by Tim Stannard
Not so super cup for Valverde after Atletico Madrid loss
Ernesto Valverde was not exactly enthusiastic about the whole Spanish Super Cup business in the first place.
An 'unseemly money-grab' was the vibe from the Barcelona boss on a now four-team tournament taking place in January and outside of Spain.
Valverde is even less of a fan on Friday, after Barcelona were knocked out in the semifinal stages the night before in a ding-dong 3-2 defeat by Atletico Madrid to leave another reason on his doorstep of judgement for the Barca boss to be let go in the summer.
Or even before, if matters really do turn pear-shaped at the Camp Nou.
Valverde may have won two league titles with Barcelona, but the Champions League defeats to Roma and Liverpool respectively and the 2019 Copa del Rey final collapse against Valencia compound a general feeling of ennui around the team from fans.
Or, you could go all in and yell 'coward!' at Valverde like beIN SPORTS' Thomas Rongen in an excitable moment.
At least Valverde still has the confidence of the actual most important person at the club, Leo Messi, who backed the boss after the game. And that's the calming vibe given off by Barcelona-based 'Sport' today which says that the locker room is still behind Valverde, who seems to be like the easy-going teacher of coaches who lets the players off homework.
Nevertheless, that support will only go so far on Barcelona's return to LaLiga next week with the Camp Nou club not only needing to win a tight title race with Real Madrid but also the small matter of picking up the Champions League for good measure.
The Sports Burst live show with the G-Unit of Gabrielle Amado and George D Metellus will be all over this one. Just head to our beIN SPORTS XTRA channel or the beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page at 12PM ET for your chance to rant at rave, too.
Solskjaer preparing to lose Young, as Spurs chase new Harry Kane
TRANSFER TRAIN TIME!
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was not entirely convincing on trying to poo-poo the rumor that Ashley Young would be joining Inter Milan in the January winter window.
"He's our our player and our captain," declared the Norwegian boldly saying that he would sit down with Young and "let's see where we are in February." Without a captain, by the sounds of it.
Solskjaer was also probed on the chances of Manchester United signing Bruno Fernandes in January, after he had gone to watch the player over the weekend turning out for Sporting CP - "it's another player in a different club and I can't speak about it," was the cagey response.
United are in action against Tottenham on Saturday, a Tottenham which is now without Harry Kane until April through a hamstring injury.
This butterfly effect sees very good news for Milan striker, Krzysztof Piatek, who was seemingly on his way to Aston Villa but is now linked with a quick $30 million move to be berated by Jose Mourinho for the next couple of years.
Moving back to Inter now, and the Serie A side is not just after one creaky Premier League player but two. Chelsea look like offloading the 33-year-old French striker, Olivier Giroud, to Inter for a fee of between $5-10 million.
Speaking of French things, Ligue Un returns to action today with an absolute humdinger of a game between third-placed Rennes and second-place Marseille. That match is live, live, live on beIN SPORTS at 2:45PM ET.
Serena advances in Auckland as sports stars pledge bushfires support
Elsewhere in the wide, wide world of sport and Serena Williams has continued a sprightly start to the year on Friday. The US legend has reached the semifinals of the Auckland Classic, a warm-up tournament for the upcoming Australian Open.
It breaks my heart to see the devastation the Australian bushfires are causing to people and animals across the country. I’m pledging $500k to support the animals, wildlife volunteers and rural fire services. If you are able to, and you haven’t already then you can donate too. pic.twitter.com/DXjScK5Oqq— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) January 9, 2020
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton has joined a large number of sports stars to donate money, time and support for all those impacted the terrible bushfires in Australia. The multiple Formula 1 champion has donated $500,000 to animal welfare charities.
Australian and Brighton goalkeeper, Matt Ryan, has announced that he will be donating around $350 to a bushfires emergency fund for every save made by himself and his fellow keepers in this weekend's round of action in the Premier League.