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Alan Shearer wants 'definitive answers' on links between football, dementia

Alan Shearer wants 'definitive answers' on links between football, dementia

ESPN

Monday's latest stories from the world of football in ESPN FC's What's Trending ...

LIVERPOOL: Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho has declared himself fit to face England on Tuesday, and insists he is happy with life at Liverpool despite his failure to force a move to Barcelona in the summer.

- Senegal forward Sadio Mane will return home early from international duty after reporting a minor issue with the hamstring injury from which he has just recovered.

MAN UNITED: Romelu Lukaku says he is "like a leopard in the box" after the Manchester United striker ended his recent goal drought with a brace for Belgium.

- Marcus Rashford has been in love with Brazilian football since the age of five and based his game on the fearless forward play of Ronaldo.

UEFA WORLD CUP PLAYOFFS: Northern Ireland saw their World Cup dream die in Basel on Sunday, though it was a controversial penalty three days earlier that ultimately sent Switzerland through to Russia.

- Croatia comfortably negotiated the second leg of their playoff tie against Greece with a goalless draw sealing their place at next summer's World Cup.

- Christian Eriksen says leading Denmark to the 2018 World Cup with a playoff win against Republic of Ireland in Dublin would eclipse the achievement of inspiring Tottenham to victory against Real Madrid in the Champions League.

ENGLAND: Gareth Southgate is attempting to build a squad of leaders ahead of the World Cup and that may lead to another new captain for Tuesday's friendly with Brazil.

- Ruben Loftus-Cheek found it harder to break through at Chelsea because of established first-team players who felt threatened by his ability, according to England manager Gareth Southgate.

FRANCE: Patrice Evra's agent Federico Pastorello says his client's career is not over after he was banned, fined and sacked for kicking a fan ahead of Marseille's Europa League tie at Guimaraes earlier this month.

- Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has withdrawn from the France squad for Tuesday's friendly against Germany in Cologne.

AUSTRALIA: Tim Cahill says he'll move heaven and earth to return Australia to the World Cup and declared everything else -- including his own health -- secondary to the Socceroos reaching next year's tournament.

WEST HAM: Stuart Pearce has returned to West Ham as new manager David Moyes' assistant and will join Alan Irvine on Moyes' coaching staff.

- Moyes has told Javier Hernandez he will be given the chance to establish himself in his West Ham attack but warned he would not be allowed special treatment.

REAL MADRID: Athletic Bilbao and Spain goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga says he is aware of rumours linking him with a move to Real Madrid next summer, but remains focused on performing for his current club and national team.

- Isco had to leave Spain's 5-0 friendly victory over Costa Rica with an injury on Saturday, but his teammate Alvaro Morata believes it is not serious.

UNITED STATES: Acting United States manager Dave Sarachan says he doesn't think the U.S. Soccer Federation "needs to blow up the template and start from scratch" in the wake of the team's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

MLS: Chicago Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez has called keeping Designated Player Bastian Schweinsteiger at the club for the 2018 season "a priority."

Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.

The constant hiring and firing of managers is "severely damaging" to English football, according to League Managers Association (LMA) chief executive Richard Bevan.

A Press Association Sport study has found Premier League and Football League clubs used an average of 12 managers between October 1997 and Nov. 1 this year, with Notts County and Crystal Palace each employing more than 20.

Arsene Wenger has managed Arsenal throughout the study period, with Morecambe using only three managers and Manchester United four, but Bevan says clubs are too quick to pull the trigger.

He told Press Association Sport: "The LMA continues to view the hire-and-fire culture, endemic in football, as severely damaging to the game. It causes a series of negative consequences and we will continue to be vocal on this issue.

"Firstly, there is a misconception that changing a manager consistently leads to an improvement in results. Whilst it is often well publicised when an under-performing side regain form under new management, this is rarely sustained over long periods and quite often results revert to type within a few games.

"Consistently dismissing managers can create an environment of instability within the club. Inevitably, constant changes to the management and coaching staff leads to instability within the playing staff and can have a knock-on effect throughout the organisation. This also breeds a culture of uncertainty within the incoming staff."

Arsenal have had just one manager since October 1, 1997, but which of the 92 clubs in the Premier League and Football League have hired the most in the last 20 years? #PremierLeague #EFL pic.twitter.com/t8dMrDfBih

The study featured managerial tenures as short as Billy McKinlay's nine days at Watford in 2014 and Bevan, without referencing specific cases, said: "The direct impact on the manager, the coaches and their families cannot be underestimated.

"These individuals are dedicated to football and treating the talent within our game in such a disposable way will have longer-term consequences, including making the profession less attractive."

The link between managerial stability and footballing success is backed up by the study. Wenger celebrated 20 years at Arsenal in 2016, while Sir Alex Ferguson's 26-year reign at Manchester United, which ended in 2013, occupied the bulk of the study period.

At the other end of the scale, Notts County have cycled through a remarkable 23 managers in 20 years while Crystal Palace's swift sacking of Frank de Boer was not out of character -- they are just two behind County and are the only other team to surpass 20 managers.

Press Association Sport put together a "success index," with one point added for a trophy or a promotion and one subtracted for a relegation. The 10 clubs with fewest managers combined for an index score of 38 while the 13 teams (10 and ties) with most managers totalled just four.

Just 10 teams in Premier League and Football League have had the same manager in place for four years or more. But, who has had the shortest reign since the beginning of our study between October 1, 1997 and November 1, 2017? #PremierLeague #EFL pic.twitter.com/K7SjVEyoRP

The study found that:

:: The average club used almost 12 managers (11.93) in the study period.

:: Morecambe, with just three managers in 20 years, split Arsenal and United (four) in making the fewest permanent appointments.

:: Accrington and Everton (five), Crewe and Ipswich (six) and Bournemouth, Burnley and Burton (seven) round out the 10 clubs with fewest bosses, although Everton had sacked their fifth appointment -- Ronald Koeman -- and had not appointed a permanent successor by the end of the study period.

:: United scooped 19 major trophies, 16 of them under Ferguson including nine Premier League crowns. Arsenal added three league titles and seven FA Cups while Crewe won the 2013 EFL Trophy.

:: United, Arsenal and Everton spent the entire study period in the top flight, with the other seven clubs with the fewest permanent appointments combining for 17 promotions and nine relegations.

:: Bournemouth climbed from League Two to the Premier League and Burton from the Northern Premier League to the Championship, while the relegations were shared among the clubs with six or seven managers (Crewe four, Bournemouth two, Burnley two, Ipswich one).

:: County's hiring and firing has not helped them progress -- over the 20 years they have had two promotions and three relegations.

:: Palace have twice dropped out of the Premier League only to return on both occasions. De Boer's sacking followed a winless start this season which leaves them in another survival fight.

:: Portsmouth won the FA Cup under Harry Redknapp, who accounts for two of their 19 managerial appointments, but they also crashed from the Premier League to League Two before bouncing back to the third tier last season.

:: Swindon and Oldham have each used 18 managers, with 17 apiece for Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Southampton and Swansea and 16 for Barnsley, Brentford, Leicester and QPR.

:: Six of Leeds' 17 appointments were made under controversial former majority shareholder Massimo Cellino, nicknamed "the manager eater," in a period spanning June 2014 to June 2016, when the last Cellino appointment -- Garry Monk -- was announced.

:: The 13 clubs making the most permanent appointments have combined for seven trophies, 27 promotions and 30 relegations. Seven are in a lower division now than at the start of the 1997-98 season, with only Brentford and Swansea progressing to a higher division.

:: Leicester, the shock 2016 Premier League champions who also won the League Cup in 2000, went through three relegations and three promotions.

:: Swansea climbed from the fourth tier to the Premier League, adding the 2013 League Cup and an EFL Trophy, and had only one relegation in 2001.

Former England captain Alan Shearer believes more money should be invested into researching links between heading a football and dementia.

The 47-year-old has expressed his concerns about the effects heading a ball during his career may have on his long-term health and took part in BBC documentary "Alan Shearer: Dementia, Football and Me" to investigate.

Shearer spoke to families of footballers affected by dementia and underwent various studies, while also looking at the brains of people who have suffered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from all walks of life.

Speaking on the documentary, Shearer said: "Never ever did I think that heading a football could be dangerous for me.

"There are 850,000 people in our country that are suffering from dementia, and there are a lot of footballers who are in those numbers. But, we don't know how many and that can't be right.

"We started the research in 2002, it's now 2017 and it seems like we are no further forward because the same questions are still being asked. There's enough money around nowadays in football, just not enough of it has been given to research. It's about time we had more definitive answers."

Former Luton forward Matt Tees suffers from late-stage dementia, something his wife May feels has been brought on by the repeated action of heading a football, as she explained her struggles of living with someone with the disease.

"Matt is quiet, he doesn't talk. He doesn't know that this is his house. That is heartbreaking for me," she told the BBC documentary. "I think I have learned to be strong, because I have had to be. We are in the final stages, it could be two years, it could be 10 years -- nobody knows.

"There has to be [a link]. I can name about eight people who have played football, in this area, who have dementia or Alzheimer's. So that speaks volumes in my opinion."

The former Newcastle striker looked at parts of the brain of ex-West Brom forward Jeff Astle, who died from CTE in 2002 aged 59, and whose family have campaigned to raise awareness around brain injury in football.

The Jeff Astle Foundation says it has been contacted by the families of more than 300 former players, including an increasing number ready to contribute to the creation of a bank of donated brains to help investigate.

Dawn Astle, daughter of the former five-capped England international and founder of the foundation, told Shearer she believes football authorities are dodging responsibility for player welfare.

She added: "The PFA [Professional Footballers' Association] only exists for player welfare -- they should be screaming from the rooftops for these players. This is killing our players and this should be their priority."

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the PFA, admitted he did not know how many former players have the onset of dementia but wants to improve support systems for sufferers.

He said: "I think it is the PFA's job to look and provide support. We have said money is going to be put towards research and also respite care. Football has a duty to see if there is a causal link, because if there is, it could significantly increase the problems in later life -- then we need to look at the rules of the game and address it."

Press Association Sport reports a major study into whether footballers are at greater risk of degenerative brain disease is set for launch in the next few weeks with the appointment of a research group, jointly commissioned by the Football Association and PFA.

ESPN