League Championship

Championship – teamtalk.com 26 May 13:24

Rotherham starting to fear Smallwood contract rejection

Rotherham are starting to worry that midfielder Richie Smallwood will reject their offer of a new contract, with the club preparing for life in League One.

The midfielder was handed a fresh deal on reduced terms following the club’s relegation to League One a fortnight ago but has yet to put pen to paper.

Smallwood, who joined the club in 2014, initially stated he wanted to stay but his delay in signing suggests he is now thinking otherwise.

“At this precise minute, he is the least likely to sign,” said assistant manager Richie Barker.

“He was made a very good offer, the club have done their best but it doesn’t seem to be moving forward at the minute.

“The club have tried hard to keep him at the club.

“I don’t know if it will be us or him that walks away, we have had to say we need an answer, it is getting close to the point where a decision will have to be made.”

The club have already seen Jonson Clarke-Harris and Joe Mattock pen new deals and are more hopeful on defender Richard Wood, who has also yet to decide on his future.

Barker added: “We are hopefully confident that Richard Wood is going to come to an agreement in the next few days but we are only hopeful.

“We are quite a way down the way with that.”

Press Association Sport

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Championship – teamtalk.com 26 May 12:00

Paper Talk: Mourinho wants quartet in 300m spending spree

Manchester United have “cleared a significant hurdle” in their pursuit of Antoine Griezmann, while Arsenal have made Alexis Sanchez a huge contract offer, all in today’s papers. 

 

GRIEZMANN ‘HURDLE CLEARED’

The fact that Manchester United’s players are now commenting about Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann seems to be a far bigger indicator than the Daily Mirror’s latest “news”.

The tabloid have this morning claimed that United are ready to activate Griezmann’s £86million release clause at Atletico, and ‘yes’ we have read this several times before.

In March the Manchester Evening News said a deal was done, while the player’s representative Eric Olhats said a concrete approach had been made by a United in April.

Today’s report claims United “have cleared a significant hurdle” by winning the Europa League and qualifying for the Champions League.

And that appears to be the crux of the article.

More significantly though some of United’s players have started to talk about Griezmann.

“Griezmann is a brilliant player, a phenomenon,” said Ander Herrera. “He’s a star and all the teams in the world would want him. However, Griezmann is still an Atletico Madrid player and I respect Atletico and their fans.

“I’ve said it in the past, after Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi, he is in that group of those that can become their possible successors.”

And Juan Mata was encouraged by Griezmann suggesting moving to United was a “six out of 10” chance.

“When I was at school, a six out of 10 was considered OK — I would take that,” said Mata “Griezmann is a great player and I like great players. He has quality, he gets goals.

“I don’t know him, but he seems like a good person. I don’t know what will happen, but of course I like him.”

The article also named Romelu Lukaku, Eric Dier, Tiemoue Bakayoko, and Michael Keane as United;s summer targets.

 

PAPER TALK ITALIA: Kessie saga sorted; City, United battle for Monaco man

SANCHEZ OFFERED HUGE DEAL

Arsenal have made another offer to Alexis Sanchez in a bid to keep him away from Bayern Munich, according to a report.

The Daily Mail believes the Gunners have offered Sanchez £270,000 a week, just £30,000 away from the £300,000 the Chile forward is believed to be wanting.

The deal which is loaded with incentives is aimed at keeping Bayern at arm’s length, but the Germans, along with
Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are interested.

Sanchez is outo of contract next summer and has so far refused to sign an extension and more talks are planned after the FA Cup final on Saturday.

Speculation has already heightened this week after the Chile FA accidentally listed him as a Bayern player in their Confederations Cup squad list.

 

AND THE REST

Jose Mourinho has handed Ed Woodward a list of four players – Antoine Griezmann, Romelu Lukaku, Andrea Belotti and Michael Keane – to sign in a £300m spending spree. (Daily Mail)

Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata, a target for Manchester United and Chelsea, is close to agreeing a £52m move to AC Milan. (La Gazzetta dello Sport)

PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi is on Jose Mourinho’s radar. (Le10sport)

Liverpool will have to pay up to £60m if they are to sign RB Leipzig’s 22-year-old midfielder Naby Keita. (Times)

United are confident of signing Griezmann by the end of June and have already agreed a “hugely persuasive” financial package with the 26-year-old’s representatives. (Independent)

Stoke forward Marko Arnautovic is a £15m transfer target for AC Milan and Paris St-Germain. (Sun)

West Ham are hoping to sign Manchester City’s 20-year-old Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho. (Sun)

Former England boss Fabio Capello says Man United are “not an exciting team” and need more than just France international Griezmann. (Daily Star)

Marco Silva is expected to replace Sam Allardyce as Crystal Palace manager after leaving Hull City. (London Evening Standard)

Chris Coleman has dismissed rumours linking him with the vacant Palace job and says he wants to remain with Wales until the 2018 World Cup. (ITV)

Juventus are preparing an offer for 23-year-old Monaco and Brazil midfielder Fabinho, a target for Manchester United and Manchester City. (Calciomercato)

West Brom will have to pay £35m if they want to sign Watford striker Troy Deeney, 28, this summer. (Birmingham Mail)

Wayne Rooney has at least two £50m offers from China to consider as his Manchester United career draws to a close, but has his heart set on a return to former club Everton. (Daily Mail)

Diego Costa will cost Tianjin Quanjian a world-record £152m if his move to China goes ahead this summer. (Daily Mail)

West Ham are hoping Pablo Zabaleta can help lure Kelechi Iheanacho to the club for £25m. (The Sun)

Leicester City and Everton are also considering moves for Deeney. (Daily Mail)

Manchester United will not sell Spain midfielder Ander Herrera, 27, to Barcelona. (Independent)

Liverpool have no plans to sign Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas, 36, on a free transfer this summer. (Liverpool Echo)

West Brom face competition from Newcastle United for the signing of Sporting Lisbon’s Portugal midfielder William Carvalho, 25. (Birmingham Mail)

Watford want to make 24-year-old Genk and Gambia defender Omar Colley their first summer signing. (Watford Observer)

Everton could sign defender Cuco Martina, 27, on a free transfer after he was released by Southampton. (Liverpool Echo)

Swansea City striker Fernando Llorente, 32, says he held talks with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte in January, but would now be open to a return to Spain. (Cadena Ser, via Metro)

Brighton hope to beat Newcastle to the loan signing of 19-year-old Tammy Abraham after both clubs were given permission to speak to the Chelsea striker.(Telegraph)

Timmy Abraham, the 15-year-old brother of Tammy, has joined Fulham from Charlton Athletic. (Bristol Post)

Former club captain Nigel Pearson is expected to get the Middlesbrough job, but Garry Monk is also a candidate after resigning from Leeds United. (Middlesbrough Gazette)

Former Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka is the favourite to replace Monk at Elland Road. (Telegraph)

Derby want to sign Burnley winger George Boyd on a free transfer, with the 31-year-old Scotland international yet to agree a new deal with the Clarets. (Daily Mirror)

 

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Championship – teamtalk.com 26 May 11:58

Karanka seen as favourite to take over vacant Leeds role

While still in the wake of Garry Monk’s shock resignation, Leeds United look set to move in search of a new replacement, with Aitor Karanka being tipped.

New owner Andrea Radrizzani, in office for just two days, was left to explain his “shock” at Monk’s decision to walk out after a year in the job, appearing to snub a long-term stay in the process.

Radrizzani, who upgraded from co-owner to owner when he bought Massimo Cellino’s 50 per cent stake on Tuesday, had indicated he would trigger a one-year option in Monk’s deal before thrashing out a longer one.

He said on Thursday that would have been a three-year stay, but in a statement of his own Monk said he had been “unable to agree a suitable way forward” with the Italian.

That in itself raises questions given Monk also said he had “intended to remain at Leeds for many years to come”, meaning on paper the two parties seemed in sync.

However, Radrizzani will wake for his third day in charge of the club with his former manager the favourite to take over at Middlesbrough and their former boss the favourite to move to Leeds.

United, though, may not have a clear plan in place just yet given the nature of Monk’s exit. Staff at Elland Road believed Monk would agree to Radrizzani’s plan and it is understood when he visited the ground on Wednesday he gave no indication that he would be quitting inside 24 hours.

Leeds learned of the news just before lunchtime and said they were disappointed they would “not continue on this journey together”.

Radrizzani had his say in a tweet, adding: “Shocking news from GM. We were keen to do 3 years deal. We never receive any request from him and his agent. No regrets, we did our best”.

There may be no regrets from the new owner but there certainly are from the club’s fans.

After two years of chaos under Cellino, Monk was the man who tamed the ‘manager eater’. That he evaded Cellino’s prolific axe only to resign two days after the Italian’s departure is a curiosity hard to overlook.

During his one year in charge Monk bucked a trend of finishing mired in mid-table, something any Leeds manager since Simon Grayson in 2011 had failed to do. An attractive style of football and a best points total since 2006 made an extension of his stay feel a formality on the outside.

Inside, though, there was unhappiness at how the season ended. Leeds were play-off certainties at worst in January but one win in their final eight games saw them fall at the last. Monk hailed the season a success but Radrizzani felt the outcome was disappointing.

Karanka’s name leads the betting to replace Monk and the link is obvious. He guided Middlesbrough to the Premier League a year ago before leaving in March. At Boro he worked with Victor Orto, the head of recruitment who left on Wednesday and is expected to join Leeds himself.

United are switching to a more continental model of operating, with new director Ivan Bravo, formerly of Real Madrid – where Karanka also served – playing an influential role. The club have not committed to the link, but it is hard to ignore.

 

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Championship – teamtalk.com 26 May 11:51

Heroes and villains of the Football League play-offs from years gone by

The Sky Bet Championship and League Two play-off finals take place this weekend, with Huddersfield and Reading vying for a place in the Premier League.

Before then both though, Blackpool and Exeter will be battling it out for a place in League One on Sunday.

Since they began in 1987, the end-of-season competition has provided agony and ecstasy in equal measure.

Here we take a look at some of those who have experienced the highs and the lows of the play-offs.

HEROES

NEIL WARNOCK

Love him or hate him, he cannot be ignored – and neither can his record in play-off finals. Warnock won four in the 1990s and no manager can boast a better record.

Back-to-back Wembley wins against Tranmere and Brighton saw Warnock take Notts County into the top flight in 1991 with successive promotions and he was at it again in 1995 and 1996 as he took Huddersfield into the second tier and Plymouth up to the third tier respectively.

BOBBY ZAMORA

Bobby Zamora Brighton v Birmingham TEAMtalk

Like Warnock, Zamora has been there and got the t-shirt on more than one occasion, scoring the only goal in 1-0 wins to get West Ham and then QPR promoted to the Premier League.

Zamora struck at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium as the Hammers defeated Preston in 2005 and then nine years later he netted a superb injury-time effort to break Derby’s hearts as 10-man QPR returned to the big time with the ultimate smash-and-grab victory at Wembley.

ALEX REVELL AND ADAM COLLIN

Hard to imagine now given their current plight, but just three years ago Leyton Orient were on the brink of promotion to the Championship after goals from Moses Odubajo and Dean Cox had them 2-0 up at half-time, before an Alex Revell-inspired comeback for Rotherham.

Revell pulled a goal back after 55 minutes before scoring arguably one of Wembley’s greatest ever goals five minutes later – a stunning 35-yard dipping volley that was so good that manager Steve Evans almost lost his trousers as he celebrated running down the touchline.

The match went to penalties where Rotherham goalkeeper Adam Collin saved attempts from Mathieu Baudry and Chris Dagnall to win 4-3 on spot kicks.

PAUL DICKOV AND NICKY WEAVER

Less than a week after neighbours Manchester United had won the European Cup to complete a historic treble, Manchester City were at Wembley trying to escape the third tier.

Gillingham were 2-0 up as the match entered the 90th minute but Kevin Horlock gave City hope before Paul Dickov made it 2-2 deep into injury time.

Dickov missed his penalty in the shoot-out but Nicky Weaver saved from Paul Smith and Guy Butters to cap an unlikely comeback. Whenever City fans criticise a bad result in the Champions League, it is always worth remembering this match and how far they have come.

 

TREBLE TOPS

Scoring a hat-trick in a play-off final is not to be sniffed at and it is only fair to acknowledge such an achievement, so take a bow Clive Mendonca (for Charlton against Sunderland in 1998), Scott Sinclair (for Swansea against Reading in 2011) and Jermaine Beckford (for Preston against Swindon in 2015).

 

VILLAINS

MICHAEL GRAY

On the flip-side to Mendonca’s hat-trick, Gray’s missed penalty settled a thrilling play-off final. After 13 consecutive successful spot-kicks, the Sunderland left-back saw his effort saved by Charlton goalkeeper Sasa Ilic and the Addicks were promoted to the Premier League.

Gray admitted some years later that he did not want to take a penalty and that he had changed his mind about where he was going to put his kick.

STEVE SIMONSEN

The Sheffield United goalkeeper looked destined to be the hero of the League One final in 2012 when, after 120 minutes of goalless action, he saved two penalties in the shoot-out as Huddersfield missed their first three spot-kicks.

However, the Blades penalty takers struggled too and the shoot-out went to sudden death. After 10 penalties each, it was 7-7 and down to the goalkeepers. Alex Smithies scored his, before Simonsen blasted the ball over the crossbar.

JAMIE WARD AND LEE HENDRIE

More play-off misery for Sheffield United, this time in the Championship final in 2009. Wade Elliott’s superb curling effort ended Burnley’s 33-year wait for a return to the top flight and any chance the Blades had of mounting a comeback disappeared down the tunnel with Jamie Ward after 79 minutes following his red card for two quick bookings.

To compound the misery Lee Hendrie was also shown a red card after the final whistle for foul and abusive language towards the match officials.

MICHAEL WALLACE AND CHRIS BEAUMONT

Stockport finished 12 points ahead of Burnley in the third tier in 1994 but more crucially the Clarets finished with two more players on the pitch after an ill-tempered clash between the north-west neighbours. Wallace and Beaumont were sent off before the hour mark and Burnley took full advantage, securing promotion with a 2-1 win.

Press Association Sport

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Championship – teamtalk.com 26 May 11:25

Who are the candidates to take up the vacant Hull job?

Hull City will start life in the Sky Bet Championship with a new manager after the departure of Marco Silva, but who could be set to replace him?

The 39-year-old was only appointed by the Tigers in the new year and – despite 21 points from 18 games – was unable to prevent them slipping back into the second tier.

The club are now seeking their fourth boss in less than 12 months and we take a look at the profiles of some potential candidates.

 

STEVE McCLAREN

Steve McClaren: Surprised by return to Derby

There would be a degree of sentiment involved in the appointment of McClaren, a former Tigers midfielder who made more than 150 appearances during six years with the club. Most candidates would struggle to match McClaren’s CV, which includes the England, Middlesbrough and Newcastle jobs, while he is well-versed in life in the Championship too. After things ended sourly during his second stint at Derby in March, he may feel he has a point to prove.

 

ALEX NEIL

Alex Neil: Sacked by Championship side Norwich

The former Norwich boss is looking to get back into work, having been sacked in March after the Canaries’ expected promotion challenge never really materialised. However, the 35-year-old has previously demonstrated he is capable of getting a team out of the Championship after doing so with Norwich two years ago. The Hull job would see him move much closer to his native Scotland.

 

ALAN PARDEW

Pardew ticks many boxes as an out-of-work veteran boss and also has a previous Championship promotion on his CV. His last seven years in management were spent in the top flight with either Newcastle or Crystal Palace so there may be a reluctance on his part to drop down a level. Location may also be an issue – the Newcastle job is Pardew’s only one away from the south.

 

NIGEL PEARSON

Nigel Pearson: Unveiled as Derby County manager on Thursday

Pearson has been out of work since October last year, when his brief spell in charge at Derby ended controversially – just as his time at Leicester did in 2015. He built his reputation with the Foxes and has been credited with laying the foundations for their amazing Premier League success – and he has already admitted his interest in any vacancy at Middlesbrough, where he is a former captain.

 

RYAN GIGGS

Ryan Giggs: Looks concerned

The former Manchester United star has made no secret of his desire to manage in his own right, having had a taste of it during a four-game spell at Old Trafford following David Moyes’ departure towards the end of the 2013/14 season. His name has been linked with a series of clubs in recent weeks. He may lack experience, but he would bring a ”wow” factor to the club.

By Press Association Sport

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