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O’Neill admits defeat in first game as Forest boss was a ‘learning curve’

Martin O’Neill admitted it was a big learning curve for him as he suffered defeat on his return to Nottingham Forest as manager, with Bristol City spoiling the City Ground party with a 1-0 win. Lee Johnson‘s side were more comfortable than the narrow scoreline might have suggested, as they notched up a fifth straight victory and an 11th game uneaten, thanks to a crisp, precise finish from Famara Diedhiou in the 70th minute. Forest did have flashes of menace in front of a sell-out crowd, but were thwarted by some wayward finishing and some good saves from Frank Fielding, when they did hit the target. “I was hoping that today, with the crowd right behind us and with that momentum, we could find a bit of strength,” said O’Neill. “We will think about a lot o...

Solskjaer makes it a magnificent seven as United boss

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer extended his winning start as Manchester United manager to seven matches with a 2-1 victory at home to Brighton. The Norwegian stood alone as having the best record to start a Manchester United managerial career after their win at Tottenham last weekend. Prior to the crunch Wembley clash, Solskjaer, like Sir Matt Busby, had won his first five matches in charge since being parachuted in to replace Jose Mourinho on an interim basis. Paul Pogba‘s penalty and a sublime strike from Marcus Rashford made it seven in a row for Solskjaer, and, here, Press Association Sport charts them all. Match One: Cardiff 1 Manchester United 5 Jesse Lingard scores (Nick Potts/PA) Marcus Rashford got the Solskjaer era up and running after just three minutes, with Ander Herrera, Anthony ...

Dundee boss Jim McIntyre: We rode our luck

The Dark Blues held on for a 1-1 draw against Queen of the South. Boss Jim McIntyre admitted Dundee had luck on their side as they held on for a replay against Queen of the South in their Scottish Cup fourth round tie. Prolific striker Stephen Dobbie scored his 33rd goal of the season to put the visitors in front, but Jesse Curran levelled just before the break. The replay will take place on January 29, and McIntyre said: “I thought Queen of the South were better than us, so I’m just glad we’re still in the cup and have another chance to rectify that performance. “I think we all know it was short of what we are looking for. “These cup games are always difficult. You just have to look around and see there’s been a few shocks elsewhere. “Jesse’...

Arnautovic wasn’t mentally ready to play, says Hammers boss Pellegrini

Manuel Pellegrini claimed Marko Arnautovic “has his head on another issue” after the player was left out of West Ham’s squad for the 2-0 defeat at Bournemouth. Austria international Arnautovic, the club’s joint leading scorer with eight goals, is keen on a big-money move to China, with Shanghai SIPG having already had a £35million offer rejected. Hammers boss Pellegrini said on Thursday that the 29-year-old would be allowed to depart, subject to a “good deal for both parties” being agreed. Marko Arnautovic was not in the West Ham squad for the defeat to Bournemouth (Yui Mok/PA). Second-half goals from Callum Wilson and Joshua King condemned the Hammers to defeat at the Vitality Stadium after Arnautovic’s replacement, Andy Carroll, squandered a golden chance with the game goalless. “The rea...

Airdrie boss Murray carries hope of Scottish Cup upset against Celtic

Boss Ian Murray insists Airdrie will take hope into their William Hill Scottish Cup tie against Celtic at Parkhead on Saturday. The League One side face a daunting task of ousting the holders and Ladbrokes Premiership leaders, who are looking to continue their quest for a domestic treble-treble. Asked if there was any chance of a fourth-round cup upset from a side who are fifth in League One, the former Rangers defender told Press Association Sport: “There is always a chance. “That’s the beauty of why we play football. In sport we wait for that chance. There is always hope. “I have been saying that to the boys, that’s what we have right now. “We have the hope and the slight chance. We know that it can happen, so why can’t it be us? “We will g...

Cowdenbeath boss Bollan ‘frustrated and annoyed’ at late Rangers cup call-off

Cowdenbeath manager Gary Bollan was left “frustrated and annoyed” after his side’s William Hill Scottish Cup tie against Rangers was postponed less than three hours before kick-off. It is understood the Scottish Football Association called in local referee Scott Millar to perform a pitch inspection and he deemed a corner of the surface frozen and unplayable. The Ladbrokes League Two club were caught out after wind temporarily blew covers off a small area of the Central Park pitch. Bollan said: “We’re frustrated and disappointed as we’ve prepared all week for this. To get to this late stage on the Friday night right before the game and so close to kick-off is massively disappointing. Gary Bollan was frustrated at the call-off (Jeff Holmes/PA) “We’re annoyed as well. At this moment in time, ...

Sarri not busy pestering Chelsea transfers boss during January window

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri says he is not pestering director Marina Granovskaia to complete transfer deals. The 60-year-old on Friday declined to be drawn on the possibility of a reunion with Gonzalo Higuain and suggested Alvaro Morata was feeling unsettled by the speculation surrounding his future. Sarri, speaking at his media conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Arsenal, was asked about Higuain moving to Stamford Bridge and referred to his conversations with Granovskaia, the Blues’ transfer chief and a key confidante of owner Roman Abramovich. Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain has been repeatedly linked with a move to Chelsea (Martin Rickett/PA) The Argentina striker, who excelled under Sarri at Napoli, is currently on loan at AC Milan from Juventus an...

Nottingham Forest can’t keep living in the past, says new boss O’Neill

Martin O’Neill insists Nottingham Forest need to stop living in the past. It is a criticism often levelled at the club, whose most successful spell in its history came between 1976 and 1980 under the legendary Brian Clough. Almost 40 years on and O’Neill has returned to the City Ground as manager, having played for Forest for a decade during that trophy-laden spell which brought two league titles, including the First Division championship, two League Cups and two European Cups. But 20 years have now passed since Forest played in the top division and O’Neill believes the club needs to write a new chapter in its illustrious history by getting back in the Premier League. “It was in the top flight when I left and that’s where I want it to get back to,” said the Irishman. “There are a number of...

Doucoure is focused on Watford, says boss Gracia

The midfielder has been linked with a move to Paris St Germain. Watford manager Javi Gracia does not expect Abdoulaye Doucoure to leave the club this month. Midfielder Doucoure, 26, has been the subject of speculation linking him with a move away from Vicarage Road following a string of impressive performances. Doucoure himself has admitted that he is flattered by reported interest from Paris St Germain and is keen to sign for a club where he can fulfil his ambition of playing in the Champions League. But it is more likely Doucoure will move on from Watford at the end of the season, with the Hornets determined to keep hold of him during the January window. “To be honest, I am working the same way by thinking Abdoulaye will be with me for a long time,” said Gracia. “We will see what happens...

Boss Hughton happy for Brighton’s progress to go unnoticed

Chris Hughton is content for Brighton to “creep under the radar” in their quest for Premier League survival. Albion have built a healthy eight-point cushion to the top-flight relegation zone but rarely make headline news. That gap owes a lot to the Seagulls’ solid home form and, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Manchester United, manager Hughton admits he is happy to steer clear of the limelight. “I think it’s something that suits us because ultimately all we can do is try and put on the best performances we can,” he said. “We’ve continually said that in our progress the most important thing for us is to have as big a gap as we can between us and the bottom three. “It’s normal. If you’re looking at what we see in the game now and the heights of the Premier League, there is always going to be mo...

Leeds boss Bielsa calls Wednesday evening press conference

The Argentine admitted on Friday that he was responsible for sending a Leeds staff member to watch a Derby training session. Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa has called an impromptu press conference on Wednesday evening. The Sky Bet Championship club announced Bielsa wanted to hold an additional media briefing at their Thorp Arch training ground at 5pm. Bielsa admitted on Friday that he was responsible for sending a member of club staff to watch Derby training on Thursday and both the Football Association and English Football League have launched investigations. The #EFL has today written to @LUFC requesting their observations in regard to an incident that took place in the vicinity of @dcfcofficial’s training ground. 👉 https://t.co/Av0pXjSCdU pic.twitter.com/cBNAtmFQfn — EFL (@EFL) January 15, 2...

‘Friction’ with players can benefit team, says Arsenal boss Emery

Arsenal boss Unai Emery aims to “promote friction” with his players to “get something more out of them”. The Spaniard succeeded Arsene Wenger as boss last summer after the Frenchman’s 22-year reign with the Gunners. Emery is seeking to regain Arsenal’s place in the Premier League’s top four and Champions League qualification. The Gunners are fifth, six points behind Chelsea, ahead of Saturday’s London derby. Unai Emery knows which way he wants Arsenal to go under his management (Yui Mok/PA) “At certain times, you have to provoke friction with footballers,” Emery said in an expansive interview with skysports.com. “From that friction, you can get something more out of them, something from inside, a greater sense of ambition or...

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