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ROONEY QUITS AS DERBY MANAGER

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Former Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney

Former Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney has resigned as manager of troubled Derby as the club prepare for their first season in the third tier for 36 years.

Rooney was unable to keep Derby in the Championship last season after the crisis-torn club were hit by a 21-point deduction as punishment for financial issues.

In his first managerial role, Rooney impressively kept Derby in contention to avoid relegation into the final weeks of the season.

That valiant effort had suggested the 36-year-old would be able to lead Derby to promotion from League One next season.

But with Derby remaining in administration throughout a turbulent close-season, Rooney has opted to quit the Rams with the new campaign starting on July 30.

“Wayne Rooney has informed Derby County Football Club that he wishes to be relieved of his duties as first team manager with immediate effect,” a club statement said.

Rooney, Manchester United and England’s all-time leading scorer, took charge at Derby in 2020 and had a year to run on his contract.

The former England captain was linked with an emotional return to Everton as manager last season after earning widespread praise for his work at Derby.

“Over the course of the summer I have been closely following developments regarding the ownership of Derby County,” he said.

“Today I met with the administrators to inform them of my decision that it was time for me to leave the club. In fairness to them, they tried tremendously hard to change my decision but my mind was made up.

“My time at the club has been a rollercoaster of emotions, both highs and lows, but I have to say that I have enjoyed the challenge.”

Fears over Derby’s future increased last week when American businessman Chris Kirchner withdrew his offer to buy the club.

But the sale of Pride Park to a local property developer David Clowes, who hopes to complete a takeover, has eased concerns that the club could go bust.

Regardless of the potential for new ownership, Rooney felt Derby would benefit from the new energy of a manager not worn down by the relentless negativity surrounding the club.

“Personally, I feel the club now needs to be led by someone with fresh energy and not affected by the events that have happened over the last 18 months,” he said.

“I will remember my time at Derby with great pride and affection and would like to thank all my staff, players and of course the fans for their incredible support.

“I will never forget you and hope to see you all again in the near future and in happier times.”

PUNCH

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MAN CITY, ARSENAL MAINTAIN PERFECT PREMIER LEAGUE START

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Arsenal vs Leicester

Manchester City stormed ominously to the top of the Premier League by cruising to a 4-0 win over Bournemouth, while Gabriel Jesus opened his Arsenal account in a 4-2 win over Leicester on Saturday.

As soaring temperatures across England forced the need for water breaks at all this weekend’s Premier League games, it was City who were on fire at the Etihad as promoted Bournemouth were blown away.

Erling Haaland failed to score on his home debut, but the Norwegian showed there is more to his game than goals as he used his strength before sliding in Ilkay Gundogan to open the scoring.

Kevin De Bruyne then took centre stage with a scintillating finish with the outside of his right foot to find the far corner before the Belgian turned provider for Phil Foden to make it 3-0 before half-time.

City eased off the gas after the break but added to their lead 11 minutes from time when Jefferson Lerma turned Joao Cancelo’s cross into his own net.

– Jesus shines –

Haaland’s arrival at City was one of the factors behind Jesus’ departure and the Brazilian is already looking like a bargain for the Gunners as he marked his home debut with two goals and two assists to maintain Arsenal’s perfect start.

Gabriel Jesus jubilates

Jesus was often deployed in wider areas in recent seasons by City boss Pep Guardiola, but was brought to Arsenal to be a number nine as he aims to secure a place at the World Cup later this year with regular games as a centre-forward.

The 25-year-old showed his eye for goal with a sumptuous chip over Danny Ward to break Leicester’s resistance and doubled his tally by heading home a corner at the back post.

William Saliba’s own goal gave Leicester a foothold against the run of play.

But the Foxes quickly threw that hope away when Ward dropped a simple cross into the box and Jesus teed up Granit Xhaka to slot home.

Another goalkeeping error at the other end gifted Leicester another goal as James Maddison’s strike squirmed under Aaron Ramsdale.

Arsenal, though, again responded instantly to avoid a nervy finale as Gabriel Martinelli fired into the far corner before Jesus hit the post with the chance to seal his hat-trick.

– Gerrard beats Lampard –

Steven Gerrard won the first managerial clash between him and former England teammate Frank Lampard as Aston Villa beat Everton 2-1 to get off the mark.

Steven Gerard, Aston Villa

Goals from Danny Ings and Emi Buendia eased the pressure on the former Liverpool captain after a run of two wins in their previous 12 games dating back to last season.

However, Villa had to survive a nervy finish as Lucas Digne’s own goal gave Everton hope as Emi Martinez twice denied Anthony Gordon.

Leeds missed the chance to join City and Arsenal on six points after blowing a 2-0 lead at Southampton.

Rodrigo’s double put the visitors in command at St. Mary’s, but goals from Joe Aribo and Kyle Walker-Peters may have saved Ralph Hasenhuttl’s job after reports this week suggested he could be the first Premier League sacking of the season.

Brighton and Newcastle failed to build on their impressive starts last weekend as both missed chances aplenty in a 0-0 draw at the Amex.

It was also scoreless between Wolves and Fulham at Molineux after Aleksandar Mitrovic saw a late penalty saved by Jose Sa with the chance to win it for the visitors.

Cristiano Ronaldo starts for United after being left on the bench for a 2-1 home defeat to Brighton last weekend.

David De Gea let slip another soft shot as Manchester United fell to a humiliating 4-0 loss at Brentford, making it their second consecutive defeat in as many games.

It was also the first time since 1992 – the Premier League era, that United will lose in their first two league games.

Man United Players

The result was all but certain as early as the 35th minute when Bryan Mbeumo finished off a brilliant counter attack to send his team four goals up.

Erik ten Haag looked frustrated after Mbeumo converted, an expression that captures perfectly the state of the club and its fans. As it stands, all things look dim for United, except the jersey they wore in the drubbing.

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IWOBI’S AN INTELLIGENT PLAYER –LAMPARD

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Nigerian Midfielder, Alex Iwobi

Everton coach, Frank Lampard, says Alex Iwobi is an intelligent player whose versatility he admires as the Toffees prepare for their Premier League game against Aston Villa on Saturday (today), PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

Everton will aim to get their first 2022/23 Premier League points on the board after they suffered a narrow defeat to Chelsea at Goodison Park last weekend.

Lampard also highlighted Iwobi’s central-midfield performance as one of several encouraging signs from the game – and says the Nigerian is receiving the recognition his exemplary professionalism deserves.

“He’s gaining so much respect and backing…from the fans, particularly.

“The benefits of Alex were very clear early in my days of getting here. He’s versatile because of his qualities, and he’s also versatile because of his humility.

“Anything you ask of him, he does it, and he does it really well. He’s an intelligent footballer.

“When I considered moving him into central midfield, I asked him about the positions he’s played throughout his career. He literally named pretty much every position on the pitch! He’s done it all.

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FULL LIST: 2022 BALLON D’OR NOMINEES

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Ballon d’Or award

A 30-man list of nominees for the 2022 Ballon d’Or award has been announced.

Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi, was left off the list for this year’s coveted football award.

Messi, who won the title last year, had been an ever-present amongst the nominations since 2006 and a regular feature in the top three since 2007 with the exception of 2018.

The nominees for this year’s Ballon d’Or are listed below:

Thibaut Courtois (BEL, Real Madrid)

Rafael Leao (POR, AC Milan)

Mohamed Salah (EGY, Liverpool)

Joshua Kimmich (GER, Bayern Munich)

Christopher Nkunku (FRA, RB Leipzig)

Trent Alexander-Arnold (ANG, Liverpool)

Robert Lewandowski (POL, Bayern Munich then FC Barcelona)

Bernardo Silva (POR, Manchester City)

Vinicius Junior (BRA, Real Madrid)

Luis Diaz (COL, FC Porto then Liverpool)

Karim Benzema (FRA, Real Madrid)

Fabinho (BRA, Liverpool)

Riyad Mahrez (ALG, Manchester City)

Heung-min Son (CDS, Tottenham)

Casemiro (BRA, Real Madrid)

Phil Foden (ENG, Manchester City)

Harry Kane (ENG, Tottenham)

Sadio Mané (SEN, Liverpool then Bayern Munich),

Darwin Nunez (URU, Benfica then Liverpool)

Mike Maignan (FRA, AC Milan)

Kevin De Bruyne (BEL, Manchester City)

Sébastien Haller (CIV, Ajax then Borussia Dortmund)

Luka Modric (CRO, Real Madrid)

Cristiano Ronaldo (POR, Manchester United)

Antonio Rüdiger (GER, Chelsea then Real Madrid)

Joao Cancelo (POR, Manchester City)

Erling Haaland (NOR, Borussia Dortmund then Manchester City)

Kylian Mbappé (FRA, PSG)

Virgil Van Dijk (HOL, Liverpool)

Dusan Vlahovic (SER, Fiorentina then Juventus).

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