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The Potential Impact of Championship Signings for Premier League Clubs



The Championship is a league that is showcasing more and more quality as each season progresses with teams spending millions in order to ensure that they can reach English football’s lucrative top flight. This increase in ability throughout the lower tiers of the English footballing pyramid has resulted in an increased amount of players getting signed for Premier League sides as they look to ensure survival, or push into the higher reaches of the league. A number of the best talents in the division including Callum Wilson, Matt Ritchie, and Troy Deeney have already made the step up with their respective sides. This increase in quality has also led to a massive increase in fees spent on players – the sort of massive fees that are usually reserved for top division players. Ross McCormack and Leonardo Ulloa are main examples of this growing trend with fees accompanying them of £11m and £8m respectively.

There are a number of players who have already made the move up to the Premier League following strong seasons for their clubs and despite their own failure to reach the top flight through promotion – they have achieved a lucrative move to new pastures.


Tyrone Mings, 22, Full-Back, £8m to Bournemouth

A fan-favourite at Portman Road following a strong season on the pitch and acts of generosity off it. A tall and powerful player who has been linked with a move to more established Premier League clubs than the Cherries, who will certainly be fancying their chances of building a strong back line following the arrival of Mings. Eddie Howe himself has commented on the “huge potential” that Mings holds and with youth on his side – it is easy to see why fans may expect the ex-Chippenham Town man to become a key part of their inaugural Premier League campaign.


Adam Federici, 30, Goalkeeper, Free Transfer to Bournemouth

Another Bournemouth recruit, Australian stopper Federici will no doubt be best remembered by fans for his unfortunate error that resulted in Reading’s exit from the FA Cup Semi-Final against Arsenal at Wembley. However, Federici was recently voted Reading’s player of the season and has become a favourite among Reading fans for his ability to show great athleticism and keep his side in games. If he is given a chance to be the number 1 at Bournemouth he could prove to a fantastic signing for Eddie Howe as they enter their debut season in the Premier League.


Joe Gomez, 18, Full-Back/Centre-Back, £3.5m to Liverpool

A graduate of the impressive academy at Charlton, Gomez was handed his Championship debut just 3 months after his 17th birthday and has gone from strength to strength ever since. Gomez has the perfect combination of a cool-head and great athleticism which allow him to look like a seasoned pro despite his young age. A player who loves to have the ball at feet and moves it in a disciplined manner with great ease. A natural centre back who is largely expected to go out on loan, his ability to play right back will lead him to feel that he can follow in the footsteps of fellow Londoners Raheem Sterling and Jordan Ibe in establishing himself as first team regular at Anfield.


There are also a number of players that are linked with possible moves to the Premier League who haven’t quite seen deals materialise for their services as of yet following the inevitable rumour mill during the off-season.


Jota, 24, Attacking Midfielder, Brentford

A key part of Brentford’s playoff push last season, who had some great performances following his move from Celta Vigo of Spain in August 2014. A lively and skilful player, with a definite eye for goal scoring 11 goals in 46 appearances for the Bees. There has been some interest coming from the likes of Bournemouth and Leicester in securing his signature and he could certainly prove himself to be a very productive signing for anyone who managed to get the Spaniard in their squad.


Bakary Sako, 27, Attacking Midfielder, Wolves

Available on a free transfer following the expiry of his current deal at Wolves. The Malian international has gained a reputation as fearsome opponent due to his direct running and imposing athleticism and will certainly still be haunting a few Championship defenders’ dreams as he helped himself to 15 goals during the course of the season. Widely tipped for a Premier League move with manager Kenny Jackett expecting the PFA Championship Team of the Year player to move on from Molineux this summer. Sako could certainly offer a great deal to a top flight club if he is allowed to roam the midfield and can replicate his form from the 2014/15 season.


George Friend, 27, Full-Back/Centre-Back, Middlesbrough

Another inductee into the most recent PFA Championship Team of the Year, Friend has been constantly under transfer speculation since his move to Teeside in 2012. One of the most capable players in the division, Friend has consistently shown high quality performances particularly in the 2014/15 campaign as he played a key role in the Middlesbrough’s run to the playoff final where they were defeated by Norwich.


Daryl Murphy, 32, Striker, Ipswich

It would be hard not to include this man as he has been scoring goals for fun this season finishing with a very impressive 27 goals in the Championship. At 32, the Republic of Ireland international is certainly no spring chicken – but it is hard to argue that his goal-scoring talents could be of assistance to a number of top flight sides. Murphy most recently featured in the Premier League with Sunderland in 2010 and may see this as his last opportunity to play in English football’s top tier.


Keiren Westwood, 30, Goalkeeper, Sheffield Wednesday

Another Republic of Ireland and Championship Team of the Year inductee, Westwood has shown some exceptional form to see himself become one of the standout goalkeepers in the Championship. A terrific shot-stopper known for his great reflex saves, Westwood also has some top-flight experience already under his belt from his time at Sunderland – Westwood could find himself surrounded by some interest during the remainder of the off-season progresses.


Chris Martin, 26, Striker, Derby

A lethal goal-scorer who has gone from strength to strength in the last couple of seasons. A strong and physically dominant forward who this season was rewarded with several Scotland caps by manager Gordon Strachan. Martin scored an impressive 18 goals in the 2014/15 campaign despite injury problems, and at 26 could offer the best years of his career to a Premier League side who would have to pay a sizeable sum to secure his signature from Derby County.


Will Hughes, 20, Midfielder, Derby

A terrific young talent from the Derby academy who has shown terrific ability beyond his years since his debut in 2011/12 season. An excellent passer who possesses a terrific ability to read the game, Hughes is a regular in the England under 21 setup and has been tipped by many to become a future England star. Derby have Hughes under contract until 2018 so it would take a sizeable fee to lure him away from the iPro Stadium, but it could prove a good investment for a Premier League side with the likes of Spurs reportedly interested in the services of Hughes.


Feel free to comment with any players who you feel this article should have included or players from your side that you think would be deserving of a move into the Premier League in the near future.


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Calum is a Reading fan and has been a season ticket holder for many years. He is currently studying for a degree in Sport & Exercise Psychology.

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FA Cup

Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Swansea City – Tammy Abraham didn’t take first-team opportunity

Jake Jackman




Swansea City were held in the FA Cup away to Championship club Sheffield Wednesday. The Swans have been drawn to face lower league opposition in every round of the competition so far and this occasion saw Carlos Carvalhal return to his former club. It was a huge day for him and he will be slightly disappointed by the performance that he witnessed.

Although the Premier League side selected a talented team, it was an even contest and both teams had chances to score. Neither team deserved to go through on this viewing and they will have to meet again at the Liberty Stadium in just over a week’s time.

It will be interesting to see who will await the winners of this tie in the next round and that could dictate whether Swansea take the replay seriously or not. Here are three talking points from Hillsborough:

Tammy Abraham didn’t take his opportunity

It was a frustrating day for Tammy Abraham as he had few chances to impress in the final third and he was taken off midway in the second half. That will be a disappointment for the forward as this was an opportunity to earn more game-time in the Premier League and his contribution on Saturday is unlikely to bring that.

During the match, he failed to have a single attempt on goal, while his pass success was at a poor 58%. The service he received was non-existent as shown in the second half when Luciano Narsingh refused to play the striker in.

Abraham did nice work to release the winger and spin in behind his marker, but the return ball didn’t arrive. The striker was visibly annoyed that the ball wasn’t given back.

Jordan Ayew was the man that replaced Abraham and he offered more when he was on the pitch. He was willing to drop deep to be given possession, while he got two attempts in on goal during his short time on the pitch.

His distribution was more effective, as displayed by his two key passes. The former Aston Villa man is the player that should lead the line for the relegation-threatened club.

Adam Reach stood out in midfield

This has been a season to forget for Sheffield Wednesday as they are a considerable distance off promotion, despite being one of the best Championship teams in recent seasons.

The match against Swansea provided the players with an opportunity to prove they can compete with Premier League opposition and Adam Reach was one of the standout performers.

The 25-year-old showed glimpses of both attacking and defensive quality, which shows he can contribute in both halves of the pitch. He will be the first to admit his final ball could have been better, but he regularly got in positions to cause problems for the away side. During the match, he attempted three shots and completed 86% of his passes.

Meanwhile, he worked hard out of possession and didn’t allow Swansea to dominate the midfield battle. Reach won four tackles and made a further two interceptions. He was relentless in work rate and his energy rubbed off on the rest of the team. The midfielder will be a player to keep an eye on in the replay.

Alfie Mawson had to miss the match through injury

The Swansea City defender was pencilled in to start in the match, but he was injured in the warm up and had to be replaced in the starting eleven by Kyle Naughton.

This was a major blow for the team as Mawson is a born leader at the back and offers composure to the back-line. He was later pictured wearing a knee brace and holding crutches, in what was a worrying sight.

The last thing Swansea need is a serious injury, especially to one of the team’s most important players. Towards the end of the game, the cameras showed that he was moving his leg more freely, but it is a concern nonetheless.

Naughton came in and did well, with one excellent challenge saving a goal in the first-half. The entire Swansea defence played well, with Kyle Bartley standing out as a Premier League centre-half.

The former Leeds United loanee won five aerial duels and made four ball recoveries. He could be required to step up if Mawson has to miss some of the run-in.

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Chelsea 4-0 Hull City – Willian plays himself into Champions League contention

Jake Jackman




Chelsea continued their upturn in form with a convincing 4-0 win over Hull City in the FA Cup. The Blues were overwhelming favourites for the tie, but they had to get the job done and they did so effectively, scoring four times in the first-half.

They would have had one eye on the Champions League tie against Barcelona that is upcoming and that led to Antonio Conte making several changes.

The Italian decided to rest key players such as Eden Hazard, Ngolo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta. It was the right decision as they progressed with comfort. Here are three talking points from the match:

Olivier Giroud is off the mark

One huge positive to come out of the game for the hosts was Olivier Giroud’s first goal for the club. He signed in January to provide competition for Alvaro Morata and his performances have been encouraging since signing, but to hit the back of the net takes the pressure off the Frenchman.

The signing carried relatively little risk for Chelsea as the striker has lots of experience in England and his consistency is already shining through in a Blues’ shirt.

Early into the game, he had a great opportunity to open his account, but he blazed a volley over the bar. It was a difficult chance as the ball was lifted over the defence to play him in, but a striker of his calibre should have done better.

Three goals were scored and he didn’t score one of them. If he had finished the match without scoring, it would have been talked about and that is why his goal just before half-time will relieve the pressure from him.

The rest of his game was excellent as he got two assists and linked up the play well from the front-line. Although he was brought in to be the back-up striker, Conte may give him the start against Barcelona as he is the player in form.

Hull City showed fight in the second half

The contest was over by the time the players stepped back out for the second-half, but Hull City showed fight and commitment to keep the score down to 4-0.

Nigel Adkins knows the importance of every mental victory when battling against relegation and to draw the second half can provide the players with confidence ahead of a return to league action.

Their performance was markedly improved as they created good opportunities and came close to scoring from the penalty spot. David Meyler stepped up and saw his penalty saved, but that didn’t see the players lose focus as they continued to create opportunities. During the match, they had 10 shots to Chelsea’s 14, which shows that they were far from embarrassed. They just didn’t have the quality in the final third that their Premier League opposition did possess.

It would be a huge blow for Hull City to suffer back-to-back relegations and their manager will be aware of that. This match against Chelsea was a good occasion, but it was far from a priority and their defeat won’t live too long in the memory.

They are currently 21st in the Championship and only above the bottom three by one point. Their far superior goal difference provides encouragement, but they must show this level of commitment until the end of the season if they are to avoid the drop.

Willian proved his quality before the return of the Champions League

Rotation can cause problems in the FA Cup, but in this case, it provided an opportunity to those that are on the fringes of the first-team to play themselves into contention for the Champions League.

Willian is an interesting case as he does feature prominently, but he isn’t a guaranteed first-team starter, as Pedro often gets the nod to start ahead of him.

Willian was excellent against Hull City and certainly gave his manager some food for thought ahead of the match with Barcelona. He completed six dribbles, attempted four shots and made three key passes as he terrorised the opposition defence. On the day, he scored twice, but he easily could have got a hat-trick.

Antonio Conte will be aware that his team’s big weakness is an over-reliance on Eden Hazard. The return of Cesc Fabregas goes some way to providing some support to the Belgian, but if Chelsea can get Willian playing to this level consistently, that would be a positive. He is more dynamic than Pedro and offers more flair to the attack. This performance could see him start against Barcelona.

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Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest must give Aitor Karanka time to succeed

Nottingham Forest must give Aitor Karanka time if he is to achieve success at Nottingham Forest, writes Greg Whitaker.

Greg Whitaker



Aitor Karanka
Photo: Reuters

The Championship is awash with British footballing institutions this season.

Leeds United, Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday and Wolves have all been Champions of England in their time, while Aston Villa have won nearly everything there is to win in the game, including the European Cup in 1982.

Yet, it is Nottingham Forest that hold one of the most unique records in football history, as the only British side to win back-to-back European Cups.

However, two decades of instability on the pitch, in the dugout and in the boardroom have frustrated the Forest faithful.

Twenty years since the Reds last graced the top flight, nights of European glory under Brian Clough and Peter Taylor seem an eternity away.

If new manager Aitor Karanka is to bring the good times back to the City Ground, Forest must break with the bad habits and mismanagement that have plagued the club in recent years and back their man – both with time and the investment needed to wake this sleeping giant.

Since taking the hot-seat at the start of the year, Karanka has not enjoyed the best of starts.

With just one win and five defeats making up his first six league games in charge, one could be forgiven for suggesting the Spaniard is already under pressure.

After all, Karanka is the 13th manager in just ten years to take the reigns at the City Ground. But paradoxically, this is exactly why the former Real Madrid man must be given time.

Indeed, it would certainly be fair to suggest that the painfully inconsistent nature of Forest’s league form over the past decade or so comes as a direct result of their trigger happy mentality when it comes to their manager, paired with their scattergun approach to appointing a successor.

In the last four years alone, Karanka represents the seventh man tasked with kick-staring the Tricky Trees.

What is more concerning is the blindingly obvious lack of consistency in these appointments. Never has a list of seven managers contrasted so much.

From Billy Davies to Philippe Montanier, Stuart Pearce to Mark Warburton, each manager has come with radically different ideas, approaches and management styles.

As Forest legend Garry Birtles was quoted as saying in the local media last month, Consistency breeds consistency but the same is true of inconsistency.’

Although it could be argued that the appointment of the pragmatic, Jose Mourinho-esque, Karanka, immediately after the very English style of management offered by Mark Warburton, smacks of no joined-up thinking at board level once again, the appointment was welcomed by fans.

Whilst he has garnered a bit of a reputation for his short temper, the former defender has a good record in the Championship, leading Middlesbrough to the Premier League in 2016.

Of the 13 managers to take to the Forest dugout over the past decade, Karanka is certainly one of the more exciting prospects and warrants the time needed to put his own stamp on this Forest side.

Despite a poor start, the Spaniard must now work with the ragtag squad of players he has inherited and ensure Forest are still a Championship club come May, before rebuilding in his own image next summer.

After all, the squad undoubtedly possesses a good deal of ability and potential, with a number of exciting young prospects also making their way into the first team fold.

However, much of this ability is raw or inconsistent.

Karanka’s first job is surely to inject much needed confidence and organisation into this group of players.

During his time at the Riverside, Karanka managed to turn an underachieving Boro team –  who were arguably in a similar state to that of the current Forest side – into promotion winners.

He did this through implementing his own pragmatic approach – making his side defensively very well-drilled and difficult to break down.

Although this style, labelled as negative by some, proved not as successful when applied in Middlesbrough’s single season in the Premier League, this meticulous focus on preventing the opposition from playing their natural game often pays dividends in the rough and tumble of the Championship.

What is certain is that Karanka views Forest as a project.

He has shown in recent interviews and press conferences that he understands and respects the rich and prestigious history of the club.

However, he has also indicated that he is under no illusions that making Forest a true force again will require time and, in the long term, large investment in his squad.

What it all comes down to now is simple.

After five chaotic years under the ownership of Fawaz Al Hasawi, will new owner Evangelos Marinakis show Aitor Karanka the patience and investment needed to revitalise one of England’s biggest footballing institutions?

After all, in the words of Nottingham Forest’s greatest ever manager, Brian Clough: ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day … but I wasn’t on that particular job.’

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