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Carol Vorderman answers call to replace Anne Robinson on Countdown

The TV favorite, 61, who co-hosted the show for 26 years, told fans it would be "an honor" to return to the series. (Author: Gardener)

Carol VordermanCarol Vorderman has broken her silence after fans urged her to return as presenter on Countdown after Anne Robinson announced she was stepping down. The TV favorite, 61, who was the show's math genius for 26 years, told fans it would be "an honor" to return to the series as the show's host. On Wednesday, she tweeted: "Thank you to everyone who said such lovely things about the possibility of me returning to Countdown. Carol Vorderman has broken her silence after fans urged her to return as presenter on Countdown after Anne Robinson announced she was stepping down after just a year: 'You're very kind and it would be an honor but I would like to wish , whoever that is Happy person to be the new host, all the love and 9 letter words in the world #CountWell#HappyDays.' Speaking to The Sun, a TV insider previously revealed: "Carol is such a big part of Countdown and Channel 4 knows how much everyone loves her. "The bosses would love her to come back as the main presenter, her countdown journey would close. A source close to the star told the publication, "Countdown has always held a special place in Carol's heart. And she's still a huge fan of the show after almost 40 years. Honoured: The TV favourite, 61, who co-hosted the show for 26 years, told fans it would be an honor to return to the series. "It's nice to see that she has such great support from fans of the show online." Richard, 51, recently quit his show Pointless after 13 years and would be free to pursue new commitments. It comes amid claims that the Countdown cast is "relieved" that Anne is leaving following reports of an on-set feud with Rachel Riley - who Anne allegedly found "too loud" - and Susie Dent. Carol's response comes after it was revealed that TV presenter Richard Osman is also in the running for Anne as presenter. Carol's response comes after it was revealed that TV presenter Richard Osman is also in the running for Anne as presenter that Richard currently has a 3/1 chance of replacing Anne on Countdown. After Richard, the second strongest replacement odds go to comedian Susan Calman and Taskmaster star Alex Horne, both of whom are rated at 4/1. Star: TV star Richard, 51, recently quit his show Pointless after 13 years and would be free to pursue new commitments (Anne is pictured). Writer Victoria Coren Mitchell is next at 9/2, while Jon is the star of 8 out of 10 cats Richardson follows at 11/2. Richard said in his statement last month as he left Pointless: "I'll miss everyone so much but I'm thrilled I'll still be hosting the celebrity shows. Representatives from Anne and Richard have been contacted by MailOnline for comment. Meanwhile, Anne, 77, announced she was leaving Countdown after just a year on Monday - admitting she's "busy" and wants to enjoy family life. Oh no: It comes amid claims that the Countdown cast is "relieved" that Anne is leaving following reports of an on-set feud with Rachel Riley - which Anne allegedly found "too loud". Susie posted a supportive tweet to the presenter on Monday morning, which Rachel retweeted - despite reports she found the ladies on set "too loud". Susie posted a tweet Monday morning to show her support for Anne, writing: "Some countdown messages. We wish Anne all the best in her new adventures with her grandchildren and beyond. And it seemed like Rachel put her stamp of approval on the words as she retweeted pal Susie's post. But while the TV stars have been friendly on social media, reports last year revealed that Anne, who suffers from tinnitus, found Rachel "too loud" and was "irritated by her habit of chatting on her phone , and so on their timekeeping'. Job: Alongside Richard, writer Victoria Coren Mitchell (pictured) is next rated at 9/2, while 8 out of 10 Cats star Jon Richardson follows at 11/2 on the microphone during the show, to the horror of the math geniuses Opening up to the Daily Mail to Alison Boshoff, Anne admitted Rachel is loud and that she "wouldn't go on holiday with her" - but dismissed claims of a feud. The Weakest Link host explained, "I'm not saying I'd go on vacation with Rachel Riley, but she's brilliant," she said. "Look, Rachel just got back from having a baby and she's standing solid and impeccable while I'm allowed to sit down. we don't have time to talk.' Anne told Alison she was leaving the show because her contract was only for a year and she "didn't know how long it was going to be." Explaining that she's swapping the "intense" shooting schedule for some time off at home, Anne said: "I'm moving on because I have a lot to do - grandchildren, a big garden, an apartment in New York - and I want to enjoy them." Countdown took longer than I thought.' A spokesman for Channel 4 daytime show gushed about Anne after announcing her departure, saying: "The quick-witted Anne was a brilliant host on this iconic show." Interesting: Susie posted a supportive tweet to Anne on Monday morning after announcing that she would leave, which Rachel retweeted - despite reports she found the ladies on set "too loud" (Susie and Rachel are pictured).

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Todd Boehly's consortium are close to signing the first contract in Friday's takeover of Chelsea

The American group is being brought forward for UK government and Premier League approval ahead of an official sale (Author: Gardener)

FridayTodd Boehly is hoping to sign the first deal for a £4billion Chelsea takeover on Friday, while Roman Abramovich prepares to seek formal government approval for the deal. Telegraph Sport understand club executives are now preparing for the prospect of officially naming Boehly to ministers in their application for an amended license for a sale. In theory, a deal could be completed by the Government's May 31 deadline - despite a backlog sparked by Abramovich, who objected to the freezing of his £1.6billion loan. With a signed purchase agreement set to be offered to Boehly on Friday, all parties are hoping the government's dispute with Abramovich over the loan can be resolved quickly. On Thursday, the outgoing Chelsea owner issued a statement denying he had broken his promise to write off the £1.6billion debt amid the tense row with ministers. The government had previously questioned his motives but now appears ready to discuss the option of a "backstop" to allow disputes with Abramovich over the loan to continue after a sale has been waved through. Abramovich's concern over whether the UK has the legal right to freeze the loan coincides with authorities in Jersey targeting Camberley International Investments, which is believed to be linked to the oligarch. In response to government concerns raised this week, Abramovich's spokesman said: "Firstly, there has been no change in Mr Abramovich's intentions regarding the donation of the proceeds of the Chelsea sale to charity among his staff went on to explain that the Russian had already started setting up a foundation eight weeks ago, which he promised when he put the club up for sale ahead of the sanctions. "Since the initial announcement, Mr. Abramovich's team has identified senior officials from UN bodies and major global charities who have been tasked with establishing a foundation and drawing up a roadmap for its activities," the statement added. Roman Abramovich has denied failing to deliver on a promise to write off a £1.6billion loan to the club at the last minute." "As part of Mr Abramovich's aim of finding a good manager for Chelsea FC, he has However, we encourage every applicant during this process to invest in the club - including in the academy, the women's team, the necessary refurbishment of the stadium as well as the Chelsea Foundation's stadium maintenance work," added Abramovich's spokesman. According to sources close to the conversation, it was never Abramovich's intention to give the government the impression that he wanted to repay the loan to himself. Abramovich said in early March when he put Chelsea up for sale: "I will not be asking for loan repayments." During Chelsea's final sentence, there were just over £17million in cash reserves in Chelsea's parent company accounts by the end of the last season, but the loans Abramovich has pumped out since buying the club in 2003 now stand at £1.6bn. In the last season alone, Abramovich has injected around £150m and withdrawn around £130m to make up for it Ending the year on loan the club totaled £19.9million. Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, warned last week that delays could derail the process of ensuring the club's sale is completed by the May 31 license deadline. The government will urge the Russians to write off the loans as a priority but there is also a willingness to possibly discuss an annex to the club's license to save it from going under, according to The Telegraph loan had changed in recent weeks. "Following sanctions and other restrictions imposed by the UK on Mr Abramovich since the club's sale announcement, the loan is also subject to EU sanctions requiring additional approvals," the statement said. “This means that the funds will be frozen and subjected to a court procedure regulated by the authorities. Abramovich then had his license revoked from the Premier League so he could not be considered a valid owner when England's top division meets on June 8 to form the 2022/23 season. At this point, Chelsea's license to continue operating under a government license had expired eight days earlier.

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Salah: Everyone at Liverpool wanted Real

Speaking to Sky Sports at the Football Writers' Association awards night, Mo Salah discusses the season so far for Real Madrid, Karim Benzema and Liverpool. (Author: Gardener)

Sky SportsMohamed Salah has admitted everyone in Liverpool wanted to play Real Madrid in this month's Champions League final - with the pain of 2018 still on the players' minds. Real Madrid secured their place alongside Liverpool in the Paris final as the Spanish side beat Manchester City in a thrilling semi-final on Wednesday night and Karim Benzema scored an extra-time winner. The final between Real Madrid and Liverpool is a repeat of the 2018 final in Kyiv, which the Madrid side prevailed in a 3-1 win - after Salah limped off in the first half with a shoulder injury. Liverpool defeated Villarreal to reach Champions League final two. "If you ask everyone [in Liverpool], everyone wanted this game," Salah exclusively told Sky Sports. "I don't know why we can't talk about it, but I can talk about it - I wanted that game! I wanted to play against Real Madrid before that game [vs. Manchester City]. When they asked me." I said 'Madrid' when I wanted to. Salah had to be comforted by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp after the 2018 final defeat by Real Madrid and revealed that talking to himself on holiday sparked a spark in him to get back in shape – and winning the Champions League 12 months later. "You're just so disappointed, so down," Salah recalled of the disappointment in Kyiv. "Oh come on, not in this game!" But when you have time, you forget. On this holiday I just asked - what do you want? We were so hungry to win the Champions League the following year and we came very close in the Premier League too. I think it had some advantages too, not everything was good to lose that final but we had advantages. Or between Salah and Benzema. The Real Madrid forward has 43 goals in 43 games in all competitions this season - including 15 goals in the Champions League - while Salah is the Premier League's top scorer with 22 goals - and 30 in 46 games overall. "I lost last time because I scored 40 goals but we didn't win any trophies," said Salah. "In the meantime, we have to focus on what really matters, which is the trophy for the team, then the rest will come." This is my best season for me at Liverpool. The goals and assists numbers are high and the way I I created chances, the highest number in the Premier League, everything about the game has changed a lot." I don't feel so good when the team loses games or when I don't score a goal or do something. But if the team wins and I don't score a goal, I'm still very happy. "I'm just trying to find the little things that cheer me on. I'm trying to look at a little recording there, or another recording there, to keep my mind busy. Liverpool are further in the quadruple bid than any other English club in history Liverpool have taken a step closer to a historic quadruple after beating Villarreal to reach the Champions League final in midweek - with the Reds' bid has now gone further into a season than any other English team before them, writes Richard Morgan. 0 and despite an early scare as Villarreal leveled the tie with two first-half goals, Liverpool fought back to win 3-2 and 5-2 on aggregate that night to secure their place in the Paris final on March 28 Securing against Real Madrid on May 1 Liverpool have overtaken the 2006/07 Chelsea side, whose own quadruple challenge lasted until May 1 this season before losing to Liverpool in the semi-finals of the Champions League FA Cup final at Wembley on 14 May, a repeat of that season's League Cup final, which the Reds won on penalties in February.

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Arsenal vs Spurs: Who Will Win Crucial Top 4 Battle For Champions League Soccer?

Arsenal are just two points clear of Tottenham Hotspur with four rounds to go in the Premier League. So who will win the battle for the top four of the Champions League next season? (Author: Gardener)

Battle For Champions LeagueThere are four games left in the 2021/22 Premier League season and while the title race clearly takes priority narratively, it could be argued that the fight for fourth place in the Champions League is of greater importance in the longer term. Arsenal are playing without Champions League football for the fifth consecutive season and desperately need that extra financial boost - and traction in the transfer market - to take Mikel Arteta's project to the next level. While there have been many ups and downs under Arteta, the strong tactical identity he has built, coupled with his apparent command of the dressing room, suggests that given enough time - and enough forward drive - he could achieve something special at Arsenal. As for Tottenham Hotspur, it's hard to imagine how Antonio Conte will be convinced to stay if the club don't finish fourth, while that could also mean Harry Kane is once again looking for a move. Financially, both Arsenal and Spurs are a notch below the other four in the so-called 'Big Six' and the longer they spend outside the Champions League, the harder it becomes to compete with the others - once Manchester United get their act together , That means. Inevitably, attention briefly turns to the north London derby at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and yet that won't necessarily decide who finishes fourth. Arsenal have won three games, thanks largely to the influence of Mohamed Elneny, who has brought a metronomic quality to central midfield alongside Granit Xhaka. Elneny's fighting defensive qualities and calmness under pressure are more reliable than when Xhaka played in front of Albert Lokonga. Elneny and Xhaka side-by-side lack the spark Arteta wants to play with but it's a good compromise at the moment while the squad is without Thomas Partey. Coupled with the return of Takehiro Tomiyasu to win at West Ham, it gives Arsenal the defensive foundation not to be overwhelmed in the transition. However, once Arsenal get past Leeds United - which they should do considering their pace up front makes them favorites in most end-to-end games - they could drop out in their last two against Newcastle United and Everton. Newcastle hold their own in a battle in midfield with Elneny and Xhaka before fighting a well-aimed counterattack through a defense that still looks vulnerable with Nuno Tavares at left-back. Howe's well-compressed center block, hard pressing in the middle third of the pitch and his focus on utilizing the pace of Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin in the transition are worryingly similar to how Southampton and Brighton recorded victories over Arsenal. On paper, Tottenham have a far greater challenge ahead of them, starting with this weekend's game against Liverpool. However, Conte's focus on direct play - based on pulling the opponent's press and then attacking vertically behind them - is better suited to games like this. Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will not mind the pressure they are under, while the aggressive positioning of Liverpool full-backs gives Son a chance to do what he did in Manchester City's 3-2 Spurs win Etihad has done . Should Tottenham win that one, they can build enough momentum to edge out Burnley (who have a very poor 'Big Six' record, especially away from home) and take three points against relegated Norwich on the final day. If, as predicted here, Arsenal draw their two difficult games against Newcastle and Everton while Spurs win all of theirs, then a draw in the north London derby would be enough for Tottenham to finish in the top four. It may not then prove decisive, although a win for either club would most likely be a six-point swing from which the loser cannot come back. However, a tie seems the most likely outcome as neither manager wants to take big risks if we're even after the hour mark. Conte is particularly good at wearing down games and he will direct his players to employ whatever tactics are necessary to take the sting out of things. Meanwhile, Arteta will be wary of Spurs' threats in attacking transitions, avoiding daring plays from behind, instead plunging into longer balls to the flanks. When games are so obviously in danger of descending into chaos - and Chelsea's 4-2 defeat by Arsenal reminded Arteta how easily his pursuers can get into the game - managers tend to overcompensate. After the final whistle, a nervous draw would look like a good result for visiting Arsenal. But considering how the other games are shaping up, it could give Tottenham the initiative.

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I've seen Britney fiddling with pills, lost her money and gone to hell, says ex-dude

SINGER Britney Spears collapsed from exhaustion after being treated with prescription drugs by her management, her former pal claimed last night. Speaking up for the first time to defend the star... (Author: Gardener)

BritneySINGER Britney Spears collapsed from exhaustion after being treated with prescription drugs by her management, her former pal claimed last night. Sean Phillip, who Britney lived with for a time, spoke out for the first time to defend the star, saying that Britney's controlling father Jamie did nothing to help her when she became addicted to pills and amphetamines got. As the singer fights to bring down Jamie's controversial conservatory, Sean told The Sun the recovering alcoholic father spent years "milking Britney's cash cow". And he recalled how Britney was tipped over the edge when she collapsed from exhaustion after a New Year's Eve performance in 2007. He claimed the incident triggered her mental breakdown and led to her infamous head shaving incident. Sean said: "Jamie only wanted to be Britney's father when she turned 26 and was a multi-millionaire. "When she started having problems, he came in - but he had no sympathy and just didn't seem to care about his daughter's well-being. “He had every opportunity to stop what was happening to her — her descent into prescription pill addiction — but he didn't. He continued, "Hollywood has a terrible reputation for teamwork between doctors and lawyers. I think Jamie was in touch and in league with management for most of the events.” Sean had no idea she was addicted to amphetamines until details about her conservatorship emerged earlier this year. On Wednesday, Britney told a US court she wanted her father Jamie prosecuted for his alleged "conservatory abuse." She told a judge over the phone, "I'm here to press charges. I am angry and will go there. Following a decision that allowed her to choose her own attorney in her fight to end the legal settlement, the singer posted an Instagram video of herself cartwheeling in celebration. Sean supports their campaign by giving his insider account of the chaotic pre-conservatory years. And he revealed how Jamie's control of the pop icon began even before he was given conservatorship powers. Sean said: "It was crazy. They took away her credit cards, her phone went dead, she didn't even get the access code to her own house. “All she had financially — and that was way before the sh*** hit the fan, that was before the head shaving incident — all she had was a piece of paper with a credit card number to pay for things. "But she didn't really have the card in her hand. “We stayed at The Standard Hotel in Los Angeles once and ended up not being able to pay for it because we had no funds. Things like that would happen a lot. "When she was moving, a few weeks later she asked me, 'Sean, how much did the house cost?' "People around her are like, 'Order this private jet, buy this house, go shopping if you want,' but it's like, where does the rest of the money go? At the moment I don't think she has access to knowledge. "I don't think she knows her net worth. I honestly don't think she has any idea how much money she has.” Sean was first introduced to Britney in 2003 through mutual friends, but first began working for her in October 2006 as a personal trainer. He claims the superstar was given two UNKNOWN pills a day and believes the singer was a puppet controlled by those who were paid to take care of her. And he believes the singer was a puppet controlled by those who were paid to look after her. He witnessed her being administered the drugs but never wrote down the brand name. He said: "I don't think I wanted to know." Sean soon took care of Britney's day-to-day life and became one of her most trusted allies. Despite insults that the Toxic singer, who has sold more than 100 million albums, used drugs, Sean said he's never seen her use illegal drugs. He continued, "Things got awkward when my role turned into a 24-hour job. I was the stylist, I was the babysitter, I was the trainer, I was security, I was the paparazzi liaison officer — and asked her not to take pictures of her. "Then management would occasionally come up and be like, 'Just make sure she's on those pills.' "And I said, 'No, I'm not a doctor or a nurse. I don't do that'. At this point, Britney wasn't her normal self. We went to clubs and had a few cocktails, but that was about it. "They tried again to foist this drug narrative on her in order to discredit her and gain more control over her life." Last month, Britney said she was forced in a court hearing to take lithium against her will. She said her therapist forced her to take lithium, a mood-stabilizing drug. Sean, who now works in wildlife and conservation, recalls another shocking incident on New Year's Eve 2007 in Las Vegas, when Britney's team covered up a meltdown. He says after she passed out at the Pure nightclub, management tried to put her on a suspected amphetamine in an attempt to bring her back to consciousness and functioning. Britney representatives at the time denied the episode, claiming she left the club because she was "tired." Sean insisted, "The reality is she was exhausted. She was worked to the bone and unable to perform again. She became paranoid like I had never seen her before. She fainted at the club at the party she was throwing. She said, "Why am I so approachable? Why am I still doing club gigs?'. "That night management came and tried to give her something in pill form and I said, 'No, it's not happening'. A few days later, Britney rioted and hit a photographer's car with an umbrella. I had to get her out, carry her over my shoulder with a black suit jacket, and stop people from taking pictures with their cell phones. I had to get her out, carry her over my shoulder with a black suit jacket, and stop people from taking pictures with their cell phones. Shockingly, in January 2008, she was carted out of her home strapped to a wheeled stretcher. Within days, a court found her unable to mind her own business and her father was given control of her estate and all aspects of her career and life. Sean said: "Britney was just so sweet, kind, loving and funny - and so much smarter than people gave her credit for. Jamie was known as a raging alcoholic. “Management wanted to control and manipulate the energy around them. They just wanted to milk their cash cow.” Sean said he would get random calls from people saying they wanted to help Britney. Sean last saw Britney three weeks ago in Hawaii when the two met on vacation. He says she wasn't the Britney he knew and loved - obviously exhausted from an ongoing and extremely public court case. Speaking of her current trial and her defense, he said: "I'm happy for her that she's moving in the right direction because I've seen too many other people die. "I'm also very proud of their fans for really taking this forward because they really did a lot to get it to where it is today. I think Britney needed guidance at some point, but the conservatory is ridiculous. It's just a money robbery.”

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Leeds United look resigned with a Championship return

A two-horse race is taking place at the top of the Premier League table, pitting Manchester City and Liverpool against each other in the battle for the English championship title. The battle at the other end of the table is just as exciting as three teams hang by a thread on their lives in the top flight. (Author: Gardener)

Leeds UnitedA two-horse race is taking place at the top of the Premier League table, pitting Manchester City and Liverpool against each other in the battle for the English championship title. The battle at the other end of the table is just as exciting as three teams hang by a thread on their lives in the top flight. Norwich City were relegated to the Championship on 30 April with a 2-0 away defeat at Aston Villa, while Burnley defeated relegation rivals Watford 2-1 away. Watford appear set for relegation as they need to win all four remaining games and hope neither Burnley, Everton nor Leeds United concede a single point for the remainder of the season. The best online betting sites make Everton favorites for relegated sides Norwich and Watford, but everything points to Leeds United returning to the Championship after just two years of Premier League football. Leeds United were the surprise package during the 2020-21 season. Led by Argentine legend Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds United played scintillating football to finish ninth in the table, just six points off a European spot. Los Blancos have had a torrid season in which they have won eight, drawn ten and lost 16 of their 34 games so far. A streak of 10 defeats in 12 games, a period in which Leeds conceded 38 goals, saw the Leeds hierarchy relieve Bielsa of his duties; American Jesse Marsch replaced him on February 28. Under Marsch, Leeds looked much more solid defensively but the club's injury record was nothing short of ridiculous and it is those injuries, combined with a lack of strength at depth, that will ultimately cost Leeds United their Premier League spot. Last season's top scorer with 17 goals, Patrick Bamford has only made nine appearances (two goals) this season and is currently on the sidelines with another injury. Their talismanic midfielder Kalvin Phillips has missed half of this season's games through injury. Nicknamed 'The Yorkshire Pirlo', the man plays an important role in the Leeds team. Exciting youngster Crysensio Summerville was destined for a place in the starting XI until an ankle injury sustained in training ended his season. The aforementioned Cooper injured himself while warming up for a 4-0 loss to Manchester City, while the versatile Stuart Dallas, who has played 122 of Leeds' last 123 games, broke his femur during the loss to City. They then play Chelsea at Elland Road on May 11 before welcoming Brighton to their final home game of the season on May 15. Brentford host Leeds in the final game of the season but the Whites could be relegated by this point. Burnley plays Aston Villa home and away, travels to Tottenham Hotspur and finishes the season at Turf Moor against Newcastle United. Everton are currently third in the relegation zone, two points behind Leeds and Burnley but with a game to go. They still have to play Brentford and Crystal Palace at home and away games at Leicester, Watford and Arsenal. In current form you can see that Leeds have a maximum of four points, Everton six and Burnley seven. That would see Leeds United relegated on goal difference.

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Why Manchester City's surrender makes Pep Guardiola's whereabouts more likely

Plus: The psychology behind Real Madrid's comeback was an inevitability (Author: Gardener)

Manchester City'sPep Guardiola speaks to his Manchester City players after their latest European surrender in Spain on Wednesday night. The immediate challenge for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City now is to ensure their meltdown at Madrid doesn't wipe out their bid for a fourth Premier League title in five seasons. City have no time to feel sorry for themselves, no time for an investigation, no time for Guardiola to grapple with yet another Champions League implosion and the myriad questions all of these continued collapses raise. His future will have to wait too, although Wednesday's heartbreak and failure to scratch a European itch that will now stretch to at least a 12th year has likely increased the likelihood of Guardiola writing that new deal. His still-submissive paymasters remain optimistic their manager will sign. Between Jack Grealish's near misses and Karim Benzema's crucial penalty for Real Madrid, the Champions League was over in 14 minutes; City need to make sure the Premier League doesn't follow suit in 14 days. But after that insane final at the Santiago Bernabéu, the pressure rose several notches as City fell like dominoes again after Rodrygo scored the first of two last-second goals as a riveting semi-final second leg went into extra time , and it could continue to rise over the next few days. Liverpool play ahead of City at the weekend and again midweek: Two opportunities for Jurgen Klopp's side, fresh from reaching a third Champions League final in five seasons and with the wind in their sails to turn up the heat on rivals, whose performance is about to be put to the acid test. Tottenham Hotspur's visit to Anfield on Saturday night is probably Liverpool's toughest remaining game; Navigate with that and City will have no room for error at home against Newcastle United the next day. Jürgen Klopp likes to refer to his Liverpool players as 'mental monsters' Klopp likes to refer to his Liverpool players as 'mental monsters'. They don't rack up the points and trophies City have without being made of stern material, but the Champions League continues to brutally reveal a weak underbelly and leave lasting psychological scars that could yet be felt domestically. Following the recent carnage in the Spanish capital, it was hard not to revisit Ilkay Gündogan's comments after City's quarter-final defeat by Spurs in 2019, when the Germany midfielder described the team as too vulnerable to the backlash the pressures were in Europe. He explained that "negative events always set us back far too much" and recalled how after Sergio Aguero's missed penalty in the 1-0 first-leg defeat at Tottenham, they "withdrew from the game" and why "you didn't big team can happen". Essentially the opposite of Real: a team largely immune to setbacks, whose amazing comeback against City followed similarly remarkable resilience and composure in the previous rounds against Chelsea and Paris St-Germain. They wonder what role Guardiola has to play here, as these sudden, dramatic collapses have become a worrying, dominant theme on his Champions League watch, dating back to his time at Barcelona, ​​with whom he won the competition in 2009 and 2011 but hasn't won with anyone since. In the 19 knockout games in which Guardiola's Barcelona, ​​​​Bayern Munich and City were eliminated at different stadiums, they conceded 42 goals: a staggering 2.21 goals per game. You'll find it hard to win Europe's premier club competition with such a leaky defence. More specifically, City have scored 24 goals in nine knockout games, resulting in an average elimination of 2.66 per game: six over two games against Monaco in 2017 and Real last week, five in two games against Liverpool in 2018, four in two games against Spurs the following season and three in a single knockout quarter-final against Lyon two years ago. Eight of Guardiola's 11 Champions League eliminations have seen his teams implode in brief bursts as they lose their heads and therefore their composure, never recovering. Real was the latest when City conceded three goals in the 11 minutes between the end of regulation time and the start of extra time. Lyon scored two goals within eight minutes in the quarter-final win. Liverpool scored three goals in 19 minutes in a 3-0 win in the quarter-final first leg at Anfield. Monaco scored two goals in eight minutes in a 5-3 first-leg defeat and two goals in 21 minutes in a 3-1 second-leg win over City in the round of 16. Bayern experienced so much in back-to-back semi-final defeats, conceding three goals in 18 minutes of the first half against Real in 2014 and three in 17 minutes against Barcelona a year later, and Guardiola's Barcelona were eliminated from the last four against Inter Milan in 2010, partly due to the double Clean sheet in 13 minutes in a 3-1 first-leg loss at the San Siro. There were signs that City had gotten to grips with their mental funk last season in Europe and they did, but Real showed more of the same old weaknesses. Until City and Guardiola rectify those deficiencies they will remain as dangerous to themselves as any opponent and the Champions League could remain tantalizingly out of reach. For now, however, they must not allow another crushing European disappointment in the Premier League run-in to weigh heavily on their heads and open the door to an unshakable Liverpool. The psychology that sparked Real Madrid's comeback was inevitable There are many explanations for what happened at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night. One is simply the quality of Real Madrid's attack that helped them achieve the La Liga title: any side with Karim Benzema who can bring Rodrygo is likely to end up scoring goals. Another is luck: with a few inches here or there – think Jack Grealish's two chances at the end of regular time – Manchester City would have sealed the tie well before injury time. But there is another, more comprehensive explanation: in the Champions League, history counts. When teams play Real Madrid in the Champions League, they are not only playing against one of the best teams in the world. They also play against a club that has passed down the title like a family heirloom: Real have won 13 European trophies, no other side more than seven. And while many of those titles were simply the best team, others owe at least as much to Real's sense of ownership in the tournament. In 2014, Real equalized against Atlético Madrid with a Sergio Ramos header in the 93rd minute; two years later they defeated Atlético in the final on penalties; In 2018, Liverpool fans need no reminder, a combination of dark art, Gareth Bale's splendor and goalkeeping blunders was enough. With 13 European victories in their trophy cabinet, Real Madrid feel at home in the tournament. Late goalscoring kept Real alive in the second round against Paris St-Germain and did so again against Chelsea in the quarter-finals. A miracle on demand is now expected for Real in the Champions League. Forty seconds from the end of regular time, Real Madrid needed to score twice to stay on time last night. "It's the big story of the club and to carry on when it seems like it's over," said manager Carlo Ancelotti. Stereotype lift is the notion that a past track record of success makes future success more likely for an individual or team. "You can build confidence knowing your team always wins," said Sian Beilock, a cognitive scientist and author of Choke. "Anything that helps you focus on why you should succeed rather than why you should fail can be powerful." For Real in the Champions League, history can have its own logic. Explaining his extraordinary exploits in the Ryder Cup - including the miracle of Medinah in 2012 when Europe fell 10-4 but went on to win - Ian Poulter previously told Telegraph Sport: "My record in the Ryder Cup was pretty good, so it certainly gives me a lift, it gives me a boost, focuses my mind on the task at hand. "It's always useful to know that you have what it takes to win ... We know we've been able to turn games, we know we're strong in certain formats and of course that's definitely a confidence boost." Poulter recalled one Turnaround win last day at Medinah, describing a sentiment Real's players channeled during their comeback trio at the Bernabéu: "All the chaos is going on around you and you realize you're totally focused on the shot focus . In fact, he was speaking after City's 3-1 defeat by Lyon - who finished seventh in Ligue 1 that year - knocked them out of the quarter-finals in 2020. But De Bruyne's comments showed that he and the club were well aware of City's history of underperforming in the Champions League: how could it not be? Being aware of a stereotype increases the likelihood that it will be repeated. In sport, the stereotypical threat affects not only individuals who have been part of a previous failure, but also those who are part of a team that have previously failed in certain ways. Like England in penalties and South Africa in the Cricket World Cup, the Manchester City cliché of European football threatens to grow stronger with each passing tournament. The control that defines City in the Premier League has been repeatedly lost in key Champions League games: the six goals conceded in two games against Monaco in 2017, the dreadful first half hour at Anfield in 2018 in which a Tottenham Hotspur team ended up failing 27 points less in the Premier League, the Harum Scarum performance against Lyon in 2020 and now this haunting night at Real Madrid Cathedral. Ahead of the second leg, Thibaut Courtois suggested that even deep in the tie, City "couldn't shit themselves, talk bad, but be aware anything can happen". Courtois' words showed how Real were aware not only of their own wonderful history in the Champions League but also of City's recent traumas here. Pep Guardiola seems to have been too: "They've done it a lot in their history, so it could happen to us," Guardiola said full-time. The most striking common feature of City's troubles in Europe is how often there has been a period of self-immolation: a brief, devastating period - like a cricket collapse - in which the whole sense of competition was recalibrated. In five of Guardiola's six years as City coach, their Champions League exit has come after a period in which they have conceded two goals in 10 minutes or less; Real's three goals came within 11 minutes at the Bernabéu. None of this meant Real's comeback was predetermined - but their history means such performances feel predetermined, which in turn makes them more likely. And just as Real have been carried by history, the weight of history that Manchester City must overcome in Europe grows heavier with each passing year. In two very opposite ways, both teams can re-refer to De Bruyne's comments: different year, same stuff.

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Can Fulham learn lessons from Norwich's struggle to break the yo-yo habit?

Fulham have bounced back and forth between the top two leagues over the past five years but can they learn something from Norwich's struggles? (Author: Gardener)

NorwichAfter an almost worrying series of inconsistencies in recent weeks, Fulham finally got over their end-of-season jitters on Bank Holiday Monday and Luton Town were on the receiving end. For the third time this season, Fulham won 7-0, surpassing the 100-goal mark for the season and eventually sealing the EFL Championship trophy. But Fulham have recently found that getting into the Premier League is fairly easy. Staying there has proven to be considerably more difficult. They've been promoted three times in the last five years, punctuated by two disastrous Premier League seasons from which they managed just 54 points combined. Norwich City are on the same ups and downs as Fulham, albeit a year behind them in the same cycle. Just over 48 hours before Fulham lifted the Championship trophy, Norwich's journey in the opposite direction after losing at Aston Villa was confirmed. It's hardly as if Fulham somehow can't support Premier League football. They played 13 consecutive seasons at this level from 2001 and when they were relegated in 2014 it was the first time in six years that they finished below 12th in the table. There is nothing dictating that Fulham are destined to be relegated from the Premier League once they get there. They made it through to the playoffs in both 2018 and 2020, this time being champions and likely to win by a wide margin. Considering they had Premier League television, prize money and parachute payments for several seasons during those years, it's not surprising that they were able to build better teams than many of their contemporaries. This move was made permanent at the end of the 2017/18 season but since then Mitrovic's league form has mirrored Fulham's form, although his sheer talent has remained undiminished; It was only in November 2021 that he scored the last-minute goal that took Serbia to the 2022 World Cup ahead of Portugal and he remains their record goalscorer with 44 goals from 71 appearances. He has reached double figures only once in the Premier League, in 2018/19, when he scored 11 goals despite having played at that level for three and a half seasons, and in Fulham's most recent trip to the top flight he looked almost sad; Plagued by injuries and a positive Covid test, he was eventually replaced by Ivan Cavaleiro and Ademola Lookman and only reinstated earlier this season after manager Scott Parker was replaced by Marco Silva. Parker stayed past the end of last season, not leaving the club until almost the end of June. When Silva was hired to replace him, one of his first decisions was to put Mitrovic back at the top of the team's forward line. With 43 goals from 42 league games - just over half the total goals he's scored in his four-and-a-half years there for the club - it's fair to say that Mitrovic has repaid Silva's trust. Some have even started joking that the two clubs may never play each other in a league game again. But as mentioned, Norwich have made mistakes this season and paid a heavy price. They were unfortunate to lose a talismanic player, Emi Buendia, to Aston Villa and then spent heavily last summer while in January – by that point it was clear that this Norwich team just weren't good enough – were either unwilling or unable to spend. Similarly, an odd eight-day delay between the decision to sack Daniel Farke and then shortly after their first league win may not have changed their fate in the long run, but it still made the club look... kinda silly, while signing a deal with an unknown gambling company caused an angry reaction from fans. This is the type of mistake Fulham must avoid next season. If Silva could be looking at Norwich for signs of what not to do after promotion, he could also be looking at Brentford for signs of how he can succeed and although many of those can be found in the club's long-term planning, there are there are indications they could take, including Brentford's emphasis on community and the potential for a player to turn a season on its head in a game that's narrowly won and lost. And for Fulham, that player certainly remains Aleksandar Mitrovic. Mitrovic is now 27 years old, somewhere close to what should be the peak of his career. It's likely he's stuck between a rock and a hard pitch before in the Premier League. He's a player who can create a lot of chances but tends to need a few to score and lacks a bit of pace and obviously the problem for Fulham in the Premier League is that they wouldn't have created many chances against a better organized and fitter defense. Assuming Fulham keep his services for next season - and anyone who scores 40+ league goals in a season will attract interest from somewhere - Silva will certainly lead with him again next time. At the peak of his career and fresh off a record-breaking season, this is certainly Mitrovic's moment if there is to be one for him in the Premier League. Only two other players - Harry Wilson and Fabio Carvalho - have managed to break into double figures this season, and even then only with 11 and 10 goals respectively. And with all the fireworks going off against Luton, Silva might be justified in worrying a little about his team's downturn in the last quarter of the season. The Luton win was just their fourth in their last ten league games and a bit more upward momentum from the last league game of the season would probably be very welcome. In the immediate glory of promotion, such considerations are unlikely to matter too much for Fulham. They were the best team in the championship and absolutely deserved both promotion and the championship title. You have already scored more than 100 goals and already accumulated 90 points. And who knows, maybe Marco Silva has unlocked the key in Aleksandar Mitrovic that will make him a feared striker in the Premier League next season. Fulham's previous promotions both came through the play-offs while this one came as champions. Both the club and their star striker are in good shape to break that yo-yo rhythm next season.

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Emma Raducanu hopes bringing the US Open trophy to schools will inspire the next generation

The teenager became the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title in 44 years (Author: Gardener)

Emma RaducanuEmma Raducanu hopes that delivering her 2021 US Open trophy to schools across the country can help inspire the next generation. As part of the Lawn Tennis Association's youth schools programme, the Emma Raducanu Trophy Tour will start in Tower Hamlets, London on May 9 and visit schools in all regions before concluding in Edinburgh at the end of the week. Britain's number one Raducanu recorded a special video message for the students, who will also come onto the court for a tennis lesson held by an LTA youth coach. Students and staff will have the opportunity to be photographed with the trophy Raducanu won as an 18-year-old qualifier in September 2021 in New York. "I'm delighted to be working with the LTA to win my US Open trophy while touring around the country," said Raducanu, who became the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title in 44 years. “All of the schools we receive the trophy for have played tennis as part of the LTA youth school program. "I hope the trophy inspires her to continue her tennis journey both in and out of school." LTA Chief Executive Scott Lloyd said, "We are excited to bring Emma's 2021 US Open trophy to school children across the country.

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Emma Raducanu hopes bringing the US Open trophy to schools will inspire the next generation

Emma Raducanu hopes that delivering her 2021 US Open trophy to schools across the country can help inspire the next generation. (Author: Gardener)

Emma RaducanuEmma Raducanu hopes that delivering her 2021 US Open trophy to schools across the country can help inspire the next generation. As part of the Lawn Tennis Association's youth schools programme, the Emma Raducanu Trophy Tour will start in Tower Hamlets, London on May 9 and visit schools in all regions before concluding in Edinburgh at the end of the week. British number one Raducanu from Bromley recorded a special video message for the students, who will also come onto the court for a tennis lesson held by an LTA youth coach. * READ MORE: Emma Raducanu Takes Selfie With Fan At Orpington Restaurant Students and staff have an opportunity to have their picture taken with the trophy Raducanu won as an 18-year-old qualifier in September 2021 in New York. "I am delighted to be working with the LTA to take my US Open trophy on a tour across the country," said Raducanu, who became the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title in 44 years. “All of the schools we receive the trophy for have played tennis as part of the LTA youth school program. "I hope the trophy inspires them to continue their tennis journey both in and out of school." The school element of the LTA Youth Junior program offers free teacher training and content specifically designed to address the nationwide challenge of decreasing physical competency and addressing activity in children. LTA Chief Executive Scott Lloyd said: "We are excited to bring Emma's 2021 US Open trophy to school children across the country. "What Emma has achieved in New York has been incredible and we want to use her success to get more school children to play tennis and to encourage our future tennis stars." Raducanu, meanwhile, is optimistic about competing in Rome next week despite being delayed with a back injury was struggling when she lost in three sets to Anhelina Kalinina at the Madrid Open.

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