John Terry

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John Terry finalist for vacant Middlesbrough job

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In a matter of just a few days’ time, John Terry could be named the new manager of side Middlesbrough.

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According to a report from the Guardian, Terry is being considered as one of three finalists, alongside former Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic and former Boro defender (and current first-team coach) Jonathan Woodgate, for the EFL Championship side’s vacant job.

Terry has reportedly spoken to the Boro hierarchy in recent days, and chairman Steve Gibson is expected to make a final decision over who will replace Tony Pulis following the weekend. Boro spent the entirety of the 2018-19 season jostling for a place in the promotion playoffs, but finished seventh and missed out by a single point.

After announcing his retirement from playing in October, Terry was named assistant coach on Dean Smith’s staff at Aston Villa, where he has remained throughout the season and will do so through Monday’s promotion playoff final against Derby County.

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Jokanovic led Fulham to promotion last season before he was fired in November as the Cottagers appeared headed for an immediate relegation back down to the Championship, which ultimately came to pass.

Woodgate came through the Boro academy and played for the club on two occasions, 2006-2007 and again from 2012-2016. He was named a member of Steve Agnew‘s coaching staff in March 2017, less than a year after ending his playing days.

Why Aston Villa deserve Premier League promotion

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With the Championship playoff final at Wembley Stadium on May 27, the richest game in soccer will see one of Aston Villa or Derby County promoted to the Premier League.

[ MORE: Latest Championship news ]

Which club deserves a spot in the English top-flight, and the estimated minimum $120 million it will generate, more?

You can use metrics such as fanbase, stadiums, players, historical success and quality of coaches to try and sort this out, but the fact of the matter is, the playoffs are always a complete, and utterly brilliant, lottery.

The path Villa and Derby took to get to the final this season proves that.

Here’s a look at why Villa deserve to return to the PL after a three-year absence, while tomorrow we will focus on Derby…


Everything about Villa is a Premier League club.

Their incredible home at Villa Park is among the most historic and boisterous in England when it gets going and the Holte End is the jewel in its crown.

European champions in 1982, Villa are the biggest club from England’s second-city, Birmingham, and their fanbase is loyal, if not overly pessimistic as most Brummies are. The fact that there are no PL teams from Birmingham is astonishing. It is like having no top level sports teams in LA.

For three years they’ve now fought to get back into the top-flight after several seasons of struggle as former American owner Randy Lerner cut costs wherever he could. Under manager Dean Smith, a lifelong Villa fan who took charge midseason, they now play wonderfully attractive soccer and have youngsters like Jack Grealish, Andre Green and Tammy Abraham leading the way.

Previous manager Steve Bruce was known for his pragmatism and trusting veterans to be steady in pressure situations. All of that is out of the window at Villa Park, assistant coach John Terry alongside Smith to provide some steel to their flamboyant possession-based style.

Villa would be fun to watch if they were promoted to the Premier League. That much is sure. They’ll concede a lot of goals, but they would score a ton too.

There is also the potential for Villa to emulate Wolverhampton Wanderers. Seriously.

Their ownership group has strengthened in recent months with Chinese businessman Tony Xi selling 55 percent of his stake in the club to Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and American billionaire Wes Edens.

If Villa come up the financial fair play shackles which restricted them in the Championship in recent years will come off. The potential for them to spend big is there, but they have a team full of players on loan from PL clubs who have formed a bond and could likely be kept together and bought permanently this summer.

Quite simply, Villa are a top 10 team in the Premier League. They have suffered due to Lerner’s decision to pull out his investment but they have now rebuilt themselves with a strong core of young talent and have a manager in place who is progressive and ambitious both with his style of play and where Villa can get to in the PL.

Under Bruce, Villa lost to Fulham in the playoff final last season at Wembley. But with local lad Grealish leading their charge there is a sense that failure last year was a blessing in disguise. This Villa side are young and hungry and they are exciting to watch.

That is why Villa deserve to be promoted to the Premier League for the 2019-20 season.

Kompany one of Premier League’s greatest leaders

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When you think of a club, usually one player pops into your mind straight away.

Vincent Kompany will be that player for Manchester City.

After his departure following 11 seasons which yielded 12 major trophies, Kompany’s legacy at Man City will be legendary and talk of a statue of him being built outside of the Etihad Stadium is serious and just. He is adored by Man City fans in Manchester and beyond, as he embraced every aspect of Man City and seemed to totally understand what the club means to the fans and the city.

But that appreciation spreads even further.

Kompany’s achievements on and off the pitch at City mean he is one of the all-time great leaders in the Premier League era.

I’m talking Tony Adams, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, John Terry, Alan Shearer and Steven Gerrard. He is right there in the same bracket.

Did he arrive at Man City at the right time? Sure. He was the skipper of the greatest, and most expensive, team ever assembled in English soccer.

But every great team has a great leader, and that is something money can’t buy.

Kompany’s determination and focus to set high standards day in, day out both on the training pitch and around the locker room is clear for all to see. As star names came and went, he was the one constant and he made sure every newbie put the club and fans first.

He arrived just before Sheikh Mansour took over in 2008 and 11 years later he has helped City become a behemoth in world soccer on and off the pitch while always staying humble despite as he delivered some brilliant individual moments along the way.

Kompany is an impressive man off the pitch, one who talks about politics, problems in his homeland of Belgium, and has worked hard to try and help tackle problems with homelessness in Manchester.

While he was at Man City he also completed his Masters Degree in Business Administration, all of that in his spare time while he led City to four PL titles in eight seasons and pushed them on as much as he could.

Injuries threatened to derail his great career over the past couple of campaigns, but the way he bounced back this season to drive City to the title in the final months of the campaign underlined his importance as a truly inspirational leader.

His stunning goal against Leicester City in the penultimate game of the season was pivotal in their title win and Kompany got the perfect send off by leading City to something no other men’s team in English soccer has ever achieved, winning all three domestic trophies available in one season.

The only success which evaded him was in Europe, as City reached the semifinal and quarterfinal stage of the UEFA Champions League but just couldn’t get over the line in that competition.

Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Joe Hart, Yaya Toure and Fernandinho will all have a special place in Man City’s history books, but it is the man who led them who will be lauded most for decades to come.

There’s no doubt aside from his new role as player-manager of his boyhood club Anderlecht, Kompany will go on to achieve great things in the business world and he seems destined to be involved in politics at some point as he will follow in the footsteps of his father who is a mayor of one of the 19 districts of Brussels.

Kompany’s status as one of the greatest leaders in Premier League will always be safe and as the song goes, “here’s to you Vincent Kompany, City loves you more than you will know, ohhhhh!”

You can tweak those lyrics to “City will always love you more than you will know” because he will go down as their greatest-ever captain.

Lampard’s Derby County comes back to reach promotion playoff final

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With two red cards and six goals in one thriller, Derby County and Leeds United gave us a beauty in the second leg of their Football League Championship promotion playoffs semifinal second leg on Wednesday.

Frank Lampard‘s Derby emerged victorious with a 4-2 win in the leg, 4-3 on aggregate, as Leeds went crashing out of the playoffs.

It had to feel delightful times two for Lampard, who discovered Leeds was spying on his Rams before a match in January.

[ MORE: West Brom looking to Hughton? ]

Derby will meet Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium on May 27 in a match full of subplots, including Lampard matching wits with Aston Villa assistant and former Chelsea teammate John Terry.

Jack Marriott scored twice, with Chelsea loanee Mason Mount and Liverpool man Harry Wilson also scoring for the Rams.

Stuart Dallas scored a pair of goals for Leeds.

Gaetano Berardi was sent off with 12 minutes to play in the first 90 minutes, his side down 3-2 on the day.

Leeds entered the game with a 1-0 lead, and doubled its advantage through Dallas’ first goal of the match.

But Derby scored in the final minute of the first half and the first minute of the second, with Marriott and Mount getting on the score sheet. The former of the two goals also included very poor goalkeeping from one-time Real Madrid man Kiko Casilla.

Berardi saw his second yellow card in the 78th minute for a wayward, late slide tackle.

Liverpool man Harry Wilson nearly had it 4-2 with a chipped finish off the post before Marriott used a classy finish to deliver the score line. Derby’s Scott Malone then saw his second yellow as the match finished 10v10.

Van Dijk should lead Player of the Year conversation

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Right now Virgil Van Dijk is the leading contender for Premier League Player of the Season.

It is not even that close, as it stands…

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Now, we all know that a player from the team which wins the title is usually named the player of the season (except for last season when Salah pipped Kevin De Bruyne to the accolade) but there have been some wonderful individual campaigns from stars across the league in 2018-19.

With that in mind, below we take a quick look at the top 10 contenders with nine games of the season to go. Can anybody challenge VVD?


Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) – The Dutch defender has been a colossus at the back for Liverpool, as they’ve conceded just 15 times so far this season. He leads the defense and his belief spreads throughout the team with his incredible passing ability. A true “Rolls Royce” of a defender. The front three for Liverpool are very important, but VVD is probably more important. A defender hasn’t won the POTY accolade since John Terry in 2005…


Heung-Min Son (Tottenham) – After two breaks during the season for the Asian Games and the Asian Cup, Son has returned and played superbly for Tottenham. He stepped up big time when Harry Kane was out injured and the South Korean forward has been a menace all season. He has looked a little jaded in recent weeks, but this has been his best season in the PL by far.


Sergio Aguero (Man City) – He leads the PL with 18 goals and Aguero’s all-round game has improved drastically under Pep Guardiola. We all know he’s a predator in the box, but his work rate, link-up play and hunger is through the roof. If City win the title, Aguero will be one of the main reasons why.


Harry Kane (Tottenham) – To miss the games he has through injury and still have 16 PL goals this season is remarkable and Kane has been Tottenham’s talisman once again. He always delivers and even though Spurs are out of the title race, Kane has kept them in it for most of this season. In a world he is relentless.

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Raheem Sterling (Man City) – Last season will have been tough for Sterling to replicate, but in many ways he has got even better in 2018-19. With 12 goals and nine assists only Salah, Aguero and Hazard have been involved in more PL goals than Sterling this season. He continues to refine his game under Guardiola, and Sterling’s impact off-the-pitch is inspirational.


Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – Yes, he’s blown hot and cold for most of this season but when he’s been good, he’s been very, very good. Hazard is the main reason Chelsea are still well in the top four hunt, and even though his future is unclear you can hardly accuse him of coasting through games. Playing as a false nine whenever asked he has still caused problems, but Hazard is much better on the wing. This could well be his final season in the PL.


Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – The Egyptian forward has struggled for consistency this season, but he still has 17 goals and seven assists to his name. So if this a below-par campaign for Salah, it’s still very decent… His form has dipped over the past few months but Salah’s importance to Liverpool is clear and the reigning POTY will no doubt kick on in the final months of the season.


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – Arsenal’s main man up top has scored 16 goals and he could have scored quite a few more. His partnership with Alexandre Lacazette has been building, but the duo aren’t always selected alongside one another by Unai Emery. Aubameyang’s strike rate since he arrived in the PL is remarkable, as he’s now scored 26 goals in 40 outings. His slick finishes have kept Arsenal in the top four battle.


Ben Foster (Watford) – Watford are having a wonderful season and Foster is rolling back the years in goal. The 35-year-old has produced some memorable saves and displays to keep the Hornets’ European hopes alive. Not a player many would expect to see on this list, but one that truly deserves it.


Fernandinho (Man City) – So often the unsung hero for Man City, they do not operate in the same ruthless manner when the Brazilian midfielder is missing. Fernandinho’s absence has coincided with some of City’s worst displays of the season and his incredible range of passing compliments his tough-tackling and exceptional reading of the game. A key cog in Guardiola’s well-oiled machine.


Honorable mentions: Marcus Rashford (Man United), Fabinho (Liverpool), Aymeric Laporte (Man City), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), Alisson (Liverpool), Raul Jimenez (Wolves), Gerard Deulofeu (Watford), Matt Doherty (Wolves), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth), Richarlison (Everton), Bernardo Silva (Man City), Paul Pogba (Man United).