England soccer manager Roy Hodgson  announcing his resignation  on Monday after England lost 2-1 to Iceland in their Uefa Euro 2016 clash in Nice, France. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

Cycle of dread and resentment perpetuated in rush to condemn and lampoon players

What explained this Spanish lethargy? Well, part of the problem is that Vicente del Bosque has run a boring camp. He picked the same starting XI for all four matches at the Euros. Photo: Darren Staples/Reuters

After winning major tournaments in 2008, 2010 and 2012, Spain are tired of dominating

Robbie Brady celebrates after scoring a very early penalty for Ireland at the Stade de Lyon. Photograph: Reuters/Robert Pratta

Ken Early: Ireland had nothing left to give yet they won back the people

France’s midfielder Paul Pogba: has reacted to perceived injustice of the French media about his performances. Photograph: FranckFife/AFP

There are still bugs in the French system which is enough to give Ireland some hope

James McCarthy during Ireland’s match against Italy. “Team-mates, family, friends, they were there for me and picked me up.” Photograph: Miguel MedinaI

During and afterwards, the midfielder gave sense of how much Ireland really means to him

Ireland’s Robbie Brady celebrates with his girlfriend Kerrie Harris and his brother after scoring the winner against Italy. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Wes Hoolahan makes full amends for fluffing earlier line to help secure an advance against France

Northern Ireland’s goalkeeper Michael McGovern reacts after the Group C defeat to Germany at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/Getty

Goalkeeper in superb form as they restrict Germany to a 1-0 victory to reach last 16

Ken Early reminds Irish fans to forget not. Photograph: Inpho

Ahead of the last game he must decide whether to keep the faith, or to be ruthless

There was little sign of discord as  Belgium hammered the Republic of Irealnd 3-0.  Photo: Ian Walton/Getty Images

Ireland clearly second best against a Belgium side exuding unity and class

Relations between Belgium’s brilliant goalkeeper and their beleaguered coach seemed rather frosty when they appeared together at today’s pre-match press conference.

Manager Wilmots bats away talk of rift between him and goalie Courtois

 Gareth Bale celebrates scoring their first goal against Slovakia. Bale obviously enjoys representing his country. Photograph: Regis Duvignau/Livepic

Real Madrid star stresses his country’s underdogs status as they take on England

Wes Hoolahan shows his close control as the Swedish duo of Oscar Lewicki and John Guidetti close in during the Group E game at Stade de France. Photograph: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

All over Europe there will have been people thinking – ‘that Irish number 20 is good’

Tempers flare between rival fans at the England-Russia game in Marseille. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.

England supporters are the inheritors of a reputation they no longer deserve

Ruassia’s  Vasili Berezutski heads over Joe Hart to equalise against England in Marseille. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Roy Hodgson’s side show dangers of being so inefficient in front of goal

Luka Modric is mobbed after scoring the winner for Croatia against Turkey in Paris. Photograph: Afp

Real Madrid midfielder scores sublime volley to light up a dour encounter in Paris

 Denis Glushakov  makes sure Aleksei Berezutski’s header goes in for  Russia’s late  equaliser   during the  Euro 2016 group B match  at Stade Velodrome  in Marseille. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Aleksei Berezutski’s injury-time header earns side a late draw in Marseille

Chateau d’If: etc photograph: Getty

‘The mascot for Euro 2016... Would a cockerel have been totally out of the question? ‘

Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy celebrates after scoring during against Manchester United. Photo: Getty Images

The English striker is expected to complete a move from Leicester in the next few days

Mikhail Hardzeichuk of Belarus scores his side’s first goal against Ireland at Turner’s Cross. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Martin O’Neill’s side only really began to find any fluency after several substitutions

Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone has brought club to second Champions League final in three seasons. Photograph: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid coach prefers the humble worker over the extravagant talent

Out with the old, in with the new: Jose Mourinho and  Louis van Gaal.  Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

It’s farewell to Busby Babes glory as football’s new sponsorship era sidelines the sport

Kevin Gameiro wheels away in celebration after scoring Sevilla’s first goal against Liverpool at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel last night. Photograph: Michael Buholzer/AFP/Getty Images

Jürgen Klopp’s side fail to impose themselves on game as Sevilla refuse to be bullied

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp:  “I was completely convinced about the quality of the squad, despite the doubts people had.”  Photograph:  PA.

Europa League victory would represent a successful season for Liverpool’s manager

Sniffer dogs search Old Trafford after a suspect package was discovered, leading to the postponement of the match between Manchester United and Bournemouth. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

The fake bomb alert in Manchester highlights how sensitive the game has become

 Pep Guardiola: let’s not pretend what happened at Bayern was anything other than a bitter disappointment for everyone involved. Photo:  Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images

Bayern’s idea was to dominate the Champions League as Guardiola’s Barcelona had

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri with his Manchester United counterpart Louis van Gaal after their 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the English Premier League on Sunday. Photograph: Reuters.

Fairytale ending looms ever closer for Claudio Ranieri’s unlikeliest of dreams

Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho and Christian Benteke in the stands during their side’s 2-2 Premier League draw with Newcastle United. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

Despite Mamadou Sakho failing a drugs test the mood is one of apathy among supporters

Conor McGregor entertains fans during the UFC 196 weigh-ins at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, prior to his loss to Nate Diaz. Photograph: Rey Del Rio/Zuffa LLC/via Getty Images

They may not like each other but the Irish fighter and UFC can work together

Fifa president Gianni Infantino:  recognises the increasingly important role of the United States iin world football.   Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire.

Thriving MLS, the era of the internet and popular video games all help in sport’s rise

The world’s biggest sport is still the only one where doping doesn’t really feature in the conversation.

Drugs can’t turn you into a good footballer, but they can help turn you into a better one

Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Rob Elliot clutches his injured knee as Slovakia open the scoring against Martin O’Neill’s side on Tuesday night. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ireland manager has built a squad where no one is indispensable – or irrelevant

Ciaran Clark scores the Republic of Ireland’s goal against Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer during the friendly socmatch at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Walter Bieri/EPA

Jack Byrne’s approach was high-risk but not as risky as Kevin Doyle’s as it turned out

Johan Cruyff dribbling past Argentina goalkeeper Daniel Carnevali on his way to scoring a goal during the World Cup quarter-final on June, 26, 1974 in Gelsenkirchen in Germany. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Dutch master was a visionary whose ideas revolutionised the global game

 Rafa Benítez is the ninth manager to take charge of Newcastle since Mike Ashley’s takeover in 2007. Photograph: Biel Alino/EPA

Spaniard’s methods usually take time to bed in and he only has 10 games to save club

Leicester City’s Danny Simpson (left), Andy King (centre) and Jamie Vardy appluad their fans following the English Premier League win over Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday. Photograph: Getty.

It’s money that matters most in the lottery that is the English Premier League

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the sidelines during the Premier League game against  Manchester United at Old Trafford. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger has missed glorious opportunity as fortune has favoured the brave

Jackson Martinez, former Atletico Madrid player, poses for pictures with fans at an airport after he joined the Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao FC, in Guangzhou, China last month. Photograph:  Reuters

Chinese clubs have been paying enormous sums for some of football’s B-listers

Running for office: Independent candidate Averil Power  canvassing in Artane, Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

People voted for change in 2011, but it never happened. Their anger has hardened into disillusionment

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino celebrates his side’s victory over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.  Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

Tottenham boss is from what you might call ‘terminate with extreme prejudice’ school

Leicester City’s  Riyad Mahrez  scores a stunning goal against title rivals Manchester City. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Improbable Premier League leaders rank 20th out of 20 teams for pass completion

Everton manager Roberto Martínez has been heavily critical referee recently. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Everton manager seems to be opposite of his predecessor David Moyes

Olivier Giroud  runs past Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger  after he was substituted by Gabriel following Per Meterescaker’s sending off. Photograph:   Clive Mason/Getty Images

Substitution of Olivier Giroud following sending off pointed to a loss of nerve from manager

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during his side’s match against Manchester United at Anfield. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester United were confused and incoherent yet still left Liverpool with points

Real Madrid’s coach Zinedine Zidane on the touchline during Real Madrid’s victory over Deportivo La Coruna at the Bernabeu. Photograph: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

Real Madrid manager’s charisma as player enhanced by spectacular meltdowns

Sam Allardyce, manager of Sunderland:  usually a good man for a pre-match chat, but not this weekend, apparently. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The Sunderland manager is quick to see faults in others that he fails to see in himself

Most of the indications in Germany are that Pep Guardiola has already agreed to join Manchester City next summer. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

In this celebrity era, top clubs only think of biggest names when bringing in new manager

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal during his side’s defeat to Norwich at Old Trafford. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

Speculation José Mourinho could replace Dutchman at Old Trafford seems bizarre

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill (left) and assistant manager Roy Keane react during the Uefa Euro 2016 draw in Paris, France, on Saturday. Photograph: PA.

It's a daunting enough draw but it can’t really get any worse for Republic of Ireland

 Conor McGregor celebrates after a first-round knockout victory over Jose Aldo in their featherweight title fight during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo:  Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Self-help documentary 'The Secret' helped instill athlete’s unshakeable confidence

Conor McGregor (left) knocks out  Jose Aldo during a featherweight championship mixed martial arts bout at in Las Vegas. Photograph: AP

Irish fighter wins with fastest ever victory in UFC history to take UFC featherweight title

UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo and interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor pose for photographs at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Thursday, before their unification title fight on Saturday night. Photograph: Brandon Magnus/Getty Images

UFC duo will come to blows in Las Vegas octagon after build-up lasting almost a year

Valencia’s new coach Gary Neville poses with his jersey during his presentation at the Mestalla Stadium last week: the former Manchester United defender is the eighth member of United’s 1996-97 squad to be appointed as a head coach. Photograph: Heino Kalis/Reuters

Ferguson’s style of management has proven devilishly difficult to reverse-engineer

Andy Cole, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes – three of Manchester United’s great players from 1990s. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Manchester United ‘of old’ were greatest side ever – or that’s what we keep hearing

‘Marca’ accused Rafa Benítez of playing his cards so close to his chest that in the end even he couldn’t see what was on them. Photograph: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP Photo

Aftermath of Real Madrid loss shows bulls not only creatures tortured for entertainment

Man of the match Robbie Brady in action against Bosnia-Herzegovina  at the  Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Ireland’s mental strength proved a decisive advantage over the two legs

Frightened football fans gather on the field of the Stade de France. At least one of the three suicide bombers  had been intercepted by security as he tried to enter the stadium.  Photo: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty

No longer ‘unthinkable’ that a major footballing event could be directly targeted

“If Ronaldo has cut himself off from the world, it’s because the rest of us have given him no choice.” Photograph:  Juan Medina/Livepic/Reuters.

At Ronaldo's exaggerated level of fame, it’s hard to know where reality actually begins

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho stands with his coaching staff on the pitch after Liverpool’s 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge. Photograph: Ian Kingron/AFP Photo/Getty Images

Chelsea players losing faith as manager’s credibility dwindles with each new excuse

Tim Sherwood reacts after Aston Villa   concede their second goal during the  Premier League  match against Swansea City at Villa Park. Photograph: Paul Ellsi/ AFP Photo

Like Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, lack of control was key aspect behind departure

Ireland’s Aisling Daly in action against Ericka Almeida during the UFC Fight Night at the  3 Arena in Dublin. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Beards, flags and crazy-eyed grinning were all on show as Irish fighters gave their all for the fans

Jürgen Klopp during his first game as Liverpool manager, a scoreless draw with Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA.

New Liverpool manager welcomed with open arms but he has a lot to prove yet

Robert Lewandowski was the star man yet again for Poland as Irelan failed to live with the Bayern Munich striker. Photo: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Ireland lacked midfield cohesion shown in victory over Germany on Thursday

Shane Long scores the decisive goal for  Ireland in Thursday’s  European Championship qualifying match in the Aviva Stadium against Germany. Photograph:  Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

Ireland has a new team now, a very different one from that broken in Gdansk and Poznan

Jose Mourinho: Chelsea manager under growing pressure  as champions suffer a poor   start to the season. Photograph: Jed Leicester/PA

Senior squad figures concerned at manager’s public criticism of players’ shortcomings

Brendan Rodgers’ analytical approach to the game can sometimes get in the way of what he actually wants to build at Liverpool. Photo: Lindsey Parnaby/Getty Images

Rodgers at times looks unsure of what sort of Liverpool team he wants to build

Japan players celebrate after beating South Africa in the World Cup Pool B game at Brighton Community Centre on Saturday. Photograph: by Steve Haag/Gallo Images.

Michael Leitch’s courageous decision to go for winning try turns world on its head

 Louis van Gaal and his assistant Ryan Giggs observe proceedings from the Manchester United bench. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

New elite coaching doing very little for the global appeal of Premier League brand

Robbie Keane under pressure from three Georgian players during the Euro 2016 Group D qualifier at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Martin O’Neill’s decision to bring on Shane Long for second half changed game in Ireland’s favour

Robbie Keane’s five goals in two matches against Gibraltar have enabled him win back top scorer slot in  history of European qualification matches from Cristiano Ronaldo. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Skipper plays better surrounded by bad players, so he revels in MLS while Pirlo flops

Uefa insist they have “strengthened” the FFP regulations but such a claim is hard to square with the fact Manchester City’s net spend this transfer window is €165 million (€227 million). Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The costlier football becomes the greater the chance people will just turn off

Pedro had attracted interest from Manchester United before signing for Chelsea from Barcelona. He scored on his Premier League debut for the London side against West Brom. Photograph: EPA.

World football's most valuable brand are failing to act like it in the transfer market

Chelsea manager José Mourinho told press conference after Sunday’s 3-0 defeat the result was “fake”, the goals “out of context”, and taking off John Terry at half-time “just a decision”. Photograh: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manager ensured nobody forgot captain was chiefly responsible for early defensive scare

Why criticise José Mourinho for failing to bring through young players when doing so is essentially incompatible with his job – which is to win titles. Photograph: PA

'It’s not surprising that Mourinho is more famous for winning titles than for developing young players'

 Chelsea manager José Mourinho  and Arsenal’s manager Arsène Wenger (patrol the sideline during the  FA Community Shield at Wembley stadium. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Chelsea’s only moves in the transfer market this summer have essentially been swaps

Former German striker Oliver Bierhoff shows the name of Wales during the preliminary draw for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Photograph: Getty Images

Ken Early says the World Cup draw is too good to be true but Ireland need leaders to progress

John Delaney  speaks at the FAI agm. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Emphasis runs counter to the uniform philosophy espoused by performance director Ruud Dokter

Conor McGregor   punches Chad Mendes during their interim featherweight title bout at UFC 189. Photograph: John Locher/AP

With his win against Chad Mendes, McGregor can no longer be dismissed as just a ‘rabbit-killer’

 Conor McGregor lands the knockout blow in his fight with Chad Mendes at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Featherweight initially appeared to struggle but sensationally recovered

Conor McGregor, who fights for the interim UFC featherweight title against Chad Mendes in Las Vegas, throws a high kick during his open workout session in the MGM Grand. Photograph: Getty Images

Shrinking majority not won over by fighter still asking questions about sport’s credibility

An offside Jonathan Walters scores Ireland’s first-half goal at the Aviva. Photograph: Reuters / Cathal McNaughton.

Scotland stalemate leaves no room for anger just a stagnant sense of resignation

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill gives his orders during squad training at Gannon Park, Malahide, ahead of the Group D Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland at the Aviva stadium in Dublin. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Reuters.

Combative Scots will not be pushed around, so guile will be needed to propel campaign

 Barcelona players celebrate with the Champions League trophy after their victory over Juventus in Berlin. Photograph: Ettore Ferrari/EPA

Juventus avoided humiliation but they couldn’t capitalise when Catalans wobbled

The Olympic Stadium in Berlin, where Barcelona will seek their fifth European Cup and Juventus their third. Photograph: Michael Sohn/AP

Messi, Xavi and Iniesta aiming for fourth European Cup in 10 years

Orchestrating everything is Messi, an all-round genius who could run past four players or pick out a runner on the far side with a no-look pass. There’s no way to tell.

Ronaldo was voted player of the year in 2014 but Argentine has responded

John Delaney has put on a hell of a show over the last 10 days. When do you ever see hubris followed by nemesis in such short order?

FAI chief executive seemed unaware his deal with Fifa would shock the footballing world

FIFA president Sepp Blatter delivers the surprise news of his departure to press conference at the Fifa headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. Photograph: EPA/Ennio Leanza

Fifa chief strong on vague rhetoric, but always more angry about critical press reports

Former Fifa vice president Jack Warner was suspended by world soccer’s governing body for corruption in 2011. Photograph: Getty.

Jack Warner comes out fighting by saying investigations stem from failed World Cup bid

Sepp Blatter celebrates as he is re-elected as Fifa president after the only other candidate, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, withdrew from the second vote during the 65th Fifa Congress in Zurich. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images.

FAI chief John Delaney and Uefa may one day work out the secret of the Fifa president's success

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers looks on grimly during the thrashing at Stoke. Photograph:  Tony Marshall/Getty Images

If he’s winning, he’s singing but if he’s losing, Rodgers lapses into defeatism

Liverpool fans hold up flags, banners and scarves to honour Liverpool’s English midfielder Steven Gerrard. Photo: Getty Images

Football supporters will remember his career in a series of shimmering images

 After the 2013 treble Pep Guardiola’s challenge was no longer to take Bayern to the next level, but to maintain the standards set by his suddenly illustrious predecessor. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters.

Barcelona defeat puts pressure on manager set up to struggle by Henyckes’s treble

Leicester manger Nigel Pearson and Newcastle manager John Carver chat  on the touchline of the King Power Stadium. Photograph:  Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Newcastle have always been in business of selling dreams but nobody told Mike Ashley

Chelsea’s John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic show how much the point gained in draw with Arsenal means to them. Photo: Adrian Dennis/Gety Images

Ken Early says there’s little point in Arsenal or anyone else complaining about their style

Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish looks to evade Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel and Emre Can during an impressive display in the FA Cup sem-final. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Winger’s performance should put him in the frame for Ireland’s game against Scotland

Marouane Fellaini celebrates scoring the second goal for Manchester United. Photo: Darren Staples/Reuters

Van Gaal was thankful of the home support and the impact of his now key man Fellaini

Raheem Sterling: are Brendan Rodgers and Daniel Sturridge the sort of role models that are going to lead him to the top of the game? Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

It is nonsense to say the player owes Liverpool and that he would develop best there

Poland’s Slawomir Peszko scores his side’s goal to put the home team under pressure. Photograph: Reuters/PaulChilds

Big decisions pay off for O’Neill as team rallies to keep qualification chances alive

Ireland fans at the Euro 2012 game against Croatia in Poznan. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Trapattoni returned to Italy convinced the Irish public was more passionate about rugby – but he was wrong

Since Brendan Rodgers  took over at Liverpool, he has won only five of 26 matches against the big four of Chelsea, Arsenal and the Manchester clubs. Photograph:  Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Liverpool again faltered when playing one of the league’s big clubs

Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal: football now merely a part of the bigger equation that is commercial success at Old Trafford. Photo:  Michael Regan/Getty Images

They look certain to overtake Real Madrid as football’s biggest-earning club by 2017

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