Championship Transfer News

Championship latest transfer news for 2017 – 2018 and Beyond

  • Wed, 14 Nov 2018 10:05:11 +0000: Eberechi Eze: the young playmaker with the X factor at QPR - Championship | The Guardian

    The No 10 has captivated the crowds at Loftus Road and helped Steve McClaren’s side turn their Championship season around

    At Loftus Road, there is a new No 10 in town. Eberechi Eze has a long way to go until he is mentioned in the same breath as Rodney Marsh or Stan Bowles, but there is no doubting the Queens Park Rangers playmaker’s ability to astound. A buccaneering performer, there are shades of the audacity of Adel Taarabt and the brain of Akos Buzsaky, but Eze is carving out a reputation in his own right as one of the most exciting young talents in the country.

    But Eze has not had it easy. Released by Millwall in 2016 the 20-year-old struggled as a youngster, deemed too small by Arsenal before unsuccessful spells with Fulham and Reading. After convincing Chris Ramsey, the QPR technical director, Eze has not looked back since arriving at the club two years ago. He has started all 17 league games under Steve McClaren this season and has been instrumental in their recent turnaround, with QPR now two points off the play-off pack having only picked up one win from their first six Championship matches. The trio of loan signings, Tomer Hemed, Nahki Wells and Geoff Cameron have been equally influential.

    Related: How Portsmouth got the buzz back after years of misery | Ben Fisher

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  • Sat, 10 Nov 2018 19:31:16 +0000: Dwight Gayle compounds Leeds’ misery as four-goal West Brom run riot - Championship | The Guardian

    Marcelo Bielsa had described this trip to West Bromwich Albion as a stern defensive examination and, in the event, it was one his Leeds United side failed miserably. In the last few days Bielsa reeled off the squad numbers of Albion’s front four, declaring them the division’s most fearsome strikeforce and they lived up to that billing here. Three of them, Matt Phillips, Harvey Barnes and Dwight Gayle, struck after Hal Robson-Kanu, making his first start since the opening day of the season, kickstarted a second-half demolition.

    Leeds’s poor performance made painful viewing, with Pablo Hernández’s stoppage-time consolation strike the only positive from a thoroughly underwhelming display. Leeds had gone to pieces by the time Gayle added a clever fourth and even more frustrating for Bielsa was that his side allowed Albion’s attacking quartet to have a field day. It was a much-needed result for Darren Moore, whose side recorded their first win in five matches, and a rude awakening for Leeds, who went into this weekend top.

    Related: Championship roundup: Norwich go top after incredible finale against Millwall

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  • Sat, 10 Nov 2018 17:44:18 +0000: Championship roundup: Norwich go top after incredible finale against Millwall - Championship | The Guardian

    • Canaries score twice in injury time to snatch victory
    • Aston Villa beat Derby 3-0 in Lampard v Terry meeting

    Jordan Rhodes and Teemu Pukki struck in stoppage time as Norwich recorded an incredible 4-3 victory over Millwall at Carrow Road in the Championship.

    Having thrown away a 2-1 lead in the closing stages to fall 3-2 behind, the Canaries clinched a fifth successive league win in dramatic circumstances.

    Related: Leicester and Burnley hit impasse on an afternoon of mourning

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  • Fri, 09 Nov 2018 21:58:50 +0000: Sheffield United 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday – as it happened - Championship | The Guardian

    David McGoldrick missed a first-half penalty and Billy Sharp put a stoppage-time header wide as the hosts had to settle for a point despite relentless pressure

    David McGoldrick wasted a golden chance to take Sheffield United to the top of the Championship when he missed a first-half penalty but Cameron Dawson’s fine save, and the point it guaranteed, offered relief to Wednesday’s manager, Jos Luhukay.

    Luhukay made four changes as Wednesday attempted to stop a run of four consecutive defeats. The first 30 minutes were played at a fierce tempo with United dominating possession, and this earned an early reward for the Blades with the penalty.

    That’s it for the live blog – but we will add a match report above imminently. Thanks for reading along, and enjoy your weekends.

    What that means for Sheffield United is that they’re back in the top two, sandwiched between Leeds and Norwich on goal difference. That will be the coldest of cold comfort this evening, I would imagine.

    Here’s Billy Sharp: “I thought we were the better team, but we just couldn’t break them down. I should have put that chance away, I thought I’d got enough on it, but it went wide. They defended well, to be fair.”

    ...and Wednesday keeper Cameron Dawson: “Luckily I guessed right and made the save. Our first clean sheet this season, but I’m sure the fans will take that.”

    Fleck and Norwood stand over it, Norwood strikes it... and Dawson turns it away from the top corner! Wednesday have got a point!

    93 mins: Clarke has his shirt pulled by Thorniley, 25 yards out – and United will have one more chance to win the derby...

    92 mins: What a chance! O’Connell wins a corner, Sharp meets it with a header – and it flashes wide of the far post! He can’t believe he’s missed it.

    91 mins: Duffy and Stevens link up again down the left, but Stevens’ loose touch allows Hector to send it sailing into the stands.

    90 mins: Matias gets his boot to an awkward rebound and hooks an effort on goal that will at least count as on target. Three added minutes...

    89 mins: United pack the penalty area but Norwood’s delivery, some 30 yards from goal, is all out of goose.

    88 mins: Clarke has struggled to get involved, but he turns Hector in midfield here. The centre-back hauls him over and takes the booking.

    86 mins: Matias finds Baker on the break, and Wednesday win another corner – which O’Connell clears. Does anyone fancy winning this?

    85 mins: The hosts get an advantage as Baker hauls Stevens down. Duffy moves forward and shoots from distance, but it’s easy enough for Dawson.

    84 mins: Bannan hares back to snuff out a potential United break. Have the hosts run out of steam here?

    82 mins: Sharp is dispossessed and Wednesday sweep forward, Matias winning a free kick as Stevens clips him in midfield. Bannan lofts the ball into the area, but Fox and Lees get in each other’s way.

    80 mins: From the corner, the away fans appeal for handball as Matias’ shot cannons off Basham. It hit him square in the face, then bounced off his arm. No pen. Fletcher tries to lift the ball back into danger, but Henderson races out to smother it.

    79 mins: First change for the visitors: Marco Matias replaces Penney in midfield.

    78 mins: Clarke gets involved, wriggling to the byline but struggling to find a team-mate. Wednesday break and Basham’s flick so nearly lands at the feet of Baker, charging forward from right-back!

    76 mins: A nice stat from our friends over at WhoScored – United have attempted 30 crosses, not including corners.

    75 mins: First change for the hosts – McGoldrick is replaced by Leon Clarke, who scored twice in the 4-2 win at Hillsborough last season.

    73 mins: United just keep coming, Stevens linking up with Sharp and forcing another last-ditch tackle. The corner bobbles off John Egan and lands in front of goal – but a Wednesday boot hoiks it clear.

    72 mins: It’s swung into the danger area in front of an expectant away end, but McGoldrick heads clear.

    71 mins: Wednesday’s defence stand firm again, and now they break downfield and get a corner of their own...

    70 mins: A first booking of the night, for Wednesday’s Barry Bannan. The referee played advantage, from which United have gleaned another corner.

    69 mins: A deflected cross almost loops to Freeman in the middle, but Tom Lees is there again to clear the danger.

    68 mins: This game could use a goal, particularly after I bigged it up so fervently earlier on.

    66 mins: The home side come again, but Basham’s cross lands on the roof of the net. In the crowd, former Blades Kyle Walker, Phil Jagielka and Harry Maguire have all been picked out by Sky’s roving cameras.

    64 mins: Norwood’s pass from deep is cut out, and Wednesday have a chance to attack. They pass it around, then back, all the way to Dawson. Cagey, to say the least.

    62 mins: 70% possession, 11 shots, nine corners, but the hosts still haven’t got that goal – and for all their pressure, Dawson has not had a big save to make since the penalty.

    60 mins: United keep up the pressure, Duffy standing the ball up toward the far post, where Dawson claims it. Fox had an armful of O’Connell’s shirt – he was lucky the assistant didn’t spot it.

    58 mins: Freeman crosses from the right, Lees clears, and United have another corner. It’s a poor one, lashed away at the near post by Adam Reach.

    57 mins: The visitors break, Bannan winning the ball well in midfield and playing in Baker down the right. His cross is towards Fletcher, but gathered by Henderson, who warms his gloves with the catch.

    56 mins: Norwood fires a low cross-shot that almost lands at Duffy’s feet, before Hector bloots it downfield...

    55 mins: The hosts have resumed their position deep in Wednesday territory, but can’t quick unpick their defence. Billy Sharp’s cross is pinged towards no-one in particular.

    53 mins: Adam Reach, who loves a long-ranger, finally gets a sight of goal from 25 yards – but balloons it over the bar. The resultant ‘waaaaheeeey’ from the home fans is one of relief.

    52 mins: Freeman and Norwood combine down the right, the latter’s clipped cross failing to pick out a striker. The rain’s really coming down out there.

    51 mins: United still enjoying most of the ball, but Wednesday are making it tougher for them to get upfield.

    49 mins: Pretty much all McGoldrick’s work here, as he picks up the ball, ambles forward, plays a one-two with Basham, twists towards goal and shoots. It’s well struck, but straight at Dawson.

    48 mins: The tireless Norwood gets back to nick the ball away from Fletcher, who was weighing his options in a promising position.

    47 mins: Here’s a stat – of the last 18 goals Wednesday have conceded, 16 have come in the second half.

    We’re back under way, the home fans indulging in a rousing sing-son as the second half starts.

    “Steel City Derby? I’m watching Bolton v Ipswich” fumes Adam Hirst. “What is the problem with stripes on the back anyway?”

    I agree – the lack of more than a hint of red on the back of the United kit is very troubling.

    Barney Ronay on another northern derby game happening this weekend:

    Related: Manchester derby has been skewed by a decade of Abu Dhabi investment | Barney Ronay

    Wednesday get to the interval on terms, despite relentless pressure from the hosts. United’s best chance came from the penalty spot, but Cameron Dawson pulled off a fine save to deny David McGoldrick. More soon.

    44 mins: Pelupessy gets tired of Duffy’s trickery and hacks him down in the middle of the Wednesday half. He escapes a booking. One minute of added time.

    43 mins: Fletcher thunks the first corner away, but John Egan, United’s non-attacking defender, climbs to meet the next one. Tom Lees gets their first, but Wednesday are incorrectly awarded a goal kick.

    41 mins: Wednesday have been able to ease the pressure in the last five minutes, but United find a pocket of space and work it around the edge of the area. McGoldrick plays Stevens in with a lovely flick, but his near-post cross is cleared.

    40 mins: Reach picks up the ball on the edge of the United area, but is quickly closed down.

    38 mins: Another booming cross from O’Connell, but this one is overhit. I have a lot of time for Chris Wilder’s overlapping defenders, particularly with two lads who look like your traditional centre-backs.

    36 mins: Wednesday enjoy a rare spell of possession in the opposition half, and are met with hearty whistles from the home crowd. Penney looks for a free-kick in a dangerous spot down the right, but doesn’t get it.

    35 mins: Fleck bends another testing cross in, but Dawson is able to collect, the strikers still not quite picking their runs.

    32 mins: Thorniley does well to deal with another dangerous low cross from O’Connell. The visitors are at least standing firm against this relentless pressure.

    31 mins: Stevens is flagged offside down the left flank. With Duffy switching sides and O’Connell pushing forward, poor Ash Baker is a busy man on the right for Wednesday.

    29 mins: Duffy drops his shoulder, motors into the box and curls an effort towards the far corner. May have been going wide, but Hector nods it behind, just to be on the safe side.

    26 mins: Norwood pings a superb diagonal ball to Basham, the other attacking centre-back. His cross is drilled towards Sharp, who doesn’t have time to steer an awkward header on target.

    25 mins: If United aren’t ahead by half-time, it’ll be a miracle.

    24 mins: Oliver Norwood, something of a promotion specialist after going up with Brighton and Fulham, takes a touch and steers a shot just beyond the top corner.

    23 mins: United ping the ball around before O’Connell, nominally a centre-back, overlaps down the left. His low ball is cleared nervously by Hector.

    20 mins: Mark Duffy cuts back to Stevens, who is closed down. The chances coming so often for the hosts just now, though. Wednesday belt the ball away and Steven Fletcher, canny as the day is long, draws some sting with a long wander upfield. He eventually crosses towards Penney, who goes down in a heap – but replays show O’Connell didn’t make contact.

    19 mins: United keep the pedal to the metal, the latest lightning move ending with Enda Stevens’ cross just failing to pick out Sharp.

    18 mins: Fleck barrels forward from midfield and shoots, but it drifts well wide.

    17 mins: United are trying their best not to let that miss affect them, still buzzing around midfield gamely.

    McGoldrick steps up and fires for the far corner - but Dawson gets down brilliantly to turn it around the post! Justice served – Duffy appeared to trip over his own feet.

    Oh dear – this looks pretty soft to me, Mark Duffy going down under Morgan Fox’s challenge in the box. But Andrew Madley points to the spot!

    12 mins: A spell of scrappy possession, not that it quiets the absolute din around Bramall Lane one decibel.

    More musical fan news:

    @niallmcveigh ABC's Martin Fry is an Owls fan apparently

    9 mins: ...and from the corner, the visitors really should score! The ball drops to Morgan Fox, charging in under pressure, but the full-back scoops the ball high over the bar!

    8 mins: Wednesday venture upfield and as Adam Reach toepokes a cross-shot across goal, Basham has to be alert to turn it behind...

    6 mins: It’s been an ominous start for the blue half of Sheffield – their team are sitting deep and hoping for the best so far.

    4 mins: Woof! What a hit from Fleck, 25 yards out – it bends ever closer to Dawson’s left-hand post, but the keeper gets across to tip it away. From the corner, Basham heads over.

    3 mins: United stay on the front foot, and Wednesday centre-back Tom Lees has to be alert to cut out a cross swept in towards Sharp.

    1 min: The hosts link up nicely, Mark Duffy finding space and finding Sharp, who can’t pick a pass to McGoldrick.

    Here we go, then.

    Before kick-off, the raucous volume around Bramall Lane drops for a Remembrance Day minute’s silence.

    “Paul Heaton is in the red corner? Are you sure?” asks Peter Oh. “I know he sang ‘Old Red Eyes is Back’ but I thought he only has eyes for Inter Milan.”

    My sources (Wikipedia) tell me Heaton lived in Sheffield as a youngster, and supported United because his older brothers followed Wednesday. But I wouldn’t put money on it.

    United: Henderson; Basham, Egan, O’Connell; Freeman, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, Duffy; McGoldrick, Sharp.
    Subs: Baldock, Clarke, Coutts, Stearman, Johnson, Moore, Washington.

    Wednesday: Dawso;, Lees, Fox, Thorniley; Hector, Baker, Pelupessy, Bannan, Penney; Reach, Fletcher.
    Subs: Palmer, Onomah, Nuhiu, Lucas Joao, Marco Matias, Wildsmith, Pudil.

    Referee: Andrew Madley (West Yorkshire)

    Like many outside South Yorkshire, the mention of this game takes me straight back to the 1993 FA Cup semi-final. Wednesday won 2-1 in extra time, and went on to lose the final to Arsenal, who won a derby of their own against Spurs in their semi-final. The same two sides met in that year’s League Cup final, with the same result. But never mind that! Just look at this footage. Old Wembley! Balloons! Chris Waddle! Brian Deane! Laver! Sanderson! The way the winning goal doesn’t even ripple the net! This is the good stuff.

    Hysteria? Different Class? Mistakes, misfits?
    Erm...Pour some sugar on me? Maybe that last one doesn’t work.#sufc #swfc #SteelCityDerby

    Sheffield is a famously musical city, but Wednesday definitely win in the band-fan stakes. Def Lep singer Joe Elliott joins Paul Heaton and, weirdly, Flea in the red corner. The blue corner can boast Jarvis Cocker, Richard Hawley, Arctic Monkeys, half of the Human League and one-fifth of the Jackson Five (Jermaine, who also has a soft spot for QPR).

    From Der Klassiker to the Superclásico via the Manchester derby, it’s a red-letter weekend for those of us fortunate enough to like football. It’s starting early too, thanks to a Friday night Sheffield derby under the lights at Bramall Lane. But does it meet the six-step Proper Derby Test?

    1) Proximity Grounds less than five miles apart, in the same city. Next question.

    2) History These two first faced off in 1890 and have been battling for city-wide supremacy ever since. This will be their 143rd meeting.

    3) Competitiveness Second to none. United have won 49, Wednesday 48, with 45 draws. Both teams have bounced around the divisions but these games are almost always close. The last proper thrashing belonged to Wednesday in 1979, while United’s 4-2 win last season was the biggest by either side in a decade.

    4) Colours Red and white, blue and white. Absolutely textbook.

    5) High stakes In the 21st century, only United have played top flight – and that was just one, Carlos Tevez-blighted season. Wednesday had seemed closer to the promised land in recent seasons but as they have dropped, United have climbed. They’ll go top with a win and condemn Wednesday to a fifth straight loss. All of which means defeat for either side is an even grimmer prospect than usual.

    6) The name Come on. The Steel City Derby. It sounds like a deleted scene from Mad Max. Who wants to miss that? Kick-off is at 7.45pm, GMT.

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  • Fri, 09 Nov 2018 17:04:06 +0000: Manchester derby, Sheffield derby and FA Cup: football countdown – as it happened - Championship | The Guardian

    Jose Mourinho urged United to match City blow for blow, Jurgen Klopp and Slavisa Jokanovic both bristled, and FA Cup minnows await their big day

    We’ve a huge weekend to save our energy for! Here’s a roundup of our biggest stories from the last few hours:

    The Fiver is here! The Fiver is here! And it’s not even 5pm yet!

    Related: The Fiver | A weekend with more big matches than bonfire night in Brobdingnag

    Arjen Robben has been ruled out of Der Klassiker – which leaves Bayern in a spot because Thiago Alcantara and Kingsley Coman, above others, seem set to miss out too.

    James McClean has been disciplined by Stoke for calling a section of their supporters “uneducated cavemen” after they’d abused him for not wearing a poppy. So the unpleasant elements of society win, as is depressingly often the case at this moment in history, and McClean has apologised to the fair-minded majority of Stoke fans too.

    There are of course No Easy Games In This Super-Competitive Premier League Of Ours, but Brighton have as favourable a run coming up as one could hope for. They face Cardiff this weekend and then play Leicester, Huddersfield, Crystal Palace and Burnley, so Chris Hughton wants them to capitalise:

    It’s a crucial period for us but when you play in this division you always go through spells like that. The law of averages obviously says that you’ll get more points against the sides who are not in the top six or seven – but you have to be able to capitalise on that run. It goes without saying that when you get used to this league you recognise that trips to teams who aren’t in the top six might not be as daunting – but this is still only our second season in the division.”

    Only three and a half hours until the FA Cup first round kicks off – and that match is a belter, Haringey Borough taking on AFC Wimbledon. I went to see Haringey and wrote about it here. They’re a great club, doing some super work in a deprived community too, and even offer free season tickets. They are based *on* White Hart Lane and if you are ever in the area you’d do yourself a favour by getting to a game.

    Down in the Championship, Frank Lampard’s Derby face John Terry’s Villa (well, he’s the assistant) – so what does Frank think of crossing touchline swords with his old mate?

    It’s the start of John’s next career and I’m sure it will be a success. He’s got all the attributes to be a top coach and, one day, a top manager. I think he will bring a lot to Aston Villa. Villa have lots of threats individually and collectively, so we need to appreciate what is in front of us.”

    Here all Sachin Nakrani’s full piece with the embattled Jokanovic – for whom things might not get a whole lot better straightaway, with a visit to Anfield in the offing:

    Related: Fulham’s Slavisa Jokanovic: I don’t need to change – my team must work harder

    5 - Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored more Premier League goals during October than any other player (5), scoring with all five of the shots he attempted. Rewarded.

    More individual honours!

    If you want something to chew on alongside The Football, Bryan Armen Graham is live blogging the World Chess Championship between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana:

    Related: Magnus Carlsen v Fabiano Caruana: World Chess Championship, Game 1 – live!

    Here’s Rafa Benitez, who will be without key men Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey and Yoshinori Muto for Bournemouth’s visit. He’s happy enough with the way Fabian Schar, Ki Sung-yueng and Ayoze Perez played in their stead during the win over Watford:

    “I gave credit to them after the game. I was telling them they have to keep pushing, and then I’ll be in a position where I have to decide who can play. The players have to keep pushing. They did really well and the contribution of the three players was crucial to us, not just how they played, but also their approach and intensity.

    [Bournemouth] are doing really well. Teams that have been in the Premier League for a couple of years are in a strong position. They are in a good position in the table and playing with confidence, that gives their striker a situation where they can score a lot of goals.

    In other news, a little earlier I literally saw a man in the gents’ toilets at St Pancras station sternly instruct a total stranger to dry his hands as he made off to leave post-washing. Seemed a bit much to me, or was he providing a valuable public service at a time of year when germs can run riot?!

    Der Klassiker also happens tomorrow. This really is an utterly ridiculous weekend. Ben Fisher tells us what’s going so very right at Borussia Dortmund:

    Related: Marco Reus conducts Borussia Dortmund’s remarkable renaissance | Ben Fisher

    This is excellent dedication:

    35 Jewish Boca fans from Buenos Aires are travelling to Barcelona to watch the first leg of the #Superclásico on a different time zone because at home the final clashes with the Sabbath!

    Matt Dony crunches some Neymar-related numbers:

    “Neymar receives a €375,000 bonus for clapping the crowd? By my calculations, at a home game (Parc De Princes, cap. 47,929), every single spectator (including away fans) is paying nearly €8 for the privilege of having their star player ‘thank’ them for their support. I’m no psychologist, but I would suggest that extra incentive might just undermine the sentiment ...”

    Sachin Nakrani has checked in with some quotes from Slavisa Jokanovic – who has come out fighting with Fulham in the mire:

    In the press there are many different names but right now, where we are in bottom of the Premier League, this speculation is normal. But I don’t have time to gossip. I don’t need to change anything, my mentality is always the same, I want to push my team and find the brave people around me. Last game we choose an ugly way to lose. You must be proud, competitive and fight. We are not showing this quality, we must wake up and when we lose the game we must know how we lost it. We can not sell our skin so cheap.”

    Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger has spoken to the Southern Daily Echo about a number of things, including the dismissals of Les Reed and Martin Hunter:

    This week has been at the very extreme end of difficulty in so far as the work and the dedication and the time that Les and Martin have invested in the development of Southampton Football Club, the evolution of the framework here. We have a lot of respect for what they’ve given the club and for their era, which is truly an era.

    As it is in sports things come to an end and the ownership board, which I sit on, has made this decision and we feel it is the right time to look at a change of philosophy and a renewal of the process that we have in the club.

    Looks like grim news for Danny Welbeck after last night’s injury. A snap from PA reads: “Arsenal have described Danny Welbeck’s right ankle injury as ‘significant’ and will provide a further update in the next 72 hours.”

    You’re all a bit quiet. If you haven’t knocked off early, let us know what you’re excited/furious/mildly curious about in the coming weekend’s football.

    Marco Silva has had his say about Everton’s suspension of academy head Martin Waldron, which goes hand in hand with an internal review into their practices and – crucially – a hefty Premier League sanction for breaking academy player recruitment rules:

    Of course it is not a good thing. I think the club work with the Premier League and everything is solved now. Our CEO did hard work in this situation to solve everything. It is something that will not happen in the future in our club, because our way is different as a club. Now everything is finished, and to be honest, it’s not something in our daily here that will affect us. Our focus is clear, day-by-day to improve our team and prepare for the next match.”

    Hello again. Andy Hunter has a response from Liverpool to the New York Post story that they are for sale:

    #LFC spokesperson has responded to report in the US claiming John W Henry has named asking price for the club. "As loathed as we are to give a story of this nature a meaningful response, on behalf of the club's ownership I can completely dismiss this unfounded speculation." 1/2

    And with that, I shall pass this lukewarm potato back to Nick Ames.

    Here’s that Pep Guardiola sex tape in full.

    Dani Alves says being coached by Pep is better than sex. Here's his response...

    Richarlison is a doubt for Everton’s against Chelsea, according to Marco Silva: “We will see tomorrow. We have one more session. (He is) in doubt for the match. Let’s see how he will react after some individual work he did this morning.”

    Wolves boss Nuno Espírito Santo is not worried despite his team losing their last three games. Woe betide, Eddie Howe, but Nuno was named Manager of the Month for October only to lose to Watford, Brighton and Tottenham.

    We reacted well from the bad performance against Watford, we didn’t achieve the result against Brighton or Tottenham but we performed well. We’re not in the best moment but we have to react to it. In every moment it’s a challenge for us because we have to get better. You have to challenge yourself and improve yourself. You cannot get results if you don’t perform well, that’s what I think and defend.

    Tales from the PSG undergrowth are always worth a look, and the latest is from a France 2 documentary, which asserts some interesting details about players’ contracts, which include a “behaviour bonus” awarded for following a series of instructions that includes applauding fans after each match. Neymar’s clapping bonus stands at €375,000, while Thiago Silva pockets just €33,00 euros. Nice work if you can get it though the club say the extra cash is for “punctuality, respect towards journalists and reporters and not betting on competitions in which PSG are involved”. Perhaps that is not as easy as it looks.

    Fuller Pep Guardiola quotes to come but this seems to have been the highlight so far.

    Asked about Dani Alves saying playing under him at Barcelona was “better than sex”, Pep said: “I prefer the sex.”

    The Premier League previews are rolling in.

    Related: Southampton v Watford: match preview

    Related: Crystal Palace v Tottenham: match preview

    Spanish Bob Martínez is not going back to Spain to be Real Madrid manager. At least, not now. Or not next week, anyway. He was speaking at the announcement of Belgium’s squad, which includes Romelu Lukaku, but not Marouane Fellaini.

    I don’t want to say whether I or my agent had contact with Real Madrid. That is irrelevant and would be of little respect in the run-up to the matches against Switzerland and Iceland. That’s what we’re doing now. I don’t want to talk about anything other than the matches against Switzerland and Iceland. I’ve already said that here in two languages. Should I say it through body language, or sing a song?

    David Wagner never lost positivity when Huddersfield were unable to win. Now they have won, he boils over with positivity. His team faces West Ham and he can pick from a full-strength squad following Danny Williams’ return from a knee injury.

    This is now our next target. It’s a difficult one. We know West Ham are a very good side. On the back of Monday and this togetherness we have, I have the confidence that it’s possible to be successful again. Everybody knows how important back-to-back wins are in the Premier League. We only did it twice last season and now we have another chance in front of our home crowd.

    Steven Gerrard has denied he has a problem with referee Willie Collum despite a club statement saying Rangers definitely have a problem with referee Willie Collum.

    Via the Press Association.

    Daniel Candeias was sent off by Collum soon after Rangers scored a second goal in stoppage-time of the 2-0 win at St Mirren although footage appeared to show Anton Ferdinand had been the aggressor in a clash with the Gers player seconds earlier.

    The Ibrox club released a statement on Thursday announcing it would make a formal complaint over Collum after losing their appeal against Candeias’s second yellow card.

    Not that this blog’s a hot potato or anything, but John Brewin is going to take it on for the next little while – I’ll leave you in his very capable hands.

    Oooh, here’s a good appetite whetter for the Copa Libertadores final – check out our video about football’s fiercest rivalry below!

    Here’s the Press Association’s story on that Women’s Champions League draw:

    Chelsea have been handed a clash against French side Paris St Germain in the quarter-finals of the Women’s Champions League. The Blues booked their place in the last eight with a 7-0 aggregate win over Fiorentina, with England forward Fran Kirby scoring a hat-trick in the second leg.

    PSG, meanwhile, progressed 5-2 against Swedish club Linkoping. Chelsea will be at home in the first leg of the quarter-final, which takes place on March 20 or 21, with the return game in France on March 27 or 28. Should Emma Hayes’ side progress, then they will take on the winners of the quarter-final between holders Lyon and Wolfsburg, last season’s runners-up. The German side have ended all three of Chelsea’s previous European campaigns.

    Eddie Howe has spoken about his manager of the month award – and also about Callum Wilson’s England call:

    It’s a really nice feeling. I’m really proud of the team, the players, the staff and the supporters. It’s a good thing to achieve in the Premier League because a good month can go a long way. I think we’ve had a really good pre-season. We looked at all aspects of it and tried to redefine it and that’s potentially been game-changing for us.

    “I’m delighted for Callum and his family. It’s fully deserved in my opinion and I’m delighted he’s been paid back for the mental strength he’s shown. He faced those moments on the sidelines with courage. Never a day did I see him down, which is sometimes very difficult. I think Callum is a very positive and a very driven person. He’s really well liked by his team-mates, so I’m sure they’re delighted for him.”

    And if they beat them, its the small task of defeating Lyon or Wolfsburg in the semis. Wow!

    #UWCL semi-final draw

    Lyon/Wolfsburg v Chelsea/Paris
    Slavia/Bayern v Barcelona/LSK

    Here’s Andy Hunter with Jurgen Klopp, who feels Liverpool are not being given the credit they deserve:

    Related: Jürgen Klopp: Liverpool unfairly judged for not playing like Manchester City

    If you’re off to a game this weekend, by the way, we’d love to know – what is is, where is it, why are you pumped for it?

    Southampton, of course, face Watford at home tomorrow. They need to pull out a win from somewhere.

    Mark Hughes has been chatting about Southampton, whose week of flux – Les Reed departing – has included the novelty of a training session on the St Mary’s pitch. But why?

    Everybody knows if you keep on doing the same things it’s a sure sign of madness. Sometimes you’ve got to mix things up. We’ll see at the weekend if it’s had an impact. It won’t do any harm, a change of scenery. Sometimes going into a training ground day in, day out becomes a little bit monotonous and sometimes you’ve got to change things up and that’s what we did. It’s good for the guys to reacquaint themselves, just get their reference points in terms of where they are within the stadium. It changes things around and we’ll see if we get a reaction from it.”

    I really didn’t think Bournemouth had it in them to start this season the way they have – was very suspicious about what seemed a lack of quality in key areas. But they’ve done brilliantly so far, still using the core of the team that took them up a few years back, and I think Howe can’t be applauded enough.

    That’s some News Just In for you. He deserves it, no?

    And that brings me to the end of my stint here on the Friday countdown blog. My estimable colleague Nick Ames will be here very shortly to take you through the afternoon.

    And give our quiz of the week a whirl. I have cough11/12cough

    Related: Sports quiz of the week: Wayne Rooney, City v United and Formula 1

    More FA Cup action here, with Ben Fisher paying a visit to the Metropolitan Police.

    Metropolitan Police FC, a team shrouded in myth and misunderstood in some quarters, are dreaming. The seventh-tier side, mid-table in the Southern League Premier Division South, host Newport County on Saturday hoping to reach the FA Cup second round for the first time in the 99 years since they were formed as a works team, part of a recreational department for the force’s officers and staff.

    Related: Which FA Cup team will run out to I Fought the Law? Met Police, of course

    And here are some words from Ross Barkley, who faces his old club with Chelsea this weekend: “I don’t think it [the reception[ will be the best,” Barkley said in the London Evening Standard. “I’m not nervous, I’m excited to play against my former club and teammates – I understand how some of them play, so that could be an advantage for me.

    “On the day I might get a few nerves as it will feel a bit strange. I’m looking forward to catching up with some of the staff there who I used to get on really well with.”

    A bit of Chelsea team news here from the Press Association: Alvaro Morata, Marcos Alonso, David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and N’Golo Kante are expected to start for Chelsea in Sunday’s Premier League fixture with Everton.

    Morata, Alonso, Luiz and Rudiger were rested from Thursday’s trip to Belarus, staying in London, while Kante was an unused substitute after receiving a late call-up due to Cesc Fabregas’s illness.

    The two Sheffield clubs are going in different directions at the moment, with Wednesday having lost their last four and United just a point off the top of the Championship table. This week, Ben Fisher previewed tonight’s game at Bramall Lane:

    Related: Sheffield derby gives diverging rivals a vital chance to test their mettle | Ben Fisher

    This weekend keeps getting better and better. Here’s another thing (from BTL) to keep an eye on:

    Things are also exciting in Sweden for anyone looking for a last day decider.

    AIK have lead the league for a large chunk of the season and seemed well on their way to winning but have only won 2 of their last 6 and blew a chance to win the title last weekend with a 0-0 draw at home.

    England’s Under-21 squad for their friendlies against Italy and Denmark this month has been announced. Demarai Gray is back in after injury, while Phil Foden, Reiss Nelson and Harvey Barnes have all retained their places after debuts in October.

    “We’ve now got two games where we can give everyone a look at what it is we’re trying to do for the summer,” said manager Aidy Boothroyd. “It’s nice to have Demarai back with us because he’s done really well and the competition for places is fantastic now.”.

    Fancy a dip into the archive? This is a belter from the don of the Joy of Six: Scott Murray picks half a dozen FA Cup first round memories:

    Related: The Joy of Six: FA Cup first round memories | Scott Murray

    Here’s Jamie Jackson’s snap report from Mourinho’s press conference:

    Related: José Mourinho urges Manchester United to go toe-to-toe with City in derby

    The Liverpool manager was essentially asked if he was thinking about goal difference before the Fulham game on Sunday.

    “I would be an idiot if I talked about goal difference before the game. This is a strange situation for Fulham. Their football is good, some things are really good, I have to defend them. They are a really skilled team. This game is a big challenge for all of us. Another challenge – 12 o’clock kick-off. For all the people coming to the stadium, go to bed early on Saturday night, be in your best shape at lunchtime on Sunday and help. Because if you expect an easy game, please stay at home because it will not be.”

    Jurgen Klopp says this season "really successful" so far for Liverpool in PL points wise: "But it doesn't feel like that because of comparison to last season with the free flowing football, and Man City/Chelsea playing very good seasons as well."

    The bottom five have played the top five 19 times this season. Their collective record? P19 W0 D0 L19 F12 A60. Stuart James on the Premier League’s great divide:

    Related: Premier League the most competitive in the world? You must be joking

    It’s definitely One Of Those Weekends: not only the Manchester derby, the Sheffield derby and the FA Cup first round but also Der Klassiker in Germany tomorrow, with Dortmund welcoming Bayern to the Westfalenstadion, and in Buenos Aires a Copa Libertadores superclásico between River Plate and Boca Juniors. We’ll have preview of the big one in the Bundesliga later, but here is Jonathan Wilson on one of South America’s greatest rivalries:

    Related: Boca v River: the Libertadores final South America has waited 58 years for

    The Manchester United manager has confirmed Romelu Lukaku is back in training.

    “Lukaku is training with the team this morning. If this answer is positive - and we have of course one more session tomorrow - if the answer is positive he’s ready. But in this moment I can only say he trains with the team, I don’t know his answer.”

    “It’s difficult for me to answer because I focus on my job, I focus on the four lines. I focus on football. If you want to speak about their football potential, we can speak. And football potential starts with investment. After that, of course, there is a quality of the work and the quality of the organisation and I think that is untouchable.

    “But what is behind, I cannot say. But, in this moment, I have only to think about football, and to think about football is just to think about Manchester City as a football team.”

    A bit of Arsenal team news: Danny Welbeck (fairly obviously) and Stephan Lichtsteiner will both miss Sunday’s game against Wolves. We’ve not had an update on Welbeck’s injury since last night but it looked a bad one.

    Related: Danny Welbeck injury casts shadow over Arsenal draw with Sporting

    Harry Maguire won’t be playing for Leicester tomorrow, but the former Sheffield United player will be visiting an old haunt this evening:

    Do bears in the woods? ⚔️ #SUFC

    A bit of miscellaneous early weekend team news: Harry Maguire and James Maddison will be absent for Leicester, James Tarkowski is doubtful for Burnley, Jazz Richards (hamstring) and Kenneth Zohore (calf) are out for Cardiff, while Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama are fit to return for Tottenham.

    If you missed it last night, England’s women finished their World Cup qualifying campaign in fine style with a 3-0 win over Austria in Vienna:

    Related: England's Ubogagu and Stanway score on debut in win against Austria

    John Brewin, Barry Glendenning and Paul Doyle are looking forward to the weekend: here are 10 things specifically that they’re looking out for:

    Related: Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

    Ahead of this evening’s FA Cup first-round opener, Nick Ames wandered along White Hart Lane to visit Haringey Borough, the club in the shadow of Spurs’ new stadium where season tickets are free:

    Related: The White Hart Lane club ready for action: Haringey living FA Cup dream

    And welcome to your weekly dose of weekend appetite-whetting. It’s a big weekend in the Premier League, with Sunday’s serving looking particularly tasty topped as it is by the Manchester derby. And it’s sure to be an emotional day at the King Power on Saturday, with Leicester playing at home for the first time since the helicopter crash that killed five people at the King Power Stadium on 27 October.

    Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and a stack of other Premier League managers are all in front of the press today.

    Continue reading...

Archived News for the Championship has been added below:

  • Wed, 28 Jun 2017 20:08:35 +0000: Burton announce Flanagan departure - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Sky Bet Championship | BBC
    Burton Albion announce that defender Tom Flanagan is to leave the club, despite having "verbally agreed" a new deal.
  • Wed, 28 Jun 2017 17:17:38 +0000: Leeds United buy back Elland Road - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Sky Bet Championship | BBC
    Championship side Leeds United buy back their Elland Road ground, 13 years after selling it.
  • Wed, 28 Jun 2017 17:08:39 +0000: Bond reunited with Redknapp at Birmingham - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Sky Bet Championship | BBC
    Birmingham City appoint Kevin Bond as Harry Redknapp's number two - the fifth time they have worked together.
  • Wed, 28 Jun 2017 17:03:41 +0000: Ipswich sign Cardiff midfielder Huws - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Sky Bet Championship | BBC
    Ipswich Town sign midfielder Emyr Huws from Championship rivals Cardiff City, while goalkeeper Dean Gerken agrees a new deal.
  • Wed, 28 Jun 2017 15:26:51 +0000: Ex-England midfielder Parker retires - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Sky Bet Championship | BBC
    Ex-England, Charlton and Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker announces his retirement from football.

Today has seen the signing of young striker Charlie Strutton for struggling side AFC Wimbledon after he had impressed Terry Brown whilst on a three week trial earlier in the year. Barnsley have today signed winger David Cotterill on a free transfer which could see the player making his debut for the club this weekend.

Championship top dogs West Ham have today sealed the double signing of Ravel Morrison from Manchester United as well as Ricardo Vaz Te from Barnsley. The young starlet ravel Morrison is believed to have attracted a lot of interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs such as Barcelona, Roma and Paris St Germain but has decided to stay in the English divisions.

Vaz Te has had an extremely good season so far with the Portuguese striker already netting ten times for former club Barnsley.

Sussex club Brighton have completed the signing of two Manchester City players on loan until the end of the season which again cemented the up and coming clubs ambition to gain entry into the premier league. The club has signed Abdul Razak and Gai Assulin who are both midfielders who have failed to break through into the first team at Manchester City. On another plus side for the Sussex club their influential winger craig Noone has committed his future to the club stating he is more than happy at the seagulls amid speculation that he could be joining Cardiff City in the summer after the Welsh club had a £1.2 million offer turned down by Gus Poyet in January.

Cardiff Cities formidable striker has today stated that he would indeed be extremely happy to extend his loan spell at league one side Scunthorpe United with the striker claiming he prefers life at the club. Cardiff winger Peter Whttingham has today stated that he is convinced he made the correct decision to commit himself to the Welsh club amid speculation that he could have joined West Ham during the January transfer window.

Richard Keogh has again reinforced his commitment to Coventry City by stating he would be more than happy to open contract negotiations with the club before the end of the season. This will be great news for manager Andy Thorn as he is already looking to bolster his squad for next season and would have thought of it as a detrimental loss to have lost Keogh for next season.

Ben reeves has today made his switch from Southampton to league two team Dagenham & Redbridge on a twelve month loan deal. Southampton have also gladly received back today forward Ryan Doyle from his loan spell at Bury and the influential forward is more than happy to be back.

Leeds United new boy boss Neil Warnock has today signed the Portsmouth forward Danny Webber on a deal that will see him at the club until the end of the season. Warnock has today also stated that he will have to wait until the end of the season before he can make any new moves for players until he assesses the financial situation. James Harper has today completed his move to Wycombe from title chasing league one team Hull City on a short term loan deal which will see him remain for just over a month.

Hull City have finally completed an interesting and what they hope will be a extremely beneficial loan deal for Joshua King. The Manchester united starlet will remain with the side until the end of the season with the possibility of extending it past that date.