Connect with us

Premier League

Ndidi, Iheanacho get interim manager at relegation-threatened Leicester

Published

on

Premier League - Norwich City v Tottenham Hotspur - Carrow Road, Norwich, Britain - May 22, 2022 Norwich City manager Dean Smith before the match REUTERS/Chris Radburn

Nigeria’s duo of Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho noow have a new boss in their club as Leicester City have named ex-Aston Villa and Norwich City boss Dean Smith as caretaker manager until the end of the season after parting ways with Brendan Rodgers, the Premier League club said on Monday.

Smith takes over from Rodgers, who left the club by mutual consent earlier this month with the team second-bottom in the table and facing potential relegation.

“Smith brings a wealth of managerial experience and expertise to the role and, along with his coaching team, will be tasked with helping the football club retain its Premier League status as we head into the final eight games of the current season,” Leicester said in a statement.

Leicester won the Premier League title in 2015-16 against all odds but are now in danger of the drop after nine seasons in the top flight.

Smith’s appointment comes in the wake of Leicester’s 1-0 home defeat to Bournemouth, their 19th league defeat of the season. The East Midlands club have 25 points after 30 games, two points adrift of the safety zone.

Advertisement

“I’m really happy to have the opportunity to lead the team during these final weeks of the season,” Dean Smith said.

“The challenge in front of us is clear, but it’s one myself and my coaching team have experienced before and, with the quality in this squad and the number of games remaining, it’s very much achievable.

Smith’s first game in charge of Leicester will be a trip to reigning champions Manchester City on Saturday. Leicester have not won a game in all competitions since Feb. 11.

“Our first job is to rebuild confidence and instil belief in the team and I’m looking forward to getting to work with the players this week,” Smith added.

“Saturday will be a big test, but it’s the kind of occasion that reminds us all what it means to be a Premier League club, competing on the biggest stages against the best players in the world.”

Advertisement

The Englishman last managed in the Premier League during the 2021-22 season, in which his Norwich side were relegated. He left Norwich in December with the team struggling in their bid to earn promotion back to the top-flight from the Championship.

Prior to his spell at Norwich, Smith was in charge of Villa between 2018-2021, guiding them back to the top flight via the playoffs in his first campaign before helping them retain top-flight status in the following season.

He also came close to winning silverware with Villa when he led them to the League Cup final in 2020, where they lost 2-1 to City.

“We’ve endured a challenging season, but I have no doubt that we have the quality in our squad to win this fight,” Leicester chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said.

“Dean’s experience will be key to unlocking that potential, helping the team rediscover its confidence and channelling the support of our fans, who will be so important during these final eight games.

Advertisement

“This is a fight we can win, together.”

Craig Shakespeare, who was assistant coach to Smith at Norwich and Villa, will reprise his role at Leicester, the club he guided to the Champions League quarter-finals during his spell in charge of them in 2017.

Former England and Chelsea defender John Terry, who was part of Smith’s coaching set up at Villa, will also join Leicester.

-Reuters

Advertisement

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Premier League

June 12 relief for Ten Hag…to stay at Old Trafford

Published

on

Manchester United Can Still Finish Fourth, Says Erik Ten Hag -

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will remain in the job for next season and has entered into talks with the Old Trafford club over a contract extension despite the team’s lowest ever Premier League finish of eighth, British media reported.

The decision comes after an end-of-season review by the club’s board for the 2023-24 campaign, which finished on a high with a shock FA Cup final win over favourites Manchester City.

Ten Hag’s contract runs until the end of next season, with the club having the option of extending it a further 12 months.

Former Ajax Amsterdam coach Ten Hag had come under increasing pressure after 20-times English champions United suffered their worst start to a season since 1962-63 with eight defeats in their first 15 matches in all competitions.

They ended up eighth after 14 defeats in their 38 league games and bowed out of the Champions League in the group phase.

Advertisement

Ten Hag’s job security had been the subject of speculation all season and many pundits believed the FA Cup final would be the Dutchman’s last game with the team, win or lose.

But moments after their thrilling triumph, the 54-year-old insisted he had no doubt he would be back and said he had received the backing of the club’s owners all season.

“I’m in a project and we are exactly where we want to be. We’re constructing a team. When I took over it was a mess at United, and we are on our way to construct a team for the future,” he told reporters at Wembley.

“The team is developing, the team is winning and the team also plays to an identity. What you need to play is to be available, you need a strong squad in top football, and especially when you play in England, the Premier League is so competitive.”

INJURY WOES

Ten Hag pointed to United’s revolving door of injuries last term, the most of any Premier League team and concentrated in key positions such as central defence.

Advertisement

He also spoke about the breakout seasons of young players such as midfielder Kobbie Mainoo, who is part of England’s Euro 2024 squad in Germany, and Argentina winger Alejandro Garnacho.

In Ten Hag’s two seasons in charge, United have played in three Wembley finals and lifted two trophies, having also won last season’s League Cup.

Media reports said that all eventualities were considered in the club’s post-season review and the clear preference was for Ten Hag to remain in charge at Old Trafford.

Among coaches linked to the job as potential replacements were Thomas Tuchel and England manager Gareth Southgate.

Ten Hag is United’s fifth permanent manager since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 as the club have searched for someone to lead them back to the heights of their glory years.

Advertisement

He guided United to third in the league in his debut season

-Reuters

Continue Reading

Premier League

Another Nigerian blood to flow in Chelsea veins

Published

on

Carabao Cup - Quarter Final - Everton v Fulham - Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain - December 19, 2023 Fulham's Tosin Adarabioyo celebrates after the match REUTERS/Carl Recine

Chelsea have signed centre back Tosin Adarabioyo from fellow west London club Fulham on a free transfer, the Premier League side announced on Friday.

Adarabioyo, a former England youth international is of Nigerian descent. He is the latest Nigerian linked with Chlesea after Celestine Babayaro, Mikel Obi and Victor Moses among others.

The 26-year-old Adarabioyo who will join the Stamford Bridge side on a four-year contract beginning on July 1, has made one appearance for the England Under-19s and has played 78 times in the Premier League.

He is the first player to join Chelsea since they announced the arrival of new head coach Enzo Maresca, opens new tab earlier this week, and will bolster their options at centre back following the departure of veteran Thiago Silva.

“We are delighted to bring Tosin to Chelsea,” Chelsea co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley said.

Advertisement

“Throughout his career, he has showcased his maturity and defensive qualities and has gained a wealth of experience in the Premier League in recent seasons.

“He is ready to make the step up to Chelsea and work alongside the talented players in our squad. We look forward to Tosin joining up with us for pre-season.”

Chelsea are looking to revive their fortunes under Maresca after finishing sixth in the standings last season.

“I’m looking forward to starting work with Enzo and I’m sure the boys are too,” Adarabioyo said.

“It’s going to be exciting. We’re going to play good football and win a lot of games. There are top players in this squad and I’m eager to play with them all.”

Advertisement

-Reuters

Continue Reading

Premier League

Nigerian-born Ogbonna leaves West Ham after nine-year stay

Published

on

Premier League - West Ham United v Luton Town - London Stadium, London, Britain - May 11, 2024 West Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna applauds fans as he is substituted REUTERS/Tony Obrien/File Photo

West Ham United centre back Angelo Ogbonna is leaving the club after nine years in east London, the Premier League side said on Wednesday.

Ogbonna was born to Nigerian parents who emigrated to Italy from Nigeria in 1983, settling in the city of Cassino in the central part of the country, but managed to obtain Italian citizenship only after his 18th birthday. He is now 36.

The  Italy international made 201 Premier League appearances for the club and was part of their Europa Conference League-winning side last year.

The former Juventus player struggled with several injuries during his time at West Ham, including a cruciate ligament tear suffered in 2021 that kept him out for almost a year.

“When he was not playing, Ogbonna was always a willing supporter of the club’s community work,” West Ham said in a statement. “He will always be a beloved member of the West Ham United family

Advertisement

-Reuters

Continue Reading

Most Viewed