Bristol City

Bristol City slideshow

Exclusive - Sean Dyche: 'We don't do blind faith, we do authentic optimism' 

Sean Dyche is explaining the nature of “positive realities”, the phrase he uses for being honest with his players about the challenge they face at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday against a Manchester City team that are not just top of the Premier League but playing like they very much intend to stay there. The Burnley manager has not built the career he has now from being unrealistic about his teams’ capabilities and in his third season as a Premier League manager, it is impossible to ignore how far he has come. After Craig Shakespeare’s sacking at Leicester City this week we are down to four permanent English top-flight managers, and top of them all is Dyche with a side that has lost just once in the league this season and begin the day in seventh place. Pep Guardiola’s team currently look like they could dismantle most sides in Europe and yet, as the City manager will know from the narrow margins of victory over Burnley last season, Dyche is quite capable of finding ways to compete. The 46-year-old shakes his head at the suggestion that this game represents a free hit for his club. “Don’t think we just do five-a-sides all week and say ‘Oh well, roll out and hope for the best’. We want to do our job, and deliver a performance. That’s important.” As that rare thing, an English manager in the Premier League, Dyche’s career has been one in which he has had to survive first and learn fast, through two promotions and one relegation with Burnley.  Ten years ago last summer a casual chat with Aidy Boothroyd on a bench at the Watford training ground persuaded the latter to appoint Dyche as the Under-18s coach. Ironic, really, Dyche reflects - Boothroyd had not wanted him as a player but was big enough to see his qualities as a coach. So began the journey that led to Burnley, where he will pass his fifth anniversary as manager next week, after the meeting with Guardiola. Last year they bumped into each other after the game at Turf Moor, a 2-1 win for the away side, and Guardiola told Dyche how his team had been unable to “dominate” Burnley. The City manager acknowledged he had faced a team who were well-drilled and knew their jobs to the last detail. Dyche is not a man who requires a pat on the head but this compliment, from one coach to the next, resonated with him. Dyche still talks to his old Chesterfield manager John Duncan, a man it took him a year to grasp Credit: PAUL COOPER for the Telegraph “We don’t do blind faith, we do authentic optimism,” he says. “There’s no point saying, ‘City are not all that’, because they are. We don’t do nonsense. We tell the players the truth. ‘This is a very good side with good individuals, a good structure, they are tighter than they were out of possession and more open in possession. Now what are we going to do?’ “Positive realities. What are the things we can do to take on the challenge? There’s no ‘Come on lads! Let’s do it! And if we think positively we will win!’ It just doesn’t work like that. There has to be more to it. The teams that you come across, they are not physically super-human, they are just very good. So it is asking what do we about that. How do we take on the challenge?” The solutions that Dyche has found to the issue of keeping Burnley competitive in the top-flight have looked increasingly attractive to others. He has been installed as the bookies’ favourite for the King Power job and the prejudices some might have held about a former lower league defender with a cement-mixer voice are gradually evaporating with Burnley’s relative success on a shoestring budget. Dyche, who first took Burnley up in 2014, has spent five productive years at Turf Moor Credit: Action Images / Paul Currie Dyche is aware of what he calls the “myths” around him, and he mentions them often. That he keeps the same players – “only six of the 22 from when I started are still here, so something’s changed!” That he does not like signing foreign players – “A good player is a good player, it’s just that we cannot afford signings that do not work”. That he is a 4-4-2 man – “we adjust and flex it”. And you can see quickly why players do stay: Dyche considers their development the most rewarding part of his job. He comes from Kettering, where his father Alan was a consultant in the steel industry and his mother Patsy stitched the bench-made shoes for which Northamptonshire is famous. Guardiola may have the hoodies, and the skinny jeans, but no manager knows real shoes like Dyche. He reels off the names, Cheaney, Church’s, John Lobb, Jeffery West. His mother stitched the early Dunlop boots worn by Trevor Brooking and Dyche is also a 1980s football boot connoisseur, a man who knows his Adidas Profi from his Stratos SL but is adamant that nothing beats a pair of World Cups. He recalls calling home from a tour in France with Nottingham Forest’s youth team when he complained to his father that a favourite of the coach was being picked ahead of him. “My dad was like ‘Stop that. You work hard, son, that’s how you move forward. Don’t make excuses. Get your head down and work hard’. Brilliant advice. Not getting in the way, not going to see the coach. But times have changed and you have to change with them.” Dyche, a Northants native, is a connoisseur of classic boots Credit:  PAUL COOPER FOR THE TELEGRAPH Dyche will admit that his roots are in a lost world of English football, around the fringes of Brian Clough’s last Forest team but never part of it, and then a hard-won career in the lower-leagues with the likes of Chesterfield, Millwall and Northampton. But you do not get to seventh in the Premier League in this brutal era of hire-and-fire without his keen intelligence and a natural curiosity about the game. Dyche has a thousand ideas and as many stories, and he recalls a tough time at Bristol City when he played under the Swedish coach Benny Lennartsson. “All the players were like, ‘He’s rubbish’. I thought: ‘You lot have lost your mind. He’s ahead of the curve.’ It was everywhere: tactically, his understanding of details, changing training, the professionalism - a massive shift. You could just smell it on him. He was a talker not a shouter and it was when football was just turning.” No manager who keeps a club with finances as modest as they are at Burnley buoyant in the Premier League will be expected to stay forever, so the question is how Dyche sees his career. Without Boothroyd’s faith, and then Malky Mackay’s insistence that Dyche be appointed his assistant at Watford in 2009, when the club wanted an older man, he admits he could have stayed much longer in youth development. The next fork in the road could be even more significant. “You need doors to open, you need a chance – and you have got to have something, to take your chance when the door opens at the right time. My first port of call was to be a manager, then it was a successful manager, then it was a Premier League manager. Then, can I stay in the Premier League? What opens next? I am at A and going all the way to Z is high unlikely in any career, let alone football. You have to weave your way like the river, pick up your skills and keep going. “Some jobs you look at and think: ‘That’s nearly impossible to turn round.’ But what are your circumstances? If you are in a job and another becomes available and you can’t see a way of that moving forward, then you have a choice. If you are out of work and a job becomes available you might think: ‘I have to take it because jobs are so scarce.'” He still speaks to his old Chesterfield manager John Duncan who plotted that miracle run to the 1997 FA Cup semi-final in which Dyche scored a penalty against Middlesbrough. He says that for the first year the pair did not get on - Dyche simply could not see what his manager was trying to do. When at last it became clear he “marvelled” – his word – at how Duncan had spotted the team’s hitherto hidden potential. Another useful lesson picked up along the way and one more reason to approach Saturday without fear.

Exclusive - Sean Dyche: 'We don't do blind faith, we do authentic optimism' 

Sean Dyche is explaining the nature of “positive realities”, the phrase he uses for being honest with his players about the challenge they face at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday against a Manchester City team that are not just top of the Premier League but playing like they very much intend to stay there. The Burnley manager has not built the career he has now from being unrealistic about his teams’ capabilities and in his third season as a Premier League manager, it is impossible to ignore how far he has come. After Craig Shakespeare’s sacking at Leicester City this week we are down to four permanent English top-flight managers, and top of them all is Dyche with a side that has lost just once in the league this season and begin the day in seventh place. Pep Guardiola’s team currently look like they could dismantle most sides in Europe and yet, as the City manager will know from the narrow margins of victory over Burnley last season, Dyche is quite capable of finding ways to compete. The 46-year-old shakes his head at the suggestion that this game represents a free hit for his club. “Don’t think we just do five-a-sides all week and say ‘Oh well, roll out and hope for the best’. We want to do our job, and deliver a performance. That’s important.” As that rare thing, an English manager in the Premier League, Dyche’s career has been one in which he has had to survive first and learn fast, through two promotions and one relegation with Burnley.  Ten years ago last summer a casual chat with Aidy Boothroyd on a bench at the Watford training ground persuaded the latter to appoint Dyche as the Under-18s coach. Ironic, really, Dyche reflects - Boothroyd had not wanted him as a player but was big enough to see his qualities as a coach. So began the journey that led to Burnley, where he will pass his fifth anniversary as manager next week, after the meeting with Guardiola. Last year they bumped into each other after the game at Turf Moor, a 2-1 win for the away side, and Guardiola told Dyche how his team had been unable to “dominate” Burnley. The City manager acknowledged he had faced a team who were well-drilled and knew their jobs to the last detail. Dyche is not a man who requires a pat on the head but this compliment, from one coach to the next, resonated with him. Dyche still talks to his old Chesterfield manager John Duncan, a man it took him a year to grasp Credit: PAUL COOPER for the Telegraph “We don’t do blind faith, we do authentic optimism,” he says. “There’s no point saying, ‘City are not all that’, because they are. We don’t do nonsense. We tell the players the truth. ‘This is a very good side with good individuals, a good structure, they are tighter than they were out of possession and more open in possession. Now what are we going to do?’ “Positive realities. What are the things we can do to take on the challenge? There’s no ‘Come on lads! Let’s do it! And if we think positively we will win!’ It just doesn’t work like that. There has to be more to it. The teams that you come across, they are not physically super-human, they are just very good. So it is asking what do we about that. How do we take on the challenge?” The solutions that Dyche has found to the issue of keeping Burnley competitive in the top-flight have looked increasingly attractive to others. He has been installed as the bookies’ favourite for the King Power job and the prejudices some might have held about a former lower league defender with a cement-mixer voice are gradually evaporating with Burnley’s relative success on a shoestring budget. Dyche, who first took Burnley up in 2014, has spent five productive years at Turf Moor Credit: Action Images / Paul Currie Dyche is aware of what he calls the “myths” around him, and he mentions them often. That he keeps the same players – “only six of the 22 from when I started are still here, so something’s changed!” That he does not like signing foreign players – “A good player is a good player, it’s just that we cannot afford signings that do not work”. That he is a 4-4-2 man – “we adjust and flex it”. And you can see quickly why players do stay: Dyche considers their development the most rewarding part of his job. He comes from Kettering, where his father Alan was a consultant in the steel industry and his mother Patsy stitched the bench-made shoes for which Northamptonshire is famous. Guardiola may have the hoodies, and the skinny jeans, but no manager knows real shoes like Dyche. He reels off the names, Cheaney, Church’s, John Lobb, Jeffery West. His mother stitched the early Dunlop boots worn by Trevor Brooking and Dyche is also a 1980s football boot connoisseur, a man who knows his Adidas Profi from his Stratos SL but is adamant that nothing beats a pair of World Cups. He recalls calling home from a tour in France with Nottingham Forest’s youth team when he complained to his father that a favourite of the coach was being picked ahead of him. “My dad was like ‘Stop that. You work hard, son, that’s how you move forward. Don’t make excuses. Get your head down and work hard’. Brilliant advice. Not getting in the way, not going to see the coach. But times have changed and you have to change with them.” Dyche, a Northants native, is a connoisseur of classic boots Credit:  PAUL COOPER FOR THE TELEGRAPH Dyche will admit that his roots are in a lost world of English football, around the fringes of Brian Clough’s last Forest team but never part of it, and then a hard-won career in the lower-leagues with the likes of Chesterfield, Millwall and Northampton. But you do not get to seventh in the Premier League in this brutal era of hire-and-fire without his keen intelligence and a natural curiosity about the game. Dyche has a thousand ideas and as many stories, and he recalls a tough time at Bristol City when he played under the Swedish coach Benny Lennartsson. “All the players were like, ‘He’s rubbish’. I thought: ‘You lot have lost your mind. He’s ahead of the curve.’ It was everywhere: tactically, his understanding of details, changing training, the professionalism - a massive shift. You could just smell it on him. He was a talker not a shouter and it was when football was just turning.” No manager who keeps a club with finances as modest as they are at Burnley buoyant in the Premier League will be expected to stay forever, so the question is how Dyche sees his career. Without Boothroyd’s faith, and then Malky Mackay’s insistence that Dyche be appointed his assistant at Watford in 2009, when the club wanted an older man, he admits he could have stayed much longer in youth development. The next fork in the road could be even more significant. “You need doors to open, you need a chance – and you have got to have something, to take your chance when the door opens at the right time. My first port of call was to be a manager, then it was a successful manager, then it was a Premier League manager. Then, can I stay in the Premier League? What opens next? I am at A and going all the way to Z is high unlikely in any career, let alone football. You have to weave your way like the river, pick up your skills and keep going. “Some jobs you look at and think: ‘That’s nearly impossible to turn round.’ But what are your circumstances? If you are in a job and another becomes available and you can’t see a way of that moving forward, then you have a choice. If you are out of work and a job becomes available you might think: ‘I have to take it because jobs are so scarce.'” He still speaks to his old Chesterfield manager John Duncan who plotted that miracle run to the 1997 FA Cup semi-final in which Dyche scored a penalty against Middlesbrough. He says that for the first year the pair did not get on - Dyche simply could not see what his manager was trying to do. When at last it became clear he “marvelled” – his word – at how Duncan had spotted the team’s hitherto hidden potential. Another useful lesson picked up along the way and one more reason to approach Saturday without fear.

Exclusive - Sean Dyche: 'We don't do blind faith, we do authentic optimism' 

Sean Dyche is explaining the nature of “positive realities”, the phrase he uses for being honest with his players about the challenge they face at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday against a Manchester City team that are not just top of the Premier League but playing like they very much intend to stay there. The Burnley manager has not built the career he has now from being unrealistic about his teams’ capabilities and in his third season as a Premier League manager, it is impossible to ignore how far he has come. After Craig Shakespeare’s sacking at Leicester City this week we are down to four permanent English top-flight managers, and top of them all is Dyche with a side that has lost just once in the league this season and begin the day in seventh place. Pep Guardiola’s team currently look like they could dismantle most sides in Europe and yet, as the City manager will know from the narrow margins of victory over Burnley last season, Dyche is quite capable of finding ways to compete. The 46-year-old shakes his head at the suggestion that this game represents a free hit for his club. “Don’t think we just do five-a-sides all week and say ‘Oh well, roll out and hope for the best’. We want to do our job, and deliver a performance. That’s important.” As that rare thing, an English manager in the Premier League, Dyche’s career has been one in which he has had to survive first and learn fast, through two promotions and one relegation with Burnley.  Ten years ago last summer a casual chat with Aidy Boothroyd on a bench at the Watford training ground persuaded the latter to appoint Dyche as the Under-18s coach. Ironic, really, Dyche reflects - Boothroyd had not wanted him as a player but was big enough to see his qualities as a coach. So began the journey that led to Burnley, where he will pass his fifth anniversary as manager next week, after the meeting with Guardiola. Last year they bumped into each other after the game at Turf Moor, a 2-1 win for the away side, and Guardiola told Dyche how his team had been unable to “dominate” Burnley. The City manager acknowledged he had faced a team who were well-drilled and knew their jobs to the last detail. Dyche is not a man who requires a pat on the head but this compliment, from one coach to the next, resonated with him. Dyche still talks to his old Chesterfield manager John Duncan, a man it took him a year to grasp Credit: PAUL COOPER for the Telegraph “We don’t do blind faith, we do authentic optimism,” he says. “There’s no point saying, ‘City are not all that’, because they are. We don’t do nonsense. We tell the players the truth. ‘This is a very good side with good individuals, a good structure, they are tighter than they were out of possession and more open in possession. Now what are we going to do?’ “Positive realities. What are the things we can do to take on the challenge? There’s no ‘Come on lads! Let’s do it! And if we think positively we will win!’ It just doesn’t work like that. There has to be more to it. The teams that you come across, they are not physically super-human, they are just very good. So it is asking what do we about that. How do we take on the challenge?” The solutions that Dyche has found to the issue of keeping Burnley competitive in the top-flight have looked increasingly attractive to others. He has been installed as the bookies’ favourite for the King Power job and the prejudices some might have held about a former lower league defender with a cement-mixer voice are gradually evaporating with Burnley’s relative success on a shoestring budget. Dyche, who first took Burnley up in 2014, has spent five productive years at Turf Moor Credit: Action Images / Paul Currie Dyche is aware of what he calls the “myths” around him, and he mentions them often. That he keeps the same players – “only six of the 22 from when I started are still here, so something’s changed!” That he does not like signing foreign players – “A good player is a good player, it’s just that we cannot afford signings that do not work”. That he is a 4-4-2 man – “we adjust and flex it”. And you can see quickly why players do stay: Dyche considers their development the most rewarding part of his job. He comes from Kettering, where his father Alan was a consultant in the steel industry and his mother Patsy stitched the bench-made shoes for which Northamptonshire is famous. Guardiola may have the hoodies, and the skinny jeans, but no manager knows real shoes like Dyche. He reels off the names, Cheaney, Church’s, John Lobb, Jeffery West. His mother stitched the early Dunlop boots worn by Trevor Brooking and Dyche is also a 1980s football boot connoisseur, a man who knows his Adidas Profi from his Stratos SL but is adamant that nothing beats a pair of World Cups. He recalls calling home from a tour in France with Nottingham Forest’s youth team when he complained to his father that a favourite of the coach was being picked ahead of him. “My dad was like ‘Stop that. You work hard, son, that’s how you move forward. Don’t make excuses. Get your head down and work hard’. Brilliant advice. Not getting in the way, not going to see the coach. But times have changed and you have to change with them.” Dyche, a Northants native, is a connoisseur of classic boots Credit:  PAUL COOPER FOR THE TELEGRAPH Dyche will admit that his roots are in a lost world of English football, around the fringes of Brian Clough’s last Forest team but never part of it, and then a hard-won career in the lower-leagues with the likes of Chesterfield, Millwall and Northampton. But you do not get to seventh in the Premier League in this brutal era of hire-and-fire without his keen intelligence and a natural curiosity about the game. Dyche has a thousand ideas and as many stories, and he recalls a tough time at Bristol City when he played under the Swedish coach Benny Lennartsson. “All the players were like, ‘He’s rubbish’. I thought: ‘You lot have lost your mind. He’s ahead of the curve.’ It was everywhere: tactically, his understanding of details, changing training, the professionalism - a massive shift. You could just smell it on him. He was a talker not a shouter and it was when football was just turning.” No manager who keeps a club with finances as modest as they are at Burnley buoyant in the Premier League will be expected to stay forever, so the question is how Dyche sees his career. Without Boothroyd’s faith, and then Malky Mackay’s insistence that Dyche be appointed his assistant at Watford in 2009, when the club wanted an older man, he admits he could have stayed much longer in youth development. The next fork in the road could be even more significant. “You need doors to open, you need a chance – and you have got to have something, to take your chance when the door opens at the right time. My first port of call was to be a manager, then it was a successful manager, then it was a Premier League manager. Then, can I stay in the Premier League? What opens next? I am at A and going all the way to Z is high unlikely in any career, let alone football. You have to weave your way like the river, pick up your skills and keep going. “Some jobs you look at and think: ‘That’s nearly impossible to turn round.’ But what are your circumstances? If you are in a job and another becomes available and you can’t see a way of that moving forward, then you have a choice. If you are out of work and a job becomes available you might think: ‘I have to take it because jobs are so scarce.'” He still speaks to his old Chesterfield manager John Duncan who plotted that miracle run to the 1997 FA Cup semi-final in which Dyche scored a penalty against Middlesbrough. He says that for the first year the pair did not get on - Dyche simply could not see what his manager was trying to do. When at last it became clear he “marvelled” – his word – at how Duncan had spotted the team’s hitherto hidden potential. Another useful lesson picked up along the way and one more reason to approach Saturday without fear.

Exclusive - Sean Dyche: 'We don't do blind faith, we do authentic optimism' 

Sean Dyche is explaining the nature of “positive realities”, the phrase he uses for being honest with his players about the challenge they face at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday against a Manchester City team that are not just top of the Premier League but playing like they very much intend to stay there. The Burnley manager has not built the career he has now from being unrealistic about his teams’ capabilities and in his third season as a Premier League manager, it is impossible to ignore how far he has come. After Craig Shakespeare’s sacking at Leicester City this week we are down to four permanent English top-flight managers, and top of them all is Dyche with a side that has lost just once in the league this season and begin the day in seventh place. Pep Guardiola’s team currently look like they could dismantle most sides in Europe and yet, as the City manager will know from the narrow margins of victory over Burnley last season, Dyche is quite capable of finding ways to compete. The 46-year-old shakes his head at the suggestion that this game represents a free hit for his club. “Don’t think we just do five-a-sides all week and say ‘Oh well, roll out and hope for the best’. We want to do our job, and deliver a performance. That’s important.” As that rare thing, an English manager in the Premier League, Dyche’s career has been one in which he has had to survive first and learn fast, through two promotions and one relegation with Burnley.  Ten years ago last summer a casual chat with Aidy Boothroyd on a bench at the Watford training ground persuaded the latter to appoint Dyche as the Under-18s coach. Ironic, really, Dyche reflects - Boothroyd had not wanted him as a player but was big enough to see his qualities as a coach. So began the journey that led to Burnley, where he will pass his fifth anniversary as manager next week, after the meeting with Guardiola. Last year they bumped into each other after the game at Turf Moor, a 2-1 win for the away side, and Guardiola told Dyche how his team had been unable to “dominate” Burnley. The City manager acknowledged he had faced a team who were well-drilled and knew their jobs to the last detail. Dyche is not a man who requires a pat on the head but this compliment, from one coach to the next, resonated with him. Dyche still talks to his old Chesterfield manager John Duncan, a man it took him a year to grasp Credit: PAUL COOPER for the Telegraph “We don’t do blind faith, we do authentic optimism,” he says. “There’s no point saying, ‘City are not all that’, because they are. We don’t do nonsense. We tell the players the truth. ‘This is a very good side with good individuals, a good structure, they are tighter than they were out of possession and more open in possession. Now what are we going to do?’ “Positive realities. What are the things we can do to take on the challenge? There’s no ‘Come on lads! Let’s do it! And if we think positively we will win!’ It just doesn’t work like that. There has to be more to it. The teams that you come across, they are not physically super-human, they are just very good. So it is asking what do we about that. How do we take on the challenge?” The solutions that Dyche has found to the issue of keeping Burnley competitive in the top-flight have looked increasingly attractive to others. He has been installed as the bookies’ favourite for the King Power job and the prejudices some might have held about a former lower league defender with a cement-mixer voice are gradually evaporating with Burnley’s relative success on a shoestring budget. Dyche, who first took Burnley up in 2014, has spent five productive years at Turf Moor Credit: Action Images / Paul Currie Dyche is aware of what he calls the “myths” around him, and he mentions them often. That he keeps the same players – “only six of the 22 from when I started are still here, so something’s changed!” That he does not like signing foreign players – “A good player is a good player, it’s just that we cannot afford signings that do not work”. That he is a 4-4-2 man – “we adjust and flex it”. And you can see quickly why players do stay: Dyche considers their development the most rewarding part of his job. He comes from Kettering, where his father Alan was a consultant in the steel industry and his mother Patsy stitched the bench-made shoes for which Northamptonshire is famous. Guardiola may have the hoodies, and the skinny jeans, but no manager knows real shoes like Dyche. He reels off the names, Cheaney, Church’s, John Lobb, Jeffery West. His mother stitched the early Dunlop boots worn by Trevor Brooking and Dyche is also a 1980s football boot connoisseur, a man who knows his Adidas Profi from his Stratos SL but is adamant that nothing beats a pair of World Cups. He recalls calling home from a tour in France with Nottingham Forest’s youth team when he complained to his father that a favourite of the coach was being picked ahead of him. “My dad was like ‘Stop that. You work hard, son, that’s how you move forward. Don’t make excuses. Get your head down and work hard’. Brilliant advice. Not getting in the way, not going to see the coach. But times have changed and you have to change with them.” Dyche, a Northants native, is a connoisseur of classic boots Credit:  PAUL COOPER FOR THE TELEGRAPH Dyche will admit that his roots are in a lost world of English football, around the fringes of Brian Clough’s last Forest team but never part of it, and then a hard-won career in the lower-leagues with the likes of Chesterfield, Millwall and Northampton. But you do not get to seventh in the Premier League in this brutal era of hire-and-fire without his keen intelligence and a natural curiosity about the game. Dyche has a thousand ideas and as many stories, and he recalls a tough time at Bristol City when he played under the Swedish coach Benny Lennartsson. “All the players were like, ‘He’s rubbish’. I thought: ‘You lot have lost your mind. He’s ahead of the curve.’ It was everywhere: tactically, his understanding of details, changing training, the professionalism - a massive shift. You could just smell it on him. He was a talker not a shouter and it was when football was just turning.” No manager who keeps a club with finances as modest as they are at Burnley buoyant in the Premier League will be expected to stay forever, so the question is how Dyche sees his career. Without Boothroyd’s faith, and then Malky Mackay’s insistence that Dyche be appointed his assistant at Watford in 2009, when the club wanted an older man, he admits he could have stayed much longer in youth development. The next fork in the road could be even more significant. “You need doors to open, you need a chance – and you have got to have something, to take your chance when the door opens at the right time. My first port of call was to be a manager, then it was a successful manager, then it was a Premier League manager. Then, can I stay in the Premier League? What opens next? I am at A and going all the way to Z is high unlikely in any career, let alone football. You have to weave your way like the river, pick up your skills and keep going. “Some jobs you look at and think: ‘That’s nearly impossible to turn round.’ But what are your circumstances? If you are in a job and another becomes available and you can’t see a way of that moving forward, then you have a choice. If you are out of work and a job becomes available you might think: ‘I have to take it because jobs are so scarce.'” He still speaks to his old Chesterfield manager John Duncan who plotted that miracle run to the 1997 FA Cup semi-final in which Dyche scored a penalty against Middlesbrough. He says that for the first year the pair did not get on - Dyche simply could not see what his manager was trying to do. When at last it became clear he “marvelled” – his word – at how Duncan had spotted the team’s hitherto hidden potential. Another useful lesson picked up along the way and one more reason to approach Saturday without fear.

England v Bosnia & Herzegovina - UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Qualifying Group Seven

Football Soccer - England v Bosnia & Herzegovina - UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Qualifying Group Seven - Ashton Gate, Bristol - 29/11/15 England's Eniola Aluko in action with Bosnia's Amira Spahic Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Tony O'Brien Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

Ireland 2 Moldova 0: Daryl Murphy double sets up World Cup showdown with Wales

Beating Moldova at home was the easy part, now comes the real test in Cardiff as the Republic of Ireland head to Wales for a game they know they must win to snatch second place in Group D. It has come as no surprise to Martin O’Neill. The Ireland manager always said in private, even when his team were top of the group, that they would need to go to Wales in their final game needing something. It probably should not have been a win to snaffle a play-off place. Ireland were in such a strong position at the end of last year, they were thinking about automatic qualification and although Serbia’s shock defeat in Austria leaves that door slightly ajar, all that matters is beating Wales. Ireland have stumbled and tripped their way to this point. This was their first win of 2017, but they are still standing, still fighting and it sets up a thrilling battle with Chris Coleman’s Welshmen. “The most important thing is we go to Monday night with everything to play for,” said O’Neill. “We know what we have to do, we have to win and the chance is there. I just feel, when we have to win a game, like we did in Lille when we beat Italy to get into the last 16 of the Euros, we will just go for it. The opening goal came from Murphy's left boot Credit: pa “I always said this group would be very tight, we have a fighting chance. I’ve always suspected it would come down to this final game. We will apply ourselves and play really, really strongly. I think we can win the match.” Moldova have not won a competitive fixture for four years, but they can still be a tough nut to crack. Ireland, though, prised them open in less than two minutes when Stephen Ward’s long throw was hooked home by Daryl Murphy. Murphy scored his second minutes later, heading in Ward’s cross. The 34-year-old has been in superb form for Nottingham Forest this season, but these were only the second and third goals of his international career. Whatever happens against Wales - regardless of whether they reach the World Cup next year, having verbally agreed a new two-year contract - O’Neill has to start looking to the future. That was why Bristol City winger, Callum O’Dowda was preferred to Aiden McGeady on the left wing. At just 22, he has the best years ahead of him. At the age of 31, McGeady’s have past him by, a tale of what might have been for such a natural talent. Murphy's second came with a smart header Credit: Getty Images O’Dowda did not disappoint, firing a shot into the side netting before skilfully turning away from a defender on the edge of the area and picking out Shane Long with a perfect low cross. The Southampton striker should have scored, but put his shot narrowly wide. Moldova, who had Alexandru Gatcan sent off for shoving head into the face of Harry Arter late on, almost most pulled a goal back before the interval, but Darren Randolph managed to tip Sergiu Platica’s effort over the bar. It was a warning, but nothing more. Ireland meandered their way towards the victory. Long missed another simple chance after good work from Wes Hoolahan and O’Dowda, but the only damage done was to his pride. Long has not scored a goal since February for club or country.

Ireland 2 Moldova 0: Daryl Murphy double sets up World Cup showdown with Wales

Beating Moldova at home was the easy part, now comes the real test in Cardiff as the Republic of Ireland head to Wales for a game they know they must win to snatch second place in Group D. It has come as no surprise to Martin O’Neill. The Ireland manager always said in private, even when his team were top of the group, that they would need to go to Wales in their final game needing something. It probably should not have been a win to snaffle a play-off place. Ireland were in such a strong position at the end of last year, they were thinking about automatic qualification and although Serbia’s shock defeat in Austria leaves that door slightly ajar, all that matters is beating Wales. Ireland have stumbled and tripped their way to this point. This was their first win of 2017, but they are still standing, still fighting and it sets up a thrilling battle with Chris Coleman’s Welshmen. “The most important thing is we go to Monday night with everything to play for,” said O’Neill. “We know what we have to do, we have to win and the chance is there. I just feel, when we have to win a game, like we did in Lille when we beat Italy to get into the last 16 of the Euros, we will just go for it. The opening goal came from Murphy's left boot Credit: pa “I always said this group would be very tight, we have a fighting chance. I’ve always suspected it would come down to this final game. We will apply ourselves and play really, really strongly. I think we can win the match.” Moldova have not won a competitive fixture for four years, but they can still be a tough nut to crack. Ireland, though, prised them open in less than two minutes when Stephen Ward’s long throw was hooked home by Daryl Murphy. Murphy scored his second minutes later, heading in Ward’s cross. The 34-year-old has been in superb form for Nottingham Forest this season, but these were only the second and third goals of his international career. Whatever happens against Wales - regardless of whether they reach the World Cup next year, having verbally agreed a new two-year contract - O’Neill has to start looking to the future. That was why Bristol City winger, Callum O’Dowda was preferred to Aiden McGeady on the left wing. At just 22, he has the best years ahead of him. At the age of 31, McGeady’s have past him by, a tale of what might have been for such a natural talent. Murphy's second came with a smart header Credit: Getty Images O’Dowda did not disappoint, firing a shot into the side netting before skilfully turning away from a defender on the edge of the area and picking out Shane Long with a perfect low cross. The Southampton striker should have scored, but put his shot narrowly wide. Moldova, who had Alexandru Gatcan sent off for shoving head into the face of Harry Arter late on, almost most pulled a goal back before the interval, but Darren Randolph managed to tip Sergiu Platica’s effort over the bar. It was a warning, but nothing more. Ireland meandered their way towards the victory. Long missed another simple chance after good work from Wes Hoolahan and O’Dowda, but the only damage done was to his pride. Long has not scored a goal since February for club or country.

Ireland 2 Moldova 0: Daryl Murphy double sets up World Cup showdown with Wales

Beating Moldova at home was the easy part, now comes the real test in Cardiff as the Republic of Ireland head to Wales for a game they know they must win to snatch second place in Group D. It has come as no surprise to Martin O’Neill. The Ireland manager always said in private, even when his team were top of the group, that they would need to go to Wales in their final game needing something. It probably should not have been a win to snaffle a play-off place. Ireland were in such a strong position at the end of last year, they were thinking about automatic qualification and although Serbia’s shock defeat in Austria leaves that door slightly ajar, all that matters is beating Wales. Ireland have stumbled and tripped their way to this point. This was their first win of 2017, but they are still standing, still fighting and it sets up a thrilling battle with Chris Coleman’s Welshmen. “The most important thing is we go to Monday night with everything to play for,” said O’Neill. “We know what we have to do, we have to win and the chance is there. I just feel, when we have to win a game, like we did in Lille when we beat Italy to get into the last 16 of the Euros, we will just go for it. The opening goal came from Murphy's left boot Credit: pa “I always said this group would be very tight, we have a fighting chance. I’ve always suspected it would come down to this final game. We will apply ourselves and play really, really strongly. I think we can win the match.” Moldova have not won a competitive fixture for four years, but they can still be a tough nut to crack. Ireland, though, prised them open in less than two minutes when Stephen Ward’s long throw was hooked home by Daryl Murphy. Murphy scored his second minutes later, heading in Ward’s cross. The 34-year-old has been in superb form for Nottingham Forest this season, but these were only the second and third goals of his international career. Whatever happens against Wales - regardless of whether they reach the World Cup next year, having verbally agreed a new two-year contract - O’Neill has to start looking to the future. That was why Bristol City winger, Callum O’Dowda was preferred to Aiden McGeady on the left wing. At just 22, he has the best years ahead of him. At the age of 31, McGeady’s have past him by, a tale of what might have been for such a natural talent. Murphy's second came with a smart header Credit: Getty Images O’Dowda did not disappoint, firing a shot into the side netting before skilfully turning away from a defender on the edge of the area and picking out Shane Long with a perfect low cross. The Southampton striker should have scored, but put his shot narrowly wide. Moldova, who had Alexandru Gatcan sent off for shoving head into the face of Harry Arter late on, almost most pulled a goal back before the interval, but Darren Randolph managed to tip Sergiu Platica’s effort over the bar. It was a warning, but nothing more. Ireland meandered their way towards the victory. Long missed another simple chance after good work from Wes Hoolahan and O’Dowda, but the only damage done was to his pride. Long has not scored a goal since February for club or country.

Exclusive Greg Clarke interview: 'Mark Sampson should have been sacked years ago'

Greg Clarke, the Football Association chairman, has defended the sacking of Mark Sampson as a move that “should have been made three or four years ago” and dismissed claims that his organisation wanted to “nobble” the investigation into the former England women manager’s controversial comments to Eni Aluko and other black players. Five big issues that FA chairman Clarke has dealt with in the past year The FA’s internal inquiry into the Aluko case has resumed, but Clarke insists the first investigation, which cleared Sampson of wrongdoing, was not compromised. He also declined to blame Dan Ashworth, the FA’s technical director, for allegedly overlooking claims about Sampson’s “inappropriate” and “unacceptable” relationships with female players at Bristol Academy - now Bristol City Women. In the first interview by a senior FA executive since Sampson’s dismissal, Clarke said: “When you get to the point where the new chairman and the new chief executive find out something that wasn’t shared with the board a long time ago [details of Sampson’s time in Bristol], do you think - that’s a shame, we’d have done something if we’d known, or do you make a decision? “Martin [Glenn, the chief executive] said - ‘Look, I found this out yesterday.’ I said - ‘Right, what do you think?’ He told me, I agreed with him and we had a board conference call. We sent out some papers, we asked some questions about legalities, facts, what happened when. And we made a decision. Now, that’s the sort of decision that should have been made three or four years ago, but you can’t use that as an excuse to duck the decision today.” Sampson, who became England manager in December 2013, was sacked last month after Glenn revisited a March 2015 report compiled after anonymous concerns were expressed in March 2014. Ashworth is under pressure to reveal what, if anything, he knew about Sampson’s time at Bristol before he appointed him England coach. England has few friends abroad, says Clarke, and it needs to foster goodwill Credit: Getty Images Clarke, Glenn and Ashworth are among those called before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee on 18 October to discuss the Aluko and Sampson cases. And Clarke was forthright when we met at an FA Cup third-round qualifying tie between Hayes and Yeading and Havant and Waterlooville to mark the first anniversary of his chairmanship. “We’ve been summoned. We’ll respectfully turn up and answer every question to the best of our ability. It’s the way our country works. I don’t resent it,” he said. Of Aluko’s claim that Sampson made comments about “Ebola” and the “arrest” records of black players, Clarke said: “It’s a complicated one. I’m pleased she raised the issues. If there are issues, we want people to feel safe and raise them. But there are two sets of rights. There are the rights of the people who feel aggrieved, and the rights of the people who’ve been accused. We had an internal investigation, which came to a very simple conclusion. There had been some daft things said, but none of them posed systemic evidence of either racism or bullying. Clarke believes Mark Sampson should have been dismissed as England women's manager years ago Credit: Getty Images “Because of the gravity of the accusations we felt the need to get an independent barrister [Katharine Newton] to conduct independent reviews. I read the report and came to the same conclusion. Some people decided they weren’t going to be interviewed. They’ve now come forward and said ‘we would like to speak’. Our barrister is now collecting more evidence. If the conclusions stay the same - fine. If they differ - fine. All we want is to get to the bottom of it.” The Professional Footballers’ Association claim that the original inquiry (in which Ashworth was instrumental) was “not a genuine search for the truth” was rejected by Clarke. He said: “I think it would be reckless and foolish in the extreme to try to nobble a high profile barrister. I just don’t think they’d have it. Maybe I’m wrong, but that sounds like a high risk plan to me. Were there any inefficiencies in our whistleblowing protocols? I’ve asked UK Sport to look at our whistleblowing protocols so people feel able to bring accusations forward. But I can’t think of one high profile QC or barrister who would put their name to a whitewashing exercise and ruin their career.” Clarke was sanguine about the tide of disorder that has washed across his desk. In 12 months he has overseen the sackings of Sam Allardyce and Sampson, pushed through FA structural reforms, approved a new £100m TV deal for the FA Cup, championed diversity  and, most harrowingly, toured the country to discuss the child sex abuse scandal. Sam Allardyce, Harry Redknapp and the full story of Football For Sale 16:38 He said: “I think I’d been in my office for four days when the Sam Allardyce issue blew up, and I was thinking - Crumbs, will I last the first week? Then you have the safeguarding [child sex abuse] crisis. That was much more worrying. The Sam Allardyce thing was one of those things you knew was going to be a media storm. You’re going to make a decision and live with it.” Despite the impending DCMS date, he is not reluctant to talk about the Sampson and Aluko cases. “These two things have become entangled when they’re different, right?” he said. “Just because a safeguarding inquiry reveals some evidence [about Bristol], and that evidence leads us to believe we couldn’t continue to employ Mark Sampson in a senior leadership coaching role for the FA, it doesn’t mean he’s guilty of racism or bullying. That’s a separate inquiry. It will come to a conclusion. It will be transparent, it will be shared.” Ashworth, under increasing pressure to explain his role, was not named by Clarke in his answer to a question about the FA technical director’s role but appeared to defend him: “One of the things that has really annoyed me about football, about business, about politics, government, the public sector, is that there is a propensity for senior people to take as much credit and make as many announcements as they can, and there’s a propensity for some junior person to get all the blame,” Clarke said. "That yields a culture of fear. It yields a bureaucratic culture where no one will take a decision because they will get the blame for it. I’m not going around trying to blame this on some middle management. I’m trying to find what happened.” Clarke served a long apprenticeship for the chairman’s role. “I started as a programme seller and ended up as chairman of Leicester City, the Football League and the FA,” he said. “The FA has a habit of throwing more things at you than you expect. It’s the old ‘events dear boy, events’ quote.” But the child abuse scandal, on which a report is due next year, has left the deepest imprint. He says: “I met a lot of the victims. You sit there and you nod, and try to be supportive, but inside it’s killing you to listen to what these guys have been through. I gave a lot of reflection. I went to see all the counties - all 50 of them. “They had stories about - ‘Oh Fred’s all right, he’s been coaching for years. And now he wants to work with the kids, we’re going to get him checked out. It turns out, the police say: ‘He’s a raging paedophile, we’ve pulled him loads of times.’ These were historic stories. “And what surprised me is how these evil characters - and I can’t call them anything else - how cunning they are. How really deviously cunning they are. And they take advantage of people who think the best of other people. “I spoke to 20 or 30 [victims]. Usually in small groups. Speaking is overstating it. It’s mainly listening. Because you don’t have a lot to offer beyond a listening ear. A commitment that we will move heaven and earth to make sure no children have to go through that in the future - and a recognition that we will hunt down anyone we can and give the information to the police, because these are heinous crimes. “It was certainly a chastening experience. It leaves you feeling very inadequate. I’ve been in the game for 25 years. You think - institutionally, the game has let these people down. Really let them down.” Greg Clarke on ... | The World Cup, the Premier League and more  

Exclusive Greg Clarke interview: 'Mark Sampson should have been sacked years ago'

Greg Clarke, the Football Association chairman, has defended the sacking of Mark Sampson as a move that “should have been made three or four years ago” and dismissed claims that his organisation wanted to “nobble” the investigation into the former England women manager’s controversial comments to Eni Aluko and other black players. Five big issues that FA chairman Clarke has dealt with in the past year The FA’s internal inquiry into the Aluko case has resumed, but Clarke insists the first investigation, which cleared Sampson of wrongdoing, was not compromised. He also declined to blame Dan Ashworth, the FA’s technical director, for allegedly overlooking claims about Sampson’s “inappropriate” and “unacceptable” relationships with female players at Bristol Academy - now Bristol City Women. In the first interview by a senior FA executive since Sampson’s dismissal, Clarke said: “When you get to the point where the new chairman and the new chief executive find out something that wasn’t shared with the board a long time ago [details of Sampson’s time in Bristol], do you think - that’s a shame, we’d have done something if we’d known, or do you make a decision? “Martin [Glenn, the chief executive] said - ‘Look, I found this out yesterday.’ I said - ‘Right, what do you think?’ He told me, I agreed with him and we had a board conference call. We sent out some papers, we asked some questions about legalities, facts, what happened when. And we made a decision. Now, that’s the sort of decision that should have been made three or four years ago, but you can’t use that as an excuse to duck the decision today.” Sampson, who became England manager in December 2013, was sacked last month after Glenn revisited a March 2015 report compiled after anonymous concerns were expressed in March 2014. Ashworth is under pressure to reveal what, if anything, he knew about Sampson’s time at Bristol before he appointed him England coach. England has few friends abroad, says Clarke, and it needs to foster goodwill Credit: Getty Images Clarke, Glenn and Ashworth are among those called before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee on 18 October to discuss the Aluko and Sampson cases. And Clarke was forthright when we met at an FA Cup third-round qualifying tie between Hayes and Yeading and Havant and Waterlooville to mark the first anniversary of his chairmanship. “We’ve been summoned. We’ll respectfully turn up and answer every question to the best of our ability. It’s the way our country works. I don’t resent it,” he said. Of Aluko’s claim that Sampson made comments about “Ebola” and the “arrest” records of black players, Clarke said: “It’s a complicated one. I’m pleased she raised the issues. If there are issues, we want people to feel safe and raise them. But there are two sets of rights. There are the rights of the people who feel aggrieved, and the rights of the people who’ve been accused. We had an internal investigation, which came to a very simple conclusion. There had been some daft things said, but none of them posed systemic evidence of either racism or bullying. Clarke believes Mark Sampson should have been dismissed as England women's manager years ago Credit: Getty Images “Because of the gravity of the accusations we felt the need to get an independent barrister [Katharine Newton] to conduct independent reviews. I read the report and came to the same conclusion. Some people decided they weren’t going to be interviewed. They’ve now come forward and said ‘we would like to speak’. Our barrister is now collecting more evidence. If the conclusions stay the same - fine. If they differ - fine. All we want is to get to the bottom of it.” The Professional Footballers’ Association claim that the original inquiry (in which Ashworth was instrumental) was “not a genuine search for the truth” was rejected by Clarke. He said: “I think it would be reckless and foolish in the extreme to try to nobble a high profile barrister. I just don’t think they’d have it. Maybe I’m wrong, but that sounds like a high risk plan to me. Were there any inefficiencies in our whistleblowing protocols? I’ve asked UK Sport to look at our whistleblowing protocols so people feel able to bring accusations forward. But I can’t think of one high profile QC or barrister who would put their name to a whitewashing exercise and ruin their career.” Clarke was sanguine about the tide of disorder that has washed across his desk. In 12 months he has overseen the sackings of Sam Allardyce and Sampson, pushed through FA structural reforms, approved a new £100m TV deal for the FA Cup, championed diversity  and, most harrowingly, toured the country to discuss the child sex abuse scandal. Sam Allardyce, Harry Redknapp and the full story of Football For Sale 16:38 He said: “I think I’d been in my office for four days when the Sam Allardyce issue blew up, and I was thinking - Crumbs, will I last the first week? Then you have the safeguarding [child sex abuse] crisis. That was much more worrying. The Sam Allardyce thing was one of those things you knew was going to be a media storm. You’re going to make a decision and live with it.” Despite the impending DCMS date, he is not reluctant to talk about the Sampson and Aluko cases. “These two things have become entangled when they’re different, right?” he said. “Just because a safeguarding inquiry reveals some evidence [about Bristol], and that evidence leads us to believe we couldn’t continue to employ Mark Sampson in a senior leadership coaching role for the FA, it doesn’t mean he’s guilty of racism or bullying. That’s a separate inquiry. It will come to a conclusion. It will be transparent, it will be shared.” Ashworth, under increasing pressure to explain his role, was not named by Clarke in his answer to a question about the FA technical director’s role but appeared to defend him: “One of the things that has really annoyed me about football, about business, about politics, government, the public sector, is that there is a propensity for senior people to take as much credit and make as many announcements as they can, and there’s a propensity for some junior person to get all the blame,” Clarke said. "That yields a culture of fear. It yields a bureaucratic culture where no one will take a decision because they will get the blame for it. I’m not going around trying to blame this on some middle management. I’m trying to find what happened.” Clarke served a long apprenticeship for the chairman’s role. “I started as a programme seller and ended up as chairman of Leicester City, the Football League and the FA,” he said. “The FA has a habit of throwing more things at you than you expect. It’s the old ‘events dear boy, events’ quote.” But the child abuse scandal, on which a report is due next year, has left the deepest imprint. He says: “I met a lot of the victims. You sit there and you nod, and try to be supportive, but inside it’s killing you to listen to what these guys have been through. I gave a lot of reflection. I went to see all the counties - all 50 of them. “They had stories about - ‘Oh Fred’s all right, he’s been coaching for years. And now he wants to work with the kids, we’re going to get him checked out. It turns out, the police say: ‘He’s a raging paedophile, we’ve pulled him loads of times.’ These were historic stories. “And what surprised me is how these evil characters - and I can’t call them anything else - how cunning they are. How really deviously cunning they are. And they take advantage of people who think the best of other people. “I spoke to 20 or 30 [victims]. Usually in small groups. Speaking is overstating it. It’s mainly listening. Because you don’t have a lot to offer beyond a listening ear. A commitment that we will move heaven and earth to make sure no children have to go through that in the future - and a recognition that we will hunt down anyone we can and give the information to the police, because these are heinous crimes. “It was certainly a chastening experience. It leaves you feeling very inadequate. I’ve been in the game for 25 years. You think - institutionally, the game has let these people down. Really let them down.” Greg Clarke on ... | The World Cup, the Premier League and more  

Exclusive Greg Clarke interview: 'Mark Sampson should have been sacked years ago'

Greg Clarke, the Football Association chairman, has defended the sacking of Mark Sampson as a move that “should have been made three or four years ago” and dismissed claims that his organisation wanted to “nobble” the investigation into the former England women manager’s controversial comments to Eni Aluko and other black players. Five big issues that FA chairman Clarke has dealt with in the past year The FA’s internal inquiry into the Aluko case has resumed, but Clarke insists the first investigation, which cleared Sampson of wrongdoing, was not compromised. He also declined to blame Dan Ashworth, the FA’s technical director, for allegedly overlooking claims about Sampson’s “inappropriate” and “unacceptable” relationships with female players at Bristol Academy - now Bristol City Women. In the first interview by a senior FA executive since Sampson’s dismissal, Clarke said: “When you get to the point where the new chairman and the new chief executive find out something that wasn’t shared with the board a long time ago [details of Sampson’s time in Bristol], do you think - that’s a shame, we’d have done something if we’d known, or do you make a decision? “Martin [Glenn, the chief executive] said - ‘Look, I found this out yesterday.’ I said - ‘Right, what do you think?’ He told me, I agreed with him and we had a board conference call. We sent out some papers, we asked some questions about legalities, facts, what happened when. And we made a decision. Now, that’s the sort of decision that should have been made three or four years ago, but you can’t use that as an excuse to duck the decision today.” Sampson, who became England manager in December 2013, was sacked last month after Glenn revisited a March 2015 report compiled after anonymous concerns were expressed in March 2014. Ashworth is under pressure to reveal what, if anything, he knew about Sampson’s time at Bristol before he appointed him England coach. England has few friends abroad, says Clarke, and it needs to foster goodwill Credit: Getty Images Clarke, Glenn and Ashworth are among those called before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee on 18 October to discuss the Aluko and Sampson cases. And Clarke was forthright when we met at an FA Cup third-round qualifying tie between Hayes and Yeading and Havant and Waterlooville to mark the first anniversary of his chairmanship. “We’ve been summoned. We’ll respectfully turn up and answer every question to the best of our ability. It’s the way our country works. I don’t resent it,” he said. Of Aluko’s claim that Sampson made comments about “Ebola” and the “arrest” records of black players, Clarke said: “It’s a complicated one. I’m pleased she raised the issues. If there are issues, we want people to feel safe and raise them. But there are two sets of rights. There are the rights of the people who feel aggrieved, and the rights of the people who’ve been accused. We had an internal investigation, which came to a very simple conclusion. There had been some daft things said, but none of them posed systemic evidence of either racism or bullying. Clarke believes Mark Sampson should have been dismissed as England women's manager years ago Credit: Getty Images “Because of the gravity of the accusations we felt the need to get an independent barrister [Katharine Newton] to conduct independent reviews. I read the report and came to the same conclusion. Some people decided they weren’t going to be interviewed. They’ve now come forward and said ‘we would like to speak’. Our barrister is now collecting more evidence. If the conclusions stay the same - fine. If they differ - fine. All we want is to get to the bottom of it.” The Professional Footballers’ Association claim that the original inquiry (in which Ashworth was instrumental) was “not a genuine search for the truth” was rejected by Clarke. He said: “I think it would be reckless and foolish in the extreme to try to nobble a high profile barrister. I just don’t think they’d have it. Maybe I’m wrong, but that sounds like a high risk plan to me. Were there any inefficiencies in our whistleblowing protocols? I’ve asked UK Sport to look at our whistleblowing protocols so people feel able to bring accusations forward. But I can’t think of one high profile QC or barrister who would put their name to a whitewashing exercise and ruin their career.” Clarke was sanguine about the tide of disorder that has washed across his desk. In 12 months he has overseen the sackings of Sam Allardyce and Sampson, pushed through FA structural reforms, approved a new £100m TV deal for the FA Cup, championed diversity  and, most harrowingly, toured the country to discuss the child sex abuse scandal. Sam Allardyce, Harry Redknapp and the full story of Football For Sale 16:38 He said: “I think I’d been in my office for four days when the Sam Allardyce issue blew up, and I was thinking - Crumbs, will I last the first week? Then you have the safeguarding [child sex abuse] crisis. That was much more worrying. The Sam Allardyce thing was one of those things you knew was going to be a media storm. You’re going to make a decision and live with it.” Despite the impending DCMS date, he is not reluctant to talk about the Sampson and Aluko cases. “These two things have become entangled when they’re different, right?” he said. “Just because a safeguarding inquiry reveals some evidence [about Bristol], and that evidence leads us to believe we couldn’t continue to employ Mark Sampson in a senior leadership coaching role for the FA, it doesn’t mean he’s guilty of racism or bullying. That’s a separate inquiry. It will come to a conclusion. It will be transparent, it will be shared.” Ashworth, under increasing pressure to explain his role, was not named by Clarke in his answer to a question about the FA technical director’s role but appeared to defend him: “One of the things that has really annoyed me about football, about business, about politics, government, the public sector, is that there is a propensity for senior people to take as much credit and make as many announcements as they can, and there’s a propensity for some junior person to get all the blame,” Clarke said. "That yields a culture of fear. It yields a bureaucratic culture where no one will take a decision because they will get the blame for it. I’m not going around trying to blame this on some middle management. I’m trying to find what happened.” Clarke served a long apprenticeship for the chairman’s role. “I started as a programme seller and ended up as chairman of Leicester City, the Football League and the FA,” he said. “The FA has a habit of throwing more things at you than you expect. It’s the old ‘events dear boy, events’ quote.” But the child abuse scandal, on which a report is due next year, has left the deepest imprint. He says: “I met a lot of the victims. You sit there and you nod, and try to be supportive, but inside it’s killing you to listen to what these guys have been through. I gave a lot of reflection. I went to see all the counties - all 50 of them. “They had stories about - ‘Oh Fred’s all right, he’s been coaching for years. And now he wants to work with the kids, we’re going to get him checked out. It turns out, the police say: ‘He’s a raging paedophile, we’ve pulled him loads of times.’ These were historic stories. “And what surprised me is how these evil characters - and I can’t call them anything else - how cunning they are. How really deviously cunning they are. And they take advantage of people who think the best of other people. “I spoke to 20 or 30 [victims]. Usually in small groups. Speaking is overstating it. It’s mainly listening. Because you don’t have a lot to offer beyond a listening ear. A commitment that we will move heaven and earth to make sure no children have to go through that in the future - and a recognition that we will hunt down anyone we can and give the information to the police, because these are heinous crimes. “It was certainly a chastening experience. It leaves you feeling very inadequate. I’ve been in the game for 25 years. You think - institutionally, the game has let these people down. Really let them down.” Greg Clarke on ... | The World Cup, the Premier League and more  

West Ham's surprise match-winner Diafra Sakho back in Slaven Bilic's plans: 'we did not want to let him go'

At 3.20pm on the final day of August, Diafra Sakho was nowhere to be seen at West Ham training. Instead, after attempting to force a move away from the club, he was at Chelmsford races with his agent. At 3.20pm on the final day of September, Sakho sat on the West Ham bench at the London Stadium. From there, he would have heard the boos of the home fans as his toiling team-mates found the going hard against an obdurate Swansea. Those jeers intensified when Sakho was introduced to the fray in favour of Javier Hernandez, but they soon turned to cheers when the striker became the surprise match-winner in the final minute. It made for quite the turnaround, and also provided vindication for his manager Slaven Bilic. Firstly for the substitution and secondly for refusing to let Sakho depart for Rennes in the summer. Asked how close Sakho was to leaving the club, Bilic joked that the 27-year-old was “on the horse” but said “we did not want to let him go”. Sakho fitter, sharper and quicker than before, according to his manager Credit:  Getty Images Europe After an injury-plagued campaign last year, Sakho is now firmly back in his manager’s plans. “There have been stories about him, in the transfer window and all that,” said Bilic. “He stayed and balanced his head here. “He is fitter, he is training better, he is sharper, he is quicker. You can see that he is injury-free and he is doing well in training.” Sakho’s intervention relieves some of the pressure on Bilic after a difficult start to the season, but West Ham’s total lack of creativity on their own patch will remain a major concern. Bilic has essentially been under pressure for a year. That is largely due to soulless performances like this, at West Ham’s grand new home. Rafael Benitez has been linked with the West Ham job, while there were even reports that Carlo Ancelotti could be tempted by a move to east London. Bilic remains calm despite continued questions marks over his West Ham future Credit: Getty Images Europe “It does not affect me,” Bilic said. “If it affected me I would be dead by now. It is not about the last few days, it is almost a year now. Do I enjoy this situation? No. But does it affect me? No, I am trying to do my job.” The international break will allow players such as Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio, neither of whom were fully fit yesterday, to work on getting back into top condition.  West Ham now have a welcoming run of fixtures, but BIlic knows they must improve. “I am the first one to say we have to play better and we can be better,” he said. Block. Tackle. Defy. Repeat. 35:44 For Swansea, their struggles continue in front of goal. Paul Clement paired Tammy Abraham with Wilfried Bony in attack, but neither posed a serious threat. Swansea have scored just three goals all season. “They are not playing to their potential,” said Clement of his attackers. On Abraham, the 19-year-old striker on loan from Chelsea who has scored plenty of goals in the Championship and at junior international levels, Clement said: “This is the biggest step for him. “In the Championship [for Bristol City], he scored a really good amount of goals. But this is the Premier League. The difference is big. Now he has to work towards closing the gap. “He is not the only one out there. Everyone needs to raise their standard.”

West Ham's surprise match-winner Diafra Sakho back in Slaven Bilic's plans: 'we did not want to let him go'

At 3.20pm on the final day of August, Diafra Sakho was nowhere to be seen at West Ham training. Instead, after attempting to force a move away from the club, he was at Chelmsford races with his agent. At 3.20pm on the final day of September, Sakho sat on the West Ham bench at the London Stadium. From there, he would have heard the boos of the home fans as his toiling team-mates found the going hard against an obdurate Swansea. Those jeers intensified when Sakho was introduced to the fray in favour of Javier Hernandez, but they soon turned to cheers when the striker became the surprise match-winner in the final minute. It made for quite the turnaround, and also provided vindication for his manager Slaven Bilic. Firstly for the substitution and secondly for refusing to let Sakho depart for Rennes in the summer. Asked how close Sakho was to leaving the club, Bilic joked that the 27-year-old was “on the horse” but said “we did not want to let him go”. Sakho fitter, sharper and quicker than before, according to his manager Credit:  Getty Images Europe After an injury-plagued campaign last year, Sakho is now firmly back in his manager’s plans. “There have been stories about him, in the transfer window and all that,” said Bilic. “He stayed and balanced his head here. “He is fitter, he is training better, he is sharper, he is quicker. You can see that he is injury-free and he is doing well in training.” Sakho’s intervention relieves some of the pressure on Bilic after a difficult start to the season, but West Ham’s total lack of creativity on their own patch will remain a major concern. Bilic has essentially been under pressure for a year. That is largely due to soulless performances like this, at West Ham’s grand new home. Rafael Benitez has been linked with the West Ham job, while there were even reports that Carlo Ancelotti could be tempted by a move to east London. Bilic remains calm despite continued questions marks over his West Ham future Credit: Getty Images Europe “It does not affect me,” Bilic said. “If it affected me I would be dead by now. It is not about the last few days, it is almost a year now. Do I enjoy this situation? No. But does it affect me? No, I am trying to do my job.” The international break will allow players such as Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio, neither of whom were fully fit yesterday, to work on getting back into top condition.  West Ham now have a welcoming run of fixtures, but BIlic knows they must improve. “I am the first one to say we have to play better and we can be better,” he said. Block. Tackle. Defy. Repeat. 35:44 For Swansea, their struggles continue in front of goal. Paul Clement paired Tammy Abraham with Wilfried Bony in attack, but neither posed a serious threat. Swansea have scored just three goals all season. “They are not playing to their potential,” said Clement of his attackers. On Abraham, the 19-year-old striker on loan from Chelsea who has scored plenty of goals in the Championship and at junior international levels, Clement said: “This is the biggest step for him. “In the Championship [for Bristol City], he scored a really good amount of goals. But this is the Premier League. The difference is big. Now he has to work towards closing the gap. “He is not the only one out there. Everyone needs to raise their standard.”

West Ham's surprise match-winner Diafra Sakho back in Slaven Bilic's plans: 'we did not want to let him go'

At 3.20pm on the final day of August, Diafra Sakho was nowhere to be seen at West Ham training. Instead, after attempting to force a move away from the club, he was at Chelmsford races with his agent. At 3.20pm on the final day of September, Sakho sat on the West Ham bench at the London Stadium. From there, he would have heard the boos of the home fans as his toiling team-mates found the going hard against an obdurate Swansea. Those jeers intensified when Sakho was introduced to the fray in favour of Javier Hernandez, but they soon turned to cheers when the striker became the surprise match-winner in the final minute. It made for quite the turnaround, and also provided vindication for his manager Slaven Bilic. Firstly for the substitution and secondly for refusing to let Sakho depart for Rennes in the summer. Asked how close Sakho was to leaving the club, Bilic joked that the 27-year-old was “on the horse” but said “we did not want to let him go”. Sakho fitter, sharper and quicker than before, according to his manager Credit:  Getty Images Europe After an injury-plagued campaign last year, Sakho is now firmly back in his manager’s plans. “There have been stories about him, in the transfer window and all that,” said Bilic. “He stayed and balanced his head here. “He is fitter, he is training better, he is sharper, he is quicker. You can see that he is injury-free and he is doing well in training.” Sakho’s intervention relieves some of the pressure on Bilic after a difficult start to the season, but West Ham’s total lack of creativity on their own patch will remain a major concern. Bilic has essentially been under pressure for a year. That is largely due to soulless performances like this, at West Ham’s grand new home. Rafael Benitez has been linked with the West Ham job, while there were even reports that Carlo Ancelotti could be tempted by a move to east London. Bilic remains calm despite continued questions marks over his West Ham future Credit: Getty Images Europe “It does not affect me,” Bilic said. “If it affected me I would be dead by now. It is not about the last few days, it is almost a year now. Do I enjoy this situation? No. But does it affect me? No, I am trying to do my job.” The international break will allow players such as Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio, neither of whom were fully fit yesterday, to work on getting back into top condition.  West Ham now have a welcoming run of fixtures, but BIlic knows they must improve. “I am the first one to say we have to play better and we can be better,” he said. Block. Tackle. Defy. Repeat. 35:44 For Swansea, their struggles continue in front of goal. Paul Clement paired Tammy Abraham with Wilfried Bony in attack, but neither posed a serious threat. Swansea have scored just three goals all season. “They are not playing to their potential,” said Clement of his attackers. On Abraham, the 19-year-old striker on loan from Chelsea who has scored plenty of goals in the Championship and at junior international levels, Clement said: “This is the biggest step for him. “In the Championship [for Bristol City], he scored a really good amount of goals. But this is the Premier League. The difference is big. Now he has to work towards closing the gap. “He is not the only one out there. Everyone needs to raise their standard.”

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Aden Flint’s new Bristol City goal GIF is possibly the club’s best effort yet

Flint has scored a decent number of goals so far this season for a defender.

Aden Flint’s new Bristol City goal GIF is possibly the club’s best effort yet

Flint has scored a decent number of goals so far this season for a defender.

Crystal Palace suffer major blow with Christian Benteke ruled out for minimum six weeks

Crystal Palace have suffered a significant blow in their battle to avoid relegation, with striker Christian Benteke ruled out for at least six weeks with a knee injury. The Belgium international underwent a scan on Monday after suffering the ligament damage in Saturday’s 5-0 defeat at Manchester City. There are fears that he could be out for longer than six weeks but that is the time frame being put on the injury at present following the scan. Benteke’s absence will hurt Palace, who are already without Connor Wickham, who has not played for almost a year due to injury, and let Fraizer Campbell and Loic Remy leave the club in the summer. Palace did try to sign Oumar Niasse from Everton, but a deal for the 27-year-old Senegal striker fell through. Niasse came off the bench to score the two goals to beat Bournemouth last Saturday for Everton. It means Palace may have to look at any free agents who are available to try and bolster their squad. Palace can sign a free agent outside the transfer window and have left one space in their 25‑man Premier League squad to allow them to register any potential new arrival. Roy Hodgson knows he faces an enormous task to keep Palace up Credit: reuters Rickie Lambert is a player who is available and who new Palace manager Roy Hodgson knows well from England duty. Lambert has been without a club since he left Cardiff over the summer, but there would be doubts over the fitness of the 35-year-old. Palace have played winger Bakary Sako as a central striker and may have to do so again with the forthcoming fixtures against Manchester United, before the international break, and Chelsea immediately after it. After that Palace face Newcastle United away and then Bristol City away in the Carabao Cup, before a home fixture against West Ham United and then Tottenham Hotspur away. It has been an unforgiving start to the season for Palace, who have yet to score a goal or gain a point in the Premier League.

Crystal Palace suffer major blow with Christian Benteke ruled out for minimum six weeks

Crystal Palace have suffered a significant blow in their battle to avoid relegation, with striker Christian Benteke ruled out for at least six weeks with a knee injury. The Belgium international underwent a scan on Monday after suffering the ligament damage in Saturday’s 5-0 defeat at Manchester City. There are fears that he could be out for longer than six weeks but that is the time frame being put on the injury at present following the scan. Benteke’s absence will hurt Palace, who are already without Connor Wickham, who has not played for almost a year due to injury, and let Fraizer Campbell and Loic Remy leave the club in the summer. Palace did try to sign Oumar Niasse from Everton, but a deal for the 27-year-old Senegal striker fell through. Niasse came off the bench to score the two goals to beat Bournemouth last Saturday for Everton. It means Palace may have to look at any free agents who are available to try and bolster their squad. Palace can sign a free agent outside the transfer window and have left one space in their 25‑man Premier League squad to allow them to register any potential new arrival. Roy Hodgson knows he faces an enormous task to keep Palace up Credit: reuters Rickie Lambert is a player who is available and who new Palace manager Roy Hodgson knows well from England duty. Lambert has been without a club since he left Cardiff over the summer, but there would be doubts over the fitness of the 35-year-old. Palace have played winger Bakary Sako as a central striker and may have to do so again with the forthcoming fixtures against Manchester United, before the international break, and Chelsea immediately after it. After that Palace face Newcastle United away and then Bristol City away in the Carabao Cup, before a home fixture against West Ham United and then Tottenham Hotspur away. It has been an unforgiving start to the season for Palace, who have yet to score a goal or gain a point in the Premier League.

Chelsea crush Bristol City on opening weekend of WSL as Arsenal leave it late for 3-2 Birmingham win

Chelsea crush Bristol City on opening weekend of WSL as Arsenal leave it late for 3-2 Birmingham win

Pep Guardiola: League Cup is a 'waste of energy'

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes English clubs might be better without the "wasted energy" of a League Cup campaign. The Spaniard echoed the view expressed by United counterpart Jose Mourinho on Wednesday, when the Portuguese suggested the domestic game could perhaps "survive or even be better without this competition", which United won last season. Guardiola, like most managers, made major changes for the midweek cup win over West Brom and is poised to switch back to a first-choice XI for the visit of Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday. There were eight alterations to the team sheet for the game against the Baggies compared to the team which thrashed Watford last weekend, with City facing a hectic schedule which includes games against Shakhtar Donetsk and Chelsea before the end of the month. "Business is business, but we have a lot of games," Guardiola said at a press conference on Friday ahead of the Palace match. City lost Ilkay Gundogan to injury on Wednesday Credit: Reuters "If you have to play the competition you have to play the competition, but it is a title that when you win it is okay, but after that people don't give too much credit. "You don't promote to go to international competitions. The prize is good when you win another one, but you waste a lot of energy. "You can't imagine going to play Tony Pulis teams at West Bromwich Albion, play 90 minutes there in those conditions, and then after three or four hours - bus, come back, three days later Crystal Palace, three days later Shakhtar Donetsk, three or four days later Stamford Bridge. "For the managers it is a lot of wasted energy, but we knew that before, so it is not a complaint in those terms. If we have to play we have to play." Which Premier League captains were born closest to their club? However, the League Cup remains "very important" for teams like Stoke, according to their manager Mark Hughes. The Potters boss made six changes to his team for the trip to Bristol City and lost 2-0 to the Sky Bet Championship club. Hughes, though, feels the competition is still a worthwhile one to those teams outside of the very biggest Premier League teamse. "I think (Mourinho) is just talking in terms of their ambitions," Hughes said. Mark Hughes would love to still be in the League Cup Credit: PA "Obviously, their priority is the Champions League, because it is huge for them, and the Premier League. So I am sure they view the League Cup as a hindrance, but we certainly don't. "We would love to be involved still, but unfortunately we are going to have to wait another year. "I think he is just talking in terms of his group of players, his club and their priorities, and I can see why he said it, but for the rest of us, it is an opportunity to win a trophy, and that is very important."

Pep Guardiola: League Cup is a 'waste of energy'

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes English clubs might be better without the "wasted energy" of a League Cup campaign. The Spaniard echoed the view expressed by United counterpart Jose Mourinho on Wednesday, when the Portuguese suggested the domestic game could perhaps "survive or even be better without this competition", which United won last season. Guardiola, like most managers, made major changes for the midweek cup win over West Brom and is poised to switch back to a first-choice XI for the visit of Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday. There were eight alterations to the team sheet for the game against the Baggies compared to the team which thrashed Watford last weekend, with City facing a hectic schedule which includes games against Shakhtar Donetsk and Chelsea before the end of the month. "Business is business, but we have a lot of games," Guardiola said at a press conference on Friday ahead of the Palace match. City lost Ilkay Gundogan to injury on Wednesday Credit: Reuters "If you have to play the competition you have to play the competition, but it is a title that when you win it is okay, but after that people don't give too much credit. "You don't promote to go to international competitions. The prize is good when you win another one, but you waste a lot of energy. "You can't imagine going to play Tony Pulis teams at West Bromwich Albion, play 90 minutes there in those conditions, and then after three or four hours - bus, come back, three days later Crystal Palace, three days later Shakhtar Donetsk, three or four days later Stamford Bridge. "For the managers it is a lot of wasted energy, but we knew that before, so it is not a complaint in those terms. If we have to play we have to play." Which Premier League captains were born closest to their club? However, the League Cup remains "very important" for teams like Stoke, according to their manager Mark Hughes. The Potters boss made six changes to his team for the trip to Bristol City and lost 2-0 to the Sky Bet Championship club. Hughes, though, feels the competition is still a worthwhile one to those teams outside of the very biggest Premier League teamse. "I think (Mourinho) is just talking in terms of their ambitions," Hughes said. Mark Hughes would love to still be in the League Cup Credit: PA "Obviously, their priority is the Champions League, because it is huge for them, and the Premier League. So I am sure they view the League Cup as a hindrance, but we certainly don't. "We would love to be involved still, but unfortunately we are going to have to wait another year. "I think he is just talking in terms of his group of players, his club and their priorities, and I can see why he said it, but for the rest of us, it is an opportunity to win a trophy, and that is very important."

Pep Guardiola: League Cup is a 'waste of energy'

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes English clubs might be better without the "wasted energy" of a League Cup campaign. The Spaniard echoed the view expressed by United counterpart Jose Mourinho on Wednesday, when the Portuguese suggested the domestic game could perhaps "survive or even be better without this competition", which United won last season. Guardiola, like most managers, made major changes for the midweek cup win over West Brom and is poised to switch back to a first-choice XI for the visit of Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday. There were eight alterations to the team sheet for the game against the Baggies compared to the team which thrashed Watford last weekend, with City facing a hectic schedule which includes games against Shakhtar Donetsk and Chelsea before the end of the month. "Business is business, but we have a lot of games," Guardiola said at a press conference on Friday ahead of the Palace match. City lost Ilkay Gundogan to injury on Wednesday Credit: Reuters "If you have to play the competition you have to play the competition, but it is a title that when you win it is okay, but after that people don't give too much credit. "You don't promote to go to international competitions. The prize is good when you win another one, but you waste a lot of energy. "You can't imagine going to play Tony Pulis teams at West Bromwich Albion, play 90 minutes there in those conditions, and then after three or four hours - bus, come back, three days later Crystal Palace, three days later Shakhtar Donetsk, three or four days later Stamford Bridge. "For the managers it is a lot of wasted energy, but we knew that before, so it is not a complaint in those terms. If we have to play we have to play." Which Premier League captains were born closest to their club? However, the League Cup remains "very important" for teams like Stoke, according to their manager Mark Hughes. The Potters boss made six changes to his team for the trip to Bristol City and lost 2-0 to the Sky Bet Championship club. Hughes, though, feels the competition is still a worthwhile one to those teams outside of the very biggest Premier League teamse. "I think (Mourinho) is just talking in terms of their ambitions," Hughes said. Mark Hughes would love to still be in the League Cup Credit: PA "Obviously, their priority is the Champions League, because it is huge for them, and the Premier League. So I am sure they view the League Cup as a hindrance, but we certainly don't. "We would love to be involved still, but unfortunately we are going to have to wait another year. "I think he is just talking in terms of his group of players, his club and their priorities, and I can see why he said it, but for the rest of us, it is an opportunity to win a trophy, and that is very important."

Furious Bristol college demands answers from FA over Mark Sampson sacking

There is dismay at the Bristol ­college where Mark Sampson made his name over the Football Association’s failure to give any warning it was to sack the England Women head coach over there being any evidence of inappropriate relationships with some of the Bristol players, The Telegraph understands.  The South Gloucestershire and Stroud (SGS) College at which Sampson worked while he was head coach of Bristol Academy, in the Women’s Super League, feels it has been hung out to dry by the FA over his shock sacking on Wednesday. It is understood that the FA gave no indication to SGS College that it was to revisit a safeguarding investigation into the former England Women head coach. Sampson was initially cleared of being a safeguarding risk by an FA probe. The Telegraph also reveals that SGS responded to rumours about Sampson’s conduct in 2012 and conducted its own investigation into the then head coach, which found no evidence of wrongdoing. Since the FA announced Sampson’s sacking, SGS College has been in the process of checking its records to ensure that there were no formal complaints made about the coach’s behaviour beyond that it investigated in 2012.  He was originally a coach at the Bristol Academy centre of excellence and was appointed first-team head coach in September 2010. The college has privately asked the FA to clear its reputation, or at least share some detail as to the ­nature of Sampson’s alleged misconduct so that the college could also investigate. The college has been eager to reassure students and parents it is a safe environment for girls and women to play football. Martin Glenn took the decision to sack Mark Sampson yesterday because of concerns raised in a 2015 report Credit: PAUL ELLIS/AFP The team is now Bristol City Women’s football club, under the auspices of the professional men’s club that plays in the Championship, even though they were not in control when his alleged misconduct took place. It still has its training ground and academy facilities on the site of SGS college, which has 15,500 full-time and part-time students. On Thursday the entrance to the training ground was shut and guarded, and all players had been told not to speak to the media about Sampson and his time at the club. Bristol City took over running of the team last year and are now coordinating the response to the sacking of Sampson. Like SGS College, Bristol City were told nothing in the aftermath of Sampson’s sacking on Wednesday and have since been trying to contact former players to investigate that period. The 10 leading candidates to replace Mark Sampson as England women's manager Until this week, Sampson was still regarded as something of a hero in Bristol women’s football, having led the team during a period of unprecedented success, including a second-place finish in the Women’s Super League in 2013 and two FA Cup finals. He was voted FA Women’s coach of the year in 2013 and left the club with its fortunes transformed. It was that year Bristol City first took an interest – which began with a sponsorship deal before they eventually took over. The current Bristol City women’s team begin their top-flight FA Women’s Super League One campaign at home on Sunday against Chelsea. Their affiliation with SGS College remains strong, however, and the programme is so highly rated that England Women Under-19s coach Mo Marley is understood to recommend the college to young players. They have internationals such as the Belgian Julie Biesmans and Danique Kerkdijk, of Holland, as well as a number of junior internationals in their academy. The goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley has been called up to the England squad by Sampson but is uncapped.

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