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Championship

Leeds United fans rightly wonder what ‘set-piece specialist’ does at club

The Italian has hardly improved matters for Leeds. In fact, they appear to have got worse.

Mathew Coull

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Leeds
Photo: Getty Images

Leeds United lost in the Championship last night, going down 2-0 at high-flying Fulham.

The result at Craven Cottage was more than fair as Fulham dominated much of the game with the Yorkshire outfit struggling to contain their attacking philosophy.

But once again Leeds fans were left astounded by the team’s inability to defend set-pieces. It has been a concern for the club all season and again the problem reared its head last night.

Before Fulham’s first goal Aleksandar Mitrovic had a free run at a header from a corner. On that occasion, Bailey Peacock-Farrell kept him at bay. Not long after it happened again. This time the Serbian’s effort deflected off Kevin McDonald and into the Leeds net.

As reported by LUFC Data on Twitter, the set-piece statistics for Leeds are simply damning:

However, if any team in the Championship should not have this issue, it is Leeds. In November they actually appointed a set-piece specialist.    

Former Fiorentina, AC Milan and Brentford man Gianni Vio arrived in October. Whilst better regarded as an attacking set-piece specialist he has also been working with the club defensively – as reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Well, Leeds are still not exactly thriving from attacking set-pieces whilst defensively they have been woeful.

Much of it is down to their rather deep zonal marking system, which twice allowed Mitrovic to have a free run and jump at a header for Fulham. Personnel does not help either. For instance, with Kyle Bartley organising at the back Leeds always looked solid defensively last season. The same cannot be said about the current campaign.

Leeds’ inability to cause damage from set-pieces is only made worse by their woeful defending against them. Fans on Twitter are asking one thing, what exactly is Vio doing at Thorp Arch on a daily basis…

Birmingham City

Garry Monk should reunite with Rob Green at Birmingham City

Birmingham City are set to let David Stockdale leave the club.

Mathew Coull

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Huddersfield Town have announced their retained list for the summer and veteran goalkeeper Rob Green will now be hunting for a new club. The Terriers have not renewed his one-year deal at the club and the 12-cap England international will now be hunting for a new club this summer.

Green joined Huddersfield on a free transfer after a shock release by West Yorkshire rivals Leeds United last summer, who decided to replace him with German goalie Felix Wiedwald. That proved to be a move which certainly backfired.

But he played second fiddle to Danish international goalie Jonas Lossl and is now on his way. He did not feature in a single game for the club, spending the entire season as a substitute at the John Smith’s Stadium.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

So where does he go next?

One potential option would be a return to working with Garry Monk, currently the manager at Birmingham City.

Green was the number one for Monk at Leeds in 2016-17. Had the manager remained at Elland Road, it is highly likely that Green would have done the same and played out this season as the Whites number one again.

But with Monk gone Green needed to find somewhere else to play his football and now the pair have a chance to reunite again.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It also appears that Birmingham are going to be in need of a new goalkeeper. The Yorkshire Evening Post suggest this weekend that Monk wants to move on David Stockdale, with his hometown club and Monk’s former club Leeds keen.

If Stockdale is exiting, Birmingham need a safe pair of hands between the net. Despite his advancing years, Green proved at Leeds he still has plenty to give at the Championship level and with Monk needing a new ‘keeper he can rely on the 38-year-old would be a no-brainer for Birmingham City.

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Nottingham Forest

Aitor Karanka should target reunion with Julien De Sart

The Belgian could be a great signing for Nottingham Forest.

Mathew Coull

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It seems as though Belgian midfielder Julien De Sart will be looking for a new club this summer. He finds himself in a state of limbo after a season on loan at Zulte Waregem from Middlesbrough.

Despite being a regular for the Essevee he will not be making a permanent move to the club. According to Het Laatste Nieuws, the club will not be prioritising his €700,000 (£612,000) permanent deal agreed with Middlesbrough.

The 23-year-old will now return to the Riverside, where it appears he has no long-term future.

(Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)

But should his former boss bring him to Nottingham Forest?

Aitor Karanka was the manager at Boro when De Sart was snapped up from Standard Liege back in 2016 and was considered one for the future on Teesside.

Now, the former Belgium under-21 international needs to find a new home and a reunion with Karanka at the City Ground could be a perfect move.

The central-midfielder would be a welcome addition for Forest, who need to strengthen across the park following another mediocre season.

(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

De Sart has impressed in the East Midlands before. He was finally showing what he could do during a loan spell with Derby County in 2017. Unfortunately, a change of manager saw him drop out of the side under Gary Rowett.

Forest, however, could offer him a second chance in the Championship and it would give Karanka a chance to properly work with a player he clearly rated just a couple of seasons ago.

He would be a cheap and known transfer option for the Nottingham Forest first-team squad. He would also arrive with a point to prove to his old boss Karanka and the manager at bitter rivals Derby, something Forest fans will certainly appreciate.

It would be an under-the-radar signing, but one which could act some genuine quality to the Forest midfield ahead of the new season.

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Derby County

Newcastle United should take advantage of Matej Vydra’s low asking fee

The Czech international has scored 20 goals in the Championship this season.

Josh Kerr

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Matej Vydra
Photo: Getty Images

Newcastle United ensuring another season of Premier League football represents one of Rafael Benitez’ most impressive achievements in football to date.

The job done by the Spaniard is all the more admirable considering the Magpies striker options have been thin for large periods of the season, and the arrival of a goal-scorer is surely imminent for the Tyneside club.

According to The Telegraph, Derby County are likely to list their top-scorer Matej Vydra for sale after their failure to earn promotion to the Premier League.

This comes as massive news to a number of clubs in England’s top-flight, and Newcastle should be one of the front-runners queuing for the 26-year-old’s prolific services.

The Czech Republic international has been excellent this season firing 20 goals in 35 appearances for the Rams.

Reports suggest the club may be forced to sell their star striker in order to reduce the club’s £35 million wage bill ahead of next season.

The 26-year-old’s sale this summer will be Derby’s attempts to slash their budgets and form a strategy that is going to enable the club to push for promotion once again next season.

A fee of around £8 million could prove a major boost for Newcastle, considering the club’s financial restraints, and a 20-goal striker would surely be an improvement on Benitez’s current front-line options.

(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Islam Slimani’s loan move from Leicester proved to be a disaster, and the arrival of Joselu was one of the most disappointing transfers of the season.

The club are in desperate need of a goalscorer, with Perez leading the club’s individual efforts, despite being a number 10 and not an out-and-out goalscorer.

Vydra also has rare Premier League experience with West Bromwich Albion, as well as Watford, and his graft in the Championship may mean he’s ready for a return back to the top-flight.

The former West Brom striker guarantees goals and if there is one thing Tyneside supporters have missed in recent years, it is a goal-scoring hero.

At a little over £8 million, he could still prove a real bargain and a relatively insignificant risk.

Benitez has been wanting to break the bank since his arrival in 2016 but may be tempted do a deal on the cheap for the highly-rated striker.

Newcastle will be looking to improve on their impressive 10th place finish next season and the firepower of a genuine goalscorer could see them surpass the highs of this campaign.

Vydra offers pace and is even an aerial threat at just 5ft 2, so it has to be a priority for Newcastle to capture one of the bargains of the season and bring Vydra to St James’ Park.

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