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Inter struggle with fear factor

Inter Milan

Are the Reds really improving?

 By Tim Vickery

CWC reminds us of gulf between South American clubs, national teams

San Lorenzo head coach Edgardo Bauza believes Real Madrid will continue to break records after Los Blancos' 2-0 victory in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup.

The year of club football came to a close in South America with a "Super Sunday."

In Chile, Palestino qualified for the Copa Libertadores for the first time since the mid-1970s with a surprise 9-2 aggregate thumping of Santiago Wanderers. Bolivar made sure of the title in Bolivia with a last-day league win. In Colombia, Santa Fe overcame Medellin 3-2 in a two-legged final. In Peru, after nearly three games of deadlock Sporting Cristal found an extra-time goal to beat Juan Aurich.

And there was...

 By Andy Mitten

Darren Fletcher's future looks unlikely to be at Manchester United

Ten-man Aston Villa managed to hold red-hot Manchester United to a 1-1 draw at Villa Park.

It's Boxing Day 2002 and a slim teen wearing a Manchester United suit and tie enters a service station on the A1 motorway near Newcastle. His attire attracts attention, but his face doesn't register with weary festive travellers.

The boy who later maintains that he can eat "anything" without putting on weight on ignores the fast food outlets, but uses the service station toilets to change into less formal clothing.

It's still 10 weeks until Fletcher will make his Manchester United first team debut,...

 By Richard Hall

Inter struggling to get past fear factor

ESPN FC's Craig Burley joins Alexis Nunes to discuss the Europa League draw and which British sides need to take this competition seriously.

Inter Milan had to fight back to earn a 2-2 draw against Lazio after going two goals down in the San Siro. Mateo Kovacic's wonder strike and Rodrigo Palacio's first of the season enabled Roberto Mancini's men to regain some pride. The Inter coach bemoaned his team's start, accusing them of "playing with fear", but also praised their spirit.

This fear factor was born under the stewardship of former manager Walter Mazzarri and the Tuscan coach would often wonder why his team played in such a way....

 By Steven Kelly

Is this improvement at Liverpool or a case of the Emperor's New Clothes?

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes his players are returning to their best form despite defensive mistakes in their match against Arsenal.

These are relatively hard times to be a Liverpool fan and in times of struggle people always want to see some progress. Absolutely any cause for optimism will be grabbed tightly with both hands.

Economists used to call them "the green shoots of recovery". There may be trouble and woe almost everywhere you turn but one tiny fragment of quality can be nourished. The only problem is when people believe in it so completely they almost blot out the rest of the picture.


- Three Points: Skrtel the hero vs. Arsenal
- Player Ratings: Lallana, Coutinho lead LFC
- TOTW: Silva, Austin, Benteke feature
- Jolly: Liverpool, Arsenal look beatable
- Transfer Talk: Torres could be set for Anfield return
- Capital One Cup semis: LFC vs. Chelsea

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers...

Liverpool have something to build on,
plus: don't mock the Club World Cup!

The ESPN FC discuss Liverpool's recent upturn in form following victory over Bournemouth and a spirited draw vs. Arsenal.

It had been a while since we saw Liverpool so comprehensively outplay an opponent as they did Arsenal in Sunday's 2-2 draw. (No, Bournemouth in the League Cup with half a dozen changes doesn't count.) Rodgers' 3-4-2-1 system worked for long stretches, befuddling the Gunners' midfield and giving Liverpool the kind of territorial dominance rarely seen in the Arsene Wenger Era.

Lazar Markovic ran rampant down his flank, Jordan Henderson was tidy on the other. Philippe Coutinho found space and Raheem...

 By Nick Miller

Has Mauricio Pochettino cracked the code to make Spurs a success?

Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino praised Erik Lamela's strong performance in their 2-1 win over Burnley.

A few years ago, a comedian and fan of the NFL's Cleveland Browns recorded a YouTube video in which he dubbed his team's stadium the Factory of Sadness, reflecting on how their consistent failure can bring down the mood of an entire city. That title could apply to quite a few Premier League sides, but perhaps the most apposite comparison is Tottenham Hotspur.

Being a Spurs fan this past decade or so must be like living through perpetual limbo, never really calamitously bad but never quite as good...