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Manchester City Boss Tactical innovations Defy Convention

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David Moyes has likened Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal for his tactical innovations that defy convention.

Blumenthal is famous for coming up with unusual recipes such as bacon and egg flavoured ice-cream and snail porridge, which work despite the ingredients.

West Ham boss Moyes, aiming to end City’s 19-game winning run on Saturday, feels the same about Guardiola. “Pep is the Heston Blumenthal of football,” said Moyes.

Former Barcelona coach Guardiola’s latest move has been to use Joao Cancelo as a full-back and a midfield pivot at the same time, a tactic that has flummoxed a series of opposing managers.

“Blumenthal will do something stupid or outrageous that you would never dream of, like mixing chocolate with eggs and you think ‘that is never going to work, it is not going to taste right or look good’. But it does,” Moyes added.

“Pep does things in football terms which are remarkable, that lots of other people would not have thought of. I hold him in such high esteem. He is innovative and always looking for new ideas. “I get this feeling he is in a think-tank room, thinking about how he can make his players perform better, or where they can receive the ball in space and make it difficult for the opposition.”

In cooking terms, Moyes likens himself to fellow Scot Gordon Ramsay, famous for his fiery temper and choice language: “You know what you are getting there don’t you?”

However, stopping Cancelo is not proving to be a particularly amusing pastime and is causing Moyes to think hard about how to go about getting the kind of positive result that will keep his side in the top four.

“How you deal with it takes up a lot of your thought time,” he said.

“If it is a level playing field, you might say we will take you on and do our own thing. When your players are maybe not at the level of the ones Manchester City have it is a struggle.”

While West Ham travel to Etihad Stadium (kick-off 12.30 GMT) after beating Tottenham on Sunday, Premier League leaders City’s impressive winning run continued with a one-sided Champions League triumph over Borussia Monchengladbach in their last-16 first leg on Wednesday, Following that 2-0 victory, Guardiola said City’s current form and the club’s success since his appointment in 2016 was simply down to the money they had spent.

“We have a lot of money to buy a lot of incredible players,” he said on Wednesday. “Without good quality players we cannot do it.” Returning to the topic in Friday’s press conference, Guardiola reiterated that “the difference is the players” and played down his own influence.

“I would tell you if I believed the reason [for our success] was me,” Guardiola said. “I would be grateful to say that the reason behind this success is because I’m so handsome and that’s the reason why. It’s not like that. It’s the players. The big clubs have incredible success and it’s due to the quality of the players, the mentality.”

City, who have won two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and three League Cups under Guardiola, have made several big-money signings during the Spaniard’s tenure – with £65m defender Ruben Dias the most recent arrival in September.

Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Rodri, Benjamin Mendy and John Stones have all also arrived for fees in excess of £50m. “I came here to win in England and we have done it already – but I did it,” Guardiola added. “I came to play in a special way and I did it.

The job is done, but still I have the feeling we can do better. “For a short time, you can do it without top players but sustaining for a long time – in an incredible organisation that supports their manager so the journalists and the players know he will not be sacked – this is so important.

“After that, [you need] top quality players. I never in my 12 years as manager scored a goal. I never saved a penalty. The artists are the players. All we can do is help them, knowing that doing the same, you can lose.”

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Barcelona Are Most Valuable Football Team in The World

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Barcelona are the most valuable team in the world after knocking El Clasico rivals Real Madrid off the top spot, ending a 16 year duopoly at the top of the list.

For well over a decade, Real and Manchester United have been the only two teams to have topped Forbes list of the most valuable football teams.

The 13 times Champions League winners have taken top spot on five occasions, whilst the 13 times Premier League winners have been top of the charts a whopping 11 times.

Last year it was Los Blancos who ruled the world again but this year they’ve been replaced by rivals Barca, despite the Catalan giants having financial issues.

According to the report, despite the Covid-19 pandemic hitting clubs in the pocket, the value of clubs still rose by 30% from two years ago.

Barca took number one spot with a value of $4.76 billion, just edging out Real’s $4.75 billion, with Bayern Munich in third with a value of $4.21 billion.

Having dominated the landscape for so long, United are down in fourth with a value of $4.2 billion and Liverpool round off the top five with their value of $4.1 billion.

Barca fans will be extremely relieved to see their team get a boost of good news, after several months that have been hard on the club.

As well as Lionel Messi wanting to leave the club, amidst a poor end to last season, the side also dealt with Josep Maria Bartomeu resigning as president.

The former leader of the club was then arrested, and the club’s offices raided, because of allegations of corruption.

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Lesotho’s Makatile Appointed to Southern Africa Cycling Forum

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Rammotang Makatile the president of Lesotho Cycling Federation(FCL) has been appointed to the Southern African Cycling Forum board.

His appointment was done during the African Cycling Confederation (CAC) elective annual general meeting in Cairo, Egypt last month.

Makatile’s appointment to the Southern region board will see him becoming an ex officio member in the CAC management committee for the next four years.

Although Makatile was appointed ex officio member of CAC through the regional committee election, he had also been contesting for the post.

However, he later withdrew from the race after he was appointed into Southern African Cycling Forum board which gave him an automatic entry into the CAC management committee.

“I have been appointed to the management board of the Southern African Cycling Forum as well as the ex officio member of the CAC management committee,” Makatile said.

“I was one of the candidates vying for a position in the CAC committee but after I was appointed to the board of Southern African Cycling Forum, I withdrew from the race to create space for another person because I had already qualified to be in the CAC management committee.”

Makatile’s trip to Egypt was financed by the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC).

According to Makatile, during the CAC AGM, Lesotho also applied to host another phase of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Solidarity Project.

The first phase was applied for in 2019 and UCI bought cycling equipment like bicycles, attire, bottles, tyres, and tubes.

The application was only approved last year and the equipment is now in South Africa awaiting shipment to Lesotho.

In the second phase, Makatile said they have applied for financial assistance and they are hopeful that the application will be successful.

“This time around we applied for financial assistance, which will be used for talent identification and women empowerment activities. Fortunately, we have already been guaranteed that our application will be successful.” Makatile said his presence in the board will give Lesotho an advantage in terms of opportunities on continental level.

“Having a representative in the regional and continental boards means we become part of the decision making and gives us a chance to access all the information we need as far as growing the sport is concerned.

“Had I not attended some of the continental conferences, we wouldn’t even have accessed all the assistance that we are getting from UCI. Apart from that, we have managed to network with leaders from other countries to start relationships that will benefit us in the long run,” Makatile said.

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Coming Up: Fulham vs Wolves, Friday 8.00pm

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Fulham remain in the bottom three and have been there since Boxing Day.

A run of three straight defeats has really left Scott Parker’s team with work to do, especially with Newcastle welcoming back some of their key attacking players for the run-in.

Fulham’s inability to produce streetwise performances have been to blame but there is a lot of experience in that squad and quite frankly some of the players just aren’t delivering.

I think this will be a fourth defeat on the spin for Fulham, who look woefully short at 11/8 with Sky Bet, as Wolves, despite a wobbly season, have shown an ability in matches to put teams under pressure and find game-changing moments.

To the fore of that has been Pedro Neto, who is only behind Bruno Fernandes, Kevin De Bruyne and Raphinha for chances created from open play (14) since the start of February.

The talented youngster has two assists during that period and the chances of him grabbing a third this weekend should be snapped up at 9/2.

Manchester City vs Leeds, Saturday 12.30pm

Has a Premier League football match ever offered up such a big price to finish 0-0? Well, you can get 20/1 with Sky Bet here. It probably should be double that in reality.

City are the top scorers in the Premier League with 66 goals and have found the net 47 times in their last 18 matches whilst Leeds have seen 95 goals scored in their fixtures this season – a Premier League high. Goals should be on the menu in a home win.

You don’t need reminding about Leeds’ inability to defend set piece situations. But I will.

Marcelo Bielsa’s boys have faced 192 shots from a combination of set pieces and corners this season – the third highest in the Premier League. My advice would be to keep an eye on the City teamsheet at 11.30am and see if John Stones is starting.

If he does, then the 6/4 with Sky Bet for him to register a shot on goal looks a fair bet. It’s a shout that would have returned as a winner in all three of Stones’ last Premier League appearances and in two of those fixtures he managed to find the net.

He’s very skinny at 4/1 to score anytime, meaning the smart play is to simply back him for a shot.

Liverpool vs Aston Villa, Saturday 3pm

This would be an easier game to call if Jurgen Klopp let us know which of his Liverpool teams are going to turn up here.

The one that cantered past Arsenal and Tottenham or the clumsy and unimaginative ones that lost to Burnley, Everton, Fulham and Brighton at home?

The Reds had won their opening seven Premier League games at Anfield this season before failing to win any of last eight – surely that run has to end here?

Villa may have beaten Fulham 3-1 last weekend but they played ponderous attacking football for large spells of that game.

Their expected goal figure of just 9.9 in their last 10 Premier League matches – the third lowest in the league for that period – defines their creativity problems.

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