Update: Redknapp staying on at QPR

Leave a comment

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.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
Leave a comment

Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

whufc.com
Leave a comment

West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

Leave a comment

In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.