Jack Grealish was on Cloud Nine before he was face down in the 18.
The Aston Villa man was handed the captain’s arm band for a Sunday derby at Birmingham City, and incredibly proud of it.
[ MORE: Liverpool-Burnley recap ]
But early in the Second City Derby, a pitch invader attacked Grealish from behind. The punch in the side of the face floored Grealish, and teammates rushed to his aid.
“I was just unaware at the time,” Grealish said. “I was walking into position and I just felt a whack around the side of the face. Obviously there’s rivalry in football but I don’t think there’s any place for that really.”
Grealish would get the last laugh, scoring the lone goal as Villa kept its promotion playoff hopes alive and leapt over Birmingham City on the table.
“I just tried to get on with my job in the end and I think I did. It was unbelievable to get the winner in front of the fans after what happened. … It’s the best day of my life to come here for the first time, captain Aston Villa and score the winner. It’s what dreams are made of, especially being an Aston Villa fan.”
As for the managers, Villa boss Dean Smith ripped the security at St. Andrew’s while Blues manager Garry Monk said that “one idiot does not reflect Birmingham fans and I’m sure they don’t condone it as well.”
Birmingham City apologized to Grealish and Villa, saying the act has “no place in football or society.” The club said in a release that the fan will be banned from St. Andrew’s forever, and that it will back the fullest enforcement of the law.
Harry Redknapp‘s poor last decade has hit another club, this time off the field.
Birmingham City is under transfer ban from the English Football League for running afoul of Financial Fair Play after their efforts to overturn their temporary ban fell flat on Monday.
[ MORE: Zlatan suspended ]
The club says it will continue to pursue a resolution that will allow it to add more players before the season, something respected new Garry Monk would sure appreciate, okay?
Redknapp, now 71, promised the green fields of the Premier League and got the club to spend $22 million on new players with just $6 million going out the door (Transfermarkt).
Birmingham went 1W-1D-6L in its first eight matches of the season, firing Redknapp. It finished the season in 19th place, flirting with relegation the whole way.
The Club has spent several months working diligently to satisfy the EFL.
Unfortunately and disappointingly the EFL are currently refusing to allow us to make additions which would enable us to strengthen the Manager’s squad.
Just days after he was sacked by Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, Swansea City has hired Carlos Carvalhal as its new permanent manager, the club confirmed on Thursday.
The 52-year-old Portuguese manager has formerly been in charge of Besiktas and Sporting CP, but has never managed in the top flight of a Big 4 league. Carvalhal brought Sheffield Wednesday to the Championship playoffs in each of the past two years, but after failing to achieve promotion either time, he was fired on Christmas Eve with the club in 14th in the table.
The official release did not explicitly say if Carvalhal will be ready to take charge of the team for Saturday’s match against Watford, but it hinted that h will take over for player/interim coach Leon Britton immediately, saying “The Portuguese agreed the deal late last night and travelled straight to Swansea overnight to meet his new squad and take training this morning.He replaces Paul Clement, who left the club a fortnight ago, and takes over the managerial duties from Leon Britton, who had taken caretaker charge for the last two games.”
Clement reportedly was on hand to watch Swansea take on Liverpool on Boxing Day, getting a first-hand account of the issues he faces in their 5-0 defeat.
“We felt we needed to get the managerial situation resolved as soon as possible and while the timing is not always perfect, we can look forward to the second half of the campaign with renewed optimism,” said Swansea City chairman Huw Jenkins in the official release. “Carlos’ time at Sheffield Wednesday, which included securing two consecutive play-off places, highlighted that he has great character and personality to lead the squad and the football club, which is vital at such a crucial time.”
Jenkins admitted Carvalhal has a “big challenge ahead of him.”
Carvalhal becomes Swansea City’s fifth permanent manager in the last two years, following Garry Monk, Francesco Guidolin, Bob Bradley, and Paul Clement.
It seems as though Middlesbrough isn’t wasting any time in its managerial search just under 24 hours after the club fired its coach.
Sky Sports is reporting that Boro are in active discussions with Tony Pulis regarding the club’s vacant coaching position.
[ MORE: PST’s Midseason Premier League awards ]
Pulis, 59, last managed Premier League side West Bromwich Albion before being sacked in November. The former Bristol Rovers defender has managed eight different English sides throughout his career as a coach.
Former manager Garry Monk was sacked by Middlesbrough on Saturday, after leading the club to ninth place in the Championship through 23 matches.
Monk had taken the job at the Riverside Stadium back in June, following Aitor Karanka‘s departure.
At the moment, Middlesbrough is a mere three points out of sixth place in England’s second flight.
HULL, England (AP) Former Russia coach Leonid Slutsky has been hired as manager of second-tier English club Hull, marking his first coaching stint outside his native country.
Hull said on Friday that the 46-year-old Slutsky will arrive at the northern club next week subject to international clearance, adding that planning for next season was already underway.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Slutsky stood down as coach of Russia following the 2016 European Championship. He has also managed CSKA Moscow – where he won three Russian titles – and FC Moscow and Krylia Sovetov.
Hull was relegated from the Premier League last month after one season back in the top flight.
In addition to the Hull news, the BBC reported that former Leeds United and Swansea City manager Garry Monk has been offered the Middlesbrough job with the goal of returning them to the Premier League after being relegated during this campaign.