Northampton Town will have at least one fan in the stand when they take place in the League Two playoffs next week, with NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal present in the stands in cardboard cutout form.
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Shaq is a fan of the fourth-tier English side and with the League Two regular-season ended in a vote last week, the playoffs will now commence to decide which teams will be promoted to League One.
Why does Shaq support Northampton? Well, he owns a radio station with Northampton Town chairman Kelvin Thomas, so there’s that.
Northampton host Cheltenham Town on June 18 in the first leg of their playoff semifinal and the Cobblers released a photo of the Shaq cardboard cutout which will be in the stands at the Sixfields Stadium.
The winner of that home and away playoff series will face the winner of Exeter City v Colchester United at Wembley in the League Two playoff final on June 29.
Below is how you can get involved and have a cardboard cutout of yourself in the stand for the big League Two playoff semifinal first leg next week.
Who knows, maybe you’ll be sat next to Shaq cheering on the Cobblers?
The FA Cup fourth round replays are here as two Premier League teams are in action on Tuesday with the youngest Liverpool starting XI in history hosting Shrewsbury the headline act as Jurgen Klopp decided to give himself and his first team time off during the winter break.
[ LIVE: All the FA Cup scores here ]
Liverpool are using their U23 side against third-tier Shrewsbury, Newcastle United travel to third-tier Oxford United, Cardiff host Reading and Birmingham host Coventry and Derby County host Northampton Town.
The winner of Liverpool against Shrewsbury will travel to Chelsea in the fifth round, as Neil Critchley will manage these kids once again as they knocked out Everton in the last round with Klopp as the coach. Why can’t they beat Shrewsbury? 19-year-old Curtis Jones captains Liverpool, while the likes of Harvey Elliott, Sepp van den Berg and Ki-Jana Hoever all start. The average age of the Liverpool team is 19 years and 102 days.
Shrewsbury manager Sam Ricketts has complained about Klopp’s decision to give his first team a break and that it has cost the third-tier club around $650,000 but this is a great chance for the Shrews to reach the last 16 of the competition and get a payday at Chelsea in round five.
Below is the schedule for Tuesday’s game in full, while you can follow all of the action live by clicking on the link above.
All games kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET unless otherwise stated.
Liverpool v. Shrewsbury
Cardiff City v. Reading
Birmingham City v. Coventry City
Derby County v. Northampton Town
Oxford United v. Newcastle United – 3:05 p.m. ET
Apparently the parking lot warm-up was just fine for Jose Mourinho’s boys.
Marcus Rashford played the role of super sub, inspiring Manchester United in its 3-1 win at Northampton Town in the Wednesday’s third round of EFL Cup play.
[ MORE: Tuesday’s EFL Cup roundup ]
Rashford had a goal and an assist, as did Ander Herrera, and Michael Carrick also scored in the win. Daley Blind gave away a penalty that Alex Revell converted for the Cobblers’ only goal.
Carrick’s 17th minute goal was no illusion of dominance, as the Red Devils had nearly 80 percent of the ball in the first half, but 33-year-old Alex Revell converted a penalty to level things heading into halftime.
Jose Mourinho had seen enough and, after 55 minutes, Marcus Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic entered the fray, and the former supplied an assist to Ander Herrera as United moved back ahead in the 68th minute.
Herrera turned provider, technically, as Rashford scored off an Adam Smith howler in the 75th minute to make it even smoother sailing for the Red Devils.
Tony Pulis sounds a bit defensive — pun half-intended — about West Brom’s loss to Northampton Town in the EFL Cup on Wednesday.
His Baggies have started the season 1-1, winning at Palace and losing versus Everton, but the loss in a Cup competition is obviously stinging the veteran manager.
[ MORE: Champions League roundup ]
Pulis, 58, started a lineup that should’ve won comfortably, and the team went for it against the League One side in 2-2 (PKs, 4-3) match.
But conceding twice and losing in penalties really angered Pulis, who saw James Morrison and much-maligned striker Saido Berahino miss their kicks.
From the BBC:
“I wish Northampton all the best. They worked really hard and kept at it.
“If we have come here and didn’t open them up and didn’t play well then you can slaughter us, but we did that. We’ve not hit the back of the net and that’s what you have to do.
“I understand supporters – if you’re not winning you’re not going to be happy, whether it’s me or another manager.”
Pulis is 22W-23D-25L as West Brom’s manager, but has done well on the whole with the club. Perhaps his style of play is frustrating, but he’s also brought in weapons like Matty Phillips and Brendan Galloway this year and is attempting to spur the club into something a bit more exciting. His comments have us wondering, though, if he’s feeling a bit of heat.
This is beyond bizarre.
NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, 43, has sent a heartwarming message to a fourth-tier team in England. It’s official, Shaq is a Cobbler.
[ MORE: UCL last 16 mega-preview ]
In England we have a saying when someone is talking nonsense: “Oh you’re talking cobblers.” Shaq isn’t doing that. He’s just a fan of them. Confused?
A video was published by League Two side Northampton Town (nicknamed the Cobblers… ah, there you go) on Tuesday, as the current leaders of the England’s fourth-tier were wished well by their new superstar fan.
[ PLAYBACK: Title race takes dramatic twist ]
How has this happened?
Shaq co-owns a radio station with Kelvin Thomas, Northampton’s new chairman, and the plan to post the video came about during the recent NBA All-Star weekend in Toronto.
[ MORE: 3 things on PL title battles ]
O’Neal is no fair weather, oh no. He is planning a trip to watch Northampton Town play at their 7,653 capacity Sixfields Stadium soon and gave the players a rallying call as they currently sit five points clear at the top of the table and they aim to win promotion to League One.
Click play on the video above to see Shaq pour out his heart in support of Northampton.
There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write…