Former Manchester United and Everton forward Wayne Rooney has taken over as permanent manager at Derby County. The news broke on Friday 15th January that Rooney, who had been in temporary charge since the departure of Phillip Cocu in November.
“We are delighted to confirm the appointment of Wayne Rooney as our new manager.
“Our recent upturn in results under Wayne was married together with some positive performances, notably the 2-0 home win over Swansea City and the 4-0 victory at Birmingham City.
“During that nine-game run we also dramatically improved their defensive record and registered five clean sheets in the process, while in the attacking third we became more effective and ruthless too.
“Those foundations have provided a platform for the club to build on in the second half of the season under Wayne’s guidance.”
Rooney will be helped by Assistant Manager Liam Rosenior, Shay Given will move into a first team coach role with Justin Walker remaining as first team delvopment coach. Acadamey goal-keeping coach Jason Pearcey will move to first team goal-keeping coach. The club also comfired that former England Manager Steve McClaren will remain as Techichal director and advisor to the board.
Rooney enjoyed a stellar playing career with Everton (twice), Manchester United, DC United before sigining for Derby. Rooney picked up five Premier League titles, three EFL cups an FA Cup as well as a Uefa Champions League and Europra League. He is Manachester United’s all time top scorer with 253 goals. Rooney is also Englands leading goalscorer having scored 53 for his counrty.
“I’ve had a great career and enjoyed every minute, Of course, I will miss it but I’ve been very fortunate to play for some massive teams. Playing for Everton was a boyhood dream of mine and then to go and play for 13 years at United was the highlight. To stay at the biggest club in the world for so long and win so many trophies is something I’ll always appreciate.”
Rooney said that the potenial of the club was what attracted hime to Derby,
“When I first arrived back in the United Kingdom I was completely blown away by the potential of Derby County Football Club. The Stadium, Training Ground, the quality of the playing staff and the young players coming through and of course the fan base that has remained loyal and supportive.
“Despite other offers I knew instinctively Derby County was the place for me.
“To be given the opportunity to follow the likes of Brian Clough, Jim Smith, Frank Lampard and Phillip Cocu is such an honour and I can promise everyone involved in the club and all our fans, my staff and I will leave no stone unturned in achieving the potential I have witnessed over the last 12 months of this historic football club.”
Rooney first game will be a home game against Rotherham United on Saturday 16th of January.
Championship leaders Norwich head to Cardiff on Saturday looking to maintain their four point lead at the top of the table. The two side will be familiar with each other having met at Carrow Road on December 19th, with Norwich winning two goals to nil.
Cardiff manager Neil Harris is under pressure after seeing his side lose four games in a row, a run that has seen The Bluebirds drop to 15th in the table. Norwich have lost just one game in their last nine, a 1-0 defeat at Watford. This run includes seven wins.
Cardiff are struggling with injuries currently but are hopeful that Wales forward Kieffer Moore will be able to take part this weekend. Full back Greg Cunningham is back training but Saturday’s game comes to soon for him. Cardiff captain Sean Morrison is also likely to miss this match, and Aden Flint (who returned from loan at Sheffield Wednesday this month) will also miss out. On Loan right back Jordi Osei-Tutu came off after 40 minutes of a under 23’s game this week so Leandro Bacuna will continue at right back, whilst Joe Bennett will play a t centre half again.
Cardiff announced this week that Sol Bamba has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and will be receiving treatment. Whilst he won’t be part of the match squad Bamba will be supporting his team mates and continuing his role at the clubs academy. Everyone at 24/7 Football send their thoughts to Sol and his family.
Norwich will be without Bali Mumba and Xavi Quintilla for the trip to Cardiff after the pair tested positive for COVID-19. Goal keeper Tim Krul and Adam Idah are both still recovering from the virus and will not be the match squad. Lukas Rupp and josh Martin will also be out for this game both are ill. Marco Stiepermann is suffering from an ear infection and will miss this game.
Neil Harris dismissed that this is a must win game during his pre-match press conference saying:
“It’s not a must-win game, we are not anywhere near that position.
“We have come away from being very close to it to where we are now.
“To get back there we have to put a consistent run of results together. Whether that’s fit players or new signings, that’s vitally important.
“But then, we have still got a group of players who are good enough to compete at the top of this division.
“We are a side capable of putting a run together. We showed that last season and this season as well.
“This weekend is going to be tough but it’s a game we can win. Then we have a run of games where we can build performances and results.”
“Cardiff are a side who know how they pay. Kieffer Moore could come back in, they have an unbelievably experienced coach. Right now, they’re not in the position they want to be but that have potential to win five or six in a row.
“It will be a difficult away game and they’ll be highly-motivated coming up against the league leaders at home.
“I trust my players and we’re confident in each and every game. Cardiff will want to show a reaction to the first game. We need a very good performance and we are respectful.”
Prediction; Cardiff 0 v 2 Norwich
Cardiff are on a poor run and still without several key players and lacking a cutting edge in front of goal. Norwich should win this game comfortably.
Kick off for this game is 3pm on Saturday 16th of January.
As derby games go there are not many bigger, historic or outright bizarre than the South Wales derby between Cardiff and Swansea. A friendly rivalry for many years at first turned into one of the most heated matches in football.
As welsh clubs playing in the English football league the early derby matches were played with fans mixing and some friendly banter. As the years went on on football hooliganism escalated so did the hatred between the two sets of fans.
A Brief History
Trouble at football games in the UK had been on the rise throughout the 70’s and 80’s and Cardiff and Swansea games were no different. Many football fans will be familiar with Swansea’s Swim Away gesture to Cardiff fans. This all stems from an incident at a match in Swansea in 1988.
As this was pre smart phones and viral videos accounts of the incident vary wildly but after a 2-0 Cardiff win around 30 Cardiff supporters were chased into the water. Police moved the Swansea fans away and dripping wet Cardiff supporters emerged from the waters. The swim away gesture has been used by many ex Swansea players whilst playing against Cardiff.
This season’s first meeting will take place at the Cardiff City Stadium, but without any supporters. It will be the first without any fans at the ground, but for many years away supporters were banned from this fixture.
After years of rising trouble at the derby fixture the FAW finally had enough in 1993, banning away supporters for four years. It came to a head after a match at Ninian Park in 1993, the game has been dubbed the “Battle of Ninian Park”. Swansea fans came to Ninian Park and ripped out seats and threw them at Cardiff supporters. Cardiff supporters responded by invading the pitch to attack the Swansea fans. Former Football Intelligence officer Simon Chivers described it as “the worst violence I’ve ever seen.” There were many arrests and several police officers and supporters were injured in one of the darkest days for Welsh football. For the first time in the UK away supporters were banned from attending until 1997.
Thankfully scenes like this are no longer the norm at Cardiff/Swansea games. When fans were allowed to attend away games all fixtures between the sides have been “bubble” games.
Across the years no side has ever won two league meetings in a season. The clubs have won two games in a season, but due to playing in the Welsh Cup, the league double has never been done.
Cardiff have turned their form around winning four straight games. They have scored ten and conceded just one in that run. They have climbed up to 9th place and are just four points from the play-off places.
Swansea, meanwhile, have won three, drawn two and lost one of their last six games. They are in 4th place and only a point behind 2nd placed Bournemouth.
Last season saw a goalless draw at Cardiff while Swansea won 1-0 in their home game. Prior to last season the last derby games came in the Premier League.
Swansea enjoyed a 3-0 win at the Liberty Stadium in Garry Monk’s first game as manager. It was the Bluebirds who won the first ever Premier League game 1-0 with former Swansea player Steven Caulker scoring the only goal.
Cardiff have the edge overall with 44 wins to Swansea’s 36, with 28 draws.
Harry Wilson is a major doubt for the game with an arm injury picked up during City’s win at Stoke on Tuesday. Osei-Tutu and Tomlin are both still unavailable. With Wilson likely to miss this game Junior Hoilett will be the most likely to step in in.
Morgan Gibbs-White is still out for Swansea but Steve Copper will have no new injury concerns.
“It’s a huge game. Bragging rights are at stake. It’s a massive game. I was watching some footage earlier of the game back in January. The stadium was packed, atmosphere was electric. Both clubs will miss the fans. It’s a great fixture in the football calendar, one of the biggest games of the season in the Championship.
“Fans will be missed but it doesn’t take away the importance of it.“
“We know the importance to the fan base.“
Harris was asked if he understood the importance of this game for the Cardiff fans,
“Course I do. It’s never lost on me.“
“In my playing career, they are the best games to play in.
“I know the importance to the fan base and that will certainly be mentioned in the changing room. It already has been.
“It’s not a joy for people in lockdown in the lead up to Christmas and they can’t watch their team. There’s been a hardship and we have an opportunity to put smiles on faces.“
“It will be different in terms of the game and atmosphere,
“They were electric atmospheres last season, as anyone who was there will tell you, so we can’t shy away from it, it is different.
“That’s why you cannot compare with previous seasons or previous games.
“But is a game that means an awful lot to supporters, it’s one we really want to win and one we want to really commit to and attack.
“It is for the supporters. I want them to see a team working hard and giving their best because football is so important to so many people.
“It will be a perfect chance to give a bit back and we will be committing to that.”
While Kieffer Moore is gaining plaudits for his recent form part of this has been down to the introduction of Mark Harris. Harris has been a revelation since his introduction to the starting line which has seen Cardiff win the last four. Harris has scored one himself but gives defenders more to think about allowing more space for Moore. The Swansea born striker could be the key to unlocking Swansea’s defence.
Andre Ayew has picked up seven goals this season for Swansea. Swansea have only lost one game this season when Ayew has scored. The striker is a big game player and will relish this fixture.
Prediction; Cardiff ? v ? Swansea
This derby is unpredictable at the best of times. Playing behind closed doors will change the dynamic like never before in this fixture. Its likely to be a close game with just a goal in it.
Third placed Watford will host Cardiff City this Saturday in the Championship. The match will be played with supporters as Watford is in tier two allowing 2,000 fans to attend the game.
Watford come into this game on the back of a goalless draw at Nottingham Forest. The Hornets have only suffered one loss in their last eleven games. They are unbeaten at home this season taking 19 out of 21 points at Vicarage Road.
Cardiff have back to back home wins against Luton and Huddersfield but pioir to this had only one win in eight games. Cardiff are without an away win in four games drawing twice and losing twice.
The last meetings between the side came in the Premier League in 2018/19. Watford won both matches 5-1 at Cardiff and 3-2 at home. The Bluebirds, however, lead the overall head to head 22 wins to The Hornet’s 21, but Watford have won the last three meetings.
Watford will be without Nathaniel Chalobah who will miss the match though suspension, picking up a fifth yellow card in midweek. The 10 day isolation for the three players who had positive Covid-19 tests has ended. Adam Masina, Tom Cleverley and Will Hughes have been back in training. Tom Dele-Bashiru, Andre Gray and Isaac Success will all miss this match.
For Cardiff Jordi Osei-Tutu, Lee Tomlin and Isaac Vassell all remain unavailable. Filip Benkovic could return to the squad after an illness. Robert Glatzel came off the bench to score on Tuesday against Huddersfield could be in line to start ahead of Mark Harris.
Watford manager Vladimir Ivic spoke ahead of the game about the need to rotate his squad:
“We know that in this moment with a lot of games we need to rest some players, like you see with Craig [Cathcart] and his hamstring [injury late on against Nottingham Forest].
“We believe that in the next days some of the players will come to help us who have stayed out for different reasons – some of them being injured and some having COVID – so we will see what’s going to happen in the next days.”
Neil Harris spoke about playing in front of fans this weekend, despite Cardiff not being able to have fans back as Welsh Government rules are different to England:
“I’m not fussed if Watford fans are there or not. We are not going to see fans back in our stadium, we have spoken about that hindering us.
“It is what it is, the Welsh Government have made their decision.Watford fans, not fussed.
“Football as a whole needs supporters. I’m quietly pleased for teams that are getting supporters back, every sport needs them.But unfortunately we are not in that position to welcome our fans back.
“Does it have an effect? If anything it will spur my players on. It will have more of an away game feel about it.“
Speaking about his oppostion this weekend:
“Good players. A team that wasn’t expected to be relegated from the Premier League. They have got a massive squad, an embarrassment of riches, but it’s the Championship.
“The amount of teams clustering at the top, middle and bottom. People always question the ability in the Championship but it’s as good as ever.
“If you finish above Watford then you are going to finish in the top three, or maybe even top two.
“But I worry about getting us right and getting in the best possible condition to stop them and affect the game the other way, being proactive and aggressive.“
For Watford they will be looking for Ismaila Sarr to continue his good form so far this season. Sarr has picked up three goals and two assists, with a Whoscored rating of 7.1. The 22 year old forward also has 3 man of the match performances.
Cardiff will hope the form of Wales striker Kieffer Moore continues. Moore has seven goals for Cardiff and two for Wales this season. With a whoscored rating of 7.34 overall and 7.57 in the Championship. He has won over 10 aerials per game and Cardiff will look to play though the striker.
Prediction: Watford 1-1 Cardiff City
Watford are unbeaten at home and will have fans for the first time in a long time. The extra pressure could tell against a Cardiff team that have gained confidence with two wins in a row. Both teams have quality across the pitch and will be hard to break down.
This weekends Championship fixtures kick off tonight as Barnsley host Bournemouth at Oakwell. No fans will be able to return for this mach as Barnsley still sits in tier three.
Barnsley sit in 15th in the Championship table and come into this game on the back a 2-1 win at Birmingham. The Tykes have won five and lost three in their last eight matches. They have lost just one if their last six home games, a narrow 1-0 loss to Brentford.
Bournemouth are currently in second, one point behind leaders Norwich. After a run of three wins they drew at Rotherham and then lost at home to Preston. The loss to Preston was just their second defeat of the season.
These two sides haven’t met since 2014 when Bournemouth won 1-0 at Oakwell. That day Steve Cook scored a 94th minute winner for the Cherries. Although the sides have not met very often in recent years Barnsley’s last win came in 2004 with a 3-1 win at the Vitality Stadium.
Ben Williams and Jordan Williams will both miss the game against Bournemouth. Elliot Simoes remains a doubt after coming off in the match against Cardiff City.
For Bournemouth Cameron Carter-Vickers and Jack Stacy will miss out. Arnaut Danjuma and Josh King are both doubtful to return to the side.
Valerien Ismael has called for his players to be more ruthless in games, speaking to the press ahead of the game:
“When we play every three days, it can be very dangerous for us. We must become more ruthless.
“We know this and work with the guys on it. We must improve. For sure, we need the next step in this game tomorrow with more efficiency to avoid mistakes and be more ruthless.”
Despite Bournemouth’s quality Ismael believes his side can win this game:
“Bournemouth is a very big side with high quality, a Premier League club until this season and we expect another tough game.
“But we have prepared the guys, they know what to expect on Friday and if we can be more clinical, more ruthless and continue to work hard for each other, we will be a strong opponent.
“We go into every game trying to win, tomorrow is no different.”
Jason Tindle spoke to the media ahead of this fixture and is looking for his side to bounce back after a disappointing result at Preston:
“Certainly of the back of a disappointing result you want the next game to come around quickly, to go out and deliver a good performance. You know hopefully a winning performance.
“We certainly got that opportunity now tomorrow evening we know we need to go there and deliver a better all round performance then we did we did against Preston.”
Tindle knows his side will face a difficult task as they head to Barnsley this evening.
Speaking on his opponents:
“A team that’s got a lot fight, a team that’s gonna make it very difficult for us , a team that’s very hard to break down and a team that’s gonna play to win the game.
“So we gotta go there were not going to underestimate them in any way and we gotta go there and deliver a performance that’s worthy of winning the game.”
For Barnsley striker Cauley Woodrow has picked up six goals and three assists so far this season. The striker has a Whoscored.com rating of 7.12 with an average of 3.6 shots per game and 2.8 aerials won.
Dominic Solanke has been in fine form for Bournemouth with a Whoscored.com rating of 7.25. He has five goals and three assists for the season.
Prediction: Barnsley 1-2 Bournemouth
Barnsley pulled off a good comeback win at Birmingham but Bournemouth will have too much quality. After a defeat to Preston expect Bournemouth to put in a better performance tonight to keep their promotion push going.