'Upset' Jose Mourinho slams Spurs stars on team bus after Royal Antwerp defeat

An ‘upset’ Jose Mourinho took to Instagram to criticise his Tottenham players in the wake of their dismal 1-0 defeat to Royal Antwerp in the Europa League.

Lior Rafaelov broke the deadlock with a clinical strike for Antwerp in the 29th minute in Belgium and the hosts kept hold of their narrow advantage to stun Spurs in the Group J clash.

Mourinho rung the changes at the halfway stage as Giovani Lo Celso, Dele Alli, Steven Bergwijn and summer signing Carlos Vinicius were all hauled off but the substitutions did not have the desired effect for the north London club.

Gareth Bale was also replaced just before the hour-mark as Mourinho deployed talismanic duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min to find an equaliser which never came.

Mourinho was less than impressed with his players’ display at the Bosuilstadion and admitted in his post-match press conference that he would have hooked his entire starting XI at half-time if he could.

‘I would like to make 11 [changes],’ the Portuguese said.

‘I didn’t make five as was afraid of a long 45 minutes.

‘At half-time I tried to improve the situation but it was not enough.’

Mourinho believes his side raised their game as the match wore on but conceded that Antwerp were deserved winners.

‘In the second half we improved but In the end though Antwerp got what they deserved,’ he added.

‘The best team won and the worst team lost.’

Mourinho has been good value on Instagram in recent weeks and the Special One did not disappoint following the side’s poor showing in Belgium.

‘Bad perfomances deserve bad results,’ Mourinho posted with a picture of him looking furious on the team coach.

‘Hope everyone in this bus is as upset as I am.

‘Tomorow 11 AM training.’

Spurs will look to get back to winning ways this Sunday when they play host to Brighton in the Premier League.

Mourinho’s men then have a trip to Bulgaria for their next Europa League match with Ludogorets in a weeks’ time.

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Lionel Messi's stunning pass map during Barcelona win over Juventus

Lionel Messi’s message to Josep Bartomeu? Barcelona star’s stunning pass map in victory over Juventus proves he’s as influential as ever in first game since ousted president’s exit

  • Lionel Messi was back to his best as Barcelona beat Juventus 2-0 in Turin
  • His stunning pitch map from Champions League win shows his influence
  • Messi roamed across the pitch, barely misplacing a pass, to drive his team on
  • His display came just 24 hours after president Josep Bartomeu resigned
  • Messi was highly critical of Bartomeu over the summer and almost left the club 

No doubt news of Josep Bartomeu’s resignation as Barcelona president on Tuesday was greeted with rejoicing in the Messi household.

After all, the Argentine star’s appraisal of the Bartomeu years at the Nou Camp was scathing – ‘The truth is there has been no clear project here for a long time, they juggle and plug holes with no real plan.’

It led to the very real possibility that Messi would leave Barcelona during the summer, potentially for a reunion with former manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

Lionel Messi was back to his match-winning best as Barcelona defeated Juventus 2-0 in Turin

The Barcelona captain capped off an influential performance with a stoppage time penalty

It came 24 hours after Barcelona’s president Josep Bartomeu, who had been criticised by Messi over the summer, resigned from his post

In the end Messi stayed amid a legal wrangle over his release clause but as long as Bartomeu remained there would be a shadow over him.

So his bombshell exit this week is no doubt a considerable burden lifted for Barcelona’s star man. And he wasted little time in proving it.

Messi was excellent in Barcelona’s 2-0 Champions League win over Juventus on Wednesday night, a performance crowned with a goal from the penalty spot in stoppage time as they took command of the group.

His influence all over the pitch is shown by an eye-catching pitch map of all his passes in Turin and it wasn’t lost on many observers that this excellent performance came 24 hours after Bartomeu quit.

Barca’s No 10 and captain roamed to all areas of the pitch to keep his team ticking over, with just a handful of his dozens of passes failing to find their target.

Messi’s striking pass map underlined the extend of his influence all over the field in Turin

The Argentine only misplaced a handful of passes all night as Barca took control of the group

The pitch map shows how Messi drifted left and right as well as tracking back to offer defensive cover when required in a performance of energy and class.

UEFA’s stats showed that Messi attempted 87 passes during his 98 minutes on the field – including injury time in both halves – and completed 76 of them.

Only Jordi Alba attempted more passes on the night and 13 of his went in Messi’s direction.

In the end, even Barcelona’s official Twitter account was able to have a little dig at Messi’s rival Cristiano Ronaldo, absent following his positive Covid-19 test.

Barcelona’s Twitter account had a little pop at the absent Cristiano Ronaldo after the victory

Mercurial Messi gets the better of Merih Demiral during a fine performance on Wednesday

Barcelona’s talisman is congratulated by manager Ronald Koeman after the final whistle

It certainly represented a marked contrast to the last game of Bartomeu’s reign – Saturday’s 3-1 Clasico defeat to Real Madrid.

Then, Messi struggled to make much of an impact at all in a Barca performance that raised plenty of questions.

Messi’s heat map for the Real game shows him stuck in one part of the field, unable to make much impact on the outcome.

Messi’s heat map for the loss to Real Madrid on Saturday showed a player struggling for impact

It was a frustrating afternoon for Messi in the Clasico as Barcelona slipped to a 3-1 defeat

His subsequent display against Juventus showed a world class player having an influence on everything whether or not Bartomeu’s departure was the reason.

Barcelona fans worried about Messi’s state of mind will be reassured and Bartomeu’s exit could well mean he completes his career in their colours.

For now, Messi will need to inject a bit of life into Barcelona’s league campaign. They’re 12th at the moment, already six points adrift of their rivals from Madrid.

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Mourinho fires telling warning on "future choices" as Alli subbed at half-time

Jose Mourinho fired a telling warning to his Tottenham stars after their loss to Royal Antwerp by stating his "future choices are going to be very easy" having dragged four players off at half-time.

Spurs fell to a shock 1-0 defeat in Belgium courtesy of Lior Refaelov's 29th minute goal, which prompted Mourinho to take drastic action at the break.

Dele Alli – making his first start since the end of September – was among those to be hauled off, along with Carlos Vinicius, Steven Bergwijn and Giovani Lo Celso.

Mourinho threw on the cavalry in their place, including Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura, but it failed to spark a revival leaving the Spurs boss furious at the final whistle.

"I would like to make 11 (changes at half-time)," Mourinho fumed. "I didn't make five because I was afraid of a long 45 minutes."

Gareth Bale soon became the fifth and final casualty as Mourinho turned to Harry Kane before the hour mark, but to no avail.

Speaking after the game, Mourinho refused to point the finger at individuals though, taking full responsibility for the defeat.

"There is only one to blame, I chose the players to start."

His words will serve as a concern to outcast midfielder Alli though, whose Tottenham career is already hanging in the balance.

Mourinho added: "Tonight my future choices are going to be very easy. It is my responsibility."

Asked whether he was referring to Alli specifically, Mourinho declined to comment, but it's hard not to feel the England ace is now on borrowed time at Spurs.

Later his boss blasted: "Before matches you always ask me why this player is not playing, why this player is not playing, why this player is not selected. Maybe now for a few weeks you don't ask me that because you have the answer."

Will Tottenham challenge for major honours this season? Have your say below.

It wasn't just Alli who failed to show up for the Europa League clash, as Spurs – who had made nine changes from Monday's win over Burnley – failed to create many significant chances after their poor first-half display.

They had fallen behind after Ben Davies was caught in possession by Dieumerci Mbokani, who raced away, before teeing up Refaelov to fire home in clinical fashion.

Indeed even when Spurs had Son and Kane leading the attack, it was the hosts who had the best of the chances, with Mourinho's men struggling to muster anything worthy of note late on.

Putting his team's performance into blunt perspective, Mourinho concluded: "We got what we deserved. We let them win, I can say that."

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Lille 2-2 Celtic: Neil Lennon’s side let two-goal lead slip in France

Report as Celtic let a two-goal lead slip against Lille; Mohamed Elyounoussi scores twice for visitors; Scott Bain saves penalty before half-time; Zeki Celik and Jonathan Ikone on target for home side

By Charles Paterson

Thursday 29 October 2020 20:32, UK

Celtic were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw at Lille, after letting a two-goal lead slip in a thrilling Europa League encounter in northern France.

The Scottish champions made a dream start, with Mohamed Elyounoussi producing two magnificent finishes in the space of a few minutes – one a curling shot from long range, the other a composed finish on the run.

Scott Bain saved a penalty from Lille striker Jonathan David before half-time, but the French side roared back into the game in the second half, with goals from Zeki Celik and Jonathan Ikone, as Celtic struggled to repel constant pressure.

Both sides had chances to win the game late on, but a point for Celtic keeps their European campaign alive, with back-to-back matches against bottom side Sparta Prague to come.

  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

A game of two halves at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy…

This was a frenetic and at times breathless match, but Neil Lennon may wonder what might have been as he watched his team respond to conceding eight goals in a week to Rangers, AC Milan and Aberdeen. The Celtic manager had challenged his players to respond to their critics, and he could not have asked for a better start against the only undefeated team in Ligue 1.


  • Europa League news | Results | Fixtures | Tables

Lille were trying to break their own winless run – they hadn’t tasted victory at home in European competition for more than eight years, a run extending 12 games. A Celtic side lacking in confidence appeared the perfect opponents to end that sequence, and the French dominated early possession, nearly taking the lead after 12 minutes.

Celtic failed to clear a corner, and after Celik’s shot was blocked, Bain made a one-handed save to deny Soumare. Bain was busy again soon after as he punched Yazici’s curling freekick behind. It appeared to be a sign of things to come, but Celtic then began to take control.

Player ratings

Lille: Maignan (6), Zeki Celik (7), Soumaoro (6), Botman (6), Bradaric (6), Ikone (7), Andre (6), Soumare (6), Bamba (6), Yusuf Yazici (6), David (5).

Subs: Snaches (7), Yilmaz (6), Araujo (6), Weah (n/a).

Celtic: Bain (8), Frimpong (7), Duffy (6), Ajer (7), Laxalt (8), Brown (7), McGregor (8), Ntcham (7), Christie (6), Ajeti (7), Elyounoussi (8).

Subs: Bitton (7), Edouard (6), Soro (n/a), Rogic (n/a), Welsh (n/a).

Man of the match: Mohamed Elyounoussi.

Ajeti had the ball in the net after 19 minutes when he slotted home Elyounoussi’s through ball, but was correctly flagged offside. The pair linked again a few minutes later, but the Swiss striker blazed over from eight yards out when it looked easier to score.

Third time proved the charm for the Ajeti-Elyounoussi combination. Ajeti pinched the ball from Celik and a neat backheel sent Elyounoussi clear with one man to beat. As Ntcham raced up in support, a simple pass was the obvious option – but the Norwegian winger instead curled a wonderful shot into the far corner from 25 yards, leaving Maignan flatfooted.

Four minutes later, Elyounoussi doubled Celtic’s lead with arguably an even better finish. Frimpong dashed down the right, and his cutback was superbly swept home by Elyounoussi near the penalty spot. Given their recent form, Celtic were suddenly in unfamiliar territory, but it was wholly deserved.

Elyounoussi nearly had a hat-trick but couldn’t get over Christie’s cross at the back post. Lille were stunned – but then awarded a penalty when Duffy clipped David’s heels, though the foul appeared to take place outside the box. The Canadian striker, a £27m summer signing, picked himself up as he attempted to score his first goal for Lille, but Bain made a terrific one-handed save low to his left.

There was another dangerous moment for Celtic just before the break. Bain hacked clear a Yazici freekick with his feet, but when the ball was sent back into the box, he dropped it at the feet of Botman, whose shot towards the unguarded goal hit the crossbar and went over. The visitors were relieved to hear the halftime whistle.

Celtic suffered a huge blow at the start of the second half as Kris Ajer limped off with a leg injury. Nir Bitton replaced him in defence, making his first appearance since testing positive for Covid-19 while on international duty with Israel.

Lille were cranking up the pressure, but Celtic’s compact defensive structure was holding firm. Bamba fired over from distance, Yazici’s shot was blocked by Elyounoussi and the excellent Laxalt headed away with David lurking at the back post.

Odsonne Edouard, another returning from Covid-19, replaced Ajeti with 25 minutes go, but it was Lille – who made three changes on the hour mark – who then broke through moments later. Celik popped up the back post to poke home Soumouro’s flick-on and put the game back in the balance.

Celtic were sitting back and inviting Lille onto them, but Elyounoussi was still dangerous on the break, and ran out of room in the box when he had the chance to shoot. Edouard then broke and nearly slipped Laxalt through on goal, but the pass was just too heavy.

Team news

Celtic made one change from Sunday’s 3-3 draw away to Aberdeen, with captain Scott Brown returning in midfield. He replaced Tom Rogic, who dropped to the bench, and he was joined by Odsonne Edouard and Nir Bitton, who recovered after positive tests for Covid-19.

Lille’s waves of attacks continued, and as Celtic withdrew even deeper, the equaliser eventually came, as Ikone stabbed home from ten yards with the help of a deflection after Celtic failed to clear a corner.

The effort required to recover the deficit, and to defend it, appeared to have drained both teams, but Frimpong still had the energy to surge through the home defence, but his angle was too tight as he shot over the bar.

Lille continued to press, but ultimately Celtic’s makeshift defence held on to claim a point, which given recent circumstances may prove to be a telling one further down the line.

Man of the Match – Mohamed Elyounoussi

It could have been so much better for Celtic in northern France and the reason they had the opportunity to seal all three points was Elyounoussi’s contribution.

His first was a stunner, a curled effort from 25 yards which left Lille goalkeeper Maignan stranded. The second was another clinical finish to pick out the far corner.

He has now scored with three of his four shots on target in the Europa League this season.

Opta stats – Celtic’s good away record in Europe continues

  • Lile are winless in their last 13 European matches (incl. qualifiers) on home soil (D6 L7) since a 2-0 victory over FC København in August 2012.
  • Away from home in the Europa League, Celtic have only managed to win two of their 23 matches (D11 L10).
  • Celtic have lost just one of their last 11 away matches in all European competition (W6 D4), going unbeaten in the last four such games.
  • Lille have failed to keep a clean sheet in European competition in each of their last 13 matches, since a 0-0 draw with Everton in October 2014.

What’s next?

Celtic face Aberdeen in the rearranged 2020 William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park next Sunday; kick-off 2.30pm.

Next up for Celtic in the Europa League is a clash with Sparta Prague at Celtic Park on Thursday November 5; kick-off 8pm.

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Wales boss Ryan Giggs believes chance to become Man Utd manager is ‘gone’

Ryan Giggs admits his chance of becoming Manchester United manager is “gone” though insists he is ready for it.

Giggs took charge of four Red Devils games as caretaker manager following the sacking of David Moyes in 2014.

Louis van Gaal was chosen as Moyes’ permanent successor with Jose Mourinho taking the reins after the Dutchman was shown the door.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now in charge of the Premier League giants with his former team-mate Giggs at the helm as Wales manager.

Giggs has opened up on not getting the United job following Moyes’ departure and acknowledges that he probably won’t get another chance.

Giggs told The Greatest Game: “If I’m honest, I wanted the job [after Moyes was sacked]. But I wasn’t ready.

“I’m more ready [for the United job] now but I think that’s gone now, I think the chance has gone now. I think it’s gone, I’ve done it.

“I’m happy with the job I’ve got. I can’t see that coming around again.

“I must say I’m enjoying the [Wales] job at the moment. There’s lots of pluses, and there’s lots of frustrations.

  • Paul Scholes sees Ruud van Nistelrooy in Marcus Rashford’s game with 25 goals expected

“I think eventually I will want to go into club management, but when that is, I don’t know.”

Giggs also opened up on his first meeting with Van Gaal, claiming the Dutch legend punched him.

Giggs added: “He was different. He was very dominating. The first time I met him he punched me in the stomach.

"I’ve gone to meet him, we’ve got a list of players that I think were good and the ones that were not so good.

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“I’ve gone to meet him a hotel, he’s opened the door, looked me up and down and gone ‘you are in good shape!’ then he punched me in the stomach.

“It was hard as well and I didn’t know what to do. You could have given something back but that’s me out of a job.

“But that’s what he was like. He was very dominating and would be right up in your face.”

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Usyk vs Chisora: Live stream of countdown show on Sky Sports News

Oleksandr Usyk’s heavyweight clash with Derek Chisora is edging closer – and you can watch a live stream of our ‘Countdown Show’ on Sky Sports News.

The Ukrainian pound-for-pound star battles Chisora on Saturday night at Wembley Arena, live on Sky Sports Box Office, with the winner remaining firmly in contention for a world heavyweight title fight.

Catch up on all the latest news on our ‘Countdown Show’, which will be streamed on the Sky Sports website and app, Sky Sports Boxing Twitter, Sky Sports Boxing YouTube, and Sky Sports Boxing Facebook.

Sky customers: Buy Usyk v Chisora
Non-Sky customers: Buy Usyk v Chisora

Chisora took centre stage at Thursday’s press conference as he appealed for a ‘fair referee’ at the weekend, raising concerns that he would be denied the chance to engage Usyk in a brutal battle.

“I need a fair referee, and fair judges, that’s all I’m asking,” he said.

“They took points off me and I thought I was behind and I lost my shape, and my fight. Just be fair.

“I don’t want to be dancing in the ring, like wrestling, I want both of us to work. I want the fans to enjoy this fight, that’s what I want.

“I have to just keep moving my head, keeping my hands up, and just keep marching forward. He will try to wrong-foot me, as all southpaws do, but we’re ready for that. It’s going to be a big surprise when we’re in the ring.”

Watch Usyk vs Chisora on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, from 6pm. Book it via your Sky remote or book it online here. Even if you aren’t a Sky TV subscriber, you can book and watch it here.

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Hearts vs Hibernian: Hibs boss Jack Ross says Scottish Cup not devalued

Jack Ross says Hibernian are hugely motivated to beat local rivals Hearts and claim a place in the Scottish Cup final.

Hibs won the trophy in 2016 for the first time in 114 years – and are aiming to reach the final for a 15th time this weekend.

The semi-finals have been delayed from last season due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning there will be no European place for the winners for the first time since 1960.

But Ross says that will not diminish his squad’s determination to claim a place in the final against Celtic or Aberdeen on December 20.

“I have certainly not sensed any less excitement or determination about the players and staff this week,” said Ross.


“So, going from the experience of being involved on a day-to day basis in the lead-up to a semi final, I would say no.

“I can understand why people believe that to be the case.

“But, for us certainly, the opportunity to reach a final and to potentially win a cup, it has not been devalued at all in terms of the timing of the matches and the timing of the final, should we reach it.”

Hibernian captain Paul Hanlon was part of that cup-winning side in 2016 – and he thinks Hearts will provide a tough test, even though they are currently in the Championship while Hibs are third in the top flight.

Hanlon said: “I think it’s going to be a massive test.

“They are a squad that has got good players in it and they have started their season well, so it is going to be a difficult game.

“But on the flip side, we have started the season great, we have got a number of games under our belt now that we have performed well in.

“It’s an Edinburgh derby and that in itself makes it a massive game but, on top of that, being a semi-final of the national cup, it is a huge game.

“It is a big disappointment that there won’t be any fans in the stadium but it is a massive match for both clubs and the city, and we want to come out on top.”

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Matt Ryan, Julio Jones trade rumors: Why it would be difficult for Falcons to trade two big contracts

When reports emerged that the Falcons could trade quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones, they made sense at first glance. After all, why wouldn’t the 1-6 Falcons consider trading veterans to start a rebuild process? In this case, there’s a big reason — their contracts.

The NFL’s salary cap rules make trading the highly paid Ryan and Jones nearly impossible for the Falcons. Any trade away of either play would require a number of follow-up moves to account for accelerated cap hits for Atlanta and large future cap hits for the acquiring team. The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 4 p.m. ET, and while you’d never say never on a struggling team trading away its big names, the money in this situation likely makes it a bit too hard.

Below, we’ve gone into more detail on Ryan and Jones’ contracts, along with the NFL rules that make moving them rather difficult.

Matt Ryan contract details

Some restructuring has left Ryan with a hefty contract remaining. Thanks to a few roster bonuses and shifted money, Ryan possesses nearly $40 million in cap hit average across the 2021, 2022 and 2023 seasons. While Ryan himself has actually made some of that money through various guarantees, it’s that cap hit number that will matter most to a team wanting to acquire Ryan.

A team could save $15 million on Ryan (in addition to not paid base salaries) if it released him after the 2021 season, because Ryan has roster bonuses that kick in early in the 2022 and 2023 league calendar, each for $7.5 million. 

Julio Jones contract details

Thanks to the structuring of bonuses in Jones’ contract, he too will have a larger cap hit than his cash intake for each of the 2021, 2022 and 2023 seasons. Only $2M of Jones’ 2022 base salary is guaranteed for injury, and releasing him before the 2023 season would leave $7.75 million in dead cap. 

Why Matt Ryan and Julio Jones’ contracts make them hard to trade

If either Jones or Ryan is traded, all future prorated money (from bonuses and the like) “accelerates” into a cap hit against this season’s salary cap, according to Pro Football Talk. That means for cap purposes, trading Ryan away would accelerate $44.4 million onto Atlanta’s salary cap number, and the Jones cap acceleration would amount to $23.25 million. 

The Falcons currently have less than $2 million in cap space, making such massive cap accelerations likely a non-starter. Getting Jones and Ryan’s base salaries off the books would not equate to the amount of cap acceleration Atlanta would be facing, especially because Ryan’s restructured contract includes a base salary of just more than $1 million in 2020. 

In addition, the NFL’s salary cap is much more likely to fall for 2021 rather than rise due to pandemic restrictions on a number of normal team cash flows. It could be as low as $175 million, per PFT. A team taking on Ryan would be devoting more than a fifth of its cap hit to a single player, while for Jones it’d be more than a tenth of its cap hit to a wideout.

Jones and Ryan might make obvious trade candidates due to Atlanta’s record, but it’s likely they’re stuck with the Falcons to try and do things better next year.

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How long is Christian McCaffrey out? Injury timeline, return date, latest updates on Panthers RB

Something clearly was wrong with Christian McCaffrey’s right ankle in the fourth quarter of the Panthers’ Week 2 loss to the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. The game situation made that obvious.

Carolina was down seven points early in the fourth with the ball in hand, and their best offensive player was on the sideline getting his ankle re-taped. The crucial drive lasted only three plays and ended with a Teddy Bridgewater interception.

After a Bucs field goal extended their lead, the Panthers got the ball back with a little more than six minutes to play. Again, Carolina’s best player watched from the sideline. This wasn’t just another bump or bruise.

A Panthers field goal, another Bucs touchdown and a Carolina loss later, reports indicated that McCaffrey would be fine despite that his ankle required more attention Monday. That’s when the team determined the 24-year-old had suffered a high ankle sprain that would sideline him for a few weeks.

Below is more about McCaffrey’s injury and his recovery timeline.

How long will Christian McCaffrey be out?

Panthers coach Matt Rhule told reporters the Monday after the Week 2 game that McCaffrey would miss “multiple weeks” with his high ankle sprain. He explained that the injury occurred a couple of plays before McCaffrey scored on a 7-yard run early in the fourth quarter against Tampa Bay.

McCaffrey said he was told he would be out four to six weeks, adding that he considers the time frame a challenge.

“Hopefully I can get back a lot earlier than that,” he said. “But I’m gonna attack this.”

The Panthers the following Wednesday placed McCaffrey on injured reserve, which in 2020 means he will miss a minimum of three games.


“I hate it for him,” Rhule said of McCaffrey, who the Panthers recently made the highest-paid running back in the history of the NFL. “No one wants to be out there and play more than Christian does. He had this for a reason. I’m sure he’s rehabbing right now. I talked to him earlier today and I’m sure he’ll get back as quickly as he can.”

Leading into a Week 8 Thursday Night Football game, the Panthers designated McCaffrey to return from IR, which gives him a 21-day window to ramp up in practice before being activated. That led to speculation that McCaffrey would make his return in Week 8, but he won’t, being ruled out on the day of Carolina’s game against the Falcons. By not playing in Week 8, McCaffrey officially is out longer than the original four-to-six week timeline.

McCaffrey’s next chance to play will be in Kansas City in Week 9, when the Panthers take on the Chiefs. The 10 days between Thursday Night Football and a regular Sunday game in Week 9 could be enough to bring the Panthers’ superstar back to the field.

For the most part, Mike Davis will fill the void left by McCaffrey in the Panthers’ offense. Which is a big ask considering that McCaffrey, an All-Pro selection last season, had scored four of the team’s five touchdowns in 2020 and had 156 of Carolina’s 216 rushing yards before going down.

“We’ll keep doing what we’re doing,” Rhule said. “Mike can run the football. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. When he went in there (Sunday), we didn’t change what we did. He made the most out of his opportunities. I’m sure he will do the same thing (in Week 3 against the Chargers).”

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White Sox hire Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, following owner’s orders

Tony La Russa, who turned 76 early this month and hasn’t managed a big-league game since retiring — er, pressing pause, apparently — after the 2011 season, is back in the bigs.

The White Sox announced that they’ve hired the Hall of Fame manager — he was inducted in 2014 as a manager by a veterans committee — to come back to the franchise where he started his managerial career in 1979. Then, he was a 34-year-old less than two years removed from his playing career, which lasted 15 minor league seasons and included 132 MLB games spread over six seasons. 

He’s being hired to manage a White Sox team on the rise, a squad full of young players who made the postseason under manager Rick Renteria but was ousted in the opening round by the Oakland A’s. 

Two questions are fair to ask. 

The first: Wait, what?

Yes, this really happened. It’s been rumored for a while. And La Russa is the first person already enshrined in Cooperstown to be hired as an active manager. 

Also: Why?

The answer to that one is simple. La Russa is the man owner Jerry Reinsdorf wanted. 

Reinsdorf hired La Russa back in 1979, then fired him halfway through the 1986 season after a disappointing start to the campaign. He was quickly hired by the A’s and helped lead Oakland to the World Series three years in a row, winning the championship 1989 and losing in 1988 and 1990. After he left Oakland, La Russa managed the Cardinals from 1996 to 2011, winning World Series titles in 2006 and 2011, his final season in St. Louis. 

Now, La Russa gets his second chance to win in Chicago. Here’s a statement from Reinsdorf: 

“As everyone in baseball is well aware, I have always respected Tony and am proud to have maintained a great friendship with him over the decades in the game. But his hiring is not based on friendship or on what happened years ago, but on the fact that we have the opportunity to have one of the greatest managers in the game’s history in our dugout at a time when we believe our team is poised for great accomplishments.”

And make no mistake, this is a team that absolutely has the talent to win a World Series in the coming years. 

Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada and Nick Madrigal are all entering their Age 28 or younger seasons. Respected veteran leader Jose Abreu will be 34, but he’s coming off a season in which he was named the Sporting News MLB Player of the Year. 

There are talented young pitchers, led by Lucas Giolito. There are youngsters on the way — Baseball America ranked the White Sox’s organizational talent eighth in MLB in mid-August.

There is so much young talent, in fact, that a lot of folks with strong opinions will question whether La Russa is the right person to manage the group. He hasn’t always had smooth relationships with young players. Think about Colby Rasmus or Brian Jordan or J.D. Drew in St. Louis or Shelby Miller in Arizona. 

But the only opinion that matters is Jerry Reinsdorf’s. And he got his man. 

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