Will anyone prevent Manchester City from retaining their title? | Paul Wilson

Only 11 teams have done it, and only Manchester United and Liverpool have done it more than a couple of times, but Pep Guardiola’s men look a good bet to join the club this seasonOnly 11 clubs have ever done it, and one of the first was called the Wednesday. The official retitling of Sheffield Wednesday only happened in 1929, just in time to see it achieved again in 1930. Aston Villa managed it during the Boer war, Huddersfield between the wars and Portsmouth and Wolves during the cold war. The first time it occurred was in 1890, when Vincent van Gogh was still alive, just, and the most recent occasion was in 2009, when a frustrated Rafa Benítez famously came up with a list of “facts” about Sir Alex Ferguson’s supposed influence over referees.The subject under discussion is the retention of the English title, which has happened on 25 occasions in the 130-year history of organised league football. Manchester United can claim a record seven of those feats, six coming under Ferguson’s stewardship, and with five, mainly in the 70s and 80s, Liverpool are the only other team with more than a couple of back-to-back wins. Continue reading...

17-11-2018



The Spin | England reaping the benefits of Lions tours that turn tyros into Test players

Four of England’s winning Test team in Galle were on a successful Lions tour to Sri Lanka two years ago and this is one part of ECB planning that should be praisedAs the projected costs of The Hundred mount, tripling from the original estimate of £13m up to £40m – and counting – budgets are being slashed at ECB Towers. Gone is Andrew Strauss’s pet North-South series, gone is the not-so-mourned Pace Programme, gone are the Overseas Placements that so benefited Ollie Pope and Mason Crane in consecutive winters in Sydney.But still hanging on, whether by thread or rope, is the Lions Programme, perhaps English cricket’s most secret and deadly weapon. The first part of this winter’s tour starts on Sunday against Pakistan A, with a four-day match at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. Five one day and two Twenty20 games follow over the next three weeks, ricocheting between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Pope has been dispatched from the main England tour to get more match practice than he would twiddling his thumbs on the sidelines in Sri Lanka. Then, after Christmas, the Lions head to India. Continue reading...

17-11-2018



The Breakdown | It was tough on Sam Underhill, but England try was rightly disallowed

Courtney Lawes took a gamble and lost when he charged down TJ Perenara’s kick against the All Blacks. The referee was correctSam Underhill may be one of England’s youngest, least experienced players but he reacted to one of the biggest disappointments of his senior career with a mature detachment. “If the referee says the grass is pink, then the grass is pink,” he said when asked about his disallowed try five minutes from time against New Zealand when Courtney Lawes was ruled to have been offside when he charged down a kick. Related: Japan captain Leitch says his side will not bow down at Twickenham Continue reading...

17-11-2018



Wayne Rooney: some ex-players cannot come to terms with this England team

• Rooney says some ex-teammates bitter about successes• ‘That is wrong. I’m not like that. I’m a fan now’Wayne Rooney believes some of his former international teammates are struggling to embrace England’s success under Gareth Southgate. The former captain made sure not to cause any embarrassment by revealing who he was talking about, though the DC United forward stressed that he has not been weighed down by any bitterness since his retirement from international football last year.“I know there are some ex-players who I’ve spoken to who can’t come to terms with England doing well,” Rooney said. “That is wrong. I’m not like that. I’m a fan now. I want England to do well. I am proud to have played for England so many times and I always have been. I’ve had my time. I am happy with what I’ve contributed to the national team and I look forward now to the next few years and watching this team progress.” Continue reading...

17-11-2018



Hamilton would be world champion in a Mercedes or a Ferrari - Palmer column

In his latest column, former Renault driver Jolyon Palmer looks at the brilliance of five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

17-11-2018



Wales v Tonga: Aled Davies scores 'try of the autumn'

Aled Davies scores a superb second-half try as Wales thump Tonga 74-24 in their autumn international at the Principality Stadium.

17-11-2018



Joe Cokanasiga scores debut try to help spare England’s blushes against Japan

• England 35-15 Japan• Home side run in three second-half tries having trailed 15-10Eddie Jones promised his side would smash Japan but England were more toothless than ruthless for the first 50 minutes against resourceful and cunning opponents who revelled in broken play and were durable in contact. There was far less for the hosts to harvest from victory than there had been in defeat to New Zealand the week before, forced to go back to basics against tier two opponents after trailing at the interval. Related: Eddie Jones: ‘In the second half we finally got stuck in – that’s pleasing’ Continue reading...

17-11-2018



Thousands of Leicester City fans march to honour Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha – video

Thousands of Leicester City fans marched on Saturday to honour former owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four others, who were killed when their helicopter crashed following Leicester's previous home match against West Ham. Fans gathered in Jubilee Square and marched towards the team's King Power Stadium  ahead of their match with Burnley waving Leicester City and Thai flags, with others holding up banners. Continue reading...

17-11-2018



ATP Finals: Novak Djokovic beats Kevin Anderson to reach final

World number one Novak Djokovic puts in a ruthless display to beat Kevin Anderson and reach the final of the ATP Finals in London.

17-11-2018



Women's World Twenty20: Australia's Tayla Vlaeminck takes a "staggering" catch v India

Australia's Tayla Vlaeminck takes a "staggering" catch on debut to dismiss India's Veda Krishnamurthy in the ICC Women's World Twenty20 group B game.

17-11-2018



Soccer and soju: The football match that kicked off Korean peace

How a friendly chat on the sidelines opened the door for North and South Korea to start talking.

17-11-2018



Jacob Stockdale scores only try as Ireland earn historic win over All Blacks

• Ireland 16-9 New Zealand• Ireland see out their second victory over New ZealandBrutal does not even begin to describe the contest but for Ireland the outcome was as beautiful as any in their rugby history. For the first time they have beaten the All Blacks on Irish soil and not a single Kiwi can say it was undeserved. If New Zealand are still officially the world’s best team, it did not particularly feel that way at the final whistle.It made for a legendary Dublin night. New Zealand may have escaped against England at Twickenham but not this time; the world champions were hassled and harried to distraction by a home team as composed and clinical as they were physical and powerful. A solitary 48th-minute try scored by Jacob Stockdale did not entirely reflect Ireland’s all-round dominance. Continue reading...

17-11-2018



Baron Alco and Jamie Moore grind Cheltenham rivals into submission

• BetVictor Gold Cup winners lead from the front• Sara Bradstock praises third-placed ConeygreeWhen six of the 18 runners in a handicap chase make it across the line, up front is generally the best place to be. So it proved here on Saturday as Baron Alco and Jamie Moore made all the running to win a BetVictor Gold Cup that was strewn with incident from the first fence to the last.Four horses fell, two more were brought down and four unseated their riders over the course of two-and-a-half miles, but the drama passed Baron Alco by as he jumped quickly and accurately at the head of the field. Frodon, under top weight, kept him company for much of the way but his burden started to tell on the turn for home and Baron Alco stayed on strongly close home to register a comfortable success. Continue reading...

17-11-2018



Portugal into Nations League semi-finals after goalless draw at wasteful Italy

Portugal seal top spot in Group A3 and a place in the Nations League semi-finals with a hard-fought point against a wasteful Italy.

17-11-2018



'Solari the stopgap with bigger name to come' - what is going on at Real Madrid?

The relatively unknown Santiago Solari has been placed in charge of Real Madrid - but he is not likely to be in the role for long, writes Andy West.

17-11-2018



How can Renato Sanches be so bad at one club and so good at another? | Stuart James

The midfielder is rebuilding his career at Bayern and is clearly a huge talent, which makes his failed spell at Swansea so bafflingSeptember 2017, the London Stadium. Renato Sanches is brought down by Cheikhou Kouyaté deep inside the West Ham half and is determined to take the free-kick. He tells his Swansea teammates he is going to put it in the top corner. One swing of his right boot later and the ball is on its way to the top corner ... of the stadium rather than the net. Swansea’s players are already turning on their heel before gravity has started to do its work.July 2018, Wörthersee Stadion. Bayern Munich win a free-kick wide on the right, about 22 yards from goal. Every Paris Saint-Germain player is expecting a cross as Sanches stands over the ball. Expertly disguising his intentions, Sanches curls a brilliant shot inside the near post. Rafinha jumps on top of Sanches to celebrate and the rest of his Bayern teammates join in. Continue reading...

17-11-2018



Northern Ireland Open: Ronnie O'Sullivan beats Mark Selby on final black to reach final

Ronnie O'Sullivan holds his nerve to beat world number one Mark Selby on the final black and will face Judd Trump in the Northern Ireland Open final.

17-11-2018



Gordon Taylor, football’s fattest cat, must go if PFA is to modernise | Daniel Taylor

Benevolent payments to ex-players are a fraction of Gordon Taylor’s salary and on issues from dementia to the abuse scandal the PFA’s leader has failed to leadWhat would your reaction be if I were to point out that in the past week Gordon Taylor has quietly passed the 40th anniversary since he took his place at football’s top table and set about the process of transforming himself from a barrel-chested winger at Bury, from the puddles and potholes of the old Third Division, into a life of establishment wealth?If you could put aside any cynicism, try not to dwell too long on the deficiencies of his organisation and overlook that it is traditionally he, not Richard Scudamore, who is the real Bagpuss of football’s fat-cat culture, it might even be possible to manage some grudging admiration for such a feat of longevity. Continue reading...

17-11-2018