Manager: Dean Smith until October then replaced by Thomas Frank Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: I’ll be honest I had us as favourites to make playoffs and dark horses to go up automatically. Of course, it was difficult to predict as I didn’t know how the three relegated sides would do. Mini season review - how has it gone so far?: In short: Good – Very Bad – Good – Okay First 7 games were good with great performances. We were around the top 2 for most of that time and betting favourites to win the league at one point. Slowly started to lose steam and were winless in our last 6 when Dean Smith left us for Aston Villa in October. Thomas Frank, Dean Smith’s assistant, took over and basically continued with the exact same system that was already in place. He had an unfortunate start, with the death of our very young technical director Robert Rowan clearly affecting the whole club from the staff down to most of the players, who had a good relationship with him. A few key injuries on top of that as well didn’t do him any favours. He was dangerously close to getting sacked when we picked up only 4 out of 30 possible points in his first 10 matches in charge, which saw us drop down to 19th (3 points above the relegation zone). He then made some big tactical and personal changes and turned it around in late December with a hugely needed home win against Bolton that kickstarted a 10-match unbeaten run with mostly great performances. With Derby and Bristol City dropping points we started to catch up to the playoff places which seemed impossible in December but still were never really able to gain the full momentum necessary for a playoff charge due to away defeats to teams we would easily have beaten at home (Nott. Forest, Sheff. Wed.) and consecutive losses to Sheffield United (A.) and West Brom (H.) in March. Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: Started the season with Dean Smith’s 4-1-2-3 (Transfermarkt has it as a 4-1-4-1 but I don’t like the sound of that) with McEachran as holding midfielder behind Sawyers and MacLeod. This worked well initially but with our fullbacks usually pushing up high and McEachran’s defensive weakness (he is not a natural holding midfielder and struggled off the ball) we were starting to get exposed on the counter attack with our centre backs left isolated too often. We were still moving the ball well and dominated possession though. We continued playing with this system and only minor personal changes. On top of that we really (and this can’t be understated) struggled at clearing the ball out of our box. There would be at least 5-10 minutes in every match with just calamitous defending against set pieces or crosses from open play which cost us at least one goal every game even if we dominated for the rest of the match. Once we hit rock bottom in December and Thomas Frank was close to getting the sack, he switched to 3 at the back in a decisive match at home against Bolton. We barely won and kept the new formation since then. It’s a 3-4-3 with 3 centre halves and two central midfielders in Sawyers and Mokotjo. This allows our wingbacks a lot more freedom to go forward with the double pivot creating from deep and dictating play while at the same time maintaining defensive solidity. The line-up shows our best 11. Unfortunately, Henry is out injured and has been replaced by Odubajo, who is alright but sometimes seems to slow our attack down a little bit by losing possession too often. We also have Sergi Canos who really shouldn’t be sitting on the bench in the Championship as he is absolute quality on both wings and started to fill in for Dalsgaard as right wingback and did a fantastic job there. u/s0ngsforthedeaf: yeah, the switch to 343 was really crucial and basically the tactical story of the season. Despite previously being considered a 'possession' or 'progressive' team (true), the 4123 began to falter under Frank (Smith wouldve encountered problems had he stayed Im sure). The problem was the midfield 3 simply not doing enough, with McCaechran, as nice technique as he has, not really being an expansive enough playmaker, and having zero physical presence. Teams were soaking up pressure and countering effectively. So while 343 is nominally more 'defensive'...as soon as it was on the pitch it made sense. The star front 3 can to attack. The fullbacks can roam upfield freely. Sawyers is just better in a midfield 2, he has space to play with and there is less focus on the possession game. The one weakness is depth and experience at centreback, which isnt helped by squad turnover. But the new players will be up for it next season. Best/worst/memorable moments: This is a difficult one as we had many absolute top performances this season and some horrendous ones as well. Personally, I’d say the best moment was either coming back an early 0-2 against Blackburn to win 5-2 or Maupay scoring a deserved late winner against Dean Smith’s Aston Villa in February. Honourable mentions go to our opening match against Rotherham (5-2 win) which was probably the most optimistic I’ve ever seen Griffin Park and beating Middlesbrough away (which we haven’t done since 1938). Worst moment was definitely the 2-0 defeat away to Hull in December which was Thomas Frank’s 10th game in charge and his 8th defeat. Horrendous defensive performance conceding an early goal which allowed them to sit back and watch us do nothing for 90 minutes. u/s0ngsforthedeaf:Beating Hull 5-1 was very satisfying, because the front 3 showed what they could do with some accuracy! Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: Wigan (A), Swansea (A), Derby (H), Ipswich (H), Reading (A), Millwall (A), Leeds (H), Bolton (A), Preston (H) Not nervous at all because there’s not really anything to lose here. We are 8 points off playoffs with a game in hand. All but one of our remaining away matches are against teams fighting relegation and with our away record I don’t necessarily see us beating all of them (even though we have the quality to do so). At home we can beat anyone so ideally, we will pick up maybe 20 points out of our last 9 matches. It will probably be closer to 15 or fewer in reality but if we play at 100% of what we’re capable of then who knows. Thing is we have a lot of teams ahead of us which makes it difficult for us to overtake them all. Give us about a 10% chance max. of making playoffs. (*Edit - we lost to Swansea midweek...yeah, its over) If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..[and if you don't you will]: If we somehow make playoffs, we’d be on such a terrific run that I’d actually give us a chance of winning especially if we play Sheffield United who have a similarly bad record at playoffs. About 1% chance of us going up this season. Finishing position prediction: League prediction is almost impossible with how close it is from 6th to 15th. Reckon in the top half of the table around 10th. Rival watch and league prediction: Our two games against QPR sum up both of our seasons perfectly. In November they beat us because we were shit and they were good and in February we beat them because they were shit and we were good. Funny to see how they somehow managed to go on an even worse run of form than we did and are now below us in the table.
Manager: Graham Potter Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: People sort of expected the club to give new manager Graham Potter a bit of money to rebuild the team last summer. However, the summer went by and not much happened, and when the transfer window closed most of us agreed that a mid-table finish would be fine as long as we developed our squad and our young players. Mini season review - how has it gone so far?: A lot of up and downs. We are mid-table as expected but we have played some very nice football and a lot of our youngsters have proven to be better than we could hope for, while other players have shown that maybe they should have gotten more opportunities in the Premier League. The team seems very harmonic, we have one of the youngest squads in the English league system and seem very humble and hungy and we have one of the best coaches in England. Outside of the pitch the club is in chaos. We have a very strained relationship to the owners. While most of us love the current set of players, it is obvious that we are very thin in some positions and the disappointing January transfer window was not worthy of a reasonably big club like Swansea. Kicking the chairman, almost giving away one of our best players to Leeds, letting all of our staff know that they might be fired in the summer, an economical loss of £65m... we have a lot of issues. Any other manager choice, and we could very well have been the new Sunderland. So far it has been a season showing us that the future is both bright and worrying. Players like Connor Roberts, Joe Rodon and Daniel James have gone from being absolutely nothing to playing international football. Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: MuldeNordfeldt - Roberts, Rodon, Van der Hoorn, Naughton - Grimes, Fer - James, Celina, Routledge - McBurnie We have played different tactics and used a lot of players but this is probably our strongest lineup not counting Martin Olsson who got injured in December and will miss the rest of the season. Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: No, our season is more or less dead. We are very unlikely to reach the playoffs and wont get relegated. I expect good football and hopefully we could climb a few positions and that our players keep developing. If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..[and if you don't you will]: The harsh reality is that we will stay in the Championship and since our owners won't invest in the club, we need to sell our best players and invest very litry little. Our very young and very talented team will likely be torn into pieces. It will be a summer of fear rather than hope. Rival watch and league prediction: We are looking forward to the derby.
Manager: Gary Rowett was sacked in December, after that Nathan Jones Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: Automatic promotion. With our Premier League team in tact (minus Shaqiri and Ndiaye), the biggest wage bill in the league and over £40m spent in the summer on transfers I don’t think it’s arrogant to say that we had high expectations. We were bookies favourites for a reason. Mini season review - how has it gone so far?: Well we’re not going to get relegated, so it’s not a total disaster, but this season has been incredibly disappointing. We’ve not clicked at any point. Even during a ten game unbeaten run under Gary Rowett we only won four games. Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: I’m not sure where to start here. Our starting line up has been changing all season. Only Jack Butland and Joe Allen have played in every league game. Neither manager has wanted to play with two strikers, but with so little pace (of passing or movement) in midfield we’ve never been able to dominate games even with an extra man in the middle. We are totally risk averse and will pass sideways or backwards for eternity rather than attempt a dangerous ball forward (with the exception of Charlie Adam). However we looked different in our last game at home to Sheffield Wednesday. So maybe it’s a sign of things to come. Best/worst/memorable moments: Best - Beating Derby 2-1 after going down to ten men in the first half Worst - 0-3 down at home to Wigan in August with Nick Powell looking like Maradona. Absolutely embarrassing. Even this early into the season we started to realise that things weren’t going to plan. Memorable - 0-2 at home to Bristol City on New Year’s Day. Very toxic atmosphere as Rowett lost the majority of the Stoke fans. Key stat: We have the fourth best defence and third worst attack in terms of goals scored / conceded. This sums up our problem this season, especially under Rowett. We’ve had very attacking intent resulting in few goals. Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: Blackburn (A), Swansea (A), Rotherham (H), Middlesbrough (A), Norwich (H), Millwall (A) and Sheff Utd (H) Considering that we’ve drawn our last four games 0-0 we might as well draw the last seven 0-0 and set a world record. If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..and if you dont you will:..Not much to stay here with a boring mid-table finish. I can’t wait for the season to end. Rival watch and league prediction: West Brom are our only historic rival in the league. Whilst I disagree with them sacking Darren Moore I do kind of understand the logic if they had a great replacement in mind... which they don’t. So no promotion for them. Finishing position prediction: 12th I think we may squeeze into the top half. Fingers crossed we can rebuild the squad in the summer.
Team, Manager: Queens Park Rangers, John Eustace (Caretaker manager, took over from Steve McClaren April 1st) Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: Staying up I suppose? Probably our famed mid-table mediocrity.Anything higher than 16th would have been a bonus. Main focus of the season was to stabilize and develop youth. Mini season review - how has it gone so far? Well. At the time of writing Shteve is the latest manager to pass through the revolving doors at Loftus Road and I think that just about sums up the season. We've broken some "hoo-doos" which have been a highlight of the season so far but on the whole we've lost a LOT of games and badly, whether that was through bad luck, poor officiation or (and mainly) poor play. After a dreadful start we hit a purple patch and got carried away with perhaps being a surprise dark horse for a playoff push along with an FA cup run. AN ACTUAL CUP RUN! But being QPR, all hopes were squashed and reality came tumbling down. But here we are with a handful of games to go, looking nervously over our shoulders once again. Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: With big losses to our defense in the form of Nedum Onuoha and Jack Robinson we shouldn't have been surprised to see a slight downfall in the quality of our defense. Boy were we wrong. The first few games we were torn apart. Trialling a 4231 for the dismal start and then changing to a standard 442 to achieve our first win of the season. It's difficult to say if the change in form was due to the big signings we had bought in or the new formation, but it worked. Also a change of keeper from Matt Ingram to Joe Lumley has proved to be instrumental. Gotta feel bad for Ingram, but if you are riddled with mistakes, you aren't going to play much. It is difficult to pinpoint what the focus of the team is. Wells is a tricky striker who can beat a man, Freeman is the creative outlet and Eze was/is likewise. When big Matt Smith is on, the game plan is simple. http://lineupbuilder.com/?sk=hy9vy2 Our best starting XI? Bright Osayi-Sammuel misses out here only due to lack of game time, otherwise he can seem like one of the only players giving it his all. Rangel and Cameron have been revelations, we have sorely missed them through injury and as such our performances have suffered without them. Grant Hall has had a torrid time with injury over the last two years and quite frankly has fewer mistakes in him than Joel Lynch. Eze started well but has not achieved the level of expectation the fans had hoped for, who knows why he's tailed off towards the end of the season? He's still very young though, and has a lot to learn. Best/worst/memorable moments: No prizes for anyone who guessed the shambles at the Hawthorns was the worst moment of the season. Losing 7-1 is quite frankly embarrassing, Enough said. Highlights would include our cup run. Beating Brentford 3-2 at home. And finally. FINALLY winning at the City Ground 1-0. Key stat: On average we commit the most fouls per game (14.7) and coincidentally, we've conceded the most penalties this season (7). Poor Timing. Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: Norwich (A), Millwall (A), Swansea (H), Blackburn (H), Derby (A), Nottingham Forest (H), Sheff Wednesday (A) Boy I would love to say we can get another point this season but I am skeptical. We couldn't beat Rotherham or Bolton at home. We need a couple of wins to ease the nerves, but at this point in time we may be sweating and looking at results elsewhere to decide our fate. Despite this though I would not entirely be surprised to nick a point away at Norwich, because we just do stupid things like that when we are in dismal form. I'd much rather go down this season than next. I can't keep doing this skin of your teeth stuff. If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..and if you don't you will..if QPR don't get relegated I wouldn't be surprised, we've thankfully got a bit of a cushion. If we do get relegated, quite frankly we deserve it based on 2019 alone with 1 league win, apologies, Leeds. Predicted League Position: 18th Rival watch and league prediction: Local rivals Brentford will be here next season, with or without us, I think they've left it a little too late to chase the play-offs, and even if they did make it in I can't see them beating others around them to go to Wembley. It's the teams below us we need to focus on. I think all the teams above us will be fine. The bottom three (Rotherham, Bolton, Ipswich) look set to go down in my opinion. Going up has got to be Norwich, and fully deserved, stuck with Farke and it has paid off. Good luck in the Prem as champions. Leeds will get second. and Sheff Utd will win play-offs (I cannot believe Washington will be playing for a premiership team).
Manager: Garry Monk Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: Mid table stability was my hope after two straight season of chaos, both with last day relegation fights. Monk had gotten the players playing at the end of last season and we looked a genuinely good team so just to take that through to this season and not be constantly looking over our shoulders. Then news of a transfer embargo came out which resigned me to another poor season, but why worry about embargo's when you have owners who just sign players anyway? Mini season review - Calling this season a roller coaster ride is putting it mildly. 0 wins in the first 8 league games was frustrating because we genuinely battered teams in this period. 2-2 opening day of the season against Norwich where Hernandez scored a last second equaliser, goalless draws against Swansea (H) & Sheff Utd (A), 2-0 up away at Forest with 10 minutes to go and only drawing, missing a penalty straight after going 1-0 against WBA. All these made me feel like the season was cursed. Then in our 9th game we beat then league leaders Leeds away 2-1, funny league isn't it? Shortly after this we steamroll teams in October and everything's looking rosy. Get to November and the wheels fall off ever so slightly. Plagued with injuries and a small squad we lose to Derby, surrender a 2-0 half time lead to Hull ending 3-3 and then lost to the Villa 4-2 where any complaints I had about the officiating were rendered moot after we let Hutton run from what felt like two different postcodes to score the 4th. As has been typical with this season for the most part we bounced back straight away taking 13 of the next 18 points on offer, taking us through Christmas and a real belief that we could sneak in to the top 6. Then January happened. 2 points from 12, including an absolute lesson in football by Norwich and a last minute equaliser by Swansea in a 3-3 classic which underlined the spirit in the team (1-1 at half time and down to 10 men). Moving in to February we then bounced back again with victories over Forest & QPR, the latter being a 4-3 classic in which Lee Camp saved a last minute penalty. Again we were on the fringes of the top 6 and looking optimistic at an outside shot at the top 6. Then March happened! (seeing a trend here?) 0 points from 12, more opposition players assaulted than goals scored and the cherry on the delightful sundae is a 9 point deduction for breaching P&S rules, ensuring what was looking like a boring mid table finish is now our annual relegation fight. Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: Monk has predominantly used a flat 4-4-2 system in which we're happy for other teams to have the ball in their half, but as soon as they start to venture forward they're swarmed by us. Very effective against teams who like to pass it round. When we have the ball the main tactic is to chuck it up to Juke up front and have him hold it up to allow Adams & the wingers to be brought in to play. Monk has experimented with a diamond formation where Jota plays the number 10 in behind the two strikers which was used for the first time against QPR away and caused us to be 4-1 up at half time. This has since been shelved however as we were leaking goals using it. Adams has been getting all the plaudits, and they're fully deserved but Jutkiewicz is my player of the season. The man runs his bollocks off every game for the team and has 10 goals and 10 assists so far, great return from the big man. Most used team - http://lineupbuilder.com/?sk=hy9d3 Best/worst/memorable moments: Best I've seen us play is easily the first 45 away to QPR, which is also the most memorable moment when Camp saved the penalty in the last minute - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYd51nIeADA The worst has to be the 0-1 home loss to the Villa, not for the loss itself as you get used to losing to them lot but for what happened on the day. Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: WBA (A), Leeds (H), Sheff Utd (H), Ipswich (A), Derby (H), Rotherham (A), Wigan (H), Reading (A) Horrible next 3 fixtures against 3 of the top 6, and two of the top 3. After that we only have to play 1 team in the top half and even then Derby are in a horrible run of form and it's at home. Not nervous right now as we're good enough to get the bare minimum of 5 points that would pretty much guarantee safety. If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..and if you dont you will.. Promotion is 100% off the table, surviving relegation should be a formality. We will sell Adams in the summer for a fee which should be over 20 million, allowing us to get the P&S monkey off our back and hopefully have a little bet left over for Monk to play with. Rival watch and league prediction: Villa are storming up the league now Grealish is back, looking at their fixtures I'd expect them to finish top 6 now. Although it may come back to the last 2 games against Leeds & Norwich which won't be easy, they best hope they go up as the P&S boogeyman will be coming. West Brom are stuck in that no mans land where they're guaranteed playoffs but they don't have enough to reach the top 2. I think Norwich & Sheff Utd will get the automatic spots, with Leeds going up through the playoffs.
Manager: Reading FC - Jose Gomes, who took over from Paul Clement just before Christmas. Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: I was thinking mid table, probably lower mid table. Our signings made me cautiously optimistic, and we started with a good performance against Derby County, despite conceding a last minute winner. Looking back, I realise this was a poor prediction, in that we didn't win a single pre-season game and our signings were actually all pretty poor, with the exception of Andy Yiadom. Mini season review - how has it gone so far? One word - horrifically, at least until the appointment of Gomes. The rot from last season had truly set in as the club became more and more of a toxic place to be, with a rift developing between not just the club and the fans, but separate groups within the supporter base too. On the pitch, we were playing dire football, and off the pitch our CEO Ron Gourlay proceeded to alienate everyone, tried to grab power, and buddied up with his Chelsea mate Paul Clement before they were both rightfully binned off in December, with the club needing a complete overhaul in the January window. Since then, it's been the complete opposite with Gomes in charge and Nigel Howe returning as CEO. The support is back, the deadwood is gone, people are happy, and there's even the semblance of an atmosphere at the Madejski. The players want to play, the manager wants to manage, and the supporters want to support, which is something we didn't have with Clement. Combined with much better football and an uptick in form, and everything's all starting to look quite good. Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: Under Jose Gomes, we've not really been able to play the players he wants to pick due to being pretty nailed by injuries. As such, I've put this team which seems to be the eleven that Gomes wants to put out. Due to what I shall call an 'unfortunate incident' with Tyrone Mings against Aston Villa followed by a hamstring injury, Oliveira has only featured in six games since joining on loan, and despite results we've definitely missed this focal point in the team, with Meite now usually playing up top and Ovie Ejaria coming in as the wide replacement. We're now characterised as generally good passers of the ball, who like possession but without passing the ball for passing's sake, as we were under previous managers. Instead we try to draw opponents onto us in order to break using the pace of our wide players, supported by a switch to more of a three at the back system with our full backs pushing forwards as we attack, and one of our central midfielders dropping between the two centre backs to provide cover. All in all, we've become a lot harder to beat. Best/worst/memorable moments: I've picked four moments here, all of which are from the last six weeks or so, with three key victories being followed by a (mostly) dominant performance this weekend against Preston. First of all out of the three was Nelson Oliveira arriving back from surgery like a masked saviour to score a late winner against Blackburn Rovers. We then built on this at the beginning of the month with two crucial games against relegation rivals, with vital late goals from Mo Barrow scoring a 90th minute winner away at Ipswich in a 2-1 victory as well as an 89th minute equaliser the following week, before Yakou Meite netted in the 97th minute to beat Wigan 3-2. Key stat: We're the best form team in the Championship that isn't part of the top 6, which is rather impressive considering we're in 19th. Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: Hull City (A), Norwich City (A), Brentford (H), Bristol City (A), West Bromwich Albion (H), Middlesbrough (A), Birmingham City (H). I think that this is one of the hardest run ins that any team in the Championship has to face this season. I'm surprisingly confident about it though - although that's worked out poorly before. We're riding a high and could probably beat anyone on our day. If you survive relegation you will... Need to carry on with the squad overhaul. Sign some of the loanees on permanent deals, and get rid of the older, unusable players. If you go down you will... Need to do everything we can to get back up, although I'm not sure how soon that would be. We'd either languish for a while due to not being as good physically as the other teams, or we'd come straight back due to the fact we have some very technically competent players. Finishing position:18th or 19th, but comfortably safe from relegation. Rival watch and league prediction: Ipswich are dead and buried at this point, with Bolton not too far behind, as these court situations will not be helping. Birmingham are in free fall and now in a bit of a relegation scrap with 5 or 6 losses on the spin, but a much better goal difference than the rest of us. I think the final relegation spot will be occupied by Rotherham, though.
Team, Manager: Wigan Athletic, Paul Cook Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: Our last two season in the Championship (16/17 & 14/15) Wigan were relegated from the Championship. Both times after going down we came back up as League One Champs. The majority of the fans just want us to maintain our Championship status. Due to our takeover in the middle of the season and lack of transfers last summer because of this, staying up this season is so crucial for our clubs future. Mini season review - how has it gone so far? Oof. Well, 10 games into the season the Latics were in 8th place, with 5 wins, including a 3-0 win over Stoke. Flash forward to now, Latics are in 19th, just 3 points out of relegation and no away wins since Stoke! The winter period saw the Latics lose crucial attacking players in Gavin Massey, Michael Jacobs and more importantly Nick Powell. Who were all instrumental in our 17/18 League One Championship season. The selling of Will Grigg on deadline day is something that most of us don't want to talk about, given our lack of goals all season. Many fans called for Cook's head before the impressive 3-0 win over Villa. Then again after defeats against Reading and Blackburn, things were looking bad before a 5-2 win over Bolton last matchday. Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: http://lineupbuilder.com/?sk=hy9d9 4-2-3-1, although we have had a few players rotate. Reece James, most notably, has been playing CDM the last few games, with Nathan Byrne on the right. Also, Danny Fox will most likely start taking either Kipre or Chey out, or could slide in LB. We have gone 3 CB's with two wingbacks a few times this season as well. Best/worst/memorable moments: Worst moments, the matches against Preston, Blackburn and Brentford, last minute pk winner at Norwich, last minute PK against Forrest. Best moments, 3-0 win at Stoke, 3-0 win over Villa and 5-2 win over Bolton. Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: Nervous is an understatement. I believe two wins of the last 8 would keep us safe, around 8 points. Brentford (H), Bristol City (A), Hull City (A), Norwich (H), Leeds (A), Preston (H), Birmingham (A), Millwall (H) If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..[and if you don't you will] If the Latics get relegated I will have to unsubscribe from this subreddit for the 3rd time in 5 years and won't be very happy. Rival watch and league prediction: Bolton... not much needs to be said. I think I speak for most football fans when I say I don't want them to go bust. It's a shame to see the state of that club right now our derbys are something we all look forward to. At this point I think Leeds is going to blow the auto push. I think Norwich and Shef U go up and WBA win playoffs. Rotherham, Bolton and Ipswich to go down.
Manager: Neil Harris Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: After massively overachieving in our first season back in the league, with a late playoff push towards the end of the season, a season of building to consolidate our status as a championship side was the goal. Any expectation of another playoff push was pure fantasy, but a mid table finish seemed like a reasonable aim. Mini season review - how has it gone so far?: Despite an exciting cup run this season has turned out to be a struggle for us, and we've found ourselves deservedly in a relegation battle. An inability to see out games and lack of tactical flexibility for the majority of the season has left us deservedly in a relegation battle, perhaps expectedly when looking at the cost of our team compared to others in the division. Spending most of the season languishing just above the relegation places, a recent downturn in form leaves us just a point above relegation placed Rotherham. Best/most used starting 11 and tactics:http://lineupbuilder.com/?sk=hy9my5 We started the season with the 442 that brought us great success last season. However, after selling midfielder George Saville and striker Steve Morison getting on a bit, other teams started to figure us out, and a 442 based on soaking up pressure and quick long ball counters quickly descended into painful and drab hoofball, with a clear lack of a plan b. The return of loaned out midfielder Ben Thompson, from a successful spell at Portsmouth, alongside the return of winger Ben Marshall, on loan from Norwich, allowed us to switch to the 433 which we use now. While we've enjoyed a little more success with it at times, usually playing a pressing game built on quick counters and transitions against the bigger sides. Against smaller sides a lack of identity is evident and games usually quickly turn into a bit of a slog. Best/worst/memorable moments: In the league, it's difficult to pick a best moment, because there are next to none, we've come short in all of our big games in the league this season, even if it's well hidden by memorable moments such as our cup win against Everton. We've been on the wrong side of a thrilling 4-3 loss to Norwich. The low of this season for sure has to be our 2-1 loss away to Bolton, the moment when relegation started to become a genuine prospect. Key Stat: Over 25% of our goals conceded this season have come after the 75th minute. This sums our season up perfectly sadly. If games were 75 mins long, we'd be comfortably mid table if not more. Unfortunately an inability to hold onto leads, caused in part by tactical decisions to sit back and absorb pressure late in the game, combined with ineffectual (or lack of) substitutions have cost us dearly this season. Remaining fixtures and expectations: WBA (H), QPR (H), Sheff Utd (A), Brentford (H), Villa (A), Stoke (H), Bristol City(H), Wigan (A). Not the easiest run in by any means, but we tend to perform better against top half teams, so that may work in our favour. Having won only three games away from home all season, having most of our remaining games is definitely an advantage. The two London derbies against QPR and Brentford, as well as Stoke are games where we need to pick up points if we are to stay in this division. Away games against Sheff Utd and Villa will be a tough ask, so home form will be crucial. If we get relegated I will...: be fuming. While I can have no complaints if we go down, we won't have deserved to stay up whatsoever, the way in which we go down will be unacceptable. Having thrown away too many late leads, and failed to pick up points in games where we have been the better team, it'll be tough to take and serious questions will need to be asked of the management, even if Harris is a club legend, things could turn bitter should we go down. Finishing position prediction: 21st Rival watch and league prediction: Sadly our main division rivals Leeds look like they're on their way to promotion alongside Norwich, the less said about that the better. London rivals QPR and Brentford are both heading towards mid table finishes, QPR in much worse shape than the latter. Norwich and Leeds will most likely finish in the top two, I fancy either Sheff Utd or Bristol City (if they make it) to win the playoffs. We'll probably just have enough to get over the line and survive, which means Rotherham bounce straight back down to League One with Bolton and Ipswich
Manager:Phil Parkinson Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: After miraculously staying up with 2 goals in the last 2 minutes of the final game of the season, fans were hoping to build on the 21st place finish. There were no hopes of anything higher than mid table, a comfortable season would have been a success if we could avoid looking over our shoulders at the relegation zone. And those hopes were granted.... For the first couple of weeks. This was despite players refusing to play a pre season game at St. Mirren due to unpaid wages and bonuses from the previous year. Something that was to cast a dark shadow over the club in the months to come. Mini season review - how has it gone so far? Terrible. A bright start to the campaign fell away fast and the team plummeted through the standings. Some of the absolute worst football we've ever watched came. Averaging around 35% possession most games, negative long ball tactics and goal shy strikers. It really hasn't been good viewing. 3 wins and a draw from the first 4 games saw us high up the table. Then a 3-0 dismantling by Sheffield United saw the wheels fall off. 1 win and 4 draws from the next 18 games with only 9 goals scored before a 2-1 victory over Rotherham on boxing day saw us sink to the bottom. After that, not much else changed and at the time of writing, we sit 8 points adrift with 8 to play. Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: I can't really give a best or most used 11 because there hasn't been one. I think Parkinson uses a bingo machine to pick his team as it changes so much every game. Our 'best' player Ameobi has been sub par. Bright players have been polish right back Olkowski and youth midfielder Luca Connell but besides this the team has lacked quality throughout. Best/worst/memorable moments: Best moments have been the bright start, beating relegated West Brom 2-1 on opening day, and a 5 goal fa cup win over Walsall where the team looked like they could actually play football. By far the worst moment came in our last outing though, getting thumped 5-2 away at rivals Wigan. It was really the last chance to mount a challenge to stay up and the performance was pathetic.
.... rest of the Bolton and Ipswich (p)reviews in the comments below!
With League One not usually mentioned round here (unless it's laughing at sunderland being there), figured that for people who aren't aware of the clubs playing that I'd start a club-by-club analysis over on /leagueone: unfortunately that subreddit's dead as fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. If anyone here is watching and can provide info on their club, I'd greatly appreciate you following this link and submitting a write-up. Firstly, my favorite club, Sunderland: Club: Sunderland AFC Nickname: The Black Cats (Formerly/Minor Nickname: The Roker RoaThe Lads/Coal Cats/The Rokerites) Stadium:The Stadium of Light(Formerly: Roker Park) Major Honours:
2 Time FA Cup winners, 1937/73 (Seriously, watch the 1973 win, it's fucking beautiful)
1 time Community Shield 1937 winner
6 time Premier League/First Division winners (1891–92, 1892–93, 1894–95, 1901–02, 1912–13, 1935–36)
1 Time Sheriff of London Charity Shield winner, predecessor to the Community Shield
17/18 Finishing Position: Fuck/24 (Relegated) (Again, Fuck) Transfer Market Squad Value: £32.36m Manager: Jack Ross. Managed Alloa Athletic from 2015 to 2016 (Couldn't prevent their relegation), but the REAL meat of his managing career (which is admittedly a small 3 year one, though he played football for 16 years prior) is at St Mirren. He managed St Mirren, who had been relegated to the Scottish Championship in 2014-15, and got them promoted to the Premiership in 2017-18. He's got intelligence, experience and has turned St Mirren around. He was named the PFA Scotland Manager of the Year the same year St Mirren was promoted. Best player(s)/talisman:Oh. Oh dear. Yeah, this one is NOT a easy answer, because half the team last year were mercenaries, and hence most of them have been sold or free-transferred. That said, here's the ones to watch:
Aiden McGeady: It's Aiden McGeady. Sure, he's towards the tailend of his career, but he'll definitely hold an important role in the dressing room, similar to how John O'Shea acted as a senior figure for the rookies.
Chris Maguire: Scottish international with 76 goals to his name over 13 years.
Rising Star: Honeyman has just become captain thanks to his excellent attitude. He will be important in the future, but I'm personally REALLY excited for Luke O'Nien. The guy's ridiculous at times. Watch the video I linked for him please! What happened last season?: We completed our downward spiral, basically. The reason these downward spirals happened was fairly simple: Ellis Short hadn't a clue what football was about. The managers failed to motivate their players because they were mostly mercenaries as Sunderland kept purchasing bad players while those that were good ended up just getting poached by the bigger clubs (Pickford to Everton, Darren Bent, , and when we brought players in, we picked up failures at the PL league and tried to polish turds like Rodwell, Ndong, Djilobodji, Jozy Altidore (SERIOUSLY WHAT EVEN HAPPENED THERE), Kone and Lens. This plus the Manager Revolving Door problem:
Arrived and firmed up the team, usually just before we got relegated
New season, new hopes
Manager fired, back to step A lead to an eventual situation where nothing could be done to save us.
Summer Transfer Business: We've cut almost all the mercenary p-league castoffs out of the team and have replaced them with fresh faces or pre-existing young players. I'm going to point you towards the SAFC Transfer Window Megathread for more details, but notable names: Luke O'Nien, Jon McLaughlin, Chris Maguire, Charlie Wyke and a loaned Jerome Sinclair. Starting XI:Here's my rough idea. (Might be total arsecandle, so don't put much faith in it. I'm not the manager for a reason.) Best Case: Promotion. Jack Ross says himself that the only thing he considers a success is promotion, so that's one hell of a sign. Worst Case: Losing in the playoff final. That would hurt more than Darren Bent's relegation securing header did. And I was in attendance for that match. Prediction: 1st. PREPARE YOURSELF FOR STEWY D'S RED AND WHITE ARMY. What will happen to your closest rivals?: Newcastle are going to implode because Mike Ashley is a cunt, Middlesborough are going to continue to exist. Club: Luton Town (By vJamyy) Nickname: The Hatters (The Town is also acceptable but not very original) Stadium:Kenilworth Road predates the dinosaurs but one of few remaining classic football league grounds, we have had talk of a new ground since the 1960s and currently have plans submitted for a 17,500 capacity stadium with expansion to 22,500. However we submitted these plans when Sunderland were still in the premier league (Sorry) and still have not got a decision. Plans Major Honours:
League Cup Winners 1988
Plenty of lower league titles and a JPT from 2009
17/18 Finishing Position: 2nd (Promoted) Sky bet League 2. Transfer Market Squad Value: £3.17M Manager: Nathan Jones. Regarded as one of the best young managers in the football league at just 45. Is his first job in management and has been with us since January 2016. Was signed to Luton as a player but never got a game, moved onto Spain and still speaks the language before coming back to play for Southend, Brighton and most notably Yeovil which he only left in 2012. Since then he was a highly rated coach at Brighton taking over a handful of first team games in between managers. Best player(s)/talisman: Danny Hylton - You'll hate him, we'll love him. Wasn't really known for his goal scoring at Oxford but just being a fabulous player, now he does both. Think he is bang on 50 goals in 100 games for us. Loves a yellow card though so misses our first game of the season. Alan Sheehan - Club captain and centre back. Was our player of the season last year. Has a wand of a left foot will be on free kick and corners. If there was a league 1 fantasy football he'd be essential. Jorge Grant - On loan from Notts Forrest and was on loan at Notts County last season where he nearly propelled them to automatic promotion. 4 goals in 3 pre-season games from midfield means i'm very excited to see how his season goes. Dan Potts - Was worried he would not sign a new deal and we'd lose him for nothing in the summer but confirmed today he has signed a new 3 year deal. The season before last I wouldn't have cared if he was released but what a turn around. One of the top scoring fullbacks in football, He'd out jump most Olympians and from the sounds of it he is not anywhere near his ceiling yet. Rising Star: Might have to put this as star(s) James Justin (20) - Right back whose been part of our set up since 2005, he's reportedly attracted a lot of interest over the summer and has done for the last few seasons. Largely frustrated last year by the form of Jack Stacey whose only 22 himself but most fans still consider Justin to be the hotter prospect. Arthur Read (18) - Had not heard too much about him until this pre-season where he has slotted into midfield as if he were a regular first team player scoring one beautiful goal in the process. He's still young so there's no rush but I'd love to see him get a few minutes this season. What happened last season?: Goals, Goals, Goals and more Goals. It all started with an opening day 8-2 win over Yeovil, add to that a 7-0, 7-1 and we were the first football league side to score 7 or more goals 3 times before Christmas add in a couple of 5-0s for good measure and we were laughing. Looked like we would cruise to the title. But in true Luton fashion a couple of stumbles and Accrington winning very game 1-0 for about 4 months meant we were happy enough to take the runners up spot. I would not say we bottled it completely, it was more down to Accrington's unstoppable run of form Summer Transfer Business: One of our best transfer windows in recent memory, we've been recruiting for League 1 for the last couple of seasons according to Jones and he's stuck to his word. We've only lost one player we wanted to keep so far; Olly Lee who rejected a new contract in order to make the step down to the SPL (easy money i guess?) personally I think he'd only be getting on the bench this season anyway so no big loss - did score from his own half last season though. Plenty of club have been sniffing around our full backs, with rumours of 7 figure bids coming in for all 3 of them. So far we've been strong but West Brom look like coming back in for Jack Stacey. As for incomings we've made a few brilliant signings: Andrew Shinnie - a creative midfielder we had on loan last season now made permanent, not too fussed either way as he fell off the wagon a bit when it came to swamp like conditions in the winter Sonny Bradley - Proper coupe this one, the centre back was a target for almost anyone that could afford him in league 1 and quite a few championship clubs too. Loves a goal from corners but apparently can be slow at the back. Matty Pearson - Another defender this time from Barnsley, by all accounts not quite good enough for the championship but should be solid enough in league one Jorge Grant - Already mentioned. Not sure we are quite done yet, no secret but we were set to sign O'Nein from Wycombe before Sunderland swooped in. So think we will be in the market for another midfielder. Starting XI:Should be close enough, centre back pairing is the real guesswork as Sheehan and Bradley are both left footers which would usually mean they are competing for one place as Jones likes one right footed and one left. However i just can't see them both not playing. Was talk of us going 5 at the back but we've been working on the diamond for years so we aren't going to ditch it now. Best Case: A few people tipping us for a back to back promotion challenge, we're 5th favourites too according to the bookies Worst Case: Straight back down, would feel like a waste of 3 years. Prediction:13th- I really aren't in a rush to get promoted i doubt we could sustain ourselves at that level whilst still at Kenilworth Road so as long we aren't fighting relegation i'll be content. We are under no pressure to get promoted for the first time in around 10 years so maybe we'll do well. No chance of automatics in my opinion and if we finish in the playoffs we'll only lose them anyway. What will happen to your closest rivals?: Watford are going down, its their year. Like every other year. Edit: Spelling
The memory of the Champions League final meant Liverpool were forced into finding Loris Karius' replacement, says Graeme Souness. The Reds' current No 1 made two costly errors as Liverpool lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in May, although Karius was later found to be suffering from concussion after taking a knock from Sergio Ramos shortly before the opening goal. Regardless, Souness told Sky Sports News those errors would come back to haunt the German had he started 2018/19 as first-choice and made another mistake. Liverpool are on the verge of signing Roma goalkeeper Alisson after a £67m bid was accepted, with the Brazilian flying to England on Wednesday evening to undergo a medical in the next few days, according to Sky in Italy. "I think as much as Jurgen would have wanted to be loyal and do right by the goalkeeper, he's got to go out and get another one," he said. "That's simply because if Karius was to make the same mistake, or a mistake in a big game, it'd be down to the manager not correcting that situation. It's obvious to everyone - look at what happened in the Champions League final. So if Klopp is out to get Alisson or another top goalkeeper, he's doing the right thing." 19:47
BALL SIGNS FOR ABERDEEN
Aberdeen have confirmed the signing of defender Dominic Ball on a season-long loan deal from Rotherham. 19:27
WATCH: TRANSFER CENTRE
The Transfer Centre rounds up of all the latest summer transfer stories from Sky Sports News. 19:26
NWAKALI JOINS PORTO
Porto have confirmed the signing of Kelechi Nwakali from Arsenal on a season-long loan deal. 19:09
Jose Mourinho has confirmed new Manchester United signing Diogo Dalot will be out until September with a knee injury. The 19-year-old defender joined United on a five-year deal from Porto last month for a fee of around £19m. Dalot injured his knee late last season for Porto and was pictured on crutches in Manchester. He travelled on United's pre-season tour of the USA despite not being cleared to return to training but Mourinho is happy with how his recovery is progressing. Mourinho said: "Dalot is injured; we knew that but we didn't want to lose him because of that. He is recovering really well. We think he can start training with the team when we go back to England. He will not be ready for the start of the season but we think he'll be ready for September." 18:34
WATCH: WILSHERE TARGETS ENGLAND RETURN
Jack Wilshere hopes a move to West Ham will revive his England chances. 18:29
‘THERE WILL BE RIVALS FOR GOLOVIN’
CSKA Moscow's president Evgeniy Giner has warned Chelsea that rival clubs will be looking to sign Aleksandr Golovin. Chelsea have been linked with Golovin over the summer and in his introductory press conference, new manager Maurizio Sarri said he may be interested in adding some midfield quality to the squad. In an interview with Russian site sport24, Giner said there is no deal between the clubs but it is likely Golovin will be with a new club soon. "I believe that [he] can grow into a big star," he said. "I'm not sure that this can happen in the Russian championship. The level of the English Premier League or the championship of Spain is much higher. "In order not to ruin [him], we must let him go. But we have no solution for today. When we receive an offer, we always try to negotiate openly. Indeed, we were visited by the vice-president of Monaco [Vadim Vasilyev] and he made a proposal for Golovin. If we talk about Chelsea, then there is no closed agreement with them. But the question of his transition will be decided, I think, in the next couple of days." 18:23
How did new Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri get on in his first public appearance? Sky Sports News' Ian Bolton looks back at the Italian's unveiling... READ HERE 17:05
WATCH: SARRI WANTS TO KEEP TOP PLAYERS
New Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri is aiming to help the current crop of players develop... 16:59
WATCH: TRANSFER CENTRE
The Transfer Centre rounds up of all the latest summer transfer stories from Sky Sports News. 16:48
SILVA JOINS HEARTS
Hearts have completed their 12th signing of the summer after handing goalkeeper Kevin Silva a two-year deal. The American shot-stopper has spent the last month on trial with Craig Levein's squad and has impressed enough to win himself a contract. He has already featured for the Jambos during their pre-season clashes with Arbroath, Partick Thistle, Queen of the South and Forfar. Now he will go straight into Levein's squad for Wednesday night's Betfred Cup match against Cove Rangers. 16:37
FORRESTER LEAVES RANGERS
Harry Forrester has left Rangers by mutual consent after two-and-a-half seasons with the Scottish Premiership club. The 27-year-old joined Rangers in January 2016 from Doncaster Rovers before he was sent out on loan to AFC Wimbledon for the 2017/18 season. He made 44 appearances overall for the Glasgow side, scoring seven league goals and one in the Scottish Cup. A club statement said: "Rangers can today confirm the club has terminated the contract of Harry Forrester by mutual consent. The 27-year-old made 44 appearances for the Gers, over two seasons, after signing in January 2016. He scored eight times for the Light Blues. Forrester was part of the squad won the 2015/16 Championship title and lifted the Petrofac Cup. The attacker spent last season on loan at AFC Wimbledon in EFL League One. He played 43 times scoring three goals in the process. Harry leaves with the best wishes of everyone at the club for his future career." 16:26
Oxford United have confirmed the signing of Jamie Mackie on a two-year deal. 15:49
‘REAL MOVE DREAM COME TRUE’
Real Madrid's new signing Alvaro Odriozola said his dream had come true after being unveiled by the club at the Bernabeu Stadium. Spain defender Odriozola completed a move to the European champions from Real Sociedad earlier this month. "It is an honour for me to be here and fulfil the dream of every football player to sign for Real Madrid," Odriozola told a media conference. "I know the responsibility that comes with wearing this shirt and the only thing I can promise is that I will give everything, humility and sacrifice so that our future is successful. "The last year and a half has been like a movie and I'm now fulfilling the dream of wearing the shirt of the biggest club in the world, that of Real Madrid. It's a day I'll never forget and I'll not let this opportunity pass me by. Hala Madrid!" 15:42
Our colleagues at Sky in Italy claim a deal is close between Chelsea and CSKA Moscow midfielder Aleksandr Golovin. New Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri tried to sign Golovin when he was in charge at Napoli. 15:29
LIVERPOOL COMPLETE ALISSON DEAL
Liverpool have completed a €75m (£67m) deal for Alisson Becker subject to the Roma goalkeeper passing a medical, according to Sky in Italy. The 25-year-old is scheduled to depart Rome within the next hour and will undergo a medical at Liverpool in the next few days. Sky in Italy understand the Brazilian has already agreed personal terms with the Reds and will sign a five-year deal at Anfield. Alisson is set to become the most expensive goalkeeper in history, surpassing the £34.7m fee Manchester City paid to sign Ederson from Benfica in 2017. FULL STORY 15:08
WATCH: ALISSON'S 17/18 STATS
We take a look at Brazillian goalkeeper Alisson Becker's stats from his 2017/18 season with Serie A side Roma... 15:03
Sky in Italy are reporting that Liverpool have completed a £67m deal to sign Roma's Alisson, subject to the goalkeeper passing a medical. Our colleagues are reporting that the 25-year-old has agreed personal terms on a five-year deal. The goalkeeper is set to arrive in the UK this evening and will complete his medical in the next few days. the transfer fee would be a world record for a goalkeeper. 14:51
WATCH: MOST SEARCHED TRANSFER RUMOURS
The World Cup is a great opportunity for players to showcase themselves ahead of the summer transfer window. But who caught your eye at Russia 2018? 14:36
STOKE WANT INCE
Sky sources understand Stoke are interested in signing Huddersfield’s Tom Ince. We understand Ince, who played under Stoke boss Gary Rowett at Derby, remains with the Huddersfield squad in Frankfurt for pre-season. Any potential deal could have implications on any potential move for Matt Ritchie. We reported last Friday that talks between Stoke and Newcastle over Ritchie were continuing, with Stoke prepared to pay £11.5m – though Newcastle want around £15m. 14:28
CITY MONITOR UNDER
Man City are reportedly monitoring a move for Roma youngster Cengiz Under, according to the Manchester Evening News. 14:15
STOKE'S CHIRICHES BID REJECTED
Napoli have rejected a bid in region of £13m from Stoke for former Tottenham defender Vlad Chiriches. 13:57
WATCH: 'BEST ARSENAL SIGNING IS EMERY'
Robert Pires believes Arsenal's best bit of business this summer has been bringing in head coach Unai Emery. 13:47
SARRI TARGETS MIDFIELDERS
Maurizio Sarri has told Chelsea he would like to improve the team's midfield, saying: "I cannot name any names because I don’t know who these people are. I spoke with the club and I said ideally a pinch of quality is lacking in our central midfield for a certain kind of play. "At the end of the transfers it will be up to me to decide what the most suitable play for our squad is. I must adapt to Chelsea and the available players." 13:40
BRADFORD IN TALKS FOR SCANNELL
Sky sources understand Bradford are in talks with Huddersfield over the permanent signing of winger Sean Scannell. The 27-year old spent the first half of last season on loan at Burton Albion. Scannell has made 172 appearances for Huddersfield since joining in 2012 13:37
New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri was rather forthright when asked about the future of key players. He said: "Clearly we would like to keep the strongest players. This is what any manager and club wants to do. But we will have to see how the transfer market will go over the next few days. "I am much more of a pitch manager than a general manager. I am one of the few managers who is bored by the transfer market. "I don’t want to talk about the transfer market and I’m not that interested in it. Our task as managers is growing the players that we have." 13:22
LONG JOINS HULL
Hull City have completed a sixth signing of the summer with goalkeeper George Long joining from Sheffield United for an undisclosed fee. The 24-year-old has signed a three-year deal, with an additional one-year option held by the club, and previously played under Nigel Adkins before during his time with the Blades. https://twitter.com/HullCity/status/1019567491595538432 13:08
Barcelona are expected to sell Yerry Mina or Thomas Vermaelen this summer, reports Marca. The La Liga champions recently strengthened their centre-back options when they brought in Clement Lenglet from Sevilla and coach Ernesto Valverde wants to get rid of one central defender, with Mina and Vermaelen among those who could leave the club. Mina is more likely to leave and Barca expect to receive offers in excess of €20m for the 24-year-old following his impressive performances for Colombia at the World Cup. 12:36
CSKA Moscow president Evgeniy Giner has been speaking about the future of Alexsandr Golovin with Sky in Italy claiming a deal with Chelsea is close. Monaco had also made a bid and the Russian is a player Maurizio Sarri tried to sign when he was in charge of Napoli. Speaking to Sport24, Giner said: "In order not to ruin [Golovin] we must let him go. But we have no solution for today. Chelsea? There is no closed arrangement with them. But the question of his move to another club will be decided, I think, in the next couple of days." 12:08
BEES ACCEPT JOZEFZOON BID
Brentford boss Dean Smith confirmed last night that they had accepted a bid from an unnamed club for Florian Jozefzoon. Sky Sports News understands the bid is from Derby County. It is also understood that other clubs have made offers for Jozefzoon but they have failed to meet the Bees’ valuation. 12:03
Arsenal are interested in prising Kingsley Coman away from Bayern Munich this summer, BeIn Sports reports. They suggest a £44m (€50m) deal could be struck with the Gunners continuing to overhaul their squad for the new season. 11:40
RONALDO OFF ON TOUR
Cristiano Ronaldo was all smiles as he prepared to jet off for a personal tour of China following his £99.2m move to Juventus from Real Madrid. Before linking up with his new team-mates ahead of the new campaign, the Juventus forward has headed to China to fulfil sponsorship arrangements as part of his 'CR7 Tour'. Juventus are set to head to the USA for the International Champions Cup, which features matches against Bayern Munich, Benfica and Real Madrid. It remains to be seen whether Ronaldo will be involved in any of those fixtures. 11:28
PORTO TARGET MBEMBA
Newcastle defender Chancel Mbemba is a target for Portuguese champions Porto, A Bola reports. The Champions League club have shown interest in the 23-year-old but are eager to get him for less than the £8m asking price. 11:18
Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic is a Manchester City transfer target, according to Tuttosport. However, they would need to fork out a hefty fee for the Juventus midfielder with Barcelona also said to be interested. 10:58
REDS CONFIDENT OF ALISSON DEAL
Liverpool have made a fresh £66.8m bid for Alisson and are confident of agreeing a deal with Rome, Sky in Italy report. They are also reporting that Alisson won’t travel with Roma for their International Champions Cup fixtures. Sky sources understand Liverpool are still not commenting on the potential deal. 10:55
OSPINA OFFERED TO NAPOLI
Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina has been offered to Napoli, reports Calciomercato.com. The Colombia international, who is believed to have fallen further down the goalkeeping pecking order at Arsenal after the arrival of Bernd Leno, is on Napoli’s shortlist of options to replace Pepe Reina. Ospina has also been linked with Argentine giants Boca Juniors. 10:46
WATCH: TRANSFER CENTRE
Get the latest transfer headlines and rumours from Sky Sports News. 10:38
LEIPZIG WANT LOOKMAN
RB Leipzig are interested in signing Everton's Ademola Lookman on a permanent deal after the English youngster spent last season on loan at the Bundesliga club, according to Bild. They are being put off by the current £18m asking price, which Everton are unlikely to lower as they look to keep hold of the 20-year-old. 10:26
ZIDANE TO JUVE?
Former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane will join Juventus as an advisor, Libertad reports. The Italian giants are desperate for Champions League success, and have acquired the services of Cristiano Ronaldo and Zidane in an attempt to bring the trophy to Italy. The pair were key to Real Madrid's recent back-to-back triumphs in the competition. 10:17
WATCH: THE BEST OF GREALISH
With talks ongoing between Aston Villa and Tottenham over Jack Grealish, we look at some of his best moments from the Sky Bet Championship last season. 10:11
PALACE WANT BABACAR
Crystal Palace are on the brink of bringing Sassuolo striker Khouma Babacar to Selhurst Park, reports the Daily Mirror. The 25-year-old has only just joined Sassuolo after his loan from parent club Fiorentina was made permanent on July 1 and Crystal Palace Palace have wasted little time in offering the Serie A club a quick profit on the forward. 10:02
ZINCHENKO TO LEAVE CITY?
Sky Sports News understand that Oleksandr Zinchenko is still expected to leave Manchester City this summer – despite travelling to the USA as part of the pre-season tour. The young full-back played eight Premier League games for Pep Guardiola’s side last season – earning him a winners medal. Earlier this month, SSN reported that Wolves had made a £16m offer. 09:55
Sky Sports News understands talks are ongoing over the transfer of Jack Grealish from Aston Villa to Tottenham. We have previously reported that Grealish is valued between £30m-£40m. Earlier this month Steve Bruce told SSN selling players was 'inevitable' due to ongoing financial problems at the Midlands club and that the 'obvious one' was Grealish. He predicted it could go to the final day of the window. 09:39
FABIO MAKES NANTES MOVE
A deal has been agreed between Middlesbrough and Ligue 1 club Nantes for the transfer of Brazilian defender Fabio Da Silva. The former Manchester United defender – a twice capped Brazilian international – heads to France after spending two years with Boro. https://twitter.com/Ofabio3/status/1019515482670592002 09:34
UTD INTEREST IN ARNAUTOVIC
Manchester United are interested in signing West Ham striker Marko Arnautovic, according to TalkSport. 09:25
KONGOLO TO MAKE MOVE
Young Manchester City midfielder Rodney Kongolo is expected to complete a permanent move to Heerenveen today. The 20 year-old Dutchman joined from Feyenoord in 2014, and spent last season on loan at Doncaster. SSN understand the fee will be in the region of £750,000 09:20
EVERTON INTERESTED IN WELBECK
Everton are interested in signing Danny Welbeck from Arsenal, according to The Times. The striker has less than a year to go on his current deal, and has been pushed down the pecking order at the Emirates after the arrivals of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. 09:08
Bild are reporting that Wilfried Zaha is a target for Borussia Dortmund and they're willing to offer Crystal Palace former Chelsea midfielder Andre Schurrle plus cash. 08:56
WATCH: MOST SEARCHED WC RUMOURS
The World Cup is a great opportunity for players to showcase themselves ahead of the summer transfer window. But who caught your eye the most at Russia 2018? 08:41
BOURNEMOUTH KEEN ON RICO
Sky sources understand Bournemouth are still negotiating with La Liga side Leganes over the transfer of left-back Diego Rico. The Spanish club’s valuation of their player remains somewhat higher than what Bournemouth are prepared to pay, and we understand they are considering other options in that position, including Genoa’s Diego Laxalt, who started for Uruguay at the World Cup. 08:36
CULLEN TO STAY AT WEST HAM
SSN understands Manuel Pellegrini has knocked back interest from a number of Sky Bet EFL clubs for highly-rated midfielder Josh Cullen and plans to use him in the forthcoming season. Preston and Blackburn and among a number of clubs keen to take the 22-year old on loan. However, West Ham’s new manager has been impressed with the reigning Republic of Ireland U21 Player of the Year and believes he could be more useful at the London Stadium. Cullen spent the last two seasons on loan at Bradford and Bolton. 08:31
CAHILL TO UTD?
Manchester United have emerged as favourites with the bookies to sign Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, the Daily Star reports. The Blues are said to be chasing Juventus defender Daniele Rugani, which means Cahill could become surplus to requirements. He previously worked with Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, with the manager looking to improve his defence. 08:17
GNANDUILLET BACK AT BLACKPOOL
Armand Gnanduillet has returned to Blackpool on an initial one-year deal, plus an option for a further year. The forward, whose contract expired last month, had initially agreed to join South African side Baroka FC for the new season, though was never registered as a player due to the club exceeding its foreign player quota. That led to the 26-year-old holding discussions with manager Gary Bowyer and requesting a return to Bloomfield Road. 08:12
Sky sources understand Bournemouth remain in talks with Levante over the signing of midfielder Jefferson Lerma. We are told the discussions over a £17m deal have been positive but there is still some work to do as Lerma would require a work permit. However, personal terms are not expected to be a problem. Lerma was part of Colombia’s World Cup squad. 07:49
MANDZUKIC TO DORTMUND?
Mario Mandzukic got the winner in the semi-finals for Croatia but fear not he's not being linked with a move to the Premier League. Bild say Dortmund are in for the striker after giving up on signing Chelsea's Michy Batshuayi on a permanent deal. 07:38
FULHAM RIVALLED FOR MBABU
Fulham face competition from FC Basel for Young Boys’ right back Kevin Mbabu, according to Sky sources. The Cottagers want to sign the former Newcastle man but they’ve yet to make a formal bid and we understand Young Boys have rejected a £7m bid from Basel for the defender and value him at £10m. Mbabu signed for the Swiss Champions from Newcastle United last summer and helped Young Boys win the Swiss Super League for the first time in 32 years. Last year, Mbabu was timed as the second fastest player in the world, behind Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale. 07:19
Real Madrid have reached an agreement with Chelsea worth £31m for goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, according to the Daily Star. The World Cup Golden Glove winner could be set to sign a four-year deal, with the Blues looking to cash in before his contract expires in 2019. 06:51
PARLOUR PRAISES WILSHERE
Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour has praised Jack Wilshere for not taking the easy option of signing a new deal at the club just to sit on the bench. Parlour said: "Jack Wilshere has made a big decision and it was his to make. He met the manager and realised he might have been third or fourth in the pecking order. As a player who has missed so much football, he needs to play. "I'm gutted that he's left because I would love to see him still in an Arsenal shirt, but I'm really pleased he's gone to a club to play football because there is nothing worse than training hard all week and then sitting in the stands. "West Ham have got a very good signing there. We always look at his fitness record, but if he can stay fit we all know how good he is. That is what West Ham have to manage now." 06:32
Real Madrid have reached an agreement with Chelsea worth £31m for goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. (Daily Star)
Manchester United have emerged as favourites with the bookies to sign Chelsea defender Gary Cahill. (Daily Star)
Leicester are weighing up a £15m move for Getafe central defender Djene. (The Sun)
Zinedine Zidane is set for a sensational return to Juventus after walking away from the Real Madrid job. (The Daily Mirror)
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