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Ex-Arsenal star Sylvinho on how he helped Pep Guardiola to Champions League glory at Barcelona

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ex arsenal star sylvinho on how he helped pep guardiola to champions league glory at barcelona

It was the night Pep Guardiola reached his first Champions League final as a manager, and it was also the night Sylvinho’s inner-coach came bursting out.

The former Arsenal, Barcelona and Manchester City defender still puts his hands to his head as he retells the story from May 2009. Andres Iniesta had just scored at Stamford Bridge in the 93rd minute.

In the midst of the pandemonium on the Barcelona bench Sylvinho grabbed Guardiola by the lapels reminding him to use his last two changes to eat up the final minutes.

Andres Iniesta scored in stoppage-time to knockout Chelsea in the 2009 Champions League semi-finals

Andres Iniesta scored in stoppage-time to knockout Chelsea in the 2009 Champions League semi-finals

In the midst of the celebrations, Sylvinho urged his manager Pep Guardiola to use two substitutions

In the midst of the celebrations, Sylvinho urged his manager Pep Guardiola to use two substitutions

Andres Iniesta’s last-minute winner against Chelsea in 2009 prompted Sylvinho’s reaction (R)

Guardiola put Eidur Gudjohnsen on for Iniesta and then Sylvinho on for Samuel Eto’o as Barcelona saw out time.

‘When the Iniesta goal goes in everyone starts running all over the place,’ Sylvinho says.

‘I didn’t know what I was doing. Something clicked in my head: “boss, there are two changes”. I could say now: yeah, I was calm. I knew exactly what to do. But it wouldn’t be true. It was all crazy. We were all going mad.

‘The next day when I saw the footage I just thought bloody hell he is my boss. It was spontaneous, it just came from somewhere inside.’

Guardiola hasn’t reached a Champions League final since leaving Barcelona. Sylvinho would love him to do it at Manchester City, the club he signed for after he left the Camp Nou.

Ebullient and expressive, all the old energy he displayed as a player is now channelled into building a managerial career.

Asked about the ambition to become the first Brazilian manager in the Premier League since Luiz Felipe Scolari at Chelsea in 2008-09, and just the second overall, he doesn’t hold back. ‘I’m preparing for that,’ he says. ‘That’s the challenge.’

He’s already seen how tough it can be. He left a good position as Brazil manager Tite’s number two to take the Lyon job last season.

Sylvinho became the manager at Lyon in May 2019, but was sacked just five months later

Sylvinho became the manager at Lyon in May 2019, but was sacked just five months later

Sylvinho became the manager at Lyon in May 2019, but was sacked just five months later

But after winning his first two games 3-0 and 6-0 and beating RB Leipzig in the Champions League, form dipped and president Jean-Michel Aulas showed no mercy replacing him in October last year.

It hasn’t made him doubt his ability, and those who know him well are still believers too.

‘[Arsene] Wenger sent me a message when I left Lyon and it really touched me,’ he says. 

‘You did everything you could have done and you’ve gone with your head held high as a sir and a gentleman. That was more or less his message. Apart from being a great manager he is also a fantastic person.’

There was a message of support from Brazil coach Tite as well. Sylvinho would have taken Brazil’s under-23s to the Olympics had he not got the Ligue 1 job offer.

Sylvinho was at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, who messaged him after the Lyon sacking

Sylvinho was at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, who messaged him after the Lyon sacking

Sylvinho was at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, who messaged him after the Lyon sacking

Coaching Brazil has brought him closer to two players who have just won the Premier League with Liverpool. Of keeper Allison, he says: ‘Technically he is one of the best in the world. I loved working with him.’

And of Firmino he admits to having been smitten the first time he saw him. ‘When I started working with the national team in 2016, the manager told me: “there’s a Burnley v Liverpool that it would be good if you could go to”. It wasn’t easy to get to Burnley from Milan, but it was worth it – he was incredible.

‘The ball’s on the other side of the pitch and you see the way he moves, the way he’s looking to get away from defenders, the generosity with which he connects with team mates.

‘I left there in love with him. I went to Rio to do the report, and Tite said to me: “you’re in love, I can see it”.

Tite and Wenger are bound to be influences, as is Roberto Mancini who he played for at Manchester City and then was assistant coach to at Inter.

Sylvinho hugs Guardiola (R) after Barca's victory in the 2009 Champions League final in Rome

Sylvinho hugs Guardiola (R) after Barca's victory in the 2009 Champions League final in Rome

Sylvinho hugs Guardiola (R) after Barca’s victory in the 2009 Champions League final in Rome

But it is current City coach Guardiola who seems to have left the biggest mark. ‘It’s not just the possession of the ball,’ he says.

‘At Barcelona he gave us an aggressiveness; the hunger to say “f***, that ball is mine, I’m going to win it! It’s the work ethic and the passion he inspires.

‘You can pin a methodology up on the dressing room wall but how to get players to put it into action? The answer is work, lots of work.’

Of the famous ‘Rondo’ passing drill, he says: ‘Players from other football cultures say: “well, that’s for the warm-up”. But Guardiola’s rondo is not a warm-up, it’s work.

‘There are concepts in those drills that you apply to matches. And I tell you something: without soul, without passion, it’s very hard to make it work.’

The influence of working under Guardiola for just one season left a huge mark on Sylvinho

The influence of working under Guardiola for just one season left a huge mark on Sylvinho

The influence of working under Guardiola for just one season left a huge mark on Sylvinho

He always had those qualities as a player. It’s one of the reasons why he ended up at Manchester City after winning the treble in his final season at Barcelona.

‘City were at the Camp Nou for a pre-season friendly,’ he says

‘I got a call from an agent telling me he was at the Hotel Rey Juan Carlos where he was with Mark Hughes who wanted to speak to me. Hughes said to me: “Silvio I know your situation, I know you are 35-years-old but I need a winning mentality in that dressing room. I want to sign you”.

‘They always sell the club to you and sometimes the reality is very different. But when I got there I soon realised that yes, it was exactly as it had been sold to me. There was a calm patience; we knew where we wanted to get to, but there was no rush.

The Brazilian defender (R) at his Manchester City unveiling in 2009 alongside Joleon Lescott

The Brazilian defender (R) at his Manchester City unveiling in 2009 alongside Joleon Lescott

The Brazilian defender (R) at his Manchester City unveiling in 2009 alongside Joleon Lescott

‘Later, Roberto Mancini came in and we finished the season in fifth. Khaldoon (Al Mubarak) came down to the dressing room, a gentleman, and spoke to all of us at the end of the season.’

Mancini wanted Sylvinho to become one of his assistant coaches but he felt after 12 years away from his parents in Sao Paolo, he needed a break back home.

‘City carried on winning with league titles and signing important players. [Manuel] Pellegrini came in and then Pep. I love the way the club works. It’s not just the usual four-month plan. There is a lot of money at a lot of clubs, but building something is still not easy.’

It all could all culminate this month with them winning the Champions League. ‘We would love that,’ he says. ‘But first we have the return leg against Madrid.’

Sylvinho lifts the Champions League trophy in 2009 after a memorable season with Barcelona

Sylvinho lifts the Champions League trophy in 2009 after a memorable season with Barcelona

Sylvinho lifts the Champions League trophy in 2009 after a memorable season with Barcelona

His former club Barcelona, and Lionel Messi, who made his competitive debut aged 16 in the same year Sylvinho joined, could also stand in City’s way.

‘He was the same then as now in many ways,’ he says. ‘He didn’t speak much, he was relaxed, he would just train and go home. He has a great family behind him.

‘We didn’t know how far he would go. We knew there was a lot of potential there. We knew he was something different, very different. But it’s a lie to say we thought: this guy will win six Balón d’Or prizes, you never know what will happen.’

Barcelona have been below par this season but Sylvinho says: ‘Even a little bit of Messi is mucho Messi. He’s still the best. He can change a game in the seconds. He gets the ball, bluh, bluh, bluh, bluh, goal! A team with a player like that, look out, maybe they can win it.’

A Neymar-inspired Paris Saint Germain would be another contender he knows plenty about. ‘I can only talk about the Neymar that I have worked with when he plays for Brazil,’ he says.

‘Technically, physically, tactically he is Spec-tac-u-lar! He is a terrific kid. Of course he’s Neymar! And Neymar is Neymar! But he never gave us any problems. Like anyone he needs managing. I needed managing as well. A young Silvio needed Wenger!’

The experience of coaching or playing alongside the best in the world will serve him well as he starts out as a coach. And the tough experience at Lyon is also something he intends to use in his favour.

‘I’m not going to cry over what happened. There is no time for that,’ he says.

Sylvinho described Neymar as spectacular after coaching him during his time with Brazil

Sylvinho described Neymar as spectacular after coaching him during his time with Brazil

Sylvinho described Neymar as spectacular after coaching him during his time with Brazil

‘We knew what the deal was – we had to win games and win more games. You have to work hard and then Andres Iniesta shoots in the last minute and the ball goes in or it doesn’t.’

It feels fitting to end on that Champions League memory. He was almost apologetic about having taken charge in the technical area as delirium reigned that night, but it showed the emerging coach.

‘The timeframe we are not in control of,’ he says. ‘What we can control is how motivated we are and how hard we work to get where we want to be.’

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Manchester City to complete club record £64m deal for Benfica centre back Ruben Dias

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manchester city to complete club record 64m deal for benfica centre back ruben dias

Manchester City will complete a club record £64million deal for Ruben Dias, ending a two-year pursuit of the Benfica centre back.

Dias will become the most expensive player in City’s history – eclipsing the £62.8m paid to Atletico Madrid for Rodri a year ago – with Nicolas Otamendi joining Benfica for £13.7m as part of the deal.

The 23-year-old Portugal international has passed a medical but the transfer will only go through once Otamendi has been given the all-clear by his new club.

Benfica captain Ruben DIas is on the verge of signing for Manchester City for £64million

Benfica captain Ruben DIas is on the verge of signing for Manchester City for £64million

City boss Pep Guardiola has decided to let Nicolas Otamendi move in the opposite direction

City boss Pep Guardiola has decided to let Nicolas Otamendi move in the opposite direction

City’s 5-2 capitulation at home to Leicester on Sunday underlined the need to strengthen at the back despite spending £40m on Nathan Ake from Bournemouth.

Dias was one of four options considered by the club which included Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli, Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and Jose Gimenez at Atletico.

But City believe they have gone for the right man having tracked Dias in previous transfer windows, and got a good deal considering the £80m release clause in his contract.

The Benfica skipper, who has previously attracted interest from Manchester United, Arsenal and Juventus, is understood to fit the bill for Pep Guardiola in terms of age, profile and the quality of defender he wanted.

The 23-year-old has attracted interest from Manchester United, Arsenal and Juventus before

The 23-year-old has attracted interest from Manchester United, Arsenal and Juventus before

City were put off by the price on both Koulibaly and Gimenez, although no formal bid was made for either player according to sources who say the process has underlined the club’s willingness to walk away from a transfer if the terms are not right.

There were also issues with Sevilla over Kounde’s valuation and it’s believed that City were concerned that the 21-year-old Frenchman was too much of an unknown quantity to bring to the Premier League at this stage of his career.

The opportunity to trade Otamendi to Benfica in exchange for Dias was a bonus with City recouping almost half of the £32m paid to Valencia for the Argentine defender five years ago.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Jamie Carragher writes off Scott Parker’s Fulham side after just THREE games in the Premier League

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jamie carragher writes off scott parkers fulham side after just three games in the premier league

Jamie Carragher has called Fulham owner Tony Khan a ‘clown’ and insisted that Fulham are more likely to be relegated from the Premier League than Liverpool are to retain their title.

Former Liverpool and England centre-back Carragher watched Fulham put on a defensive horror show as they lost 3-0 at home to Aston Villa on Monday and had no sympathy after supremo Khan apologised to fans on Twitter.

Slamming Khan’s decision to post about the fiasco on social media, Carragher told Sky Sports: ‘It never works, it always ends up in tears.

Fulham are bottom of the Premier League after conceding 10 goals in three games this season

Fulham are bottom of the Premier League after conceding 10 goals in three games this season

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher slammed frail Fulham and club owner Tony Khan

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher slammed frail Fulham and club owner Tony Khan

‘He’s a clown, getting involved with that. Just shut your mouth, get on with it, keep your head down.

‘It was a really poor performance. It was that bad, we were actually laughing at some of the defending. Fulham are going down – I’ve never been more certain about anything in my life. 

‘I’m more certain of Fulham going down than Liverpool winning the league. What we saw there was actually unbelievable.’

Flummoxed Khan revealed he had missed out on four defensive targets since Fulham were promoted from the Championship in August, while beleaguered boss Scott Parker admitted he was not fully aware of the owner’s struggle to enhance his squad.

Khan used Twitter to address supporters in the aftermath of the 3-0 home defeat by Aston Villa

Khan used Twitter to address supporters in the aftermath of the 3-0 home defeat by Aston Villa

The owner claimed that the club had been hampered in their attempts to boost their defence

The owner claimed that the club had been hampered in their attempts to boost their defence

Khan criticised the playing staff in a move that left Carragher and Roy Keane deeply perturbed

Khan criticised the playing staff in a move that left Carragher and Roy Keane deeply perturbed

Carragher fiercely criticised Khan’s role in Fulham’s big-spending summer two years ago, when they went on to be relegated with a whimper after winning promotion.

He said: ‘He was buying all the players, he made a right mess of that. What does Scott Parker think about this? What do those lads who are playing at the back think about that, who have maybe got to play in midweek or at the weekend?

‘Just keep your mouth shut. They were a mess last time they came up. What they don’t want to be this year is a mess. They’re going to go down but almost go down together, be a club, stick together.’

Former Manchester United midfielder Keane added that he could not see any of the positives mentioned by Cottagers manager Scott Parker (above) during his post-match remarks

Former Manchester United midfielder Keane added that he could not see any of the positives mentioned by Cottagers manager Scott Parker (above) during his post-match remarks

Carragher singled out full-back Denis Odoi for his part in the Cottagers’ third consecutive defeat since their return to the Premier League, while fellow pundit Roy Keane also directed a warning at Khan.

The former Manchester United midfielder said: ‘You talk about engaging with supporters but you shouldn’t be discussing the club’s business or your transfer targets.

‘That’s nobody’s business. When you’ve been beaten 3-0 at home, take your medicine and look at things over the next few days. Bizarre.’ 

There have been reminders of Fulham's last Premier League season in their first three games

There have been reminders of Fulham’s last Premier League season in their first three games

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Arsenal set Friday deadline by Lyon president to wrap up their move for £45-rated midfielder Aouar

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arsenal set friday deadline by lyon president to wrap up their move for 45 rated midfielder aouar

Arsenal have been set a Friday deadline to complete the signing of Houssem Aouar by Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas. 

The Gunners are determined to sign the 22-year-old this summer and are set to raise their dismissed £32million offer to £36.5m with a further £9m in bonuses in a hope to secure the creative midfielder, according to football.london

Aulas is also braced for late bids for forwards Moussa Dembele and Memphis Depay.

Arsenal are preparing a significantly improved second bid for target Houssem Aouar

Arsenal are preparing a significantly improved second bid for target Houssem Aouar

He told footmercato.net: ‘I’m thinking of proposing it tomorrow (Tuesday) to Rudi (Garcia) and Juninho, sporting director), because it’s understandable.

‘As of Friday, players who have not left will not leave. We don’t need to sell and, for me, it’s very easy to say that. 

‘After that, we can find agreements with players and clubs for a year to come.’  

Aouar, who has made 130 appearances for Lyon, is paramount to Mikel Arteta’s plans as he looks to deploy his team in a 4-3-3 formation this season.

The 22-year-old attacking midfielder will be vital to Mikel Arteta's 4-3-3 formation this season

The 22-year-old attacking midfielder will be vital to Mikel Arteta’s 4-3-3 formation this season

Despite rejecting their opening offer, Lyon club president Jean-Michel Aulas suggested that the club would be open to selling Aouar for the right price.

He tweeted: ‘For Houssem Arsenal is too far from his value: we are counting on him to play a great match in Lorient and lead OL in CL next year.’

Aouar has been previously valued at £54m but it is believed the Ligue 1 side will lower their asking price amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Aouar is reportedly keen to depart the Ligue 1 club before the end of the transfer window, meaning any deal must be completed before the deadline on October 5.  

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas wants any deals to be completed by Friday

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas wants any deals to be completed by Friday 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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