Category: Npower Championship


Veteran striker Kevin Phillips was the toast of his teammates on Monday evening - but will he return to the Premier League next year? (Image | Sportinglife.com)

Veteran striker Kevin Phillips was the toast of his teammates on Monday evening – but will he return to the Premier League next year? (Image | Sportinglife.com)

Kevin Phillips’ 105th-minute penalty on Monday afternoon secured Crystal Palace a win and the biggest prize in football – an estimated £120m windfall to go with their return to the Premier League after an eight-year absence.

In what could have been his final game for the club, Phillips, whose career began at defeated finalists Watford, stayed calm to blast the decisive spot-kick beyond Manuel Almunia.

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In case any of you were too busy watching the relegation battles on Tuesday night, you may have missed the news that, after three straight years of play-off heartache, Cardiff City were promoted to the Premier League after a 50-year absence from the top flight.

Vincent Tan, Malaysia's ninth richest man, celebrated his club's promotion along with Cardiff fans at Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday (Image | football365.com)

Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan celebrated his club’s promotion along with fans at Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday (Image | football365.com)

The achievement has been heralded as a landmark moment in the history of Welsh football. Ten percent of next year’s Premier League teams will be Welsh… but is there really much that Welsh footballers stand to gain?

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Since taking over Nottingham Forest in July, chairman Fawaz Al-Hasawi has had four managers serving under him, and the latest of these for only 40 days and seven games.

"Mac the Knifed" | Nottingham Forest manager Alex McLeish left the club by mutual consent after 40 days in charge. (Image | The Times)

Turmoil | Nottingham Forest manager Alex McLeish left the club by mutual consent after 40 days in charge. (Image | The Times)

When the news that former Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish had departed by mutual consent emerged last week, the footballing world let out a collective groan as it became clear that yet another club was in the throes of what might be called “toxic ownership”.

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Obsession | Football is as much a part of the British national psyche as queuing, drinking tea and spending hours in the pub. (Image | The Sun)

It is probably fair to say that if the next national census asked whether people considered themselves to be a fan of sport, and then asked them to specify their favourite, the most popular answer would be football. By popular consensus, football is the national sport.

It is a constant talking point in the media and a regular source of conversation in workplaces and public houses. With this in mind: why do such a large number of people seem to know so little about the game?

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Hopefully Sky Sports will appreciate how long this took and won’t try to sue us. Please. (Image | Sky Sports, very graciously)

Deadline day once again produced its usual mix of excitement, hyperbole and confusion yesterday, with a standard assortment of a couple of ‘blockbuster’ moves and many, many loan deals done between Premier League teams and lower-league clubs.

As is our duty, though, we’ve dredged through the rumours, the hopes and the hogwash to bring you the ten most intriguing deals of yesterday’s shopping frenzy…

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Seeing red | Cardiff City supporters are incensed by their club’s decision to undergo a re-brand. (Image | Sky Sports)

Cardiff City have undergone a hugely controversial re-branding exercise, involving altering the club’s home kit from blue to red, and changing the badge from a bluebird to a dragon. Previously, when the plans were made known to supporters, complaints were registered to the club’s owners and a petition was started against the proposed changes. The move has attracted significant anger among Bluebirds fans.

Responsibility for the move lies with investors in the Championship side, Tan Sri Vincent Tan and Dato Chan Tien Ghee. The Malaysians, who took over in 2010, are also looking to redesign the club’s training ground, pay off City’s debts, expand the recently-constructed Cardiff City Stadium, and provide significant transfer funds for manager Malky Mackay.

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Joy unconfined: Huddersfield Town rejoined the Championship after 11 years in the third tier of English football courtesy of their shoot-out success. (Image | The Telegraph)

Huddersfield Town Football Club returned to the second tier of English football yesterday courtesy of an 8-7 victory on penalties over Sheffield United in the nPower League One play-off final.

The shoot-out followed 120 minutes of goal-less action, in one of the least enthralling play-off finals in recent memory.

Town nearly broke the deadlock twice, 20-year-old winger Danny Ward hitting the woodwork just before half time, while Michael Doyle blocked Tommy Miller’s shot with less than 10 minutes to go.

Half an hour of extra time followed, in which neither side, clearly playing within themselves in the 25 degree heat, could open the scoring.

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Banter this was not: Liam Stacey invited the wrath of the nation with his despicable sense of humour on a day when most feared Fabrice Muamba to be dead. (Image | ITV)

University of Swansea student Liam Stacey, who was jailed for his brainless and insensitive comments about Fabrice Muamba, yesterday apologised for his remarks on Twitter.

Stacey, speaking to BBC Wales’ “Week in Week Out” programme, said: “I heard the news [about Muamba] during the England-Ireland game [Six Nations]. I don’t know why I decided to tweet about it.”

Neither do we, Liam. The student elaborated on his actions, calling them a “stupid, massive, massive mistake”, adding: “I’ve paid a huge price for it.”

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Sergio Aguero fires past Paddy Kenny to secure Manchester City‘s first title in 44 years. (Image | The Guardian)

The ultimate round of matches of the 2011-2012 Premier League season had more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. In this vein, footballing clichés were wheeled out by the bucket load. At Manchester City, it really was a game of two halves, as the league leaders thoroughly pummelled the Queens Park Rangers defence, peppering shots at Paddy Kenny and any other body the R’s could get in the way. 44 of them, in fact. With Manchester United maintaining a 1-0 lead over Sunderland for the majority of the game at the Stadium of Light, all eyes were on the Etihad Stadium. Pablo Zabaleta set the Citizens on their way just before half-time, at almost exactly the same point as Bolton Wanderers completed their turnaround against Stoke City to take a 2-1 lead. QPR were relegated, Bolton were staying up, and City had a hand on the trophy. Surely this would be it from Mark Hughes’ ultra-defensive side?

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Blackburn Rovers supporters feel utterly betrayed by their board, and who can blame them?

Blackburn Rovers are not a franchise. They are a living, breathing football club, supported by mostly locals who, since 2001, have enjoyed Premier League football. Now the club will be plying its trade in the Championship, thanks to the unfathomable incompetence of the Venky’s Group, which purchased Blackburn in 2010 and promised all the glory and riches under the sun. Making a mockery of the FA’s “fit and proper persons” test, Venky’s have been like a slow poison at Ewood Park, gradually withdrawing the dignity of this once proud club, which, however you judge their means in doing so, won the Premier League in 1995.

Like, obviously not lambs, but chickens to the slaughter (as per the Venky’s’ PR arrangements) Rovers have been terrible all season. Steve Kean was the most misguided of appointments, and may as well have been hired by a drunk in a pub, for all the credentials he possesses for the job in question. However, and this is a vital point, Kean did not hire himself. Nor can he inflict a “self-sacking” on the grounds of incompetence. Plenty of managers have been hired to positions they neither deserve nor merit, indeed one only has to look at England for many an example, but whatever Kean did in charge, he was never cut out for a top flight management job. And yesterday, this was made clear, if we all didn’t know it before.

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