Southgate vows to lead England at 2022 World Cup

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Gareth Southgate has vowed to honor his contract as England managed through the end of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

[ MORE: EURO 2020 hub ]

After England’s bitterly disappointing loss on penalty kicks in the EURO 2020 final against Italy at Wembley, many questioned Southgate’s tactics and player selections for the final.

Speaking to the press less than 24 hours after that defeat, the Three Lions boss was asked about his future.

The FA had previously said they wanted to extend his contract beyond the end of the 2022 World Cup, when it is currently due to run out.

Here was the response of the man who has led England to a semifinal berth at the 2018 World Cup and a runners up finish at EURO 2020.

“I don’t think now is an appropriate time to be thinking about it. We have to qualify for Qatar. I need time to go away and reflect on Euro 2020. I need a rest,” Southgate said. “It is an amazing experience but to lead your country in these tournaments takes its toll. I said at the time it is great to have that internal support, you greatly value that as a manager.

“I don’t want to commit to anything longer than I should and I don’t want to outstay my welcome so all of those things need consideration. I want to take the team to Qatar, I feel we have made progress over the four years, we have had a fourth, a third and a second-placed finish and that is as good as anyone.”

Are England in good hands?

There’s no doubt Southgate has made huge progress with this group of players over the last five years since he took charge.

But has he taken them as far as he can?

After the debacle of being knocked out by Iceland in the last 16 of EURO 2016, England hit rock bottom.

Southgate then arrived and has rebuilt this team with youth and there has been clear progression between being knocked out of the World Cup in 2018 in the semifinals and losing in the European Championship final (their first major final in 55 years and first-ever EUROs final).

Yet Southgate will likely rue certain player selections, tactical decisions and the penalty takers he selected against Italy in the final, and it felt like the likeable manager was just out-thought by Roberto Mancini and was perhaps over-cautious when it mattered most.

England are on the right path with this talented young team and it is only right that Southgate should lead them at the World Cup in 18 months’ time (if they qualify) and they will be right up there with the favorites to win it all.

Championship final day preview: Promotion, playoff, relegation scenarios; how to watch

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The EFL Championship final day on Wednesday will be absolutely bonkers. Stay weird, Championship.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

There is still one spot open for automatic promotion to the Premier League, with West Brom, Brentford and Fulham scrapping to move up from the second-tier, while Welsh rivals Cardiff City and Swansea City are in a ridiculously tight battle for the final playoff spot.

ICYMI, Leeds United have already sealed promotion to the Premier League and were crowned champions of the Championship over the weekend.

At the bottom, no team has been relegated yet and seven teams are battling to stay out of the bottom three with Hull, Luton, Barnsley, Middlesbrough, Birmingham City and Charlton Athletic all still in danger, while Wigan could also be relegated due to financial problems. In conclusion, and as always, the Championship will be chaos. We love it.

Here’s a look at how to watch and stream the Championship final day action, plus the schedule and standings.


Automatic promotion down to the wire

Leeds have sealed the title but below them it is an almighty battle for second. West Brom know a win at home against QPR on the final day will seal promotion but Slaven Bilic’s side have stumbled in recent weeks, while Brentford were on fire before their recent defeat but still have a chance and so too do Scott Parker’s Fulham. Brentford host relegation battlers Barnsley, so both teams will go all-out for the win, while Fulham travel to Wigan who need a win to try and save themselves from relegation as they are due to be hit with a 12-point deduction at the end of the season due to going into administration. So much on the line for all three teams chasing automatic promotion.


Playoff spot up for grabs

Brentford and Fulham have sealed two of the four playoff spots, while Nottingham Forest are also in barring a ridiculously large swing in goal difference on the final day which would see them losing to Stoke City and Swansea wining big at Reading. As for sixth place, it is a battle between bitter South Wales rivals Cardiff and Swansea. Cardiff occupy the final playoff spot and host Hull City, who need a win to stay up, but a point for Cardiff will seal sixth place. However, if they lose and Swansea win, then Swansea will finish sixth on goal difference as Cardiff are on +7 with Swansea on +6.


Relegation situation is wild

Hull sit bottom and the only hope for them is if they win on the final day and Luton, Barnsley and Wigan don’t win, as Wigan’s 12-point deduction would save Hull. Middlesbrough and Birmingham City should be okay but Lee Bowyer’s Charlton are well in the mix. Adding Wigan’s situation into the mix makes it even crazier as their 12-point deduction will kick in after the final whistle on Wednesday.


Championship final day schedule

Birmingham City v. Derby County
Brentford v. Barnsley
Bristol City v. Preston
Cardiff City v. Hull City
Leeds United v. Charlton Athletic
Luton Town v. Blackburn Rovers
Millwall v. Huddersfield Town
Nottingham Forest v. Stoke City
Reading v. Swansea City
Sheffield Wednesday v. Middlesbrough
West Bromwich Albion v. QPR
Wigan Athletic v. Fulham


How to watch Championship final day: Stream, start time

Kickoff: 2:30 pm ET Wednesday
TV Channel: None
Online: Stream via ESPN +


Championship standings

# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Leeds United 45 27 9 9 73 35 38 90
2 West Bromwich Albion 45 22 16 7 75 43 32 82
3 Brentford 45 24 9 12 79 36 43 81
4 Fulham 45 23 11 11 63 47 16 80
5 Nottingham Forest 45 18 16 11 57 46 11 70
6 Cardiff City 45 18 16 11 65 58 7 70
7 Swansea City 45 17 16 12 58 52 6 67
8 Preston North End 45 18 11 16 58 53 5 65
9 Millwall 45 16 17 12 53 50 3 65
10 Blackburn Rovers 45 17 12 16 64 60 4 63
11 Bristol City 45 17 11 17 59 64 -5 62
12 Derby County 45 16 13 16 59 63 -4 61
13 Wigan Athletic 45 15 13 17 56 55 1 58
14 Queens Park Rangers 45 16 9 20 65 74 -9 57
15 Reading 45 15 11 19 58 54 4 56
16 Sheffield Wednesday 45 15 11 19 57 64 -7 56
17 Stoke City 45 15 8 22 58 67 -9 53
18 Huddersfield Town 45 13 12 20 51 66 -15 51
19 Middlesbrough 45 12 14 19 46 60 -14 50
20 Birmingham City 45 12 14 19 53 72 -19 50
21 Charlton Athletic 45 12 12 21 50 61 -11 48
22 Luton Town 45 13 9 23 51 80 -29 48
23 Barnsley 45 11 13 21 47 68 -21 46
24 Hull City 45 12 9 24 57 84 -27 45

Who will get promoted to the Premier League? Your Championship primer

Who will get promoted to the Premier League?
Photo by Rich Linley - CameraSport via Getty Images
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The Football League Championship returns on Saturday, as Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion look to keep hold of their automatic promotion places.

It won’t be easy.

[ MORE: Spurs-Man Utd recap | JPW’s 3 Things ]

Here is your guide to the final nine matchdays of the season for England’s second tier.

The top two

Marcelo Bielsa’s Peacocks and Slaven Bilic’s Baggies have 7- and 6-point cushions on third place with nine matches to go, a congested fixture list ready to tax the benches of all of the sides.

The playoff race

Third through sixth in the Championship will contest the playoffs for the third promotion spot to the Premier League.

Third-place Fulham will learn a lot about whether it’s in the race for automatic promotion or just a playoff probability within one week’s time. The Cottagers host fourth-place Brentford at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday and go to Leeds one week later.

Fulham has 64 points, six back of second place and nine clear of seventh place. It would be very surprising if the Londoners didn’t keep hold of a playoff spot.

Brentford (60) and Nottingham Forest (60) have five-point advantages on seventh, nice but not too comfortable, while Preston North End’s one-point-above-sixth-place footing is uneven.

Six teams are within two wins of Preston’s 56 points. Seventh-place Bristol City has 55, Millwall and Cardiff City have 54, Blackburn and Swansea City have 53, Derby County has 51, and QPR’s on 50.

Who will get promoted to the Premier League?
Rooney’s Rams are six points behind the playoff places (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Americans Abroad

Speaking of QPR, USMNT veteran Geoff Cameron is a fixture for Mark Warburton’s London side. The 34-year-old has played 28 times this season.

Derby County has seen a fine season out of Duane Holmes, who has three goals and three assists. Not American, but ex-DC United man Wayne Rooney is Holmes’ teammate.

No American has played more Championship minutes than Fulham’s Tim Ream (3142). Next up are Wigan’s Antonee Robinson (2587) and Hull City’s Eric Lichaj (2546).

Matt Miazga is handling center back duties for Reading, while Cameron Carter-Vickers’ latest loan stint at Luton Town has gone well individually.

Luca De La Torre (Fulham) has seen neglible minutes this season.

English-born MLS and NCAA star Jack Harrison is with Leeds.

Manchester United academy product Jack Harrison of Leeds United went to school at Wake Forest before playing for NYCFC in Major League Soccer (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images).

The relegation scrap

Three clubs will go down to League One next season. Two of the three teams in the bottom three will need a massive change in fortunes to avoid that fate.

Barnsley is seven points back of 21st and Luton Town sits six points back of safety.

Charlton Athletic is currently in 22nd with 39 points, but it can look to a single win as chance to move ahead of any of the five sides ahead of it (depending on how goal differential goes).

Hull City, Wigan Athletic, and Middlesbrough are just two points above the drop zone, while Stoke City and Huddersfield Town have three-point distances above the drop.

Charlton can pass Hull with a win at the KC Stadium on Saturday, though it’s only other chance to affect a fellow struggler is July 18 versus Wigan.

This week’s schedule

Fulham v. Brentford — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday
Middlesbrough v. Swansea City — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday
Millwall v. Derby County — 8 a.m. ET Saturday
West Brom v. Birmingham City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Huddersfield Town v. Wigan Athletic — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Hull City v. Charlton Athletic — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Sheffield Wednesday v. Nottingham Forest — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Luton Town v. Preston North End –10 a.m. ET Saturday
QPR v. Barnsley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Reading v. Stoke City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Blackburn Rovers v. Bristol City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Cardiff City v. Leeds United — 7 a.m. ET Sunday

EFL letter recommends clubs prepare for return ‘at short notice’

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The English Football League has sent a letter to all clubs advising they return to training in mid-May and prepare for a return to play from the coronavirus shutdown at what the EFL described as “relatively short notice.”

The letter from EFL chairman Rick Parry, which was sent to all 72 clubs before it was obtained by The Independent and shared by the BBC, notes that while the EFL does not have the power to enforce training schedules for clubs, it interestingly advises that clubs may suffer public relations damage should they return to training earlier than the advised May 16 date. The letter then addresses a rumored start date in early June without confirming or denying the viability of that date.

“By advising a mid-May return to training,” the letter reads, “it has inevitably led to speculation that the season will recommence on June 6 – three weeks later. No date has been discussed and we continue to work with the government and health authorities to help identify the date where we can resume our season. Our planning needs to be agile enough to allow us to be as prepared as possible for a return at relatively short notice.”

The letter is intentionally vague, leaving room for multiple possibilities, but does admit that “these [scenarios] are expected to take further shape over the course of the next two weeks and clubs will receive an appropriate briefing once these plans are at an advanced stage.”

The letter also invites clubs to share their thoughts and possibilities as the EFL notes “collaboration is key to achieving success in these challenging times.” It notes that many clubs have already expressed their thoughts about playing behind closed doors, admitting that is a very likely possibility for when the games recommence.

The Premier League is likely to follow suit shortly after videoconferencing Friday with all 20 clubs to discuss plans for the next few months and how to potentially return to play.

While it was not discussed in the letter openly, The Telegraph reported Friday morning that the EFL is considering its return to play using a limited number of Championship grounds – more specifically 10 stadiums – while closed-door games remain at the forefront.

Barcelona sign Martin Braithwaite

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BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona says it has signed Denmark forward Martin Braithwaite to help fill its injury-depleted attack.

Barcelona said on Thursday it agreed to pay the 18 million euros ($19.4 million) buyout clause in Braithwaite’s contract with Spanish league rival Leganes.

Barcelona was granted permission to sign a Spanish league player after it was left without Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele for long periods due to injuries to both attacking players.

Braithwaite will sign for the rest of this season plus four more, according the club.

He will not be eligible to play in the Champions League this season, just la Liga.

The 28-year-old Braithwaite has played for the last year at Leganes, where he arrived in mid-season of 2018-19 and helped the modest club avoid relegation.

He has eight goals in 27 appearances for Leganes this season.

His prior clubs included Middlesbrough, Girondins, and Toulouse. He played in the 2018 World Cup for Denmark.

Barcelona highlighted his ability to play “on both sides of the attack, his work ethic and commitment” and added he is a “headache for rivals.”