Manchester United eyeing James Maddison transfer with Leicester midfielder target for next summer

13 Sep

Manchester United are keeping tabs on James Maddison as they consider a summer move for the Leicester midfielder – though they’ll face competition from Liverpool and Man City for his signature.

United were keen on Maddison, 22, earlier this year but failed to complete his signing, with the former Coventry and Norwich man understood to be happy at the King Power Stadium.

Maddison is widely regarded as one of the most promising players in the Premier League
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However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still wants to bring an attacking midfielder to Old Trafford and Maddison is believed to be one of his key targets, the Manchester Evening News report.

Maddison has starred since making the step up to Premier League football, scoring seven goals last season and also creating a further seven. He has already recorded two assists in the league this term as Leicester have begun the season undefeated.

The playmaker’s form has seen him called up to the England squad as well, though he failed to make his Three Lions debut during the recent international break.

According to the MEN, Manchester City and Liverpool are also keen on Maddison, and could rival United for his signature if the Red Devils formalise their interest next summer.

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Maddison is in line to make his fifth consecutive league start of the season for Leicester on Saturday as the Foxes visit Old Trafford to take on Man United.

A third win of the season for Brendan Rodgers’ side could move them level with Liverpool atop the Premier League table to further prove their credentials as potential top six finishers.

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Steve Bruce press conference: Newcastle manager on Matt Ritchie’s injury, January transfer plans and possibility of beating Liverpool

13 Sep

The Premier League returns this weekend after the international break with the action getting under way when Liverpool host Newcastle.

The Anfield clash pits Jurgen Klopp’s table-toppers against a Magpies side with only one win this season – and talkSPORT will bring you full LIVE commentary of the match as part of our GameDay coverage.

Can Steve Bruce guide Newcastle to a stunning win at Anfield?
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Despite Newcastle’s poor record so far this term, they appear to be improving having won and drawn their past two matches respectively, which included a stunning defeat of Tottenham at their north London home.

But a visit to Liverpool is one tough challenge for Steve Bruce and his players, though the boss is hoping to pull off another shock and deal the Reds their first defeat of the season.

Bruce also provided the latest injury news during his press conference, while also discussing Newcastle’s January transfer plans.

You can read the best bits of his press conference, below…


On Newcastle possibly beating Liverpool

“They have not lost there for two and a half years and they are the European champions. “e will have to catch them on an off day.

“We have good team spirit here. The players have been together for a couple of years. The core are really honest and a genuine group of players.

“When you’ve got that, you’re capable of doing anything. Let’s go and have a crack, enjoy the occasion, and see if we can pull off a shock.

“Records are there to be broken. Up front [Liverpool] are as good as I’ve seen, so we’ll have to defend well. It’s always been a big fixture, and you want to go there and take them on. It’s what we’re in it for.”

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On injuries and team news

“Unfortunately, Sean Longstaff turned an ankle in training. It was one of those freak ones for Sean. He went to stop a cross and locked his ankle in the ground.

“That is what happens in football. He will miss out but there will be more occasions where he can player there [at Anfield] again.

“Matt Ritchie has trained and could even be back in contention for the Leicester game.

Ritchie suffered ankle ligament damage when challenged by Leicester’s Hamza Choudhury last month
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“[On Andy Carroll] We need more good news from his specialist. We hope it is. He has gone down to London today.

“I have always said it is always difficult to put a timescale, he has joined in and worked hard.

“He has a smile on his face. Touch wood he gets the good news.”

On Newcastle’s January transfer plans

“In the next couple of weeks we will look at January and I will sit down with Steve [Nickson, head of recruitment] and his crew to see where we can strengthen.

“It’s vitally important you’re always looking to get better.”

On Miguel Almiron scoring for Paraguay

“I hope it can be important. He’s done very well here. Unfortunately he just hasn’t been able to score.

“I’ve always said that he needs to get a goal, and hopefully he’ll settle down a bit.”

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Middlesbrough set to sue English Football League over alleged failure to enforce financial rules during Derby County’s stadium purchase

13 Sep

Middlesbrough will reportedly sue the English Football League over their alleged failure to enforce financial rules in relation to Derby selling their own stadium to owner Mel Morris.

Derby have been accused of exploiting an EFL loophole by selling Pride Park to a company owned by Morris, with the transaction going through for £80million despite the ground being on the club’s books with a valuation of just £41m.

Pride Park is now owned by Morris and leased back to the club
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The stadium was independently valued before the sale, and then leased back to the club.

As a result, Derby reported a pre-tax profit of £14.6m when losses in excess of £13m are in breach of the League’s profit and sustainability rules.

Derby ended up finishing the Championship season inside the top six, qualifying for a play-off place but losing in the Wembley showpiece to Aston Villa.

Middlesbrough ended up one point behind the Rams, and The Times claim they’ve sent a legal letter to the EFL with plans to sue the League over Derby’s stadium purchase.

Their claim is said to be based on the fact they finished behind Derby in the Championship table, thus missing out on the play-offs and possible promotion to the Premier League.

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Middlesbrough allege that the EFL failed to enforce its own financial rules when Derby sold Pride Park to Morris.

It is understood the EFL have ordered an independent valuation of Pride Park under pressure from Championship clubs, with Sheffield Wednesday and Reading’s stadiums to also be valued.

Derby return to Championship action tonight with the visit of Cardiff to Pride Park. talkSPORT 2 will bring you full commentary of the match, LIVE from 7:45pm.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer facing selection crisis with SIX Manchester United players possibly injured, but two could return for Leicester clash

12 Sep

Manchester United return to Premier League action this weekend with the visit of Leicester to Old Trafford, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a selection headache heading into Saturday’s fixture.

The Red Devils boss could be without SIX players for the match, which pits the third-place Foxes against a United side who have won just a single one of their four league matches so far.

Solskjaer is already under pressure having endured a tough start to the season
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Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard are all doubts in the run up to the game, having all returned early from international duty due to various issues.

England pair Wan-Bissaka and Lingard were withdrawn from Gareth Southgate’s squad due to a back problem and illness respectively, while Pogba, the midfielder, was sent home from the France squad with an ankle injury.

Though none of the trio are confirmed to miss Saturday’s visit of Leicester, they could possibly join Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah on the sidelines and be ruled out at the weekend.

There is some good news for Solskjaer, however, with manutd.com reporting that Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial could return from injury in time for the Leicester fixture.

Both players missed the 1-1 draw at Southampton last time out having suffered knocks during last month’s defeat by Crystal Palace, but they may be fit this weekend.

Sorry Luis Suarez… Samuel Eto’o is Barcelona’s greatest ever number nine

11 Sep

Samuel Eto’o’s retirement marks a particularly bittersweet moment for Barcelona, who the Cameroonian helped transform from serial underperformers to the best team in the world.

The announcement comes ten years after Eto’o left Camp Nou, and with a decade long enough to make memories hazy, it’s the perfect moment to recall just why he was Barça’s greatest number nine.

That may sound like a bold statement, and the eagle-eyed will point out that Luis Suárez has better stats on paper: 177 goals in his first five seasons for Barça, compared to 130 in the same number for the Cameroon international. It’s not just how many goals were scored though, it’s also when they were scored and what they meant, and in that regard, Eto’o is untouchable.

Samuel Eto’o joined Barcelona in 2004, and the rest, as they say, is history
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For the necessary context we have to go back to 2004, the year Eto’o signed for Barça. The Blaugrana had finished second in LaLiga the season prior – even the magic of Ronaldinho not enough to stop them from enduring a fifth consecutive year without a league title or any silverware at all. The Catalans were becoming something of a joke, not meeting the expectations raised by a club of their historic significance to Spanish football.

Though their Brazilian number 10 is often credited with turning that situation around, he couldn’t do it alone. A key piece was still missing in the middle of the forward line.

That piece was found a season after Ronaldinho’s arrival, out on the Mediterranean on the island of Mallorca. A striker with bags of class and a vendetta against Real Madrid to go with it, Eto’o couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for Barça if Joan Laporta had designed him.

Someone of Eto’o’s quality doesn’t appear out of nowhere, and these days there’s no way a goalscorer of his ability would have lasted four full seasons at Mallorca, who signed him following a short loan from Madrid. The striker was the key figure in firing the islanders to remarkable feats: a third place finish above Barcelona in 2001, qualification for the Champions League where they beat the likes of Arsenal in 2002, and a Copa del Rey win in 2003.

The odds of a side of Mallorca’s resources pulling off that kind of consistent success are tiny, and much of it was owed to the exceptional figure they had leading the line, now considered by fans to be the greatest player in the club’s history.

Negotiations that included not only Mallorca, but also Real Madrid (who owned a percentage of Eto’o’s rights), were tricky, but Barcelona finally unveiled their new number nine in August 2004.

Eto’o’s press conference set the tone, where he said he would ‘run like a black man to live like a white man’ and added that he ‘wouldn’t have gone back to Madrid for 1000 million pesetas’. This was a player on a mission, someone determined to prove his doubters wrong and reach the absolute peak, even if he had to drag a still floundering club with him.

And drag Barça forward Eto’o certainly did.

In his first season at the Camp Nou he scored 25 league goals, finishing joint top scorer in LaLiga (the first time a Barcelona player had topped that chart since Ronaldo in 1997) and firing the Blaugrana to their first league title since 1999. In a now iconic moment, during the celebrations at a packed Camp Nou, Eto’o took time to remember sceptics, leading the supporters in a chant of ‘Madrid, bastards, salute the champions!’

After years of hurt, Eto’o helped give Barça their pride back. It was only the tip of the iceberg.

The following season Eto’o once again topped the league scoring charts, ensuring another title.

But it was his contribution on May 17, 2006 that was the most significant of all. With Barça only 15 minutes away from losing the Champions League final to Arsenal, Eto’o darted into the box from the wing, latched on to Henrik Larsson’s pass then fired the ball into the net.

The goal turned the tide. Barcelona went on to win the European Cup for the first time since 1992 and only the second time in their history.

All of that would have been enough to ensure Eto’o’s place in the list of all-time Barça greats, but what happened in the few years after truly sets him aside.

Eto’o won two European Cups with Barcelona, and added a third during his time at Inter
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While Ronaldinho would grow tired of winning, becoming more of a hindrance than help before a young Pep Guardiola showed him the door in 2008, Eto’o refused to pack his bags. The determination to prove doubters wrong reared its head once more, particularly in pre-season preparations, where he worked like a man possessed.

Despite Pep saying in public that Eto’o wasn’t part of his plans, the squad pleaded for him to reconsider. Heeding their advice proved wise; in 2008/09 Eto’o produced his best season in front of goal for the Catalans, scoring 36 in all competitions as part of a lethal triumvirate also featuring Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi.

The icing on the cake was the opener in the Rome Champions League final, a goal that killed Manchester United’s early momentum, put Barcelona in control, and steered them towards an historic treble.

Guardiola wanted to axe Eto’o, but keeping him around proved to be a brilliant decision
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Guardiola’s stubborn insistence on finally moving Eto’o on just a couple of months later remains his greatest error. Inter could hardly believe their luck when Barça offered around £60m plus their treble-winning centre-forward for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With Eto’o subsequently winning the treble for a second consecutive year, and the Swede imploding after half a season, the deal quickly proved to be one of the worst of all time. Had Guardiola swallowed his pride for a second summer, he and Barcelona may well have pulled off the one feat that evaded even them and retained the Champions League.

The Barcelona Eto’o joined in 2004 was an empty shell of its former glory. The one he left in 2009 was greater than ever.

Not only the dominant force in LaLiga again, but also, for the first time in its history, the consistently dominant team in Europe. Without the belief, hunger, goals, and staying-power of the Cameroonian, that historic transformation could never have happened.

Eto’o still stands alone at the top of the pile of Barça’s greatest number nines.

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Tony Cottee: Former West Ham and Everton striker reveals on talkSPORT he suffered a brain haemorrhage earlier this year

11 Sep

Former West Ham, Everton and England striker Tony Cottee has revealed he suffered a brain haemorrhage earlier this year during an exclusive interview with talkSPORT.

Cottee, who scored almost 300 goals during a superb 19-year career, opened up on his health scare while co-hosting Wednesday’s Sports Breakfast with Alan Brazil.

He revealed that what started as a small pain in his forehead ended up being something much more serious, and resulted in him being hospitalised in early July.

Cottee said: “July 8 this year, I was meant to be filming an advert for Sky. I was staying in London because it’s a long way for me to get in for 8:30am.

Tony Cottee has opened up on the brain haemorrhage he suffered earlier this year while alone in a hotel room

“I’m in my room the night before not doing anything out of the ordinary, and I got a small pain to begin with in the middle of my forehead, and within five minutes it was the worst headache of my life.

“I then had really severe neck pains, and through the night I was sick four times.

“Obviously I’m meant to be working in the morning.

“I rang my missus and told her I’d been ill through the night and she asked if there was anyone at the hotel. Luckily for me Phil Thompson was there, so I rang him and asked him to come to my room.

“So he came to my room and said, ‘wow, you look awful!’

“Thommo arranged for a doctor to come to me as I was in bed, and they transferred me to West Middlesex Hospital where they did a brain scan on me.

“Originally they though I had meningitis which was scary, and then they found I had a small bleed on my brain – basically a small brain haemorrhage.

“Immediately I was transferred to Charing Cross Hospital, and I can’t speak highly enough of the nurses and doctors; they were unbelievable at both West Middlesex and Charing Cross.

“They did all the tests… I had a lumbar puncture, I had an angiogram, I had an MRI scan. They wanted to check because I could have had an aneurysm, I could have had a stroke, I could have had a heart attack – I could have dropped dead.

“I was lucky, even though they said it was a major trauma.

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“I can’t fly for the rest of the year, and I had to have six weeks’ rest. I couldn’t work while waiting for the results to come through.

“They said they are confident it was a one-off; they said you can have a one-off experience and never have it again.

“They don’t know [what brought it on], but it’s been a bit of a wake-up call to be honest.

“I’m 54 and I had four medicals before last Christmas and I was fine – there was nothing. But within eight months I’m in hospital and it was really worrying.

“Tony Gale is a really good friend of mine and he was really good, bringing my wife to the hospital.

“I didn’t tell everyone what happened because I’m not that type of guy. I’m a bit old school; if you’re ill you get on with it and deal with it and move on.

Cottee revealed his health scare while co-hosting Wednesday’s Sports Breakfast with Big Al
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“If you experience that pain in your forehead and neck, you’ve got to go to the hospital.

“I knew I was in trouble, and when you’re in a hotel on your own… I couldn’t walk or drive to the hospital, so I just had to wait until morning.

“For the first time, and hopefully only time, in my life I was really worried. It was a scary time.

“But everyone around me was really supportive and I think it’s good to talk about it just to get it out my system.

“And to make others aware. We are of a certain generation where we don’t go to the doctors or the hospital unless it’s an emergency.

“But at times I think you need to do it.”

You can watch Tony Cottee’s full interview with talkSPORT, above

Michael Owen opens up on Alan Shearer relationship and accuses him of using ex-Liverpool star as ‘scapegoat’ for his failures at Newcastle

10 Sep

Michael Owen has opened up to talkSPORT about his relationship with Alan Shearer a week on from their widely publicised social media spat.

The former England internationals got into it on Twitter last week following revelations in Owen’s new book, Reboot – My Life, My Time, about Shearer’s time in charge of Newcastle, which ended with the Magpies being relegated to the Championship.

Owen criticised Shearer’s record as manager and was eventually called out on Twitter by the former Toon captain, though he was then accused by Owen of trying to force a move away from St James’ Park to join Liverpool after being benched by Sir Bobby Robson.

And it appears this spat is not a one-time thing, with Owen confirming the pair have endured a serious breakdown in their relationship.

“It’s not paper talk unfortunately,” Owen told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast. “I haven’t spoken to him for a long time sadly.

“I had the same agent as Alan, the same boot sponsor – we were always together on the circuit.

“One of the reasons for going to Newcastle was thinking, ‘how great will this be, playing for a season or two with Alan Shearer’. That’s one of the reasons I thought about going to Newcastle.

“I stayed at his house while I was house hunting; me and my family were big mates – and we remained that.

“But sadly, as soon as he took over as manager, it took a twist – and it took a twist in the final game.”

Shearer and Owen played alongside each other for one season before the former retired
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The claims in Owen’s book relate to Newcastle’s final match of the 2008/09 season, when they had to get a result away at Aston Villa to stay up – though they ended up losing 1-0 to suffer relegation.

Owen was racing to be fit for the final day encounter, though he only started the match among the substitutes and was brought on with 24 minutes to play.

There have long been accusations Owen faked an injury to get out the match, and the former Liverpool star claims in his book that Shearer shared these views.

When asked about this on talkSPORT, the ex-striker replied: “That’s basically the crux of the matter.

“I had a groin injury for a period of time so I didn’t even play many game sunder Alan, but then the last game was looming and in my eyes, I knew my body better than anybody; I don’t care if you’re the best doctor of physio in the world, I knew my body.

“I knew when I was a week early or two days away, or ready right now. I knew it, just from feel.

“I’ve got no problem with Alan; I like the guy and got great history with him.

“But sadly he’s got this view of myself that I didn’t want to pay in this last game.

“And I know why he’d come to this conclusion; I was at the end of my contract and it might have influenced or affected my next move. But come on, I’ve had 25-30 muscle injuries – another one isn’t going to stop me doing whatever.

“In fact, I went into the office the day before the game and told him: ‘If I were you, I would put me on the bench. I’m not right; I’ve got to about 70 per cent.

“’I’m still a week away, so put me on the bench and if we need a goal with 10 minutes to go bring me on.’

“It was a risk starting me, and I was put on the bench. That exact thing transpired.

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“But he took that as I didn’t want to play.

“It’s sad for everybody because it would have been a great story.

“But I felt like the scapegoat through all of this. Why on earth wouldn’t I want to play?

“I’ve played in all the big games in the world – every derby, every cup final – and the best thing about my career is that I played best on the biggest occasions.

“Why on earth would I bottle it away at Aston Villa?”

Finishing off, Owen accused a member of Newcastle’s medical staff of creating the rumour that he didn’t want to play – insisting he would have loved to have been fit enough to fire the Magpies to Premier League survival

He added: “The issue is the doctor was there and the physio was there, and they had no problems, but there was one physio who almost took the line to Alan; he was his go-to man let’s say.

talkSPORT
Michael Owen joined talkSPORT on Tuesday morning to discuss his new book, Reboot – My Life, My Time[/caption]

“I’m sure he had fed him with something about me not wanting to play, or something along those lines.

“But come on? Aston Villa… why would I not [want to play]?

“Football is about being a hero and scoring goals… If I could have scored a goal that kept Newcastle up I would be absolutely buzzing!

“Why wouldn’t I want to play?

“And as I say: if it was any other game I wouldn’t have been on the bench, but it was the last game and I put myself on the bench. I said to Alan, ‘I’ll do whatever you want’.

“It is a shame because I have nothing but respect for him – his career, him as a person – but I just feel really sad that he almost uses me as a scapegoat for what happened in his managerial career at Newcastle.”

Arsenal WERE in talks with Lionel Messi, Arsene Wenger confirms while opening up on Gunners’ failed bid for Barcelona superstar

9 Sep

Arsenal tried to sign Lionel Messi 16 years ago but failed to complete a deal for the ‘untouchable’ Barcelona superstar.

This is according to Arsene Wenger, who has confirmed long rumoured stories that the Gunners missed out on bringing Messi to north London before he developed into one of the greatest footballers ever.

Messi made his debut for Barcelona in 2004, a year after he was wanted by Arsenal
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The proposed transfer took place in 2003, at the same time Arsenal were signing Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona.

The midfielder, who went on to become a key player for the Gunners, was part of the same youth team as Messi, and talks took place with the pair over moves to England.

But while Fabregas completed a switch to Arsenal, they found it impossible to prise Messi from Barcelona’s clutches.

Speaking to beIN SPORTS, Wenger revealed: “We were in discussions with [Messi] when we bought Fabregas, because Messi played [with him].

“You can realise sometimes what fantastic youth teams you had before when you’re a club like Barcelona. In the same team, Messi, [Gerard] Pique and Fabregas.

“Pique and Fabregas came to England [with Manchester United and Arsenal respectively], Messi stayed in Spain. We were interested in him, but he was untouchable at the time.”

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Messi is joined on the list of failed Arsenal signings by Cristiano Ronaldo, his rival for the title of best player in the world over the past decade.

Wenger also confirmed he came close to capturing the Portugal legend before he moved to Man United in 2003.

“Yes, you have to live with regrets in life, you know,” he continued. “There’s only unachieved business in life and this is a big part of it.”

Liverpool ‘forced Steven Gerrard out’ and they wanted him gone two years before he actually left – stunning Michael Owen claim

6 Sep

Michael Owen has claimed in his new book that Liverpool forced Steven Gerrard out – and actually wanted to axe him two years before he moved to the United States.

Anfield icon Gerrard left his boyhood club in 2015 to end his career with LA Galaxy, calling time on a 17-year spell in Liverpool’s first-team that made him a true Reds legend.

Gerrard bade farewell to Liverpool in 2015, 26 years after joining as a nine-year-old
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Though he won only eight honours throughout his career, Gerrard earned numerous individual accolades and became the face of the modern-day Liverpool.

His early career was spent playing alongside Owen, who signed his first professional contract with Liverpool just 11 months before Gerrard.

And in the former striker’s new book, Reboot: My Life, My Time, he makes a stunning claim about Gerrard’s departure from the club.

Owen says Liverpool wanted Gerrard gone two years before his eventual exit in 2015, and even though he got a stay of execution, Owen believes the ex-midfielder was forced out the club.

“In Steven’s case, I severely doubt whether he really wanted to go and play in the States in 2015,” Owen writes.

“I’ve heard that the club wanted him out two years prior to when he actually left.

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“I’m sure he would rather have wound his career down at Liverpool, playing increasingly fewer games until he reached a point where he could be integrated into the coaching staff.

“This only happened later in his case. But instead, because he’d become so symbolic and so powerful, I believe he was forced out in the short term. Steven was bigger than the club.”

10 years before his departure from Anfield, Gerrard also came close to leaving his boyhood club.

Michael Owen has revealed all in his new book, Reboot: My Life, My Time
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He handed in a transfer request amid interest from Chelsea, which led to Liverpool supporters burning shirts bearing his name outside Anfield.

Eventually, Gerrard went back on his decision and decided to stay, withdrawing his transfer request and signing a new contract with the Reds only days later.

Garry Monk: Sheffield Wednesday appoint former Swansea, Leeds and Middlesbrough boss as manager

6 Sep

Sheffield Wednesday have confirmed the appointment of Garry Monk as their new manager.

Monk, the former Swansea, Leeds and Middlesbrough boss, has been out of work since he was sacked by Birmingham in June, and he succeeds caretaker manager Lee Bullen at Hillsborough.

Bullen has been in temporary charge of the Owls since Steve Bruce left the club to join Newcastle in July, and he guided Wednesday to four wins from seven matches.

Monk joins the club as they lie 11th in the Championship, with nine points from three games.

He returns to Hillsborough 17 years after playing 15 games for Wednesday during a loan spell from Southampton..

Former Swansea captain Monk left Birmingham in June following an alleged row with their board over the club’s transfer policy.

Monk began his managerial career in 2014 and Sheffield Wednesday become his fifth club
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Shortly after his sacking it was reported that Middlesbrough are considering legal action against Monk having accused him of helping his agent, James Featherstone, profit from transfer deals during his six-month spell at the Riverside.

More follows.