Sports

Jun 302016
 
Gareth Southgate recently guided England Under-21s to victory at the Toulon Tournament in France

England Under-21 manager Gareth Southgate has no interest in succeeding Roy Hodgson as boss of the senior national team.

The 45-year-old has not been offered the role or spoken to the Football Association since the weekend.

Hodgson resigned after four years in charge following the shock Euro 2016 last-16 defeat by Iceland on Monday.

The FA was considering Southgate in an interim role as it searches for Hodgson’s successor.

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FA will seek ‘best man’ for England job

On Tuesday, chief executive Martin Glenn said the FA wants a new manager in place for the opening World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on 4 September.

However, if the right man was not available by then he said former England defender Southgate would be the “obvious choice” as an interim boss – and did not rule out appointing a foreign manager.

Arsene Wenger is thought to be among those in the FA frame, with his Arsenal contract due to expire at the end of the season. Former Paris St-Germain coach Laurent Blanc is also reportedly a name interesting the FA.

Earlier on Wednesday, West Ham co-chairman David Gold said Hammers boss Slaven Bilic would not be tempted by the England job.

The selection process will be led by Glenn, FA board member David Gill and technical director Dan Ashworth. They plan to conduct a widespread consultation process before narrowing down the contenders.

Southgate, who has been in charge of the Under-21s since 2013, has also managed Middlesbrough.

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Gareth Bale is the joint top-scorer at Euro 2016 with three goals from four games

Gareth Bale says Wales have lifted their game to “another level” before their European Championship quarter-final against Belgium.

Bale, 26, scored the winner as Wales beat Belgium 1-0 in a Euro 2016 qualifier on their way to reaching a first major tournament for 58 years.

Before Friday’s rematch in Lille, the Real Madrid forward believes Wales have improved since their last meeting.

“From that night, we have gone up to another level,” said Bale.

“We’ve taken our game on with playing more games in our system, gelling even more. It was a changing moment for us.

“It was my most important Welsh goal, especially at the time of qualifying.

“It was an important goal for me personally on my 50th cap and for the team. It also gave us that belief that we can take on and beat the big teams.”

Gareth Bale marked his 50th cap for Wales with the winning goal against Belgium in June 2015

‘Wales’ time to shine’

Wales’ second-round win over Northern Ireland and England’s defeat against Iceland means Chris Coleman’s side are the only home nation left in the last eight in France.

Wales’ only previous appearance at the quarter-final stage saw them beaten by Brazil in the 1958 World Cup.

With a first semi-final at a major tournament just one win away, Bale says he and his team-mates grasp the significance of Friday’s match against Belgium.

“We know about the quarter-final in 1958 but since then it’s definitely the biggest game in Welsh football,” he added.

“This is our time to shine. We’re the only home nation left in the competition, which is an amazing achievement in itself.

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Dragon is only motivation I need – Bale

“We’re very happy, very proud and we’ll be flying the flag for Wales.”

Belgium are currently second in the Fifa world rankings, as they were when they lost to Wales in Cardiff in 2015.

Coleman’s men have since slipped to 26th but are riding the crest of a wave at Euro 2016, only their second appearance at a major tournament.

Bale has been central to their success. Having scored seven of Wales’ 11 goals in qualifying, the former Tottenham forward has contributed three goals and an assist in France.

Belgium manager Marc Wilmots highlighted Bale and Aaron Ramsey as Wales’ “two top players”, though Bale has warned there is more to his team.

“We’ve got fantastic players in our team all the way through, even on the bench to come on,” he said.

“Whatever they want to concentrate on that’s fine but we know we have more than two good players. We’ve a very good team and we’re not in last eight for no reason.”

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Jun 292016
 
The only club at which Ibrahimovic has not won the league title was his first, Malmo in Sweden

Zlatan Ibrahimovic should complete his long-anticipated move to Manchester United by the end of the week.

The Swedish striker, 34, is a free agent after leaving Paris St-Germain and is expected to sign a one-year deal with the Old Trafford club.

He will become the second signing for United boss Jose Mourinho, who replaced Louis van Gaal as manager in May.

Ivory Coast defender Eric Bailly, 22, has already completed a £30m move to United from Spanish side Villarreal.

United have also made an improved offer for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 27, and are now waiting for his German club, Borussia Dortmund, to make a decision on the Armenian playmaker’s future.

Ibrahimovic removed the final barrier to his switch to the Premier League when he said he did not wish to be considered for Olympic duty at the 2016 Games in Rio following Sweden’s exit from Euro 2016.

It will be his first spell in England after winning titles in four countries.

Although the Swede repeatedly refused to confirm his plans during the Euros, Old Trafford was widely assumed to be the next destination in a career that has seen him win league championships in 13 of the last 15 seasons.

Ibrahimovic was top scorer in France’s Ligue 1 last term with 38 goals but did not score as Sweden went out of Euro 2016 at the group stage.

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Highlights: Sweden 0-1 Belgium

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