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Everton coach Ferguson opens up on his relationship with boss Ancelotti and Calvert-Lewin

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everton coach ferguson opens up on his relationship with boss ancelotti and calvert lewin

The tape has only just started rolling but Duncan Ferguson is laying down the ground rules for the next 30 minutes as only he can.

‘I don’t usually do these,’ he says, in the broadest Scottish burr, before fixing a piercing gaze on this observer. ‘I’m not givin’ ye’ any tactical information if that’s what you’re spearin’ for!’

A theatrical pause follows but he cannot maintain the pretence. Soon, he is laughing.

Interviews with Everton assistant manager Duncan Ferguson are rare but he opens up here

Interviews with Everton assistant manager Duncan Ferguson are rare but he opens up here

The Scot was interim boss after Marco Silva was sacked last year before Carlo Ancelotti arrived

The Scot was interim boss after Marco Silva was sacked last year before Carlo Ancelotti arrived

‘Go on, son,’ he continues. ‘On you go…’

Interviews with Ferguson are rare. He barely gave them as a player and would prefer to remain in the shadows now he is a coach but, after some persuasion, the Everton icon is here and ready to talk. His reputation is fearsome but it quickly becomes clear this audience will not disappoint.

In good time, he will discuss the restorative work Carlo Ancelotti is conducting on his beloved club and the rise of Dominic Calvert-Lewin — the young man who now wears the No 9 shirt that was once Ferguson’s property — and tell an untold story about his brief stint in charge as caretaker boss.

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But as this is derby week on Merseyside — with Everton heading into the 237th round of this conflict at the top of the embryonic Premier League table — the place to start is with a grainy, 30-second YouTube clip that begins with a noise that rolls around Goodison Park like thunder.

‘1994, wasn’t it?’ he says immediately.

It was — November, to be precise. Ferguson is watching footage of his first Everton goal, a towering header that toppled Liverpool. He had arrived on loan from Rangers with a point to prove but the goal sparked a 2-0 win in Joe Royle’s first game as manager and so began a love affair.

Critics will say there should have been more goals than 72 in 273 appearances but statistics don’t help with this story. Ferguson connected with the Gwladys Street fans like few others and came alive in big games. At his best he was unplayable. No Everton figure has been more adored in modern times.

‘My kids put it on TV from time to time,’ he says. ‘They say to me: “You were nae bad, Dad, were you? You did play now and again, you were nae always injured!” When you show me something like that it makes me feel incredibly proud. I still get butterflies before a derby, you know what I mean?

‘At the end of the day I played in a derby game and helped us win. When you get your first goal against the old enemy it’s remembered, isn’t it? The big night, under the lights — it’s what it’s all about. I wish we could have played Liverpool and Manchester United every week.

‘You know, it’s a shame that someone is going to score for us and you’re not going to hear anything like that, the fan noise. I’m sure they’ll still be feeling f****** brilliant inside. But the fans not being there…ach! It’s just not the same. The derby will never be the same without them. Never.’

And it is such a shame. Goodison, in normal circumstances, would have been shaking at lunchtime on Saturday with the home crowd expectant. Ancelotti, in that quiet style of his, has started a transformation and seven wins from seven games is Everton’s best start to a season since 1894.

Ferguson scored his first Merseyside derby goal for the Toffees in a 2-0 win in November 1994

Ferguson scored his first Merseyside derby goal for the Toffees in a 2-0 win in November 1994

And Ferguson has admitted he still gets butterflies before Everton face their neighbours

And Ferguson has admitted he still gets butterflies before Everton face their neighbours

People are taking Everton seriously once more, thanks to Calvert-Lewin’s goals and the brilliance of — in Ferguson’s words — ‘the wee magician’ James Rodriguez. But it is all being knitted together by the urbane Italian with whom Ferguson struck up an immediate rapport. Their relationship is crucial.

‘The first thing I noticed when he came in was that he never changed anything,’ says Ferguson. ‘A new, younger manager could have decided to do things (different) straight away from day one. They could have forced their philosophy — I hate that word — or style of play on to the team.

‘Some managers would have just come in and gone, ‘f****** bang! Change this! Change that! Change it all!’ He never did it. I thought that was class. I learnt a lot from that, how he handled it. He’s a relaxed kind of guy but, believe me, he’s got a bite on him. Carlo has worked his magic.

‘We’ve all got respect for him for what he has done in the game. But he is hardworking and out on the grass every day. I say to him sometimes, ‘Stay in! There’s only five or six of us. Look, Gaffer, stay in’. He’ll have none of it. It’s says everything for me.

‘He does nae talk too much but when he starts speaking you listen. My God, the stories he tells about the players he’s worked with. He rolls out Pirlo, Maldini and all those strikers. 

Everton are being taken seriously again thanks to the likes of 'magician' James Rodriguez

Everton are being taken seriously again thanks to the likes of ‘magician’ James Rodriguez

Ferguson (right) praised Ancelotti (left) who has led Everton to their best start since 1894

Ferguson (right) praised Ancelotti (left) who has led Everton to their best start since 1894

‘He’s good company around the dinner table, you know what I mean? The manager has worked hard but so has his son, Davide (who, like Ferguson, is assistant manager). He’s a fantastic young coach — a wee tactical genius — and the two work closely together. He is working wonders, him and his dad. I’m just in there supporting them.’

Ferguson, in a self-deprecating way, makes it sound as if he is there in some token role. It isn’t the case. The catalyst for Everton’s rejuvenation started on December 7 last year when the 48-year-old oversaw a 3-1 win over Chelsea 48 hours after manager Marco Silva had been sacked.

He ached for the opportunity, to have one little spell in the dugout, but he put himself under such intolerable pressure that he needed sleeping pills the night before to get any kind of sleep. The hours that followed were even more surreal as the emotion came tumbling out.

‘I remember I phoned the chairman (Bill Kenwright),’ he says. ‘It must have been one o’clock in the morning. I’m not kidding you — It was that late and I’m walking around my garden and it’s absolutely f****** lashing down. It’s hard to explain, really. It was like I wasn’t really there, I couldn’t take it in.

‘You dream about something like that for a long, long time and then it was gone, over. It was an incredible day. Incredible. The atmosphere in the ground, the emotion of it all. Everyone was willing us to get that result. It was all so genuine.’

The catalyst for Everton's rejuvenation though was the 3-1 win over Chelsea in December 2019

The catalyst for Everton’s rejuvenation though was the 3-1 win over Chelsea in December 2019

To give that emotion further context, Howard Kendall’s widow, Lily, gave Ferguson his revered old manager’s Armani watch to wear for luck on the touchline; when Calvert-Lewin scored two second-half goals, Ferguson spontaneously hugged two young ball boys and twirled them.

‘I’d have picked up you if you had been next to me!’ he says, laughing again. ‘Look, I’ve scored goals, right. I’ve scored goals in a derby game and you don’t think you will ever get any higher. But nothing — nothing — compares to that. Nothing. That day sits right at the top for me.’

Ferguson talks quickly, normally, but the pace picks up the more animated he becomes.

‘It was just raw emotion,’ he continues. ‘There were people crying, man! People were so made up. I mean, I’m one of them. I have been a part of the club for a long, long time. I’m a supporter. So I’m there for them, standing on the touchline. For the boys to perform as they did? Unbelievable!

‘We f****** needed those three points, didn’t we? And of course there was Dominic. Dominic became a man that day, didn’t he? He really got himself noticed.’ 

After the game Ferguson was overcome with emotion and spoke to Bill Kenwright (left) at 1am

After the game Ferguson was overcome with emotion and spoke to Bill Kenwright (left) at 1am

Ferguson spontaneously hugged two young ball boys and twirled them as they beat the Blues

Ferguson spontaneously hugged two young ball boys and twirled them as they beat the Blues

If he was noticed then, Calvert-Lewin is known now thanks to his debut international goal against Wales — ‘the first time I’ve ever wanted England to win!’ Ferguson says — which came on the back of nine goals in six matches for his club. He is doing what tradition demands of an Everton No 9.

‘To see Dominic score, I was as proud as punch — we all were,’ says Ferguson. ‘The kid has turned into a man. He fills his shirt and led the line fantastically against Wales and Belgium. I used to watch England when Wayne (Rooney) played but Dominic gave me a reason to have a bit of interest again.

‘He works closely with Davide on the training ground. You cannot overlook that — Carlo and Davide are out there with him every day. He’s able to do a bit of everything and I did know he could wear that No 9. It’s an iconic shirt, isn’t it? Thank God we have got someone to fill it.’

Another goal on Saturday would propel Calvert-Lewin into a different realm with regards to how he is perceived. Ferguson knows this better than anyone but what he is also attuned to is the feeling within a city that has always turned to football for escapism. 

Ferguson also claimed Dominic Calvert-Lewin became a man that day with his two goals

Ferguson also claimed Dominic Calvert-Lewin became a man that day with his two goals

He also admitted he was proud to see the Everton forward score his first England goal

He also admitted he was proud to see the Everton forward score his first England goal

The latest difficult week in a draining year could do with a crackerjack derby to provide a distraction. Whether it can be that in an empty stadium remains to be seen but Ferguson is aware of how far-reaching the impact of a first derby win in 10 years could be.

‘Let me tell you, the people involved love Liverpool,’ he says firmly. ‘We love the city. I think it’s great that Carlo and Jurgen Klopp live here now. It gives both clubs a connection with the fans and the people in the area. Every club should have connection to the past — definitely.

‘We have got to give something back to the community and the area. We’ve had a good start but let’s not start all jumping around. If we beat Liverpool — which I believe we can — we will have good momentum and I think people will take a bit of notice of us. At the moment it is only a start.’

Maybe so, but it is a start that hints at a brighter future for Everton.

‘Aye,’ says Ferguson, with one last smile. ‘It’s better to be in this position, isn’t it? You know what it is like when you mix momentum and confidence. It’s not just football — it’s life, isn’t it? If you have got it, you keep on riding it. Let’s hope it continues.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Donny Van de Beek will regret £40m Man United move according to Holland legend Marco van Basten

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donny van de beek will regret 40m man united move according to holland legend marco van basten

Holland legend Marco Van Basten claims Donny van de Beek will come to regret his summer move to Manchester United.

The 23-year-old midfielder has only played 61 minutes in the Premier League for the Old Trafford side after arriving from Ajax for £40million in the summer.

The Holland international was once again left on the bench by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – who has promised Van de Beek he will get minutes this season – in United’s dour 0-0 draw at home to Chelsea

Marco Van Basten claims Donny van de Beek will regret his move to Manchester United

Marco Van Basten claims Donny van de Beek will regret his move to Manchester United

Marco Van Basten claims Donny van de Beek will regret his move to Manchester United

Van Basten was speaking on Rondo, a programme aired on Dutch channel Ziggo Sport

Van Basten was speaking on Rondo, a programme aired on Dutch channel Ziggo Sport

Van Basten was speaking on Rondo, a programme aired on Dutch channel Ziggo Sport

But speaking on Rondo, a programme aired on Dutch television channel Ziggo Sport, Van Basten believes his compatriot should have waited to assess his options instead of jumping at the chance to join United.

‘Donny should not have gone to Manchester United,’ Van Basten said. ‘When you are a good player you want to play every week.

‘It is really bad for a player like Donny to play only six or seven games this year. That is shocking for your match rhythm.

‘I know he is earning loads and loads more than he used to. But as a top player you have to be critical and look at the chances of playing when you sign for a new club.

The 23-year-old midfielder has only played 61 minutes in the Premier League for his new club

The 23-year-old midfielder has only played 61 minutes in the Premier League for his new club

The 23-year-old midfielder has only played 61 minutes in the Premier League for his new club

‘Donny should have waited for better prospects and signed for another club.’ 

Van de Beek was on just £30,000 per week at Ajax but earns around £108,000 per week at Old Trafford.

Van Basten’s comments come after former United left back Patrice Evra questioned why the club had even brought Van de Beek to the club.

Speaking after the goalless draw against Chelsea, Evra said: ‘We’re talking about Van de Beek, nothing against the kid, but why have we bought him?

‘He’s watching the game from the stand every game. We don’t need him, that’s the truth.’

Fellow Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said Van de Beek himself will be questioning why he was signed if he is not part of the manager’s immediate plans.

Van de Beek (right) has been promised he will get game time by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (left)

Van de Beek (right) has been promised he will get game time by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (left)

Van de Beek (right) has been promised he will get game time by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (left)

‘What is a little bit of a mystery is the use of Van de Beek since he’s been signed for £40million,’ Neville added.

‘He doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans in every game. 

‘It’s a bit of a mystery that one. And the more he doesn’t start, and the more he doesn’t come on, the more you’re thinking, “Well £40m player, ordinarily you’d get him in the team”.

‘He must be thinking: “What am I doing here?’ at this moment in time.’ 

Van de Beek has made just two starts for United this season, which came in Carabao Cup victories against Luton and Brighton.

Van Basten's comments come after Patrice Evra questioned why United bought Van de Beek

Van Basten's comments come after Patrice Evra questioned why United bought Van de Beek

Van Basten’s comments come after Patrice Evra questioned why United bought Van de Beek

He has made just two starts for United this season, which came in Carabao Cup victories

He has made just two starts for United this season, which came in Carabao Cup victories

He has made just two starts for United this season, which came in Carabao Cup victories

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Manchester United ‘want Erling Haaland and still believe they can take Jadon Sancho’ from Dortmund

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manchester united want erling haaland and still believe they can take jadon sancho from dortmund

Manchester United have strongly retained their interest in signing Borussia Dortmund hitman Erling Haaland as well as his team-mate Jadon Sancho, according to reports. 

England forward Sancho was United’s top summer target and although a move did not materialise, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer instead signing free agent Edinson Cavani up front, United’s willingness to do a deal has not gone away. 

But it is United’s interest in Norwegian striker Haaland, who Solskjaer coached during his time at Molde, which has been renewed and the 20-year-old has a £68m release clause valid in the summer of 2022 written into his Dortmund contract, The Athletic reports. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains interested in a deal for both Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains interested in a deal for both Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains interested in a deal for both Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho

Sancho and Haaland linked up brilliantly again at the weekend for Borussia Dortmund

Sancho and Haaland linked up brilliantly again at the weekend for Borussia Dortmund

Sancho and Haaland linked up brilliantly again at the weekend for Borussia Dortmund 

The report details that though Solskjaer refused to meet the financial demands of Mino Raiola – Haaland’s agent – when the forward eventually moved from RB Salzburg to Dortmund in January, United’s long-term interest remains. 

The relationship between Haaland and Solskjaer is still thought to be strong, and United could pursue a move sooner than 2022 for a higher fee if his performances justify a steeper price tag. 

His agent Raiola has previously had run-ins in the past with Solskjaer and United, particularly over the long-term future of Paul Pogba. 

Meanwhile, despite the fact United refused to meet Dortmund’s £108m asking price for Sancho by their summer window deadline, striking a deal is still at the forefront of Ed Woodward’s mind in the near-future. 

In a pursuit which was reportedly given the codename ‘Project No 7’, even though Cavani has now taken the illustrious shirt number at Old Trafford, United are still keen to strike a deal for the 20-year-old ex-Manchester City youth-team player. 

Erling Haaland scored his fifth Bundesliga goal in five games with his strike against Schalke on Saturday

Erling Haaland scored his fifth Bundesliga goal in five games with his strike against Schalke on Saturday

Sancho neatly set up Haaland at the weekend though is yet to score in the German top-flight

Sancho neatly set up Haaland at the weekend though is yet to score in the German top-flight

A double United swoop for Haaland and Sancho could total in the region of £176million

Solskjaer retains a good relationship with Haaland despite Mino Raiola acting as his agent

Solskjaer retains a good relationship with Haaland despite Mino Raiola acting as his agent

Solskjaer retains a good relationship with Haaland despite Mino Raiola acting as his agent 

A deal for both Sancho and Haaland, with the potential fees on the table, could total as much as £176m. 

However, whether Dortmund decide to do business with United following the twists and turns of the Sancho saga this summer is another matter altogether. 

United also lost out to Dortmund in the signing of Birmingham City’s Jude Bellingham, who has already been used regularly in the centre of the Germans’ midfield at the beginning of the new season. 

Haaland, meanwhile, scored his fifth Bundesliga goal in five games as Dortmund strolled to a 3-0 win over local rivals Schalke on Saturday.  

Sancho is yet to score in the German top-flight this season though he did set-up Haaland for his goal at the weekend, with the pair’s lethal partnership continuing to flourish.  

Last week, former United coach Rene Meulensteen claimed the Red Devils would have done better landing a legitimate No 9 in the summer, such as Haaland, rather than chasing an overpriced deal for Sancho. 

‘United need a real striker, a proper No 9, one like Erling Haaland,’ Meulensteen wrote in his column for Manchester United Supporters Club Scandinavia.  

Ex-Utd coach Rene Meulensteen believes United should have pursued Haaland in the summer

Ex-Utd coach Rene Meulensteen believes United should have pursued Haaland in the summer

Ex-Utd coach Rene Meulensteen believes United should have pursued Haaland in the summer

‘Just look at Bayern Munich about how important a striker is for them. Ask Tottenham or Leicester what a striker means. For me, it is strange that a striker has not been the main goal for United.

‘Marcus Rashford can play striker, but he is not a typical striker. Anthony Martial can provide goals, but he is no goal scorer.

‘Now Edinson Cavani has signed but I don’t think Manchester United should look for a 33-year-old on the last day of the transfer window.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Conor McGregor tells ex-UFC champ Fabricio Werdum ‘f*** you’ in furious Twitter row over performance enhancing drugs

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conor mcgregor tells ex ufc champ fabricio werdum f you in furious twitter row over performance enhancing drugs

CONOR McGREGOR has got involved in a furious Twitter row over drug testing with former UFC star Fabricio Werdum.

It all started when McGregor, who is poised to return to UFC in January to fight Dustin Poirier, retweeted MMA star Sinead Kavanagh’s post calling for ‘pre-fight drug tests’.

Conor McGregor has been involved in a furious row on social media with Fabricio Werdum

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Conor McGregor has been involved in a furious row on social media with Fabricio WerdumCredit: Instagram / @thenotoriousmma
Werdum was not happy McGregor was passing judgement on drug testing in Bellator

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Werdum was not happy McGregor was passing judgement on drug testing in BellatorCredit: Getty – Contributor
McGregor was left stunned at Werdum's responses considering he was banned for two years for failing a drugs test

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McGregor was left stunned at Werdum’s responses considering he was banned for two years for failing a drugs test

McGregor commented: “It is crazy to think@BellatorMMA
still do not have a performance enhancing drug testing system in place.

“It is long overdue time the promotion adopts a reputable testing body in order to keep it’s clean athletes safe!”

Kavanagh is trained by McGregor and is contracted to Bellator, with Werdum rumoured to be close to signing for the organisation.

However Werdum was not impressed with McGregor’s comment, posting: “Losers always will try to find excuses. Champions work very hard and don’t distracted by ants.”

The 43-year-old former UFC heavyweight champ then brought in current Bellator flyweight women’s champ Cris Cyborg into the argument.

He added: “@CyborgsGloves is a living legend”, before calling McGregor a ‘m***** f*****’ in Portuguese.

McGregor was left confused as to why Werdum brought former UFC champ Cyborg into conversation, who is represented by McGregor’s Paradigm Management company.

He replied: “Huh? I did not mention Cris whatsoever. Nothing to do with Cris at all.

“It is a request to the promotion, as a top tier one, to up its PED testing program. As currently there is zero in place.

“This is a dangerous business and to take a lax stance here, at this level, is wrong.”

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Still Werdum continued, apparently getting his wires crossed however.

He posted: “The funny thing is it was cause a girl 145 that trains at your gym Sinead Kavanagh posted a tweet about testing following Cyborg beating her up. Why are you backtrack now?”

McGregor then attempted to explain Werdum’s error, writing: “They never fought. I train Sinead. I manage Cris. Both tremendously gifted warriors.

“This is not about either! Or any of the roster for that matter.

“It is about the promotion itself stepping up to the plate, as one of the top tier organisations in MMA, and upping its testing.”

Attempting to shut Werdum up for good, McGregor then slammed the fighter over his own drugs ban.

The Irishman wrote: “Actually wait! Aren’t you currently banned for steroids right now?

“And got your sentenced reduced for ratting other people? And also just recently signed to this promotion I speak of?

“Woah. Man, f*** you. My lord, what a business this is.”

Werdum was banned for TWO YEARS by USADA for failing an out-of-competition test back in 2018.

Werdum has always maintained his innocence and told Combate that he ‘felt like a criminal’ over the suspension.

He also alleges that he was told that if he ‘snitched’ on other fighters he would have his time out of action reduced.

Dana White ‘expects’ Conor McGregor to fight Dustin Poirier again in UFC after publicly accepting bout… but at 155lbs

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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