Nottingham Forest

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Former England international John Fashanu has admitted that he paid his late brother Justin £75,000 not to reveal he was gay before his death in 1998. Justin Fashanu, who played for Norwich and Nottingham Forest in the 1980s, came out as gay before he committed suicide in May 1998 at the age of 37. As the 20th anniversary of Fashanu’s death approaches, John admitted that he had acted like “a monster” to his older brother and now wants the Football Association to do more to support gay footballers as well as tackling racial and homophobic abuse. “It was a lack of education,” the former Wimbledon and Aston Villa striker told ITV’s Good Morning Britain show on Wednesday. “I make it very clear, I was a monster to Justin then. I paid him £75,000 not to say that he was gay. John Fashanu admits he acted like “a monster” to his older brother Credit: Getty Images “I was looking at the situation around us and my mother had cancer and was dying, and the rest of the family couldn’t understand the situation. “We didn’t know what to do, the best thing I thought to do was to keep it quiet.” Capped by England at Under-21 level, Justin Fashanu was the first black footballer to command a £1 million transfer fee when he moved from Norwich to Forest in 1981. But his career never hit the heights thereafter, he publicly came out as gay in 1990 and he played for nearly 20 clubs before retiring from football in 1997. There are currently no openly gay players in the Premier League. But John Fashanu says he knows of several “well-known footballers” who are gay, and he wants the FA to do more to support players coming out. John Fashanu says he knows of several “well-known footballers” who are gay Credit: Rex “We have a number of well-known footballers who are gay and they don’t feel comfortable with the environment,” said Fashanu, who became a television star by appearing in shows like Gladiator and I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here after his football career. “They know their empires will be destroyed. “It is supporters, administrators... not so much the players because they know who is gay and who is not gay. They give each other support, but it is quite gentle support.” Fashanu said racial and homophobic abuse still existed in English football, as he had experienced it at a Premier League game in London three weeks ago. “A gentleman came up to me and said: ‘You black so-and-so and your brother’s this and this’. “I was surprised. I hadn’t been to a match for a few years and I thought to myself ‘Even at this stage’. “I quietly smiled at him and tried to make a little laugh and a joke of it, but when we say has racism and homophobia moved? Well, yes, it has. It’s moved backwards, that’s where we’re going. “We need more support from the FA because it’s a lack of education. The FA needs to create an environment where gay footballers are comfortable to come out and say ‘I’m gay’.
John Fashanu paid late brother Justin £75,000 not to reveal he was gay
Former England international John Fashanu has admitted that he paid his late brother Justin £75,000 not to reveal he was gay before his death in 1998. Justin Fashanu, who played for Norwich and Nottingham Forest in the 1980s, came out as gay before he committed suicide in May 1998 at the age of 37. As the 20th anniversary of Fashanu’s death approaches, John admitted that he had acted like “a monster” to his older brother and now wants the Football Association to do more to support gay footballers as well as tackling racial and homophobic abuse. “It was a lack of education,” the former Wimbledon and Aston Villa striker told ITV’s Good Morning Britain show on Wednesday. “I make it very clear, I was a monster to Justin then. I paid him £75,000 not to say that he was gay. John Fashanu admits he acted like “a monster” to his older brother Credit: Getty Images “I was looking at the situation around us and my mother had cancer and was dying, and the rest of the family couldn’t understand the situation. “We didn’t know what to do, the best thing I thought to do was to keep it quiet.” Capped by England at Under-21 level, Justin Fashanu was the first black footballer to command a £1 million transfer fee when he moved from Norwich to Forest in 1981. But his career never hit the heights thereafter, he publicly came out as gay in 1990 and he played for nearly 20 clubs before retiring from football in 1997. There are currently no openly gay players in the Premier League. But John Fashanu says he knows of several “well-known footballers” who are gay, and he wants the FA to do more to support players coming out. John Fashanu says he knows of several “well-known footballers” who are gay Credit: Rex “We have a number of well-known footballers who are gay and they don’t feel comfortable with the environment,” said Fashanu, who became a television star by appearing in shows like Gladiator and I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here after his football career. “They know their empires will be destroyed. “It is supporters, administrators... not so much the players because they know who is gay and who is not gay. They give each other support, but it is quite gentle support.” Fashanu said racial and homophobic abuse still existed in English football, as he had experienced it at a Premier League game in London three weeks ago. “A gentleman came up to me and said: ‘You black so-and-so and your brother’s this and this’. “I was surprised. I hadn’t been to a match for a few years and I thought to myself ‘Even at this stage’. “I quietly smiled at him and tried to make a little laugh and a joke of it, but when we say has racism and homophobia moved? Well, yes, it has. It’s moved backwards, that’s where we’re going. “We need more support from the FA because it’s a lack of education. The FA needs to create an environment where gay footballers are comfortable to come out and say ‘I’m gay’.
Former England international John Fashanu has admitted that he paid his late brother Justin £75,000 not to reveal he was gay before his death in 1998. Justin Fashanu, who played for Norwich and Nottingham Forest in the 1980s, came out as gay before he committed suicide in May 1998 at the age of 37. As the 20th anniversary of Fashanu’s death approaches, John admitted that he had acted like “a monster” to his older brother and now wants the Football Association to do more to support gay footballers as well as tackling racial and homophobic abuse. “It was a lack of education,” the former Wimbledon and Aston Villa striker told ITV’s Good Morning Britain show on Wednesday. “I make it very clear, I was a monster to Justin then. I paid him £75,000 not to say that he was gay. John Fashanu admits he acted like “a monster” to his older brother Credit: Getty Images “I was looking at the situation around us and my mother had cancer and was dying, and the rest of the family couldn’t understand the situation. “We didn’t know what to do, the best thing I thought to do was to keep it quiet.” Capped by England at Under-21 level, Justin Fashanu was the first black footballer to command a £1 million transfer fee when he moved from Norwich to Forest in 1981. But his career never hit the heights thereafter, he publicly came out as gay in 1990 and he played for nearly 20 clubs before retiring from football in 1997. There are currently no openly gay players in the Premier League. But John Fashanu says he knows of several “well-known footballers” who are gay, and he wants the FA to do more to support players coming out. John Fashanu says he knows of several “well-known footballers” who are gay Credit: Rex “We have a number of well-known footballers who are gay and they don’t feel comfortable with the environment,” said Fashanu, who became a television star by appearing in shows like Gladiator and I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here after his football career. “They know their empires will be destroyed. “It is supporters, administrators... not so much the players because they know who is gay and who is not gay. They give each other support, but it is quite gentle support.” Fashanu said racial and homophobic abuse still existed in English football, as he had experienced it at a Premier League game in London three weeks ago. “A gentleman came up to me and said: ‘You black so-and-so and your brother’s this and this’. “I was surprised. I hadn’t been to a match for a few years and I thought to myself ‘Even at this stage’. “I quietly smiled at him and tried to make a little laugh and a joke of it, but when we say has racism and homophobia moved? Well, yes, it has. It’s moved backwards, that’s where we’re going. “We need more support from the FA because it’s a lack of education. The FA needs to create an environment where gay footballers are comfortable to come out and say ‘I’m gay’.
John Fashanu paid late brother Justin £75,000 not to reveal he was gay
Former England international John Fashanu has admitted that he paid his late brother Justin £75,000 not to reveal he was gay before his death in 1998. Justin Fashanu, who played for Norwich and Nottingham Forest in the 1980s, came out as gay before he committed suicide in May 1998 at the age of 37. As the 20th anniversary of Fashanu’s death approaches, John admitted that he had acted like “a monster” to his older brother and now wants the Football Association to do more to support gay footballers as well as tackling racial and homophobic abuse. “It was a lack of education,” the former Wimbledon and Aston Villa striker told ITV’s Good Morning Britain show on Wednesday. “I make it very clear, I was a monster to Justin then. I paid him £75,000 not to say that he was gay. John Fashanu admits he acted like “a monster” to his older brother Credit: Getty Images “I was looking at the situation around us and my mother had cancer and was dying, and the rest of the family couldn’t understand the situation. “We didn’t know what to do, the best thing I thought to do was to keep it quiet.” Capped by England at Under-21 level, Justin Fashanu was the first black footballer to command a £1 million transfer fee when he moved from Norwich to Forest in 1981. But his career never hit the heights thereafter, he publicly came out as gay in 1990 and he played for nearly 20 clubs before retiring from football in 1997. There are currently no openly gay players in the Premier League. But John Fashanu says he knows of several “well-known footballers” who are gay, and he wants the FA to do more to support players coming out. John Fashanu says he knows of several “well-known footballers” who are gay Credit: Rex “We have a number of well-known footballers who are gay and they don’t feel comfortable with the environment,” said Fashanu, who became a television star by appearing in shows like Gladiator and I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here after his football career. “They know their empires will be destroyed. “It is supporters, administrators... not so much the players because they know who is gay and who is not gay. They give each other support, but it is quite gentle support.” Fashanu said racial and homophobic abuse still existed in English football, as he had experienced it at a Premier League game in London three weeks ago. “A gentleman came up to me and said: ‘You black so-and-so and your brother’s this and this’. “I was surprised. I hadn’t been to a match for a few years and I thought to myself ‘Even at this stage’. “I quietly smiled at him and tried to make a little laugh and a joke of it, but when we say has racism and homophobia moved? Well, yes, it has. It’s moved backwards, that’s where we’re going. “We need more support from the FA because it’s a lack of education. The FA needs to create an environment where gay footballers are comfortable to come out and say ‘I’m gay’.
Former England international John Fashanu has admitted that he paid his late brother Justin £75,000 not to reveal he was gay before his death in 1998. Justin Fashanu, who played for Norwich and Nottingham Forest in the 1980s, came out as gay before he committed suicide in May 1998 at the age of 37. As the 20th anniversary of Fashanu’s death approaches, John admitted that he had acted like “a monster” to his older brother and now wants the Football Association to do more to support gay footballers as well as tackling racial and homophobic abuse. “It was a lack of education,” the former Wimbledon and Aston Villa striker told ITV’s Good Morning Britain show on Wednesday. “I make it very clear, I was a monster to Justin then. I paid him £75,000 not to say that he was gay. John Fashanu admits he acted like “a monster” to his older brother Credit: Getty Images “I was looking at the situation around us and my mother had cancer and was dying, and the rest of the family couldn’t understand the situation. “We didn’t know what to do, the best thing I thought to do was to keep it quiet.” Capped by England at Under-21 level, Justin Fashanu was the first black footballer to command a £1 million transfer fee when he moved from Norwich to Forest in 1981. But his career never hit the heights thereafter, he publicly came out as gay in 1990 and he played for nearly 20 clubs before retiring from football in 1997. There are currently no openly gay players in the Premier League. But John Fashanu says he knows of several “well-known footballers” who are gay, and he wants the FA to do more to support players coming out. John Fashanu says he knows of several “well-known footballers” who are gay Credit: Rex “We have a number of well-known footballers who are gay and they don’t feel comfortable with the environment,” said Fashanu, who became a television star by appearing in shows like Gladiator and I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here after his football career. “They know their empires will be destroyed. “It is supporters, administrators... not so much the players because they know who is gay and who is not gay. They give each other support, but it is quite gentle support.” Fashanu said racial and homophobic abuse still existed in English football, as he had experienced it at a Premier League game in London three weeks ago. “A gentleman came up to me and said: ‘You black so-and-so and your brother’s this and this’. “I was surprised. I hadn’t been to a match for a few years and I thought to myself ‘Even at this stage’. “I quietly smiled at him and tried to make a little laugh and a joke of it, but when we say has racism and homophobia moved? Well, yes, it has. It’s moved backwards, that’s where we’re going. “We need more support from the FA because it’s a lack of education. The FA needs to create an environment where gay footballers are comfortable to come out and say ‘I’m gay’.
John Fashanu paid late brother Justin £75,000 not to reveal he was gay
Former England international John Fashanu has admitted that he paid his late brother Justin £75,000 not to reveal he was gay before his death in 1998. Justin Fashanu, who played for Norwich and Nottingham Forest in the 1980s, came out as gay before he committed suicide in May 1998 at the age of 37. As the 20th anniversary of Fashanu’s death approaches, John admitted that he had acted like “a monster” to his older brother and now wants the Football Association to do more to support gay footballers as well as tackling racial and homophobic abuse. “It was a lack of education,” the former Wimbledon and Aston Villa striker told ITV’s Good Morning Britain show on Wednesday. “I make it very clear, I was a monster to Justin then. I paid him £75,000 not to say that he was gay. John Fashanu admits he acted like “a monster” to his older brother Credit: Getty Images “I was looking at the situation around us and my mother had cancer and was dying, and the rest of the family couldn’t understand the situation. “We didn’t know what to do, the best thing I thought to do was to keep it quiet.” Capped by England at Under-21 level, Justin Fashanu was the first black footballer to command a £1 million transfer fee when he moved from Norwich to Forest in 1981. But his career never hit the heights thereafter, he publicly came out as gay in 1990 and he played for nearly 20 clubs before retiring from football in 1997. There are currently no openly gay players in the Premier League. But John Fashanu says he knows of several “well-known footballers” who are gay, and he wants the FA to do more to support players coming out. John Fashanu says he knows of several “well-known footballers” who are gay Credit: Rex “We have a number of well-known footballers who are gay and they don’t feel comfortable with the environment,” said Fashanu, who became a television star by appearing in shows like Gladiator and I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here after his football career. “They know their empires will be destroyed. “It is supporters, administrators... not so much the players because they know who is gay and who is not gay. They give each other support, but it is quite gentle support.” Fashanu said racial and homophobic abuse still existed in English football, as he had experienced it at a Premier League game in London three weeks ago. “A gentleman came up to me and said: ‘You black so-and-so and your brother’s this and this’. “I was surprised. I hadn’t been to a match for a few years and I thought to myself ‘Even at this stage’. “I quietly smiled at him and tried to make a little laugh and a joke of it, but when we say has racism and homophobia moved? Well, yes, it has. It’s moved backwards, that’s where we’re going. “We need more support from the FA because it’s a lack of education. The FA needs to create an environment where gay footballers are comfortable to come out and say ‘I’m gay’.
We're into the final month of the season across England's top four tiers, and there is still plenty to play for. The Premier League title is wrapped up, and the bottom three clubs are looking increasingly to be relegated, but lower down the footballing pyramid there is plenty still at stake. Here, we round-up who can still finish where in the Premier League and Football League. Premier League Every team has either four or five games remaining, but it wouldn't be all that surprising if everyone finished in exactly the position they currently find themselves - or at least in the positions that truly matter. Manchester City are champions, while Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham are looking good to finish in the top four, barring a significant late collapse coupled with a Chelsea recovery. Arsenal and Burnley are battling it out for sixth place (though Arsenal can technically still finish in the top four), with the losers of that race to go into the Europa League at the second qualifying stage - which starts on July 26. Everyone from Leicester in eighth and below can - mathematically - still be relegated, but it would take something dramatic for any of the teams above West Ham to be pulled back in to the dogfight. Southampton, Stoke and West Brom, all at least five points adrift of safety, are in real trouble. Premier League | Who can still get what? Championship Wolves are all but secure of the Championship title, 12 points clear of Cardiff, who have four games left and a vastly inferior goal difference. Cardiff are battling it out with Fulham and Aston Villa for the second remaining automatic play-off spot, though the Welsh side are in the best position to secure promotion. Two of those sides will go into the play-offs, joined by two more of Middlesbrough, Millwall, Derby, Preston, Sheffield United, Brentford and Bristol City, though the final four of those sides face an uphill task to sneak in. At the other end of the table, Sunderland are on the brink of a second successive relegation and last position, rooted to the foot of the Championship. Burton and Barnsley currently make up the bottom three, though Barnsley have a game in hand on Birmingham and Bolton, two points above them, just outside the relegation zone. Every side up to Nottingham Forest can still technically go down, but everyone from Reading and up should survive. Championship | What can still happen? League One Wigan and Blackburn look like they have won the race for the two automatic promotion spots, though Shrewsbury could technically still catch either. Whichever of those teams does not get into the top two will go into the play-offs, and with many sides still having to play five more games, the race for the three remaining play-off places is very, very open. Every team between Rotherham in fourth and Southend in 15th (apart from Fleetwood, due to the combination of other teams' games) can still make it into the play-offs, though realistically, it is unlikely that anyone below ninth will. At the bottom, Bury are down, while everyone up to Bradford in 10th could feasibly get sucked into the relegation battle. Given only eight points separate Rochdale in 21st and Doncaster in 12th, there is an awful lot still to play for. League One | What can still happen? League Two Accrington Stanley have sealed promotion to League One, and Luton will join them with one more win. Wycombe are in pole position to secure the third and final automatic promotion slot, but every side currently in the play-off places is still in contention. The play-off berths will be filled by four teams from those currently between second and 14th (apart from Crawley, who have too few games remaining to make it into seventh). Relegation from the Football League is looking perilously likely for both Chesterfield and Barnet, though everyone up to Crewe in 17th could still be dragged into the drop zone, however unlikely that actually is. League Two | What can still happen?
Premier League and Football League relegation, promotion and play-offs: who can still finish where?
We're into the final month of the season across England's top four tiers, and there is still plenty to play for. The Premier League title is wrapped up, and the bottom three clubs are looking increasingly to be relegated, but lower down the footballing pyramid there is plenty still at stake. Here, we round-up who can still finish where in the Premier League and Football League. Premier League Every team has either four or five games remaining, but it wouldn't be all that surprising if everyone finished in exactly the position they currently find themselves - or at least in the positions that truly matter. Manchester City are champions, while Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham are looking good to finish in the top four, barring a significant late collapse coupled with a Chelsea recovery. Arsenal and Burnley are battling it out for sixth place (though Arsenal can technically still finish in the top four), with the losers of that race to go into the Europa League at the second qualifying stage - which starts on July 26. Everyone from Leicester in eighth and below can - mathematically - still be relegated, but it would take something dramatic for any of the teams above West Ham to be pulled back in to the dogfight. Southampton, Stoke and West Brom, all at least five points adrift of safety, are in real trouble. Premier League | Who can still get what? Championship Wolves are all but secure of the Championship title, 12 points clear of Cardiff, who have four games left and a vastly inferior goal difference. Cardiff are battling it out with Fulham and Aston Villa for the second remaining automatic play-off spot, though the Welsh side are in the best position to secure promotion. Two of those sides will go into the play-offs, joined by two more of Middlesbrough, Millwall, Derby, Preston, Sheffield United, Brentford and Bristol City, though the final four of those sides face an uphill task to sneak in. At the other end of the table, Sunderland are on the brink of a second successive relegation and last position, rooted to the foot of the Championship. Burton and Barnsley currently make up the bottom three, though Barnsley have a game in hand on Birmingham and Bolton, two points above them, just outside the relegation zone. Every side up to Nottingham Forest can still technically go down, but everyone from Reading and up should survive. Championship | What can still happen? League One Wigan and Blackburn look like they have won the race for the two automatic promotion spots, though Shrewsbury could technically still catch either. Whichever of those teams does not get into the top two will go into the play-offs, and with many sides still having to play five more games, the race for the three remaining play-off places is very, very open. Every team between Rotherham in fourth and Southend in 15th (apart from Fleetwood, due to the combination of other teams' games) can still make it into the play-offs, though realistically, it is unlikely that anyone below ninth will. At the bottom, Bury are down, while everyone up to Bradford in 10th could feasibly get sucked into the relegation battle. Given only eight points separate Rochdale in 21st and Doncaster in 12th, there is an awful lot still to play for. League One | What can still happen? League Two Accrington Stanley have sealed promotion to League One, and Luton will join them with one more win. Wycombe are in pole position to secure the third and final automatic promotion slot, but every side currently in the play-off places is still in contention. The play-off berths will be filled by four teams from those currently between second and 14th (apart from Crawley, who have too few games remaining to make it into seventh). Relegation from the Football League is looking perilously likely for both Chesterfield and Barnet, though everyone up to Crewe in 17th could still be dragged into the drop zone, however unlikely that actually is. League Two | What can still happen?
Wolves secured a return to the Premier League without kicking a ball on Saturday after Brentford stole a dramatic 1-1 draw at promotion-chasing Fulham. The Cottagers needed a win in the late kick-off to regain second place from Cardiff in the Sky Bet Championship and to deny Wolves a top-flight spot for the first time since 2012. Aleksandar Mitrovic's 70th-minute goal had looked like putting Wolves' party on hold but Neal Maupay's last-gasp header for Brentford sent Nuno Espirito Santo's side up. Wolves can celebrate at home to Birmingham on Sunday, but third-placed Fulham will have to gather themselves after falling a point and a place behind Cardiff - who have a game in hand. The Bluebirds left it late but kept themselves on course for an automatic promotion place with a 2-0 win at Norwich. Neil Warnock's side know three wins from their remaining four games will be enough to join Wolves in the Premier League but they had to dig deep to earn a vital three points at Carrow Road. Kenneth Zohore squeezed the ball past Angus Gunn in the 86th minute before Junior Hoilett's goal in added time ensured Cardiff's two-game losing streak was brought to an end. Junior Hoilett celebrates his injury time goal in Cardiff City's 2-0 win over Norwich Credit: PA Middlesbrough stormed into the play-off places after coming from behind to beat Bristol City 2-1 at the Riverside Stadium. Milan Djuric volleyed the visitors into a 13th-minute lead before George Friend levelled for Boro five minutes later. Daniel Ayala then headed home the winner in the 68th minute, moving Middlesbrough up to fifth while also denting Bristol City's own top-six hopes. Veteran striker Steve Morison struck his fifth goal of the season for Millwall as they came back to draw 1-1 against fellow play-off hopefuls Sheffield United in the early kick-off. Leon Clarke opened the scoring for the Blades in the 74th minute, but Morison equalised instantly to grab his side a point. The sixth-placed Lions remain unbeaten in the league since New Year's Day and Sheffield United, who are ninth, have not lost at home since late January. Ryan Sessegnon (L) was unable to help Fulham get all three points against Brentford and Romaine Sawyers (R) Derby slipped out of the top six, but Burton moved off the bottom and to within five points of safety after a 3-1 victory over the Rams at the Pirelli Stadium. Liam Boyce tapped home from close range to put the hosts in front after 24 minutes, but their lead did not last long as David Nugent equalised moments later. Luke Murphy curled a beautiful effort past Scott Carson to restore the Brewers' lead just before the break and Lucas Akins added a third in the 68th minute. Oli McBurnie's added-time equaliser secured a vital 2-2 draw for Barnsley at home to fellow strugglers Bolton. Gary Gardner scored from 10 yards midway through the first half for the Tykes before Adam Le Fondre levelled from the spot after 82 minutes. Craig Noone thought he had won it for Bolton three minutes later, but McBurnie had the final say to keep Barnsley within two points of the 21st-placed Trotters. Sunderland slipped to the foot of the table and remain six points below Bolton after drawing 2-2 at Reading. Liam Kelly gave the Royals the lead from the penalty spot after Lee Camp brought down Jon Dadi Bodvarsson in the box after 20 minutes. Paddy McNair fired home a stunning equaliser for the Black Cats just after the break before Lee Cattermole's first goal since August 2014 put the visitors in front in the 66th minute. Yann Kermorgant restored parity for Reading with 11 minutes remaining to leave Chris Coleman's side on the brink with three games left. Ben Brereton's late penalty and Joe Lolley's goal in added time secured an unlikely 2-1 win for Nottingham Forest against Ipswich, who had led through Grant Ward's first-half header. Elsewhere, Callum Robinson's double sealed a 2-1 win for Preston against QPR, who had Matt Smith on the scoresheet, while Jordan
Wolves seal promotion to Premier League as Fulham concede late goal
Wolves secured a return to the Premier League without kicking a ball on Saturday after Brentford stole a dramatic 1-1 draw at promotion-chasing Fulham. The Cottagers needed a win in the late kick-off to regain second place from Cardiff in the Sky Bet Championship and to deny Wolves a top-flight spot for the first time since 2012. Aleksandar Mitrovic's 70th-minute goal had looked like putting Wolves' party on hold but Neal Maupay's last-gasp header for Brentford sent Nuno Espirito Santo's side up. Wolves can celebrate at home to Birmingham on Sunday, but third-placed Fulham will have to gather themselves after falling a point and a place behind Cardiff - who have a game in hand. The Bluebirds left it late but kept themselves on course for an automatic promotion place with a 2-0 win at Norwich. Neil Warnock's side know three wins from their remaining four games will be enough to join Wolves in the Premier League but they had to dig deep to earn a vital three points at Carrow Road. Kenneth Zohore squeezed the ball past Angus Gunn in the 86th minute before Junior Hoilett's goal in added time ensured Cardiff's two-game losing streak was brought to an end. Junior Hoilett celebrates his injury time goal in Cardiff City's 2-0 win over Norwich Credit: PA Middlesbrough stormed into the play-off places after coming from behind to beat Bristol City 2-1 at the Riverside Stadium. Milan Djuric volleyed the visitors into a 13th-minute lead before George Friend levelled for Boro five minutes later. Daniel Ayala then headed home the winner in the 68th minute, moving Middlesbrough up to fifth while also denting Bristol City's own top-six hopes. Veteran striker Steve Morison struck his fifth goal of the season for Millwall as they came back to draw 1-1 against fellow play-off hopefuls Sheffield United in the early kick-off. Leon Clarke opened the scoring for the Blades in the 74th minute, but Morison equalised instantly to grab his side a point. The sixth-placed Lions remain unbeaten in the league since New Year's Day and Sheffield United, who are ninth, have not lost at home since late January. Ryan Sessegnon (L) was unable to help Fulham get all three points against Brentford and Romaine Sawyers (R) Derby slipped out of the top six, but Burton moved off the bottom and to within five points of safety after a 3-1 victory over the Rams at the Pirelli Stadium. Liam Boyce tapped home from close range to put the hosts in front after 24 minutes, but their lead did not last long as David Nugent equalised moments later. Luke Murphy curled a beautiful effort past Scott Carson to restore the Brewers' lead just before the break and Lucas Akins added a third in the 68th minute. Oli McBurnie's added-time equaliser secured a vital 2-2 draw for Barnsley at home to fellow strugglers Bolton. Gary Gardner scored from 10 yards midway through the first half for the Tykes before Adam Le Fondre levelled from the spot after 82 minutes. Craig Noone thought he had won it for Bolton three minutes later, but McBurnie had the final say to keep Barnsley within two points of the 21st-placed Trotters. Sunderland slipped to the foot of the table and remain six points below Bolton after drawing 2-2 at Reading. Liam Kelly gave the Royals the lead from the penalty spot after Lee Camp brought down Jon Dadi Bodvarsson in the box after 20 minutes. Paddy McNair fired home a stunning equaliser for the Black Cats just after the break before Lee Cattermole's first goal since August 2014 put the visitors in front in the 66th minute. Yann Kermorgant restored parity for Reading with 11 minutes remaining to leave Chris Coleman's side on the brink with three games left. Ben Brereton's late penalty and Joe Lolley's goal in added time secured an unlikely 2-1 win for Nottingham Forest against Ipswich, who had led through Grant Ward's first-half header. Elsewhere, Callum Robinson's double sealed a 2-1 win for Preston against QPR, who had Matt Smith on the scoresheet, while Jordan
Wolves secured a return to the Premier League without kicking a ball on Saturday after Brentford stole a dramatic 1-1 draw at promotion-chasing Fulham. The Cottagers needed a win in the late kick-off to regain second place from Cardiff in the Sky Bet Championship and to deny Wolves a top-flight spot for the first time since 2012. Aleksandar Mitrovic's 70th-minute goal had looked like putting Wolves' party on hold but Neal Maupay's last-gasp header for Brentford sent Nuno Espirito Santo's side up. Wolves can celebrate at home to Birmingham on Sunday, but third-placed Fulham will have to gather themselves after falling a point and a place behind Cardiff - who have a game in hand. The Bluebirds left it late but kept themselves on course for an automatic promotion place with a 2-0 win at Norwich. Neil Warnock's side know three wins from their remaining four games will be enough to join Wolves in the Premier League but they had to dig deep to earn a vital three points at Carrow Road. Kenneth Zohore squeezed the ball past Angus Gunn in the 86th minute before Junior Hoilett's goal in added time ensured Cardiff's two-game losing streak was brought to an end. Junior Hoilett celebrates his injury time goal in Cardiff City's 2-0 win over Norwich Credit: PA Middlesbrough stormed into the play-off places after coming from behind to beat Bristol City 2-1 at the Riverside Stadium. Milan Djuric volleyed the visitors into a 13th-minute lead before George Friend levelled for Boro five minutes later. Daniel Ayala then headed home the winner in the 68th minute, moving Middlesbrough up to fifth while also denting Bristol City's own top-six hopes. Veteran striker Steve Morison struck his fifth goal of the season for Millwall as they came back to draw 1-1 against fellow play-off hopefuls Sheffield United in the early kick-off. Leon Clarke opened the scoring for the Blades in the 74th minute, but Morison equalised instantly to grab his side a point. The sixth-placed Lions remain unbeaten in the league since New Year's Day and Sheffield United, who are ninth, have not lost at home since late January. Ryan Sessegnon (L) was unable to help Fulham get all three points against Brentford and Romaine Sawyers (R) Derby slipped out of the top six, but Burton moved off the bottom and to within five points of safety after a 3-1 victory over the Rams at the Pirelli Stadium. Liam Boyce tapped home from close range to put the hosts in front after 24 minutes, but their lead did not last long as David Nugent equalised moments later. Luke Murphy curled a beautiful effort past Scott Carson to restore the Brewers' lead just before the break and Lucas Akins added a third in the 68th minute. Oli McBurnie's added-time equaliser secured a vital 2-2 draw for Barnsley at home to fellow strugglers Bolton. Gary Gardner scored from 10 yards midway through the first half for the Tykes before Adam Le Fondre levelled from the spot after 82 minutes. Craig Noone thought he had won it for Bolton three minutes later, but McBurnie had the final say to keep Barnsley within two points of the 21st-placed Trotters. Sunderland slipped to the foot of the table and remain six points below Bolton after drawing 2-2 at Reading. Liam Kelly gave the Royals the lead from the penalty spot after Lee Camp brought down Jon Dadi Bodvarsson in the box after 20 minutes. Paddy McNair fired home a stunning equaliser for the Black Cats just after the break before Lee Cattermole's first goal since August 2014 put the visitors in front in the 66th minute. Yann Kermorgant restored parity for Reading with 11 minutes remaining to leave Chris Coleman's side on the brink with three games left. Ben Brereton's late penalty and Joe Lolley's goal in added time secured an unlikely 2-1 win for Nottingham Forest against Ipswich, who had led through Grant Ward's first-half header. Elsewhere, Callum Robinson's double sealed a 2-1 win for Preston against QPR, who had Matt Smith on the scoresheet, while Jordan
Wolves seal promotion to Premier League as Fulham concede late goal
Wolves secured a return to the Premier League without kicking a ball on Saturday after Brentford stole a dramatic 1-1 draw at promotion-chasing Fulham. The Cottagers needed a win in the late kick-off to regain second place from Cardiff in the Sky Bet Championship and to deny Wolves a top-flight spot for the first time since 2012. Aleksandar Mitrovic's 70th-minute goal had looked like putting Wolves' party on hold but Neal Maupay's last-gasp header for Brentford sent Nuno Espirito Santo's side up. Wolves can celebrate at home to Birmingham on Sunday, but third-placed Fulham will have to gather themselves after falling a point and a place behind Cardiff - who have a game in hand. The Bluebirds left it late but kept themselves on course for an automatic promotion place with a 2-0 win at Norwich. Neil Warnock's side know three wins from their remaining four games will be enough to join Wolves in the Premier League but they had to dig deep to earn a vital three points at Carrow Road. Kenneth Zohore squeezed the ball past Angus Gunn in the 86th minute before Junior Hoilett's goal in added time ensured Cardiff's two-game losing streak was brought to an end. Junior Hoilett celebrates his injury time goal in Cardiff City's 2-0 win over Norwich Credit: PA Middlesbrough stormed into the play-off places after coming from behind to beat Bristol City 2-1 at the Riverside Stadium. Milan Djuric volleyed the visitors into a 13th-minute lead before George Friend levelled for Boro five minutes later. Daniel Ayala then headed home the winner in the 68th minute, moving Middlesbrough up to fifth while also denting Bristol City's own top-six hopes. Veteran striker Steve Morison struck his fifth goal of the season for Millwall as they came back to draw 1-1 against fellow play-off hopefuls Sheffield United in the early kick-off. Leon Clarke opened the scoring for the Blades in the 74th minute, but Morison equalised instantly to grab his side a point. The sixth-placed Lions remain unbeaten in the league since New Year's Day and Sheffield United, who are ninth, have not lost at home since late January. Ryan Sessegnon (L) was unable to help Fulham get all three points against Brentford and Romaine Sawyers (R) Derby slipped out of the top six, but Burton moved off the bottom and to within five points of safety after a 3-1 victory over the Rams at the Pirelli Stadium. Liam Boyce tapped home from close range to put the hosts in front after 24 minutes, but their lead did not last long as David Nugent equalised moments later. Luke Murphy curled a beautiful effort past Scott Carson to restore the Brewers' lead just before the break and Lucas Akins added a third in the 68th minute. Oli McBurnie's added-time equaliser secured a vital 2-2 draw for Barnsley at home to fellow strugglers Bolton. Gary Gardner scored from 10 yards midway through the first half for the Tykes before Adam Le Fondre levelled from the spot after 82 minutes. Craig Noone thought he had won it for Bolton three minutes later, but McBurnie had the final say to keep Barnsley within two points of the 21st-placed Trotters. Sunderland slipped to the foot of the table and remain six points below Bolton after drawing 2-2 at Reading. Liam Kelly gave the Royals the lead from the penalty spot after Lee Camp brought down Jon Dadi Bodvarsson in the box after 20 minutes. Paddy McNair fired home a stunning equaliser for the Black Cats just after the break before Lee Cattermole's first goal since August 2014 put the visitors in front in the 66th minute. Yann Kermorgant restored parity for Reading with 11 minutes remaining to leave Chris Coleman's side on the brink with three games left. Ben Brereton's late penalty and Joe Lolley's goal in added time secured an unlikely 2-1 win for Nottingham Forest against Ipswich, who had led through Grant Ward's first-half header. Elsewhere, Callum Robinson's double sealed a 2-1 win for Preston against QPR, who had Matt Smith on the scoresheet, while Jordan
Wolves secured a return to the Premier League without kicking a ball on Saturday after Brentford stole a dramatic 1-1 draw at promotion-chasing Fulham. The Cottagers needed a win in the late kick-off to regain second place from Cardiff in the Sky Bet Championship and to deny Wolves a top-flight spot for the first time since 2012. Aleksandar Mitrovic's 70th-minute goal had looked like putting Wolves' party on hold but Neal Maupay's last-gasp header for Brentford sent Nuno Espirito Santo's side up. Wolves can celebrate at home to Birmingham on Sunday, but third-placed Fulham will have to gather themselves after falling a point and a place behind Cardiff - who have a game in hand. The Bluebirds left it late but kept themselves on course for an automatic promotion place with a 2-0 win at Norwich. Neil Warnock's side know three wins from their remaining four games will be enough to join Wolves in the Premier League but they had to dig deep to earn a vital three points at Carrow Road. Kenneth Zohore squeezed the ball past Angus Gunn in the 86th minute before Junior Hoilett's goal in added time ensured Cardiff's two-game losing streak was brought to an end. Junior Hoilett celebrates his injury time goal in Cardiff City's 2-0 win over Norwich Credit: PA Middlesbrough stormed into the play-off places after coming from behind to beat Bristol City 2-1 at the Riverside Stadium. Milan Djuric volleyed the visitors into a 13th-minute lead before George Friend levelled for Boro five minutes later. Daniel Ayala then headed home the winner in the 68th minute, moving Middlesbrough up to fifth while also denting Bristol City's own top-six hopes. Veteran striker Steve Morison struck his fifth goal of the season for Millwall as they came back to draw 1-1 against fellow play-off hopefuls Sheffield United in the early kick-off. Leon Clarke opened the scoring for the Blades in the 74th minute, but Morison equalised instantly to grab his side a point. The sixth-placed Lions remain unbeaten in the league since New Year's Day and Sheffield United, who are ninth, have not lost at home since late January. Ryan Sessegnon (L) was unable to help Fulham get all three points against Brentford and Romaine Sawyers (R) Derby slipped out of the top six, but Burton moved off the bottom and to within five points of safety after a 3-1 victory over the Rams at the Pirelli Stadium. Liam Boyce tapped home from close range to put the hosts in front after 24 minutes, but their lead did not last long as David Nugent equalised moments later. Luke Murphy curled a beautiful effort past Scott Carson to restore the Brewers' lead just before the break and Lucas Akins added a third in the 68th minute. Oli McBurnie's added-time equaliser secured a vital 2-2 draw for Barnsley at home to fellow strugglers Bolton. Gary Gardner scored from 10 yards midway through the first half for the Tykes before Adam Le Fondre levelled from the spot after 82 minutes. Craig Noone thought he had won it for Bolton three minutes later, but McBurnie had the final say to keep Barnsley within two points of the 21st-placed Trotters. Sunderland slipped to the foot of the table and remain six points below Bolton after drawing 2-2 at Reading. Liam Kelly gave the Royals the lead from the penalty spot after Lee Camp brought down Jon Dadi Bodvarsson in the box after 20 minutes. Paddy McNair fired home a stunning equaliser for the Black Cats just after the break before Lee Cattermole's first goal since August 2014 put the visitors in front in the 66th minute. Yann Kermorgant restored parity for Reading with 11 minutes remaining to leave Chris Coleman's side on the brink with three games left. Ben Brereton's late penalty and Joe Lolley's goal in added time secured an unlikely 2-1 win for Nottingham Forest against Ipswich, who had led through Grant Ward's first-half header. Elsewhere, Callum Robinson's double sealed a 2-1 win for Preston against QPR, who had Matt Smith on the scoresheet, while Jordan
Wolves seal promotion to Premier League as Fulham concede late goal
Wolves secured a return to the Premier League without kicking a ball on Saturday after Brentford stole a dramatic 1-1 draw at promotion-chasing Fulham. The Cottagers needed a win in the late kick-off to regain second place from Cardiff in the Sky Bet Championship and to deny Wolves a top-flight spot for the first time since 2012. Aleksandar Mitrovic's 70th-minute goal had looked like putting Wolves' party on hold but Neal Maupay's last-gasp header for Brentford sent Nuno Espirito Santo's side up. Wolves can celebrate at home to Birmingham on Sunday, but third-placed Fulham will have to gather themselves after falling a point and a place behind Cardiff - who have a game in hand. The Bluebirds left it late but kept themselves on course for an automatic promotion place with a 2-0 win at Norwich. Neil Warnock's side know three wins from their remaining four games will be enough to join Wolves in the Premier League but they had to dig deep to earn a vital three points at Carrow Road. Kenneth Zohore squeezed the ball past Angus Gunn in the 86th minute before Junior Hoilett's goal in added time ensured Cardiff's two-game losing streak was brought to an end. Junior Hoilett celebrates his injury time goal in Cardiff City's 2-0 win over Norwich Credit: PA Middlesbrough stormed into the play-off places after coming from behind to beat Bristol City 2-1 at the Riverside Stadium. Milan Djuric volleyed the visitors into a 13th-minute lead before George Friend levelled for Boro five minutes later. Daniel Ayala then headed home the winner in the 68th minute, moving Middlesbrough up to fifth while also denting Bristol City's own top-six hopes. Veteran striker Steve Morison struck his fifth goal of the season for Millwall as they came back to draw 1-1 against fellow play-off hopefuls Sheffield United in the early kick-off. Leon Clarke opened the scoring for the Blades in the 74th minute, but Morison equalised instantly to grab his side a point. The sixth-placed Lions remain unbeaten in the league since New Year's Day and Sheffield United, who are ninth, have not lost at home since late January. Ryan Sessegnon (L) was unable to help Fulham get all three points against Brentford and Romaine Sawyers (R) Derby slipped out of the top six, but Burton moved off the bottom and to within five points of safety after a 3-1 victory over the Rams at the Pirelli Stadium. Liam Boyce tapped home from close range to put the hosts in front after 24 minutes, but their lead did not last long as David Nugent equalised moments later. Luke Murphy curled a beautiful effort past Scott Carson to restore the Brewers' lead just before the break and Lucas Akins added a third in the 68th minute. Oli McBurnie's added-time equaliser secured a vital 2-2 draw for Barnsley at home to fellow strugglers Bolton. Gary Gardner scored from 10 yards midway through the first half for the Tykes before Adam Le Fondre levelled from the spot after 82 minutes. Craig Noone thought he had won it for Bolton three minutes later, but McBurnie had the final say to keep Barnsley within two points of the 21st-placed Trotters. Sunderland slipped to the foot of the table and remain six points below Bolton after drawing 2-2 at Reading. Liam Kelly gave the Royals the lead from the penalty spot after Lee Camp brought down Jon Dadi Bodvarsson in the box after 20 minutes. Paddy McNair fired home a stunning equaliser for the Black Cats just after the break before Lee Cattermole's first goal since August 2014 put the visitors in front in the 66th minute. Yann Kermorgant restored parity for Reading with 11 minutes remaining to leave Chris Coleman's side on the brink with three games left. Ben Brereton's late penalty and Joe Lolley's goal in added time secured an unlikely 2-1 win for Nottingham Forest against Ipswich, who had led through Grant Ward's first-half header. Elsewhere, Callum Robinson's double sealed a 2-1 win for Preston against QPR, who had Matt Smith on the scoresheet, while Jordan
With Wolves on the verge of sealing their place back in the Premier League as Championship champions, the race for the second automatic promotion spot it hotting up. We are into the season's final stretch now, and three teams still have a chance of claiming second place. Here, we take a closer look at each side's chances. Cardiff City 2nd, P40 Pts 80 Form guide LDWWWW Strength Defence. Cardiff have the best defensive record in the Championship, having conceded just 34 goals all season and kept 16 clean sheets - manager Neil Warnock's target at the beginning of the season, which he felt would be sufficient to reach the play-offs. Since the return of Sean Morrison, they have looked even more comfortable at the back. Warnock admits his squad isn’t as good as that of Aston Villa or Wolves, but what he does have is a strong spine to the side and an approach very much in the mould of their muck 'n nettles manager. “We haven’t got the Rolls Royces of the division, but, by gum, we've got some endeavour and a lot of skill in some areas as well,” Warnock said, recently. Weakness Warnock is often criticised for his tactics being one-dimensional. Kenneth Zohore, who has scored eight goals for Cardiff, is often used as a target man to get the ball forward quicker, producing a style of play which can lead to some grumbling from the supporters. Warnock riles at suggestions he is predictable: “If you’ve got a target man or someone strong in the air, they can play the ball out to players occupying the wide positions,” he pointed out. Key man Callum Paterson, who has enjoyed a successful 2018 in a new advanced position. He has taken his goal tally to nine and is the club's second top scorer. The Scotsman had to come off in the defeat against Wolves, but Warnock will be hoping he is fit to feature against Aston Villa on Tuesday in a game that could go a long way to sealing second place. Remaining games Aston Villa (a), Norwich Ciy (a), Nottingham Forest (h), Derby County (a), Hull City (a), Reading (h) Fulham 3rd - P41 Pts 78 Form guide WWWDWW Strength Scoring - especially on the counter, where their pace can be devastating. Last season, Fulham scored 85 goals and could overhaul that tally this year (they currently have 71). Their calculated, quick approach in possession means they can soak up pressure and hit teams on the break. Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic has pace in abundance, especially down the left-hand side with Ryan Sessegnon and Sheyi Ojo. Sessegnon has scored a remarkable 14 goals, with 10 coming in his last 18 games. Ryan Sessegnon is a constant threat on the left Credit: pa Weakness Despite Fulham’s strength on the break, they are often guilty of sloppiness in possession and are caught out having over-committed in attack. Sessegnon and his opposite full-back, Ryan Fredericks, can be exposed in this area and Jokanovic has moved Sessegnon to the left wing to provide more cover for his full-back. This has paid dividends, with Fulham having now kept three clean sheets in three games. Earlier on in the season, they went 13 games before keeping a clean sheet. Key man Aleksander Mitrovic. The on-loan Newcastle striker scored his ninth goal in nine games to extend Fulham’s unbeaten run to 19 matches at the weekend against Sheffield Wednesday. He is already their second top scorer this season and his physicality gives Fulham another dimension to their play: he is the battering ram who can hold the ball up for his quicker, more mobile team-mates to find space around him. Remaining games Reading (h), Brentford (h), Millwall (a), Sunderland (h), Birmingham (a). Aston Villa 4th - P41 Pts 73 Form guide LWDLLW Strength Villa's side is bursting with creativity, led by Robert Snodgrass, who has produced a division-high tally of 14 assists. The Scotland international is gradually scrubbing away the miserable experience of his stint at West Ham, where he accused then-manager Slaven Bilic of playing him out of position, and has also chipped in with seven goals. Add that to Albert Adomas’s tally of 14, and the skills of Jack Grealish - who has four goals and as many assists - and you begin to see why Villa are still considered a threat, despite their recent wobbles. Villa have tonnes of creativity Credit: getty images Weakness Consistency has been a problem for Villa this season. They were the pre-season favourites to be champions; instead, they find themselves fourth and with automatic promotion rapidly slipping over the horizon. Since beating Wolves 4-1, they have lost to Norwich, Bolton, QPR, and drawn 0-0 with Hull, while their most recent loss against Norwich City, saw the fans turn against the players. “The players have let the supporters down, and they have also let themselves down. We have failed to perform when we really needed to,” said manager Steve Bruce. Key man John Terry has been a colossus at the heart of Villa’s defence, earning a place in the Championship Team of the Year, despite missing 10 games through injury. Terry has started in 31 of Villas 41 fixtures so far, helping them keep 12 clean sheets, and will be pivotal if Villa are to regain their place at English football's top table. “John Terry is a natural leader of men on and off the pitch," Bruce has said. "He is a wonderful footballer but what he has brought to the dressing room is important. He knows what it is like to play the top level.” Remaining games Cardiff (h), Leeds (h), Ipswich (a), Derby (h), Millwall (a)
The Championship promotion race: Will Cardiff, Fulham or Aston Villa claim second spot?
With Wolves on the verge of sealing their place back in the Premier League as Championship champions, the race for the second automatic promotion spot it hotting up. We are into the season's final stretch now, and three teams still have a chance of claiming second place. Here, we take a closer look at each side's chances. Cardiff City 2nd, P40 Pts 80 Form guide LDWWWW Strength Defence. Cardiff have the best defensive record in the Championship, having conceded just 34 goals all season and kept 16 clean sheets - manager Neil Warnock's target at the beginning of the season, which he felt would be sufficient to reach the play-offs. Since the return of Sean Morrison, they have looked even more comfortable at the back. Warnock admits his squad isn’t as good as that of Aston Villa or Wolves, but what he does have is a strong spine to the side and an approach very much in the mould of their muck 'n nettles manager. “We haven’t got the Rolls Royces of the division, but, by gum, we've got some endeavour and a lot of skill in some areas as well,” Warnock said, recently. Weakness Warnock is often criticised for his tactics being one-dimensional. Kenneth Zohore, who has scored eight goals for Cardiff, is often used as a target man to get the ball forward quicker, producing a style of play which can lead to some grumbling from the supporters. Warnock riles at suggestions he is predictable: “If you’ve got a target man or someone strong in the air, they can play the ball out to players occupying the wide positions,” he pointed out. Key man Callum Paterson, who has enjoyed a successful 2018 in a new advanced position. He has taken his goal tally to nine and is the club's second top scorer. The Scotsman had to come off in the defeat against Wolves, but Warnock will be hoping he is fit to feature against Aston Villa on Tuesday in a game that could go a long way to sealing second place. Remaining games Aston Villa (a), Norwich Ciy (a), Nottingham Forest (h), Derby County (a), Hull City (a), Reading (h) Fulham 3rd - P41 Pts 78 Form guide WWWDWW Strength Scoring - especially on the counter, where their pace can be devastating. Last season, Fulham scored 85 goals and could overhaul that tally this year (they currently have 71). Their calculated, quick approach in possession means they can soak up pressure and hit teams on the break. Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic has pace in abundance, especially down the left-hand side with Ryan Sessegnon and Sheyi Ojo. Sessegnon has scored a remarkable 14 goals, with 10 coming in his last 18 games. Ryan Sessegnon is a constant threat on the left Credit: pa Weakness Despite Fulham’s strength on the break, they are often guilty of sloppiness in possession and are caught out having over-committed in attack. Sessegnon and his opposite full-back, Ryan Fredericks, can be exposed in this area and Jokanovic has moved Sessegnon to the left wing to provide more cover for his full-back. This has paid dividends, with Fulham having now kept three clean sheets in three games. Earlier on in the season, they went 13 games before keeping a clean sheet. Key man Aleksander Mitrovic. The on-loan Newcastle striker scored his ninth goal in nine games to extend Fulham’s unbeaten run to 19 matches at the weekend against Sheffield Wednesday. He is already their second top scorer this season and his physicality gives Fulham another dimension to their play: he is the battering ram who can hold the ball up for his quicker, more mobile team-mates to find space around him. Remaining games Reading (h), Brentford (h), Millwall (a), Sunderland (h), Birmingham (a). Aston Villa 4th - P41 Pts 73 Form guide LWDLLW Strength Villa's side is bursting with creativity, led by Robert Snodgrass, who has produced a division-high tally of 14 assists. The Scotland international is gradually scrubbing away the miserable experience of his stint at West Ham, where he accused then-manager Slaven Bilic of playing him out of position, and has also chipped in with seven goals. Add that to Albert Adomas’s tally of 14, and the skills of Jack Grealish - who has four goals and as many assists - and you begin to see why Villa are still considered a threat, despite their recent wobbles. Villa have tonnes of creativity Credit: getty images Weakness Consistency has been a problem for Villa this season. They were the pre-season favourites to be champions; instead, they find themselves fourth and with automatic promotion rapidly slipping over the horizon. Since beating Wolves 4-1, they have lost to Norwich, Bolton, QPR, and drawn 0-0 with Hull, while their most recent loss against Norwich City, saw the fans turn against the players. “The players have let the supporters down, and they have also let themselves down. We have failed to perform when we really needed to,” said manager Steve Bruce. Key man John Terry has been a colossus at the heart of Villa’s defence, earning a place in the Championship Team of the Year, despite missing 10 games through injury. Terry has started in 31 of Villas 41 fixtures so far, helping them keep 12 clean sheets, and will be pivotal if Villa are to regain their place at English football's top table. “John Terry is a natural leader of men on and off the pitch," Bruce has said. "He is a wonderful footballer but what he has brought to the dressing room is important. He knows what it is like to play the top level.” Remaining games Cardiff (h), Leeds (h), Ipswich (a), Derby (h), Millwall (a)
With Wolves on the verge of sealing their place back in the Premier League as Championship champions, the race for the second automatic promotion spot it hotting up. We are into the season's final stretch now, and three teams still have a chance of claiming second place. Here, we take a closer look at each side's chances. Cardiff City 2nd, P40 Pts 80 Form guide LDWWWW Strength Defence. Cardiff have the best defensive record in the Championship, having conceded just 34 goals all season and kept 16 clean sheets - manager Neil Warnock's target at the beginning of the season, which he felt would be sufficient to reach the play-offs. Since the return of Sean Morrison, they have looked even more comfortable at the back. Warnock admits his squad isn’t as good as that of Aston Villa or Wolves, but what he does have is a strong spine to the side and an approach very much in the mould of their muck 'n nettles manager. “We haven’t got the Rolls Royces of the division, but, by gum, we've got some endeavour and a lot of skill in some areas as well,” Warnock said, recently. Weakness Warnock is often criticised for his tactics being one-dimensional. Kenneth Zohore, who has scored eight goals for Cardiff, is often used as a target man to get the ball forward quicker, producing a style of play which can lead to some grumbling from the supporters. Warnock riles at suggestions he is predictable: “If you’ve got a target man or someone strong in the air, they can play the ball out to players occupying the wide positions,” he pointed out. Key man Callum Paterson, who has enjoyed a successful 2018 in a new advanced position. He has taken his goal tally to nine and is the club's second top scorer. The Scotsman had to come off in the defeat against Wolves, but Warnock will be hoping he is fit to feature against Aston Villa on Tuesday in a game that could go a long way to sealing second place. Remaining games Aston Villa (a), Norwich Ciy (a), Nottingham Forest (h), Derby County (a), Hull City (a), Reading (h) Fulham 3rd - P41 Pts 78 Form guide WWWDWW Strength Scoring - especially on the counter, where their pace can be devastating. Last season, Fulham scored 85 goals and could overhaul that tally this year (they currently have 71). Their calculated, quick approach in possession means they can soak up pressure and hit teams on the break. Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic has pace in abundance, especially down the left-hand side with Ryan Sessegnon and Sheyi Ojo. Sessegnon has scored a remarkable 14 goals, with 10 coming in his last 18 games. Ryan Sessegnon is a constant threat on the left Credit: pa Weakness Despite Fulham’s strength on the break, they are often guilty of sloppiness in possession and are caught out having over-committed in attack. Sessegnon and his opposite full-back, Ryan Fredericks, can be exposed in this area and Jokanovic has moved Sessegnon to the left wing to provide more cover for his full-back. This has paid dividends, with Fulham having now kept three clean sheets in three games. Earlier on in the season, they went 13 games before keeping a clean sheet. Key man Aleksander Mitrovic. The on-loan Newcastle striker scored his ninth goal in nine games to extend Fulham’s unbeaten run to 19 matches at the weekend against Sheffield Wednesday. He is already their second top scorer this season and his physicality gives Fulham another dimension to their play: he is the battering ram who can hold the ball up for his quicker, more mobile team-mates to find space around him. Remaining games Reading (h), Brentford (h), Millwall (a), Sunderland (h), Birmingham (a). Aston Villa 4th - P41 Pts 73 Form guide LWDLLW Strength Villa's side is bursting with creativity, led by Robert Snodgrass, who has produced a division-high tally of 14 assists. The Scotland international is gradually scrubbing away the miserable experience of his stint at West Ham, where he accused then-manager Slaven Bilic of playing him out of position, and has also chipped in with seven goals. Add that to Albert Adomas’s tally of 14, and the skills of Jack Grealish - who has four goals and as many assists - and you begin to see why Villa are still considered a threat, despite their recent wobbles. Villa have tonnes of creativity Credit: getty images Weakness Consistency has been a problem for Villa this season. They were the pre-season favourites to be champions; instead, they find themselves fourth and with automatic promotion rapidly slipping over the horizon. Since beating Wolves 4-1, they have lost to Norwich, Bolton, QPR, and drawn 0-0 with Hull, while their most recent loss against Norwich City, saw the fans turn against the players. “The players have let the supporters down, and they have also let themselves down. We have failed to perform when we really needed to,” said manager Steve Bruce. Key man John Terry has been a colossus at the heart of Villa’s defence, earning a place in the Championship Team of the Year, despite missing 10 games through injury. Terry has started in 31 of Villas 41 fixtures so far, helping them keep 12 clean sheets, and will be pivotal if Villa are to regain their place at English football's top table. “John Terry is a natural leader of men on and off the pitch," Bruce has said. "He is a wonderful footballer but what he has brought to the dressing room is important. He knows what it is like to play the top level.” Remaining games Cardiff (h), Leeds (h), Ipswich (a), Derby (h), Millwall (a)
The Championship promotion race: Will Cardiff, Fulham or Aston Villa claim second spot?
With Wolves on the verge of sealing their place back in the Premier League as Championship champions, the race for the second automatic promotion spot it hotting up. We are into the season's final stretch now, and three teams still have a chance of claiming second place. Here, we take a closer look at each side's chances. Cardiff City 2nd, P40 Pts 80 Form guide LDWWWW Strength Defence. Cardiff have the best defensive record in the Championship, having conceded just 34 goals all season and kept 16 clean sheets - manager Neil Warnock's target at the beginning of the season, which he felt would be sufficient to reach the play-offs. Since the return of Sean Morrison, they have looked even more comfortable at the back. Warnock admits his squad isn’t as good as that of Aston Villa or Wolves, but what he does have is a strong spine to the side and an approach very much in the mould of their muck 'n nettles manager. “We haven’t got the Rolls Royces of the division, but, by gum, we've got some endeavour and a lot of skill in some areas as well,” Warnock said, recently. Weakness Warnock is often criticised for his tactics being one-dimensional. Kenneth Zohore, who has scored eight goals for Cardiff, is often used as a target man to get the ball forward quicker, producing a style of play which can lead to some grumbling from the supporters. Warnock riles at suggestions he is predictable: “If you’ve got a target man or someone strong in the air, they can play the ball out to players occupying the wide positions,” he pointed out. Key man Callum Paterson, who has enjoyed a successful 2018 in a new advanced position. He has taken his goal tally to nine and is the club's second top scorer. The Scotsman had to come off in the defeat against Wolves, but Warnock will be hoping he is fit to feature against Aston Villa on Tuesday in a game that could go a long way to sealing second place. Remaining games Aston Villa (a), Norwich Ciy (a), Nottingham Forest (h), Derby County (a), Hull City (a), Reading (h) Fulham 3rd - P41 Pts 78 Form guide WWWDWW Strength Scoring - especially on the counter, where their pace can be devastating. Last season, Fulham scored 85 goals and could overhaul that tally this year (they currently have 71). Their calculated, quick approach in possession means they can soak up pressure and hit teams on the break. Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic has pace in abundance, especially down the left-hand side with Ryan Sessegnon and Sheyi Ojo. Sessegnon has scored a remarkable 14 goals, with 10 coming in his last 18 games. Ryan Sessegnon is a constant threat on the left Credit: pa Weakness Despite Fulham’s strength on the break, they are often guilty of sloppiness in possession and are caught out having over-committed in attack. Sessegnon and his opposite full-back, Ryan Fredericks, can be exposed in this area and Jokanovic has moved Sessegnon to the left wing to provide more cover for his full-back. This has paid dividends, with Fulham having now kept three clean sheets in three games. Earlier on in the season, they went 13 games before keeping a clean sheet. Key man Aleksander Mitrovic. The on-loan Newcastle striker scored his ninth goal in nine games to extend Fulham’s unbeaten run to 19 matches at the weekend against Sheffield Wednesday. He is already their second top scorer this season and his physicality gives Fulham another dimension to their play: he is the battering ram who can hold the ball up for his quicker, more mobile team-mates to find space around him. Remaining games Reading (h), Brentford (h), Millwall (a), Sunderland (h), Birmingham (a). Aston Villa 4th - P41 Pts 73 Form guide LWDLLW Strength Villa's side is bursting with creativity, led by Robert Snodgrass, who has produced a division-high tally of 14 assists. The Scotland international is gradually scrubbing away the miserable experience of his stint at West Ham, where he accused then-manager Slaven Bilic of playing him out of position, and has also chipped in with seven goals. Add that to Albert Adomas’s tally of 14, and the skills of Jack Grealish - who has four goals and as many assists - and you begin to see why Villa are still considered a threat, despite their recent wobbles. Villa have tonnes of creativity Credit: getty images Weakness Consistency has been a problem for Villa this season. They were the pre-season favourites to be champions; instead, they find themselves fourth and with automatic promotion rapidly slipping over the horizon. Since beating Wolves 4-1, they have lost to Norwich, Bolton, QPR, and drawn 0-0 with Hull, while their most recent loss against Norwich City, saw the fans turn against the players. “The players have let the supporters down, and they have also let themselves down. We have failed to perform when we really needed to,” said manager Steve Bruce. Key man John Terry has been a colossus at the heart of Villa’s defence, earning a place in the Championship Team of the Year, despite missing 10 games through injury. Terry has started in 31 of Villas 41 fixtures so far, helping them keep 12 clean sheets, and will be pivotal if Villa are to regain their place at English football's top table. “John Terry is a natural leader of men on and off the pitch," Bruce has said. "He is a wonderful footballer but what he has brought to the dressing room is important. He knows what it is like to play the top level.” Remaining games Cardiff (h), Leeds (h), Ipswich (a), Derby (h), Millwall (a)
With Wolves on the verge of sealing their place back in the Premier League as Championship champions, the race for the second automatic promotion spot it hotting up. We are into the season's final stretch now, and three teams still have a chance of claiming second place. Here, we take a closer look at each side's chances. Cardiff City 2nd, P40 Pts 80 Form guide LDWWWW Strength Defence. Cardiff have the best defensive record in the Championship, having conceded just 34 goals all season and kept 16 clean sheets - manager Neil Warnock's target at the beginning of the season, which he felt would be sufficient to reach the play-offs. Since the return of Sean Morrison, they have looked even more comfortable at the back. Warnock admits his squad isn’t as good as that of Aston Villa or Wolves, but what he does have is a strong spine to the side and an approach very much in the mould of their muck 'n nettles manager. “We haven’t got the Rolls Royces of the division, but, by gum, we've got some endeavour and a lot of skill in some areas as well,” Warnock said, recently. Weakness Warnock is often criticised for his tactics being one-dimensional. Kenneth Zohore, who has scored eight goals for Cardiff, is often used as a target man to get the ball forward quicker, producing a style of play which can lead to some grumbling from the supporters. Warnock riles at suggestions he is predictable: “If you’ve got a target man or someone strong in the air, they can play the ball out to players occupying the wide positions,” he pointed out. Key man Callum Paterson, who has enjoyed a successful 2018 in a new advanced position. He has taken his goal tally to nine and is the club's second top scorer. The Scotsman had to come off in the defeat against Wolves, but Warnock will be hoping he is fit to feature against Aston Villa on Tuesday in a game that could go a long way to sealing second place. Remaining games Aston Villa (a), Norwich Ciy (a), Nottingham Forest (h), Derby County (a), Hull City (a), Reading (h) Fulham 3rd - P41 Pts 78 Form guide WWWDWW Strength Scoring - especially on the counter, where their pace can be devastating. Last season, Fulham scored 85 goals and could overhaul that tally this year (they currently have 71). Their calculated, quick approach in possession means they can soak up pressure and hit teams on the break. Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic has pace in abundance, especially down the left-hand side with Ryan Sessegnon and Sheyi Ojo. Sessegnon has scored a remarkable 14 goals, with 10 coming in his last 18 games. Ryan Sessegnon is a constant threat on the left Credit: pa Weakness Despite Fulham’s strength on the break, they are often guilty of sloppiness in possession and are caught out having over-committed in attack. Sessegnon and his opposite full-back, Ryan Fredericks, can be exposed in this area and Jokanovic has moved Sessegnon to the left wing to provide more cover for his full-back. This has paid dividends, with Fulham having now kept three clean sheets in three games. Earlier on in the season, they went 13 games before keeping a clean sheet. Key man Aleksander Mitrovic. The on-loan Newcastle striker scored his ninth goal in nine games to extend Fulham’s unbeaten run to 19 matches at the weekend against Sheffield Wednesday. He is already their second top scorer this season and his physicality gives Fulham another dimension to their play: he is the battering ram who can hold the ball up for his quicker, more mobile team-mates to find space around him. Remaining games Reading (h), Brentford (h), Millwall (a), Sunderland (h), Birmingham (a). Aston Villa 4th - P41 Pts 73 Form guide LWDLLW Strength Villa's side is bursting with creativity, led by Robert Snodgrass, who has produced a division-high tally of 14 assists. The Scotland international is gradually scrubbing away the miserable experience of his stint at West Ham, where he accused then-manager Slaven Bilic of playing him out of position, and has also chipped in with seven goals. Add that to Albert Adomas’s tally of 14, and the skills of Jack Grealish - who has four goals and as many assists - and you begin to see why Villa are still considered a threat, despite their recent wobbles. Villa have tonnes of creativity Credit: getty images Weakness Consistency has been a problem for Villa this season. They were the pre-season favourites to be champions; instead, they find themselves fourth and with automatic promotion rapidly slipping over the horizon. Since beating Wolves 4-1, they have lost to Norwich, Bolton, QPR, and drawn 0-0 with Hull, while their most recent loss against Norwich City, saw the fans turn against the players. “The players have let the supporters down, and they have also let themselves down. We have failed to perform when we really needed to,” said manager Steve Bruce. Key man John Terry has been a colossus at the heart of Villa’s defence, earning a place in the Championship Team of the Year, despite missing 10 games through injury. Terry has started in 31 of Villas 41 fixtures so far, helping them keep 12 clean sheets, and will be pivotal if Villa are to regain their place at English football's top table. “John Terry is a natural leader of men on and off the pitch," Bruce has said. "He is a wonderful footballer but what he has brought to the dressing room is important. He knows what it is like to play the top level.” Remaining games Cardiff (h), Leeds (h), Ipswich (a), Derby (h), Millwall (a)
The Championship promotion race: Will Cardiff, Fulham or Aston Villa claim second spot?
With Wolves on the verge of sealing their place back in the Premier League as Championship champions, the race for the second automatic promotion spot it hotting up. We are into the season's final stretch now, and three teams still have a chance of claiming second place. Here, we take a closer look at each side's chances. Cardiff City 2nd, P40 Pts 80 Form guide LDWWWW Strength Defence. Cardiff have the best defensive record in the Championship, having conceded just 34 goals all season and kept 16 clean sheets - manager Neil Warnock's target at the beginning of the season, which he felt would be sufficient to reach the play-offs. Since the return of Sean Morrison, they have looked even more comfortable at the back. Warnock admits his squad isn’t as good as that of Aston Villa or Wolves, but what he does have is a strong spine to the side and an approach very much in the mould of their muck 'n nettles manager. “We haven’t got the Rolls Royces of the division, but, by gum, we've got some endeavour and a lot of skill in some areas as well,” Warnock said, recently. Weakness Warnock is often criticised for his tactics being one-dimensional. Kenneth Zohore, who has scored eight goals for Cardiff, is often used as a target man to get the ball forward quicker, producing a style of play which can lead to some grumbling from the supporters. Warnock riles at suggestions he is predictable: “If you’ve got a target man or someone strong in the air, they can play the ball out to players occupying the wide positions,” he pointed out. Key man Callum Paterson, who has enjoyed a successful 2018 in a new advanced position. He has taken his goal tally to nine and is the club's second top scorer. The Scotsman had to come off in the defeat against Wolves, but Warnock will be hoping he is fit to feature against Aston Villa on Tuesday in a game that could go a long way to sealing second place. Remaining games Aston Villa (a), Norwich Ciy (a), Nottingham Forest (h), Derby County (a), Hull City (a), Reading (h) Fulham 3rd - P41 Pts 78 Form guide WWWDWW Strength Scoring - especially on the counter, where their pace can be devastating. Last season, Fulham scored 85 goals and could overhaul that tally this year (they currently have 71). Their calculated, quick approach in possession means they can soak up pressure and hit teams on the break. Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic has pace in abundance, especially down the left-hand side with Ryan Sessegnon and Sheyi Ojo. Sessegnon has scored a remarkable 14 goals, with 10 coming in his last 18 games. Ryan Sessegnon is a constant threat on the left Credit: pa Weakness Despite Fulham’s strength on the break, they are often guilty of sloppiness in possession and are caught out having over-committed in attack. Sessegnon and his opposite full-back, Ryan Fredericks, can be exposed in this area and Jokanovic has moved Sessegnon to the left wing to provide more cover for his full-back. This has paid dividends, with Fulham having now kept three clean sheets in three games. Earlier on in the season, they went 13 games before keeping a clean sheet. Key man Aleksander Mitrovic. The on-loan Newcastle striker scored his ninth goal in nine games to extend Fulham’s unbeaten run to 19 matches at the weekend against Sheffield Wednesday. He is already their second top scorer this season and his physicality gives Fulham another dimension to their play: he is the battering ram who can hold the ball up for his quicker, more mobile team-mates to find space around him. Remaining games Reading (h), Brentford (h), Millwall (a), Sunderland (h), Birmingham (a). Aston Villa 4th - P41 Pts 73 Form guide LWDLLW Strength Villa's side is bursting with creativity, led by Robert Snodgrass, who has produced a division-high tally of 14 assists. The Scotland international is gradually scrubbing away the miserable experience of his stint at West Ham, where he accused then-manager Slaven Bilic of playing him out of position, and has also chipped in with seven goals. Add that to Albert Adomas’s tally of 14, and the skills of Jack Grealish - who has four goals and as many assists - and you begin to see why Villa are still considered a threat, despite their recent wobbles. Villa have tonnes of creativity Credit: getty images Weakness Consistency has been a problem for Villa this season. They were the pre-season favourites to be champions; instead, they find themselves fourth and with automatic promotion rapidly slipping over the horizon. Since beating Wolves 4-1, they have lost to Norwich, Bolton, QPR, and drawn 0-0 with Hull, while their most recent loss against Norwich City, saw the fans turn against the players. “The players have let the supporters down, and they have also let themselves down. We have failed to perform when we really needed to,” said manager Steve Bruce. Key man John Terry has been a colossus at the heart of Villa’s defence, earning a place in the Championship Team of the Year, despite missing 10 games through injury. Terry has started in 31 of Villas 41 fixtures so far, helping them keep 12 clean sheets, and will be pivotal if Villa are to regain their place at English football's top table. “John Terry is a natural leader of men on and off the pitch," Bruce has said. "He is a wonderful footballer but what he has brought to the dressing room is important. He knows what it is like to play the top level.” Remaining games Cardiff (h), Leeds (h), Ipswich (a), Derby (h), Millwall (a)
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Aitor Karanka can still remember the text message he received from Jose Mourinho, on the day he was appointed as the new manager of Nottingham Forest: “He said that I’d made a good choice. He knows about the size and history of this club and wished me good luck.” Mourinho, a key figure in Karanka’s career path after appointing him as his assistant at Real Madrid in 2010, also wrote the foreword to the book of the excellent film I Believe In Miracles, which tells the story of Forest’s successive European Cup triumphs under Brian Clough. And it was only a club with such rich history and expectation that was going to persuade Karanka to consider a return to the Championship. “Coming back to this league may have looked like a step back, but for me this is a step forward because it’s not a normal club,” says Karanka, sitting in his office at Forest’s training ground for his first major newspaper interview since taking charge. Nottingham Forest are two-time winners of the European Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES “When you’re not here, you know about the history but to actually go into the boardroom and see the two European Cups, you realise it’s huge. “The history is a motivation, every time I wear the two stars I am representing Nottingham Forest. It’s a privilege and I cannot understand a big club without pressure.” Karanka is determined to create some history of his own and become the manager who finally delivers Forest back to the Premier League, following his appointment in January. After a difficult start, he has delivered the anticipated impact. One defeat in eight games suggests Forest – currently 17th in the Championship - will be a different proposition next season. The 44 year-old already has one promotion on his CV, from his time at Middlesbrough, and on Saturday he returns to Teesside for the first time since he left by mutual consent last March. Aitor Karanka won promotion to the Premier League with Middlebrough Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I was the first foreign coach in their history and to put them in the Premier League was an honour,” he says. “It had been a really tough two-and-a-half years. The first year was difficult because I was living alone in my first job, with a different language and culture. The atmosphere was depressed and there were only 10,000 in the stadium. “The following season we played 55 games and lost in the play-off final [to Norwich]. The toughest moment was in the summer when I returned to my office and put all the 50 fixtures back on the board. “But to finish second and go up the next year was an incredible feeling. When we got promoted I cried in the dressing room for 45 minutes.” The next season was one of regrets: Middlesbrough’s existence as a Premier League club was brief, fraught with problems and largely forgettable. There were frequent reports of tension over transfers before Karanka’s departure, but he still considers chairman Steve Gibson a friend. “We considered it and the best thing for the club was to separate, for both of us. It couldn’t work at the end but the relationship we still have is amazing. Until now, Middlesbrough had been the only place I’d managed so there were many good moments.” Karanka’s return to the Riverside also promises to be poignant, for more personal reasons. His father, Fernando, died in September after a short battle with cancer and was a regular visitor while Karanka was in charge. “Of course it will be emotional because he was my mentor and greatest supporter. It was one of the best experiences to spend the 10 days with my father before he passed away,” he said. “After leaving Middlesbrough I needed the time out. There were quite a few offers [he was interviewed by Swansea and West Brom] but I was waiting for the right opportunity. “I was out of work for 10 months but when I met the chairman [Nicholas Randall] in Madrid for the first time I knew this was going to be the next step in my career.” Karanka is clearly enthused by the challenge ahead. He can sometimes appear stern in press conferences but away from the spotlight he is animated, passionate and fully in tune with the new era at Forest. Aitor Karanka is optimistic has can transform Nottingham Forest's fortunes Credit: GETTY IMAGES After the takeover by Evangelos Marinakis last summer, and removal of unpopular former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, there is now optimism and a tangible feeling of reintegration with supporters, with Karanka at the forefront. His relationship with Mourinho remains close: they speak most days and barely five minutes after the final whistle of Forest’s 2-0 win at Wolves in January, the Manchester United manager was calling to offer his congratulations. Karanka will need more notable results like that next season, making no secret of the fact that promotion is the aim, though it required a brutal cull in January to kick-start his tenure. After a tepid 3-0 home defeat to Preston, he looked around the dressing room and realised drastic changes were crucial. Eight players came in before deadline day, with seven going out. “My feeling was that a lot of people were really complacent, the pressure and blame was always on the manager. Another one sacked, then another one! I’m not here to be the next one, not for a long time I hope,” he says. Evangelos Marinakis is the new owner of Nottingham Forest Credit: AFP “The Preston game was the best thing that happened because we realised we had to change a lot of things. I don’t know what would have happened if we’d won that game. Now the players know the challenge, the aim, and it’s different. “It wasn’t just a message for the dressing room, it was for everyone. To work here should not be easy, unless you’re working hard.” It will be 20 years next season when Forest last operated in the top flight: the campaign when Ron Atkinson infamously walked to the wrong dug-out. “The young supporters here have never seen the team in the Premier League and yet they will keep hearing about the history – they won’t know how big this club is. “The worst thing is when you feel comfortable being in that situation, as a Championship team. My aim is to get promotion and it will need hard work, but we are all here together to try and do it.”
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Aitor Karanka can still remember the text message he received from Jose Mourinho, on the day he was appointed as the new manager of Nottingham Forest: “He said that I’d made a good choice. He knows about the size and history of this club and wished me good luck.” Mourinho, a key figure in Karanka’s career path after appointing him as his assistant at Real Madrid in 2010, also wrote the foreword to the book of the excellent film I Believe In Miracles, which tells the story of Forest’s successive European Cup triumphs under Brian Clough. And it was only a club with such rich history and expectation that was going to persuade Karanka to consider a return to the Championship. “Coming back to this league may have looked like a step back, but for me this is a step forward because it’s not a normal club,” says Karanka, sitting in his office at Forest’s training ground for his first major newspaper interview since taking charge. Nottingham Forest are two-time winners of the European Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES “When you’re not here, you know about the history but to actually go into the boardroom and see the two European Cups, you realise it’s huge. “The history is a motivation, every time I wear the two stars I am representing Nottingham Forest. It’s a privilege and I cannot understand a big club without pressure.” Karanka is determined to create some history of his own and become the manager who finally delivers Forest back to the Premier League, following his appointment in January. After a difficult start, he has delivered the anticipated impact. One defeat in eight games suggests Forest – currently 17th in the Championship - will be a different proposition next season. The 44 year-old already has one promotion on his CV, from his time at Middlesbrough, and on Saturday he returns to Teesside for the first time since he left by mutual consent last March. Aitor Karanka won promotion to the Premier League with Middlebrough Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I was the first foreign coach in their history and to put them in the Premier League was an honour,” he says. “It had been a really tough two-and-a-half years. The first year was difficult because I was living alone in my first job, with a different language and culture. The atmosphere was depressed and there were only 10,000 in the stadium. “The following season we played 55 games and lost in the play-off final [to Norwich]. The toughest moment was in the summer when I returned to my office and put all the 50 fixtures back on the board. “But to finish second and go up the next year was an incredible feeling. When we got promoted I cried in the dressing room for 45 minutes.” The next season was one of regrets: Middlesbrough’s existence as a Premier League club was brief, fraught with problems and largely forgettable. There were frequent reports of tension over transfers before Karanka’s departure, but he still considers chairman Steve Gibson a friend. “We considered it and the best thing for the club was to separate, for both of us. It couldn’t work at the end but the relationship we still have is amazing. Until now, Middlesbrough had been the only place I’d managed so there were many good moments.” Karanka’s return to the Riverside also promises to be poignant, for more personal reasons. His father, Fernando, died in September after a short battle with cancer and was a regular visitor while Karanka was in charge. “Of course it will be emotional because he was my mentor and greatest supporter. It was one of the best experiences to spend the 10 days with my father before he passed away,” he said. “After leaving Middlesbrough I needed the time out. There were quite a few offers [he was interviewed by Swansea and West Brom] but I was waiting for the right opportunity. “I was out of work for 10 months but when I met the chairman [Nicholas Randall] in Madrid for the first time I knew this was going to be the next step in my career.” Karanka is clearly enthused by the challenge ahead. He can sometimes appear stern in press conferences but away from the spotlight he is animated, passionate and fully in tune with the new era at Forest. Aitor Karanka is optimistic has can transform Nottingham Forest's fortunes Credit: GETTY IMAGES After the takeover by Evangelos Marinakis last summer, and removal of unpopular former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, there is now optimism and a tangible feeling of reintegration with supporters, with Karanka at the forefront. His relationship with Mourinho remains close: they speak most days and barely five minutes after the final whistle of Forest’s 2-0 win at Wolves in January, the Manchester United manager was calling to offer his congratulations. Karanka will need more notable results like that next season, making no secret of the fact that promotion is the aim, though it required a brutal cull in January to kick-start his tenure. After a tepid 3-0 home defeat to Preston, he looked around the dressing room and realised drastic changes were crucial. Eight players came in before deadline day, with seven going out. “My feeling was that a lot of people were really complacent, the pressure and blame was always on the manager. Another one sacked, then another one! I’m not here to be the next one, not for a long time I hope,” he says. Evangelos Marinakis is the new owner of Nottingham Forest Credit: AFP “The Preston game was the best thing that happened because we realised we had to change a lot of things. I don’t know what would have happened if we’d won that game. Now the players know the challenge, the aim, and it’s different. “It wasn’t just a message for the dressing room, it was for everyone. To work here should not be easy, unless you’re working hard.” It will be 20 years next season when Forest last operated in the top flight: the campaign when Ron Atkinson infamously walked to the wrong dug-out. “The young supporters here have never seen the team in the Premier League and yet they will keep hearing about the history – they won’t know how big this club is. “The worst thing is when you feel comfortable being in that situation, as a Championship team. My aim is to get promotion and it will need hard work, but we are all here together to try and do it.”
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Aitor Karanka can still remember the text message he received from Jose Mourinho, on the day he was appointed as the new manager of Nottingham Forest: “He said that I’d made a good choice. He knows about the size and history of this club and wished me good luck.” Mourinho, a key figure in Karanka’s career path after appointing him as his assistant at Real Madrid in 2010, also wrote the foreword to the book of the excellent film I Believe In Miracles, which tells the story of Forest’s successive European Cup triumphs under Brian Clough. And it was only a club with such rich history and expectation that was going to persuade Karanka to consider a return to the Championship. “Coming back to this league may have looked like a step back, but for me this is a step forward because it’s not a normal club,” says Karanka, sitting in his office at Forest’s training ground for his first major newspaper interview since taking charge. Nottingham Forest are two-time winners of the European Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES “When you’re not here, you know about the history but to actually go into the boardroom and see the two European Cups, you realise it’s huge. “The history is a motivation, every time I wear the two stars I am representing Nottingham Forest. It’s a privilege and I cannot understand a big club without pressure.” Karanka is determined to create some history of his own and become the manager who finally delivers Forest back to the Premier League, following his appointment in January. After a difficult start, he has delivered the anticipated impact. One defeat in eight games suggests Forest – currently 17th in the Championship - will be a different proposition next season. The 44 year-old already has one promotion on his CV, from his time at Middlesbrough, and on Saturday he returns to Teesside for the first time since he left by mutual consent last March. Aitor Karanka won promotion to the Premier League with Middlebrough Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I was the first foreign coach in their history and to put them in the Premier League was an honour,” he says. “It had been a really tough two-and-a-half years. The first year was difficult because I was living alone in my first job, with a different language and culture. The atmosphere was depressed and there were only 10,000 in the stadium. “The following season we played 55 games and lost in the play-off final [to Norwich]. The toughest moment was in the summer when I returned to my office and put all the 50 fixtures back on the board. “But to finish second and go up the next year was an incredible feeling. When we got promoted I cried in the dressing room for 45 minutes.” The next season was one of regrets: Middlesbrough’s existence as a Premier League club was brief, fraught with problems and largely forgettable. There were frequent reports of tension over transfers before Karanka’s departure, but he still considers chairman Steve Gibson a friend. “We considered it and the best thing for the club was to separate, for both of us. It couldn’t work at the end but the relationship we still have is amazing. Until now, Middlesbrough had been the only place I’d managed so there were many good moments.” Karanka’s return to the Riverside also promises to be poignant, for more personal reasons. His father, Fernando, died in September after a short battle with cancer and was a regular visitor while Karanka was in charge. “Of course it will be emotional because he was my mentor and greatest supporter. It was one of the best experiences to spend the 10 days with my father before he passed away,” he said. “After leaving Middlesbrough I needed the time out. There were quite a few offers [he was interviewed by Swansea and West Brom] but I was waiting for the right opportunity. “I was out of work for 10 months but when I met the chairman [Nicholas Randall] in Madrid for the first time I knew this was going to be the next step in my career.” Karanka is clearly enthused by the challenge ahead. He can sometimes appear stern in press conferences but away from the spotlight he is animated, passionate and fully in tune with the new era at Forest. Aitor Karanka is optimistic has can transform Nottingham Forest's fortunes Credit: GETTY IMAGES After the takeover by Evangelos Marinakis last summer, and removal of unpopular former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, there is now optimism and a tangible feeling of reintegration with supporters, with Karanka at the forefront. His relationship with Mourinho remains close: they speak most days and barely five minutes after the final whistle of Forest’s 2-0 win at Wolves in January, the Manchester United manager was calling to offer his congratulations. Karanka will need more notable results like that next season, making no secret of the fact that promotion is the aim, though it required a brutal cull in January to kick-start his tenure. After a tepid 3-0 home defeat to Preston, he looked around the dressing room and realised drastic changes were crucial. Eight players came in before deadline day, with seven going out. “My feeling was that a lot of people were really complacent, the pressure and blame was always on the manager. Another one sacked, then another one! I’m not here to be the next one, not for a long time I hope,” he says. Evangelos Marinakis is the new owner of Nottingham Forest Credit: AFP “The Preston game was the best thing that happened because we realised we had to change a lot of things. I don’t know what would have happened if we’d won that game. Now the players know the challenge, the aim, and it’s different. “It wasn’t just a message for the dressing room, it was for everyone. To work here should not be easy, unless you’re working hard.” It will be 20 years next season when Forest last operated in the top flight: the campaign when Ron Atkinson infamously walked to the wrong dug-out. “The young supporters here have never seen the team in the Premier League and yet they will keep hearing about the history – they won’t know how big this club is. “The worst thing is when you feel comfortable being in that situation, as a Championship team. My aim is to get promotion and it will need hard work, but we are all here together to try and do it.”
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Aitor Karanka can still remember the text message he received from Jose Mourinho, on the day he was appointed as the new manager of Nottingham Forest: “He said that I’d made a good choice. He knows about the size and history of this club and wished me good luck.” Mourinho, a key figure in Karanka’s career path after appointing him as his assistant at Real Madrid in 2010, also wrote the foreword to the book of the excellent film I Believe In Miracles, which tells the story of Forest’s successive European Cup triumphs under Brian Clough. And it was only a club with such rich history and expectation that was going to persuade Karanka to consider a return to the Championship. “Coming back to this league may have looked like a step back, but for me this is a step forward because it’s not a normal club,” says Karanka, sitting in his office at Forest’s training ground for his first major newspaper interview since taking charge. Nottingham Forest are two-time winners of the European Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES “When you’re not here, you know about the history but to actually go into the boardroom and see the two European Cups, you realise it’s huge. “The history is a motivation, every time I wear the two stars I am representing Nottingham Forest. It’s a privilege and I cannot understand a big club without pressure.” Karanka is determined to create some history of his own and become the manager who finally delivers Forest back to the Premier League, following his appointment in January. After a difficult start, he has delivered the anticipated impact. One defeat in eight games suggests Forest – currently 17th in the Championship - will be a different proposition next season. The 44 year-old already has one promotion on his CV, from his time at Middlesbrough, and on Saturday he returns to Teesside for the first time since he left by mutual consent last March. Aitor Karanka won promotion to the Premier League with Middlebrough Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I was the first foreign coach in their history and to put them in the Premier League was an honour,” he says. “It had been a really tough two-and-a-half years. The first year was difficult because I was living alone in my first job, with a different language and culture. The atmosphere was depressed and there were only 10,000 in the stadium. “The following season we played 55 games and lost in the play-off final [to Norwich]. The toughest moment was in the summer when I returned to my office and put all the 50 fixtures back on the board. “But to finish second and go up the next year was an incredible feeling. When we got promoted I cried in the dressing room for 45 minutes.” The next season was one of regrets: Middlesbrough’s existence as a Premier League club was brief, fraught with problems and largely forgettable. There were frequent reports of tension over transfers before Karanka’s departure, but he still considers chairman Steve Gibson a friend. “We considered it and the best thing for the club was to separate, for both of us. It couldn’t work at the end but the relationship we still have is amazing. Until now, Middlesbrough had been the only place I’d managed so there were many good moments.” Karanka’s return to the Riverside also promises to be poignant, for more personal reasons. His father, Fernando, died in September after a short battle with cancer and was a regular visitor while Karanka was in charge. “Of course it will be emotional because he was my mentor and greatest supporter. It was one of the best experiences to spend the 10 days with my father before he passed away,” he said. “After leaving Middlesbrough I needed the time out. There were quite a few offers [he was interviewed by Swansea and West Brom] but I was waiting for the right opportunity. “I was out of work for 10 months but when I met the chairman [Nicholas Randall] in Madrid for the first time I knew this was going to be the next step in my career.” Karanka is clearly enthused by the challenge ahead. He can sometimes appear stern in press conferences but away from the spotlight he is animated, passionate and fully in tune with the new era at Forest. Aitor Karanka is optimistic has can transform Nottingham Forest's fortunes Credit: GETTY IMAGES After the takeover by Evangelos Marinakis last summer, and removal of unpopular former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, there is now optimism and a tangible feeling of reintegration with supporters, with Karanka at the forefront. His relationship with Mourinho remains close: they speak most days and barely five minutes after the final whistle of Forest’s 2-0 win at Wolves in January, the Manchester United manager was calling to offer his congratulations. Karanka will need more notable results like that next season, making no secret of the fact that promotion is the aim, though it required a brutal cull in January to kick-start his tenure. After a tepid 3-0 home defeat to Preston, he looked around the dressing room and realised drastic changes were crucial. Eight players came in before deadline day, with seven going out. “My feeling was that a lot of people were really complacent, the pressure and blame was always on the manager. Another one sacked, then another one! I’m not here to be the next one, not for a long time I hope,” he says. Evangelos Marinakis is the new owner of Nottingham Forest Credit: AFP “The Preston game was the best thing that happened because we realised we had to change a lot of things. I don’t know what would have happened if we’d won that game. Now the players know the challenge, the aim, and it’s different. “It wasn’t just a message for the dressing room, it was for everyone. To work here should not be easy, unless you’re working hard.” It will be 20 years next season when Forest last operated in the top flight: the campaign when Ron Atkinson infamously walked to the wrong dug-out. “The young supporters here have never seen the team in the Premier League and yet they will keep hearing about the history – they won’t know how big this club is. “The worst thing is when you feel comfortable being in that situation, as a Championship team. My aim is to get promotion and it will need hard work, but we are all here together to try and do it.”
Aitor Karanka can still remember the text message he received from Jose Mourinho, on the day he was appointed as the new manager of Nottingham Forest: “He said that I’d made a good choice. He knows about the size and history of this club and wished me good luck.” Mourinho, a key figure in Karanka’s career path after appointing him as his assistant at Real Madrid in 2010, also wrote the foreword to the book of the excellent film I Believe In Miracles, which tells the story of Forest’s successive European Cup triumphs under Brian Clough. And it was only a club with such rich history and expectation that was going to persuade Karanka to consider a return to the Championship. “Coming back to this league may have looked like a step back, but for me this is a step forward because it’s not a normal club,” says Karanka, sitting in his office at Forest’s training ground for his first major newspaper interview since taking charge. Nottingham Forest are two-time winners of the European Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES “When you’re not here, you know about the history but to actually go into the boardroom and see the two European Cups, you realise it’s huge. “The history is a motivation, every time I wear the two stars I am representing Nottingham Forest. It’s a privilege and I cannot understand a big club without pressure.” Karanka is determined to create some history of his own and become the manager who finally delivers Forest back to the Premier League, following his appointment in January. After a difficult start, he has delivered the anticipated impact. One defeat in eight games suggests Forest – currently 17th in the Championship - will be a different proposition next season. The 44 year-old already has one promotion on his CV, from his time at Middlesbrough, and on Saturday he returns to Teesside for the first time since he left by mutual consent last March. Aitor Karanka won promotion to the Premier League with Middlebrough Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I was the first foreign coach in their history and to put them in the Premier League was an honour,” he says. “It had been a really tough two-and-a-half years. The first year was difficult because I was living alone in my first job, with a different language and culture. The atmosphere was depressed and there were only 10,000 in the stadium. “The following season we played 55 games and lost in the play-off final [to Norwich]. The toughest moment was in the summer when I returned to my office and put all the 50 fixtures back on the board. “But to finish second and go up the next year was an incredible feeling. When we got promoted I cried in the dressing room for 45 minutes.” The next season was one of regrets: Middlesbrough’s existence as a Premier League club was brief, fraught with problems and largely forgettable. There were frequent reports of tension over transfers before Karanka’s departure, but he still considers chairman Steve Gibson a friend. “We considered it and the best thing for the club was to separate, for both of us. It couldn’t work at the end but the relationship we still have is amazing. Until now, Middlesbrough had been the only place I’d managed so there were many good moments.” Karanka’s return to the Riverside also promises to be poignant, for more personal reasons. His father, Fernando, died in September after a short battle with cancer and was a regular visitor while Karanka was in charge. “Of course it will be emotional because he was my mentor and greatest supporter. It was one of the best experiences to spend the 10 days with my father before he passed away,” he said. “After leaving Middlesbrough I needed the time out. There were quite a few offers [he was interviewed by Swansea and West Brom] but I was waiting for the right opportunity. “I was out of work for 10 months but when I met the chairman [Nicholas Randall] in Madrid for the first time I knew this was going to be the next step in my career.” Karanka is clearly enthused by the challenge ahead. He can sometimes appear stern in press conferences but away from the spotlight he is animated, passionate and fully in tune with the new era at Forest. Aitor Karanka is optimistic has can transform Nottingham Forest's fortunes Credit: GETTY IMAGES After the takeover by Evangelos Marinakis last summer, and removal of unpopular former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, there is now optimism and a tangible feeling of reintegration with supporters, with Karanka at the forefront. His relationship with Mourinho remains close: they speak most days and barely five minutes after the final whistle of Forest’s 2-0 win at Wolves in January, the Manchester United manager was calling to offer his congratulations. Karanka will need more notable results like that next season, making no secret of the fact that promotion is the aim, though it required a brutal cull in January to kick-start his tenure. After a tepid 3-0 home defeat to Preston, he looked around the dressing room and realised drastic changes were crucial. Eight players came in before deadline day, with seven going out. “My feeling was that a lot of people were really complacent, the pressure and blame was always on the manager. Another one sacked, then another one! I’m not here to be the next one, not for a long time I hope,” he says. Evangelos Marinakis is the new owner of Nottingham Forest Credit: AFP “The Preston game was the best thing that happened because we realised we had to change a lot of things. I don’t know what would have happened if we’d won that game. Now the players know the challenge, the aim, and it’s different. “It wasn’t just a message for the dressing room, it was for everyone. To work here should not be easy, unless you’re working hard.” It will be 20 years next season when Forest last operated in the top flight: the campaign when Ron Atkinson infamously walked to the wrong dug-out. “The young supporters here have never seen the team in the Premier League and yet they will keep hearing about the history – they won’t know how big this club is. “The worst thing is when you feel comfortable being in that situation, as a Championship team. My aim is to get promotion and it will need hard work, but we are all here together to try and do it.”
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Aitor Karanka can still remember the text message he received from Jose Mourinho, on the day he was appointed as the new manager of Nottingham Forest: “He said that I’d made a good choice. He knows about the size and history of this club and wished me good luck.” Mourinho, a key figure in Karanka’s career path after appointing him as his assistant at Real Madrid in 2010, also wrote the foreword to the book of the excellent film I Believe In Miracles, which tells the story of Forest’s successive European Cup triumphs under Brian Clough. And it was only a club with such rich history and expectation that was going to persuade Karanka to consider a return to the Championship. “Coming back to this league may have looked like a step back, but for me this is a step forward because it’s not a normal club,” says Karanka, sitting in his office at Forest’s training ground for his first major newspaper interview since taking charge. Nottingham Forest are two-time winners of the European Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES “When you’re not here, you know about the history but to actually go into the boardroom and see the two European Cups, you realise it’s huge. “The history is a motivation, every time I wear the two stars I am representing Nottingham Forest. It’s a privilege and I cannot understand a big club without pressure.” Karanka is determined to create some history of his own and become the manager who finally delivers Forest back to the Premier League, following his appointment in January. After a difficult start, he has delivered the anticipated impact. One defeat in eight games suggests Forest – currently 17th in the Championship - will be a different proposition next season. The 44 year-old already has one promotion on his CV, from his time at Middlesbrough, and on Saturday he returns to Teesside for the first time since he left by mutual consent last March. Aitor Karanka won promotion to the Premier League with Middlebrough Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I was the first foreign coach in their history and to put them in the Premier League was an honour,” he says. “It had been a really tough two-and-a-half years. The first year was difficult because I was living alone in my first job, with a different language and culture. The atmosphere was depressed and there were only 10,000 in the stadium. “The following season we played 55 games and lost in the play-off final [to Norwich]. The toughest moment was in the summer when I returned to my office and put all the 50 fixtures back on the board. “But to finish second and go up the next year was an incredible feeling. When we got promoted I cried in the dressing room for 45 minutes.” The next season was one of regrets: Middlesbrough’s existence as a Premier League club was brief, fraught with problems and largely forgettable. There were frequent reports of tension over transfers before Karanka’s departure, but he still considers chairman Steve Gibson a friend. “We considered it and the best thing for the club was to separate, for both of us. It couldn’t work at the end but the relationship we still have is amazing. Until now, Middlesbrough had been the only place I’d managed so there were many good moments.” Karanka’s return to the Riverside also promises to be poignant, for more personal reasons. His father, Fernando, died in September after a short battle with cancer and was a regular visitor while Karanka was in charge. “Of course it will be emotional because he was my mentor and greatest supporter. It was one of the best experiences to spend the 10 days with my father before he passed away,” he said. “After leaving Middlesbrough I needed the time out. There were quite a few offers [he was interviewed by Swansea and West Brom] but I was waiting for the right opportunity. “I was out of work for 10 months but when I met the chairman [Nicholas Randall] in Madrid for the first time I knew this was going to be the next step in my career.” Karanka is clearly enthused by the challenge ahead. He can sometimes appear stern in press conferences but away from the spotlight he is animated, passionate and fully in tune with the new era at Forest. Aitor Karanka is optimistic has can transform Nottingham Forest's fortunes Credit: GETTY IMAGES After the takeover by Evangelos Marinakis last summer, and removal of unpopular former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, there is now optimism and a tangible feeling of reintegration with supporters, with Karanka at the forefront. His relationship with Mourinho remains close: they speak most days and barely five minutes after the final whistle of Forest’s 2-0 win at Wolves in January, the Manchester United manager was calling to offer his congratulations. Karanka will need more notable results like that next season, making no secret of the fact that promotion is the aim, though it required a brutal cull in January to kick-start his tenure. After a tepid 3-0 home defeat to Preston, he looked around the dressing room and realised drastic changes were crucial. Eight players came in before deadline day, with seven going out. “My feeling was that a lot of people were really complacent, the pressure and blame was always on the manager. Another one sacked, then another one! I’m not here to be the next one, not for a long time I hope,” he says. Evangelos Marinakis is the new owner of Nottingham Forest Credit: AFP “The Preston game was the best thing that happened because we realised we had to change a lot of things. I don’t know what would have happened if we’d won that game. Now the players know the challenge, the aim, and it’s different. “It wasn’t just a message for the dressing room, it was for everyone. To work here should not be easy, unless you’re working hard.” It will be 20 years next season when Forest last operated in the top flight: the campaign when Ron Atkinson infamously walked to the wrong dug-out. “The young supporters here have never seen the team in the Premier League and yet they will keep hearing about the history – they won’t know how big this club is. “The worst thing is when you feel comfortable being in that situation, as a Championship team. My aim is to get promotion and it will need hard work, but we are all here together to try and do it.”
Aitor Karanka can still remember the text message he received from Jose Mourinho, on the day he was appointed as the new manager of Nottingham Forest: “He said that I’d made a good choice. He knows about the size and history of this club and wished me good luck.” Mourinho, a key figure in Karanka’s career path after appointing him as his assistant at Real Madrid in 2010, also wrote the foreword to the book of the excellent film I Believe In Miracles, which tells the story of Forest’s successive European Cup triumphs under Brian Clough. And it was only a club with such rich history and expectation that was going to persuade Karanka to consider a return to the Championship. “Coming back to this league may have looked like a step back, but for me this is a step forward because it’s not a normal club,” says Karanka, sitting in his office at Forest’s training ground for his first major newspaper interview since taking charge. Nottingham Forest are two-time winners of the European Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES “When you’re not here, you know about the history but to actually go into the boardroom and see the two European Cups, you realise it’s huge. “The history is a motivation, every time I wear the two stars I am representing Nottingham Forest. It’s a privilege and I cannot understand a big club without pressure.” Karanka is determined to create some history of his own and become the manager who finally delivers Forest back to the Premier League, following his appointment in January. After a difficult start, he has delivered the anticipated impact. One defeat in eight games suggests Forest – currently 17th in the Championship - will be a different proposition next season. The 44 year-old already has one promotion on his CV, from his time at Middlesbrough, and on Saturday he returns to Teesside for the first time since he left by mutual consent last March. Aitor Karanka won promotion to the Premier League with Middlebrough Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I was the first foreign coach in their history and to put them in the Premier League was an honour,” he says. “It had been a really tough two-and-a-half years. The first year was difficult because I was living alone in my first job, with a different language and culture. The atmosphere was depressed and there were only 10,000 in the stadium. “The following season we played 55 games and lost in the play-off final [to Norwich]. The toughest moment was in the summer when I returned to my office and put all the 50 fixtures back on the board. “But to finish second and go up the next year was an incredible feeling. When we got promoted I cried in the dressing room for 45 minutes.” The next season was one of regrets: Middlesbrough’s existence as a Premier League club was brief, fraught with problems and largely forgettable. There were frequent reports of tension over transfers before Karanka’s departure, but he still considers chairman Steve Gibson a friend. “We considered it and the best thing for the club was to separate, for both of us. It couldn’t work at the end but the relationship we still have is amazing. Until now, Middlesbrough had been the only place I’d managed so there were many good moments.” Karanka’s return to the Riverside also promises to be poignant, for more personal reasons. His father, Fernando, died in September after a short battle with cancer and was a regular visitor while Karanka was in charge. “Of course it will be emotional because he was my mentor and greatest supporter. It was one of the best experiences to spend the 10 days with my father before he passed away,” he said. “After leaving Middlesbrough I needed the time out. There were quite a few offers [he was interviewed by Swansea and West Brom] but I was waiting for the right opportunity. “I was out of work for 10 months but when I met the chairman [Nicholas Randall] in Madrid for the first time I knew this was going to be the next step in my career.” Karanka is clearly enthused by the challenge ahead. He can sometimes appear stern in press conferences but away from the spotlight he is animated, passionate and fully in tune with the new era at Forest. Aitor Karanka is optimistic has can transform Nottingham Forest's fortunes Credit: GETTY IMAGES After the takeover by Evangelos Marinakis last summer, and removal of unpopular former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, there is now optimism and a tangible feeling of reintegration with supporters, with Karanka at the forefront. His relationship with Mourinho remains close: they speak most days and barely five minutes after the final whistle of Forest’s 2-0 win at Wolves in January, the Manchester United manager was calling to offer his congratulations. Karanka will need more notable results like that next season, making no secret of the fact that promotion is the aim, though it required a brutal cull in January to kick-start his tenure. After a tepid 3-0 home defeat to Preston, he looked around the dressing room and realised drastic changes were crucial. Eight players came in before deadline day, with seven going out. “My feeling was that a lot of people were really complacent, the pressure and blame was always on the manager. Another one sacked, then another one! I’m not here to be the next one, not for a long time I hope,” he says. Evangelos Marinakis is the new owner of Nottingham Forest Credit: AFP “The Preston game was the best thing that happened because we realised we had to change a lot of things. I don’t know what would have happened if we’d won that game. Now the players know the challenge, the aim, and it’s different. “It wasn’t just a message for the dressing room, it was for everyone. To work here should not be easy, unless you’re working hard.” It will be 20 years next season when Forest last operated in the top flight: the campaign when Ron Atkinson infamously walked to the wrong dug-out. “The young supporters here have never seen the team in the Premier League and yet they will keep hearing about the history – they won’t know how big this club is. “The worst thing is when you feel comfortable being in that situation, as a Championship team. My aim is to get promotion and it will need hard work, but we are all here together to try and do it.”
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Aitor Karanka can still remember the text message he received from Jose Mourinho, on the day he was appointed as the new manager of Nottingham Forest: “He said that I’d made a good choice. He knows about the size and history of this club and wished me good luck.” Mourinho, a key figure in Karanka’s career path after appointing him as his assistant at Real Madrid in 2010, also wrote the foreword to the book of the excellent film I Believe In Miracles, which tells the story of Forest’s successive European Cup triumphs under Brian Clough. And it was only a club with such rich history and expectation that was going to persuade Karanka to consider a return to the Championship. “Coming back to this league may have looked like a step back, but for me this is a step forward because it’s not a normal club,” says Karanka, sitting in his office at Forest’s training ground for his first major newspaper interview since taking charge. Nottingham Forest are two-time winners of the European Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES “When you’re not here, you know about the history but to actually go into the boardroom and see the two European Cups, you realise it’s huge. “The history is a motivation, every time I wear the two stars I am representing Nottingham Forest. It’s a privilege and I cannot understand a big club without pressure.” Karanka is determined to create some history of his own and become the manager who finally delivers Forest back to the Premier League, following his appointment in January. After a difficult start, he has delivered the anticipated impact. One defeat in eight games suggests Forest – currently 17th in the Championship - will be a different proposition next season. The 44 year-old already has one promotion on his CV, from his time at Middlesbrough, and on Saturday he returns to Teesside for the first time since he left by mutual consent last March. Aitor Karanka won promotion to the Premier League with Middlebrough Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I was the first foreign coach in their history and to put them in the Premier League was an honour,” he says. “It had been a really tough two-and-a-half years. The first year was difficult because I was living alone in my first job, with a different language and culture. The atmosphere was depressed and there were only 10,000 in the stadium. “The following season we played 55 games and lost in the play-off final [to Norwich]. The toughest moment was in the summer when I returned to my office and put all the 50 fixtures back on the board. “But to finish second and go up the next year was an incredible feeling. When we got promoted I cried in the dressing room for 45 minutes.” The next season was one of regrets: Middlesbrough’s existence as a Premier League club was brief, fraught with problems and largely forgettable. There were frequent reports of tension over transfers before Karanka’s departure, but he still considers chairman Steve Gibson a friend. “We considered it and the best thing for the club was to separate, for both of us. It couldn’t work at the end but the relationship we still have is amazing. Until now, Middlesbrough had been the only place I’d managed so there were many good moments.” Karanka’s return to the Riverside also promises to be poignant, for more personal reasons. His father, Fernando, died in September after a short battle with cancer and was a regular visitor while Karanka was in charge. “Of course it will be emotional because he was my mentor and greatest supporter. It was one of the best experiences to spend the 10 days with my father before he passed away,” he said. “After leaving Middlesbrough I needed the time out. There were quite a few offers [he was interviewed by Swansea and West Brom] but I was waiting for the right opportunity. “I was out of work for 10 months but when I met the chairman [Nicholas Randall] in Madrid for the first time I knew this was going to be the next step in my career.” Karanka is clearly enthused by the challenge ahead. He can sometimes appear stern in press conferences but away from the spotlight he is animated, passionate and fully in tune with the new era at Forest. Aitor Karanka is optimistic has can transform Nottingham Forest's fortunes Credit: GETTY IMAGES After the takeover by Evangelos Marinakis last summer, and removal of unpopular former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, there is now optimism and a tangible feeling of reintegration with supporters, with Karanka at the forefront. His relationship with Mourinho remains close: they speak most days and barely five minutes after the final whistle of Forest’s 2-0 win at Wolves in January, the Manchester United manager was calling to offer his congratulations. Karanka will need more notable results like that next season, making no secret of the fact that promotion is the aim, though it required a brutal cull in January to kick-start his tenure. After a tepid 3-0 home defeat to Preston, he looked around the dressing room and realised drastic changes were crucial. Eight players came in before deadline day, with seven going out. “My feeling was that a lot of people were really complacent, the pressure and blame was always on the manager. Another one sacked, then another one! I’m not here to be the next one, not for a long time I hope,” he says. Evangelos Marinakis is the new owner of Nottingham Forest Credit: AFP “The Preston game was the best thing that happened because we realised we had to change a lot of things. I don’t know what would have happened if we’d won that game. Now the players know the challenge, the aim, and it’s different. “It wasn’t just a message for the dressing room, it was for everyone. To work here should not be easy, unless you’re working hard.” It will be 20 years next season when Forest last operated in the top flight: the campaign when Ron Atkinson infamously walked to the wrong dug-out. “The young supporters here have never seen the team in the Premier League and yet they will keep hearing about the history – they won’t know how big this club is. “The worst thing is when you feel comfortable being in that situation, as a Championship team. My aim is to get promotion and it will need hard work, but we are all here together to try and do it.”
Aitor Karanka can still remember the text message he received from Jose Mourinho, on the day he was appointed as the new manager of Nottingham Forest: “He said that I’d made a good choice. He knows about the size and history of this club and wished me good luck.” Mourinho, a key figure in Karanka’s career path after appointing him as his assistant at Real Madrid in 2010, also wrote the foreword to the book of the excellent film I Believe In Miracles, which tells the story of Forest’s successive European Cup triumphs under Brian Clough. And it was only a club with such rich history and expectation that was going to persuade Karanka to consider a return to the Championship. “Coming back to this league may have looked like a step back, but for me this is a step forward because it’s not a normal club,” says Karanka, sitting in his office at Forest’s training ground for his first major newspaper interview since taking charge. Nottingham Forest are two-time winners of the European Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES “When you’re not here, you know about the history but to actually go into the boardroom and see the two European Cups, you realise it’s huge. “The history is a motivation, every time I wear the two stars I am representing Nottingham Forest. It’s a privilege and I cannot understand a big club without pressure.” Karanka is determined to create some history of his own and become the manager who finally delivers Forest back to the Premier League, following his appointment in January. After a difficult start, he has delivered the anticipated impact. One defeat in eight games suggests Forest – currently 17th in the Championship - will be a different proposition next season. The 44 year-old already has one promotion on his CV, from his time at Middlesbrough, and on Saturday he returns to Teesside for the first time since he left by mutual consent last March. Aitor Karanka won promotion to the Premier League with Middlebrough Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I was the first foreign coach in their history and to put them in the Premier League was an honour,” he says. “It had been a really tough two-and-a-half years. The first year was difficult because I was living alone in my first job, with a different language and culture. The atmosphere was depressed and there were only 10,000 in the stadium. “The following season we played 55 games and lost in the play-off final [to Norwich]. The toughest moment was in the summer when I returned to my office and put all the 50 fixtures back on the board. “But to finish second and go up the next year was an incredible feeling. When we got promoted I cried in the dressing room for 45 minutes.” The next season was one of regrets: Middlesbrough’s existence as a Premier League club was brief, fraught with problems and largely forgettable. There were frequent reports of tension over transfers before Karanka’s departure, but he still considers chairman Steve Gibson a friend. “We considered it and the best thing for the club was to separate, for both of us. It couldn’t work at the end but the relationship we still have is amazing. Until now, Middlesbrough had been the only place I’d managed so there were many good moments.” Karanka’s return to the Riverside also promises to be poignant, for more personal reasons. His father, Fernando, died in September after a short battle with cancer and was a regular visitor while Karanka was in charge. “Of course it will be emotional because he was my mentor and greatest supporter. It was one of the best experiences to spend the 10 days with my father before he passed away,” he said. “After leaving Middlesbrough I needed the time out. There were quite a few offers [he was interviewed by Swansea and West Brom] but I was waiting for the right opportunity. “I was out of work for 10 months but when I met the chairman [Nicholas Randall] in Madrid for the first time I knew this was going to be the next step in my career.” Karanka is clearly enthused by the challenge ahead. He can sometimes appear stern in press conferences but away from the spotlight he is animated, passionate and fully in tune with the new era at Forest. Aitor Karanka is optimistic has can transform Nottingham Forest's fortunes Credit: GETTY IMAGES After the takeover by Evangelos Marinakis last summer, and removal of unpopular former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, there is now optimism and a tangible feeling of reintegration with supporters, with Karanka at the forefront. His relationship with Mourinho remains close: they speak most days and barely five minutes after the final whistle of Forest’s 2-0 win at Wolves in January, the Manchester United manager was calling to offer his congratulations. Karanka will need more notable results like that next season, making no secret of the fact that promotion is the aim, though it required a brutal cull in January to kick-start his tenure. After a tepid 3-0 home defeat to Preston, he looked around the dressing room and realised drastic changes were crucial. Eight players came in before deadline day, with seven going out. “My feeling was that a lot of people were really complacent, the pressure and blame was always on the manager. Another one sacked, then another one! I’m not here to be the next one, not for a long time I hope,” he says. Evangelos Marinakis is the new owner of Nottingham Forest Credit: AFP “The Preston game was the best thing that happened because we realised we had to change a lot of things. I don’t know what would have happened if we’d won that game. Now the players know the challenge, the aim, and it’s different. “It wasn’t just a message for the dressing room, it was for everyone. To work here should not be easy, unless you’re working hard.” It will be 20 years next season when Forest last operated in the top flight: the campaign when Ron Atkinson infamously walked to the wrong dug-out. “The young supporters here have never seen the team in the Premier League and yet they will keep hearing about the history – they won’t know how big this club is. “The worst thing is when you feel comfortable being in that situation, as a Championship team. My aim is to get promotion and it will need hard work, but we are all here together to try and do it.”
Exclusive interview: Aitor Karanka seduced by Nottingham Forest's rich history
Aitor Karanka can still remember the text message he received from Jose Mourinho, on the day he was appointed as the new manager of Nottingham Forest: “He said that I’d made a good choice. He knows about the size and history of this club and wished me good luck.” Mourinho, a key figure in Karanka’s career path after appointing him as his assistant at Real Madrid in 2010, also wrote the foreword to the book of the excellent film I Believe In Miracles, which tells the story of Forest’s successive European Cup triumphs under Brian Clough. And it was only a club with such rich history and expectation that was going to persuade Karanka to consider a return to the Championship. “Coming back to this league may have looked like a step back, but for me this is a step forward because it’s not a normal club,” says Karanka, sitting in his office at Forest’s training ground for his first major newspaper interview since taking charge. Nottingham Forest are two-time winners of the European Cup Credit: GETTY IMAGES “When you’re not here, you know about the history but to actually go into the boardroom and see the two European Cups, you realise it’s huge. “The history is a motivation, every time I wear the two stars I am representing Nottingham Forest. It’s a privilege and I cannot understand a big club without pressure.” Karanka is determined to create some history of his own and become the manager who finally delivers Forest back to the Premier League, following his appointment in January. After a difficult start, he has delivered the anticipated impact. One defeat in eight games suggests Forest – currently 17th in the Championship - will be a different proposition next season. The 44 year-old already has one promotion on his CV, from his time at Middlesbrough, and on Saturday he returns to Teesside for the first time since he left by mutual consent last March. Aitor Karanka won promotion to the Premier League with Middlebrough Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I was the first foreign coach in their history and to put them in the Premier League was an honour,” he says. “It had been a really tough two-and-a-half years. The first year was difficult because I was living alone in my first job, with a different language and culture. The atmosphere was depressed and there were only 10,000 in the stadium. “The following season we played 55 games and lost in the play-off final [to Norwich]. The toughest moment was in the summer when I returned to my office and put all the 50 fixtures back on the board. “But to finish second and go up the next year was an incredible feeling. When we got promoted I cried in the dressing room for 45 minutes.” The next season was one of regrets: Middlesbrough’s existence as a Premier League club was brief, fraught with problems and largely forgettable. There were frequent reports of tension over transfers before Karanka’s departure, but he still considers chairman Steve Gibson a friend. “We considered it and the best thing for the club was to separate, for both of us. It couldn’t work at the end but the relationship we still have is amazing. Until now, Middlesbrough had been the only place I’d managed so there were many good moments.” Karanka’s return to the Riverside also promises to be poignant, for more personal reasons. His father, Fernando, died in September after a short battle with cancer and was a regular visitor while Karanka was in charge. “Of course it will be emotional because he was my mentor and greatest supporter. It was one of the best experiences to spend the 10 days with my father before he passed away,” he said. “After leaving Middlesbrough I needed the time out. There were quite a few offers [he was interviewed by Swansea and West Brom] but I was waiting for the right opportunity. “I was out of work for 10 months but when I met the chairman [Nicholas Randall] in Madrid for the first time I knew this was going to be the next step in my career.” Karanka is clearly enthused by the challenge ahead. He can sometimes appear stern in press conferences but away from the spotlight he is animated, passionate and fully in tune with the new era at Forest. Aitor Karanka is optimistic has can transform Nottingham Forest's fortunes Credit: GETTY IMAGES After the takeover by Evangelos Marinakis last summer, and removal of unpopular former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, there is now optimism and a tangible feeling of reintegration with supporters, with Karanka at the forefront. His relationship with Mourinho remains close: they speak most days and barely five minutes after the final whistle of Forest’s 2-0 win at Wolves in January, the Manchester United manager was calling to offer his congratulations. Karanka will need more notable results like that next season, making no secret of the fact that promotion is the aim, though it required a brutal cull in January to kick-start his tenure. After a tepid 3-0 home defeat to Preston, he looked around the dressing room and realised drastic changes were crucial. Eight players came in before deadline day, with seven going out. “My feeling was that a lot of people were really complacent, the pressure and blame was always on the manager. Another one sacked, then another one! I’m not here to be the next one, not for a long time I hope,” he says. Evangelos Marinakis is the new owner of Nottingham Forest Credit: AFP “The Preston game was the best thing that happened because we realised we had to change a lot of things. I don’t know what would have happened if we’d won that game. Now the players know the challenge, the aim, and it’s different. “It wasn’t just a message for the dressing room, it was for everyone. To work here should not be easy, unless you’re working hard.” It will be 20 years next season when Forest last operated in the top flight: the campaign when Ron Atkinson infamously walked to the wrong dug-out. “The young supporters here have never seen the team in the Premier League and yet they will keep hearing about the history – they won’t know how big this club is. “The worst thing is when you feel comfortable being in that situation, as a Championship team. My aim is to get promotion and it will need hard work, but we are all here together to try and do it.”
No supporters in England embrace the pageantry and choreography of the Champions League like Liverpool’s. No supporters in Europe have been more dismissive of it than Manchester City’s. As Liverpool spent a few wilderness years craving the Champions League anthem, City were being punished for jeering it – the legacy of the justifiable perception that Financial Fair Play rules are applied with more vigour at The Etihad than elsewhere. Bubbling under the surface ahead of the clubs’ quarter-final meeting on Wednesday is a clash of fan culture – unashamedly proud Europhiles versus Eurosceptics. Social media scorning of a Liverpool ‘strategy’ to reach the final via the power of banner hoisting and chanting has been plentiful. The Manchester Evening News even suggested a planned welcome for the team coaches – now an Anfield tradition on the most celebrated European nights – might be illegal. When reports emerged last week that City had not yet sold out the second leg, the response from Merseyside was incredulity. There are echoes of the build-up to the European meeting between Liverpool and Chelsea in 2005. Then, as now, Liverpool were mocked for overstating the influence of crowd noise and citing former glories as a precedent for modern success. Chelsea, a stronger team who would win the title the weekend before the second leg – a possibility for City at the time of the draw – were accused of failing to grasp how Liverpool’s romantic, historical attachment to the European Cup would prove so inspiring. The visitors understood more at full-time. Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and his team-mates celebrate on another famous European night in L4 Credit: Getty Images “The Liverpool fans that night were amazing,” Chelsea skipper John Terry would write in his autobiography. “I have never heard anything like it before, and I don’t think I ever will again. “I walked out into that cauldron and heard that singing and saw that passion. The hairs on my arms were standing up.” Such admissions feed the mythology of Anfield on European nights. The list of great occasions is plentiful, from the 1977 St Etienne comeback to the most recent against Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund en route to the 2016 Europa League final. Certainly the Liverpool players who benefited offer compelling testimonies. “The Chelsea game in 2005 was the loudest I ever knew Anfield, and the fact we scored so early made sure the noise lasted for 90 minutes,” recalls Vladimir Smicer, one of the heroes of the unlikely victory of Rafael Benitez’s Champions League winning side. “I’m not sure any fan sat down all the game. But City have some experience here in the Premier League when they lost, so they know a little of what it will be like. They may think it will be similar, but if Liverpool get a good start and play with patience, it can be special again.” Liverpool fans have a strong relationship with the European Cup going back to David Fairclough's memorable winner against St Etienne back in 1977, the year the club won the first of its five titles Credit: Liverpool Echo Cynics and City fans will counter that Liverpool memories are selective. There are enough examples of a vociferous atmosphere being nullified. Go back to 1978, and Nottingham Forest emerged victorious in the first all-English European Cup meeting, successfully protecting a 2-0 first leg lead at Anfield. After harrowing experiences in 2005 and 2007, Chelsea’s players had no problem against a better Liverpool team in 2008 and 2009, the latter ending in a 3-1 first leg Anfield win for the Londoners. Benfica and Real Madrid were unperturbed in a boisterous arena in 2006 and 2014, while the last time a club was greeted with Anfield fervour on a Champions League night – Basel in the ‘make-or-break’ group decider in 2014 – they knocked out the hosts. City, like Chelsea in 2005, may deride the nostalgia because they are in the process of creating their own history. The European reference points Liverpool use to stir passions are still to arrive at The Etihad, but surely will under Pep Guardiola – conceivably over the course of this tie. National treasures | Classic all-England European Cup ties Guardiola will be more respectful of Anfield’s vivaciousness having publicly acknowledged its impact during that 4-3 league defeat. He also skippered the Barcelona team beaten in the 2001 Uefa Cup semi-final. The Kop may be the one piece of ammunition at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal the Spaniard will look upon with envy. Guardiola is trying to create the same love for the competition in his new home and knows this tie can galvanise the previously ambivalent. Shortly after taking over at City, he addressed his fans’ lack of enthusiasm for the Champions League, unhappy only 30,270 attended the 2016 fixture with Bayern Munich “The only thing we can do is play good so people at home say, ‘Wow, next time I will be there’. We have to be so proud to play in this competition,” he said. “Our fans have to know we need them in the Champions League. We need them to compete against the best teams in the world. With our supporters, we are stronger.” City may take the opportunity in the next three days to diminish the influence of The Kop but are right to note it is the talent within the Liverpool side that is a greater threat. Should they progress and go on to lift the trophy for the first time, far from ridiculing the power of Anfield, the chronicles of their European history will claim taming it as fundamental to their success.
Man City hoping to silence Liverpool's cauldron of noise as Anfield dreams of writing a new chapter in history books
No supporters in England embrace the pageantry and choreography of the Champions League like Liverpool’s. No supporters in Europe have been more dismissive of it than Manchester City’s. As Liverpool spent a few wilderness years craving the Champions League anthem, City were being punished for jeering it – the legacy of the justifiable perception that Financial Fair Play rules are applied with more vigour at The Etihad than elsewhere. Bubbling under the surface ahead of the clubs’ quarter-final meeting on Wednesday is a clash of fan culture – unashamedly proud Europhiles versus Eurosceptics. Social media scorning of a Liverpool ‘strategy’ to reach the final via the power of banner hoisting and chanting has been plentiful. The Manchester Evening News even suggested a planned welcome for the team coaches – now an Anfield tradition on the most celebrated European nights – might be illegal. When reports emerged last week that City had not yet sold out the second leg, the response from Merseyside was incredulity. There are echoes of the build-up to the European meeting between Liverpool and Chelsea in 2005. Then, as now, Liverpool were mocked for overstating the influence of crowd noise and citing former glories as a precedent for modern success. Chelsea, a stronger team who would win the title the weekend before the second leg – a possibility for City at the time of the draw – were accused of failing to grasp how Liverpool’s romantic, historical attachment to the European Cup would prove so inspiring. The visitors understood more at full-time. Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and his team-mates celebrate on another famous European night in L4 Credit: Getty Images “The Liverpool fans that night were amazing,” Chelsea skipper John Terry would write in his autobiography. “I have never heard anything like it before, and I don’t think I ever will again. “I walked out into that cauldron and heard that singing and saw that passion. The hairs on my arms were standing up.” Such admissions feed the mythology of Anfield on European nights. The list of great occasions is plentiful, from the 1977 St Etienne comeback to the most recent against Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund en route to the 2016 Europa League final. Certainly the Liverpool players who benefited offer compelling testimonies. “The Chelsea game in 2005 was the loudest I ever knew Anfield, and the fact we scored so early made sure the noise lasted for 90 minutes,” recalls Vladimir Smicer, one of the heroes of the unlikely victory of Rafael Benitez’s Champions League winning side. “I’m not sure any fan sat down all the game. But City have some experience here in the Premier League when they lost, so they know a little of what it will be like. They may think it will be similar, but if Liverpool get a good start and play with patience, it can be special again.” Liverpool fans have a strong relationship with the European Cup going back to David Fairclough's memorable winner against St Etienne back in 1977, the year the club won the first of its five titles Credit: Liverpool Echo Cynics and City fans will counter that Liverpool memories are selective. There are enough examples of a vociferous atmosphere being nullified. Go back to 1978, and Nottingham Forest emerged victorious in the first all-English European Cup meeting, successfully protecting a 2-0 first leg lead at Anfield. After harrowing experiences in 2005 and 2007, Chelsea’s players had no problem against a better Liverpool team in 2008 and 2009, the latter ending in a 3-1 first leg Anfield win for the Londoners. Benfica and Real Madrid were unperturbed in a boisterous arena in 2006 and 2014, while the last time a club was greeted with Anfield fervour on a Champions League night – Basel in the ‘make-or-break’ group decider in 2014 – they knocked out the hosts. City, like Chelsea in 2005, may deride the nostalgia because they are in the process of creating their own history. The European reference points Liverpool use to stir passions are still to arrive at The Etihad, but surely will under Pep Guardiola – conceivably over the course of this tie. National treasures | Classic all-England European Cup ties Guardiola will be more respectful of Anfield’s vivaciousness having publicly acknowledged its impact during that 4-3 league defeat. He also skippered the Barcelona team beaten in the 2001 Uefa Cup semi-final. The Kop may be the one piece of ammunition at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal the Spaniard will look upon with envy. Guardiola is trying to create the same love for the competition in his new home and knows this tie can galvanise the previously ambivalent. Shortly after taking over at City, he addressed his fans’ lack of enthusiasm for the Champions League, unhappy only 30,270 attended the 2016 fixture with Bayern Munich “The only thing we can do is play good so people at home say, ‘Wow, next time I will be there’. We have to be so proud to play in this competition,” he said. “Our fans have to know we need them in the Champions League. We need them to compete against the best teams in the world. With our supporters, we are stronger.” City may take the opportunity in the next three days to diminish the influence of The Kop but are right to note it is the talent within the Liverpool side that is a greater threat. Should they progress and go on to lift the trophy for the first time, far from ridiculing the power of Anfield, the chronicles of their European history will claim taming it as fundamental to their success.
No supporters in England embrace the pageantry and choreography of the Champions League like Liverpool’s. No supporters in Europe have been more dismissive of it than Manchester City’s. As Liverpool spent a few wilderness years craving the Champions League anthem, City were being punished for jeering it – the legacy of the justifiable perception that Financial Fair Play rules are applied with more vigour at The Etihad than elsewhere. Bubbling under the surface ahead of the clubs’ quarter-final meeting on Wednesday is a clash of fan culture – unashamedly proud Europhiles versus Eurosceptics. Social media scorning of a Liverpool ‘strategy’ to reach the final via the power of banner hoisting and chanting has been plentiful. The Manchester Evening News even suggested a planned welcome for the team coaches – now an Anfield tradition on the most celebrated European nights – might be illegal. When reports emerged last week that City had not yet sold out the second leg, the response from Merseyside was incredulity. There are echoes of the build-up to the European meeting between Liverpool and Chelsea in 2005. Then, as now, Liverpool were mocked for overstating the influence of crowd noise and citing former glories as a precedent for modern success. Chelsea, a stronger team who would win the title the weekend before the second leg – a possibility for City at the time of the draw – were accused of failing to grasp how Liverpool’s romantic, historical attachment to the European Cup would prove so inspiring. The visitors understood more at full-time. Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and his team-mates celebrate on another famous European night in L4 Credit: Getty Images “The Liverpool fans that night were amazing,” Chelsea skipper John Terry would write in his autobiography. “I have never heard anything like it before, and I don’t think I ever will again. “I walked out into that cauldron and heard that singing and saw that passion. The hairs on my arms were standing up.” Such admissions feed the mythology of Anfield on European nights. The list of great occasions is plentiful, from the 1977 St Etienne comeback to the most recent against Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund en route to the 2016 Europa League final. Certainly the Liverpool players who benefited offer compelling testimonies. “The Chelsea game in 2005 was the loudest I ever knew Anfield, and the fact we scored so early made sure the noise lasted for 90 minutes,” recalls Vladimir Smicer, one of the heroes of the unlikely victory of Rafael Benitez’s Champions League winning side. “I’m not sure any fan sat down all the game. But City have some experience here in the Premier League when they lost, so they know a little of what it will be like. They may think it will be similar, but if Liverpool get a good start and play with patience, it can be special again.” Liverpool fans have a strong relationship with the European Cup going back to David Fairclough's memorable winner against St Etienne back in 1977, the year the club won the first of its five titles Credit: Liverpool Echo Cynics and City fans will counter that Liverpool memories are selective. There are enough examples of a vociferous atmosphere being nullified. Go back to 1978, and Nottingham Forest emerged victorious in the first all-English European Cup meeting, successfully protecting a 2-0 first leg lead at Anfield. After harrowing experiences in 2005 and 2007, Chelsea’s players had no problem against a better Liverpool team in 2008 and 2009, the latter ending in a 3-1 first leg Anfield win for the Londoners. Benfica and Real Madrid were unperturbed in a boisterous arena in 2006 and 2014, while the last time a club was greeted with Anfield fervour on a Champions League night – Basel in the ‘make-or-break’ group decider in 2014 – they knocked out the hosts. City, like Chelsea in 2005, may deride the nostalgia because they are in the process of creating their own history. The European reference points Liverpool use to stir passions are still to arrive at The Etihad, but surely will under Pep Guardiola – conceivably over the course of this tie. National treasures | Classic all-England European Cup ties Guardiola will be more respectful of Anfield’s vivaciousness having publicly acknowledged its impact during that 4-3 league defeat. He also skippered the Barcelona team beaten in the 2001 Uefa Cup semi-final. The Kop may be the one piece of ammunition at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal the Spaniard will look upon with envy. Guardiola is trying to create the same love for the competition in his new home and knows this tie can galvanise the previously ambivalent. Shortly after taking over at City, he addressed his fans’ lack of enthusiasm for the Champions League, unhappy only 30,270 attended the 2016 fixture with Bayern Munich “The only thing we can do is play good so people at home say, ‘Wow, next time I will be there’. We have to be so proud to play in this competition,” he said. “Our fans have to know we need them in the Champions League. We need them to compete against the best teams in the world. With our supporters, we are stronger.” City may take the opportunity in the next three days to diminish the influence of The Kop but are right to note it is the talent within the Liverpool side that is a greater threat. Should they progress and go on to lift the trophy for the first time, far from ridiculing the power of Anfield, the chronicles of their European history will claim taming it as fundamental to their success.
Man City hoping to silence Liverpool's cauldron of noise as Anfield dreams of writing a new chapter in history books
No supporters in England embrace the pageantry and choreography of the Champions League like Liverpool’s. No supporters in Europe have been more dismissive of it than Manchester City’s. As Liverpool spent a few wilderness years craving the Champions League anthem, City were being punished for jeering it – the legacy of the justifiable perception that Financial Fair Play rules are applied with more vigour at The Etihad than elsewhere. Bubbling under the surface ahead of the clubs’ quarter-final meeting on Wednesday is a clash of fan culture – unashamedly proud Europhiles versus Eurosceptics. Social media scorning of a Liverpool ‘strategy’ to reach the final via the power of banner hoisting and chanting has been plentiful. The Manchester Evening News even suggested a planned welcome for the team coaches – now an Anfield tradition on the most celebrated European nights – might be illegal. When reports emerged last week that City had not yet sold out the second leg, the response from Merseyside was incredulity. There are echoes of the build-up to the European meeting between Liverpool and Chelsea in 2005. Then, as now, Liverpool were mocked for overstating the influence of crowd noise and citing former glories as a precedent for modern success. Chelsea, a stronger team who would win the title the weekend before the second leg – a possibility for City at the time of the draw – were accused of failing to grasp how Liverpool’s romantic, historical attachment to the European Cup would prove so inspiring. The visitors understood more at full-time. Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and his team-mates celebrate on another famous European night in L4 Credit: Getty Images “The Liverpool fans that night were amazing,” Chelsea skipper John Terry would write in his autobiography. “I have never heard anything like it before, and I don’t think I ever will again. “I walked out into that cauldron and heard that singing and saw that passion. The hairs on my arms were standing up.” Such admissions feed the mythology of Anfield on European nights. The list of great occasions is plentiful, from the 1977 St Etienne comeback to the most recent against Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund en route to the 2016 Europa League final. Certainly the Liverpool players who benefited offer compelling testimonies. “The Chelsea game in 2005 was the loudest I ever knew Anfield, and the fact we scored so early made sure the noise lasted for 90 minutes,” recalls Vladimir Smicer, one of the heroes of the unlikely victory of Rafael Benitez’s Champions League winning side. “I’m not sure any fan sat down all the game. But City have some experience here in the Premier League when they lost, so they know a little of what it will be like. They may think it will be similar, but if Liverpool get a good start and play with patience, it can be special again.” Liverpool fans have a strong relationship with the European Cup going back to David Fairclough's memorable winner against St Etienne back in 1977, the year the club won the first of its five titles Credit: Liverpool Echo Cynics and City fans will counter that Liverpool memories are selective. There are enough examples of a vociferous atmosphere being nullified. Go back to 1978, and Nottingham Forest emerged victorious in the first all-English European Cup meeting, successfully protecting a 2-0 first leg lead at Anfield. After harrowing experiences in 2005 and 2007, Chelsea’s players had no problem against a better Liverpool team in 2008 and 2009, the latter ending in a 3-1 first leg Anfield win for the Londoners. Benfica and Real Madrid were unperturbed in a boisterous arena in 2006 and 2014, while the last time a club was greeted with Anfield fervour on a Champions League night – Basel in the ‘make-or-break’ group decider in 2014 – they knocked out the hosts. City, like Chelsea in 2005, may deride the nostalgia because they are in the process of creating their own history. The European reference points Liverpool use to stir passions are still to arrive at The Etihad, but surely will under Pep Guardiola – conceivably over the course of this tie. National treasures | Classic all-England European Cup ties Guardiola will be more respectful of Anfield’s vivaciousness having publicly acknowledged its impact during that 4-3 league defeat. He also skippered the Barcelona team beaten in the 2001 Uefa Cup semi-final. The Kop may be the one piece of ammunition at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal the Spaniard will look upon with envy. Guardiola is trying to create the same love for the competition in his new home and knows this tie can galvanise the previously ambivalent. Shortly after taking over at City, he addressed his fans’ lack of enthusiasm for the Champions League, unhappy only 30,270 attended the 2016 fixture with Bayern Munich “The only thing we can do is play good so people at home say, ‘Wow, next time I will be there’. We have to be so proud to play in this competition,” he said. “Our fans have to know we need them in the Champions League. We need them to compete against the best teams in the world. With our supporters, we are stronger.” City may take the opportunity in the next three days to diminish the influence of The Kop but are right to note it is the talent within the Liverpool side that is a greater threat. Should they progress and go on to lift the trophy for the first time, far from ridiculing the power of Anfield, the chronicles of their European history will claim taming it as fundamental to their success.
No supporters in England embrace the pageantry and choreography of the Champions League like Liverpool’s. No supporters in Europe have been more dismissive of it than Manchester City’s. As Liverpool spent a few wilderness years craving the Champions League anthem, City were being punished for jeering it – the legacy of the justifiable perception that Financial Fair Play rules are applied with more vigour at The Etihad than elsewhere. Bubbling under the surface ahead of the clubs’ quarter-final meeting on Wednesday is a clash of fan culture – unashamedly proud Europhiles versus Eurosceptics. Social media scorning of a Liverpool ‘strategy’ to reach the final via the power of banner hoisting and chanting has been plentiful. The Manchester Evening News even suggested a planned welcome for the team coaches – now an Anfield tradition on the most celebrated European nights – might be illegal. When reports emerged last week that City had not yet sold out the second leg, the response from Merseyside was incredulity. There are echoes of the build-up to the European meeting between Liverpool and Chelsea in 2005. Then, as now, Liverpool were mocked for overstating the influence of crowd noise and citing former glories as a precedent for modern success. Chelsea, a stronger team who would win the title the weekend before the second leg – a possibility for City at the time of the draw – were accused of failing to grasp how Liverpool’s romantic, historical attachment to the European Cup would prove so inspiring. The visitors understood more at full-time. Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and his team-mates celebrate on another famous European night in L4 Credit: Getty Images “The Liverpool fans that night were amazing,” Chelsea skipper John Terry would write in his autobiography. “I have never heard anything like it before, and I don’t think I ever will again. “I walked out into that cauldron and heard that singing and saw that passion. The hairs on my arms were standing up.” Such admissions feed the mythology of Anfield on European nights. The list of great occasions is plentiful, from the 1977 St Etienne comeback to the most recent against Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund en route to the 2016 Europa League final. Certainly the Liverpool players who benefited offer compelling testimonies. “The Chelsea game in 2005 was the loudest I ever knew Anfield, and the fact we scored so early made sure the noise lasted for 90 minutes,” recalls Vladimir Smicer, one of the heroes of the unlikely victory of Rafael Benitez’s Champions League winning side. “I’m not sure any fan sat down all the game. But City have some experience here in the Premier League when they lost, so they know a little of what it will be like. They may think it will be similar, but if Liverpool get a good start and play with patience, it can be special again.” Liverpool fans have a strong relationship with the European Cup going back to David Fairclough's memorable winner against St Etienne back in 1977, the year the club won the first of its five titles Credit: Liverpool Echo Cynics and City fans will counter that Liverpool memories are selective. There are enough examples of a vociferous atmosphere being nullified. Go back to 1978, and Nottingham Forest emerged victorious in the first all-English European Cup meeting, successfully protecting a 2-0 first leg lead at Anfield. After harrowing experiences in 2005 and 2007, Chelsea’s players had no problem against a better Liverpool team in 2008 and 2009, the latter ending in a 3-1 first leg Anfield win for the Londoners. Benfica and Real Madrid were unperturbed in a boisterous arena in 2006 and 2014, while the last time a club was greeted with Anfield fervour on a Champions League night – Basel in the ‘make-or-break’ group decider in 2014 – they knocked out the hosts. City, like Chelsea in 2005, may deride the nostalgia because they are in the process of creating their own history. The European reference points Liverpool use to stir passions are still to arrive at The Etihad, but surely will under Pep Guardiola – conceivably over the course of this tie. National treasures | Classic all-England European Cup ties Guardiola will be more respectful of Anfield’s vivaciousness having publicly acknowledged its impact during that 4-3 league defeat. He also skippered the Barcelona team beaten in the 2001 Uefa Cup semi-final. The Kop may be the one piece of ammunition at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal the Spaniard will look upon with envy. Guardiola is trying to create the same love for the competition in his new home and knows this tie can galvanise the previously ambivalent. Shortly after taking over at City, he addressed his fans’ lack of enthusiasm for the Champions League, unhappy only 30,270 attended the 2016 fixture with Bayern Munich “The only thing we can do is play good so people at home say, ‘Wow, next time I will be there’. We have to be so proud to play in this competition,” he said. “Our fans have to know we need them in the Champions League. We need them to compete against the best teams in the world. With our supporters, we are stronger.” City may take the opportunity in the next three days to diminish the influence of The Kop but are right to note it is the talent within the Liverpool side that is a greater threat. Should they progress and go on to lift the trophy for the first time, far from ridiculing the power of Anfield, the chronicles of their European history will claim taming it as fundamental to their success.
Man City hoping to silence Liverpool's cauldron of noise as Anfield dreams of writing a new chapter in history books
No supporters in England embrace the pageantry and choreography of the Champions League like Liverpool’s. No supporters in Europe have been more dismissive of it than Manchester City’s. As Liverpool spent a few wilderness years craving the Champions League anthem, City were being punished for jeering it – the legacy of the justifiable perception that Financial Fair Play rules are applied with more vigour at The Etihad than elsewhere. Bubbling under the surface ahead of the clubs’ quarter-final meeting on Wednesday is a clash of fan culture – unashamedly proud Europhiles versus Eurosceptics. Social media scorning of a Liverpool ‘strategy’ to reach the final via the power of banner hoisting and chanting has been plentiful. The Manchester Evening News even suggested a planned welcome for the team coaches – now an Anfield tradition on the most celebrated European nights – might be illegal. When reports emerged last week that City had not yet sold out the second leg, the response from Merseyside was incredulity. There are echoes of the build-up to the European meeting between Liverpool and Chelsea in 2005. Then, as now, Liverpool were mocked for overstating the influence of crowd noise and citing former glories as a precedent for modern success. Chelsea, a stronger team who would win the title the weekend before the second leg – a possibility for City at the time of the draw – were accused of failing to grasp how Liverpool’s romantic, historical attachment to the European Cup would prove so inspiring. The visitors understood more at full-time. Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and his team-mates celebrate on another famous European night in L4 Credit: Getty Images “The Liverpool fans that night were amazing,” Chelsea skipper John Terry would write in his autobiography. “I have never heard anything like it before, and I don’t think I ever will again. “I walked out into that cauldron and heard that singing and saw that passion. The hairs on my arms were standing up.” Such admissions feed the mythology of Anfield on European nights. The list of great occasions is plentiful, from the 1977 St Etienne comeback to the most recent against Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund en route to the 2016 Europa League final. Certainly the Liverpool players who benefited offer compelling testimonies. “The Chelsea game in 2005 was the loudest I ever knew Anfield, and the fact we scored so early made sure the noise lasted for 90 minutes,” recalls Vladimir Smicer, one of the heroes of the unlikely victory of Rafael Benitez’s Champions League winning side. “I’m not sure any fan sat down all the game. But City have some experience here in the Premier League when they lost, so they know a little of what it will be like. They may think it will be similar, but if Liverpool get a good start and play with patience, it can be special again.” Liverpool fans have a strong relationship with the European Cup going back to David Fairclough's memorable winner against St Etienne back in 1977, the year the club won the first of its five titles Credit: Liverpool Echo Cynics and City fans will counter that Liverpool memories are selective. There are enough examples of a vociferous atmosphere being nullified. Go back to 1978, and Nottingham Forest emerged victorious in the first all-English European Cup meeting, successfully protecting a 2-0 first leg lead at Anfield. After harrowing experiences in 2005 and 2007, Chelsea’s players had no problem against a better Liverpool team in 2008 and 2009, the latter ending in a 3-1 first leg Anfield win for the Londoners. Benfica and Real Madrid were unperturbed in a boisterous arena in 2006 and 2014, while the last time a club was greeted with Anfield fervour on a Champions League night – Basel in the ‘make-or-break’ group decider in 2014 – they knocked out the hosts. City, like Chelsea in 2005, may deride the nostalgia because they are in the process of creating their own history. The European reference points Liverpool use to stir passions are still to arrive at The Etihad, but surely will under Pep Guardiola – conceivably over the course of this tie. National treasures | Classic all-England European Cup ties Guardiola will be more respectful of Anfield’s vivaciousness having publicly acknowledged its impact during that 4-3 league defeat. He also skippered the Barcelona team beaten in the 2001 Uefa Cup semi-final. The Kop may be the one piece of ammunition at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal the Spaniard will look upon with envy. Guardiola is trying to create the same love for the competition in his new home and knows this tie can galvanise the previously ambivalent. Shortly after taking over at City, he addressed his fans’ lack of enthusiasm for the Champions League, unhappy only 30,270 attended the 2016 fixture with Bayern Munich “The only thing we can do is play good so people at home say, ‘Wow, next time I will be there’. We have to be so proud to play in this competition,” he said. “Our fans have to know we need them in the Champions League. We need them to compete against the best teams in the world. With our supporters, we are stronger.” City may take the opportunity in the next three days to diminish the influence of The Kop but are right to note it is the talent within the Liverpool side that is a greater threat. Should they progress and go on to lift the trophy for the first time, far from ridiculing the power of Anfield, the chronicles of their European history will claim taming it as fundamental to their success.
Millwall 2 Nottingham Forest 0: Neil Harris demands more despite admitting play-offs are 'a reality'
Millwall 2 Nottingham Forest 0: Neil Harris demands more despite admitting play-offs are 'a reality'
Millwall 2 Nottingham Forest 0: Neil Harris demands more despite admitting play-offs are 'a reality'
Millwall 2 Nottingham Forest 0: Neil Harris demands more despite admitting play-offs are 'a reality'
Millwall 2 Nottingham Forest 0: Neil Harris demands more despite admitting play-offs are 'a reality'
Millwall 2 Nottingham Forest 0: Neil Harris demands more despite admitting play-offs are 'a reality'
The legendary former Nottingham Forest, Manchester United and Arsenal star - twice a European champion, a league title winner and the first black player to get an England cap - guests on the Yahoo Sport Football couch
Viv Anderson on Yahoo Sport Football
The legendary former Nottingham Forest, Manchester United and Arsenal star - twice a European champion, a league title winner and the first black player to get an England cap - guests on the Yahoo Sport Football couch
The legendary former Nottingham Forest, Manchester United and Arsenal star - twice a European champion, a league title winner and the first black player to get an England cap - guests on the Yahoo Sport Football couch
Viv Anderson on Yahoo Sport Football
The legendary former Nottingham Forest, Manchester United and Arsenal star - twice a European champion, a league title winner and the first black player to get an England cap - guests on the Yahoo Sport Football couch
The legendary former Nottingham Forest, Manchester United and Arsenal star - twice a European champion, a league title winner and the first black player to get an England cap - guests on the Yahoo Sport Football couch
Viv Anderson on Yahoo Sport Football
The legendary former Nottingham Forest, Manchester United and Arsenal star - twice a European champion, a league title winner and the first black player to get an England cap - guests on the Yahoo Sport Football couch
If Gareth Southgate wants his senior England players to learn to “play with freedom,” as he said after Friday’s ­defeat of Holland, then he can do much worse than showing them a tape of their young colleagues in the Under-21s. There is no fear of expression or flamboyance among this side, many of whom look just as comfortable ­executing an artful pirouette or ­nutmeg as they do playing the simple pass. Perhaps it is a culture shift, a ­generational change of attitudes, or maybe it really is the result of the FA’s drive to produce more technically comfortable footballers. Either way, to watch the Under-21s here was, on occasion, refreshingly close to seeing the old ideal of “playground football”, as they feinted and jinked, whirled and twirled. “Some of our stuff was breathtaking at times,” said manager Aidy ­Boothroyd. “They feel like they can relax and play expansive football.” The problem with this particular style, however, is that it does not lend itself to defensive solidity. And, while they can be credited for their ­experimental approach, England did still concede a sloppy goal from a set-piece and, too often, played themselves into trouble with their over-­elaboration. The spectators at Molineux remembered Cyrille Regis with a minute's applause Credit: Reuters In the end, despite an unexpectedly nervy finish, goals from captain ­Demarai Gray and Jake Clarke-Salter were just about enough to, firstly ­secure victory in a match played in honour of the late Cyrille Regis, and secondly provide some momentum ahead of Tuesday’s Euro 2019 qualifier against Ukraine. The performance of Gray was particularly encouraging for Boothroyd, who had given the Leicester City winger the captain’s armband in part because of his roots in the Midlands. “Dominic Solanke was supposed to be the captain, but he took a knock ­yesterday,” Boothroyd said. “In a ­tribute to Cyrille Regis, I thought it would only be right for a local boy to take the armband.” There is always an element of fun to these fixtures, as evidenced by the youthful feel of the crowd. And yet with the World Cup looming, and Southgate so clearly prepared to be more experimental than previous ­England managers, the underlying truth for this group of players is that, for some of them, a call-up to the senior squad is not beyond the realms of ­possibility. The excellent Trent Alexander-­Arnold, for example, will watch the progress of Joe Gomez, his Liverpool team-mate, in the senior squad and, rightfully, wonder why that could not be him. The same can be said for Tammy Abraham, who made his senior England debut in November. Such a prospect adds an edge to fixtures such as these, which could otherwise pass without much excitement. England come with much to play for, and they come to impress. They certainly did so in the opening few minutes, at least, when Ademola Lookman’s first contribution was to nutmeg a poor Romanian midfielder, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles teased a trio of defenders with his quick feet. Ryan Sessegnon has been tipped to make the senior England squad Credit: Getty Images The early goal came through Gray, an electric presence on the left. The Leicester winger combined smartly with Lookman, before stepping inside and flashing a low shot inside the near post, with the help of a deflection. “It was a captain’s performance until I took him off to save him for Ukraine,” Boothroyd said. “He deserved his goal. He was absolutely terrific.” It was open, and it was exciting. The towering Ovie Ejaria snaked and ­slalomed through midfield, while ­Kieran Dowell provided flair and ­trickery from the right. Abraham, meanwhile, had more than enough power to trouble the Romanian back four and twice went close before even 20 minutes had passed. If anything, though, it had become a little too comfortable. Romania ­belatedly decided to challenge the ­stepovers and flicks, and England soon began to play themselves into trouble. Over-elaboration in midfield ­allowed Andrei Ivan with a clear sight of the England goal, and home goalkeeper Dean Henderson was fortunate to see the striker’s shot roll back off a post. There were also two clear openings for Florinel Coman, who spurned the first and was thwarted by Henderson for the second after England were ripped apart by a gorgeous through ball by Ianis Hagi, the 19-year-old son of Romanian legend Gheorghe. Ainsley Maitland-Niles (left) keeps a close eye on Ianis Hagi Credit: Reuters Still, England were comfortably the better side and Dowell, who is thriving on loan at Nottingham Forest from Everton this season, twice went close to doubling the lead, before Abraham struck the crossbar with a looping header. The second eventually arrived through Clarke-Salter’s powerful header, from yet another whipped Alexander-Arnold delivery, but the air of defensive unease remained. Almost immediately, Romania had their reply, as Henderson flapped at a cross to allow Valentin Costache to fire into the empty net. After being so stylish for so long, England preceded to panic, and had to rely on a phenomenal block from Kyle Walker-Peters to preserve their lead. Match details England (4-2-3-1): Henderson 5; Alexander-Arnold 8, Tomori 6, Clarke-Salter 7, Walker-Peters 6; Maitland-Niles 7 (Onomah 70), Ejaria 6; Dowell 7 (Maddison 84), Lookman 7, Gray 7 (Kenny 58), Abraham 6 (Calvert-Lewin 84). Romania (4-2-3-1): I Radu 6; Butean 5, Ghita 6, Pascanu 6, A Radu 6 (Olteanu 69); Oaida 5 (Ciobanu 45), Nedelcu 6; Dobre 6 (Costache 62), Hagi 7, Coman 7; Ivan 6 (Petre 69). Attendance: 15,314. Referee: Iwan Griffith (Wales)
England U21 2 Romania U21 1: Premier League youngsters hint at bright future
If Gareth Southgate wants his senior England players to learn to “play with freedom,” as he said after Friday’s ­defeat of Holland, then he can do much worse than showing them a tape of their young colleagues in the Under-21s. There is no fear of expression or flamboyance among this side, many of whom look just as comfortable ­executing an artful pirouette or ­nutmeg as they do playing the simple pass. Perhaps it is a culture shift, a ­generational change of attitudes, or maybe it really is the result of the FA’s drive to produce more technically comfortable footballers. Either way, to watch the Under-21s here was, on occasion, refreshingly close to seeing the old ideal of “playground football”, as they feinted and jinked, whirled and twirled. “Some of our stuff was breathtaking at times,” said manager Aidy ­Boothroyd. “They feel like they can relax and play expansive football.” The problem with this particular style, however, is that it does not lend itself to defensive solidity. And, while they can be credited for their ­experimental approach, England did still concede a sloppy goal from a set-piece and, too often, played themselves into trouble with their over-­elaboration. The spectators at Molineux remembered Cyrille Regis with a minute's applause Credit: Reuters In the end, despite an unexpectedly nervy finish, goals from captain ­Demarai Gray and Jake Clarke-Salter were just about enough to, firstly ­secure victory in a match played in honour of the late Cyrille Regis, and secondly provide some momentum ahead of Tuesday’s Euro 2019 qualifier against Ukraine. The performance of Gray was particularly encouraging for Boothroyd, who had given the Leicester City winger the captain’s armband in part because of his roots in the Midlands. “Dominic Solanke was supposed to be the captain, but he took a knock ­yesterday,” Boothroyd said. “In a ­tribute to Cyrille Regis, I thought it would only be right for a local boy to take the armband.” There is always an element of fun to these fixtures, as evidenced by the youthful feel of the crowd. And yet with the World Cup looming, and Southgate so clearly prepared to be more experimental than previous ­England managers, the underlying truth for this group of players is that, for some of them, a call-up to the senior squad is not beyond the realms of ­possibility. The excellent Trent Alexander-­Arnold, for example, will watch the progress of Joe Gomez, his Liverpool team-mate, in the senior squad and, rightfully, wonder why that could not be him. The same can be said for Tammy Abraham, who made his senior England debut in November. Such a prospect adds an edge to fixtures such as these, which could otherwise pass without much excitement. England come with much to play for, and they come to impress. They certainly did so in the opening few minutes, at least, when Ademola Lookman’s first contribution was to nutmeg a poor Romanian midfielder, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles teased a trio of defenders with his quick feet. Ryan Sessegnon has been tipped to make the senior England squad Credit: Getty Images The early goal came through Gray, an electric presence on the left. The Leicester winger combined smartly with Lookman, before stepping inside and flashing a low shot inside the near post, with the help of a deflection. “It was a captain’s performance until I took him off to save him for Ukraine,” Boothroyd said. “He deserved his goal. He was absolutely terrific.” It was open, and it was exciting. The towering Ovie Ejaria snaked and ­slalomed through midfield, while ­Kieran Dowell provided flair and ­trickery from the right. Abraham, meanwhile, had more than enough power to trouble the Romanian back four and twice went close before even 20 minutes had passed. If anything, though, it had become a little too comfortable. Romania ­belatedly decided to challenge the ­stepovers and flicks, and England soon began to play themselves into trouble. Over-elaboration in midfield ­allowed Andrei Ivan with a clear sight of the England goal, and home goalkeeper Dean Henderson was fortunate to see the striker’s shot roll back off a post. There were also two clear openings for Florinel Coman, who spurned the first and was thwarted by Henderson for the second after England were ripped apart by a gorgeous through ball by Ianis Hagi, the 19-year-old son of Romanian legend Gheorghe. Ainsley Maitland-Niles (left) keeps a close eye on Ianis Hagi Credit: Reuters Still, England were comfortably the better side and Dowell, who is thriving on loan at Nottingham Forest from Everton this season, twice went close to doubling the lead, before Abraham struck the crossbar with a looping header. The second eventually arrived through Clarke-Salter’s powerful header, from yet another whipped Alexander-Arnold delivery, but the air of defensive unease remained. Almost immediately, Romania had their reply, as Henderson flapped at a cross to allow Valentin Costache to fire into the empty net. After being so stylish for so long, England preceded to panic, and had to rely on a phenomenal block from Kyle Walker-Peters to preserve their lead. Match details England (4-2-3-1): Henderson 5; Alexander-Arnold 8, Tomori 6, Clarke-Salter 7, Walker-Peters 6; Maitland-Niles 7 (Onomah 70), Ejaria 6; Dowell 7 (Maddison 84), Lookman 7, Gray 7 (Kenny 58), Abraham 6 (Calvert-Lewin 84). Romania (4-2-3-1): I Radu 6; Butean 5, Ghita 6, Pascanu 6, A Radu 6 (Olteanu 69); Oaida 5 (Ciobanu 45), Nedelcu 6; Dobre 6 (Costache 62), Hagi 7, Coman 7; Ivan 6 (Petre 69). Attendance: 15,314. Referee: Iwan Griffith (Wales)
If Gareth Southgate wants his senior England players to learn to “play with freedom,” as he said after Friday’s ­defeat of Holland, then he can do much worse than showing them a tape of their young colleagues in the Under-21s. There is no fear of expression or flamboyance among this side, many of whom look just as comfortable ­executing an artful pirouette or ­nutmeg as they do playing the simple pass. Perhaps it is a culture shift, a ­generational change of attitudes, or maybe it really is the result of the FA’s drive to produce more technically comfortable footballers. Either way, to watch the Under-21s here was, on occasion, refreshingly close to seeing the old ideal of “playground football”, as they feinted and jinked, whirled and twirled. “Some of our stuff was breathtaking at times,” said manager Aidy ­Boothroyd. “They feel like they can relax and play expansive football.” The problem with this particular style, however, is that it does not lend itself to defensive solidity. And, while they can be credited for their ­experimental approach, England did still concede a sloppy goal from a set-piece and, too often, played themselves into trouble with their over-­elaboration. The spectators at Molineux remembered Cyrille Regis with a minute's applause Credit: Reuters In the end, despite an unexpectedly nervy finish, goals from captain ­Demarai Gray and Jake Clarke-Salter were just about enough to, firstly ­secure victory in a match played in honour of the late Cyrille Regis, and secondly provide some momentum ahead of Tuesday’s Euro 2019 qualifier against Ukraine. The performance of Gray was particularly encouraging for Boothroyd, who had given the Leicester City winger the captain’s armband in part because of his roots in the Midlands. “Dominic Solanke was supposed to be the captain, but he took a knock ­yesterday,” Boothroyd said. “In a ­tribute to Cyrille Regis, I thought it would only be right for a local boy to take the armband.” There is always an element of fun to these fixtures, as evidenced by the youthful feel of the crowd. And yet with the World Cup looming, and Southgate so clearly prepared to be more experimental than previous ­England managers, the underlying truth for this group of players is that, for some of them, a call-up to the senior squad is not beyond the realms of ­possibility. The excellent Trent Alexander-­Arnold, for example, will watch the progress of Joe Gomez, his Liverpool team-mate, in the senior squad and, rightfully, wonder why that could not be him. The same can be said for Tammy Abraham, who made his senior England debut in November. Such a prospect adds an edge to fixtures such as these, which could otherwise pass without much excitement. England come with much to play for, and they come to impress. They certainly did so in the opening few minutes, at least, when Ademola Lookman’s first contribution was to nutmeg a poor Romanian midfielder, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles teased a trio of defenders with his quick feet. Ryan Sessegnon has been tipped to make the senior England squad Credit: Getty Images The early goal came through Gray, an electric presence on the left. The Leicester winger combined smartly with Lookman, before stepping inside and flashing a low shot inside the near post, with the help of a deflection. “It was a captain’s performance until I took him off to save him for Ukraine,” Boothroyd said. “He deserved his goal. He was absolutely terrific.” It was open, and it was exciting. The towering Ovie Ejaria snaked and ­slalomed through midfield, while ­Kieran Dowell provided flair and ­trickery from the right. Abraham, meanwhile, had more than enough power to trouble the Romanian back four and twice went close before even 20 minutes had passed. If anything, though, it had become a little too comfortable. Romania ­belatedly decided to challenge the ­stepovers and flicks, and England soon began to play themselves into trouble. Over-elaboration in midfield ­allowed Andrei Ivan with a clear sight of the England goal, and home goalkeeper Dean Henderson was fortunate to see the striker’s shot roll back off a post. There were also two clear openings for Florinel Coman, who spurned the first and was thwarted by Henderson for the second after England were ripped apart by a gorgeous through ball by Ianis Hagi, the 19-year-old son of Romanian legend Gheorghe. Ainsley Maitland-Niles (left) keeps a close eye on Ianis Hagi Credit: Reuters Still, England were comfortably the better side and Dowell, who is thriving on loan at Nottingham Forest from Everton this season, twice went close to doubling the lead, before Abraham struck the crossbar with a looping header. The second eventually arrived through Clarke-Salter’s powerful header, from yet another whipped Alexander-Arnold delivery, but the air of defensive unease remained. Almost immediately, Romania had their reply, as Henderson flapped at a cross to allow Valentin Costache to fire into the empty net. After being so stylish for so long, England preceded to panic, and had to rely on a phenomenal block from Kyle Walker-Peters to preserve their lead. Match details England (4-2-3-1): Henderson 5; Alexander-Arnold 8, Tomori 6, Clarke-Salter 7, Walker-Peters 6; Maitland-Niles 7 (Onomah 70), Ejaria 6; Dowell 7 (Maddison 84), Lookman 7, Gray 7 (Kenny 58), Abraham 6 (Calvert-Lewin 84). Romania (4-2-3-1): I Radu 6; Butean 5, Ghita 6, Pascanu 6, A Radu 6 (Olteanu 69); Oaida 5 (Ciobanu 45), Nedelcu 6; Dobre 6 (Costache 62), Hagi 7, Coman 7; Ivan 6 (Petre 69). Attendance: 15,314. Referee: Iwan Griffith (Wales)
England U21 2 Romania U21 1: Premier League youngsters hint at bright future
If Gareth Southgate wants his senior England players to learn to “play with freedom,” as he said after Friday’s ­defeat of Holland, then he can do much worse than showing them a tape of their young colleagues in the Under-21s. There is no fear of expression or flamboyance among this side, many of whom look just as comfortable ­executing an artful pirouette or ­nutmeg as they do playing the simple pass. Perhaps it is a culture shift, a ­generational change of attitudes, or maybe it really is the result of the FA’s drive to produce more technically comfortable footballers. Either way, to watch the Under-21s here was, on occasion, refreshingly close to seeing the old ideal of “playground football”, as they feinted and jinked, whirled and twirled. “Some of our stuff was breathtaking at times,” said manager Aidy ­Boothroyd. “They feel like they can relax and play expansive football.” The problem with this particular style, however, is that it does not lend itself to defensive solidity. And, while they can be credited for their ­experimental approach, England did still concede a sloppy goal from a set-piece and, too often, played themselves into trouble with their over-­elaboration. The spectators at Molineux remembered Cyrille Regis with a minute's applause Credit: Reuters In the end, despite an unexpectedly nervy finish, goals from captain ­Demarai Gray and Jake Clarke-Salter were just about enough to, firstly ­secure victory in a match played in honour of the late Cyrille Regis, and secondly provide some momentum ahead of Tuesday’s Euro 2019 qualifier against Ukraine. The performance of Gray was particularly encouraging for Boothroyd, who had given the Leicester City winger the captain’s armband in part because of his roots in the Midlands. “Dominic Solanke was supposed to be the captain, but he took a knock ­yesterday,” Boothroyd said. “In a ­tribute to Cyrille Regis, I thought it would only be right for a local boy to take the armband.” There is always an element of fun to these fixtures, as evidenced by the youthful feel of the crowd. And yet with the World Cup looming, and Southgate so clearly prepared to be more experimental than previous ­England managers, the underlying truth for this group of players is that, for some of them, a call-up to the senior squad is not beyond the realms of ­possibility. The excellent Trent Alexander-­Arnold, for example, will watch the progress of Joe Gomez, his Liverpool team-mate, in the senior squad and, rightfully, wonder why that could not be him. The same can be said for Tammy Abraham, who made his senior England debut in November. Such a prospect adds an edge to fixtures such as these, which could otherwise pass without much excitement. England come with much to play for, and they come to impress. They certainly did so in the opening few minutes, at least, when Ademola Lookman’s first contribution was to nutmeg a poor Romanian midfielder, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles teased a trio of defenders with his quick feet. Ryan Sessegnon has been tipped to make the senior England squad Credit: Getty Images The early goal came through Gray, an electric presence on the left. The Leicester winger combined smartly with Lookman, before stepping inside and flashing a low shot inside the near post, with the help of a deflection. “It was a captain’s performance until I took him off to save him for Ukraine,” Boothroyd said. “He deserved his goal. He was absolutely terrific.” It was open, and it was exciting. The towering Ovie Ejaria snaked and ­slalomed through midfield, while ­Kieran Dowell provided flair and ­trickery from the right. Abraham, meanwhile, had more than enough power to trouble the Romanian back four and twice went close before even 20 minutes had passed. If anything, though, it had become a little too comfortable. Romania ­belatedly decided to challenge the ­stepovers and flicks, and England soon began to play themselves into trouble. Over-elaboration in midfield ­allowed Andrei Ivan with a clear sight of the England goal, and home goalkeeper Dean Henderson was fortunate to see the striker’s shot roll back off a post. There were also two clear openings for Florinel Coman, who spurned the first and was thwarted by Henderson for the second after England were ripped apart by a gorgeous through ball by Ianis Hagi, the 19-year-old son of Romanian legend Gheorghe. Ainsley Maitland-Niles (left) keeps a close eye on Ianis Hagi Credit: Reuters Still, England were comfortably the better side and Dowell, who is thriving on loan at Nottingham Forest from Everton this season, twice went close to doubling the lead, before Abraham struck the crossbar with a looping header. The second eventually arrived through Clarke-Salter’s powerful header, from yet another whipped Alexander-Arnold delivery, but the air of defensive unease remained. Almost immediately, Romania had their reply, as Henderson flapped at a cross to allow Valentin Costache to fire into the empty net. After being so stylish for so long, England preceded to panic, and had to rely on a phenomenal block from Kyle Walker-Peters to preserve their lead. Match details England (4-2-3-1): Henderson 5; Alexander-Arnold 8, Tomori 6, Clarke-Salter 7, Walker-Peters 6; Maitland-Niles 7 (Onomah 70), Ejaria 6; Dowell 7 (Maddison 84), Lookman 7, Gray 7 (Kenny 58), Abraham 6 (Calvert-Lewin 84). Romania (4-2-3-1): I Radu 6; Butean 5, Ghita 6, Pascanu 6, A Radu 6 (Olteanu 69); Oaida 5 (Ciobanu 45), Nedelcu 6; Dobre 6 (Costache 62), Hagi 7, Coman 7; Ivan 6 (Petre 69). Attendance: 15,314. Referee: Iwan Griffith (Wales)
If Gareth Southgate wants his senior England players to learn to “play with freedom,” as he said after Friday’s ­defeat of Holland, then he can do much worse than showing them a tape of their young colleagues in the Under-21s. There is no fear of expression or flamboyance among this side, many of whom look just as comfortable ­executing an artful pirouette or ­nutmeg as they do playing the simple pass. Perhaps it is a culture shift, a ­generational change of attitudes, or maybe it really is the result of the FA’s drive to produce more technically comfortable footballers. Either way, to watch the Under-21s here was, on occasion, refreshingly close to seeing the old ideal of “playground football”, as they feinted and jinked, whirled and twirled. “Some of our stuff was breathtaking at times,” said manager Aidy ­Boothroyd. “They feel like they can relax and play expansive football.” The problem with this particular style, however, is that it does not lend itself to defensive solidity. And, while they can be credited for their ­experimental approach, England did still concede a sloppy goal from a set-piece and, too often, played themselves into trouble with their over-­elaboration. The spectators at Molineux remembered Cyrille Regis with a minute's applause Credit: Reuters In the end, despite an unexpectedly nervy finish, goals from captain ­Demarai Gray and Jake Clarke-Salter were just about enough to, firstly ­secure victory in a match played in honour of the late Cyrille Regis, and secondly provide some momentum ahead of Tuesday’s Euro 2019 qualifier against Ukraine. The performance of Gray was particularly encouraging for Boothroyd, who had given the Leicester City winger the captain’s armband in part because of his roots in the Midlands. “Dominic Solanke was supposed to be the captain, but he took a knock ­yesterday,” Boothroyd said. “In a ­tribute to Cyrille Regis, I thought it would only be right for a local boy to take the armband.” There is always an element of fun to these fixtures, as evidenced by the youthful feel of the crowd. And yet with the World Cup looming, and Southgate so clearly prepared to be more experimental than previous ­England managers, the underlying truth for this group of players is that, for some of them, a call-up to the senior squad is not beyond the realms of ­possibility. The excellent Trent Alexander-­Arnold, for example, will watch the progress of Joe Gomez, his Liverpool team-mate, in the senior squad and, rightfully, wonder why that could not be him. The same can be said for Tammy Abraham, who made his senior England debut in November. Such a prospect adds an edge to fixtures such as these, which could otherwise pass without much excitement. England come with much to play for, and they come to impress. They certainly did so in the opening few minutes, at least, when Ademola Lookman’s first contribution was to nutmeg a poor Romanian midfielder, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles teased a trio of defenders with his quick feet. Ryan Sessegnon has been tipped to make the senior England squad Credit: Getty Images The early goal came through Gray, an electric presence on the left. The Leicester winger combined smartly with Lookman, before stepping inside and flashing a low shot inside the near post, with the help of a deflection. “It was a captain’s performance until I took him off to save him for Ukraine,” Boothroyd said. “He deserved his goal. He was absolutely terrific.” It was open, and it was exciting. The towering Ovie Ejaria snaked and ­slalomed through midfield, while ­Kieran Dowell provided flair and ­trickery from the right. Abraham, meanwhile, had more than enough power to trouble the Romanian back four and twice went close before even 20 minutes had passed. If anything, though, it had become a little too comfortable. Romania ­belatedly decided to challenge the ­stepovers and flicks, and England soon began to play themselves into trouble. Over-elaboration in midfield ­allowed Andrei Ivan with a clear sight of the England goal, and home goalkeeper Dean Henderson was fortunate to see the striker’s shot roll back off a post. There were also two clear openings for Florinel Coman, who spurned the first and was thwarted by Henderson for the second after England were ripped apart by a gorgeous through ball by Ianis Hagi, the 19-year-old son of Romanian legend Gheorghe. Ainsley Maitland-Niles (left) keeps a close eye on Ianis Hagi Credit: Reuters Still, England were comfortably the better side and Dowell, who is thriving on loan at Nottingham Forest from Everton this season, twice went close to doubling the lead, before Abraham struck the crossbar with a looping header. The second eventually arrived through Clarke-Salter’s powerful header, from yet another whipped Alexander-Arnold delivery, but the air of defensive unease remained. Almost immediately, Romania had their reply, as Henderson flapped at a cross to allow Valentin Costache to fire into the empty net. After being so stylish for so long, England preceded to panic, and had to rely on a phenomenal block from Kyle Walker-Peters to preserve their lead. Match details England (4-2-3-1): Henderson 5; Alexander-Arnold 8, Tomori 6, Clarke-Salter 7, Walker-Peters 6; Maitland-Niles 7 (Onomah 70), Ejaria 6; Dowell 7 (Maddison 84), Lookman 7, Gray 7 (Kenny 58), Abraham 6 (Calvert-Lewin 84). Romania (4-2-3-1): I Radu 6; Butean 5, Ghita 6, Pascanu 6, A Radu 6 (Olteanu 69); Oaida 5 (Ciobanu 45), Nedelcu 6; Dobre 6 (Costache 62), Hagi 7, Coman 7; Ivan 6 (Petre 69). Attendance: 15,314. Referee: Iwan Griffith (Wales)
England U21 2 Romania U21 1: Premier League youngsters hint at bright future
If Gareth Southgate wants his senior England players to learn to “play with freedom,” as he said after Friday’s ­defeat of Holland, then he can do much worse than showing them a tape of their young colleagues in the Under-21s. There is no fear of expression or flamboyance among this side, many of whom look just as comfortable ­executing an artful pirouette or ­nutmeg as they do playing the simple pass. Perhaps it is a culture shift, a ­generational change of attitudes, or maybe it really is the result of the FA’s drive to produce more technically comfortable footballers. Either way, to watch the Under-21s here was, on occasion, refreshingly close to seeing the old ideal of “playground football”, as they feinted and jinked, whirled and twirled. “Some of our stuff was breathtaking at times,” said manager Aidy ­Boothroyd. “They feel like they can relax and play expansive football.” The problem with this particular style, however, is that it does not lend itself to defensive solidity. And, while they can be credited for their ­experimental approach, England did still concede a sloppy goal from a set-piece and, too often, played themselves into trouble with their over-­elaboration. The spectators at Molineux remembered Cyrille Regis with a minute's applause Credit: Reuters In the end, despite an unexpectedly nervy finish, goals from captain ­Demarai Gray and Jake Clarke-Salter were just about enough to, firstly ­secure victory in a match played in honour of the late Cyrille Regis, and secondly provide some momentum ahead of Tuesday’s Euro 2019 qualifier against Ukraine. The performance of Gray was particularly encouraging for Boothroyd, who had given the Leicester City winger the captain’s armband in part because of his roots in the Midlands. “Dominic Solanke was supposed to be the captain, but he took a knock ­yesterday,” Boothroyd said. “In a ­tribute to Cyrille Regis, I thought it would only be right for a local boy to take the armband.” There is always an element of fun to these fixtures, as evidenced by the youthful feel of the crowd. And yet with the World Cup looming, and Southgate so clearly prepared to be more experimental than previous ­England managers, the underlying truth for this group of players is that, for some of them, a call-up to the senior squad is not beyond the realms of ­possibility. The excellent Trent Alexander-­Arnold, for example, will watch the progress of Joe Gomez, his Liverpool team-mate, in the senior squad and, rightfully, wonder why that could not be him. The same can be said for Tammy Abraham, who made his senior England debut in November. Such a prospect adds an edge to fixtures such as these, which could otherwise pass without much excitement. England come with much to play for, and they come to impress. They certainly did so in the opening few minutes, at least, when Ademola Lookman’s first contribution was to nutmeg a poor Romanian midfielder, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles teased a trio of defenders with his quick feet. Ryan Sessegnon has been tipped to make the senior England squad Credit: Getty Images The early goal came through Gray, an electric presence on the left. The Leicester winger combined smartly with Lookman, before stepping inside and flashing a low shot inside the near post, with the help of a deflection. “It was a captain’s performance until I took him off to save him for Ukraine,” Boothroyd said. “He deserved his goal. He was absolutely terrific.” It was open, and it was exciting. The towering Ovie Ejaria snaked and ­slalomed through midfield, while ­Kieran Dowell provided flair and ­trickery from the right. Abraham, meanwhile, had more than enough power to trouble the Romanian back four and twice went close before even 20 minutes had passed. If anything, though, it had become a little too comfortable. Romania ­belatedly decided to challenge the ­stepovers and flicks, and England soon began to play themselves into trouble. Over-elaboration in midfield ­allowed Andrei Ivan with a clear sight of the England goal, and home goalkeeper Dean Henderson was fortunate to see the striker’s shot roll back off a post. There were also two clear openings for Florinel Coman, who spurned the first and was thwarted by Henderson for the second after England were ripped apart by a gorgeous through ball by Ianis Hagi, the 19-year-old son of Romanian legend Gheorghe. Ainsley Maitland-Niles (left) keeps a close eye on Ianis Hagi Credit: Reuters Still, England were comfortably the better side and Dowell, who is thriving on loan at Nottingham Forest from Everton this season, twice went close to doubling the lead, before Abraham struck the crossbar with a looping header. The second eventually arrived through Clarke-Salter’s powerful header, from yet another whipped Alexander-Arnold delivery, but the air of defensive unease remained. Almost immediately, Romania had their reply, as Henderson flapped at a cross to allow Valentin Costache to fire into the empty net. After being so stylish for so long, England preceded to panic, and had to rely on a phenomenal block from Kyle Walker-Peters to preserve their lead. Match details England (4-2-3-1): Henderson 5; Alexander-Arnold 8, Tomori 6, Clarke-Salter 7, Walker-Peters 6; Maitland-Niles 7 (Onomah 70), Ejaria 6; Dowell 7 (Maddison 84), Lookman 7, Gray 7 (Kenny 58), Abraham 6 (Calvert-Lewin 84). Romania (4-2-3-1): I Radu 6; Butean 5, Ghita 6, Pascanu 6, A Radu 6 (Olteanu 69); Oaida 5 (Ciobanu 45), Nedelcu 6; Dobre 6 (Costache 62), Hagi 7, Coman 7; Ivan 6 (Petre 69). Attendance: 15,314. Referee: Iwan Griffith (Wales)
​Nottingham Forest will be bracing themselves for a slew of negative publicity after the club's owner was charged with drug trafficking in Greece. Evangelos Marinakis has been accused of 'very serious charges' by Greece's public prosecutor, Eirini Tziva, with regards to a three-year long investigation, conducted between 2014 and 2017, into a heroin smuggling case, according to the ​Guardian. Marinakis, who bought the Championship side for around £50m in May 2017, is also charged with financing...
Controversial Nottingham Forest Owner Charged With Drug Trafficking in Greece
​Nottingham Forest will be bracing themselves for a slew of negative publicity after the club's owner was charged with drug trafficking in Greece. Evangelos Marinakis has been accused of 'very serious charges' by Greece's public prosecutor, Eirini Tziva, with regards to a three-year long investigation, conducted between 2014 and 2017, into a heroin smuggling case, according to the ​Guardian. Marinakis, who bought the Championship side for around £50m in May 2017, is also charged with financing...
​Nottingham Forest will be bracing themselves for a slew of negative publicity after the club's owner was charged with drug trafficking in Greece. Evangelos Marinakis has been accused of 'very serious charges' by Greece's public prosecutor, Eirini Tziva, with regards to a three-year long investigation, conducted between 2014 and 2017, into a heroin smuggling case, according to the ​Guardian. Marinakis, who bought the Championship side for around £50m in May 2017, is also charged with financing...
Controversial Nottingham Forest Owner Charged With Drug Trafficking in Greece
​Nottingham Forest will be bracing themselves for a slew of negative publicity after the club's owner was charged with drug trafficking in Greece. Evangelos Marinakis has been accused of 'very serious charges' by Greece's public prosecutor, Eirini Tziva, with regards to a three-year long investigation, conducted between 2014 and 2017, into a heroin smuggling case, according to the ​Guardian. Marinakis, who bought the Championship side for around £50m in May 2017, is also charged with financing...
​Nottingham Forest will be bracing themselves for a slew of negative publicity after the club's owner was charged with drug trafficking in Greece. Evangelos Marinakis has been accused of 'very serious charges' by Greece's public prosecutor, Eirini Tziva, with regards to a three-year long investigation, conducted between 2014 and 2017, into a heroin smuggling case, according to the ​Guardian. Marinakis, who bought the Championship side for around £50m in May 2017, is also charged with financing...
Controversial Nottingham Forest Owner Charged With Drug Trafficking in Greece
​Nottingham Forest will be bracing themselves for a slew of negative publicity after the club's owner was charged with drug trafficking in Greece. Evangelos Marinakis has been accused of 'very serious charges' by Greece's public prosecutor, Eirini Tziva, with regards to a three-year long investigation, conducted between 2014 and 2017, into a heroin smuggling case, according to the ​Guardian. Marinakis, who bought the Championship side for around £50m in May 2017, is also charged with financing...
Nottingham Forest are embroiled in a legal row with former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi over unpaid money. Al Hasawi, the Kuwaiti businessman whose turbulent reign ended last May, was sued by Forest in December over money the Championship club claim they are owed. But Al-Hasawi has issued a counter-claim insisting he is due a payment of around £4.2m in unsecured interest free loans. Sources close to Al Hasawi have claimed that the Football League have been contacted for assistance. Forest are disputing the claim and a spokesman for the club’s solicitors, Browne & Jacobson LLP, said: “We can confirm that Nottingham Forest has commenced proceedings against Mr Al Hasawi and a related party claiming various sums that have become due and owing since the completion of the sale of the club in May 2017. “Mr Al Hasawi has issued proceedings against the club in response. It would not be appropriate for us or the club to comment further on these proceedings until they are resolved.” Forest were sold to Evangelos Marinakis, who also owns Olympiakos, with Al Hasawi’s departure ending a stormy association of five years. It is understood the internal applications for hearings will be held in late April.
Nottingham Forest in legal row with former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi over unpaid money
Nottingham Forest are embroiled in a legal row with former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi over unpaid money. Al Hasawi, the Kuwaiti businessman whose turbulent reign ended last May, was sued by Forest in December over money the Championship club claim they are owed. But Al-Hasawi has issued a counter-claim insisting he is due a payment of around £4.2m in unsecured interest free loans. Sources close to Al Hasawi have claimed that the Football League have been contacted for assistance. Forest are disputing the claim and a spokesman for the club’s solicitors, Browne & Jacobson LLP, said: “We can confirm that Nottingham Forest has commenced proceedings against Mr Al Hasawi and a related party claiming various sums that have become due and owing since the completion of the sale of the club in May 2017. “Mr Al Hasawi has issued proceedings against the club in response. It would not be appropriate for us or the club to comment further on these proceedings until they are resolved.” Forest were sold to Evangelos Marinakis, who also owns Olympiakos, with Al Hasawi’s departure ending a stormy association of five years. It is understood the internal applications for hearings will be held in late April.
Nottingham Forest in legal row with former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi over unpaid money
Nottingham Forest in legal row with former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi over unpaid money
Nottingham Forest in legal row with former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi over unpaid money
Less than five months ago, England's brave under-17s cemented the view that the senior team's problems go far deeper than mere issues with their mentality. They came from two goals down against a highly-rated Spain side to become world champions and, in doing so, became the third English youth team to win a tournament in 2017. As they celebrated with their shirts turned back-to-front to show off their names to the watching world, there was a real feeling of optimism about England's footballing future. It concluded a successful six months for England, following the under-20s' World Cup win in June and the under-19s winning the European Championship in July. Once the fanfare had died down, though, much of the narrative surrounding these victories focused on the fact that these players needed game time, and it was the responsibility of their clubs to ensure their progress was not in any way hindered by a lack of it. That was a minimum requirement - and one that many thought was perfectly reasonable, too. England's under-17s celebrate their World Cup triumph Credit: Reuters In reality, the amount of football afforded to the likes of Timothy Eyoma at Tottenham or Dujon Sterling at Chelsea was always going to be limited, particularly while their clubs harbour hopes of challenging for the Premier League title and have the riches to improve their first team at the click of a finger. But that said, every player across the three squads proved that they did deserve a chance, and while there is plenty of negative feeling regarding the quality of Gareth Southgate's latest squad, there is reason for optimism about the future, right? Five months on from the third time football came home in 2017, has there been any palpable sign that England's youth are going to make inroads at a higher level? The success stories Plenty of England's under-20s are now playing at least semi-regularly in the Premier League, most notably Jonjoe Kenny and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Everton, Lewis Cook at Bournemouth, Dominic Solanke at Liverpool and Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal. Cook has even made it into the senior England squad. From the under-17s, Rhian Brewster has shone for Steven Gerrard's impressive Liverpool youth team, gaining deserved attention for his ability when so much of the coverage on him has focused on the allegations he made of racist language being used towards him by a Spartak Moscow player. Top flight minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The recent news that golden boot-winning Brewster had impressed Jurgen Klopp sufficiently to earn a place in the first team squad next season will provide some positive feeling that Liverpool-based players have a chance of breaking through, even if he is still yet to play for senior side. Similarly, Lukas Nmecha has been given the chance to train with the first team at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has done a fair amount for England's chances at the World Cup this summer, with Raheem Sterling now a far greater force than a year ago, and many more fans will have been delighted to see Phil Foden afforded intermittent opportunities with the first team. He is training regularly with some of the best players on the planet under the watchful eye of one of the best coaches around, and has started twice in the Champions League. However, one of those games was effectively a dead rubber and the other was actually a dead rubber. His Premier League minutes stack up to 18 in total, each time coming on late in games already won. Foden has made three appearances in the Champions League this season Credit: Reuters Pep has the luxury of being able to give promising players like Foden minutes in games like these, but this is experience nonetheless, and it will certainly benefit him. The question remains, however, whether his path to the first team will be blocked by yet more inevitable big-money signings. Jadon Sancho saw his path blocked at City so went to Borussia Dortmund in search of first team football in the summer. He has racked up 303 minutes in the Bundesliga, completing 90 minutes on three occasions, and will be confident he made the right choice in going abroad. Injury has disrupted his progress, but he is making impressive strides in Germany. Five of the under-19s have played a significant amount of football this season, but nobody in the top flight and only two, in Ryan Brereton and Ryan Sessegnon have played more than a couple of matches at their parent clubs (Nottingham Forest and Fulham, respectively), rather than out on loan. Ryan Sessognon is one of the hottest prospects in English football Credit: PA Sessegnon has had a rapid rise, and is now reportedly being chased by Tottenham and Manchester United. His exposure to first team football has seen the biggest rise in profile and ability. Brereton, meanwhile, looked like he could cut it in the Premier League when Forest knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. More to be done The under-17s' Morgan Gibbs-White has made six appearances for Championship leaders Wolves, and at 18 years of age he would hope that his game time increases next season. However, with Wolves on the verge of the Premier League, reinforcements will be made, and Gibbs-White will do well to avoid being sent back to the Championship for more experience. From the under-19s, Jay DaSilva has made 32 league appearances on loan at Charlton from Chelsea; Mason Mount has played 22 times for Vitesse, also on loan from Chelsea; Bournemouth's Aaron Ramsdale has played 10 times on loan at Chesterfield. Mins played 2017/18 outside top flight | England's trophy winners Andre Dozzell tore his cruciate in the opening game of Ipswich's season, and will surely be straight back in the first team next season, while Spurs fans are still waiting for Marcus Edwards' career to take. He is yet to play a minute on loan at Norwich. There has been far more action in the under-20s, where Dean Henderson, Callum Connolly, Ezri Konsa, Josh Onomah, Kieran Dowell and Sheyi Ojo have all been given a significant amount of game time at a decent level. Adam Armstrong has been in fine goal-scoring form on loan at Blackburn. It's gone far too quiet First team football has eluded the remaining players in every squad. There is, of course, plenty to be said for the quality of coaching Josh Dasilva receives at Arsenal and the advice Mauricio Pochettino can give Kyle Walker-Peters at Spurs, but neither look at all likely to get a chance in the first team any time soon, and surely a stint out on loan would benefit them. Zero first team minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The fact of the matter is, though, that the majority of the players who have yet to taste first team action are still extremely young. Sancho's decision to go abroad was a brave one, but really, few actually break through at his age anyway. Plenty of the under-19s and under-20s have been given a fair amount of game time this season, and it really does seem as though some will make it to the top. Cook and Solanke, though, are the only players who have managed to make the step up to the senior England squad.
Whatever happened to England's world-conquering young stars?
Less than five months ago, England's brave under-17s cemented the view that the senior team's problems go far deeper than mere issues with their mentality. They came from two goals down against a highly-rated Spain side to become world champions and, in doing so, became the third English youth team to win a tournament in 2017. As they celebrated with their shirts turned back-to-front to show off their names to the watching world, there was a real feeling of optimism about England's footballing future. It concluded a successful six months for England, following the under-20s' World Cup win in June and the under-19s winning the European Championship in July. Once the fanfare had died down, though, much of the narrative surrounding these victories focused on the fact that these players needed game time, and it was the responsibility of their clubs to ensure their progress was not in any way hindered by a lack of it. That was a minimum requirement - and one that many thought was perfectly reasonable, too. England's under-17s celebrate their World Cup triumph Credit: Reuters In reality, the amount of football afforded to the likes of Timothy Eyoma at Tottenham or Dujon Sterling at Chelsea was always going to be limited, particularly while their clubs harbour hopes of challenging for the Premier League title and have the riches to improve their first team at the click of a finger. But that said, every player across the three squads proved that they did deserve a chance, and while there is plenty of negative feeling regarding the quality of Gareth Southgate's latest squad, there is reason for optimism about the future, right? Five months on from the third time football came home in 2017, has there been any palpable sign that England's youth are going to make inroads at a higher level? The success stories Plenty of England's under-20s are now playing at least semi-regularly in the Premier League, most notably Jonjoe Kenny and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Everton, Lewis Cook at Bournemouth, Dominic Solanke at Liverpool and Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal. Cook has even made it into the senior England squad. From the under-17s, Rhian Brewster has shone for Steven Gerrard's impressive Liverpool youth team, gaining deserved attention for his ability when so much of the coverage on him has focused on the allegations he made of racist language being used towards him by a Spartak Moscow player. Top flight minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The recent news that golden boot-winning Brewster had impressed Jurgen Klopp sufficiently to earn a place in the first team squad next season will provide some positive feeling that Liverpool-based players have a chance of breaking through, even if he is still yet to play for senior side. Similarly, Lukas Nmecha has been given the chance to train with the first team at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has done a fair amount for England's chances at the World Cup this summer, with Raheem Sterling now a far greater force than a year ago, and many more fans will have been delighted to see Phil Foden afforded intermittent opportunities with the first team. He is training regularly with some of the best players on the planet under the watchful eye of one of the best coaches around, and has started twice in the Champions League. However, one of those games was effectively a dead rubber and the other was actually a dead rubber. His Premier League minutes stack up to 18 in total, each time coming on late in games already won. Foden has made three appearances in the Champions League this season Credit: Reuters Pep has the luxury of being able to give promising players like Foden minutes in games like these, but this is experience nonetheless, and it will certainly benefit him. The question remains, however, whether his path to the first team will be blocked by yet more inevitable big-money signings. Jadon Sancho saw his path blocked at City so went to Borussia Dortmund in search of first team football in the summer. He has racked up 303 minutes in the Bundesliga, completing 90 minutes on three occasions, and will be confident he made the right choice in going abroad. Injury has disrupted his progress, but he is making impressive strides in Germany. Five of the under-19s have played a significant amount of football this season, but nobody in the top flight and only two, in Ryan Brereton and Ryan Sessegnon have played more than a couple of matches at their parent clubs (Nottingham Forest and Fulham, respectively), rather than out on loan. Ryan Sessognon is one of the hottest prospects in English football Credit: PA Sessegnon has had a rapid rise, and is now reportedly being chased by Tottenham and Manchester United. His exposure to first team football has seen the biggest rise in profile and ability. Brereton, meanwhile, looked like he could cut it in the Premier League when Forest knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. More to be done The under-17s' Morgan Gibbs-White has made six appearances for Championship leaders Wolves, and at 18 years of age he would hope that his game time increases next season. However, with Wolves on the verge of the Premier League, reinforcements will be made, and Gibbs-White will do well to avoid being sent back to the Championship for more experience. From the under-19s, Jay DaSilva has made 32 league appearances on loan at Charlton from Chelsea; Mason Mount has played 22 times for Vitesse, also on loan from Chelsea; Bournemouth's Aaron Ramsdale has played 10 times on loan at Chesterfield. Mins played 2017/18 outside top flight | England's trophy winners Andre Dozzell tore his cruciate in the opening game of Ipswich's season, and will surely be straight back in the first team next season, while Spurs fans are still waiting for Marcus Edwards' career to take. He is yet to play a minute on loan at Norwich. There has been far more action in the under-20s, where Dean Henderson, Callum Connolly, Ezri Konsa, Josh Onomah, Kieran Dowell and Sheyi Ojo have all been given a significant amount of game time at a decent level. Adam Armstrong has been in fine goal-scoring form on loan at Blackburn. It's gone far too quiet First team football has eluded the remaining players in every squad. There is, of course, plenty to be said for the quality of coaching Josh Dasilva receives at Arsenal and the advice Mauricio Pochettino can give Kyle Walker-Peters at Spurs, but neither look at all likely to get a chance in the first team any time soon, and surely a stint out on loan would benefit them. Zero first team minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The fact of the matter is, though, that the majority of the players who have yet to taste first team action are still extremely young. Sancho's decision to go abroad was a brave one, but really, few actually break through at his age anyway. Plenty of the under-19s and under-20s have been given a fair amount of game time this season, and it really does seem as though some will make it to the top. Cook and Solanke, though, are the only players who have managed to make the step up to the senior England squad.
Less than five months ago, England's brave under-17s cemented the view that the senior team's problems go far deeper than mere issues with their mentality. They came from two goals down against a highly-rated Spain side to become world champions and, in doing so, became the third English youth team to win a tournament in 2017. As they celebrated with their shirts turned back-to-front to show off their names to the watching world, there was a real feeling of optimism about England's footballing future. It concluded a successful six months for England, following the under-20s' World Cup win in June and the under-19s winning the European Championship in July. Once the fanfare had died down, though, much of the narrative surrounding these victories focused on the fact that these players needed game time, and it was the responsibility of their clubs to ensure their progress was not in any way hindered by a lack of it. That was a minimum requirement - and one that many thought was perfectly reasonable, too. England's under-17s celebrate their World Cup triumph Credit: Reuters In reality, the amount of football afforded to the likes of Timothy Eyoma at Tottenham or Dujon Sterling at Chelsea was always going to be limited, particularly while their clubs harbour hopes of challenging for the Premier League title and have the riches to improve their first team at the click of a finger. But that said, every player across the three squads proved that they did deserve a chance, and while there is plenty of negative feeling regarding the quality of Gareth Southgate's latest squad, there is reason for optimism about the future, right? Five months on from the third time football came home in 2017, has there been any palpable sign that England's youth are going to make inroads at a higher level? The success stories Plenty of England's under-20s are now playing at least semi-regularly in the Premier League, most notably Jonjoe Kenny and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Everton, Lewis Cook at Bournemouth, Dominic Solanke at Liverpool and Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal. Cook has even made it into the senior England squad. From the under-17s, Rhian Brewster has shone for Steven Gerrard's impressive Liverpool youth team, gaining deserved attention for his ability when so much of the coverage on him has focused on the allegations he made of racist language being used towards him by a Spartak Moscow player. Top flight minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The recent news that golden boot-winning Brewster had impressed Jurgen Klopp sufficiently to earn a place in the first team squad next season will provide some positive feeling that Liverpool-based players have a chance of breaking through, even if he is still yet to play for senior side. Similarly, Lukas Nmecha has been given the chance to train with the first team at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has done a fair amount for England's chances at the World Cup this summer, with Raheem Sterling now a far greater force than a year ago, and many more fans will have been delighted to see Phil Foden afforded intermittent opportunities with the first team. He is training regularly with some of the best players on the planet under the watchful eye of one of the best coaches around, and has started twice in the Champions League. However, one of those games was effectively a dead rubber and the other was actually a dead rubber. His Premier League minutes stack up to 18 in total, each time coming on late in games already won. Foden has made three appearances in the Champions League this season Credit: Reuters Pep has the luxury of being able to give promising players like Foden minutes in games like these, but this is experience nonetheless, and it will certainly benefit him. The question remains, however, whether his path to the first team will be blocked by yet more inevitable big-money signings. Jadon Sancho saw his path blocked at City so went to Borussia Dortmund in search of first team football in the summer. He has racked up 303 minutes in the Bundesliga, completing 90 minutes on three occasions, and will be confident he made the right choice in going abroad. Injury has disrupted his progress, but he is making impressive strides in Germany. Five of the under-19s have played a significant amount of football this season, but nobody in the top flight and only two, in Ryan Brereton and Ryan Sessegnon have played more than a couple of matches at their parent clubs (Nottingham Forest and Fulham, respectively), rather than out on loan. Ryan Sessognon is one of the hottest prospects in English football Credit: PA Sessegnon has had a rapid rise, and is now reportedly being chased by Tottenham and Manchester United. His exposure to first team football has seen the biggest rise in profile and ability. Brereton, meanwhile, looked like he could cut it in the Premier League when Forest knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. More to be done The under-17s' Morgan Gibbs-White has made six appearances for Championship leaders Wolves, and at 18 years of age he would hope that his game time increases next season. However, with Wolves on the verge of the Premier League, reinforcements will be made, and Gibbs-White will do well to avoid being sent back to the Championship for more experience. From the under-19s, Jay DaSilva has made 32 league appearances on loan at Charlton from Chelsea; Mason Mount has played 22 times for Vitesse, also on loan from Chelsea; Bournemouth's Aaron Ramsdale has played 10 times on loan at Chesterfield. Mins played 2017/18 outside top flight | England's trophy winners Andre Dozzell tore his cruciate in the opening game of Ipswich's season, and will surely be straight back in the first team next season, while Spurs fans are still waiting for Marcus Edwards' career to take. He is yet to play a minute on loan at Norwich. There has been far more action in the under-20s, where Dean Henderson, Callum Connolly, Ezri Konsa, Josh Onomah, Kieran Dowell and Sheyi Ojo have all been given a significant amount of game time at a decent level. Adam Armstrong has been in fine goal-scoring form on loan at Blackburn. It's gone far too quiet First team football has eluded the remaining players in every squad. There is, of course, plenty to be said for the quality of coaching Josh Dasilva receives at Arsenal and the advice Mauricio Pochettino can give Kyle Walker-Peters at Spurs, but neither look at all likely to get a chance in the first team any time soon, and surely a stint out on loan would benefit them. Zero first team minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The fact of the matter is, though, that the majority of the players who have yet to taste first team action are still extremely young. Sancho's decision to go abroad was a brave one, but really, few actually break through at his age anyway. Plenty of the under-19s and under-20s have been given a fair amount of game time this season, and it really does seem as though some will make it to the top. Cook and Solanke, though, are the only players who have managed to make the step up to the senior England squad.
Whatever happened to England's world-conquering young stars?
Less than five months ago, England's brave under-17s cemented the view that the senior team's problems go far deeper than mere issues with their mentality. They came from two goals down against a highly-rated Spain side to become world champions and, in doing so, became the third English youth team to win a tournament in 2017. As they celebrated with their shirts turned back-to-front to show off their names to the watching world, there was a real feeling of optimism about England's footballing future. It concluded a successful six months for England, following the under-20s' World Cup win in June and the under-19s winning the European Championship in July. Once the fanfare had died down, though, much of the narrative surrounding these victories focused on the fact that these players needed game time, and it was the responsibility of their clubs to ensure their progress was not in any way hindered by a lack of it. That was a minimum requirement - and one that many thought was perfectly reasonable, too. England's under-17s celebrate their World Cup triumph Credit: Reuters In reality, the amount of football afforded to the likes of Timothy Eyoma at Tottenham or Dujon Sterling at Chelsea was always going to be limited, particularly while their clubs harbour hopes of challenging for the Premier League title and have the riches to improve their first team at the click of a finger. But that said, every player across the three squads proved that they did deserve a chance, and while there is plenty of negative feeling regarding the quality of Gareth Southgate's latest squad, there is reason for optimism about the future, right? Five months on from the third time football came home in 2017, has there been any palpable sign that England's youth are going to make inroads at a higher level? The success stories Plenty of England's under-20s are now playing at least semi-regularly in the Premier League, most notably Jonjoe Kenny and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Everton, Lewis Cook at Bournemouth, Dominic Solanke at Liverpool and Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal. Cook has even made it into the senior England squad. From the under-17s, Rhian Brewster has shone for Steven Gerrard's impressive Liverpool youth team, gaining deserved attention for his ability when so much of the coverage on him has focused on the allegations he made of racist language being used towards him by a Spartak Moscow player. Top flight minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The recent news that golden boot-winning Brewster had impressed Jurgen Klopp sufficiently to earn a place in the first team squad next season will provide some positive feeling that Liverpool-based players have a chance of breaking through, even if he is still yet to play for senior side. Similarly, Lukas Nmecha has been given the chance to train with the first team at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has done a fair amount for England's chances at the World Cup this summer, with Raheem Sterling now a far greater force than a year ago, and many more fans will have been delighted to see Phil Foden afforded intermittent opportunities with the first team. He is training regularly with some of the best players on the planet under the watchful eye of one of the best coaches around, and has started twice in the Champions League. However, one of those games was effectively a dead rubber and the other was actually a dead rubber. His Premier League minutes stack up to 18 in total, each time coming on late in games already won. Foden has made three appearances in the Champions League this season Credit: Reuters Pep has the luxury of being able to give promising players like Foden minutes in games like these, but this is experience nonetheless, and it will certainly benefit him. The question remains, however, whether his path to the first team will be blocked by yet more inevitable big-money signings. Jadon Sancho saw his path blocked at City so went to Borussia Dortmund in search of first team football in the summer. He has racked up 303 minutes in the Bundesliga, completing 90 minutes on three occasions, and will be confident he made the right choice in going abroad. Injury has disrupted his progress, but he is making impressive strides in Germany. Five of the under-19s have played a significant amount of football this season, but nobody in the top flight and only two, in Ryan Brereton and Ryan Sessegnon have played more than a couple of matches at their parent clubs (Nottingham Forest and Fulham, respectively), rather than out on loan. Ryan Sessognon is one of the hottest prospects in English football Credit: PA Sessegnon has had a rapid rise, and is now reportedly being chased by Tottenham and Manchester United. His exposure to first team football has seen the biggest rise in profile and ability. Brereton, meanwhile, looked like he could cut it in the Premier League when Forest knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. More to be done The under-17s' Morgan Gibbs-White has made six appearances for Championship leaders Wolves, and at 18 years of age he would hope that his game time increases next season. However, with Wolves on the verge of the Premier League, reinforcements will be made, and Gibbs-White will do well to avoid being sent back to the Championship for more experience. From the under-19s, Jay DaSilva has made 32 league appearances on loan at Charlton from Chelsea; Mason Mount has played 22 times for Vitesse, also on loan from Chelsea; Bournemouth's Aaron Ramsdale has played 10 times on loan at Chesterfield. Mins played 2017/18 outside top flight | England's trophy winners Andre Dozzell tore his cruciate in the opening game of Ipswich's season, and will surely be straight back in the first team next season, while Spurs fans are still waiting for Marcus Edwards' career to take. He is yet to play a minute on loan at Norwich. There has been far more action in the under-20s, where Dean Henderson, Callum Connolly, Ezri Konsa, Josh Onomah, Kieran Dowell and Sheyi Ojo have all been given a significant amount of game time at a decent level. Adam Armstrong has been in fine goal-scoring form on loan at Blackburn. It's gone far too quiet First team football has eluded the remaining players in every squad. There is, of course, plenty to be said for the quality of coaching Josh Dasilva receives at Arsenal and the advice Mauricio Pochettino can give Kyle Walker-Peters at Spurs, but neither look at all likely to get a chance in the first team any time soon, and surely a stint out on loan would benefit them. Zero first team minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The fact of the matter is, though, that the majority of the players who have yet to taste first team action are still extremely young. Sancho's decision to go abroad was a brave one, but really, few actually break through at his age anyway. Plenty of the under-19s and under-20s have been given a fair amount of game time this season, and it really does seem as though some will make it to the top. Cook and Solanke, though, are the only players who have managed to make the step up to the senior England squad.
Less than five months ago, England's brave under-17s cemented the view that the senior team's problems go far deeper than mere issues with their mentality. They came from two goals down against a highly-rated Spain side to become world champions and, in doing so, became the third English youth team to win a tournament in 2017. As they celebrated with their shirts turned back-to-front to show off their names to the watching world, there was a real feeling of optimism about England's footballing future. It concluded a successful six months for England, following the under-20s' World Cup win in June and the under-19s winning the European Championship in July. Once the fanfare had died down, though, much of the narrative surrounding these victories focused on the fact that these players needed game time, and it was the responsibility of their clubs to ensure their progress was not in any way hindered by a lack of it. That was a minimum requirement - and one that many thought was perfectly reasonable, too. England's under-17s celebrate their World Cup triumph Credit: Reuters In reality, the amount of football afforded to the likes of Timothy Eyoma at Tottenham or Dujon Sterling at Chelsea was always going to be limited, particularly while their clubs harbour hopes of challenging for the Premier League title and have the riches to improve their first team at the click of a finger. But that said, every player across the three squads proved that they did deserve a chance, and while there is plenty of negative feeling regarding the quality of Gareth Southgate's latest squad, there is reason for optimism about the future, right? Five months on from the third time football came home in 2017, has there been any palpable sign that England's youth are going to make inroads at a higher level? The success stories Plenty of England's under-20s are now playing at least semi-regularly in the Premier League, most notably Jonjoe Kenny and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Everton, Lewis Cook at Bournemouth, Dominic Solanke at Liverpool and Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal. Cook has even made it into the senior England squad. From the under-17s, Rhian Brewster has shone for Steven Gerrard's impressive Liverpool youth team, gaining deserved attention for his ability when so much of the coverage on him has focused on the allegations he made of racist language being used towards him by a Spartak Moscow player. Top flight minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The recent news that golden boot-winning Brewster had impressed Jurgen Klopp sufficiently to earn a place in the first team squad next season will provide some positive feeling that Liverpool-based players have a chance of breaking through, even if he is still yet to play for senior side. Similarly, Lukas Nmecha has been given the chance to train with the first team at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has done a fair amount for England's chances at the World Cup this summer, with Raheem Sterling now a far greater force than a year ago, and many more fans will have been delighted to see Phil Foden afforded intermittent opportunities with the first team. He is training regularly with some of the best players on the planet under the watchful eye of one of the best coaches around, and has started twice in the Champions League. However, one of those games was effectively a dead rubber and the other was actually a dead rubber. His Premier League minutes stack up to 18 in total, each time coming on late in games already won. Foden has made three appearances in the Champions League this season Credit: Reuters Pep has the luxury of being able to give promising players like Foden minutes in games like these, but this is experience nonetheless, and it will certainly benefit him. The question remains, however, whether his path to the first team will be blocked by yet more inevitable big-money signings. Jadon Sancho saw his path blocked at City so went to Borussia Dortmund in search of first team football in the summer. He has racked up 303 minutes in the Bundesliga, completing 90 minutes on three occasions, and will be confident he made the right choice in going abroad. Injury has disrupted his progress, but he is making impressive strides in Germany. Five of the under-19s have played a significant amount of football this season, but nobody in the top flight and only two, in Ryan Brereton and Ryan Sessegnon have played more than a couple of matches at their parent clubs (Nottingham Forest and Fulham, respectively), rather than out on loan. Ryan Sessognon is one of the hottest prospects in English football Credit: PA Sessegnon has had a rapid rise, and is now reportedly being chased by Tottenham and Manchester United. His exposure to first team football has seen the biggest rise in profile and ability. Brereton, meanwhile, looked like he could cut it in the Premier League when Forest knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. More to be done The under-17s' Morgan Gibbs-White has made six appearances for Championship leaders Wolves, and at 18 years of age he would hope that his game time increases next season. However, with Wolves on the verge of the Premier League, reinforcements will be made, and Gibbs-White will do well to avoid being sent back to the Championship for more experience. From the under-19s, Jay DaSilva has made 32 league appearances on loan at Charlton from Chelsea; Mason Mount has played 22 times for Vitesse, also on loan from Chelsea; Bournemouth's Aaron Ramsdale has played 10 times on loan at Chesterfield. Mins played 2017/18 outside top flight | England's trophy winners Andre Dozzell tore his cruciate in the opening game of Ipswich's season, and will surely be straight back in the first team next season, while Spurs fans are still waiting for Marcus Edwards' career to take. He is yet to play a minute on loan at Norwich. There has been far more action in the under-20s, where Dean Henderson, Callum Connolly, Ezri Konsa, Josh Onomah, Kieran Dowell and Sheyi Ojo have all been given a significant amount of game time at a decent level. Adam Armstrong has been in fine goal-scoring form on loan at Blackburn. It's gone far too quiet First team football has eluded the remaining players in every squad. There is, of course, plenty to be said for the quality of coaching Josh Dasilva receives at Arsenal and the advice Mauricio Pochettino can give Kyle Walker-Peters at Spurs, but neither look at all likely to get a chance in the first team any time soon, and surely a stint out on loan would benefit them. Zero first team minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The fact of the matter is, though, that the majority of the players who have yet to taste first team action are still extremely young. Sancho's decision to go abroad was a brave one, but really, few actually break through at his age anyway. Plenty of the under-19s and under-20s have been given a fair amount of game time this season, and it really does seem as though some will make it to the top. Cook and Solanke, though, are the only players who have managed to make the step up to the senior England squad.
Whatever happened to England's world-conquering young stars?
Less than five months ago, England's brave under-17s cemented the view that the senior team's problems go far deeper than mere issues with their mentality. They came from two goals down against a highly-rated Spain side to become world champions and, in doing so, became the third English youth team to win a tournament in 2017. As they celebrated with their shirts turned back-to-front to show off their names to the watching world, there was a real feeling of optimism about England's footballing future. It concluded a successful six months for England, following the under-20s' World Cup win in June and the under-19s winning the European Championship in July. Once the fanfare had died down, though, much of the narrative surrounding these victories focused on the fact that these players needed game time, and it was the responsibility of their clubs to ensure their progress was not in any way hindered by a lack of it. That was a minimum requirement - and one that many thought was perfectly reasonable, too. England's under-17s celebrate their World Cup triumph Credit: Reuters In reality, the amount of football afforded to the likes of Timothy Eyoma at Tottenham or Dujon Sterling at Chelsea was always going to be limited, particularly while their clubs harbour hopes of challenging for the Premier League title and have the riches to improve their first team at the click of a finger. But that said, every player across the three squads proved that they did deserve a chance, and while there is plenty of negative feeling regarding the quality of Gareth Southgate's latest squad, there is reason for optimism about the future, right? Five months on from the third time football came home in 2017, has there been any palpable sign that England's youth are going to make inroads at a higher level? The success stories Plenty of England's under-20s are now playing at least semi-regularly in the Premier League, most notably Jonjoe Kenny and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Everton, Lewis Cook at Bournemouth, Dominic Solanke at Liverpool and Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal. Cook has even made it into the senior England squad. From the under-17s, Rhian Brewster has shone for Steven Gerrard's impressive Liverpool youth team, gaining deserved attention for his ability when so much of the coverage on him has focused on the allegations he made of racist language being used towards him by a Spartak Moscow player. Top flight minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The recent news that golden boot-winning Brewster had impressed Jurgen Klopp sufficiently to earn a place in the first team squad next season will provide some positive feeling that Liverpool-based players have a chance of breaking through, even if he is still yet to play for senior side. Similarly, Lukas Nmecha has been given the chance to train with the first team at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has done a fair amount for England's chances at the World Cup this summer, with Raheem Sterling now a far greater force than a year ago, and many more fans will have been delighted to see Phil Foden afforded intermittent opportunities with the first team. He is training regularly with some of the best players on the planet under the watchful eye of one of the best coaches around, and has started twice in the Champions League. However, one of those games was effectively a dead rubber and the other was actually a dead rubber. His Premier League minutes stack up to 18 in total, each time coming on late in games already won. Foden has made three appearances in the Champions League this season Credit: Reuters Pep has the luxury of being able to give promising players like Foden minutes in games like these, but this is experience nonetheless, and it will certainly benefit him. The question remains, however, whether his path to the first team will be blocked by yet more inevitable big-money signings. Jadon Sancho saw his path blocked at City so went to Borussia Dortmund in search of first team football in the summer. He has racked up 303 minutes in the Bundesliga, completing 90 minutes on three occasions, and will be confident he made the right choice in going abroad. Injury has disrupted his progress, but he is making impressive strides in Germany. Five of the under-19s have played a significant amount of football this season, but nobody in the top flight and only two, in Ryan Brereton and Ryan Sessegnon have played more than a couple of matches at their parent clubs (Nottingham Forest and Fulham, respectively), rather than out on loan. Ryan Sessognon is one of the hottest prospects in English football Credit: PA Sessegnon has had a rapid rise, and is now reportedly being chased by Tottenham and Manchester United. His exposure to first team football has seen the biggest rise in profile and ability. Brereton, meanwhile, looked like he could cut it in the Premier League when Forest knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. More to be done The under-17s' Morgan Gibbs-White has made six appearances for Championship leaders Wolves, and at 18 years of age he would hope that his game time increases next season. However, with Wolves on the verge of the Premier League, reinforcements will be made, and Gibbs-White will do well to avoid being sent back to the Championship for more experience. From the under-19s, Jay DaSilva has made 32 league appearances on loan at Charlton from Chelsea; Mason Mount has played 22 times for Vitesse, also on loan from Chelsea; Bournemouth's Aaron Ramsdale has played 10 times on loan at Chesterfield. Mins played 2017/18 outside top flight | England's trophy winners Andre Dozzell tore his cruciate in the opening game of Ipswich's season, and will surely be straight back in the first team next season, while Spurs fans are still waiting for Marcus Edwards' career to take. He is yet to play a minute on loan at Norwich. There has been far more action in the under-20s, where Dean Henderson, Callum Connolly, Ezri Konsa, Josh Onomah, Kieran Dowell and Sheyi Ojo have all been given a significant amount of game time at a decent level. Adam Armstrong has been in fine goal-scoring form on loan at Blackburn. It's gone far too quiet First team football has eluded the remaining players in every squad. There is, of course, plenty to be said for the quality of coaching Josh Dasilva receives at Arsenal and the advice Mauricio Pochettino can give Kyle Walker-Peters at Spurs, but neither look at all likely to get a chance in the first team any time soon, and surely a stint out on loan would benefit them. Zero first team minutes played in 2017/18 | England's trophy winners The fact of the matter is, though, that the majority of the players who have yet to taste first team action are still extremely young. Sancho's decision to go abroad was a brave one, but really, few actually break through at his age anyway. Plenty of the under-19s and under-20s have been given a fair amount of game time this season, and it really does seem as though some will make it to the top. Cook and Solanke, though, are the only players who have managed to make the step up to the senior England squad.
Wes Morgan can still remember the acute feeling of desolation when he was rejected by Notts County at the age of 15. His dreams of becoming a professional footballer apparently in ruins, he went back to college to continue a business studies degree, and to contemplate an uncertain future. But as Leicester City’s captain prepares to face Chelsea in Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final, Morgan’s career is testament to the powers of perseverance. He played a leading role in Claudio Ranieri’s fairy tale by winning the Premier League title, has played in a Champions League quarter-final - after they did what Manchester United could not, and beat Sevilla in the round of 16 - and is now closing in on 700 career appearances. “I often speak to young kids trying to make their way into the professional game and tell my story. I think it’s a story that inspires people and tells you never to give up,” he says. “Young lads can be low on confidence, unsure on how things are going to work out but you have to keep going to follow your dreams. “I never thought I’d be in the Premier League when I was released by Notts County. They only offered two YTS contracts and I was the odd one out. I thought that was it, done and dusted for me, and semi-pro would be the best I could get. Morgan played an integral part in the least likely Premier League title win of all time Credit: afp “I was playing for a load of teams with my mates on Saturdays and Sundays, a young lad playing in an adult’s league. Fortunately I got the opportunity to have trials at Nottingham Forest and that’s where it all began. “Now I’m sitting here as a Premier League winner and that’s a magnificent achievement, considering where I came from. I don’t think I’ll truly digest it all until I’ve finished my career.” Morgan’s story is indeed remarkable, and a stirring rags-to-riches tale that has been less documented than more eminent team-mates such as Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. He moved to Leicester from Nottingham Forest in January 2012 for just £1m after a contract wrangle, with Nigel Pearson’s team stuck in the Championship swamp. The next six years have been what the centre-half describes as “a rollercoaster” and he can never have envisaged what has unfolded. Promotion to the top-flight in 2014 was followed by that stirring Great Escape, when they won seven of their last nine league games to light the blue touch-paper for their incredible title win. Even now, Morgan struggles to escape the memories of May 2016, when he lifted the trophy on an evening which will leave an indelible mark in Premier League history. Morgan's career is testament to the powers of perseverance Credit: John Robertson “I was out shopping in Birmingham a few weeks ago and there was a Leicester fan talking to me about how we won the league, the trophy bus parade going past her house and everything else. It feels surreal, even though it seems so long ago,” he says, sitting in a study room at the club’s training ground. “The Champions League was also an unbelievable time. To reach the quarter-finals was an achievement I don’t think we got enough credit for. We were newcomers and we did it our way. We took Atletico Madrid to the wire. “I’ve had amazing times since I came to Leicester, beyond my wildest dreams if I’m being honest. But football is always moving and you can’t stand still or be dwelling on the past. “The time to really look back and remember the special moments is when there are no interruptions.” Morgan has a special reason to ensure Claude Puel’s Leicester can complete a miserable week for Chelsea and Antonio Conte, whose European excursions were ended by Barcelona on Wednesday. The FA Cup is one competition in which Morgan has endured frustration, never progressing beyond the quarter-finals. “I would say it’s the last box to be ticked for me. Everyone knows the history and prestige of the competition, being an FA Cup winner would be second to winning the league,” he says. My favourite ever Premier League match “I’m not getting any younger so there’s not too many years left for me to do something in this competition. I’m 34 now, I’ve got a year left [on my contract] and I’m definitely feeling the aches and pains. This could be my last big chance.” There will also be an element of revenge for Morgan at the King Power Stadium on Sunday, as it was against Chelsea that his FA Cup dream ended in 2012. Fernando Torres ended a 24-game goal drought with two goals as a Chelsea team including the likes of Petr Cech, Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge coasted to a 5-2 victory. “That was a real down-point, especially at that stage in my career. But this is definitely the biggest tie of the round and a huge chance for us to reach a semi-final at Wembley. “Chelsea have not done as well as they expected this season, they are now out of the Champions League, so they will probably see the FA Cup as something to make their season positive, rather like ourselves. There’s a lot to play for. “I’ve not experienced a semi-final before but we’ve got a good chance of it happening. This would definitely keep the fairy tale going...”
One-time reject Wes Morgan chasing another fairy tale as Leicester City target FA Cup glory
Wes Morgan can still remember the acute feeling of desolation when he was rejected by Notts County at the age of 15. His dreams of becoming a professional footballer apparently in ruins, he went back to college to continue a business studies degree, and to contemplate an uncertain future. But as Leicester City’s captain prepares to face Chelsea in Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final, Morgan’s career is testament to the powers of perseverance. He played a leading role in Claudio Ranieri’s fairy tale by winning the Premier League title, has played in a Champions League quarter-final - after they did what Manchester United could not, and beat Sevilla in the round of 16 - and is now closing in on 700 career appearances. “I often speak to young kids trying to make their way into the professional game and tell my story. I think it’s a story that inspires people and tells you never to give up,” he says. “Young lads can be low on confidence, unsure on how things are going to work out but you have to keep going to follow your dreams. “I never thought I’d be in the Premier League when I was released by Notts County. They only offered two YTS contracts and I was the odd one out. I thought that was it, done and dusted for me, and semi-pro would be the best I could get. Morgan played an integral part in the least likely Premier League title win of all time Credit: afp “I was playing for a load of teams with my mates on Saturdays and Sundays, a young lad playing in an adult’s league. Fortunately I got the opportunity to have trials at Nottingham Forest and that’s where it all began. “Now I’m sitting here as a Premier League winner and that’s a magnificent achievement, considering where I came from. I don’t think I’ll truly digest it all until I’ve finished my career.” Morgan’s story is indeed remarkable, and a stirring rags-to-riches tale that has been less documented than more eminent team-mates such as Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. He moved to Leicester from Nottingham Forest in January 2012 for just £1m after a contract wrangle, with Nigel Pearson’s team stuck in the Championship swamp. The next six years have been what the centre-half describes as “a rollercoaster” and he can never have envisaged what has unfolded. Promotion to the top-flight in 2014 was followed by that stirring Great Escape, when they won seven of their last nine league games to light the blue touch-paper for their incredible title win. Even now, Morgan struggles to escape the memories of May 2016, when he lifted the trophy on an evening which will leave an indelible mark in Premier League history. Morgan's career is testament to the powers of perseverance Credit: John Robertson “I was out shopping in Birmingham a few weeks ago and there was a Leicester fan talking to me about how we won the league, the trophy bus parade going past her house and everything else. It feels surreal, even though it seems so long ago,” he says, sitting in a study room at the club’s training ground. “The Champions League was also an unbelievable time. To reach the quarter-finals was an achievement I don’t think we got enough credit for. We were newcomers and we did it our way. We took Atletico Madrid to the wire. “I’ve had amazing times since I came to Leicester, beyond my wildest dreams if I’m being honest. But football is always moving and you can’t stand still or be dwelling on the past. “The time to really look back and remember the special moments is when there are no interruptions.” Morgan has a special reason to ensure Claude Puel’s Leicester can complete a miserable week for Chelsea and Antonio Conte, whose European excursions were ended by Barcelona on Wednesday. The FA Cup is one competition in which Morgan has endured frustration, never progressing beyond the quarter-finals. “I would say it’s the last box to be ticked for me. Everyone knows the history and prestige of the competition, being an FA Cup winner would be second to winning the league,” he says. My favourite ever Premier League match “I’m not getting any younger so there’s not too many years left for me to do something in this competition. I’m 34 now, I’ve got a year left [on my contract] and I’m definitely feeling the aches and pains. This could be my last big chance.” There will also be an element of revenge for Morgan at the King Power Stadium on Sunday, as it was against Chelsea that his FA Cup dream ended in 2012. Fernando Torres ended a 24-game goal drought with two goals as a Chelsea team including the likes of Petr Cech, Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge coasted to a 5-2 victory. “That was a real down-point, especially at that stage in my career. But this is definitely the biggest tie of the round and a huge chance for us to reach a semi-final at Wembley. “Chelsea have not done as well as they expected this season, they are now out of the Champions League, so they will probably see the FA Cup as something to make their season positive, rather like ourselves. There’s a lot to play for. “I’ve not experienced a semi-final before but we’ve got a good chance of it happening. This would definitely keep the fairy tale going...”

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