Tag Archives: championship

How Good is Bolton’s Luca Connell Future, With Tottenham & Co Sniffing Around

It’s a really sad state of affairs at Bolton Wanderers this season, the club have been relegated back to League One and the ownership of the club still looms like a dark cloud over the University of Bolton Stadium.

To pour more misery on the Bolton fans, it seems one of their young starlets is grabbing the attention of many a Premier League suitor. Youngster Luca Connell is an Irish midfielder, who is out of contract come to the end of the season and, can leave for nothing more than training fees.

He’s made quite the impression in his 10 outings in the Championship this season for the Trotters. Playing in a defensive role in the midfield is his favoured position, however, he can be moved about a little to left-back or left-wing showing a good deal of versatility.

Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich City, Everton and Wolves have all got Connell firmly in their radars and with good reason too.

The 18-year-old is an up and coming star. He may not be the key signing the fans want for the likes of Spurs, who haven’t signed anyone in the past two transfer windows, but in what will be a very competitive market this window. Investing in the future may not seem the silliest of ideas for Pochettino.

He can certainly flourish at a club like Spurs who do give youth a chance, although a high possibility would be that he is sent back out on loan for a season in the Championship to gain some more game time experience.

Whatever his destination is, Luca Connell is a name that all Bolton fans will be keeping an eye on over the course of the next few seasons. Let’s hope that Bolton’s future can do a 360 and be as bright a future as the Irishman.

Chelsea’s Reece James is Certainly One To Watch Out For As Well Wigan Fans Know

Reece James certainly made an impact during his time at Wigan Athletic, with many fans, singling out the Chelsea loanee out as one of the sole reasons the Tics stayed up this season.

Even at the tender age of 19, James is attracting interest from the big fish in the Premier League. However, it seems highly unlikely the defender will be going anywhere close to a rival, with another loan move likely on the cards next season to a possible mid-table team.

Everyone at Wigan is going to sorely miss James going off the love he’s received on social media. Especially, after collecting Wigan’s player’s player of the season and player of the season awards, which was well-deserved after playing the most amount of minutes this campaign.

Cook, the Wigan boss would love another season mentoring the youngster, and you have to applaud the growth James has shown under him.

Especially making the move up north last season, many would not have taken their chances and positively help his temporary side out like James has done this season. He seems to have matured and grown, not only as a footballer but as a man – leading him to be named Captain in his final game.

James received a standing ovation in his captained final game, as he was substituted in the 90th minute against Millwall. His two goals and one assist in that final run-in, helped Wigan end up 12 points clear of the relegation zone and has given them a decent platform for next season in the Championship.

Again Wigan left it till the end of the season to show what they are made of, and more importantly, capable of. We have seen this happen many a time in the Premier League under former boss Roberto Martinez and Paul Jewell.

Maybe, James’ influence will have a lasting impression on the Wigan squad, with that sprinkle of Premier League standard giving the whole squad a lift.

Everyone will miss his strong dribbling and crossing ability, alongside his key passing. In which he assisted three times last season, which is not bad for a young defender indeed.

So, Wigan fans which player would you like on loan next season that could have the impact Reece James had last season?

Bury & Stockport Are Up, Bolton Down, Salford in The Playoffs, with Rochdale & Wigan Safe

This is the EFL and Below Show from the Manchester Football Social, your look at all of the footballing action in Greater Manchester that doesn’t come from the Premier League.

Niall McCaughan is joined by Ian Foran and Aaron Benson from the Football Manc Cave after a busy period which saw Bury promoted to League One despite their off-field issues, and Stockport County making a welcome return to the 5th tier of English football after winning the National League North.

Bolton continue to be shrouded in ownership doubts and were relegated from the Championship in a week where the players went on strike – the same can’t be said for Paul Cook’s Wigan Athletic who dug in to secure their place in the second tier for another season, much like Brian Barry-Murphy’s Rochdale side who have avoided relegation in League One.

Salford are unsure of their fate as they prepare to take on the National League playoffs – plenty to talk about of course on this week’s episode!

EFL and Below Show Android: https://subscribeonandroid.com/rss.acast.com/eflandbelowshow

EFL and Below Show Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/manchester-football-social-efl-and-below-show/id1449475076

Three times Wigan have Wiganed themselves

Urban Dictionary:

Wigan(verb) To do f**k all for a period of time before being saved by temporary brilliance.

E.g “I didn’t study but I Wiganed that test.”

Wigan Athletic were known in the Premier League for such feats during Roberto Martinez’ time at the club, this season under Paul Cook once again they Wiganed themselves to safety.

Two wins and two draws out of the last five games, have seen the Tics climb to 18th and nine points from safety. A remarkable turnaround, especially with them having been lurking around the bottom three in recent months.

Stunning results against Leeds and Norwich would have left fans wondering what could have been, if these levels were reached on a consistent basis for more than the last month of the season.

However, this is not the first time Wigan have done this, has we take a look at some of the Tics greatest escapes…

Wigan Athletic 2012

Wigan made their most incredible escape from relegation in 2012 under Roberto Martinez. They had a terrible start to the season, and it snowballed throughout the season, with nine games left a miracle was needed.

What followed was not just a miracle, but more of a movie script. Latics won seven out of their last nine games. beating the likes of Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal along the way.

They finished 15th and seven points clear of the relegation zone.

Wigan Athletic 2011

The Latics started the final game of the season in 19th place after hovering around the bottom three for the majority of the season after winning only seven games all season.

They had a decent run into the quarter finals of the League Cup, however the final four games became the highlight of the season – winning two and drawing two, pulling themselves out of the bottom three to finish 16th on the final day.

Wigan Athletic 2006

In Wigan’s second season, they struggled and failed to hit the highs of their first season. Having hit a little bit of a purple patch in October/November, Latics season nose dived.

On the last game of the season, Wigan needed to win to stand a chance of safety against fellow strugglers Sheffield United.

A 2-1 win ensured Premier League survival by one goal having finished level on points with the Blades

The Spirit of ’98 is Long Gone, But Bolton Will Be Hoping For a Great Escape

We’ve seen some tough times at Bolton this past few years, from being relegated in 2012 into the Championship up to the liquidation hanging over their head tomorrow.

I’m not a Bolton Wanderers fan, however, growing up my uncle used to take me to Burden Park on a regular basis, and then the Reebok Stadium as it was known.

I remember being there singing the great escape theme tune back in 1998, when the Trotters smashed five past Crystal Palace to win 5-2 and give a glimmer of hope before being relegated on goal difference. The atmosphere back then was a defiant we’re all in this together – something which is the polar opposite in today’s situation.

Retro Football Cushions

A players strike ahead of a massive day for the club in court shows the discontent within Bolton. Things have soured over the course of this season after promotion at the first time of asking in League One last year.

Ken Anderson’s dealing of the club has been woeful to say the least, and from the outside looking in – It looks like a warzone.

Player power has took over, and rightly so.

Nobody would turn up to work to not be paid at the end of the month. For a football club to be in a that bad a state, that it can not pay it’s staff is a sad state of affairs.

The thing is, this chairman has come and will hopefully, and quickly go. The managers will come and go, same with the players but the fans are their from childhood to the day they die.

The simply cannot switch clubs, they can’t move on – a football club is ingrained in most families, for some it’s their sole focus of their weekend. A football club is not an option and should the worst happen tomorrow – only the fans will feel the true effect of an idiot with no good intention or know how on how to run a business.

Heartbreak for Stockport County, Rochdale’s Survival Chances and it’s Too Early to Hand Out Awards!

This is the EFL and Below Show, your weekly look at all of the footballing action in Greater Manchester from outside of the Premier League.

Niall McCaughan from the Manchester Football Social is joined in the studio by Ian Foran and Aaron Benson from the Football Manc Cave.

Stockport County were within minutes of a Wembley final in the FA Trophy but came agonisingly short in a tense affair at Edgeley Park – County commentator Chris Ridgway joins us to chat Stockport’s season so far.

Rochdale picked up a valuable 3 points at the weekend and are still in with a great shout of staying in League One for another season – and the lads fume of the premature awarding of ‘Manager of the Season’ accolades!

ITUNES – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/manchester-football-social-efl-and-below-show/id1449475076?mt=2&i=1000433673276

ACAST – https://play.acast.com/s/eflandbelowshow/manchesterfootballsocial-eflandbelowshow-heartbreakforstockportcounty-rochdalessurvivalchancesanditstooearlytohandoutawards-

AWAY FANS SERIES: A League Cup Semi Final 19 Years Ago Had Jimmy Hooked on The Super Whites Ever Since

As part of our away fans series, we caught up with Jimmy – A Belgian fan, who loves the family feel Bolton brings and has just purchased his first season ticket…

Ian: How long have you been a Bolton fan for?

Jimmy: Since the League Cup semi-final in 2000, so that is about 18-19 years – that semi-final was my first game

Ian: What made you choose Bolton?

Jimmy: I met a Bolton fan who worked in Belgium and he took me to my first game which was enough to get me hooked.

Ian: You said to me before that you’re a season ticket holder. How long for?

Jimmy: Since this season, I felt the time was right to come over more often to watch Bolton

Ian: Do you get to every game?

Jimmy: I try to do as many home games as I can, but it depends on flight prices, sometimes they go to £250-300 while normally it is £30-40

Ian: big fluctuation there! What do you make of this season?

Jimmy:Yep, the main issue is the moment you book your flight.

About this season we started like a rocket and since then it went downhill, we’ve probably not got as much quality as most of the other Championship teams. We’re often are not helped by referee decisions – I still believe we can save ourselves but it will probably be nerve-racking till the last game, then again the buzz you get when you save yourself like we did last year is amazing.

Ian: I bet you’re hoping you don’t have to go through that again though?

Jimmy: Of course, but if it has to happen again I would be confident we can do it again.

Ian: Do you have a supporters club in Belgium?

Jimmy: No up until now I am the only one flying over that much, most Belgian fans go for the likes of United, Liverpool, City and other big names.

I don’t want that as to me they are plastic teams, because of there multi-billion owners nothing real about it. In Bolton, we are still a family club where I always feel very welcome. When players see me they always say ‘Hey Belgian boy how are you, how was your flight?’

Ian: That’s brilliant, yes outside the Premier League you get that kind of interaction, which makes the journey over worth it, especially after a win I bet?

Jimmy: After a win, it is even better but even after a loss players are most kind. Last year after the Forest game I had a jager drinking contest with David Wheater – which I lost.

Since the moment he won player of the year from the fans I often give him Belgian chocolates, which resulted in him giving me his match worn shirt. Such a friendship you can’t have with Premier League players

Ian: That is amazing, what are your thoughts on the suggested takeover?

Jimmy: Well I refuse to believe everything that is written in the press nor do I believe blindly what is written in the notes of the chairman. I have decent contact with a lot of people who, I believe more because then you can see whether they are lying or not.

But to return to the initial question, Ken said he lacks the funds to fully rebuild us, so I hope he does the good thing and sells us. I still believe we have our place in the Premier League. My only fear is that a foreign investor might try to ruin the family feeling that is within the club.

Ian: Jimmy, Thank you for your time mate

20 Years: How It Feels To Be a Man City Fan Through The Rollercoaster Two Decades

Manchester City of 2019 are barely recognisable from the team of 1999. Twice on the bounce relegations are something fans could barely imagine nowadays.

In 1999 City were in the Football League Second Division, or for those of you young enough to not have a clue what VHS is – League 1. Joe Royle, who had made 99 appearances for City in the 70s was the manager, tasked with getting City into the First Division, or Championship as it is now known.

The ground wasn’t the behemoth that is the Etihad Campus, but instead Maine Road. Tucked away down terraced streets in the much-maligned Moss Side area of the city. Rather than the enormity that stands now in East Manchester, it was mish-mashed, expanded at different times, with four stands that didn’t match at all. The stadium isn’t there anymore, in its stead after a lengthy planning permission battle is some new build housing, with little evidence of what had gone before it, with the exception of road names Blue Moon Way and Citizens Place. However, I’m sure most city fans remember the iconic roof of the Kippax and the temporary stand which was not set up to deal with the west Manchester weather at all.

It may be rose-tinted glasses, but the last few seasons of the Maine Road days were the best days to be a city fan. The season culminating in a Wembley penalty shootout against Gillingham, two promotions on the bounce only to go straight back down, and winning the first Manchester Derby in my lifetime.

Many weekends spent in my dad’s golf, putting up with his bizarre taste in music, to watch city put 6 past Sheffield Wednesday, or indeed lose 4-0 to West Bromwich Albion defined my early teens.

We had inflatable bananas, and away fans didn’t sing “Where were you when you where Sh*t” they sang “City are a Massive Club” which had more versions than I care to remember but the one referencing Curly Watts as a celebrity fan was by far and away the best.

The move from Moss Side to Beswick to Eastlands or the City of Manchester stadium (it wasn’t the Etihad in those days) saw an unremarkable season, despite a strong start and hammering Bolton 6-2, we had tailed off by November and had little to talk about with the exception of another win in the Manchester Derby.

And so entered Stuart Pearce as manager and a long run of wilderness years for Manchester City, finishing a few places out of the relegation zone ever season, players like Samaras, Joey Barton and Sylvain Distin were on the books. It’s hard to see now that a midfielder in the side would moon the home fans while playing at Goodison Park, but that happened.

Eventually, money arrived, out went Mark Hughes and in came Mancini, out went mid-table finishes and into the Champions League spots, the big four of Chelsea, United, Liverpool and Arsenal now all see City as the team to beat. The exciting moments are not winning penalty shootouts for promotion but winning the Premier League in injury time and becoming the first team to pick up 100 points.

Out are the hard Psycho tackles which simply wouldn’t stand in today’s game, and in the remarkable touch of De Bruyne. No more feeding the goat and in with Aguero’s devastating accuracy. Veteran players are no longer the likes of Hamann, and now the likes of Kompany. Keegan’s determination would be no match for Pep’s tactical brilliance.

City have gone from noisy neighbours to one of the best teams in Europe in an incredibly short space of time (via an enormous cash injection). There is no denying that they are an absolute joy to watch, and when the wheels get turning they are incredible, the balls you think have been overhit have someone waiting at the end of it who has it in control and on the floor in one touch, carving up the defences of good teams, (lest we forget we beat Liverpool 5-1 last season) and utterly destroying lesser opposition as some of this season’s scorelines have shown.

I may be alone in this opinion, but I miss the difficult years. With City’s dominance is the expectation that they will win every single game, 15 years ago when you expect to lose everything, winning a game would cause utter delirium, especially if it happened to fall against a certain team based in Stretford. If you lost you weren’t disappointed because you expected to, you’d just sing “MCFC OK” even louder. Now I find myself feeling slightly put out that City might not win the Premier League for a season.

It’s been a remarkable 20 years for English football, let alone for Manchester City. Filled with both agony and ecstasy, and complain though I might about not enjoying their success as much as I should, I look forward to seeing what they do in the next 20 years.

POTY Nathan Byrne Signs New Wigan Athletic Contract

Wigan Athletic are delighted to confirm that Nathan Byrne has signed a new two-and-a-half year contract with the club, which will see him remain at the DW Stadium until the summer of 2021.

Byrne, 26, has featured 80 times in all competitions for Latics since signing from Wolverhampton Wanderers in the summer of 2016.

A star player under the management of Paul Cook and the current North West Football Awards League One Player of the Year, Byrne was named both the Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year in Latics’ record-breaking 2017-18 campaign and his manager is delighted to secure his long-term future.

“Nathan has been an important player for us in my time here and I am pleased that he can continue to progress with Wigan Athletic,” Cook said.

“He is a popular member of the dressing room and, equally so, a player that our supporters regard highly.”

2017-18 Double Player of the Year winner commits future to Latics, signing until the summer of 2021.

  • Nathan Byrne signs new Wigan Athletic contract
  • Byrne, 26, signs two-and-a-half-year deal which sees him commit his future to Latics until the summer of 2021
  • Paul Cook: “Nathan has been an important player for us in my time here and I am pleased that he can continue to progress with Wigan Athletic.”


« Older Entries