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Championship

Nottingham Forest players should heed warning of Evangelos Marinakis’ fury

Nottingham Forest’s owner also owns Olympiakos and is furious at their recent form.

Mathew Nash

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Nottingham Forest fans are already aware that in owner Evangelos Marinakis they have quite a character. The Greek shipping magnate has a, let’s say, intriguing past in his homeland and for many his takeover was met with trepidation. That said, most Forest fans were just happy to see the back of Fawaz Al Hasawi’s reign of mediocrity.

Whilst many of the tales of Marinakis’ past are likely to be hyperbole his most recent news-grabbing actions in Greece should certainly have the Forest players on alert.

Olympiakos football club President and owner, Evangelos Marinakis (C-L) attends the football game between Athens arch-rivals Olympiakos and Panathinaikos on February 22, 2015in Athens. The Greek government suspended all matches in the country’s football Super League following violence between rival supporters. “The violence in sport in recent years is unacceptable and it is inconceivable to tolerate,” Deputy Sports Minister Stavros Kontonis said after a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that ordered the suspension. Serious crowd unrest erupted on Sunday at a game between Athens arch-rivals Olympiakos, the Super League leaders, and Panathinaikos. Officials from the two clubs clashed at a meeting of the Super League intended to bring the two sides together. AFP PHOTO / IN TIME / GIORGOS MATTHEOS (Photo credit should read GIORGOS MATTHEOS/AFP/Getty Images)

As reported by the BBC the Forest owner has severely punished the players at his other club, Olympiakos.

A 1-1 draw with Levadiakos at the weekend left the perennial Greek champions in third place behind both AEK Athens and PAOK Salonika. Olympiakos have won just three of their last eight games and it seems their seven-year stranglehold on the Greek title is coming to an end.

Marinakis has taken great offence to the players’ woeful recent performances. The squad have been fined £350,000 and ordered on holiday. The BBC report suggests most of the first-team squad will not play again this season, with under-20 players to feature instead.

Nottingham Forest players better shape up then. Whilst there has undoubtedly been some leeway and improvement under Aitor Karanka since taking over, any leniency could dissipate over the summer.

Olympiacos’ Colombian midfielder Felipe Pardo reacts during the UEFA Champions League group D football match Olympiacos FC versus Juventus on December 5, 2017 at Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, near Athens. / AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

With a pre-season to get in order for a Championship promotion fight, Marinakis may not be so forgiving of poor performances like the one v Millwall on Good Friday.

Forest players should certainly beware of looking disinterested or not putting in their best. Because it seems the boss upstairs is not averse to punishing his players when he does not feel the coach is to blame.

If ever there was an incentive to put in a little extra v Middlesbrough at the weekend, this might be it.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves signing Miguel Veloso would reunite him with long-time partner Joao Moutinho

The Portuguese pair formed a formidable partnership for both club and country and could potentially do similar at Wolves.

Mathew Nash

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Wolves are being linked with a move for free agent midfielder Miguel Veloso. TEAMtalk are suggesting that the newly-promoted side are looking to add the 56-cap Portugal international to their fold this week. He is a free agent having left Genoa and Everton are reportedly also keen.

It would be an interesting signing for Wolves and one which, on paper, certainly makes sense. Veloso is represented by the Jorge Mendes ran Gestifute company. He is also a player with an illustrious record, winning titles with Sporting and Dynamo Kiev.

At Sporting he was considered one of Portugal’s most promising young talents. He was not alone in that respect. He came through to the first-team picture in Lisbon at the same time as another central midfielder, one Wolves fans will know very well.

Miguel Veloso, Yannick and João Moutinho during the Under 21 Championship Play-offs between Portugal and Russia in Porto, Portugal on October 10, 2006. (Photo by CityFiles/Getty Images)

Both Veloso and Joao Moutinho came through at Sporting in 2005. The pair went on to form a formidable partnership in the heart of Sporting’s midfield for the next five years. In 2010, both men left. Veloso headed to Kiev, whilst Moutinho made a controversial switch to Porto.

Moutinho went on to establish a reputation as one of the more consistent central midfielders in Europe.

So this summer, when Wolves signed him for a bargain fee of just £5 million, it was an eye-catching piece of business.

If they could also secure Veloso, the pair might be able to rekindle some of their old magic at Molineux.

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Leeds United

Bielsa’s Engine Room: Kalvin Phillips continues to thrive in new Leeds role

The 22-year-old came through the Elland Road academy system.

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Kalvin Phillips
Photo: Getty Images

After Marco Bielsa’s Leeds United continued their impressing winning start to the season this weekend, recording a 2-1 victory over Rotherham, several players are being highlighted for praise.

Among those who deserve the majority share of the plaudits is 22-year-old Kalvin Phillips, who continues to thrive in the playing style implemented by the club’s new boss.

A player capable of keeping it simple at the base of the midfield, Phillips has proven to be astute defensively and comfortable in possession – key traits for a player to thrive in the Argentine’s system.

Against Rotherham on Saturday, he registered 112 touches, more than any other player on the pitch and a personal best for the club.

He also completed the most passes on the day (88), recorded more interceptions than anyone else (six) and created two chances, one of which went down as an assist.

Rotherham marked a third exceptional Championship performance of the season for the youngster, with his movement and distribution keeping the ball ticking over in central midfield.

The academy talent is proving himself to be a force in central midfield for the Whites, quickly establishing himself as the lynchpin of the Bielsa revolution at Elland Road.

If Phillips can maintain this level of performance he will be integral in the club’s promotion push throughout the remainder of the season.

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Aston Villa

One to Watch: Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish at his creative best vs Ipswich

The Villa youngster was exceptional again this weekend.

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Jack Grealish
Photo: Getty Images

Jack Grealish again proved why he is Aston Villa’s most important player in their attempt to gain promotion back to the Premier League with an excellent performance in Villa’s 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town on Saturday.

The 22-year-old’s wonderful display was underpinned by the 28 passes he completed in the final third – which, according to WhoScored was more than any other player had managed in a single Championship game thus far this season.

Grealish also completed five key passes in the game, bringing his season total to 11 – more than any other player in the league other than Norwich’s Ben Marshall (also 11).

Furthermore, the Englishman completed five of his six dribbles in the game.

(Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

Steve Bruce spoke glowingly of Grealish this week on TalkSport.

“He’s arguably the best young player I’ve had in terms of ability. He can do something where he can lift you off your seat, he’s such a natural footballer and of course he’s grown up a bit,” the Aston Villa manager said.

“For me, he’s going to be a top, top player.”

It is hard not to agree with Bruce. Not only does it appear as though Grealish has matured greatly in the last 12 months, his performances since the turn of the year have been astounding – he has arguably been the division’s best player in that period.

His constant menacing against Ipswich was no different – he has started this season brightly.

He has now been offered a new contract by Villa, according to BBC Sport, and looks set to stay with the club for short-term after a move to Tottenham Hotspur broke down this summer.

If he can manage to help guide Villa to the Premier League, he may be there for the long-term.

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