Tag Archives: Championship

East Midlands rivals battle to derby stalemate

Nottingham Forest and Derby County played out a first goalless draw since October 2002 in this hotly-contested 102nd East Midlands derby.

Despite almost 16 years having passed since that day, with 23 full- time managers between them and leagues swapped a handful of times, the passion of the rivalry remains, as confirmed by an attendance of nearly 30,000.

Before kick-off, the Upper Trent End was a sea of red and white as a massive banner of Giuseppe Garibaldi – nodding towards the founding of their colours – was erected, along with the words that read ‘The Garibaldi we wear with pride was made in 1865’ as the lower tier waved their scarves and flags to create a sight to behold.

The City Ground was rocking

Footage of Forest under Brian Clough and Peter Taylor was shown in a hair-raising and emotional showreel – whilst also stirring the Rams’ emotions of the great man also leading them to glory.

The atmosphere was electric as Mull of Kintyre blasted around the ground, with the players entering the pitch fully pumped up.

The scene was set for a thrilling Championship encounter. Unfortunately, the football that follows doesn’t always match the build-up.

Despite some meaty challenges, an intriguing battle ended in stalemate. Certainly no-one would have predicted a first 0-0 in a derby match at the City Ground since 1906.

“It’s been an emotional game, an emotional derby. I’m pleased because we’re improving,” said Forest boss Aitor Karanka, whose team are 15th in the table and unbeaten in six matches.

“I am pleased for our young players because of the way they’re improving.”

Pantilimon to the rescue

Forest made one change to their line-up as Lee Tomlin replaced Kieran Dowell in midfield, whilst Derby made two as Bradley Johnson and Ikechi Anya replaced the injured Joe Ledley, with Kasey Palmer dropping to the bench.

The opening was cagey and short of any real quality, with some heavy challenges from both sides as they battled to take control.

Andi Weimann saw a shot well blocked by Danny Fox, who was superb all afternoon, before Joe Lolley went on a surging run but his through ball just eluded Matty Cash for the home side.

Those two then linked up again, with the former whipping in a ball for the latter, but his header at the near post was too far in front of anyone.

As the game got into its rhythm, both sides had their chances, with Tom Lawrence flashing a shot wide before Tomlin found some space outside of the box but his shot was well off target.

Costel Pantilimon made a succession of vital saves in the 0-0 draw

Lawrence was booked for simulation, but Derby could have felt themselves unfortunate not to be ahead at the break.

Weimann got in behind Ben Osborn and his fierce shot was parried away by Costel Pantilimon, who the Reds were indebted to for keeping them level.

After his initial save, a combination of the Romanian and Tendayi Darikwa somehow kept Lawrence’s goal-bound effort out of the net.

The resulting corner was almost whipped all the way in by the former Leicester man, but Pantilimon was alert to push the ball out and away from danger as the two sides headed into the break level.

Rowett feeling the pressure

Forest failed to register a shot on target in the game, but they really should have done so with their best chance of the game shortly after the restart.

Cash hounded the Derby defence into a mistake just inside their half and played the ball through to Ben Brereton. The striker used his pace to power forward. The Trent End stood to their feet in unison, as they held their breath.

The 18-year-old should have shot and made himself the hero, but he instead chose to try and square to Cash who had continued his run, but his cut back was weak and allowed Scott Carson to gather, to the groans of the home fans.

He then rose highest to meet a cross, but under pressure he headed over.

With the Rams fifth in the table, without a win in six and only two victories in 2018, their automatic promotion hopes were fading – and they were looking over their shoulder of the chasing play-off pack.

With that in mind, they started to take control as they attempted to find an elusive winner.

Johnson’s powerful free-kick looked destined for the back of the net with 15 minutes left to play, but it was superbly blocked by the Reds wall.

Derby huffed and puffed, camping Forest in their own box. There were a few scrambles, but nothing every truly troubled the hosts’ back five.

Huddlestone saw red for Derby

With 81 minutes gone, the Rams were reduced to 10 men as Tom Huddlestone was given a second yellow for chopping down Tomlin after the on-loan Cardiff man had taken the ball past the midfielder.

It set up an interesting final few minutes, but the home side never looked like pressing home their numerical advantage.

Darikwa powered into the box, but his heavy touch resulted in him lunging into a tackle and giving away a free-kick. Ben Watson almost played in Daryl Murphy, but his through ball was just cut out.

The Rams’ disciplined defence dealt with everything thrown at them, and in the end both sides had to settle for a point.

At the end of the game, Rowett came onto the pitch to remonstrate with the referee about the sending off, before he, Watson and Tomlin had a little shoving match with the Rams gaffer clearly annoyed and displaying the signs of a man under pressure.

The managers’ thoughts:

“Forest have got nothing to lose in some ways, but they look to me very happy with a point,” said former Burton Albion and Birmingham manager Rowett.

“The fact is, Scott Carson had nothing to do all afternoon. We just couldn’t take our opportunities.

“I’m really pleased with the effort, just disappointed with the result.

“It’s another game where we’ve been the better team but we just can’t turn that draw in to a win.

“But the reality is, I’m not sure we could have done an awful lot more.”

Forest manager Karanka added: “We managed the game in the right way. Six weeks ago we weren’t a team. Now we feel a team. Now at least, once again, we are a team on the pitch.”

Teams:

Forest: Pantlimon, Darikwa, Figueiredo, Fox, Osborn, Watson (c), Colback, Cash, Tomlin, Lolley (Dowell 77′), Brereton (Murphy 85′)

Unused subs: Kapino, Mancienne, Bridcutt, Vellios, Worrall

Bookings: Colback 33′, Watson 75′, Figueiredo 79′, Darikwa 90′

Derby: Carson, Wisdom, Keogh (c), Davies, Forsyth, Huddlestone, Anya (Palmer 66′), Johnson, Weimann, Lawrence (Hanson 84′), Nugent (Jerome 66′)

Unused subs: Roos, Pearce, Thomas, Bogle

Bookings: Lawrence 28′, Huddlestone 78′, 81′

Sent off: Huddlestone 81′

Referee: Jeremy Simpson

Attendance: 29,106 (1,995 away)

 

 

Flying Fulham see off stuttering Wolves

Fulham underlined their promotion credentials with a 2-0 win over Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers at Craven Cottage.

The hosts extended their home winning streak to eight games and are unbeaten in the league in 2018, closing to within a point of fourth-placed Derby County.

Rising star Ryan Sessegnon scored their first in the 38th minute, being in the right place at the right time yet again, and the second came from Aleksandar Mitrović in the 71st minute with some lovely individual brilliance to cap off a well-contested match.

Wolves managed just two shots on target and have dropped 12 points in their past eight games in all competitions, winning just three.

Slaviša Jokanović recalled Tomas Kalas, Floyd Ayite and Ryan Fredricks, which proved to be a good choice by the Fulham boss as Fredricks makes a crucial block from Helder Costa’s shot four minutes in, with Wolves quick out of the blocks.

The visitors did not have it all their own way early on, though, as good link-up play between Tom Cairney and Matt Target saw the ball end up at the feet of Sessegnon, who cut in to shoot but was crowded out by the Wolves rearguard.

In the 13th minute a shot from Cairney deflecting directly into the path of Mitrovic who managed to chip it over goalkeeper John Ruddy only to see his effort cleared by Wolves captain Conor Coady.

Increased pace

With play going back and forth in an open and fairly even first half-hour, the game was there for the taking, and it was Sessegnon who stepped up to the plate.

After a bad clearance from Ryan Bennett, Stefan Johansen and Mitrovic worked together once more to get the ball into the Wolves box, and a sloppy hold by Ruddy allowed Sessegnon to tap in for his 13th goal this season.

Wolves came out for the second half even more fired up than before, and the first booking of the contest came in the 48th minute after an obvious pull-back by Targett on the counter-attacking Costa.

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo added attacking impetus in the 64th minute, with Diogo Jota and Morgan Gibbs-White coming on for Costa and Alfred N’Diaye, while Sheyi Ojo replaced Ayite for the hosts.

The changes were to no avail for the visitors, however, as Fulham doubled their lead seven minutes later. Mitrovic electrified the home fans on a bitterly cold evening with a shot from 25 yards out that went straight into the bottom corner.

A minute later, Johansen nearly made it 3-0 with an effort which narrowly skimmed past the post.

Five minutes from time, Wolves missed a golden opportunity when, with an open goal in front of him, Jota scooped the ball over the bar from five yards out.

With only two minutes of stoppage time added, Fulham’s fans celebrated in the freezing temperatures as their team sealed victory over the table-topping West Midlands outfit and kept up their own push for promotion to the top flight.

City Ground, Nottingham

Determined Karanka tackles winter of discontent at Forest

Nottingham Forest boss Aitor Karanka demonstrated his determination to turn the club’s fortunes around with a dynamic transfer deadline day.

Forest signed no fewer than six players on January 31st, with goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, arriving on loan from Watford, and Iranian international free agent midfielder Ashkan Dejagah leading the way.

As the 11pm deadline neared, a string of captures was confirmed. Winger Joe Lolley was secured from Huddersfield Town for an undisclosed fee, whilst midfielder Lee Tomlin came in from Cardiff City in a loan swap deal with Jamie Ward moving in the opposite direction.

Newcastle’s Jack Colback agreed a loan, and fellow midfielder Adlene Guedioura of Middlesbrough also switched to the City Ground, returning to the club he left almost four years ago on a two-and-half year deal.

Ben Watson was expected to be the eighth signing of the window after his Watford contract was terminated, with The Reds having already secured Sporting Lisbon centre-back Tobias Figueiredo for the rest of the season.

Algerian international Adlene Guedioura was one of seven January signings

Forest did suffer some frustration in their bid to sign former academy graduate Michael Dawson. Now 34, he started his career at Forest before moving to Tottenham in 2005, and reportedly was in Nottingham to sign a two-and-a-half year deal.

However, Dawson’s parent club Hull City blocked the move, although he could still sign in the summer as a free agent.

24 hours is a long time…

So why the late flurry of transfer activity on the banks of the River Trent?

Just 24 hours, earlier Forest fans has been left embarrassed and distraught by their team’s abject 3-0 loss at home to Preston. Karanka, appointed on January 8th, called it the “worst moment” of his career.

The Spaniard questioned the commitment of the players, and showed his desire to bring success back to Forest with his ruthless deadline day dealings.

For the first time in a long time, an uncompromising message was sent to the squad: you either want to play for this club or you can go.

And it seems some did want to go, with Mustapha Carayol moving to Ipswich having had his contract terminated, Portsmouth snapping up Stephen Henderson on loan, and Matt Mills leaving to join Barnsley.

Ward went as part of the Tomlin swap deal, and Tyler Walker and Zach Clough both made loan moves to Bolton Wanderers.

The squad was too big, and chopping and changing between so many players meant inconsistency. Karanka has attempted to cut out the deadwood while adding quality.

For all the talk of Forest’s revolving door for managers in recent seasons, it had become apparent to supporters that it’s the players on the pitch who were bringing the club down.

Ben Osborn apologised on Twitter for the Preston shambles, but not many of his team-mates seemed to care as they succumbed in dismal fashion – and not for the first time this season.

Substandard

Karanka has pledged to revive the two-time European champions, and is setting about changing the entire ethos at the club.

The former Real Madrid defender has shown he will not stand for excuses and poor performances – perhaps unlike his predecessors.

‘Karanka can see the issues and he isn’t afraid to address them, as his mass overhaul has shown’

Not since 2011, when Forest twice finished in the play-offs in two seasons under Billy Davies, have The Reds had a really good campaign, and they flirted with a disastrous relegation to League One last year.

Supporters wanted to see a team making progress under Mark Warburton this season, but in truth Forest weren’t good enough, with too many at the club seemingly accepting it.

New leadership

A lot of these problems originated under former owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi, but it looks as if his successor Evangelos Marinakis is serious about solving them.

Karanka can see the issues and he isn’t afraid to address them, as January’s mass overhaul has shown.

Forest also rebuffed a £12m offer from Burnley for star defender Joe Worrall – something that probably would have been accepted under the old regime.

That defiance was welcomed by the fans, as is Karanka’s no-nonsense style. He knows how to get promoted, as he did with Middlesbrough, and it seems he will do whatever he feels necessary to get Forest contending for a place in the top flight.

It seems Forest have finally got the right manager – and one who will return the club’s ethos to a winning mentality.

Feature image courtesy of Diego Sideburns via Flickr Creative Commons

Fulham style overcomes Bluebird brawn in festive thriller

Strong winds and heavy rain dampened the Boxing Day atmosphere at Cardiff despite the Bluebirds and Fulham delivering a late Christmas in South Wales.

The Cottagers eventually ran out 4-2 winners, inflicting a first Championship home loss of the season on the hosts, with man of the match Ryan Sessegnon demonstrating why he might attract interest during the January transfer window.

The versatile 17-year-old netted 12 minutes from time to make it 3-1 to the visitors. Cardiff gave themselves hope with a 92nd minute header by substitute Callum Paterson, but Stefan Johansen struck deep into added time to send the away fans into raptures.

The conditions were horrible for both sets of spectators but made for an exciting game, with the ball zipping off the surface and presenting a tough test for the goalkeepers.

Despite their team sitting second in the table behind Wolves going into the match, the home supporters were subdued throughout, while the energy of their Fulham rivals in the stands seemed to translate to the team in white.

Celebrating

Slaviša Jokanović’s team, seeking a third win in four games, were quicker to every 50/50, moving the ball around quicker and seeming like they wanted it more.

In the fifth minute, Johansen found himself in an advance position through on goal. Bruno Manga brought him down, but the referee waved ‘play on’ as the Fulham players appealed.

Just seven minutes later, however, their fans were celebrating as Tim Reem’s back-post header put them ahead. That blow sparked the Welsh side into life, and they began to pressure Fulham on the ball, leading to a scrappy period littered with fouls.

As the half drew to a close, Fulham again found themselves bombing forward on the break with numbers supporting the attack.

The ball was pinged to Ryan Fredericks on the right wing, but his attempted cross was cut out by Sol Bamba, and Fulham had to settle for being 1-0 up at the break.

Cynical

The second half began very much like the first, with Fulham dictating the play and creating the better chances, while Neil Warnock’s men resorted to cynical fouls.

It was only a matter of time before the visitors struck again, and their pressure told in the 56th minute. Sessegnon was the provider as he coolly took the ball past his covering defender, giving him the time and space to pick out Floyd Ayité as he steamed through for the simplest of tap-ins.

This time, the celebrations were short lived, as Cardiff hit hit back a minute later with the goal of the game. A Fulham clearance landed at the feet of striker Kenneth Zohore who hit a half volley from 25 yards out which flew past Fulham keeper Marcus Bettinelli.

Suddenly, the home fans found their voices, and Fulham knew they had a game on their hands.

Warnock went for broke with a double attacking substitution in the 73rd minute, bringing on Paterson and Rhys Healey. Fulham responded by sending right winger Rui Fonte into action, with both teams chasing the win.

Consolation

Fonte quickly made his mark, playing a lovely ball out to Sessegnon who chested it down and slotted calmly past keeper Neil Etheridge, seemingly sealing victory and sending some of the home fans towards the exits.

Paterson’s late goal for 3-2 felt more like a consolation effort, and with Cardiff throwing everything at Fulham to try and get the equaliser, they left themselves exposed at the back. Johansen’s audacious chip to make it 4-2 was the last kick of the game.

Fulham simply outclassed Cardiff, bossing the midfield where the contest was ultimately decided. The win kept them in 11th place, while Cardiff slipped to third behind Bristol City after they beat Reading.

LISTEN: Elephant Sport’s EFL Podcast is back!

Aaron Paul and Shannon Gambling dissect the weekend’s action whilst looking at managerial movements within England’s second tier.

There is also a brief look at the plights of Charlton Athletic and Leyton Orient.

Audio clips from Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic is  available in the link below – courtesy of BBC Radio London

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Slavisa Jokanovic chats to BBC Radio London after Fulham’s 3-1 win over Newcastle United:

Change not for the better at rugby union’s grassroots

Having been inspired by England’s 2003 World Cup success, I was started playing tag rugby that winter.

Aged six or seven, I joined my local club, Esher, and played through its age-group teams for the next 11 years.

Grassroots rugby is something that has been important to me ever since. Those roots are precious and need nurturing.

A big part of that is the valuable life lessons the sport teaches its youngsters. These include respect for the referee, and it’s always been a virtuous circle.

Young players grow up respecting match officials and carry this through to adulthood, where they act as role models for the next generation.

Evidence

Compare that to the dissent and disrespect that’s become part and parcel of football.

Players at the highest levels harass and harangue referees while their managers abuse fourth officials on the touchline.

The risk is that young players will emulate this behaviour, but could this become a rugby problem as well?

There is evidence that the game’s long-cherished culture of respect is changing.

Steve Grainger, rugby development director at the Rugby Football Union, believes that an influx of new players and their parents is having an effect.

Success

These youngsters, encouraged by their families, are inspired – just like I was 14 years ago – by England’s recent success, but also by the increasingly lucrative rewards available in the professional ranks.

“The stakes are higher now in rugby as more people realise that a career can be made from playing it”

Grainger believes verbal abuse from parents and coaches on the sidelines in the amateur game is a bigger problem than player dissent.

“We are starting to see some challenges in touchline behaviour,” Grainger told BBC Radio 5 live.

“Traditionally, a lot of kids that have come into the sport because their parents have been involved in it, so you have a culture there,” he said.

“As we broaden that, we are bringing in parents who themselves have had no exposure to rugby.”

Influx

Unfortunately, and without wishing to negatively stereotype, the behaviour Grainger is referring to has been around in football for many years.

Last month, The Daily Telegraph reported that the Football Association is preparing to to relaunch its Respect campaign as the verbal and physical abuse towards match officials at grassroots level increases.

Maybe it is because the stakes are higher now in rugby as more people realise that a career can be made from playing it – if you are good enough.

Average annual salaries in the Aviva Premiership are now around £100,000 – more for ‘marquee’ signings and experienced players – and gaining international recognition can massively boost that figure.

The top 10 earners in the Premiership all earn in excess of £290,000 a year. No.1 is Manu Tuilagi at Leicester Tigers on £425,000.

Semi-pro woes

Esher RFC has always prided itself on being a successful semi-professional club. This culminated in 2008, when the club took on Northampton Saints in the National League 1 – now called the Championship.

“A club such as Esher has to constantly ensure it doesn’t overreach itself financially”

When they played the Saints that season, the opposition included players such as future England captain Dylan Hartley.

A club of Esher’s size and resources, however, was never going to be able to survive in the long-term at such a high level, and they currently play in National League One – rugby union’s equivalent of football’s League One third tier.

They’ve still managed to attract quality players in recent years including Fiji’s Nicky Little, plus brothers Steffon and Bevon Armitage. The former now plays at Toulon.

Lured away

But living strictly within its means, while other teams have continued to embrace professionalism, means many of Esher’s best young prospects – including some I used to play with as a teenager – are lured away to bigger clubs.

In some instances it proved divisive as players have flitted around different teams, trying to work out which one offers them the best chance of making it big.

However, Esher’s achievements have also accrued benefits, and Premiership clubs often send younger players there on loan. Esher helped to hone the talent of George Lowe of Harlequins, and he is now regular starter for Quins.

But a club such as Esher has to constantly ensure it doesn’t overreach itself financially.

Justify

In March last year year, Esher told director of rugby Mike Schmidt that that his contract would not be renewed after 11 years.

mike-schmid (Credit: Get Surrey)
Esher had to part with Mike Schmidt

Esher’s chairman of rugby, TV presenter John Inverdale, said the decision was entirely down to financial reasons.

“It’s getting harder and harder to justify the expenditure at the second and third levels of the English game,” he explained.

Given Schmidt’s key role in Esher’s rise to the heights of playing in the second tier, it was a sad way for that relationship to end – but such are the realities of an increasingly professional game.

As modern rugby evolves, clubs like Esher, who are the lifeblood of the game, are struggling to keep up with its demands.

The England national team’s record-breaking run should be inspiring a feel-good factor in the sport.

But unless the grassroots game at clubs like Esher is taking into account, rugby’s future may not be quite so healthy and secure after all.

Where are all the British Asian footballers?

According to Uefa B licence coach Rajab Noor, one of English football’s perennial thorny issues has a simple solution.

“We need more players playing and more coaches coaching,” he says when discussing why more British Asians aren’t involved in the professional game.

A lot has been written and said about the lack of Asian players and coaches, and perceptions are still skewed by cultural stereotypes.

Noor (left) with BBC sports presenter Manish Bhasin (centre)

What is your son currently studying,’ my mum asked her friend a while back. ‘He’s studying to become a surgeon,’ she replied.

‘It’s a very respectable job and he will earn a considerable amount of money. It’s the best decision.’

I have grown up in Asian family but mine have never pressured me into choosing a career path I was not keen on.

However for others in the Asian community, where many place a high premium on getting the best possible education, this isn’t the case.

There are plenty of British Asians playing football at grassroots level, although cricket doesn’t seem to have the pull anymore that it once had.

But why don’t more of them go on to establish careers and make names for themselves at professional level?

Talent pool

The dearth has been blamed on racism in the past, but Noor, a full-time coach studying for his Uefa A licence, believes that times have changed.

“You only have to see statistics to see how few Asian coaches are out there,” he said. “Same with players. Why are there virtually no Premier League Asian players? The talent pool is simply not big enough.

“Look at the amount of Asians playing football. Let’s say it’s 100,000 across the country. If we had more, for instance 500,000, then things would look different.

“Many people may want to point at the FA and point at issues such as racism, but honestly we need more players playing and more coaches coaching.”

Black & ethnic minorities 

Noor with caretaker England U21 boss Aidy Boothroyd

The 2011 census revealed that Asians made up 7.5% – or about 4.2 million people – of the population in England.

This is in no way reflected by the number of British Asians involved in professional football.

Initiatives such as tournaments to find Asian’s next star have helped increase the number of homegrown Asian players and coaches at grassroots level, and Noor says progress is being made.

“The FA is certainly doing its bit by getting coaches on courses. A lot more are coming through now, more than ever.”

Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) coaches have, he says, been held back by racism within the sport, but things are changing.

“In the past they’ve been neglected,” he admits. “At the same time, I’m just a coach or manager like anybody else. I wouldn’t want to say ‘Look, I’m an Asian coach’. I’ve got to where I am today for who I am.

“I don’t like to blame anybody but I do feel that there’s a lot more being done now, and the Premier League is doing a lot for BAME coaches.”

Role models 

Examples, of British-born players with Asian heritage who are plying their trade in English football are Neil Taylor at Swansea, Adil Nabi at Peterborough United as well as Northampton Town’s Kashif Siddiqi.

Neil Taylor of Swansea and Wales

Taylor who is of Welsh-Indian descent as his mother is a Bengali from Kolkata in India, played for Wales at the 2016 European Championship in France and has also been a pivotal figure for the Swans.

But despite his achievements, there is still a very limited amount of role models for aspiring young Asian players to look up to, and this – according to Noor – is a worrying issue.

“The lack of role models is a huge thing. When I’m coaching young Asian kids and I ask them if they know any Asian footballers and they reply ‘no’.

“I think we only need one or two to breakthrough and be on TV and have kids running around with their shirts on their back and wanting to be just like them.

“Until we have that, I think it’s going to be very difficult to inspire the kids of today.”

Progress 

But, returning to those cultural perceptions, are parents in Asian communities largely apprehensive about and unwilling to see their children pursue a career in football?

The film ‘Bend It Like Beckham’, which came out in 2002, highlighted the issue as an Indian girl Jess finds her obsession with football at odds with a culture which seemingly frowns on women playing sport.

To this day, the stance that many Asian parents have is that football is not the way forward for their sons (or daughters), and Noor, 27, insists this needs to change in order for Asian football to progress.

“It was the same with my parents, they never wanted me to pursue a career in football. They thought it was just a game and they didn’t really understand the industry behind it.

“I think it’s getting better and progress is being made, but I think parents need to be more informed and more educated about the sports industry and how much football has to offer.”

Noor highlights the FA’s latest community development initiative as evidence.

“It introduces football for the first time to children who usually don’t play the game. I’ve set one of them up myself and we have 100 on the register. People turn up each week and they are all new to football.

“They usually play at school or in after-school clubs, but they have never been involved in any organised football.

“More of this needs to happen because once you have a development centre up and running, you can ensure there are more Asian footballers wanting to play the game in the future.”

Ambitions 

The future is seemingly looking far more brighter for British Asian footballers hoping to make it big.

More youngsters from the Asian community are progressing in the sport at academy level, while older individuals are keen on coaching roles.

“I want to be a first team coach in a professional set-up, if not the Premier League then the Championship”

“I’m really positive and confident about seeing an Asian footballer or coach in the Premier League,” Noor added.

“We are not far off. I think there’s good Asian players and I think there’s a good number of Asian coaches knocking about.

“I’m a mentor and I have young leaders alongside me and the advice I give them is to do something that they enjoy.

“If they enjoy coaching for example, they will express themselves as a coach. Regardless of any qualification somebody gets, it is crucial to put the hours in on the grass.”

Rewarding

Noor added: “The more hours a person coaches and delivers sessions, the more they will learn about themselves and the more they will learn about their players.

“The important thing is to not be afraid to try and most importantly give it your all.”

The talented coach is hoping to make his mark at the highest level and has lofty ambitions of his own.

“The most rewarding thing in being a coach is seeing a team or an individual succeed. No matter what age group I coach, whether it’s five-year-olds or adults, seeing somebody improve and have a smile on their face during training and on a matchday is very rewarding.

“I want to be a first team coach in a professional set-up, if not the Premier League then the Championship. I want to succeed in England but if that’s not possible, I will look to go abroad, so fingers crossed.”

You can follow Rajab on Twitter @CoachNoor 

Elephant Sport midweek Championship Podcast

Elephant Sport midweek Championship Podcast

Aaron Paul, Shan Gambling and Dan Racheter take a light hearted yet informative look at the goings-on in the EFL Championship, reviewing the weekend’s games, looking ahead to tonight’s fixtures (18/10/16) and exploring some of the league’s top news stories.

In this week’s podcast: Mick McCarthy and job security at Ipswich; Fulham’s much-needed win; Neil Warnock’s arrival at Cardiff, with an upturn in fortunes for Marouane Chamakh.

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