratulates Macheda on his decisive goal following the crucial 3-2 win over Villa that helped United regain control of the Premier League title race

Those 10 minutes soon passed and then a couple more. However hope is never lost when United are chasing late goals. The term ‘Fergie time’ wasn’t coined by accident.

But not even United supporters could have imagined what was to come next. Ryan Giggs played a short pass into the penalty box, and following a bamboozling back heel turn, a young Italian many inside the ground would have been unaware of previously bent a strike across goal past a helpless Brad Friedel to snatch yet another dramatic late winner at the Theatre of Dreams.

Old Trafford erupted. Even Sky Sports’ commentator Martin Tyler could barely finish the Italian’s name without his voice cackling into a high pitched squeal. 

Often forgotten is that Macheda also scored another winning goal for United – at Sunderland a week after his Villa strike having again come off the bench

His co-commentator Andy Gray followed up with the ‘a star is born’ line and in the immediate reaction post-match it was hard to disagree with him.

Macheda had gone from being a young promising forward who was making up the numbers on an attacking threadbare United bench, to being the talk of the town in little over half-an-hour.

A week later at Sunderland, he did it all again. Coming off the bench with 15 minutes to play he struck the winner at the Stadium of Light a minute later and he looked destined for glory along with United who went on to win the title for a third consecutive season. 

Macheda (second left) celebrates helping with team-mates after lifting the league title in 2009

MACHEDA CAREER 

Manchester United 2008-2014

36 games, 5 goals

Sampdoria 2011 (loan)

16 games, 1 goal

Queens Park Rangers 2012 (loan)

6 games, 0 goals

Stuttgart 2013 (loan)

18 games, 0 goals

Doncaster Rovers 2013 (loan)

15 games, 3 goals

Birmingham City 2014 (loan)

18 games, 10 goals

Cardiff City 2014-2016

33 games, 8 goals

Nottingham Forest 2016 (loan)

3 games, 0 goals

Novara 2016-2018

52 games, 11 goals

Panathinaikos 2018-

55 games, 24 goals

Sadly for Macheda his career had already peaked and he would never hit the same heights again. 

In the following 2009-10 campaign he didn’t score again until two days shy of the Villa goal anniversary, and even that came in a 2-1 home defeat by Chelsea which proved costly for the Red Devils in the defence of their title.

A disastrous loan move to Sampdoria followed in 2011 where he scored just once in 16 games. A year later he scored even fewer in half-a-dozen appearances for Queens Park Rangers.

By the time 2013 rolled around it had been four years on from his breakthrough moment. Ferguson had left, David Moyes was in yet at 21 his career was already on the wane.

In 2014 he left United for two unsuccessful years at Cardiff and it took until 2018 before he could start finding some semblance of form again when he joined Panathinaikos.

In what are the peak years of his career at 28, Macheda has netted 24 goals in 55 matches for the Greek side to help rebuild a career that had looked set for a lot more back in April 11 years ago at the Theatre of Dreams

Macheda has since found form for Greek side Panathinaikos after joining them in 2018




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Meet the footballers who don't like football! (Including Batistuta…)

Meet the footballers who don’t like football: Batistuta said it was ‘just a job’, Tevez enjoyed a £600,000-a-week ‘holiday’ in China while one former Arsenal striker preferred a movie to the match and Ter Stegen says he has ‘no idea’ about the game!

  • Many footballers know they are lucky to be getting paid to play the game
  • But there have been a handful of stars down the years who aren’t passionate 
  • Tottenham’s Benoit Assou-Ekotto never knew which team they were playing
  • And Argentine superstar Gabriel Batistuta admitted it was simply a job for him
  • Sportsmail takes a look at the players who see football as a career, not a love 

Growing up playing football in the park with jumpers for goalposts, pretending to be our favourite stars, many children who pick up a ball often think, ‘Imagine if I got paid to do this?’

For the talented youngsters bursting onto the scene at academies up and down the country, that dream becomes a reality. The idea of earning a tens or even hundreds of thousands a week to essentially have a kickabout is a luxury only a tiny percentage of people get to enjoy. 

But for some players, that’s as far as it goes. Commentators will describe some players as ‘like a kid on the playground’ when its clear how much a star is enjoying his football, while others just turn up to get the job done. 

Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen became the latest member of that group after admitting he has terrible knowledge of the game.  

Sportsmail takes a look at the curious bunch that are footballers who don’t seem to really like football… 

Marc-Andre ter Stegen kickstarted the topic of stars who aren’t passionate about football

Gabriel Batistuta

How could a player so talented not like football, you may ask? For those who grew up watching the game in the 1990s, Batistuta was one of the first names that would come to mind when thinking of great strikers. 

A legend for Argentina, he earned 77 caps and scored 54 goals to help them win two Copa Americas. 

He also won silverware in Italy for Fiorentina and Roma as he notched a total of 292 goals across 537 games. But it was all just another day at the office for Batistuta.

Argentine ace Gabriel Batistuta was ‘not like other players’ and only saw football as a job

‘I do not like football, it is just my profession,’ he once said. 

Alessandro Rialti, who co-wrote the star’s autobiography, said he was different from his team-mates.

‘The important thing about Batistuta is that he is not like other players. He is a very good professional who doesn’t really like football. Once he leaves the stadium, he doesn’t want football encroaching upon the rest of his life.’ 

Mario Balotelli 

Ever noticed how the Italian hardly ever celebrated his goals, and instead folds his arms or just looks moody? Well, according to the man himself, he’s not being arrogant – he’s just doing what needs to be done. As he puts it, a postman wouldn’t celebrate after putting a letter through your letterbox. 

Mario Balotelli said celebrating a goal was akin to a postman celebrating delivering a letter

‘I do not celebrate my goals because it is my job,’ he said. ‘When a postman delivers a letter, does he celebrate?’

The 29-year-old, who now plays for Brescia, often came under fire while he was at Manchester City at the start of the last decade. 

His frequent run-ins with his manager and team-mates, as well as personal issues – remember the indoor fireworks – seemed to point to him not fully embracing his career. It was all summed up with a famous celebration after scoring against Manchester United, where he revealed a grumpy shirt that said ‘why always me?’

Carlos Tevez

The forward oozed class in the Premier League for Manchester United, Manchester City and West Ham. For someone who was so energetic and exciting, the revelation that he’s not the biggest football fan is quite the shock. 

If you are asked to name the biggest fixture in club football, most would immediately say El Clasico. For Tevez, even Real Madrid v Barcelona doesn’t appeal to him.

‘I never watch football. I don’t like it,’ he said in 2018. ‘If Barcelona-Real Madrid is on, I change the channel to watch golf. I was never a football fanatic.’

Carlos Tevez earned £600,000 per week in Shanghai and said his time was like ‘a holiday’

One of the best players in the world on his day, Tevez has scored nearly 300 career goals, but towards the end his attitude to the game has become clear to see. 

He suffered an awful spell with Shanghai Shenhua, who were paying him wages of £600,000 per week, and netted just four times. After leaving Tevez admitted he treated his season in China ‘like a holiday’. 

‘It’s fine because I was on vacation for seven months,’ he said. ‘When I landed in China, I wanted to return to Boca [Juniors].’

Carlos Vela

Another Carlos and another who would rather stick something else on the telly instead of a football match. Arsenal fans will remember Vela for his glimpses of quality and beautiful dinked chips, although his professional career hasn’t quite panned out as expected. He was sent out on loan five times by the Gunners and is now playing in the MLS.

But while Tevez will switch channels for a round of golf, Vela prefers the Hollywood treatment. ‘Between a good movie and a good football game, I prefer the movie,’ he said.  

Ex-Arsenal forward Carlos Vela said he prefers watching a film rather than a football match 

He expanded on his thoughts in an interview with Canal+, saying ‘once the match ends, you can talk to me about anything that isn’t football’.

‘I’ll be honest with you,’ the Mexican forward said. ‘The truth is that I’ve never been so passionate about football as to say “I’m a fan of Real Madrid or of this team and I’ll stand with them to the death”. 

‘I enjoy playing, but once the match ends the football is finished for me and you can talk to me about anything that isn’t football, because I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so or like doing so.’ 

Benoit Assou-Ekotto

The former Tottenham star certainly entertained others during his time in north London – even if he was never entertained himself. Speaking in 2011, left-back Assou-Ekotto was open about his views that playing football was ‘a means to an end’. 

‘There are more important things in life than kicking a ball around,’ he explained. ‘Yes, I play for the money but then doesn’t everybody who gets up in the morning and goes to work? They do it to provide for their family. 

‘It infuriates me when footballers go on about playing for the shirt. I think they should be held accountable for it when they kiss the badge and six months later clear off for a better pay day.’

Benoit Assou-Ekotto said he played for money and never knew what team Spurs were facing  

The former Cameroon international conceded during his time at Spurs that he had just one of his team-mates’ numbers on his phone. 

And such was his lack of awareness of the other players on the team that after the club sealed the major signing of Rafael van der Vaart from Real Madrid in 2010, he had to ask captain Ledley King who he was.

While he proved a loyal servant to Spurs for nine years, his lack of passion for the game will come to no surprise for supporters after his regular lapses in concentration at the back, as well as reports that he would often get on the team bus and not know who they were about to play against. 

Marc-Andre ter Stegen 

The Barcelona shot stopper became the latest player to shock fans with his admission that he knows very little about football.

Despite being the No 1 goalkeeper for arguably the best club in the world, the Germany international said he doesn’t see many games on TV and has very limited knowledge of who players are, unless he is forced to study them for a match. 

Barcelona’s No 1 goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen admits he knows little about the game 

‘People laugh when I tell them I have no idea about football,’ he told El Pais.

‘I don’t see a lot of football, except when there are good games or when I’m particularly interested in one because I have a relationship or a friend. Sometimes they ask me for a player’s name and I have no idea.

‘In LaLiga, for example, it happens to me with names. I don’t know what they are called. But later, when they show me the video, I realise that I know exactly who it is.’ 

David Bentley

The former Arsenal midfielder was tipped as our next David Beckham as he dazzled with his expert deliveries and long-range strikes at Blackburn Rovers. A big move to Tottenham in 2008 drummed up expectation, but it only went downhill from there.

While a lot of fans and indeed coaches saw plenty of promise in Bentley, he admitted in 2014 that he ‘never saw himself as a footballer’ – thoughts that began early on in his playing days. A seven-time England international, now 35, Bentley decided to hang up his boots at the age of just 29 and now runs a restaurant business in Marbella. 

‘To be honest, I was even having a few doubts about football when I was at Blackburn,’ he told the Mirror.

Former Tottenham man David Bentley said he had doubts about his love for the game early on

‘It was weird. I remember walking my dog, thinking: “This ain’t for me”. In the end I just got tired of all the bull**** that goes with it, people wanting you to sell yourself as something you’re not. 

‘For me the professional dressing-room wasn’t that exciting, life wasn’t that great. Whether my career reached the heights it could or should have done – certain people are built for the life of a footballer but I don’t think I was. 

‘Everyone grows up dreaming of being a Premier League footballer, playing for England – and I did it. I just decided that my future was outside of football.’

Bobby Zamora

A proper football journeyman, Zamora managed to play consistently at a high level for most of his career with a decent return of goals. He bagged 190 strikes from 570 career appearances for mostly London teams, including West Ham and Fulham. 

Bobby Zamora said he wanted nothing to do with football as soon as he retired from playing

He called it a day in 2016, but years earlier he had said when he did retire he wanted nothing to do with the game. 

‘I’m not a massive football fan, really,’ he said in 2012. ‘Quite a lot more players than let on are the same. I don’t watch games on an evening or anything like that. A lot of people find it strange. 

‘I’m not sure what I want to do after I finish playing but if it means watching football then I don’t want to get involved.’ 

Zamora is now involved in charity and social work, helping to set up a housing initiative for local communities alongside former team-mates Rio Ferdinand and Mark Noble.   




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Virtual Tour of Flanders result: Greg van Avermaet wins De Ronde on home trainer bike

Greg van Avermaet stormed clear to win the Virtual Tour of Flanders, as the Belgian former Olympic Champion dominated his rivals from his home trainer. Oliver Naesen finished second ahead of Nicholas Roche in third.

The race was hosted by BKool, a platform which offers users the chance to ride famous routes, and was broadcast live on Eurosport. Cameras showed Van Avermaet powering away on his home trainer while his CGI character streamed clear of the competition, which included a dozen other professionals in total.

The virtual edition covered only the final 32km of the course, including the final two climbs over Oude-Kwaremont and Paterberg, compared to 266km in the real race. Home trainers attempted to replicate the demands of cobbled sections of what is one of the five Monuments of cycling’s one-day calendar.

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The result does not count officially, but with the Tour de France expected to be postponed or possibly cancelled in line with much of the race schedule due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it might be the closest cycling gets to serious competition for some time.

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Man Utd transfer stances on Matthijs de Ligt, Timo Werner and Donny van de Beek explained

Manchester United transfer stances on Matthijs de Ligt, Timo Werner and Donny van de Beek have reportedly emerged. The trio have been tipped to leave Juventus, RB Leipzig and Ajax when the summer window reopens. And with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer eyeing a shot at Premier League title glory next season, they could be on the move to Old Trafford.

According to the Evening Standard, a defender isn’t the priority for United this summer.

Just last year they forked out £80million in order to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester, making the England international the most-expensive centre-back on the planet in the process.

United have seen Maguire impress, with Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly also improving in recent times.

But, despite that, the Red Devils maintain a long-standing interest in both De Ligt and Napoli powerhouse Kalidou Koulibaly.

De Ligt was linked with United last summer but, instead of moving to Old Trafford, he chose to join Juventus instead.

But he could be on the move already having struggled to adjust to life in Serie A since his departure from Ajax.

KEY STORY: Man Utd owners the Glazers may sell up faster because of coronavirus crisis

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United would like to sign the youngster as part of a swap deal that would see Paul Pogba head back to Juventus.

And Juventus could be tempted to cut ties with the Netherlands international if it means welcoming Pogba back to Italy.

Regarding Werner, he’s on United’s wishlist.

The RB Leipzig star has scored 21 times in the Bundesliga, flourishing ever since the arrival of Julian Nagelsmann as manager.

And he’s also found the net four times from eight Champions League appearances so far.

Werner and Lyon hotshot Moussa Dembele are both being eyed by United, who want a new striker.

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And they’re also likely to sign Odion Ighalo permanently, irrespective of their pursuits of other players in the Nigerian’s position.

Van De Beek is highly-rated at Old Trafford.

But it seems that United would only go after the Ajax star should Jack Grealish and James Maddison prove beyond their reach.

Grealish is their preferred option, despite the Aston Villa playmaker recently causing controversy by breaching quarantine rules.

And signing Maddison would be tricky given how Leicester are currently battling to secure the playmaker’s signature.

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Meanwhile, speaking in March, Solskjaer claimed his squad only needed two or three more signings to challenge for the title.

The Norwegian boss said: “For me it shows we are on the right track and improving and we are Manchester United and looking to catch the teams in front of us.

“We feel we are improving all the time.

“We know we lack one, two, three players to be considered a title contender and some experience and we know that.

“We are just going to start talking about going up the table, getting more points.”

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Liverpool transfer chief Michael Edwards plotting £88m double deal which affects Man Utd

Liverpool are reportedly lining up a double swoop on Borussia Monchengladbach for highly-rated duo Denis Zakaria and Marcus Thuram. The pair have both been shining lights in Marco Rose’s side which sits fourth in the Bundesliga, having led the table earlier in the season.

Their performances have attracted the interest of a number of big European clubs this season and it’s little wonder that the pair are both of interest to Liverpool.

Klopp has shown a willingness to return to his homeland in the transfer market since arriving at Anfield, signing the likes of Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan.

While under Brendan Rodgers Liverpool bought Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim.

Now Michael Edwards looks set to raid the Bundesliga this summer with the likes of Jadon Sancho and Timo Werner also being targeted.

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German outlet Express claim that the Reds are eyeing a double deal for Zakaria and Thuram this summer.

Zakaria is a player who has attracted interest from both Manchester United and Arsenal in recent windows.

The Swiss international has established himself as one of the finest defensive midfielders in Germany this season.

The 6ft 2in powerhouse looks destined to move on in the near future and at the age of just 23 is already showing world-class credentials.

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It’s hard to see where Zakaria would fit into Liverpool’s midfield, given they already have a top class No 6 in Fabinho.

Yet one of the areas Klopp will be looking to strengthen is his squad depth.

The former Borussia Dortmund boss wants to build a second Liverpool team after this one and wants to ensure competition for places remains high.

Adam Lallana will be leaving at the end of the season on the expiry of his contract, meaning there will be one space in midfield.

Liverpool are looking to bring in another forward though, with Werner the club’s top target.

The Reds are set to lose Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to the Africa Cup of Nations next January, meaning they will be short in attack for up to a month.

Thuram could be the man to come in and fill the void, with the Frenchman reportedly being eyed as part of a double swoop.

He has five Bundesliga goals to his name so far this season in 25 outings.

The former Guingamp man is represented by super-agent Mino Raiola.

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Alan Shearer details Sir Alex Ferguson demand during Man Utd transfer talks

Alan Shearer has revealed he demanded to take penalties during transfer talks with Sir Alex Ferguson over a potential move to Manchester United.

Shearer was one of the hottest prospects in the Premier League in 1996 after scoring 130 goals in 171 appearances for Blackburn, and had to decide between signing for his beloved Newcastle or Ferguson's United.

In the end he chose the former, where he went on to net 206 more goals and become the leading goalscorer in the history of the competition.

And speaking on a retro version of Match of the Day Shearer went into the details of his talks with both Ferguson and Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan.

"I sat down with both Kevin Keegan and Sir Alex on the same day, in a house in Cheshire, believe it or not," said Shearer.

"I spoke to Kevin Keegan in the morning, talks had gone really really well, very positive.

"And then the Newcastle contingent left and the Man United contingent came in, and that was Sir Alex.

"And Sir Alex's first question was 'am I seeing you first, or second?'. And I said I saw Kevin this morning, and he said 'basically I've got no chance, then'.

"In other words he wanted to see me first and he was disappointed he didn't do that. But I thought the talks went extremely well, I was really impressed with what he had to say."

Things appeared to unravel when Shearer said he wanted to take penalties, however, as Ferguson insisted the club's spot-kick taker was, and would continue to be, Eric Cantona.


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Charlie Methven net worth: How much is the former Sunderland director worth?

Season 2 of Sunderland ‘Til I Die is available on Netflix now, giving fans insight into the club’s former executive director Charlie Methven. He left the role in December 2019 but still owns shares in Sunderland.

Methven was part of the consortium led by Steward Donald that bought the club in May 2018.

At the time of the takeover, Methven said: “This summer there needs to be a turnaround, as this is an organisation that is used to failure.

“The club has lost more games than any other club so there’s a real, proper job on our hands to get everyone facing in the same direction.”

During his time as Sunderland’s executive director, Methven helped improve the club’s finances and their marketing strategy.

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The ‘Big Seat Change Initiative’, where fans, staff and players replaced the Stadium of Light’s faded pink seats, won the Best Club Marketing Initiative at the 2018 Football Business Awards.

He also helped the Black Cats attract the largest average attendance for a third-tier club at more than 31,000 and the largest League One match attendance at 46,039 for their Boxing Day clash with Bradford, beating the previous record held by Leeds.

How much is Charlie Methven worth?

Methven’s exact net worth is not known, however, he does reportedly own six per cent of Sunderland.

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Reflecting on his time as a director at Sunderland, Methven said: “I’m really proud of what the whole club achieved, looking back now.

Back in March 2018, the assumption within football and with a lot of Sunderland fans was that Sunderland AFC was going to go into administration.

“When you’ve got a club that is losing £30 million per annum and is that much in debt, there’s really very little to keep it afloat once the billionaire stops writing the cheques.

“We came in trying to achieve the aim of turning it around without the pain and humiliation of bankruptcy and it was a very difficult task.

“We inherited a cost base where the club was costing over £50m a year to run, while the revenue base was predicted to be £15m.

“The previous management said there were parachute payments to fill some of that gap, but that ignored the fact that there was also a net transfer deficit of £20m (money owed to clubs on previous transfers).

“So it wasn’t just £30+m loss, there was also that £20m that the club needed to pay.

“So we had no option but to come in and slash and burn, while trying to get revenue rising simultaneously, which is easier said than done but the fans really helped us.”

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WrestleMania 36 match grades: Undertaker better than expected; Strowman, Goldberg produce a stinker on Night 1

WrestleMania 36 is taking place under unique circumstances because of the COVID-19 outbreak. WWE’s annual blockbuster event is being presented over two nights and before no fans at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla.

Everyone tried as hard as they could on the opening night Saturday and some good matches did take place, but the show also produced one of the worst matches in WrestleMania history as Braun Strowman captured the Universal championship from Goldberg. In the main event of Night 1, The Undertaker beat AJ Styles in a Boneyard Match.

SN’s wrestling experts watched the first half of WrestleMania 36 and graded each match.

WrestleMania 36 match grades

Cesaro def. Drew Gulak

Steven Muehlhausen: Baffled this only went about five minutes when they had plenty of time. The match was just getting good when Cesaro hit the forearm and then followed with the airplane spin for the win. Like the fact Cesaro sold an injury so he couldn’t perform the Neutralizer. Don’t know the last time an airplane spin was used as a finisher.

Grade: C

Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross def. The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane) to win ‘Smackdown’ tag team titles

Andreas Hale: A match that went way too long and ended with Bliss hitting a Twisted Bliss to the knees of Sane to give her team the titles. Much of the match was a drag, with slow spots and uninspired offense. Asuka continues to be a bright spot while Sane remains underutilized despite all her talent. It was obvious they had to move the titles but this match just wasn’t it.

Grade: C-

Muehlhausen:  Not sure how this match went longer than Cesaro vs. Gulak. It was nothing to write home about. Thankfully, Asuka and Sane were around to make it passable. Hard to fathom why Cross kept clapping when no spectators were inside the venue. A title change was due, but not with this team.

Grade: C-

Elias def. King Corbin

Hale: Yet another match that didn’t have much going for it. Elias and Corbin had way too much time for a feud that didn’t have a great deal of momentum. A year removed from sending Kurt Angle into retirement, Corbin lost on a rollup and a liberal use of the tights. It wasn’t terrible; it was just kinda there.

Grade:  D+

Muehlhausen:  All kinds of bad here. Both guys looked to be going through the motions and the match had the feel of something you’d see from two beginners. Corbin had an argument with the referee and Elias came up from behind to roll up Corbin with a grab of the tights for the victory. Thankfully, that ended the match.

Grade: F

Becky Lynch def. Shayna Baszler to retain the ‘Raw’ women’s title

Hale: This had the potential to be a bad match, but these two managed to pull off a solid outing; however, the fact this match was under 10 minutes makes you wonder how much stock Vince McMahon had in Bayzler entering it. Nevertheless, the eight minutes they had were valuable; they exchanged submission attempts and hard strikes. Unfortunately, Lynch using the same pin that Bret Hart used against Roddy Piper at WrestleMania 8 felt underwhelming. Where does Shayna go from here?

Grade: C+

Muehlhausen:  Give Lynch and Baszler credit: They stunk up the joint at Survivor Series but provided a better-than-expected contest here. Short was better, considering Baszler has been underwhelming as a member of the main roster. Baszler helped change that narrative as she mixed her power and submissions quite well. Creative finish with Lynch flipping back to lock in the pin to remain the champion. Also have to wonder where Baszler goes from here.

Grade: B-

Sami Zayn def. Daniel Bryan to retain Intercontinental title

Hale: This was the one match that deserved, at minimum, 15 minutes. Bryan and Zayn were working toward an instant classic, and then the match was cut off at the knees. It’s no secret that Zayn is one of the most underutilized talents on the WWE roster (along with Cesaro, Nakamura and Gulak) and Bryan clearly put himself in position to put him over. It was pretty darn good while it lasted, but it deserved so much more.

Grade: B

Muehlhausen:  How these guys weren’t allowed to go 15 minutes is beyond me. Bryan is one of the top workers in the business and Zayn is no slouch in the ring. Glad to see Zayn retain because he deserves to be in a prime position, and working with Bryan will keep him there.

Grade: B

John Morrison def. Kofi Kingston and Jimmy Uso to retain the ‘Smackdown’ tag team titles

Hale: This was, by far, the best match of the night. Despite the fact The Miz was pulled after getting sick, this trio tore down the house in a ladder match. Everyone worked their tails off, with each high flyer from the respective teams showing off tremendous athleticism. The match was given the time it needed, and it delivered a brilliant finish with Kofi and Jimmy battling over the tag titles before Morrison stole them away. Excellent match with a fantastic ending.

Grade: A-

Muehlhausen: Not to shine a light on The Miz being sick, but it’s a good thing he wasn’t in this match because Morrison was exceptional, with Kingston and Uso not too far behind. All three worked hard and they were given the most important thing: time. The finish was excellent; all three were tugging at the belts, and then Kingston and Uso head-butted Morrison, who grabbed the belts and fell off the ladder. Morrison showed that it’s time for him to break from The Miz and go the singles route. 

Grade: A

Kevin Owens def. Seth Rollins

Hale: Two Ring of Honor standouts were given a great deal of time to put on a show, and they delivered on all accounts. Owens and Rollins worked extraordinarily hard in a hard-hitting match. It appeared for a minute that Rollins was going to get the last laugh with a DQ finish after hitting Owens with the ring bell, but Owens demanded that the match continue and took it to another level. He hit a daredevil elbow drop through the announcer table and finished the job with a stunner in the center of the ring. Well-booked with a great finish.

Grade: A

Muehlhausen: The match lived up to the hype. Both men were given ample time and they busted their butts the entire match. It was enjoyable to see Owens and Rollins trash talk each other while simultaneously delivering a beating. Owens got the match to continue by invoking No Holds Barred rules. From there, Owens was in control. He hit the elbow drop from the top of the WrestleMania sign and then put Rollins back into the ring, where the latter wanted no more.

Grade: A

Braun Strowman def. Goldberg to win the Universal title

Hale: What was this? Well, I’ll tell you what this was: WWE booked itself into a corner by putting Goldberg over on The Fiend in Saudi Arabia for the purpose of having Roman Reigns beat him at WrestleMania to become Universal champion. Reigns being predictably taken out of the match and replaced by Strowman with no rhyme or reason made little sense. The result was a “WWE 2K” match with a spamming of finishers that resulted in Strowman pinning Goldberg for the belt after a series of power slams. This was bad.

Grade: F

Muehlhausen: How does one define “horrendous”? Yes, this falls on WWE for having Goldberg win the belt from The Fiend at Super Showdown. The premise made sense: Use the biggest star, Reigns, to beat him and win the title at the biggest event of the year. The match should have been canceled after Reigns pulled himself, but WWE, being stubborn and not knowing how to get out of its own way, instead booked Strowman. What resulted was one of the worst headliners in WrestleMania history. 

Grade: F-

The Undertaker def. AJ Styles

Hale: For what it’s worth, the fact this match was produced in advance rescued it from having Undertaker having to work. Instead, we ended up with a Boneyard Match that took itself a little too seriously but still ended up being relatively entertaining. It’s a challenge to figure out what this match was. It was kind of a brawl with some goofy aspects. Nevertheless, Undertaker managed to bury Styles at the end and endured some interference from Gallows and Anderson, along with some guys who were dressed in hoods for reasons unknown. It was what it was, and it ended up being somewhat entertaining.

Grade: C+

Muehlhausen: Give WWE credit. It made what would have been a rough situation inside the ring because of The Undertaker’s limitations into something people will at least talk about. The movie-style shots were well done; they gave the match a feel you don’t see too often. We also saw The Undertaker talking smack, which is out of character for him. Not a classic, but not bad. 

Grade: C+

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