Jan 152016
'Aston Villa do not fear relegation'

Aston Villa do not the fear the consequences of relegation from the Premier League and will come back “on a stronger footing” if they do go down, says new chairman Steven Hollis.

Villa are bottom of the table, eight points from safety, with 17 games left.

Hollis told BBC Sport the club needed “shaking up” but insisted that spending money on players was not the solution.

He will work with chief executive Tom Fox, who described the club’s current football setup as “broken”.

‘We do not live in fear of what might happen’

1-0 home win over Crystal Palace on Tuesday was only their second league win of the season and their first since the opening day, but they are still bottom of the league, eight points behind Swansea, who are one place above the relegation zone.

There is added pressure to stay in the Premier League with clubs set to benefit from the start of a new
£5.1bn three-year television rights deal from next season.

Aston Villa players showed pride – Remi Garde

However, West Midlands businessman Hollis, who was appointed on Thursday, said: “If we unfortunately have to go through a relegation phase we have no fear of that.

“[Villa owner] Randy Lerner is committed and is going to support the board and executive team to take the actions we need to put us in the best possible position so we can come up as quickly as possible.

“This club will be here and we will be on a stronger footing.”

Fox added: “Where we are this season is not where any of us want to be. Randy feels that very deeply. He knows how difficult it is for the fans facing another relegation battle. It is difficult for the players and everyone in the organisation.

“He is not happy but we do not live in fear of what might happen. The thing that makes Randy feel good about the future of the club is that we are putting these kind of processes in place and he has an executive management team that he trusts.

“He believes in the manager he has got. He is positive right now, despite where we are.”

‘A big job to be done’

United States-based Lerner, who bought Villa in 2006 and announced at the end of last season he was
looking to sell the club, has described Hollis as someone with a “proven track record for getting into the thick of troubled organisations, working with embattled executives and getting results”.

“Randy was very clear when I met him that there is some heavy lifting that needs doing at this club to address the structural flaws it has experienced over the last five years,” said Hollis. “Randy wanted the work to be done and wanted it done quickly, hence I am here.

New Aston Villa chairman Steven Hollis

Steven Hollis: “Aston Villa needs a shake up”

“There is a big job to be done. And as chairman I really do want to bring back the confidence to this club, both on the playing side and non-playing side, so we can feel good about what we are doing.

“Time will tell if I am right or not. But I have spent six weeks looking at this and I genuinely believe this needs an overhaul and it needs some solid business principals inputting into it.

“We are going to have to look at how we can shake this club up so we can put it on the correct footing where we can have a position where we can command in the Premier League. That will take some time.”

‘Fundamentally broken’

In the early years of Lerner’s ownership, Villa established themselves as a top-six Premier League team under the management of Martin O’Neill.

For the last five seasons, though, they have battled against relegation and current boss
Remi Garde is their fifth manager in that time.

Villa fans argue with captain Micah Richards

“There is something not right with our football setup at Bodymoor Heath,” admitted Fox. “When we talk about it, we say that it is fundamentally broken and has been for a while.

“The results speak for themselves. When a great club like this, with its history and heritage and success it has had in the past, finds itself in a relegation battle for five seasons in a row, despite spending money to bring players in and changing managers, you have to ask yourself ‘what is fundamentally wrong?’

“The principles Steve talks about are the ones we need to bring to our football setup so that when we got to our board and ask them to spend money on acquiring players or coaches, we have a good sense for how that investment is going to pay off for the owner and how it is ultimately going to deliver results on the pitch.”

Hollis added: “Randy spent a lot of money last summer and we are not seeing the result of that. This is about hard work, commitment and a focus on continuous improvement.”

‘We are taking a deep look at the squad’

Adama Traore

Adama Traore has scored once in 10 games since joining Villa in the summer from Barcelona

In the summer,
midfielder Fabian Delph and
striker Christian Benteke were sold for sizable fees, much of which was reinvested in signing 13 players, many of whom have failed to perform for the club so far this season.

Garde’s predecessor Tim Sherwood has revealed that the signing of these players was
conducted via a “transfer committee” at the club,  with Lerner having final say.

But Fox defended the club’s recruitment process and said they are looking at ways of improving the squad in January.

“We are taking a deep look at the squad and taking a lot of time with Remi to try and understand what our needs are and the best ways to address those,” he said.

“In terms of the process we ran over the summer and will run this January, you can call it what you want – some have called it a committee – but we don’t buy or sell players any differently to any other top or successful club.

“If Remi is not happy with a player who has been suggested he says no. We never end up with a list of players we are targeting that isn’t an approved list from the manager.”

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Jan 152016

Steve Cotterill has been sacked as manager of Championship strugglers Bristol City.

Cotterill took over in 2013 and won the League One title and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in his second season.

The 51-year-old has previously managed Nottingham Forest, Portsmouth, Notts County, Burnley, Stoke, Cheltenham Town and Sligo Rovers.

He leaves City, who host leaders Middlesbrough on Saturday, in 22nd position – two points from safety.

The team have failed to win in seven matches and assistant manager John Pemberton and Wade Elliott, boss of the club’s under-21 side, will take interim charge.

It is only 256 days since Cotterill led Bristol City to their first league title since 1995.

Club chairman Keith Dawe said last season’s success “will live in the memory for a long time”, but added: “Sadly, since the highs of last March and May things have not gone our way on the pitch.

“The club’s aspiration is to ultimately become a Premier League club and this decision has been made to achieve our overall strategy for growth and player development.”

Cotterill had held a news conference earlier on Thursday to look ahead to Saturday’s game against Boro, and had discussed the club missing out on the signing of
Bolton striker Zach Clough.

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Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland

 Posted by at 1:15 AM
Jan 152016


Tottenham have reported no new injury concerns following Wednesday’s defeat at home to Leicester.

Mousa Dembele could start after making his comeback from injury as a substitute in midweek, but Ryan Mason remains out with an ankle injury.

Dame N’Doye is not yet available for Sunderland as he awaits a work visa after joining on loan from Trabzonspor.

Full-back DeAndre Yedlin is on loan from Spurs and therefore ineligible to face his parent club.


Simon Brotherton:
“This game suddenly doesn’t look quite so predictable as it might have done a couple of weeks ago.

“Following the
midweek defeat by Leicester, Tottenham have now lost two of their last three at home in the league at a time when struggling Sunderland have come to life.

“Spurs fans know all about Jermain Defoe, who returns to White Hart Lane with five goals in two matches,
including a hat-trick at Swansea – his first in the league since netting five for Spurs against Wigan in 2009.

“If the former England striker can maintain his form, he could be the key factor in keeping Sunderland up.

“Harry Kane is just as important for Tottenham at the other end of the table but, good as he is, they surely need more than one top quality striker to share the load.”



Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino:
“We need to improve in all areas and all aspects.

“For me football is about a lot of things, not only one, because it’s a collective effort, collective game. It’s impossible to speak of only one thing.”

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce:
“Right when they [Tottenham] needed to be resilient or hold on to the result they got, they didn’t quite do it and that can be because of that lack of experience of what you need to do to win a title.

“But I think their main aim would be to finish in the Champions League and if the title came around, that would be one of those seasons they dream about.”


Sunderland got a great win at relegation rivals Swansea and will be buoyed by that, but the last thing they needed was for Spurs to be beaten by the Foxes because I think we will see a reaction to that defeat from Mauricio Pochettino’s men.


Lawro’s full predictions v Creed stars Jordan & Bellew

• Think you can do better than Lawro? Predict the score for this match and the rest of this round’s Premier League fixtures in our
Predictor game.



  • Tottenham are undefeated in their last 11 league games against Sunderland (W8, D3).
  • However, the scores have been level at half-time in 10 of those 11 matches, with Sunderland ahead in the other.
  • Sunderland’s last win against Spurs was a 3-1 home victory in April 2010.

Tottenham Hotspur

  • After going unbeaten in their first eight home league games this season, Spurs have lost two of their last three top-flight matches at White Hart Lane.
  • Spurs have won just four of their last 10 league matches (D4, L2).
  • Christian Eriksen has scored in all three of his Premier League appearances against the Black Cats.


  • Victory would see Sunderland begin the new year with three successive top-flight wins for the first time since 1950.
  • They could win back-to-back away games in the Premier League for the first time since 2014, when they beat Chelsea in April and Manchester United in May.
  • Sunderland have scored seven goals in their last two league games, compared to just six in their previous eight.
  • Jermain Defoe has scored five times in his last two Premier League games – as many as he did in his previous 22 appearances.
  • Defoe could score in three successive league games for the first time since March 2008 (whilst at Portsmouth).

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Roma appoint former coach Spalletti

 Posted by at 10:38 PM
Jan 142016
Spalletti won the Coppa Italia twice in his first spell in charge at Roma

Roma have appointed former coach Luciano Spalletti as successor to Rudi Garcia, who was sacked on Wednesday.

Spalletti, 56, coached Roma from 2005 to 2009, twice winning the Coppa Italia, before he resigned and joined Russian club Zenit St Petersburg.

The Italian won two league titles during his time in Russia but he was sacked by Zenit in 2014.

Garica was dismissed by Roma after a poor run of results that saw the Italian side drop to fifth in Serie A.

Roma have been drawn against Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League having qualified from the group stage with the lowest number of points.

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Carroll facing up to six weeks out

 Posted by at 7:53 PM
Jan 142016
Carroll facing up to six weeks out

West Ham striker Andy Carroll is facing up to six weeks out of action with a hamstring injury.

The 27-year-old was substituted after just 15 minutes in the Hammers’
3-1 win at Bournemouth.

Carroll had scored two goals in West Ham’s past four games after returning to action in September 2015, following seven months out for knee surgery.

“He’s a positive lad, but of course he is gutted for several reasons,” said Hammers boss Slaven Bilic.

“He felt he was back and enjoying his football.

“It’s not the end of the world, though. If everything goes well he will be back very soon so there is no reason to be negative.

“If it goes as we expect, then he will be back for a significant part of the season, the last 10-15 games, with enough time to make a huge impact on our season.”

A former Newcastle player, Carroll joined West Ham from Liverpool for a club record £15m in June 2013.

Carroll has won nine England caps and scored twice but has not played for the national team since a World Cup qualifier against San Marino in October 2012.

West Ham are fifth in the Premier League, just a point behind fourth-placed Tottenham with 17 games remaining.

Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll tweeted his anger in response to his new injury on Wednesday

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