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Rangers set up play-off showdown

Stuart McCall is 180 minutes from the top flight. Credit: PA

Rangers moved within two games of ending a three-year exile from the Scottish Premiership after holding off Hibernian in their play-off semi-final at Easter Road.

Two goals up from Wednesday's first leg, the Glasgow side could afford to concede Jason Cummings' late strike in the Leith return and hold on for a 1-0 defeat which sees them through to a final showdown against Motherwell with a 2-1 aggregate success.

Bruce didn't expect Hull survival battle

Hull boss Steve Bruce has admitted he never imagined the Tigers would be fighting for their Premier League lives after starting their campaign with arguably the strongest squad in the club's history.

Bruce was widely credited with landing the pick of the transfer deadline day buys with Abel Hernandez, Mohamed Diame, Gaston Ramirez and on-loan Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa all arriving at the KC Stadium.

Steve Bruce could be taking his team down. Credit: PA

"At the end of August when I looked at the squad I didn't think we would be in this situation. There have been many reasons why but I don't really want to make excuses - this isn't the time for it.

"We've had a tough four or five months with big players not being able to take part but we've got to take it on the chin and accept we haven't been good enough. We've got one last chance to redeem ourselves."

Benteke wants to stay at Aston Villa - Sherwood

Tim Sherwood is "convinced" star striker Christian Benteke wants to stay at Aston Villa next season.

Speculation over Benteke's future remains despite his agent recently pledging his commitment to the club.

Christian Benteke has been linked with a number of clubs. Credit: PA

"Christian is only a young man but he's very mature in the way he behaves," he said. "I think he's handled the situation well.

"I have no reason to believe he wants to seek employment elsewhere. He seems to be very happy here and this morning, at training, he was smiling.

"He knows there are big games coming up in Sunday and the cup final and I think he wants to be at this football club. I'm convinced of that."

Wenger calls for Arsenal goals on final day

Arsene Wenger wants his side to score a few. Credit: PA

Arsene Wenger hopes Arsenal can enjoy their final match of the Premier League season against West Brom and get back on the goal trail at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners are all but sure of third place, starting the final weekend three points ahead of Manchester United and with a superior goal difference.

It is unusual for us. If you look at the games, we had the chances to score in every single game.

What we want to do is to continue to play our game, but better, quicker, with more movement and then we will score again.

The finishing is in cycles and we have gone through a cycle that is a bit less positive.

However, before we scored goals for fun and I am sure if we just concentrate on the quality of our game that we will score again.

– Arsene Wenger


Gerrard ready for Liverpool farewell - Rodgers

Steven Gerrard is on his way. Credit: PA

Headlines about Raheem Sterling's contract issues and the prospect of Liverpool losing a star player this summer have deflected attention from the departure of one of the club's true greats.

There was, quite correctly, great fanfare surrounding Steven Gerrard's final match at Anfield last week but Sunday's trip to Stoke will be the midfielder's 710th and final appearance for the Reds.

He'll be very able.

I'm sure for Steven it's been a huge relief. Leading into your last game at Anfield, which has been his home for 17 years, there was probably a whole load of emotion.

Unfortunately our performance level wasn't what we expected (they suffered a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace) but I think the crowd and the supporters recognised the moment and gave him a great send-off.

So I'm sure for him it's a huge sigh of relief and he has worked well this week concentrating on Sunday's game.

– Brendan Rodgers

England coach tells Liverpool winger to ignore comparisons

Jordon Ibe has been likened to Raheem Sterling. Credit: PA

England Under-20 manager Aidy Boothroyd has urged Jordon Ibe to prove his worth at Liverpool, and to ignore any hype that he could replace Raheem Sterling.

The winger has been touted as a successor for Sterling should he quit Anfield this summer.

That puts a little bit more pressure on Jordon. That's the thing about the modern-day game - we are always speculating.

What I know about Jordon is that he is a player who is full of potential. He has got the opportunity at Liverpool and he has proved he is capable, but now he has to go one better.

He needs to be one of those players who is first on the teamsheet and you do that by working hard, regardless of anyone else's contractual situation.

He needs to take care of his own situation to make sure he is right.

These young players have got exposure and what they have to do is back it up. Talent is fine but playing is the most important thing and when you look back at the end of your career the longevity, what you have done and what you have won, most importantly, that's where you gauge yourself.

– Aidy Boothroyd speaking to PA Sport

Preston boss Grayson: Westley was unpopular

Simon Grayson sorted things out at Preston. Credit: PA

Preston manager Simon Grayson says he had to work hard to ensure he brought the squad back together after Graham Westley's spell in charge at Deepdale.

Wesley was a decisive character at Preston, coming in for criticism from players and fans alike, but Grayson has brought unity, proved by their play-off final place.

I didn’t think it could get much lower than it had in terms of the harmony between the supporters, players and the staff. When we came here there was a lot of negativity between the supporters and everybody else. That’s not helpful.

What we had to do straight away was get everyone back onside. That means winning games, getting the connection again and everybody – the players – coming in and enjoying work.

But also supporters coming and focusing on what they want to do and that’s support the club and the players who are playing. I think that had become a side issue. People weren’t coming in here to support the team, but to probably have a go at previous management staff.

That’s all history. What we have now is a unified club. Everybody wants the same thing. That’s played a massive part in the success in the two years we’ve been here.

– Simon Grayson

Rodgers wants Liverpool fans to back Sterling

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has a lot on his mind. Credit: PA

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has called on the fans to throw their support behind Raheem Sterling believing the player "is being led by his representative".

The 20-year-old's name has been splashed over the back pages all week which culminated in a scheduled meeting with his agent, Rodgers and chief executive Ian Ayre being cancelled after the club took issue to comments made by his representative Aidy Ward.

My message to the supporters would be: 'Look, this is a young boy who in my time as manager has given the football club everything.

He was thrust into the team at 17 years of age. In the following period he has been exceptional for me. He has had dips in form and performances but only because his standards are so high.

He's a young man who has obviously passed on his career to other people and, unfortunately, whether people perceive it as right or wrong, he is being led by the representative.

But the young boy I see on a daily basis and who I work with is still the same boy who wants to learn and I think the supporters will just continue to show what they always do, which is wonderful support for every player in the Liverpool shirt.

– Brendan Rodgers
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