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Championship

Mousa Dembele links from 2015 highlight Sunderland’s plight this week

Mathew Nash

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Sunderland’s hopes of survival in the Championship are fading fast. The Black Cats were comfortably beaten 3-0 at home by Villa last night to continue their miserable season. The appointment of former Wales boss Chris Coleman has not changed their fortunes and currently Sunderland stare down the barrel of Championship relegation.

Tonight, Tottenham Hotspur take on Juventus in the Champions League. One man who will be expected to star yet again will be Mousa Dembele. He tore Juventus apart in the first-leg and has done similar against some of the best midfielders in the Premier League all season.

Sunderland fans will be aghast at the fact, just three years ago, their side tried to sign the Belgian.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 02: Players of Sunderland react after Reading scored their third goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sunderland and Reading at Stadium of Light on December 2, 2017 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Back in the summer of 2015 Sunderland had just survived another relegation battle. Dick Advocaat was manager and the club wanted to stay well away from the bottom of the table.

Dembele therefore emerged as a transfer target and one that looked likely. He was struggling for form and fitness at Tottenham Hotspur at the time and Sunderland felt they could get hold of the player. It was reported by the Mirror that Sunderland were keen on the player, who had started just 10 games in the previous season, after signing his Spurs team-mate Younes Kaboul. The Daily Star went on to suggest Tottenham wanted a fee of £15 million for the player which, in hindsight, looks a bargain.

But Sunderland never got their man. They survived relegation by the skin of their teeth again that season, and were eventually relegated the season after.

Now Sunderland are being thrashed at home by Villa and looking at a place in the third-tier of English football next season. Meanwhile Dembele has more than rewarded Mauricio Pochettino’s faith in him. He is set to go head-to-head with Juventus in the Champions League yet again this evening.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 16: Mousa Dembele of Tottenham Hotspur and Jeremain Lens of Sunderland compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland at White Hart Lane on January 16, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Not many analogies sum up the reduction in ambition and performance at Sunderland more than their pursuit of Dembele less than three years ago.

Sunderland have gone from being linked with currently one of the most in-form midfielders in Europe, to picking over the debris of another home mauling. All of this in in less than three seasons.

Sunderland fans deserve better. They deserve what Tottenham get from Dembele and co week-in and week-out. Hopefully, with relegation looking likely, they can press the reset button. In three years time, perhaps Sunderland will be amazed at their rise from such a lowly position.

Leeds United

After Instagram hint would Kenneth Omeruo be a great recruit for Leeds United

The Nigerian has been excellent on loan spells and could fit in perfectly at Leeds United.

Mathew Nash

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Earlier this week Leeds United secured the signature of Jamal Blackman on loan for the season. He was the second former Middlesbrough loanee signed from Chelsea this summer, after Lewis Baker arrived earlier in the summer.

Another player with a similar history then appeared to hint he could be next. Kenneth Omeruo commented on Blackman’s Instagram post about the move stating, “wait for me.”

What the Nigerian international meant by the comment is up for debate but, at the moment, there is no sign that Leeds are in fact interested in signing the player.

But should they be?

Omeruo could be a fine addition to the Leeds first-team.

First things first, Leeds are short at the back. Last season proved that another defender is needed at Leeds, even if Kalvin Phillips appears set for a dual midfield-defensive role.

(Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

Omeruo could also be perfect for Leeds’ new system.

It appears Marcelo Bielsa is adopting a fluid formation at Leeds. When in defence they look a solid four. But when in attack, the full-back’s push on and a midfielder drops in, creating a three.

Omeruo showed at the World Cup this summer that he is more than adept at playing in a back-three. Nigeria’s performances improved greatly when he joined William Troost-Ekong and Leon Balogun in triumvirate at the back.

Capable of playing at full-back as well the 40-cap international could be a great recruit for Leeds United this summer.

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Nottingham Forest

Two pros and two cons to Nottingham Forest re-signing Lee Tomlin

The 29-year-old proved to be a shrewd piece of business last season.

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Lee Tomlin
Photo: Getty Images

Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka pulled off a masterstroke last January when he secured the loan signing of Lee Tomlin who arrived until the end of the 2017/18 campaign on loan.

The stocky attacker performed admirably for the Reds during his time with the club and there was real hope from Forest supporters that their boss would bring Tomlin back to the City Ground during the summer.

Karanka has since gone on a spending spree and signed nine new players and unfortunately for Tomlin several of those new additions have come in the way of attacking options, which could hamper his chances of coming back to the East Midlands.

According to the Mirror (16/07/2018 23:09), the ex-Bristol City man is free to depart the Cardiff City Stadium this summer following their promotion to the Premier League, although it does remain to be seen whether Forest are in the running for their former loan star.

(Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Here we look at two pros and two cons to Forest completing a deal which would see the 29-year-old return to Trentside…

Pro – Undoubted quality at Championship level

Tomlin netted four goals and created three assists from his 15 appearances in the red of Forest last season but it was perhaps his overall play which saw him claim more praise from Forest’s supporters.

The Cardiff City man possesses incredible feet and his build-up play is magnificent, making him one of the Championship’s very best creative players on his day, although some inconsistencies are perhaps evident.

There is an argument to suggest that Tomlin would get in most teams at second tier level and if Forest do manage to secure his services it is a move that would undoubtedly add more quality to the squad.

Con – Loan deal more likely

Forest have already secured a couple of summer loan signings and with Sam Byram’s pending arrival from West Ham United also likely to be a loan, it begs the question of where Forest would fit all these temporary players.

Tomlin’s excessive wage at Cardiff City means that a loan deal is far more likely than a permanent deal at this stage and that might not sit well with The Reds’ hierarchy.

Only five loan players can be included in the squad of 18 and it just doesn’t seem likely that Forest will pursue anymore temporary deals – other than Byram – at this stage.

Pro – Affection with the Forest supporters

One thing that Lee Tomlin did do amicably well during his loan spell at the City Ground was build up a rapport with the long-suffering Nottingham Forest faithful.

The Reds’ loyal fan base haven’t had loads to shout about in recent times but Tomlin’s arrival last season felt like the club finally had a player who they could relate to once again and his work rate and desire to succeed really shone through.

Whilst some Forest fans might feel that the team has plenty of players capable of playing in Tomlin’s position, he would surely be welcomed back based on his popularity on the banks of the River Trent.

Con – Not really needed

Forest have spent heavily this summer and in Gil Dias, João Carvalho, Diogo Gonçalves and Hilal Soudani they have added a plethora of players capable of playing in a number of attacking positions on the pitch.

Tomlin’s arrival would feel very much like the Reds were stockpiling players, rather than signing them to actually make a difference when it comes to winning Championship games of football.

Forest already have seven or eight players on their books who are proving difficult to offload and they can ill-afford to have any extra players kicking their heels on the fringes of the first-team.

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Leeds United

Neil Warnock confirms no interest in Ronaldo Vieira, great news for Leeds United

Leeds United’s talented midfielder was linked with Cardiff City earlier this week.

Mathew Nash

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The weekend saw one of Leeds United’s top talents linked with a move to the Premier League. As reported by the Sun on Sunday [15/07/2018, page 59], Cardiff City were said to be keen on an £8 million move for England under-21 midfielder Ronaldo Vieira.

It was a move that would have left Leeds fans livid. Whilst Vieira did not have a great season last term he is still a hot prospect for the future.

But Leeds fans can, it seems, rest easy. Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock, a former Leeds manager with a rather low opinion poll at Elland Road, has confirmed his club are not interested in signing Vieira this summer.


“We’ve been linked quite a few times with him and from about four different agents I think, so I don’t know which one of them put it in the press!

“When I read a couple of things in the papers, I think ‘have I not said no about this player before?'”

– Neil Warnock on apparent Ronaldo Vieira interest


This development from Warnock is great news for Leeds. Not because they are not making a bid, but because it would have been hard to turn down for the talented midfielder.

(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

If Cardiff were keen, there is every chance Vieira would have pushed for a move.

As has been seen in the past, Leeds youngsters are not always prepared to wait for a chance in the top-flight.

Sam Byram, Charlie Taylor and Lewis Cook have all forced moves to the Premier League in recent memory and Vieira might have been the same if there was genuine interest.

Now it seems there isn’t, the 20-year-old can hopefully thrive under Marcelo Bielsa in 2018-19.

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