One in five footballers using snus or nicotine pouches, survey reveals

  • True usage figures ‘likely’ to be even higher, report states
  • Players surveyed from Premier League, EFL and WSL

About one in five male and female professional players who took part in a new survey are using snus, nicotine pouches or both. The study by ­Loughborough University, ­commissioned by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), also identified that two out of five had tried the pouches at least once.

The report states the true usage figures are likely to be higher owing to players not wanting to disclose use, even in an anonymous survey. Of the 628 male players surveyed, at Premier League or EFL clubs, 18% said they used it, while 22% of the 51 Women’s Super League players ­surveyed said they were users.

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Lack of wise old heads is thrusting talented but callow coaches towards elite jobs | John Brewin

The problem for clubs desperate for a new head coach is there is no young Ancelotti, Klopp nor Guardiola on the market

For an elite club, what constitutes the ideal candidate for a managerial vacancy? The checklist includes the following: progressive football, preferably the pressing approach; adaptability to different cultures; previous elite experience with silverware favoured; HR expertise within an organisational structure where managing upwards is key. And in English football at least, a charismatic carnival-barker act with the media is still favoured while the increasingly powerful sporting director class remain publicly silent.

That Arne Slot will carry the title of head coach at Anfield is pertinent; Jürgen Klopp was – definitively – Liverpool’s manager. But now the club’s football operations are headed by Michael Edwards, assisted by Julian Ward, successive former sporting directors who both returned once the German’s departure was announced.

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Dougie Freedman turns down Newcastle to stay with Crystal Palace

  • Sporting director was wanted as Dan Ashworth replacement
  • He has agreed new deal with Palace, where he took job in 2019

Dougie Freedman looks set to stay as Crystal Palace’s sporting director after turning down an approach from Newcastle and agreeing a new contract.

The former Scotland striker held talks with Newcastle officials this month about potentially succeeding Dan Ashworth, who remains on gar­dening leave before an expected move to become Manchester United’s ­sporting director. The Palace chairman, Steve Parish, was said by club sources to be “doing everything he can” to help persuade Freedman to stay given his impressive recruitment since becoming sporting director in 2019, which includes scouting Marc Guéhi, Eberechi Eze and Adam Wharton, who were named in England’s training squad for Euro 2024 this week.

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Were our Premier League pre-season predictions accurate? Not exactly

Before the season began we predicted where all 20 teams would finish. We were right about three of them

What we predicted: As the favourites to be champions again, for a record fourth successive season, attrition may be a greater foe than Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool or Newcastle. Rodri will step up as a new leader; Jack Grealish is the team’s folk hero and Kalvin Phillips is one to watch this season.

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How a slogan pinned up by Guardiola in October fired his team to history | Jamie Jackson

Despite protestations, winning a fourth consecutive Premier League had long been at forefront of Manchester City minds

“No team has ever won four consecutive Premier League titles … Yet.” In the past fortnight Pep Guardiola referenced how the four-peat was the motivation of his post-treble Manchester City, insisting this entered their consciousness only in the spring. But the aforementioned slogan, printed in capitals and large black font, was the de facto motto from October, when first displayed in the first-team meeting room.

So when stating last week before the pivotal trip to Tottenham that “we didn’t think about” making history until recently when this ignited “something in our brain”, Guardiola was using the media to remind his players they were 180 tantalising minutes from becoming, surely, the greatest team in English football history.

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Player ratings for Manchester City’s 2023-24 Premier League title winners | Jamie Jackson

Three players are awarded perfect 10s for their contributions to the club’s record-breaking fourth successive top-flight triumph

The 6ft 2in goalkeeper was Rodri-like in his laser-directed passing and if he coughed up a single goal-costing error it vanished from this observer’s mind. His season ended with the eye-socket injury sustained in last Tuesday’s vital 2-0 win at Tottenham so missed Sunday’s 3-1 championship-clinching victory over West Ham. 9

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There’s another word for Manchester City’s dominance: unhealthy | Jonathan Wilson

The club’s phenomenal wealth, and its supreme competence, has led to an excellence that is both predictable and a perhaps a little dull

There were, perhaps, being generous, around 20 minutes on Sunday, between Mohammed Kudus’s goal to pull West Ham within one and Rodri putting Manchester City 3-1 up, when there was something that, if you peered hard enough, looked a little like jeopardy. But, in truth, the final day was as good as done after 76 seconds when Phil Foden put City ahead. The great title race ended with a distinct sense of anticlimax.

When Arsenal drew at City at the end of March, Arsenal led the table by four points having played a game more. There was some thought then that the goalless draw suited Arsenal more because it maintained their lead. Win their seven remaining games and they’d be champions. But given how the March game went, its drabness, the relative comfort with which Arsenal contained City, there was also a sense that it represented an opportunity missed for Arsenal. Given City won just two of their 10 games against the top six this season; could Arsenal have been a little more proactive? Could they have put clear water between themselves and City? Because it turned out they needed it.

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Aston Villa closing on deal to sign Ross Barkley from Luton

  • Barkley spent time on loan at Villa from Chelsea
  • Midfielder expected to be available for modest fee

Aston Villa are closing on a deal to re-sign Ross Barkley on a permanent basis, four years after the midfielder joined on loan from Chelsea. Villa want to strengthen their squad for their first season in the Champions League or European Cup since 1982-83.

The 30-year-old, capped by England 33 times, excelled for Luton after joining on a free last summer, following a spell in Ligue 1 with Nice. Luton, who have been relegated, never disclosed the length of Barkley’s contract but it is thought to run into next season. Last month Barkley said: “I want to play in the Premier League. I want to play in Europe again … I feel like for the next three years maybe I’ll still be in my prime years.”

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Premier League 2023-24 review: goals of the season

We select some of our favourite strikes of the season – and invite you to nominate your own choices

“I can’t believe it,” Garnacho told Sky Sports. “I didn’t see how I scored, I just listened to the sound and thought, ‘Oh my God’. It’s the best goal I’ve scored, of course.” Sometimes it is best to leave the scorer to indicate how good the goal was. What the Argentinian winger is missing out is that he leapt a good five feet in the air with his back to goal, performing an acrobatic overhead kick to send Diogo Dalot’s cross into the top corner. Everyone inside Goodison Park was silenced for a moment; few could believe what they had witnessed. After a second or two, the away end went wild, enjoying one of the few positive moments of Manchester United’s season. Few players even have the audacity to try such things but Garnacho has impeccable technique and youth on his side, making him fearless even in an underperforming team.

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Premier League 2023-24 review: players of the season

We select some contenders for the best performer in the top flight – and invite you to have your say

He was hailed as a signing of the season this time last year, and such was the brightness of the future predicted for Isak that Newcastle fans will have been of a mind to wear shades. A key player in the team that secured fourth place last term, the Swedish striker has flourished as one of several standout players for Eddie Howe in an often difficult campaign this time around, when injuries to key personnel and the lengthy ban handed down to Sandro Tonali meant many Newcastle players were running on fumes. In his second season on Tyneside, Isak has 21 league goals, more than double the tally of 10 in the last campaign, while also chipping in with important contributions in the FA Cup and Champions League. As at home feinting to sit defenders on their backsides or sending them skidding into the car park as he is cutting in from the left or sprinting in behind, it’s no surprise the 24-year-old, who has been likened to Thierry Henry, is being linked with a move to Arsenal. His current employers may have to reluctantly sell him to stay on top of those pesky profit and sustainability rules.

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‘So what next?’ Pep Guardiola admits he is struggling for motivation after title triumph – video

Pep Guardiola cast doubt over his long-term Manchester City future after admitting he is running out of things to achieve following a historic fourth straight Premier League title. Asked if he feels like he has completed English football and what he felt was left to achieve, Guardiola said: "I had that feeling last season. When we won in Istanbul [in the Champions League final] I said, 'It's over, what am I doing here? It's over, there's nothing left.'"

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Luton’s relegation is confirmed as Harry Wilson inspires Fulham to victory

Rob Edwards admitted the doubters were right about Luton after they were relegated from the Premier League after a final-day 4-2 defeat by Fulham at Kenilworth Road.

Adama Traoré opened the ­scoring for Fulham with Raúl Jiménez on target twice and Harry Wilson ­rounding things off midway through the ­second half. Carlton Morris, with a penalty, and Alfie Doughty scored to make it 1-1 and 2-3, but the visitors had too much.

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Jürgen Klopp signs off at Liverpool with emotional Anfield win against Wolves

Jürgen Klopp dressed all in black for the final game of his unforgettable Liverpool career but the mood inside Anfield was far from funereal. It was one last celebration with the manager who made Liverpool believe again, and one last chance for Klopp to shape the future.

“I thought I would be in pieces but I’m not, I’m so happy,” he announced from the centre circle after signing off with a victory against Wolves. “For whatever reason it doesn’t feel like an end, it just feels like a start because today I saw a team full of youth, energy and desire.

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Manchester City 3-1 West Ham: City win Premier League – as it happened

Phil Foden scored twice, including a beauty after 79 seconds, as Manchester City made history by winning their fourth consecutive title

“As a Liverpool fan, all I want is for Arsenal to score early and for the Hammers to be resolute in defense for at least the first half,” writes Joe Pearson. “Then City can crush all our neutrals’ dreams with a devastating second half rout. For myself, I’m watching Klopp’s Last Rodeo, but I’ll be checking in with you to know when it’s all over.”

It’s odd that, in Europe’s other big leagues, the leaders are often overtaken on the final day. Never seems to happen in England though. Even 1988-89 was slightly different because the top two were playing each other (although Arsenal still needed a miracle). In the 1990s and early 2000s, in particular, it happened all the time in Italy, Germany and Spain. Maybe today’s the day for good old English jeopardy to strike back.

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