Diego Maradona Quits Role as Gimnasia Boss After Less Than 3 Months in Charge

​Diego Maradona has left his post as Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata boss less than three months after taking charge of the Argentinian Primera Division side.

Heralded as one of world football’s greatest ever players, Maradona’s coaching career has seen yet another casualty having only taken the reins of the club in September.


The club were undergoing club elections to see who would take up the role of club president, with Maradona previously stating that he would only remain in charge if current president Gabriel Pellegrino stayed in his position.

Taking over the club based just outside of Buenos Aires, Maradona was tasked with helping them avoid relegation after a stuttering start to the season. He lost his first three games in charge and despite going on to win three of the following five since then, Gimnasia still remain in the relegation zone, three points from safety. 

The news was broken via local radio station La Red by Pellegrino and, speaking of his departure on his ​official Instagram account, Maradona expressed his sadness at the decision.

“This decision hurt me with all my soul,” he said, as relayed by ​Sky Sports.

“I felt that everyone together…were finding the way for Gimnasia to stay in the first division. This was the moment to keep going with the project and look for the necessary reinforcements.

Diego Maradona

“I hope that whoever comes in to manage the club can continue with the work we started and keep Gimnasia where it belongs. I wish you all the best, with all my heart.”

The move marks yet another abrupt end to one of Maradona’s managerial exploits, with just one of his six roles as a club boss lasting more than one year. To date, his spell with Al Wasl of the United Arab Emirates saw him remain at the helm for the longest, 14 months, coming between 2011 and 2012. Prior to that he was in the dugout at Mexican outfit Dorados de Sinaloa, but that stint lasted only nine months.

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6 Things You Might Have Missed From the International Break

In among all the chaos that has ensued as a result of a single managerial appointment, there was actually a full set of international fixtures taking place that either confirmed a spot in Euro 2020, consigned some nations to the play-offs, or downright meant nothing.

Fear not, though. No matter whether the fixtures were dead rubbers, of grave importance or flew under the radar, there were plenty of talking points to unearth from the latest break in domestic football.

Here they are.


Northern Ireland Went in Front Against Germany…Briefly

Michael Smith

Michael O’Neill has forged a decent football side in the form of Northern Ireland. They might not always be the most pleasing on the eye, but having got them into Euro 2016 playing that brand of football, there is no reason to stop. Except that he’s now Stoke City’s manager. So, that aside.

Either way, they came within a whisker of automatic qualification to Euro 2020, which says a lot when they had both Germany and Netherlands in their group. However, with the final match of the group stages not being able to prevent them from featuring in the playoffs, the fact they went in front against Die Mannschaft – in Germany – will have been reason to celebrate for the traveling faithful.

Their lead lasted 12 minutes. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there, and the final score finished 6-1, so we’ll wish them better fortunes when they head to face Bosnia-Herzegovina in the playoffs in March.


Gareth Bale’s Slip of the Tongue

We all saw that magnificent banner held up by one of the Welsh spectators. It was pure #bants. The only thing that could have been any more #bants would have been if ​Gareth Bale held it with all his teammates and sang along to the song.

Oh, he did? Everyone knows that? Right, let’s move on.

What about him dropping an f-bomb in his post-match interview? Not everyone? Good, because it was hilarious and added a lovely human element to what is often times a very robotic exchange of words between a footballer and a reporter.

Have ​a look. It was f***ing great.

And can you blame him? An Aaron Ramsey double against Hungary ensured Wales will avoid the playoffs and head straight to Euro 2020, in what was a supremely professional and composed showing. 


An Unlikely Source Netted a Hat-Trick in Thumping Netherlands Win

Georginio Wijnaldum

Having missed out on the last two major national tournaments, under Ronald Koeman there appears to be a new lease of life for the Netherlands. Finishing second in their Euro 2020 qualifying group and earning a spot automatically for next summer’s competition, this Dutch side will unquestionably be among some of the favourites to lift the crown.

Blessed with the likes of Memphis Depay and Quincy Promes in attacking positions, it was a surprise to see Georginio Wijnaldum bag himself a brace in their final qualifier against Estonia.

Not known for his goalscoring prowess, the ​Liverpool midfielder put the Estonians to the sword in a match they utterly dominated. Their qualifying campaign finished on a perfect note with the routine 5-0 victory, with their sights now firmly set on Euro 2020 glory.


Scotland Building Momentum Ahead of Dreaded Playoffs

John McGinn

Scotland have been, by their own standards, fairly average for an unfortunate number of years. Managers have come and gone but to no avail, as the Tartan Army endured a mostly miserable Euro 2020 qualifying campaign. 

A manic end to their Nations League group made sure of a playoff spot regardless though, and something of a mini-revival is seeing them build momentum ahead of March’s clash with either Bulgaria, Hungary, Israel or Romania.

Against Kazakhstan, Steve Clarke’s men came from behind to secure another morale boosting victory in a mostly comfortable 3-1 win. Since being trounced 4-0 by Russia, the Scots have now won three on the trot, scoring 11 goals in the process. Ignore the opposition, that’s still momentum.


Granit Xhaka Is Alive and Well in a Different Red 

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Right, OK, Switzerland played away at Gibraltar in their most recent international fixture so they were forced to wear white, but you catch my drift.

Embroiled in an unsavoury dispute with both his club ​Arsenal and their supporters, traveling away with his national side will have been a welcome respite to his domestic struggles.

It showed, too. Away to the European minnows they were in rampant fashion, sweeping aside Gibraltar 6-1, with the Swiss captain even getting on the scoresheet as the Rossocrociati secured top spot in Group D ahead of Denmark.

So, he’s alive and well Arsenal fans. Not that you really cared.


Italy Went Totally Mad

Italy v Armenia - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier

In a footballing sense. And in a good sense, too.

Taking on Armenia in their final qualifying group match, the Italians could have been forgiven for taking their foot off the peddle somewhat having already secured top spot in Group J. 

That, they did not do. Instead they clearly assumed that goal difference was important and proceeded to obliterate Armenia 9-1 at Stadio Renzo Barbera. Ciro Immoble continued his stupendous scoring form for club and country with a brace, while the hugely exciting Nicolo Zaniolo followed suit with his own double.

Nicolo Barella, Alessio Romagnoli, Jorginho, Riccardo Orsolini and Federico Chiesa got the others to remind us all that we should probably be watching out for Italy next summer.

Ten qualifying matches, ten wins, 37 goals scored and only four conceded. Yes, their group wasn’t great but still, fine effort.


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Exclusive: Jose Mourinho Offered Gareth Bale Deal as Daniel Levy Backs New Tottenham Boss

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has assured Jose Mourinho that if the he wishes to sign Gareth Bale during the upcoming January transfer window then he will thrash out the deal required to lure him back to north London. 

During a rollercoaster day for the Lilywhites, Mourinho was instilled as Spurs’ new boss just 12 hours after the shock sacking of Mauricio Pochettino on Tuesday evening.

Bale himself has become a peripheral figure at ​Madrid, often consigned to a role on the bench or being left out of the squad entirely, more recently so since Zinedine Zidane returned to the Los Blancos dugout in March this year.

With Wales confirming their place in next summer’s Euro 2020 following their 2-0 win over Hungary, ​Bale risked the wrath of his manager after jokingly holding aloft a banner that claimed he preferred playing golf to featuring for Madrid.

The Welshman already has a frosty relationship with the Zidane and the Spanish media after being publicly ridiculed throughout his trophy-laden Madrid career, but the latest antics will have done little to win over the unamused fans and club hierarchy back in Spain.

90min understands, however, that his spell in Madrid could be brought to an end as soon as January, as Levy has given Mourinho assurances that the club will pursue a reunion with their former player if the Portuguese head coach wishes to do so.

It is an idea that Mourinho is not totally objecting to, having admired the 30-year-old’s ability for several years throughout his time as both a manager and a television pundit.

Bale is eager to earn regular playing time ahead of the upcoming European Championships, something that looks increasingly likely to be lessened following recent events. Even still, before the infamous banner, his time under Zidane was limited at best, and the club’s efforts to ship him off to the Chinese Super League during the summer only ended when Madrid pulled the plug at the 11th hour.

Should such a move come to fruition that would see Bale return to the ​Premier League, the most likely outcome would be a loan move in January. Whether any potential deal would be an initial loan with an option to sign permanently is not yet known, simply due to the matter of finances.

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​Tottenham would have to cover a substantial amount of Bale’s near £350k-per-week wages, with the price likely to come down to how much of that salary packet Spurs are willing to compensate. At present, a January loan seems the most likely avenue.

Whatever transpires, Mourinho is clearly being backed early by his new chairman, who has previously been known to be one of the more stringent chairman in English football when it comes to finances. This pledge from Levy is clear show of intent on his behalf to provide Mourinho with the tools he needs to succeed, as he looks to amend a torrid run of form that has Tottenham sitting 14th in the Premier League table after 12 matches.


For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!

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AC Milan Meet With Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Agent Mino Raiola to Discuss Potential Return

​AC Milan have held a meeting with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s agent Mino Raiola to explore the possibility of the striker returning to the Serie A side for a second stint.

Zlatan is technically still under contract with Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy, but confirmed that he would not be renewing his deal beyond the its expiry on 31 December.

That has sparked a flurry of clubs into action in a bid to hand the Swede a potential European return, with Italian sides Bologna, Napoli, Roma and Fiorentina all registered with an interest in recent weeks. Whether any side can match the 38-year-old’s excessive wages are a different matter, however, with it thought that he ​would demand an eye-watering €1m per month.

Yet hat hasn’t stopped interested parties getting in touch with his agent, as former club ​Milan have supposedly held a meeting with infamous super-agent Raiola to discuss a sensational return to San Siro.

According to ​Fabrizio Romano of Sky Italia, the meeting was only preliminary talks with nothing concrete being offered, as the struggling Serie A side explore the possibility of handing Zlatan another crack of the European whip.

It is added by Romano that a decision on his next move will be made over the next few weeks, perhaps in respect of current employers Galaxy, perhaps so there is time to evaluate all avenues, or perhaps just because Zlatan tends to do things his own way.


Either way, should the towering forward head back to Milan then it would be his second stint at a club he only previously spent two seasons with – the first of which being an initial loan before the Rossoneri signed him permanently from Barcelona. 

That said, it was certainly a prolific one, with the striker netting 56 goals in 85 outings before Paris Saint-Germain brought him to France in 2012. During his time in Milan he secured a Serie A title as well as a Supercoppa Italiana.


For more from ​Ross Kennerley, follow him on ​Twitter!

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How West Ham’s Players Fared During the November International Break

Without a win in their ​six previous Premier League fixtures, West Ham’s international call-ups would probably have been grateful for the change of scenery. 

Six of Manuel Pellegrini’s senior squad jetted off to represent their country during the November international break, and their manager will have been hoping for injury-free appearances. 

Even better if those were to come in positive results that might help build on the Hammers’ fragile confidence.

Here’s how they fared.


Declan Rice (England)

Declan Rice,Harry Winks

Left out of the starting XI for England’s 1000th fixture in the 7-0 mauling of Montenegro, Declan Rice was back on the team sheet for the 4-0 victory over Kosovo in England’s final Euro 2020 qualifier.

The spotlight was on Rice and ​Tottenham’s Harry Winks, predominantly due to Twitter claims that they couldn’t play together or that either wasn’t good enough to represent England, but the Hammers’ midfielder did all the basics right on his return to Southgate’s side.  


Winston Reid (New Zealand)

Troy Parrott,Winston Reid

The international call up that has baffled and infuriated West Ham fans in equal measure, Winston Reid completed 45 minutes of New Zealand’s 3-1 friendly defeat to the Republic of Ireland. 

The ire stems from the fact that Reid has not kicked a ball for the first team for well over a year, time in which he has been recovering from a serious knee injury. Reid returned to London following the game, as his international teammates headed off for a second friendly loss to Lithuania.


Fabian Balbuena (Paraguay)

Fabian Balbuena

Keeping clean sheets has been one of ​West Ham’s biggest problems this season, so Fabian Balbuena will have been pleased with his part in Thursday’s 1-0 friendly victory over Bulgaria. 

‘The General’ watched his side’s 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia from the bench on Tuesday, so should hopefully be fresh for Saturday’s crunch fixture with Tottenham.


Andriy Yarmolenko (Ukraine)

Serbia v Ukraine - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier

The Ukraine international is one player that will certainly return in buoyant mood, having assisted Artem Besedin’s late equaliser in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Serbia. 

This ensured that, in addition to finishing top of their Euro 2020 qualification group ahead of Portugal, Ukraine remained unbeaten throughout the campaign.

The forward also featured in Thursday’s friendly with Estonia, in which Ukraine ran out 1-0 winners.


Albian Ajeti (Switzerland)

Albian Ajeti

The Swiss forward has endured a difficult start to life at the London Stadium, failing to score in any of his six appearances for the Hammers. 

Sadly, this poor form continued into Switzerland’s two final Euro 2020 qualifiers. Ajeti completed 71 minutes of the 1-0 victory over Georgia without finding the net, a performance that rendered him an unused substitute in the 6-1 demolition of Gibraltar. 


Arthur Masuaku (DR Congo)

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DR Congo are unbeaten in their opening two Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, although two draws isn’t exactly the ideal start. Thursday’s goalless stalemate at home to Gabon was followed by a 2-2 draw away in Gambia – the West Ham left back featuring in both fixtures.


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