After news broke earlier today that Queens Park Rangers and manager Harry Redknapp has been locked into talks all day, the Twittersphere went into overdrive.
Now, it can calm down again, as QPR have confirmed that Redknapp will stay on as the West London clubs manager.
QPR’s relegation to the Championship was confirmed on Sunday, following the dissapoitning 0-0 draw with Reading. But good news has arrived for Rangers’ fans as Redknapp will stay on to lead their Champions promotion push next season.
Aiming for EPL promotion is one thing but delivering it is a huge ask.
“There’s a lot of work to be done next year and it will be very difficult to get promoted,” Redknapp told Sky Sports. “It’s a real good challenge. It’s possible but it ain’t going to be easy.”
More: Redknapp’s QPR future hanging in the balance
Redknapp has won promotion to the EPL in the past, with Portsmouth in 2003, and knows the lower leagues of English soccer extremely well after cutting his teeth with Bournemouth in his first managerial role. He emphasized fitness would be a key factor in determining how effective his side will be next term.
“That’s the key. Whoever the players we have here, they’ve got to be worked on in pre-season and they’ve got to be willing to want to get super fit to compete at that level,” Redknapp said. “It will be a big challenge. There are lots of good teams and massive clubs. There are big clubs who have all been in the Premier League before and we are just one of them.”
More: QPR and Reading both relegated after dour 0-0 tie
But if Redknapp can keep the incredibly expensive squad he has assembled together, a return to the EPL may not be as hard as everyone thinks.
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
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No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday