Pep Guardiola: The Manchester City manager reacts to a play during Saturday’s Premier League match against Chelsea.  Photograph: Reuters/Phil Noble Livepic

Pep spurns idea that Premier League is tougher than others, but player quality is an issue

Rainbow flags were carried out at every Premier League match this weekend, the team captains wore rainbow armbands, and the referees wore rainbow laces

Premier League’s support for LGBT community ran into predictable opposition

Wayne Rooney: turned into a national laughing stock simply for doing what millions of others do every weekend. Photograph:  Richard Heathcote/Getty

England striker has been in the stocks for daring to insult the holy ideal of hard work

Republic of Ireland goalscorer James McClean battles with Austria’s Marko Arnautovic at the Ernst-Happel Stadium, Vienna, Austria, during their World Cup Qualifying Group D encounter on Saturday night. Photograph: leonhard foeger/reuters

West Brom player knows now he is good enough for the top level, he has proven it

Ireland’s Seamus Colman celebrates with James McClean after beating Austria in their 2018 World Cup qualifier in Vienna. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Under Martin O’Neill there is a steely determination and a willingness to hang in there

 Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring Liverpool’s  fourth goal against Watford at Anfield. Photograph: Dave Howarth/PA Wire.

Should Anfield club sustain current scoring rate, they will win the Premier League title

Manchester United manager José Mourinho during Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Burnley at Old Trafford. Photograph: PA.

Basic formula that brought success in the past has been ousted by newer methods

José Mourinho gestures on from the touchline during the match at Stamford Bridge. He said: “We made an incredible defensive mistake.”  Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire

He blamed players for Manchester United’s defeat, but what about his own approach?

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

TV ratings for live Premier League games have seen a 19% fall year-on-year

 Wes Hoolahan in action against  Alexandru Gatcan of Moldova in Chisinau. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

McClean adds goals to industry of effort to leave Martin O’Neill with decisions to make

Tottenham’s Dele Alli celebrates scoring Spurs’ second goal against Manchester City at White Hart Lane on Sunday. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Tottenham zeroed in on City’s weaknesses, and Guardiola will need to look at his backline

Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich   appointed seven permanent managers before Conte. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

Abramovich has continually burdened his Chelsea managers with unreasonable demands

Wayne Rooney: has lost the confidence of the Manchester United crowd. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty

Mourinho has now suffered 16 defeats in 34 games, more than Mark Hughes at Stoke City

Manchester United manager José Mourinho and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola at the end of the derby game. Photograph: Reuters

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City look more tactically coherent than rivals across town

Jeff Hendrick gave Ireland the lead in Serbia after three minutes. Photogrpah: Inpho/Ryan Byrne

Martin O’Neill’s side look far more comfortable when they have got nothing to lose

Ireland’s coach Martin O’Neill during the Euro 2016  match against France  at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium near Lyon in June. The time and expense involved in travelling to Russia means it’s doubtful whether the tournament will attract international fans in numbers comparable to those that went to France. Photograph: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

Serbia know exactly what to expect from Ireland and what is an ageing lineup

Republic of Ireland goalscorer Jonathan Walters is tackled by with Oman’s Nadir Awadh Bashir Bait Mabrook last night. Photograph: Reuters

Given the occasion, Oman were probably the perfect opponents for friendly clash

Liverpool’s  striker Daniel Sturridge: “I have to do a job for the team. That’s not saying I am happy to do it. That’s saying I have got to do a job for the team.” Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP

Jurgen Klopp not the type of manager who makes allowances for an injury-prone artist

Joe Hart joins Manchester City’s  substitutes  during Saturday’s win against Stoke. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

Manchester City goalkeeper is paying the price for being an old-fashioned shot-stopper

30,000 were at the Aviva Stadium to see Dundalk’s Champions League qualifier, and it was Legia Warsaw’s supporters who made most of the noise. Photograph: Inpho/Ryan Byrne

30,000 brave the elements as Lilywhites far from outclassed

Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho celebrates scoring against Arsenal. Photograph: Getty Images

You wondered whether Koscielny would have traded his holiday to be involved

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho explains to Juan Mata why he was taking him off in stoppage time after he came on as a substitute in the Community Shield win over Leicester City at Wembley. Photograph: Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images

‘The hard part is not finding the talent. The hard part is persuading the talent to sign’

 Diana Ross performs at the 1994 World Cup opening ceremony at Soldier Field in Chicago. Photograph: David Cann/Getty Images

When it comes to opening ceremonies the Olympics are the only show in town

Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho  in Beijing. He is in no mood to go along with the fiction that the pre-season  games  mean anything.  Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP/

Proposed Pogba price shows the extent the club has to go to to get the players they want

Portugal celebrate Eder’s winner as Antoine Griezmann looks on at the Stade de France. Photograph: Epa

Injured Ronaldo basks in crowning glory as Portugese collective trump fearful hosts

The Punch and Judy show between English fans and French police provided comic relief

Dimitri Payet celebrates with Antoine Griezmann after scoring France’s third goal against Iceland in Saint-Denis. Photograph: EPA

Gulf in class finally exposed as the hosts move on to big semi-final date with Germany

Iceland’s players celebrate their team’s win with supporters after the victory over England. Photograph: Getty Images

Clever management combined with unique Viking spirit has elevated this tournament

 Wales captain  Ashley Williams celebrates after scoring a goal during the Euro 2016 quarter-final match against Belgium  at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in  Lille. Photograph:  Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

Kevin de Bruyne’s constant cajoling of team-mates summed up Belgium’s night

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

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