Looking back on a wonderful year for British women’s sport

We’re edging closer to the end of the year and as 2023 draws to its conclusion, it brings a close to another phenomenal 12 months for British women’s sport.

Following World Cup campaigns in football, cricket and netball, as well as the Six Nations and World Athletics Championships, we’ve taken a look back at this year’s key moments in women’s sport.

Lionesses suffer World Cup final heartbreak

Football finally came home last summer as the Lionesses won the European Championships – and they came so close to repeating their heroics a year later. Sarina Wiegman has revolutionised England since taking charge in 2021 but her side fell at the final hurdle as they lost to Spain in the World Cup final.

England stormed through the group stage at the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, winning all three of their games and conceding just once. They needed a penalty shootout to beat Nigeria in the last 16 before they came from behind to knock out Colombia in the quarter-finals.

Goals from Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo saw them beat hosts Australia in the semis. Sadly, the final was a step too far as they narrowly lost 1-0 to Spain in Sydney.

Mary Earps, who won the tournament’s Golden Glove award, offered hope in the final as she saved a penalty from Jenni Hermoso but England weren’t able to find a breakthrough. Despite only finishing as runners-up, the Lionesses once again united the nation.

Their positive World Cup campaign followed up their triumph in the first ever Women’s Finalissima back in April, in which they beat Brazil on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

England suffered further heartbreak this week as they missed out on next year’s Olympics despite a 6-0 thrashing of Scotland. But following an amazing few years for the women’s team, it’s clear the future is incredibly bright.

England dominate in Six Nations win

While the men’s rugby team came close to success in the World Cup, it was also an impressive year for their female counterparts. The Red Roses claimed this year’s Six Nations as they swept all before them, winning all five matches and conceding just seven tries in the process.

Only France ran them close as England edged their final match 38-33. The rest of the nations managed a combined 15 points between them against the champions as England claimed the title for the 18th time.

Saracens star Marlie Packer led the way as she finished top of the scoring charts with 35 points and seven tries. Just behind her was winger Abby Dow, whose six tries contributed to her 30 points.

England are looking in good shape and they’ll fancy their chances at a third World Cup title when they host the competition in 2025.

Close but no cigar in the cricket

It was a busy year for the women’s cricket team as they enjoyed an Ashes series against Australia as well as a T20 World Cup out in South Africa.

Sadly, Australia retained the Ashes as defending champions following a fiercely fought 8-8 series draw. The Aussies claimed the only Test match by 89 runs but it was England that dominated from then on.

Nat Sciver-Brunt was crowned player of the series as she scored 271 runs in England’s 2-1 ODI series, while it was the same result in the T20 matches.

In the World Cup, England reached the semi-finals but their dream of a second world title was cut short as South Africa edged them by just six runs. Despite not reaching the final, England enjoyed a good campaign and their 213/5 against Pakistan was the tournament’s highest-scoring winning margin.

Sciver-Brunt finished with 216 runs, the second highest in the tournament, while she also recorded the most boundaries with 28. Meanwhile, our bowling was also strong as Sophie Ecclestone claimed the most wickets with 11.

England run Australia close in Netball World Cup

The Netball World Cup also took place in South Africa and just like the football, England were narrowly beaten in the final.

They enjoyed a dominant run, winning all three games in the first group stage before going unbeaten again in the second round with five wins. Among those victories was a remarkable 56-55 win over 12-time champions Australia thanks to a 100% shooting record from Helen Housby, who won player of the tournament.

England met five-time winners New Zealand in the semi-finals and a 46-40 win set up a final showdown with Australia. Sadly, they couldn’t repeat their heroics as they ultimately lost 61-45.

As well as Housby’s sharp shooting, Eleanor Cardwell also impressed, finishing the tournament with 231 goals.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson claims gold in World Championships

The Athletics World Championships took place in Budapest back in August and for the second time in a row, Katarina Johnson-Thompson came away with heptathlon gold.

The British record-holder will be looking to continue her strong form as she targets a first Olympic medal in Paris next summer.

Elsewhere, Keely Hodgkinson won 800m silver in Budapest, missing out on gold by less than half a second. She’ll be looking to go one better next year having also claimed silver in Tokyo.

As well as strong individual performances on the track, there were also British bronze medals for the women in both the 4x100m and 4x400m relays, as well as a silver in the mixed 4x400m.

ICON Legends – Emma Hayes – Women’s football hero

After more than a decade in charge of Chelsea, Emma Hayes will wave goodbye to these shores at the end of the season to take charge of the USA Women’s national team.

Following a remarkable few years for women’s football, we’ve taken a look at the career of one of English football’s most decorated managers in the latest edition of our ICON Legends series.

Dominating English football with Chelsea

Since taking over at Chelsea in 2012, it’s fair to say that Hayes has established herself as one of the greatest coaches to grace the sport. She’s won 13 major trophies in her 11 years at the helm, including six WSL titles and five FA Cups.

Four of those six league titles have come in the last four years, with three of them as part of a hat-trick of consecutive league and cup doubles. Hayes’ influence in English football has been unmatched, leading to her being crowned as the WSL manager of the season six times, including in each of the last three years.

Chelsea have been run close for the title by Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City in recent years but Hayes has always found a way to get the edge on her opponents. Her attention to detail and focus on marginal gains has been a huge factor in her trophy-laden success.

While she’s dominated English football, perhaps one regret she’ll leave behind in west London is never managing to secure an elusive Champions League title. She came close as Chelsea reached their only ever final in 2021, where they were soundly beaten by Barcelona.

Despite never tasting European success, Hayes leaves behind an incredible legacy at Kingsmeadow and whoever follows her in the Chelsea dugout undoubtedly has massive shoes to fill.

Revolutionising the women’s game

As well as her brilliance on the training pitch and the sidelines, Hayes has also been pivotal behind the rise of the women’s game. The sport has grown in popularity in recent seasons and Hayes has been a driving force behind it.

The Chelsea boss has been a constant advocate for equal opportunities in the game and has campaigned for more awareness of key issues, as well as investment in the sport.

Hayes has pushed research on health issues within the game, including the effects of the menstrual cycle on recovery, nutrition and the frequency of ACL injuries in female footballers.

She’s been recognised throughout football and beyond, having been presented with an MBE in 2016, followed up with an OBE last summer.

Embarking on a new American chapter

Hayes will hope to replicate her success when she heads across the pond next May. She’s set to become the world’s highest-paid female coach and there are hopes she can turn the USA side around following a disappointing World Cup.

The four-time winners endured their worst ever World Cup campaign as they crashed out in the last 16, leading to the departure of Vlatko Andonovski. Hayes will be looking to make an instant impact as the USA target a fifth Olympic gold medal at Paris 2024.

She’s got history in the states having started her managerial career at Long Island Lady Riders before enjoying spells at Iona Gaels and Chicago Red Stars. But it won’t be an easy ride, with the likes of Megan Rapinoe, Julie Ertz and Ali Krieger all now retired.

It’s up to Hayes to nurture a new generation of talent to get the USA back on form. They’ve dominated women’s football for decades but the gap has closed, with teams like England, Spain and the Netherlands now a regular threat.

Some eyebrows were raised when Hayes took the USA job, with many hoping that she would wait for the England job to become available in order to make the move into international football. But she clearly relishes a challenge and if she enjoys even half the success stateside as she did at Chelsea, the USA side are heading straight back to the top.

Arsenal lead the way in Premier League title race

As we edge towards the busy Christmas period, Arsenal are the stars on top of the Premier League tree. Mikel Arteta’s side aren’t quite as free-flowing in attack as they were last year but they’re starting to grind out results.

The summer signing of Declan Rice has added a new dimension to their midfield and the England international was instrumental in their 1-0 win over title rivals Manchester City back in October.

However, there are concerns about their firepower up top and the fitness of Gabriel Jesus is an issue. There’s every chance they’ll fade away towards the end of the season again and they’ve got a tricky run of fixtures on the horizon, with games against Aston Villa, Brighton and Liverpool coming up.

City are just a point behind the Londoners but they haven’t quite been at their exhilarating best despite the continued goalscoring form of Erling Haaland. Kevin De Bruyne has been a huge miss in midfield, alongside John Stones who has been limited to just a few appearances.

The champions have drawn their last two games, following up a thrilling 4-4 draw at Chelsea by picking up a point at home to Liverpool. Defeats to Arsenal and Wolves will have disappointed Pep Guardiola and while they remain the favourites to defend their crown, a couple of injuries could derail their campaign.

Liverpool are sitting pretty in third and are looking to bounce back from a disappointing fifth-place finish last time out. They’ve looked strong so far, with summer signings Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai providing a much-needed presence in midfield.

Their only defeat came in controversial circumstances against Tottenham but they have been guilty of throwing away cheap points, most notably in a shock 1-1 draw at newly-promoted Luton.

Can Aston Villa make the Champions League?

Rewind a month or so and all the talk was about Tottenham mounting a title challenge despite losing Harry Kane over the summer. Ange Postecoglou has reinvented the north London side into a fearless, attacking machine.

Yet a few poor results has seen them fall away in recent weeks, with injuries to James Maddison and Micky van de Ven leaving them short. They’re still within touching distance of the leading pack but they’re on a run of three consecutive defeats, including at the weekend against top-four rivals Aston Villa.

Villa are the season’s surprise package and have been imperious since Unai Emery took charge just over a year ago. The Spaniard is getting the best out of Ollie Watkins, whose seven Premier League goals has earned him a recall to the England squad.

It remains to be seen how they’ll cope when the Europa Conference League knockout stage starts but with a solid defence and a prolific attack, they’ve got all the ingredients to maintain their promising start.

Despite appearing to be in a constant crisis, Manchester United are just six points off the top of the league. Erik ten Hag’s side have won three on the bounce but they face a tricky run, with Newcastle, Chelsea and Liverpool to come in their next four.

The battle to beat the drop

Before the season started, you’d be forgiven for writing off Luton and even suggesting they were in danger of breaking Derby County’s infamous points record. And while the Hatters have hardly set the world alight, they’ve been anything but pushovers.

Last year’s play-off winners earned their first ever home Premier League win at the weekend as they saw off Crystal Palace to add to previous good results against Everton and Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Everton find themselves in the bottom three following their 10-point deduction. While many people still expect them to be fine, they still need to get the results and keeping Dominic Calvert-Lewin fit could be key to their survival.

While Luton have made themselves tough to beat, the same can’t be said of their fellow promoted sides. Sheffield United and Burnley have struggled to adapt and have won just once each so far.

Will Haaland win another Golden Boot?

There are no prizes for guessing which two players lead the way in the race for the Golden Boot. Last year’s winner Haaland tops the charts with 14 goals from his first 13 games. Just behind the Norwegian on 10 is three-time winner Mohamed Salah.

It seems unlikely that the pair will be caught, with Son Heung-min and Jarrod Bowen on eight, while Watkins and Wolves star Hwang Hee-chan are on seven.

Also on seven are Newcastle duo Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak. The pair have both struggled with fitness this season, which adds to the Magpies’ injury woes. Despite their packed medical room, Eddie Howe’s side are only five points off the Champions League spots and will fancy their chances of repeating last season’s heroics.

December 2023

Max Verstappen dominates in record-breaking Formula One season

A breathtaking 2023 Formula One season came to an end over the weekend and it finished just like it started – with a Max Verstappen win.

In the least surprising news of the year, Verstappen was finally crowned champion as he raced to victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Following another thrilling season, we’ve taken a look at all the key moments.

Verstappen makes it three in a row

Verstappen was close to unstoppable in 2023 as he ran away with the title. The 26-year-old won his third consecutive Formula One Championship with ease, winning 19 of the 22 races during the season.

The Red Bull driver finished almost 300 points clear of team-mate Sergio Perez in second place and he never really looked like being stopped after winning the season opener in Bahrain.

Verstappen’s win in Italy back in September was his 10th in a row and broke the Formula One record for most consecutive race wins. Meanwhile, his 86.4% win rate broke a record that has stood since 1952.

It wasn’t quite a faultless season for Verstappen, who finished second in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, a disappointing fifth-place finish in Singapore is all that prevented him from finishing on the podium in every single race in 2023.

Formula 1 racing at the 2023 British Grand Prix in Silverstone

Formula 1 2024 Hospitality

How did the rest of the grid get on?

Perez finished second in the standings to ensure a comfortable win for Red Bull. The Mexican driver won both races that Verstappen came second in, as well as finishing on the podium on seven other occasions.

This season was the best of Perez’s career. The 33-year-old came third last year while the previous two seasons saw him just miss out on the top three in fourth.

Elsewhere, Lewis Hamilton finished in third this time around following a steady if unspectacular campaign. The seven-time champion finished on the podium six times, including second-place finishes in Australia, Spain and Mexico.

Although he didn’t win a race, it’s an improvement on his sixth-place finish of 2022. Hamilton will be 39 when next season gets underway but he’s always maintained that he wants to win a record eighth championship before calling it a day.

It remains to be seen if that will be the case and with Verstappen in his current form, Hamilton may be waiting a while to eclipse Michael Schumacher in the all-time standings.

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso finished in fourth, swiftly followed by Charles Leclerc. British drivers Lando Norris and George Russell finished sixth and eighth respectively.

Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz Jr, who came seventh, was the only driver other than Verstappen and Perez to win a race. The Spaniard came out on top in Singapore, with Norris and Hamilton making up the podium.

Looking ahead to the 2024 season

We’ve barely had a chance to catch our breath following an action-packed season but all eyes are already looking ahead to 2024. The drivers have a few months to enjoy a much-needed break before preparing for the season opener in Bahrain on 2nd March.

There are 24 races scheduled, with the British Grand Prix set to return to Silverstone in July. Once again, the season will come to a close in Abu Dhabi, with the final race of the year taking place on 8th December next year.

Verstappen is targeting a fourth consecutive title and the early odds would suggest he’s well on track to do so. But there’s a long way to go before that and whatever happens on the track, we’re set for another unforgettable season in 2024.

Whether you fancy joining us at Silverstone or travelling further afield, you can enjoy the racing action from the best seats at the house with Engage’s exclusive hospitality packages.

The biggest events coming up over the festive period

Get your decorations out of the loft and crank up the Christmas tunes because the most wonderful time of the year is almost upon us. While we all love getting presents and indulging in one too many mince pies, everybody knows that the best thing about the festive period is the jam-packed calendar of sporting events to look forward to.

Thankfully, there’s plenty to enjoy this year, including football, tennis and darts.

Festive football in the Premier League

The Christmas period is always one of the busiest parts of the football calendar and this year is no different, with a bumper Premier League schedule on the horizon. As we edge towards the halfway point in the campaign, the league table is starting to take shape and some clubs are counting down the days until the transfer window reopens.

Defending champions Manchester City currently lead the way but the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham are hot on their tail. Jurgen Klopp’s side face a testing festive fixture list, with clashes against Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle all within the space of two weeks.

Spurs take on Everton two days before Christmas, which could be a huge contest at both ends of the table following the Merseyside club’s recent points deduction. Meanwhile, Chelsea face a trip to Wolves on Christmas Eve and Man United host surprise package Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

Elsewhere, following their Champions League win City have a mid-season trip to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Club World Cup.

Key festive football matches:

●    Arsenal v Brighton – 17th December

●    Liverpool v Manchester United – 17th December

●    Tottenham v Everton – 23rd December

●    Liverpool v Arsenal – 23rd December

●    Wolves v Chelsea – 24th December

●    Manchester United v Aston Villa – 26th December

●    Liverpool v Newcastle – 1st January

The Ultimate Tennis Showdown heads to London

After three showpiece tournaments throughout 2023, the Ultimate Tennis Showdown is on its way to London for the competition’s inaugural Grand Final. For three days in mid-December, eight of the top ranking players will go head-to-head at the ExCel in a bid to become the ultimate champion.

The UTS gives tennis a modern twist. Instead of your usual scoring format, players face off during quarters of eight minutes. Second serves are a thing of the past and players get just one added to their total each time they score a point.

The Grand Final takes place following UTS tournaments in Los Angeles, Frankfurt and Seoul this year. Andrey Rublev and Holger Rune, who are both ranked in the top 10, are set to compete, along with Casper Rudd, Jack Draper and Gael Monfils.

The event runs from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th December and you can watch the action from the best seats in the house with our exclusive hospitality packages.

The World Darts Championships returns to Ally Pally

Christmas wouldn’t quite be the same without a daily darts extravaganza from Alexandra Palace. The World Darts Championship moved to north London in 2008 and it returns in December, with Michael Smith looking to defend his title

After losing the 2022 final, Smith bounced back last year to edge Michael van Gerwen 7-4 to claim the Championship for the first time. Van Gerwen will be seeking revenge as he looks to win the competition for a fourth time.

This year’s tournament gets underway on 15th December, with the final taking place on 2nd January. 32 players will lock horns at the famous oche, with a whopping £2.5 million prize pot to be won.

The best in music and comedy

It’s not just sport that’s on the agenda this winter, with plenty of music and comedy to look forward to. Dust off your santa hat and get your dancing shoes on because the Jingle Bell Ball is back at the O2 on 9th and 10th December, where Alicia Keys, Busted, Take That, Rita Ora and loads more will be taking to the stage for a blockbuster weekend.

They’re not the only superstars gigging at the O2 as Madonna, Tom Jones and Madness are all performing over the festive period. And if you’re in the mood for a Christmas giggle, Peter Kay’s monthly residency at the O2 takes place on 16th December.

Engage Christmas gifts

Christmas is all about giving but as we all know, finding our loved ones the perfect gift isn’t always easy. Luckily for you, we’ve got you covered. Treat your friends and family to a hospitality experience, with the biggest sports and entertainment events on offer.

With packages ranging from bronze to platinum, take a look at our Christmas gifts and get in touch to secure an unforgettable experience.

The NBA season so far

The NBA season is well underway but there’s still plenty of action on the horizon before the playoffs get underway in April. The Denver Nuggets are the current champions but following a summer of trades and a blockbuster start to the campaign throughout the divisions, they face stiff competition to defend their crown.

Denver Nuggets pick up where they left off

After claiming their first NBA Championship last year, the Denver Nuggets have carried on that momentum into the new season. Led by Finals MVP Nikola Jokic, the Colorado-based side triumphed over Miami Heat in game five back in June.

The defending champions have arguably the best starting five in the whole of the NBA and they have won nine matches so far. They started the season strongly with four consecutive wins, including victory over the LA Lakers on the opening day.

They’re currently on a two-game losing streak but find themselves third in the Western Conference. Two-time NBA MVP Jokic has continued his dominance with a 28.8 PPG average. The Serbian scored a high of 36 points but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Houston Rockets as his side ultimately lost 107-104.

How has the NBA season started?

In the Western Conference, the Minnesota Timberwolves lead the way in the standings following a narrow 121-120 win over the New Orleans Pelicans at the weekend. They’ve lost just three times so far and are targeting their first ever finals win this season.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder sit just below them in the standings. They’ve recorded 10 wins, including an emphatic 134-91 triumph over the Portland Trail Blazers at the weekend. Key man Shai Gilgeous-Alexander netted 28 points in that victory to follow up his 40-point game the week before.

That defeat heaped further misery on the Trail Blazers, who lost Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks over the summer. The Oregon side find themselves second bottom with just three wins and 10 defeats.

In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics are rolling back the years. Despite winning a joint-highest 17 championships, only one of those has come this century. Yet they’re flying at the top of the standings with 11 wins and just two defeats. They’ve won their last six games in a row with talisman Jayson Tatum leading the charge.

Elsewhere, the Philadelphia 76ers are also riding high despite losing James Harden to the LA Clippers in the summer. They’ve won 10 games so far and have scored over 100 points in every match, including a huge 146 against the Washington Wizards.

Down the bottom of the table, the Chicago Bulls are struggling and long for the days of Michael Jordan and co. pulling the strings. The Bulls didn’t make the playoffs last year, losing to eventual Eastern Conference champions the Miami Heat. They’ve lost nine games and desperately need to turn things around quickly.

Last dance for LeBron?

Despite turning 39 next month, LeBron James is still firing for the LA Lakers and while he’s very much in the twilight of his career, he has his sights set firmly on a fifth NBA title this season.

The four-time NBA champion became the all-time leading points scorer in history earlier this year and he’s continued in that vein this term, averaging 26.4 so far and netting 37 last time out against the Houston Rockets.

James considered retirement over the summer but he’ll want to go out with a bang and will see it as the ultimate goodbye if he can secure the Lakers their first championship since 2020.

But his side will need to up for it if that dream is to become a reality. The Lakers have won five of their last six games but that form papers over the cracks of a disappointing start that has seen them lose six times so far.

The NBA is heading to Paris

If you fancy taking in some NBA action, don’t worry – there’s no need to travel all the way to the States. That’s because the world’s greatest basketball league is on its way back to Paris in the new year.

The Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday 11th January, with both sides looking to repeat last season’s efforts and make the playoffs. They’ve both endured mixed starts to the campaign and currently find themselves 8th and 10th respectively in the Eastern Conference.

Both sides will fancy their chances at climbing further up the standings and the showpiece event in Paris could be the place to see them turn their fortunes around.

We’ve got a range of hospitality options on offer for the game, giving you the chance to enjoy the match in style, as well as enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour, a meet and greet with an NBA legend and exclusive food and drinks packages.

ICON Legends – Rafael Nadal – Tennis Superstar

We’re heading over to the world of tennis as we take a look at the glittering career of Rafael Nadal for the latest edition of our ICON Legends series.

The Spaniard burst onto the scene back in 2001 and after turning professional at the age of 14, it took him just four years to win his first major title. Nadal hasn’t looked back since and has won 20 Grand Slams in total, second only to Novak Djokovic in the all-time men’s rankings.

Known as the King of Clay, Nadal has dominated the French Open throughout his career, winning it a record 14 times since his first Roland Garros triumph in 2005. He’s also helped himself to four US Open titles, as well as winning both the Australian Open and Wimbledon twice.

Nadal also won gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, making him the youngest ever player to achieve a Career Golden Slam. Considering his career has regularly been disrupted by recurring injury issues, it’s remarkable that Nadal has achieved all that he has, including being the only man to win multiple majors in three separate decades.

The 37-year-old missed this year’s French Open for the first time in 19 years and looks set to finally hang up his headband in 2024. But while it may be game set and match for his illustrious career, Nadal will always remain among the greatest players to ever pick up a racket.

The King of Clay

It’s rare to see a player so dominant in one tournament but Nadal made the French Open his playground. He won it nine times in his first 10 appearances and is the only player to win the same major tournament 14 times.

At the 2017 tournament, Nadal didn’t drop a single set and of the 115 matches he’s played at the French Open, he’s only lost three times. He holds the record for the most consecutive wins on clay, remaining undefeated on the surface over 81 consecutive matches from April 2005 until May 2007.

In total, Nadal has won 63 titles on clay, remaining unbeaten in French Open finals. He’s also the only player to complete the Clay Slam, winning the French Open alongside titles at Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome in 2010.

Rivalry with Roger Federer

While Nadal and Federer were never rivals in a bitter sense and had a tremendous amount of respect for each other, for several years the pair were constantly battling for top spot. Before the emergence of Novak Djokovic, it was rare to see a Grand Slam not won by either of them.

Nadal remains the only player to beat Feder in four finals at the same major and is also the only player to defeat the Swiss in the final of three different majors, with only the US Open evading him.

In total, the pair have faced off 40 times, with Nadal coming out on top on 24 occasions. Remarkably, the Spaniard leads Federer 14-10 in their meetings in finals, although Federer has managed to defeat the master twice on clay.

They first met at the 2004 Miami Open where Nadal announced himself to the world by winning in straight sets. The pair then went on to win 11 consecutive Grand Slams between them from the 2005 French Open all the way through to the 2007 US Open.

Between 2006 and 2008 they contested every French Open and Wimbledon final. In fact, the 2008 Wimbledon final is considered by many to be the greatest tennis match of all time. Nadal took the first two sets before Federer fought back to take it to a deciding fifth set. There was nothing to separate them until Nadal finally edged it 9-7 to claim his first title at SW19.

The old rivals met for the final time in the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2019 but, unlike their first face-off in Miami, it was Federer who came out on top.

With Federer retired and Nadal expected to follow next year, it truly is the end of an era as we close the curtain on a remarkable period in modern tennis. And while the future looks bright following the emergence of Carlos Alcaraz, the young Spaniard has a long way to go before he can even come close to the achievements of his compatriot.

The word legend is thrown around far too casually in modern sport. However, following everything that he’s accomplished in his career, it would be impossible for anybody to argue that Nadal isn’t deserving of the accolade.

What’s going on at Manchester United this season?

Manchester United being in a crisis has become strangely familiar in recent years. Most football fans would have grown up seeing United dominate English football but for the younger generation, it seems unthinkable.

They haven’t won the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and as their rivals have grown stronger, they don’t look like returning to the top any time soon. As we enter the third international break of the season, United’s season is in danger of fizzling out already.

But who is to blame for their struggles? Is it the players, the manager, the owners or a combination of the three?

How are United doing this season?

If you had a quick glance at the league table, you’d be forgiven for suggesting United are in a decent place. With 12 games played, they sit sixth in the table, just seven points behind table-topping rivals Manchester City.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story and their position has been boosted by unconvincing back-to-back wins over Fulham and Luton. Those two results have somewhat papered over the cracks of a poor start to the campaign, which has seen them lose five Premier League games already.

Despite winning seven matches, a key issue is the fact that they’re the only side in the league yet to draw a game. This demonstrates an inability to grind out results, which contributed to home defeats against both Brighton and Crystal Palace.

And it’s not just domestically where they have struggled. They were humbled in the Carabao Cup in a 3-0 drubbing at home to Newcastle and just last week they threw away a lead late on to lose 4-3 at Copenhagen in the Champions League.

One key factor in United’s struggles is their key players not performing. Following the World Cup last year, Marcus Rashford looked like a player reborn and finished the season with 30 goals in all competitions.

Yet Rashford has scored just once this term and is clearly struggling for confidence. Meanwhile, summer signing Rasmus Højlund is flying in Europe with five goals in four Champions League games, yet the Danish striker is still looking for his first Premier League goal.

Bruno Fernandes hasn’t done much better with three Premier League goals to his name so far, level with Scott McTominay, who should not be at the top of United’s scoring charts three months into the season.

The view from the Evolution hospitality suite at Manchester United's Old Trafford Stadium

Premier League Hospitality

Is Erik ten Hag the right man for the job?

This time last year, Ten Hag looked like a good appointment and he fulfilled his objective by returning United to the Champions League. But they’ve stagnated this season and seem to be going backwards.

With players out of form, Ten Hag hasn’t quite shown that he’s got the tactical nous to outwit opposition managers. Only scoring once against both Fulham and Luton highlights a lack of firepower in the squad, while not being able to see out a win against Copenhagen last week is a cause for concern.

As well as the issues on the pitch, Ten Hag has faced difficulties off it too, most notably concerning Jadon Sancho. The pair have endured a public spat, which has resulted in the winger being exiled and likely sold in the January window.

A more mature manager may have dealt with the situation better and it was the first indication that things may not be rosy at Carrington. The last thing Ten Hag wants to do is lose the dressing room because, as Jose Mourinho will be able to attest to, it only ends one way.

There’s still plenty of time for United to turn their fortunes around this season but their owners will want Champions League qualification as a minimum and it’s looking tougher than ever to qualify.

City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham have enjoyed blistering starts to the season. Meanwhile, Chelsea are on a mini resurgence and both Newcastle and Aston Villa have the potential to challenge.

With the Premier League set to get an extra spot next year, it’s likely that finishing fifth in the table will be enough. But considering the situation at the moment, it remains to be seen whether Ten Hag will last that long.

Are the Glazers the problem?

It’s been well documented that the United fans are desperate for a change and it seems the Glazers are willing to sell. Sir Jim Ratcliffe was the frontrunner and he looks set to buy a minority stake in the club.

Evidently, something needs to change. Old Trafford is in desperate need of being redeveloped and the structure at boardroom level is clearly not working. United need a major overhaul in terms of leadership and approach to recruitment, which is far more easily said than done.

But at the same time, you’d be naive to suggest that the owners haven’t backed Ten Hag. United have spent more than £400m on players since the Dutchman took charge last summer and considering many of the new arrivals are players he’s worked with before, he clearly has some say over who is brought in.

This summer alone they splashed out on Højlund, Andre Onana and Mason Mount and the jury is still out on each of them. Meanwhile, they spent more than £80m on Antony last summer, who has yet to score this season.

It’s all well and good kicking and screaming about those in charge and wanting things to improve. But whether it’s the Glazers or somebody new, if the team isn’t performing on the pitch despite being backed heavily, the buck stops with the manager and his players.

The concerts you have to see before the end of 2023

We’re approaching the end of the year and as the weather gets colder and the nights get darker, festival season seems like a distant memory. But you don’t need mud, tents and sunshine to have a good time and there’s still plenty of exciting concerts to look forward to before we wave goodbye to 2023.

Next weekend marks the start of an exciting few weeks of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, with some of the biggest stars in the world taking to the stage. And they’re not the only gigs on the horizon, with a load of mouth-watering concerts coming up in 2024.

Ed Sheeran – Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th November

Having only just finished a sell-out world tour, Ed Sheeran has barely had a chance to breathe. But never one to disappoint, the superstar is treating the Royal Albert Hall to not one but two nights of acoustic magic later this month.

He’s been a busy boy, releasing two albums in 2023, and he’ll be performing the latter of the two in full alongside a live band and string section. ‘Autumn Variations’ was released in September and marks an end to Ed’s maths-themed releases.

The 32-year-old will perform to a packed out venue in London on 18th and 19th November and it will be the last opportunity to see him live before the New Year. His tour saw him perform in Paris, New York and LA among many others and he’ll be back on the road across Europe and Asia in 2024.

But if you can’t wait that long, you can watch him in style with Engage’s exclusive hospitality packages.

Kylie Minogue Friday 1st December

The Royal Albert Hall is no stranger to royalty and it welcomes the ‘Princess of Pop’ to the stage next month in the form of Kylie Minogue.

The Aussie icon released new album Tension back in September, which features the hit single ‘Padam Padam’. Kylie’s latest record flew up the charts and made her the first female artist to have a UK top 10 single in each of the last five decades.

For one night only, she’ll be entertaining the Royal Albert Hall as she introduces ‘An Audience with Kylie’. The Grammy Award winner will perform tracks from her new album, as well as take questions from her celebrity friends in the crowd.

The evening will be broadcast on ITV but if you want to experience it in person, you can enjoy the show from the best seats in the house with our hospitality packages.

What else is happening at the Royal Albert Hall?

It’s not only Ed Sheeran and Kylie Minogue who will be wowing the crowds in London this winter. Ahead of his annual New Year’s Eve extravaganza, Jools Holland will take to the stage on 24th and 25th November alongside his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.

Similarly, on 8th December, Jamie Cullum will treat crowds to The Pianoman at Christmas alongside a big band and special guests. The fun continues next year, with plenty of headline acts lined up to rock the Royal Albert Hall, including The Stranglers, Gipsy Kings, James Blunt, Bryan Adams, Eric Clapton and George Benson.

Other concerts to look forward to

If you fancy a pre-Christmas trip down memory lane, Madness will be rolling back the years at the O2 in December. And at the same venue you can catch The 1975 next February.

Take That will be there in April before Olivia Rodrigo performs in May and both acts will also be stopping at the Utilita Arena in Birmingham.

Plenty of high-profile names have announced huge tours next year, including Taylor Swift, Liam Gallagher, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay and Green Day and you can enjoy all of them from the comfort of Engage’s exclusive hospitality areas.

Everything you need to know about the World Rugby Calendar

The sun hadn’t even set on this year’s Rugby World Cup before World Rugby announced radical changes that will dramatically shift the landscape of the sport in the coming years.

As the World Cup in France reached its final stages at the end of last month, it was revealed that from 2026 there will be a new international tournament introduced. It’s yet to be officially named but it will consist of two separate divisions, with the games replacing the current Autumn International fixtures.

As well as the new competition, the World Cup will be expanding, with 24 teams set to compete in the 2027 edition, which is taking place in Australia.

How will the new rugby competition work?

World Rugby have revealed that the new international tournament will see 24 teams split into two divisions, each comprising 12 nations. The top division will feature the 10 teams from the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship, alongside two others.

Matches will take place in July and November and will replace the current autumn internationals and traditional tours. However, the tournament will not be an annual event and will take place in alternate years. It will not be held during years when there is a World Cup or a British and Irish Lions tour.

There are hopes that the new format will make the lesser nations more competitive and give them the chance to compete regularly against the top teams. However, this idea has raised some eyebrows.

While the triumphant nations in the second division will be rewarded with promotion, this will not come into play until 2030. That means those countries that are traditionally weaker will have to wait seven years from now for the chance to compete at the top table.

Portugal stunned Fiji at the World Cup last month with a shock win in the pool stage and they’ll rightly feel that in order to continue their progression, regular tests against better opposition would be beneficial.

What other changes have been made to the calendar?

As well as the introduction of a new international competition, World Rugby have also announced plans to expand the World Cup from 20 to 24 teams. This will come into effect at the 2027 tournament in Australia.

The four extra teams will lead to an additional round, with round of 16 matches taking place in between the pool stage and the quarter-finals. The new format will see teams drawn into six pools of four, reducing the length of the tournament from seven weeks to six.

The new World Cup gets underway in October 2027 and there are hopes that the expansion will continue to provide opportunities for more nations to compete on the world stage.

Alongside the World Cup tweaks, the Six Nations is being reduced from seven weeks to six in 2026, with one of the fallow weeks removed. This will allow the autumn internationals in November to be extended to four weeks, culminating in a high-profile grand final.

2024 will also see the introduction of an annual expanded Pacific Nations Cup, giving three additional fixtures every year to Canada, Fiji, Japan, Samoa, Tonga and the USA.