After a disappointing summer for the England Under 21 side, they have started qualification for the next European Championships in fine style. Expectations were high heading into this summer’s tournament however they failed to live up to the hype and crashed out at the group stage. Focus has now turned to the next tournament, regular forwards Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Dominic Solanke have been overlooked whilst Tammy Abraham and James Maddison have moved to the senior squad. Their replacements are impressing every bit as much with Eddie Nketiah scoring an impressive hat trick in the 5-1 win against Austria, who had won all of their previous qualifiers.
Who is ready for the senior squad?
Callum Hudson-Odoi – Impressed against Austria scoring two stunning goals, sweeping in a volley and curling home a fabulous second following a fine solo run. Callum is sure to be brought back into the senior squad once he has more games at Chelsea under his belt following his injury lay off.
Phil Foden – Has the undoubted talent to be a full England International, however at this point in his career getting game time is the most important thing. If he remains out of the picture at Manchester City then getting games at England Under 21 level is vital for his development. The question remains should he go on loan for game time or remain at City and learn from the many talented players and coaches there? That is open to debate.
As for anyone else that should make the step up, is there is anyone? Who isn’t a big advocate for giving players time to grow at this level and not rushing them into the senior squad? It is better if they gained experience this way than being brought into the senior squad and sat on the bench. There are a number of players; Tammy Abraham, James Maddison, etc, who are playing well enough for their clubs to earn full international recognition. However, it is still difficult for them to get game time for the senior side due to the form of that side.
The best thing for these players is to balance their time between both squads, pick games in which they will get minutes for the senior side, against lesser sides and give them time with the Under 21’s.
Nottingham Forest went second in the Championship Table (level on points with leaders West Brom), by beating Brentford at the City Ground on Saturday. In the process making it 10 league games unbeaten.
The match was one in which both sides were happy to play through midfield and be patient, which meant not many goal scoring chances were created. Forest controlled possession of the ball better than Brentford but often opted to play a safe pass rather than one that would open up a defence.
The closest either side came to scoring in the first half was from a Thiago Silva free-kick which went just wide from around 30 yards out. Brentford also threatened from a free kick as they had an effort from Mathias Jensen deflected, which forced Forest keeper Brice Samba to pull off a very good save. The second half was played at a higher tempo as Forest looked to make the break through, they had the chance to do so when Lewis Grabban was played in but was denied by some good defending and an equally good save.
It wasn’t long after that Forest did take the lead. It came from a corner which found Joe Worrall free at the far post who headed back, allowing Captain Ben Watson to finish powerfully and high into the net. This was Watson’s second winning goal in consecutive home matches for Forest and it came in the same minute as his winning goal in the previous home game against Barnsley. Watson had previously failed to find the net since his transfer to Forest in January 2018. It’s been quite a turnaround for Watson this season, who received much criticism last season from the Forest faithful. His performances have much improved and he now has them singing his own chant.
Forest were reasonably comfortable in defence of the lead, they worked extremely hard to get men behind the ball and deny Brentford any space to create chances with their renowned passing style.
It has been a promising start to the season for Forest having topped the table for the first time in 5 years. It’s fair to say it wasn’t expected, following another summer of changes – but so far the change of manager and his subsequent signings have paid off.
Lamouchi clearly knows how to get results and in different ways. From back to wall displays at Leeds and Charlton where Forest came from behind to earn valuable points, deserved wins away at Fulham and Swansea where great defence was matched by excellent counter-attacking, and finally grinding out wins or draws against teams who are difficult to break down at the City Ground. These are all things that have let Forest down in the past.
Another significant difference is the extra strength and power in central midfield, previously Forest could be bullied by teams like Millwall, but the signings of Samba Sow and Alfa Semedo and extra togetherness mean this is no longer likely.
The European Transfer Window is now closed, some interesting moves happened on deadline day and I will be reviewing them, along with the biggest deals and the ones that didn’t get completed from across Europe.
Alexis Sanchez’s nightmare at Manchester United has come to end with the forward making a loan move to Inter Milan.
Interestingly, it is reported that United will pay 6 million towards Sanchez’s wages and the deal does not include an option to buy, which means, if Sanchez were to rediscover his form in Italy, United could demand a bigger fee for the Chile international at the end of his loan.
Sanchez arrived at United on big wages (the best-paid player in the Premier League) and big expectation but the spell couldn’t have gone worse. At Arsenal he was outstanding, being the player that made things happen for the gunners, he departs united having scored only three goals.
Supporters had long accepted that this was a move that just didn’t work but there is still confusion as to why. Sanchez got more goals than assists in each of his seasons at Arsenal but that statistic was reversed in both of his campaigns with United.
At Arsenal, he had a shot more often than he created a chance for a team-mate. At United, he created a chance for a team-mate more often than he had a shot.
Last season, Sanchez actually lost possession less often than ever before. In part, that’s because he stopped dribbling. It was an inversion of what had made him such a good player and goes some way to explain why there was such a dramatic change in his from.
Sanchez moved to United in a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January 2018.
However, Mkhitaryan has now also moved on – in perhaps one of the more surprising departures as he joins Roma on a season loan.
During his time at the Emirates, Mkhitaryan has scored nine goals in 56 games, he was always a good option for Arsenal but now it appears they are preferring to bring through youth prospects like Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Joe Willock.
Roma also added several other players to their squad during a busy summer window, including the loan signings of Davide Zappacosta from Chelsea and Chris Smalling from Manchester United.
They also signed Atletico Madrid’s former Blackburn forward Nikola Kalinic on loan for the season.
Smalling’s departure from United is a strange decision for me as I rate him higher than United defenders Phil Jones and Eric Bailly, who can never stay injury-free.
United also waved a permanent farewell to Matteo Darmian, who signed for Parma on a four-year contract. United are expected to receive £3.6m from the deal and have inserted a sell-on clause.
Another Premier League departure saw Javier Hernandez leave West Ham to join Sevilla in a deal worth close to £8m, with the Mexican signing a three-year contract.
I am a fan of Hernandez and thought he should’ve got more playing time, but he would be the second choice again this season and he clearly wants more game time. It does leave the Hammers slightly short upfront.
Although Fernando Llorente’s contract expired earlier this summer, the Spaniard said goodbye to Tottenham after it was confirmed the striker joined Napoli on a two-year deal.
Southampton’s, Mario Lemina and Brighton’s, Florian Andone joined Galatasaray.
Chelsea’s, Kenedy headed to Getafe, and Leicester winger, Rachid Ghezzal moved to Fiorentina.
North of the Border
Rangers re-signed Ryan Kent, on a permanent deal, having impressed on loan from Liverpool last season.
The £7.5m deal, sees him become the second most expensive signing in the club’s history after Tore Andre Flo, in my eyes is money well spent.
Celtic completed a move for Kilmarnock left-back, Greg Taylor, who joined for an undisclosed fee, as well as signing Manchester City defender, Jeremie Frimpong on a four-year deal and Republic of Ireland Under-21 defender, Lee O’Connor from Manchester United.
And finally on a domestic front, the busiest club of them all…
After successfully negotiating the sale of the club and remaining in the EFL, there was more good news for Bolton Wanderers as they made NINE signings on deadline day alone.
Winger, Thibaud Verlinden and midfielder, Liam Bridcutt joined on loan from Stoke and Nottingham Forest respectively. Will Buckley rejoined the club as a free agent after initially leaving at the end of last season.
Other free transfers saw Chris O’Grady join from Oldham, Ali Crawford from Doncaster, Josh Emmanuel from Ipswich, Daryl Murphy from Nottingham Forest, Joe Bunney from Northampton, while veteran defender Jake Wright signed on loan from Sheffield United.
Having lost the No 1 battle at Real Madrid to Thibaut Courtois, Keylor Navas upped sticks and joined Paris Saint-Germain for an undisclosed fee, signing a four-year contract with the Ligue 1 champions. The deal also saw Alphonse Areola move the other way on a season-long loan with the option to buy.
Another major move saw Mauro Icardi sign a new three-year deal with Inter Milan but also join Paris Saint-Germain on a season-long loan. According to Sky in Italy, PSG will pay the Serie A side an initial loan fee of 5m euros and will have the option to make the move permanent next summer for 65m euros.
Other eye-catching transfers saw Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic join Azerbaijan club side Qarabag on loan until January and Arvin Appiah left Nottingham Forest to join Almeria, the Segunda Division side tweeting ‘Sorry Man Utd’ when announcing the signature. As a Forest Fan I am happy that we have gained £8 million for the deal, for a player that only recently made his full debut, and continue to make significant money from the youth academy following the sales of Oliver Burke (£12m) Ben Brereton (£8m) and this summer Ben Osborn for an undisclosed fee believed to be around 3-4 million.
The Deals that didn’t happen
After an intense summer of speculation, Neymar is staying at PSG. It was widely expected he would return to La Liga with either former club Barcelona or bitter rivals Real Madrid.
However, talks over a sensational return to Barcelona broke down, while Real Madrid failed to agree on terms for the Brazilian.
Neymar was so keen to move he was even reportedly willing to pay £17.7m (€20m) towards securing a deal, as a consequence he has not played a minute for PSG so far this season and how the fans react should he play – having booed him earlier this season – will certainly be one to watch out for later this month.
Besides Neymar, there were several other big-name moves which failed to materialise this summer, with Paul Pogba, Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes and Ivan Rakitic all remaining at their respective clubs.
Pogba had been linked with Real Madrid as well as a return to Juventus, but the midfielder is staying at Old Trafford, while Eriksen – who admitted in July he would “like to try something new” – remains a Spurs player amid reported interest from Real and PSG.
Sporting captain, Fernandes was wanted by both United and Spurs, Rakitic, meanwhile was attracting interest from Juventus.
Juventus ran out of time in their bid to sign Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi, while Dejan Lovren remains a Liverpool player amid interest from Italian clubs.
England’s latest squad has been announced for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo. Gareth Southgate has seen this as a good opportunity to call up more youngsters as he builds his team in preperation for Euro 2020.
Manchester United full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Aston Villa centre-back Tyrone Mings have won their first call-ups. Wan-Bissaka made a big-money move in the summer, following his impressive season at Crystal Palace.However has he been fully convincing? He struggled (like many) for England at the European U21 Championships this summer, and England have a lot of quality at the right-back position. Maybe he Aaron should continue developing with the U21’s? His call up means an England regular in Kyle Walker has missed out on the squad, Kyle had a disappointing Nations League in the summer but still possess a lot of excellent attributes. Also in this position Athletico Madrid’s former Tottenham right-back Kieran Trippier is recalled after being dropped for the Nations League finals.
Southgate said he wanted to “reintegrate” Trippier back into the squad on the back of a big move and solid start to the season for his new club, while also looking closely at Wan-Bissaka and Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander Arnold. “That’s the reason on this occasion that Kyle Walker isn’t with us,” he said, adding that he had explained his decision to Walker. “It’s not the case that he’s not playing well for Manchester City – it’s quite the opposite,”
Tyrone Mings has been excellent since he moved to Aston Villa, initially on loan, but has limited Premier League experience and takes advantage of John Stones’ absence through injury. Southgate clearly believes that the qualifiers are the best opportunity to test these younger players and it’s hard to argue with him. The Introduction of the Nations League means England no longer have friendlies to experiment in, therefore if they aren’t tested now when are they going to be?
Chelsea playmaker Mason Mount and Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also in the 25-man squad. Mounts inclusion comes as no real surprise as he has started life in the Premier League very well. Oxlade-Chamberlains inclusion is an surprising one, as he is still gaining match fitness following a long injury lay off and hasn’t necessarily earned his inclusion through his brief appearances for Liverpool this season. Leicester City’s James Maddison also gets a recall after missing out on the Nations League Semi-Final squad.
Burnley striker Ashley Barnes, who has scored more goals than any other Englishman apart from Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling in the Premier League this season, can feel unlucky to have been overlooked however his age may have gone against him.
The Squad in full is
Goalkeepers: Tom Heaton (Aston Villa), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United)
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Maddison (Leicester), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool), Declan Rice (West Ham), Harry Winks
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
The line-up I would choose for the first qualifier against Bulgaria is;
This line up has flexibility as Maddison and Mount could alternate between being part of the front 3 and midfield 3, there is also the option to play 4-4-2.
This was a second-round League Cup tie like no other. Both sides made significant changes to their sides from their last league outing, however, no other tie had the same atmosphere and meant as much as this one.
Forest made 8 changes and Derby made 10, although if you looked at the line ups, Forest’s was the more familiar. It surprisingly included a star man in Joe Lolley who has been carrying a knock and therefore his inclusion was not expected. Other players that have featured regularly either as a starter or from the bench were Albert Adomah, Joe Worrall, Alfa Semedo. There was a first start for 18-year-old Brennan Johnson, while Joao Carvalho was named on the bench for the first time this season following an injury.
The Derby line up included many untested youngsters and this proved to be a pivotal reason why the match went the way it did.
Derby started with plenty of youthful enthusiasm and had a few long-range efforts early on that didn’t worry the Forest Keeper. Once the game settled down, Forest took charge and their first chance came to Rafa Mir, but his effort was well wide.
Mir then had two further opportunities to open his account for Forest, but he lashed at both displaying that he is a bit too eager to grab his first goal for Forest.
Forest took the lead from a Joe Lolley corner which found an expertly timed run by Albert Adomah who from close range grabbed for his second goal in three games, after netting in Forest’s draw at Charlton.
Just ten minutes later and The Reds had doubled their advantage with a fine header from Lolley. Adomah turned provider as he crossed for Lolley to head into the bottom corner past Ben Hamer who stood no chance.
Both Sides were playing out from the back but it was Forest who were using the tactic more effectively, John Bostock often dropping deep to collect from the back and starting attacks, this allowed Matty Cash to move higher up the pitch from his right-back starting position and in turn, Joe Lolley could drift infield.
Derby lost possession on a few occasions deploying the tactic which could’ve cost them. Former Red, Jamie Paterson created an opportunity for Lee Buchanan but he blazed way over Brice Samba’s crossbar as Forest took the lead going into the break.
Forest started the second half brightly and could have added a third when Cash’s effort was just deflected wide. From the resulting corner, Mir met Lolley’s floated delivery but his header was caught by Hamer.
Derby started to improve and created a half-chance for substitute Jack Marriot but his snap-shot was superbly blocked by Joe Worrall, who was fantastic all evening.
Paterson then showed a lack of discipline when he first appealed for a penalty, took a corner to which he was roundly jeered by the Forest Fans and took his frustration out on Cash as he broke forward and duly got himself booked.
Forest, however, put extra gloss on the victory in fortuitous fashion. In the 79th minute, when Curtis Davies’ clearance cannoned off substitute, Carvalho and past Hamer in a flash.
Forest saw the game out to continue a good recent record against the rams and retain the Brian Clough Trophy. They have now won back to back derbies for the first time since Billy Davies’s first spell as manager, haven’t conceded in 4 derbies and still haven’t tasted defeat to the Rams at the City Ground in 6 meetings, winning 4.
As a Forest fan, the most pleasing aspects were the style of play deployed and the strength in depth that the squad is displaying.
Despite making 8 changes, Forest seamlessly continued where they left off against Fulham (a 2-1 win at Craven Cottage). The way they continuously passed the ball with a purpose and stretched the opposition out wide was very pleasing to watch and is something we haven’t seen since Billy Davies was in charge.
There was a sad scene off the pitch as a Derby supporter looked in a very bad condition, after around 70 minutes into the game. Paramedics were called to the scene and laid the man on a stretcher and treated him. News as to the extent of his condition and the cause has yet to emerge but from my position in the crowd, the man looked to have gained unconsciousness.
In other off the pitch news, there was an altercation whilst Derby substitutes were warming down and Forest ground staff were tending to the pitch after the match. A member of the Forest staff has told me that his colleague asked the Derby players to move so they could tend to that area of the pitch.
This prompted an unnecessary angry response from Derby Captain Richard Keogh who pushed the women over, she was taken to hospital with knee injuries and is in the process of suing Keogh for ABH. Nottingham Forest and Derby County are said to be investigating the incident.