Man United's Marouane Fellaini, sporting Mickey Mouse look, says he's not an aggressive player

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Marouane Fellaini has found a novel way to hit back at critics.

If anyone has ever thought of Marouane Fellaini as a Mickey Mouse footballer, the Manchester United midfielder has made that idea more believable during a shoot with GQ Style.

One of the looks the Belgian sported for the shoot recalled the iconic Disney character, with Fellaini’s trademark afro bunched into a Mickey Mouse-inspired hairdo.

On the pitch, of course, the 30-year-old has been hitting back at critics by becoming one of Jose Mourinho‘s trusted lieutenants in midfield.

“I’ve learnt a lot with him,” Fellaini said. “José is someone who wants to win every game: he pushes players to get the maximum from them.

“He has a very good understanding with his players. He’s a winner.”

Despite often being used for his physicality, Fellaini says there’s more to his game than aggression, adding that pundits have unfairly attached that label to him.

“It think it’s easy for them to portray me as an aggressive player but I’m not.

“I try to play my game, I try my best to recover the ball quickly: that’s my job. Try to be better all the time, to give my best for the team, for the club.

“I always want to improve.”

The Belgian has talked up his country’s chances at this year’s World Cup in Russia, which comes after two successive tournaments in which the Red Devils have underachieved. They were knocked out at the quarterfinal stage by Argentina in the 2014 World Cup and Wales in Euro 2016, but are again being considered a dark-horse candidate for this summer’s showpiece.

“We hope to do better than at the last World Cup and Euros,” Fellaini said.

“We have a great squad and we’re four years more experienced. We’re ready and want to do something special for the Belgian fans.”

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Five possible managers to replace sacked Mauricio Pellegrino at Southampton

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After less than nine months in charge, Premier League strugglers Southampton parted company with manager Mauricio Pellegrino on Monday evening.

Saints are one place and one point above the relegation zone following one league win in 17 matches and have now begun the search for the Argentinian’s replacement.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at potential candidates who could be tasked with keeping the club in the top flight.

Marco Silva

An early favourite for the job, Silva made his mark in the Premier League when he arrived in January 2017 and earned plenty of plaudits for his ultimately fruitless attempts to keep Hull in the top flight. The Portuguese was snapped up by Watford last summer and he continued to enhance his reputation at Vicarage Road before having his head turned by Everton, who were looking for a replacement for Ronald Koeman. A poor run of results followed and Watford sacked Silva in January, blaming Everton’s approach as the “catalyst for the decision.” Could Silva be tempted by another rescue mission at St Mary’s?

Mark Hughes

Among the bookmakers’ favourites, Hughes has been out of work since his sacking at Stoke in January. He is a former Saints player, making 52 appearances and scoring two goals for the club between 1998 and 2000. The Welshman helped Stoke to three consecutive ninth-place Premier League finishes in 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 before progress stalled. His time with the Potters ended following an FA Cup defeat to Sky Bet League Two Coventry and on the back of five defeats in seven Premier League matches – a record which could count against him given Southampton’s current predicament.

Paulo Fonseca

Southampton are not scared of making a left-field appointment, so Shakhtar Donetsk coach Fonseca cannot be ruled out. The 45-year-old has spoken of his admiration for the Premier League and is believed to have been interviewed by Everton before Sam Allardyce was appointed. Fonseca, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has a win percentage of just over 78% since taking charge of Shakhtar in 2016, leading the Ukrainian club to Premier League, Ukrainian Cup and Super Cup glory in that time. He is also a character, making good on a promise to dress as Zorro to a press conference if his side were to qualify from a Champions League group containing Manchester City and Napoli.

Graham Potter

Highly-rated Potter was the last English manager standing in European club competition this season, with Swedish minnows Ostersund going out to Arsenal in the Europa League round of 32. However, a 3-0 home defeat was followed by a stunning 2-1 win at the Emirates, and the former York defender has worked wonders at the club. Potter would be a brave choice but the 42-year-old’s record in Sweden stands up against some of the very best in the business. Since taking charge in 2011, Potter has taken Ostersund from the fourth tier to the Swedish top flight.

Slaven Bilic

The Croatian was sacked by West Ham in November 2017 following a poor run of results which culminated in a 4-1 loss at home to Liverpool. However, his first season with the Hammers brought a top-seven finish and with it Europa League qualification. Their European adventure did not last long, however, as they were knocked out by Romanian side FC Astra Giurgiu in the qualifying rounds. They finished mid-table the following season and were in trouble when he left the club. Is he somebody Southampton could take a gamble on?

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Man City boss Pep Guardiola plays down hopes of clinching title in Manchester derby

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Pep Guardiola tried to play down growing excitement among Manchester City supporters over the possibility of winning the Premier League title when they face bitter rivals United in the derby early next month.

Jose Mourinho’s side visit the Etihad Stadium on April 7 for a game which could see City make mathematically certain of being crowned champions following their 2-0 victory at Stoke on Monday.

First, City must win their visit to mid-table Everton but, should they do so, Guardiola will win his first league title in English football with victory over his old rival Mourinho at the Etihad.

“Everybody is always asking this question,” said Guardiola. “But the important thing is on March 12, we have 81 points, that is a lot of points.

“We want to be champions. We need three wins, but we are able to do it with two (if City beat United).

“But before and after United, we have the (Champions League) quarter-finals, and at the moment that is the most important thing to focus on.

“I understand for the fans, okay, but the important thing is to be champions. When and where it doesn’t matter.”

The in-form English team are also in with a strong chance of winning Europe’s premier prize for the first time in their history.

The draw for the Champions League last eight takes place on Friday and Guardiola will watch it live, along with his first-team squad, at their warm weather training camp in Abu Dhabi, where City flew immediately following the Stoke win.

City’s shock exit from the FA Cup, at the hands of third-tier Wigan, leaves them without a game until the clash with Everton on the final day of the month.

“We are going to be together and make three training sessions in five days,” said the City manager.

“We are going to have lunch together, dinner, some people are playing golf. But the weather conditions are better than here – the forecast in Manchester is rain, rain, rain!

“So we are going to go there and do the training we should be doing here. Last season we were there and it was good and that’s why we’re going to the airport now.”

City’s victory at Stoke came courtesy of two goals from David Silva, whose season has been disrupted because of a family crisis, following the premature birth of his son Mateo in December.

The City forward has been returning to Spain frequently to visit his family and admitted after his superb performance against Stoke that football has been a welcome relief.


“I think when I play football I forget everything, it’s good for me to play,” he said.

“I know in my private life it is not a very happy moment. But my son is fighting, you know, and I am very happy because he is getting stronger, getting better, so it is okay.”

City captain Vincent Kompany offered support to Silva, who has been given permission to miss the Abu Dhabi trip to spend time in Spain.

“David just explained his story, it puts everything into perspective for us,” said the defender.

“It is a massive boost and relief to be able to play this game like we do. It gives us perspective and brings a moment of joy into our lives.”

City, meanwhile, can look forward to a memorable finale to the season given their current form and dominance over the Premier League although their demanding manager is clearly not in the mood to allow his players to relax.

“To motivate my players is really easy, we are not champions yet, and when we are, we must carry on, to focus on the next goals which is the Champions League quarter-finals,” said Guardiola.

“There are always goals to pursue, statistics to overcome, and we will carry on and then work towards next season. There is always room for improvement and that is what we will do.”

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