Don Goodman Exclusive Interview with OLBG

Updated: 930 Football

Don Goodman racked up 586 appearances and 162 goals during his 20 career which saw him play for more than 10 different clubs. His clubs included Bradford, West Brom, Sunderland and Wolves. Here he talks to OLBG, sharing his views on what is happening in the game today.

Don Goodman Exclusive Interview with OLBG
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Don Goodman

Don Goodman racked up 586 appearances and 162 goals during his 20 career which saw him play for more than 10 different clubs. His clubs included Bradford, West Brom, Sunderland and Wolves. 

Don trialed with Bradford City as a teenager, whilst playing non-league football with Collingham and working as an electrician with Leeds City Council. He made his senior debut for Bradford in May 1984, aged 17, turning professional with the club that summer.

📺⚽ Don Goodman: 586 appearances, 162 goals in his 20-year career! Played for Bradford, West Brom, Sunderland, Wolves, and more ⚽🏆 Trials with Bradford as a teen, non-league footballer while working as an electrician! 🌟 Now a co-commentator/pundit for Sky Sports and BBC Radio 5! 🎙️ #FootballLegends

He was Sunderland's record signing in December 1991 when he was signed from West Bromwich Albion before going on to play for Wolves between 1994 and 1998. After a spell at Japenese club Sanfrecce Hiroshima and some time on loan at Barnsley, Don went on to play for Motherwell, Walsall, Exeter, Doncaster and Stafford Rangers up until 2004.

More recently Don has been working as a co commentator and pundit for Sky Sports and BBC Radio 5, mostly covering championship games.

Don Goodman Talks to OLBG November 2023

We caught up with Don Again: 

In the upcoming interview with Don Goodman, a comprehensive analysis of football teams, their managers, and key players will be presented. Goodman touches upon Wolves' upcoming match against Arsenal and their potential to replicate their success against top teams. He praises Wolves' counterattacking strength and discusses Gary O'Neil's commendable job at Bournemouth, suggesting the possibility of him becoming an emerging coaching talent like Eddie Howe. he also gave us some predictions for the EFL Championship and League One this week

Additionally, Goodman reflects on Pedro Neto's prospects at Arsenal and the likelihood of him transferring, considering Neto's talent and impact. The conversation will shift to Rooney's challenging tenure at Birmingham, the international break's timely arrival, and the potential for results to change for Birmingham in upcoming fixtures.

Goodman also addresses the managerial situations at Rotherham and the pressures of club ownership, especially with new American owners at Birmingham. An analysis is presented concerning the roles of Tony Mowbray at Sunderland, Carlos Corberan at West Brom, and the speculative involvement of Mike Ashley with Reading FC. Finally, Goodman weighs in on managers Paul Warne and John Mousinho at their respective clubs, the struggles at Bradford under Mark Hughes, and Wrexham's ascent in the football pyramid. Expect a detailed dive into the dynamics of club management, team performances, and the careers of essential figures in football.

Q. Wolves have managed to beat City and Spurs so far this season. Can you see them repeating this form against the top four when they face Arsenal next weekend? 

Badgernet, CC BY-SA 4.0

DG - I think we'd all acknowledge that Wolves deserve more points than they have. They're a good team and I've been really impressed with what I've seen. I was there for their opening game at Old Trafford and they were so much better than Man United, and that's not me being biased!

They should have had a penalty in that game, and there have been three other occasions where penalties going against them shouldn't have stood. I don't subscribe to some fans saying that there's a bias against them, though, as I know that the referees are always trying to be the best they can be.

Wolves are a good team and they always tend to do better against the teams that want to have a go at them. Their real strength is in transition. They have so many ball-carriers, and the full-backs, midfielders and forwards are all mobile and quick. They all like to run with the ball.

Those kinds of players open up games, and that's why they've caused problems to Man City, Tottenham, and even Liverpool - which was a game Wolves lost. They were miles better in the first half of that game, and Cunha missed a great chance to go 2-0 up and maybe win the game. That's hypothetical, though, and I don't go down that road.

Teams like Sheffield United, who sit in and give the other team possession, are the ones where Wolves struggle. They've got better results against the better teams. They drew with Villa and Newcastle. They can hurt teams like Arsenal, as they'll try and dominate the ball and have a go at Wolves. That will help Wolves, I would say.

Gary O'Neil has done an incredible job. I can't imagine how hard it is to go into a club four days before the season starts, chuck a team together who were so good in the opening game, and not win. They lost four out of the first five games and it would have been easy for the fans to turn against him. They didn't as they saw the level of performance on show.

They've kicked on since the Luton game and beat Man City. The performances have been there in every game aside from the Sheffield United one.

I loved seeing Gary O'Neil on Monday Night Football as I thought he came across very well. It made you appreciate his tactical ability and his coaching abilities. I've been nothing but impressed. To answer your question, I think they can make it very, very hard for Arsenal.

Q. You mentioned Gary O'Neil on Monday Night Football - he was very impressive there. The doubts about him came from his coaching credentials. The underlying numbers of his Bournemouth team weren't great, but they managed to stay up. That shows the amount of effort that goes into a session. Is he the next promising English manager? The new Eddie Howe? Is Gary the next best?

Image: sky sports

DG - Football all comes down to results. Wolves are picking up positive results, and his stock will rise accordingly. The moment they hit a sticky patch, though, people will question him. That's the nature of the beast.

I've been so impressed with how he's been able to go into a squad of players who were set. He's not recruited a single player. He's galvanised them and got them playing really good football whilst being competitive.

The last few seasons have been difficult following the euphoria of back-to-back seventh-placed finishes. I think he's been a breath of fresh air. It remains to be seen how far he can go, but he's young and you never stop learning in this game. He'll be saying that, too. He'll be learning something new every day in regards to his players and tactics.

It's obvious that O'Neil is infatuated with the game and every top manager is. They're always looking for ways that can be beneficial for them to win games. I've got nothing but praise and admiration for him. Fingers crossed. He's at a massive club now and he was probably shocked to get the call, with all due respect to him at Bournemouth.

He needs to grab it with both hands, continue doing well with Wolves, and see where the journey takes him.

Q. Do you see comparisons to Howe?

DG - The comparisons to Eddie Howe are there to be had. The difference is, we saw Howe bring Bournemouth through the leagues, while Gary has come in when they were in the Premier League. It's always going to be harder in this league than the others, with all due respect. 

Eddie has been able to build his career over time, while Gary has been thrown in at the deep end.

His two starting points at Bournemouth and Wolves haven't been the easiest. Yet he's overcome all of those hurdles. I'm really impressed.

Q. Pedro Neto is linked with Arsenal? Is this a good signing for Arteta? 

Credit: MDI /

DG - I think Pedro Neto could go to any of the big clubs - he's that good. Wolves fans are resigned to the fact they will lose him, with respect to them.

Neto is a top-level player and Wolves can't lay claim to being one of those clubs right now. You have to grab the football opportunities with both hands and embrace the chances to develop your career and play at the highest level - and that means the Champions League. He's that good.

Wolves will be able to keep Neto in January, and it's promising to hear him talk about how much he loves the club, fans, and the area. He's very settled and he'll have to revisit that in the summer.

Arsenal are the ones who are linked with him, but I'd be very surprised if most of the big teams aren’t keeping an eye on him. He's been sensational.

I used to commentate on Wolves games when Neto was at his peak, before his injury, and the thing that struck me was his intentions on the ball. He always wanted to beat players, create chances, and put crosses in.

Players make safer choices with the ball these days as there's a big onus on keeping it, rather than trying to hurt opponents with your quality. The flipside of that is that you might give the ball away. Neto's decision-making, choices, and will to hurt opponents really struck me.

Neto lost that when was recovering from his injury, but Gary O'Neil has given him a bit of love, and we've got the old Neto back. He's sensational, and he belongs at the very top.

Q. Still waiting for his first Championship win, how long will it take until Wayne Rooney is starting to fight for his job at Birmingham?

Image: Mikolaj Barbanell/Shutterstock

DG - I don't think Rooney is fighting for his job. He's the owners' man and they clearly wanted him.

Let's get it right - the commercial value of Rooney is enormous, and all of a sudden, this Championship club has Wayne Rooney and Tom Brady attached to them. It doesn't get much bigger than that. I'm not sure if that helps get you in the Premier League, but time will tell.

Wayne has alluded to  being backed in the transfer market. He wants to play a possession-based game as he did at Derby and DC United. I don't see him as being under pressure. The mess that Birmingham have got into is the owners' fault, not Wayne's.

The timing couldn't have been worse. To bring in a new manager right before you play Middlesbrough away, Hull City at home, Southampton away, Ipswich at home, and Sunderland away leads me to wonder what they're thinking.

If those first couple of results happened to John Eustace, as they possibly could have due to the level of opposition, then they could have thanked John for his efforts before going in a different direction.

Instead, they decided that Wayne is their man and they should get him in now.

Birmingham were sixth when Wayne came in, and the pressure was on straight away. It was completely unnecessary. 

They now have Sheffield Wednesday at home, Blackburn away, and Rotherham at home. The home games are winnable and you'd think they have to do so. Taking six points out of three games will change the picture and they'll jump up a few places. It will feel better then.

I feel for Wayne, as he's come in in the middle of this run and the crowd is on his back. You need results when you come into a new club, and it didn't happen. With that run of fixtures, it never was.

Wayne has been put under pressure by the timing and the owners. The 'no-fear' football statement is baffling. They're saying that Eustace got to sixth playing with fear! It made no sense and it was a poorly worded statement.

The new owners have made a rod for their own backs. They've gone in with all guns blazing and they've displayed their ambition to get into the Premier League, but with that comes pressure. I feel sorry for Wayne as a small section of fans are starting to boo, but it's not his fault. I just want to put that out there.

He is their man, and I'd expect he will get a bit of time. The next three games are massive.

Q. To what degree of fault must Blues’ American owners and Tom Brady take for such a downturn in form?

Featureflash Photo Agency/shutterstock

DG - The irony is, this club had such a bad owner prior to these guys. That's the irony.

It couldn't have got worse as the previous owners were running the club to the ground. It was so depressing to see and I felt sorry for the fans. The new owners have come in, spent money on the stadium, they're investing, they're ambitious and they're going to finally put money into the club. They're trying to get into the Premier League, and that's the irony.

The fans finally have ambitious owners but they've been too impatient. You've got Craig Gardner at the club, who you’d hope would have been honest with the owners that their first fixtures were going to be very tough. The buck stops with the owners as they're the ones who make the decisions. You never know, it may not end up as being as rash as it looks, Wayne could turn it around with investment and time. Time is a rare commodity in football and not many owners give you it. It'll be an interesting watch as an outsider.

Q. What have you made of Rooney's games from a football standpoint?

DG - All of a sudden, Birmingham have gone from being really solid and hard to beat to the opposite.

You can't play from that starting point with Rooney's philosophy. You have to take risks and they've been punished. It's a work in progress. I think the international break came at a good time - he would have had most of the players there and they would have been working hard on the style of play and how they'll beat Sheffield Wednesday, who themselves will be playing a different style. It feels like a cup final.

Q. Despite beating Cardiff last week, Norwich City enter the next set of fixtures sitting in 16th, do you think David Wagner will lose his job?

DG - Results dictate everything. People expect Norwich City to be at the top of the Championship, yet they're 16th. They're six points off the play-offs, though, and that's the key. They'll play QPR, Watford, Bristol City, Preston, and Sheffield Wednesday in their next fixtures, and I'd dare to suggest that Norwich will get 10 to 12 points out of that, and that will get them closer to the play-offs and make things easier for Wagner.

I think the home form is a key issue. The crowd has turned as we saw in the Blackburn game. If you're an opponent going to Carrow Road, you'll know that you have a golden window in the first 15 or 20 minutes where you can turn the crowd by having a good start. That's how bad the home form is.

That has to be QPR's strategy. It was Blackburn's, as I heard one of their players saying that they could turn the crowd against Norwich if they started on the front foot. It'll be a huge game on the weekend. Norwich need a good run of form at home - to lose three in a row is not good.

They've played four games against top six teams, and the cream is starting to rise to the top. The ones who are there now will stay there. Norwich have lost three and drawn one against those sides, and that could be an indication of where they're at. Perhaps they're not quite a top-six side this season. I think the next five games will answer that.

Rotherham parted ways with Matt Taylor last week? Was that the right call? Who would you recommend they replace him with? Paul Warne was stumbled upon. They're both young managers.

Image: PA

DG - Rotherham will always struggle in the Championship. I said people will always expect Norwich to be at the top, and they'll expect the Millers to be at the bottom. You've got one of, if not the, lowest budget in the league. Rotherham are expected to be at the top of League One, but they just find that step to be a bridge too far. It's not Matt Taylor's fault, it's just the way the club is.

Until they have a financial injection, it'll always be that way. Tony Stewart runs the club brilliantly and he's rightfully never going to jeopardise the future of the club. He's trying to develop it slowly so that it can become an established Championship club, but it's tough when you're up against 19 teams out of 24 who have played in the Premier League. There are some massive clubs there.

I feel for them, but it's always going to be that way. Their results haven't been good enough, and I'm not surprised that Matt was relieved of his duties. I'm sure you're trying to lead me down the Neil Warnock path, but he says he likes to come in around February. It might be a fraction too early for the club to persuade him away from Sharon!!

I have no idea where Rotherham go. It's a job for a young up-and-comer unless you persuade Neil. Forget about February, they need to get him now. Other than that, it's a job for a young coach. They won't get an established Championship coach.

They're only four points off Huddersfield, so they're in there. It's going to be tough for them, and I don't know where they will go. They can try and nick someone who has done well or is doing well in League One or Two, like Leam Richardson. Someone who would be a sensible appointment, but whoever goes in has one heck of a job. It's not impossible as they did last year. It was remarkable for them to get 50 points and finish 19th. They can do it, but it's always going to be a real struggle.

Rotherham really have to sort out their away form. You can't survive off your home games if you're Rotherham in the Championship.

Q. Sunderland - how impressed have you been with the job Tony Mowbray is doing? Can they finish in the top six?

Image: PA

DG - I was staggered to hear that his job was in doubt in the summer - I nearly fell off my chair.

There's no smoke without fire, and you wonder where that's come from and if they were genuinely considering it. They didn't.

If their choice to not sack Mowbray was accidental, then the owners have been very lucky. Sunderland's model is clear to see - they're developing young players. They'll have to sell a few along the way and move onto the next batch of players.

Sunderland have some brilliant young players, and a young group like that can't be coached by anyone better than Tony. He did it at West Brom and Blackburn. He's brilliant with young players.

Sunderland had to recover from the disappointment of last season, and them being sixth is a brilliant effort. They've lost Ross Stewart, and I stick to my assessment that if they had him for the whole of last season, they could be in the Premier League now.

I think the current top four will stay the same until the end of the season, though perhaps not in that order. That means fifth and sixth are up for grabs, and Sunderland are in a genuine race with four or five other teams. Sunderland are in there, and for them to be so high up is a brilliant effort.

Q. How about Carlos Corberan at West Brom?

DG - You have to remember where Carlos picked West Brom up from - bottom of the Championship. He's been there for over a year, and people have forgotten that.

Carlos had a job to do when he arrived, and it wasn't an attractive prospect. West Brom were bottom of the league with no money, yet Carlos took a punt on it. It's a huge club. I think they will struggle to keep pace with Leicester, Leeds, and Southampton but I back West Brom to slug it out with the likes of Sunderland for a play off spot.

Carlos gets the team motivated and they're hard to break down. They've just had a run of seven clean sheets in 9 games and they're horrible to play against. They're an experienced team, which can be a pro and a con. They know how to see games out, but they're up against more mobile and athletic teams who have the capacity on occasion to overrun them. 

He's doing a brilliant job as far as I'm concerned. West Brom are doing better than I expected - I had them somewhere between 8th and 12th, which may still be the case as they're up against other decent teams. I think Carlos is doing a brilliant job.

Q. Is Carlos the best manager in the league?

DG - You'd have Carlos in the conversation of who the best manager in the league is. I'd have said the same thing last season, considering how far he took them when he came in.

There are lots of good candidates, though, and it'd be crazy for me to say he's the best manager in the league. He's certainly up there, though.

Q. Rumours suggest Mike Ashley could be the man to purchase Reading from Dai Yongge, would he be the right man to take them back up the pyramid?, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

DG - I think Mike Ashley is linked with every club! He was linked with Derby, Sheffield Wednesday and now Reading.

None of those three clubs are Newcastle United, and it's impossible to judge him on that when talking about Championship clubs. All three of them were a bit broken to various degrees. Reading are unbelievably broken! It's just such a mess. They've failed to pay players, taxes and they've had embargoes and points deductions.

My heart goes out to Reading fans. All you can do is point them to clubs like Wigan and Blackpool. I remember feeling really sorry for fans of those clubs, but they ended up having relative success in the Premier League.

I'm not saying that will happen to Reading, but they need an owner. They need patience. The harsh reality is, we could be talking about Reading as a League Two club next year, which is sad. It's a result of gross mismanagement. I think anybody would be better than Dai Yongge!

Mike Ashley is a shrewd businessman with plenty of football experience. He may or may not be the best man for the job, but he'd certainly be better than the current owner.

Q. Paul Warne has taken criticism from Derby County fans in recent times. Can you understand why? Do they need to stick with him?

Image: footballleagueworld

DG - Paul Warne will know that Derby County being in League One has to change now their financial issues are sorted.

Derby need to be at the top. League One has always been a tough league, but this campaign, it's not as tough as it's been over the last couple of years. The three clubs who went up last season did so with record points.

Derby are seventh, level with Barnsley in sixth. They're eight points from the automatic places, and it's a push that needs to start now. They need to make sure that they have the play-offs as a back-up plan, even if it is a lottery. We've had plenty of examples of the best teams not winning the play-offs. So it’s not going to be straight forward.

Derby have just had back-to-back home wins and they've got a decent run of games coming up. I think Paul is a very experienced manager and he knows they need to be at the top. He also knows that the next five or six games are key to cementing them into a play-off spot and pushing them closer to the top two.

Q. Do you think the top two will stay the same? You mentioned Bolton being there or thereabouts. All three have young managers - how do you see it playing out?

Image: Philip Platt/wikipedia

DG - The job that John Mousinho has done is incredible. Portsmouth have only conceded 12 goals this season, and that's incredible. They're solid and teams struggle to break them down.

I think Portsmouth are very well set. I chose Bolton to go up before a ball was kicked because I really like what Ian Evatt is doing there. Oxford are a bit of an unknown as they've just appointed Des Buckingham, who is only 38 and has no obvious track record.

His first few games are enormous. They play Cheltenham away, and you'd expect Oxford to win that game. They then play Bolton and Peterborough, and that's where the games begin.

The first job a manager has to do is win over the fans, players and hierarchy. The only way you do that is by winning games. It's a big gamble by Oxford. I would have to predict them to drop out of the top three if I had to pick one to go, and that's due to the unknown. Portsmouth and Bolton are flying.

It'll be interesting to see how Des gets on. Of the chasing pack, you would expect Peterborough to go on a run. Derby can do that, too. There's a chance for a lot of these clubs, as I think the quality at the top of the table isn't as good as it has been over the last few seasons.

Q. What’s going wrong at your old club Bradford? Mark Hughes was the latest Bantams manager to lose his job, did he deserve to?

Image: skysports

DG - It's tough to see what's happening at Bradford. Sometimes I have to remind myself that they've been in the Premier League! 

It's heartbreaking to see them 18th in League Two. Graham Alexander is their eighth manager in five years, and that tells you everything. They're an ambitious club with a big stadium and big crowds, but they don't have stability. 

Bradford keep making the wrong moves in terms of management and recruitment. They're everyone's cup final, along with Wrexham, given their Hollywood element. It's always going to be tough. 

The struggle for goals is proving costly this season. Only two teams have scored fewer goals. Andy Cook, who scored 28 goals last season, is struggling. I expect them to fly up the league once he starts firing, but it remains to be seen if the job of getting promoted is too big for them. They really need to try and gatecrash the playoff places, but it'll be tough. 

Q. What have you made of Wrexham? Do you back them for a play-off place?

David Pimborough//shutterstock

DG - The Wrexham story is a great one, considering their recent history. Like Reading, Wrexham have been through the mill and stuck it out in non-league for so long. 

They then got taken over by Hollywood stars and had all the publicity that comes with that. It's not easy - just look at Salford, who have been trying to get out of League Two for a few years. It's a tough league with tough opposition. Stockport look nailed-on, Mansfield are flying and Notts County are doing well. 

It might be a fight between Wrexham and Notts County, ironically. They had that ding-dong battle last season, and now they're fighting for third. I'd expect both of them to be in the top seven, that's for sure.

Don Goodman Talks to OLBG August 2023

Do you think Tottenham will sell Kane to Bayern Munich? What happens to Spurs if he leaves?

It's a difficult one as we sit here speaking now because there's still a substantial gap in valuation. The power lies with Harry Kane, I suspect without knowing him personally, he's the type of professional who will crack on and continue to score goals for Spurs. But then next summer he would be completely free to do whatever he wants. Clearly Spurs don't want him to go to another Premier League rival and understandably so.

Predicting if Tottenham will sell Kane to Bayern Munich

The valuation gap between Tottenham and Bayern Munich makes it difficult to predict if Kane will be sold. Kane is likely to stay and continue scoring for Spurs. However, he could leave next summer as a free agent. Spurs would prefer he doesn't go to a Premier League rival. If Spurs don't compromise on the valuation, they risk losing him for nothing.

On the flip side of that, there needs to be some movement on their end because if they don't compromise a little bit then Spurs will get nothing next summer. That just seems crazy when you can somewhere in the region of £100 million, which is a lot for someone with a year left on his contract.

Should Kane go to Bayern Munich, I don't know how I feel about it from his perspective, but he'll end up winning the Bundesliga. Will he win the Champions League? I'm not sure based on what we saw with Manchester City last season. It also hinders his chance to break the Premier League goal scoring record. There's an awful lot of reasons for him to not go to Bayern Munich in my eyes, but he might argue it's a better chance to win trophies. In terms of what would happen with Spurs, they'd simply have to get on with it.

Impact of Kane's potential departure on Spurs

If Kane goes to Bayern Munich, it might hinder his chances of winning the Champions League and breaking Premier League records. Spurs would need to move on without him and invest the money in their squad. Manager Ange Postecoglou's experience with different markets could be beneficial for Spurs. They will still enjoy watching Postecoglou's management, but they will be a better team with Kane.

Hopefully Ange Postecoglou will get all of the money to reinvest into his squad and he's got knowledge of a completely different market that Spurs are used to dealing with. He brought in a lot of Japanese players and players from abroad whilst at Celtic and he was very successful with that method. I like him a lot, he's going to be an excellent Premier League manager and I think the Spurs fans are going to enjoy what they see with or without Harry Kane. But clearly Spurs are going to be a better team with Kane in it.  

Is the Bundesliga a good competition for Kane's style of play?

Kane's Fit in Bundesliga: Scoring Success at Bayern Munich

Kane's style of play would fit well in the Bundesliga. He would be a roaring success at Bayern Munich and score many goals. Whether winning Bundesliga titles would be enough for him personally is up to Kane. Breaking the Premier League record might be a goal for him, but Spurs wouldn't want him to go to a Premier League rival.

I don't think Harry Kane is too dissimilar to Robert Lewandowski. They're both all-round outstanding and excellent number nines, so in such a dominant team I think he'd fit in very well and score an absolute hatful of goals. I don't think there's any problems or any reasons to doubt that Kane would be anything other than a roaring success at Bayern Munich. I think the question is whether it would be enough for him personally to be winning Bundesliga titles for two or three seasons.

Only Harry Kane can answer that question, but from the outside looking in, you would think he'd want to break the Premier League record, but you can appreciate from Spurs' position that they wouldn't want him going to a Premier League rival.

What have you made of the money spent on Rasmus Hojlund by Manchester United? Is he worth such a fee? Do you see him as a project player or someone who will make an instant impact?

When you're investing in young players on a massive scale and it's a huge fee for someone who is completely unproven really, then it's a risk. When you think about where Haaland was for instance, and I don't actually think it's fair to compare the two as players. But Haaland was on the radar of literally everybody, he was banging in goals left, right and centre and breaking records all over the place.

Money spent on Rasmus Hojlund by Manchester United

Investing in young, unproven players on a massive scale is a risky move. Hojlund's fee is significant, but he lacks the proven goal-scoring record. It's a huge outlay and gamble for Manchester United, considering the scarcity of quality center forwards in the market.

I don't know much about Hojlund, I've not seen much or what his attributes are but at the minute when I look at his numbers, he doesn't appear to be a very prolific goal scorer. It's a huge outlay for Manchester United and a huge gamble, but I'm not sure what alternative they had in that market. Centre forwards are like gold dust at the minute, clearly, they weren't prepared to push the boat out to get Harry Kane over the line.

Hojlund as a project player or instant impact maker

Hojlund is seen as a long-term project for Manchester United. However, the club hopes he can make an impact this season. They cannot afford to invest such a large sum without reaping benefits in the near future. It's a massive gamble that requires trust in the manager and scouting network.

I think we all agree he would have been a perfect fit, but then you look at the other number nines around the world who are going to cost you even more than Hojlund. I'm talking about the likes of Victor Osimhen when I say that. I'm seeing Hojlund as a long-term project, but Manchester United will be hoping he makes an impact this season. They can't really afford to spend that amount of money and not see the benefits of that money for a couple of years.

You've got to trust the manager and the scouting network, but it's a massive gamble.

What's your tip for the Community Shield? If Arsenal were to win, would that hand a psychological blow to Man City?

Community Shield: Meaningless Match and Minimal Impact

The Community Shield holds little significance and has become a day out for fans. Results in this match have shown limited impact on future performances. A win or loss for Arsenal or Manchester City would ultimately hold little importance in the grand scheme of things.

I don't think it really matters who wins if I'm being honest, with the greatest of respect it's never been the biggest game in the calendar. As the years have gone on it's become more of a day out for the fans and a bit of friendly or final preparations for the league season. You only have to look at last season, Liverpool beat Manchester City and look what that counted for. Darwin Nunez looked a better player on the day compared to Erling Haaland and look what that counted for. I wouldn't read too much into it, if Arsenal beat Manchester City, then it counts for absolutely nothing and vice versa if Manchester City beat Arsenal.

Of course, the winners can say it's still an achievement but the losers can say it's pretty meaningless as history has shown.

Can Haaland top what he did last season? We saw that reporter ask Pep about whether Haaland had yet settled into his system recently.

I imagine Pep’s response was to raise an eyebrow at that question because you don't score that many goals if you don't fit into a way of playing. I remember at the start of last season after 15 or 20 games, Manchester City had some questionable results, and everybody was asking are they better without Haaland? 

Haaland: Can It Get Better?

Pep's eyebrow-raising response to Haaland's fit in the system. Questionable early results without him, but his goalscoring impact is undeniable. Unsure if it gets better, but can continue in the same vein.

It's ridiculous to say that isn't it really when you've got such a natural and clinical goalscorer. Even when he isn't scoring, he attracts the defender’s attention away which leaves space for these other talented attacking players.

I'm not sure it actually gets better; how can it get better when you score that amount of goals and win a treble. I'm not sure it can get better if I'm honest, but it can continue in the same vein for sure.

Burnley, Sheffield United and Luton Town all gained promotion to the Premier League, who is the better equipped to stay up at this moment in time?

I think it would be stating the obvious if I say Burnley, but I'm going to state the obvious and go with Burnley. I felt that they were one of the strongest Championship teams I've ever seen, and I couldn't quite believe it because I don't think Vincent Kompany has really got the credit he deserves. Given that he was taking over from a Burnley legend in Sean Dyche and the fact that it was a completely different style of football. There was a massive overhaul of the squad and he managed to knit it all together. He created one of the strongest Championship teams that I've ever seen, so I don't expect them to struggle.

Promoted Teams: Burnley Best Equipped

Burnley is the better equipped team among Burnley, Sheffield United, and Luton Town. Considered one of the strongest Championship sides and expected to compete well in the Premier League. Loss to Manchester City doesn't indicate struggle, as it's more about the difference in quality. Similar to Fulham's performance last season, Burnley is unlikely to be in a relegation battle.

I know they lost heavily to Manchester City in the FA Cup, people may point to that and say that's the difference between the Premier League and the Championship, but I disagree. I think it's the difference between Manchester City and the Championship, it's not the difference between the Premier League and the Championship. For the first 30 minutes I thought Burnley actually gave them a game, so it might be a sign of things to come.

With the middle to lower teams in the Premier League I think Burnley can compete, similar in the way as Fulham did last season. Fulham never looked like struggling and I'd be surprised if Burnley ended up in a relegation battle.

What are your expectations for Luton this season? Can they stay up? Is Carlton Morris a striker who can score at Premier League level?

It's a fairy tale for Luton Town to be in the Premier League in the first place. I think everybody connected with Luton Town has realistic expectations where they'll be involved in a scrap down at the bottom. I don't think anybody could have a different opinion to that because in reality they're going to find it difficult. Having said all of that, I think they'll cause one or two surprises.

Luton's Expectations in the Premier League

Realistic expectations for Luton Town involve being involved in a relegation battle. They will find it difficult but might surprise a few teams with their physicality and home advantage at Kenilworth Road.

Kenilworth Road is not your typical Premier League stadium, it's tight and the fans are on top of you. It's brilliant for the home players and the physicality they possess is going to cause one or two Premier League teams problems. Carlton Morris will be as hungry as anybody to prove that he belongs at that level. He was always going to be one of those players that if he was going to get to the Premier League then it would have to be through promotion from the Championship.

Last season was his most prolific season, it's the first real season where you would say Carlton Morris has been a prolific goalscorer. The rest of his career he hasn't been that, he's been a team player and a well-rounded footballer who creates chances for his team mates. He's never been prolific prior to last season so it's a big ask for us to expect him to go into the Premier League and be prolific again.

Carlton Morris' Scoring Ability at Premier League Level

Carlton Morris, though hungry to prove himself at the Premier League, may struggle to match his prolific form from last season. While he can upset defenders and score goals, expecting him to replicate his previous season's performance is a big ask. A season with 10-12 goals would be incredible for him.

He'll upset some Premier League defenders and he will get goals, but if he gets to 10 or 12 goals then it'll be an incredible season for him.

Tell us a little about Illiman Ndiaye at Sheffield United. Can you understand why Marseille want to sign him? Will the Blades have any chance of survival if they sell?

I think even if he stays, at the moment with the financial situation at the club and the recruitment at the minute, I think they're struggling. I hate to say that because I really like Sheffield United as a football club, I like Paul Heckingbottom and Stuart McCall who was a former teammate of mine. But purely based on footballing opinions, you look at Sheffield United and you just think it's going to be a massive struggle. 

Sheffield United's Survival Prospects and Impact of Illiman Ndiaye's Potential Sale

Sheffield United's survival prospects are challenging, even if they retain Illiman Ndiaye. Financial constraints hinder their recruitment, making it a massive struggle. Losing Ndiaye, their best player, would have a significant negative impact on the squad, club, and supporters, leaving a flat feeling.

They just haven't had the money needed to invest in players and if they lose their best player in Illiman Ndiaye then it's going to have a huge negative impact. Probably not just on the squad, I think it'll have an impact on the club as a whole and the supporters.

I think it'll leave everyone feeling very flat.

It’s been a summer or change at Leeds United, will they be able to bounce back straight away, or will it be a long-term project?

It's always difficult to talk about the Championship at this stage before a ball is kicked because it's a crazy league. I couldn't have seen Burnley romping the Championship this time last season. I couldn't have seen Norwich City and Watford struggling to get into the top half or a playoff final between Luton Town and Coventry City.

At this time in the season, trying to look ahead in the Championship is impossible. Given what's happened so far at Leeds United, there's a lot of work for Daniel Farke to be done. He's brought in a goalkeeper and Ethan Ampadu, lost a lot of players through having to trim the wage bill.

The positive for Farke is that he's had a full pre-season to work with the players who he believed he was going to start the season with, so that's a positive. It's tough to predict for Leeds because the Championship is going to be deeper in quality than it was last season. In the greatest of respect, I thought the Championship last season was reasonably low on quality based on the 17 years I've been covering it. What it made for was a really congested division and we've always said anybody can beat anybody in the Championship.

You normally get five or six teams who find more consistency than the rest, but we only got Burnley who really pulled away and Sheffield United knew how to win games better than the rest even if they weren't playing well. Below that, we had the most even division that I can remember.

I think there's more quality in the division this season which makes it more difficult for the relegated teams like Leeds United. They have a manager with a proven track record on the positive side, but he needs help. They need players, there's no doubt about that so it's hard to predict whether they'd bounce back straight away.

Leeds are a team where you need to see how the first month of the season goes before you can get an idea of how they're going to do.

Can you see James Ward-Prowse remaining at Southampton come the end of the transfer window?

James Ward-Prowse's Future at Southampton

It is likely that James Ward-Prowse will leave Southampton by the end of the transfer window due to his aspirations to play in the Premier League and pursue his England career. Despite showing loyalty to the club in the past, his standout performances and desire for a higher level suggest he will seek a move.

I think for the sake of his own career he shouldn't stay, but he seems like he's a loyal player. I'm sure he's had plenty of opportunities in the past to move to pastures new, but he's remained at the club. But I think for his own career he needs to be playing in the Premier League because he should still be having England aspirations. He's a quality operator, whenever I watched Southampton last season, he was always the one who stood out and he had some outstanding performances.

He was almost trying to drag them to safety on his own at times without a lot of help, so I would imagine he would be a Premier League player by the end of the transfer window.

Sunderland managed to mount a playoff charge last season, they’ve got quite a young squad again this season – will they be able to build on that?

They've kept all the players that you would want them to keep, and they've added quite a few more into that mix. I'm glad they've stuck with Tony Mowbray as well, when I saw the reports towards the end of last season saying he was under pressure for his job, I nearly fell off my chair. I couldn't think of a more perfectly suited manager for the job with a young squad like that. He's the right coach to help mould and improve these players and he's someone that will encourage these younger players to express themselves. I would expect that they could definitely have another go this season.

Sunderland's Prospects and Playoff Potential

Sunderland's young squad has the potential to build on their playoff charge from last season. Key factors include keeping Ross Stewart fit and motivated, along with maintaining strong performances from Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts. With an effective forward threat, Sunderland can challenge defenses and position themselves in the top half of the Championship, making a playoff spot a realistic possibility.

Last season it was a bonus, I don't think they were expected to challenge the top six, let alone get in the playoffs. Whereas this season I think there will be a little bit more expectation from the supporters maybe and from within to keep that momentum going.

The key for Sunderland is getting Ross Stewart fit and keeping him motivated as well as keeping the likes of Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts firing on all cylinders around him.If they can do that, as a forward threat they'll cause a lot of defences some problems in the Championship.

I would expect them to be in the top half and if you're in the top half in the Championship then you're never going to be a million miles away from a playoff spot.

Who do you think wins the Championship next season and why?

You have to throw the three relegated clubs into the mix because they do have this advantage over the rest with the parachute payments. Some of the players they can keep at the clubs as well, having that Premier League sprinkling of quality which can make a real difference in the Championship as we've seen before. You can't genuinely rule any of them out, but if you're looking for a club that had the consistency, but it probably came too late then you're looking at Middlesbrough.

Championship Favorites and a Cautious Pick

he three relegated clubs have an advantage with parachute payments and Premier League quality. While any of them can't be ruled out, Middlesbrough could be the more consistent pick. With early signings and a full preseason, they are the cautious choice to win the Championship.

Michael Carrick has made a lot of new signings, they got their business done early and he's had the entire pre-season with most of those players. They would be my very cautious pick to go all the way, only more so because I feel like I know what to expect from them compared to the other teams. 

Reading FC look to be in a precarious position right now, how vital is it they sort out their ownership and will the aim be to avoid back-to-back relegations?

You always fear when a club get into such a mess like that and there have been a few over the years. Derby County are one example, Blackpool not that long ago in the Premier League and ended up in League One. Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City as well, you always fear the worst in these situations.

Reading FC's Precarious Position and Ownership Woes

The ownership situation at Reading FC needs to be resolved quickly for any hope of improvement. With a history of poor management, recruitment, and spending, avoiding back-to-back relegations must not be the sole ambition for the club. Relying on their successful academy may be necessary for the upcoming season.

Reading seems to be a bit of a basket case club with all due respect just with the way it’s been run. They've suffered points deductions for spending too much money, but they've never been anywhere near the Premier League which is quite remarkable. It tells you that they've spent the money very poorly, they haven't been picking the right managers and that their recruitment has been poor. It's a pretty damming assessment of a football club. But if you're Reading and you're in League One, you can't go into a season where avoiding another relegation is your ambition. Regardless of circumstances, you're Reading Football Club, so they need to find a way.

Clearly, the ownership situation needs to be sorted out as soon as possible to have any hope really. They've always done well with their academy players and brought players through, whether the academy has been affected or not, I'm not sure. Hopefully it hasn't because they have had a brilliant track record of bringing youngsters through and they may well need to rely on that next season.

Who do you think wins League One next season and why?

 I don't think it's as strong this season as it was last season. You only have to look at the top three and the points they all got, Sheffield Wednesday got 96 points and still didn't go up automatically which I don't think we'll ever see happen again. Plymouth Argyle win the league with 100 points and Ipswich Town were fantastic.

League One Favorites and Bolton's Potential

This season, League One may not be as strong as the previous season. While there are other potential contenders like Barnsley and Derby County, Bolton, under manager Ian Evatt, with stability and a distinct playing style, is the cautious pick to win the league.

It was a strong league and if you look below that with the teams in the playoffs and how they held their consistency last season. I'm thinking Barnsley and Bolton as the front runners.
 Barnsley have lost one or two of their players, as well as the manager which makes it difficult for them. Bolton have a really solid manager in Ian Evatt, he's brought stability to the club and has brought in a distinct style of play. The players enjoy playing football the way he wants them to play.

With hesitation, I would probably plump for Bolton, but I'm sure there will be other challenges. Derby County with Paul Warne at the helm, they're bound to be up there I suspect, and I would imagine Portsmouth will be better. But I would back Bolton to do well this season.

Wrexham will be the talking point in League Two, are they the favourites to go up with their resources or will they find it as difficult as Salford City in that division?

I think they'll find it as difficult as Salford City did and as Stockport County found out last season. This time last season Stockport were one of the favourites to go up, but they came up short in the playoffs. Bradford City are in that division as well, if you want to talk about massive clubs stuck in League Two, so it's not a given. The likes of Stockport, Bradford and Doncaster Rovers will have a say in the promotion places.

Wrexham's Promotion Chances in League Two

Wrexham may not be the outright favorites to go up from League Two, as seen with the challenges faced by Salford City and Stockport County. Other clubs like Bradford and Doncaster will also contend for promotion

History should show Wrexham will be up there, but I wouldn't class them as favourites at this moment in time.

In four to six weeks, we'll have a better idea of how things will shape in League Two.

Who do you think wins League Two next season and why?

I'm going to go with Bradford City in the hope that they get it right this season spurred on by Mark Hughes.I don't know whether that's more my heart than my head, but I'm going with Bradford City.

Give us a prediction for where you think Leicester will finish next season and why?

Definitely top six if not top two. I think they'll be excitement around 'Pep Guardiola's assistant' taking over the reins. They have already made some impressive signings, Conor Coady is an absolutely huge signing for them on and off the pitch.

I can't emphasise that enough really, his leadership skills on and off the pitch will be a massive factor to why I'm saying they'll definitely be top six if not the top two.

Leicester's Promising Prospects and Top Six Potential

Leicester is predicted to finish in the top six, if not the top two, next season. The excitement surrounding their new manager, along with impressive signings like Conor Coady, leadership skills, and a squad with Premier League experience, make them a formidable force. However, they will face the challenge of being everyone's

Harry Winks has the quality and there's plenty of players in that squad with Premier League experience. If the manager can mould them together then they will be a force no doubt. But they'll be a team where they'll be everyone's cup final, and they'll have that expectation and pressure of finishing at the top.

Give us a prediction for where you think Leeds United will finish next season and why?

It's one of the more difficult ones, for me Leeds United and Southampton fall under the bracket of the unknown. For me, I look at Leeds and the positives are they have a manager who's won the Championship twice and he's someone who won't be surprised by anything that comes his way. Can he get the help from the new ownership in terms of recruitment and can he keep enough of the key players before the transfer window shuts. These are the key questions that need answering and we'll get them in a few weeks’ time. But in reality, if you're Leeds United in the Championship then you've got to be shooting for the top.

Whether they'll get there, I'm not sure.

There's a probable playoff push as an expectation, but it's one to assess in a few weeks’ time.

Give us a prediction for where you think Southampton will finish next season and why?

This is a club who have come up with a philosophy of bringing in young players and trying to make them better to sell for a profit. That's the model that failed miserably in the Premier League, but it's not to say it can't be successful at this level. There's a lot of variables for Southampton, they've got a new manager in Russell Martin, and I like the way he wants to play football.

I'm not sure that you can get promoted when you take so many risks defensively though and give away so many silly goals.

That's what happened to Swansea City last season, and it was noticeable that when the pressure was off, they improved. When they knew they couldn't be relegated and couldn't get a playoff spot then Swansea started to put a run together. They finished really strong, and everyone starts to take note, but it's completely different when you play with freedom.

There will be a pressure and an expectation, I like the way Russell Martin wants to play but my opinion on Swansea was they kept the ball for the sake of keeping the ball. I couldn't see why they would take so many risks playing out from the back, so that's the bit that concerns me. Like the rest of the relegated clubs, anything less than a top six finish would be viewed as disappointing really.

Give us a prediction for where you think Sheffield Wednesday will finish next season and why?

I was surprised to see Darren Moore get the sack and I was disappointed really. I don't know the genuine reasons and I don't think we'll ever find out, but clearly something wasn't right there. Darren broke records: points totals, clean sheets and unbeaten runs.

He broke club records, bearing in mind how old this club is, achieved promotion but still his job was always under threat until that last second winning playoff goal. It was an open secret really; I am surprised they followed through with it but I suppose it isn't that surprising in the end from all the rumoured talk.

It's the way the owner runs the football club, he makes decisions that leaves people scratching their heads.

I looked at the recruitment specifically for Sheffield Wednesday because last season it was the oldest average age for a starting XI in League One. What struck me is the lack of mobility throughout the team and genuine athleticism. Whilst they were able to dig out results in League One, I don't see that happening in the Championship.

If they can get anywhere near the top half, then that's a massive success for them. But I fear they'll be in the bottom third looking over their shoulder a little bit.   

Give us a prediction for where you think Sunderland will finish next season and why?

I won't let my heart win over my head here a little bit. I think the Championship will be deeper in quality this season which makes it more difficult for Sunderland to get in the playoffs again. But the key factor is Ross Stewart being fit, firing and motivated.

I use the word motivated because if Ross Stewart is angling for a move and who could blame him if a Premier League club came knocking. I do believe a fully fit Ross Stewart can operate in the Premier League. He's an all-round striker, strong in all areas so I think he could adapt to the Premier League. That's why over the next few weeks we'll see if he's back to being fully fit and if he's back to where he was before the injuries. Finally, whether he's motivated to stay at Sunderland or whether he wants to get away.

To me, if you were linked with clubs and wanted to get away then you need to play well and show the watching clubs what you're capable of. In theory, it should be a win-win situation for Sunderland, but it doesn't always work out like that. I expect Sunderland to be in the top half and possibly fighting for another playoff push.

 Give us a prediction for where you think Ipswich Town will finish next season and why?

They've got a strong team there and Kieran McKenna has done an excellent job. Like Vincent Kompany, he went in there and changed the playing style for the team’s benefit. They have the foundation to definitely operate in the top half if not top third of the Championship.

January 2023 Interview

Here he talks to OLBG, sharing his views on what is happening in the game today. This content has been updated following our latest interview with Don which took place in January 2023, further below you can also see our original 2022 interview. 

Don Goodman. Image: Sky Sports

What have you made of Wolves' centre-forward situation? Guedes was signed then released on-loan. Diego Costa hasn't had much impact. Kalajdzic is injured. Raul appears to be the No1, but he is being linked with a move away. What is the answer for Lopetegui at centre-forward? Should they sign another one or can you see the options he has as being good enough?

It's a difficult one for Lopetegui because it's not as if Wolves aren't going to back him. They've already brought Matheus Cunha in, so they have been backing him but there's no doubt it isn't going the way anyone at Wolves would have wanted it to go this season.

When I looked closer at the numbers, Wolves have scored eight or nine less than they actually should have done according to the xG metrics. They should be in mid-table, so it's not like they aren't creating chances.

But when you look at all the forward options they have, Raul Jimenez hasn't scored in the Premier League this season and has six goals in his last 40 Premier League appearances. It was unfortunate really because he got 13 in his first season at Wolves and 17 the following season, started with four goals in his first 10 games before fracturing his skull.

He just hasn't been the same player since, you always hope and pray someone can come back from a horrific injury like that, but it hasn't happened yet. Jimenez was the one they could rely on, obviously they recognised he isn't getting back to those levels, so they brought in Diego Costa.

He hasn't scored yet and hasn't really been prolific since he left Chelsea. Costa is always going to be a handful, but you need your number nines to be scoring at least a few goals. It's too early to judge Cunha right now because he hasn't started many games for Wolves as of yet.

Hwang Hee-Chan has scored 5 goals in 46 appearances for Wolves as well.

It's strange because these are good players for Wolves, they're all quality and high-calibre players who just aren't finding the back of the net. It's a little bit of a mystery, but it's worrying when Podence is your top scorer with five and then Neves with four.

Only five Wolves players have scored a goal in the Premier League, so clearly that is an issue that needs to be addressed.It doesn't look to me like they can address it from within, so I would be a little surprised if there isn't another iron in the fire in regard to a striker coming in this January.

I think they have more than enough to survive, Lopetegui is definitely moving them in the right direction, but you have to score goals. If you don't score goals, then you're asking your defenders to keep clean sheets week in and week out, which is difficult in the Premier League.

That goal-scoring scenario needs fixing as soon as possible and I'm sure it will be quite high on the agenda of Lopetegui and the club. 

At the time of writing the latest odds with UK betting sites on Wolves being relegated from the Premier League ranged between 3/1 and 4/1.

What did you make of Newcastle's decision to allow Chris Wood to join Forest - particularly with no replacement? Could that backfire? Do you rate Wood and will he be good for Forest?

To look at it from Chris Wood's perspective, clearly, he's third choice and he's not going to get as many minutes as he would like. He's the wrong side of 30, so he wants game time and wants to be playing. From his perspective, it's a great move and until last season he had scored double figures in the Premier League, so he has pedigree at this level.

He might have only scored twice so far this season, but he's only started five games for Newcastle. From Nottingham Forest's perspective, Wood is a physical presence and different to anything they've got.

He'll be a threat from set pieces, and I can see him linking up with Brennan Johnson and Morgan Gibbs-White really well. So, I think it's a good fit for Nottingham Forest.

From Newcastle's perspective, it's a tiny bit of a gamble if they're not going to bring anyone else in to play there. Sunderland recently had all of their strikers out for quite some time and had to play a false nine.

They actually did quite well in that period and Manchester City have obviously won the Premier League without a recognised striker, so it can be done. But it is a little bit of a gamble.

I suppose at a push they could move Joelinton back to that position, although they wouldn't want to lose his presence in midfield. I would imagine if Joelinton went up front now, from all the confidence he's got from playing fantastically week in week out, then I think he would be a completely different player.

I don't think it would be the same Joelinton that Newcastle fans were watching as a number nine. It's not ideal but it's a potential back up plan. There's still time left in the transfer window, so I'd be surprised if they didn't have some sort of a plan B. 

Have you had a look at Wout Weghorst's two games for Man Utd? What have you made of his signing? Do you think this will benefit Ten Hag's system? Do you see yourself in him?

I've had half an eye on the games he's played in and started. I have to say that they're two difficult games away at Crystal Palace and away at Arsenal. Arsenal dominated the ball completely in the second half which can be difficult for a lone striker.

He seems to be a player Erik Ten Hag knows all about; I think he's definitely a brilliant option as a plan B. But if they're going to play him a lot between now and the end of the season, then they're going to have to adapt slightly.

He is a strong physical presence and he's very different to what they've got. Weghorst is an aerial threat, so Manchester United might have to look at getting crosses into the penalty area more often.

It's an interesting situation at Manchester United, but clearly Ten Hag sees him as a good player to have right now. We've seen the impact he could have from the World Cup, albeit the Netherlands just lumped the ball up to him in that game against Argentina.

I can't imagine Manchester United doing that often in the Premier League so both the team and Weghorst will have to adapt a little bit. But Ten Hag has faith in him, you would think after two away games at Crystal Palace and Arsenal that it will get a bit easier for Weghorst.

Have you had a look at Amad Diallo at Sunderland? What have you made of his form this season? Can he make it at Man Utd?

I can't imagine him going back in January, but certainly next season with a pre-season under his belt is a possibility. When Erik Ten Hag came in his number one target was Antony who obviously plays in the same position.

He's already got Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho who can operate on that side of the pitch as well. So is Amad Diallo going to displace any of those at the minute? The answer is no.

They've sent him out on loan and from watching the Sunderland vs Middlesbrough game, he was brilliant. I spoke with Tony Mowbray after the game and Mark Venus who I'm good friends with.

I had obviously given him man of the match in that game, but it wasn't just that performance, he's been brilliant for the past dozen games really. He's settled in now and I think that's the key because they said to me that he's a very shy and quiet boy.

It's taken him some time to settle into that environment and he's playing in a team, under a coach who wants to play on the front foot and move the ball quickly. This brand of fast, attacking football suits him to the ground and of course that's what Manchester United want to do.

You can see the potential, he's only 20 years old and he's contributed 7 goals and an assist in his last 13 games. He has bags of ability, but Manchester United already know that because they paid £37 million for him.

I just think this has been a win-win for both clubs. Sunderland know that there's no chance he'll be here beyond this season and I think Manchester United will be keen to get him involved in the pre-season.

They'll want to take a long look at him, but there is a lot of competition with Garnacho coming through as well. He's electric from what I've seen live and in a similar position to Diallo, so there's a lot of competition for places.

But a pre-season, stepping in and growing in confidence will certainly make him an asset to Manchester United, possibly from the start of next season.

At 15 and with Man Utd and Newcastle wanting to sign him, what do you think Chris Rigg should do? Is Tony Mowbray right to be playing him at such a young age?

I think Tony Mowbray would have watched his development, had him training with the first team and would have seen he was ready to play a few minutes. Not a load of minutes, but enough to start his development process.

I think that's what is going on and I don't think Chris Rigg could be in better hands than he is with Tony Mowbray. Regardless of any bids from any big clubs, if I was Chris Rigg, I would be looking at the way Sunderland want to move forward.

They're a club developing young players, give them an opportunity, coach them and improve them as players. It's a long-term project at Sunderland and Rigg, if he's good enough, will get an opportunity.

If he goes to another club, we've seen it before where they get stuck in their academies and eventually get loaned out where it doesn't quite work out. I just think he's in an environment with the right surroundings and the right head coach who will bring him along at the right rate.

So, if I was advising him, I would say stay where you are, develop as a player and see where it takes you.

Do you think Sheffield United will achieve automatic promotion this season?

I think it's Sheffield United's and Burnley's to lose at this point. When you look at the table, there's such a gap between the top two and Watford who are stuttering.

In fact, they're all stuttering behind the top two with the exception of Middlesbrough and West Brom. Sheffield United have only lost five games in the league this season, for Watford to overhaul them, they essentially need to lose another five.

That also relies on Watford winning five more games than Sheffield United and you just can't see it happening. It's the knowhow of winning games or making sure you don't lose them when you are slightly off the pace.

That's really important in the Championship, for 46 games you cannot play your best week in week out. It's simply impossible, but what they're doing when they aren't quite at it is winning games of football.

That's a brilliant quality to have in a team when you're going for promotion. I can't see Sheffield United throwing it away nor Burnley. I think the top two positions are done and for all the neutrals we're just going to enjoy the scramble for the playoff spots.

For the past 4 seasons, Millwall have given themselves a chance of making the playoffs, is this the year they finally get over the line and an opportunity at promotion?

They're in the mix with a lot of other teams. If we say Burnley and Sheffield United are too far ahead, then what we've seen in the past few weeks is that the teams who we all thought would be top before a ball was kicked slowly make their way up towards the top.

I'm talking about teams like West Brom and Middlesbrough who were struggling at the start of the season. Both changed managers and have gone on these amazing runs, throwing them from a relegation battle into the middle of a playoff charge. 

I know West Brom lost to Burnley and there's no shame in that and Middlesbrough lost to Sunderland, no shame in that one either. Millwall are fighting with these teams for those playoff places.

As for Watford, I think will get better because they have a horrific injury list at the minute and Norwich have switched managers and had that positive managerial bounce.

Blackburn Rovers are hit and miss, I'm not sure they'll have the consistency to stay within the top six.

Millwall are as good as I've seen them and that's saying something because I've seen them be very good in the past and just miss out.

Gary Rowett has built the best squad that he's had, the recruitment has been excellent, and they've really recruited well in that midfield area and up front with Voglsammer.

I think they're strong and in a really good position, but they're up against some very good teams.

Sunderland look great, Luton are going nicely, so it'll be tough for Millwall but that's what they're here for now. They're no longer a football club who just want to survive in the Championship. They've invested in the summer in order to try and make that next step.

They've got as much chance as anybody, they're a difficult team to play against. They have their style; every player knows their job and they work as hard as any other team.

The fans demand it, and the manager demands it, so they'll be in the mix. If they get into the playoffs competing with all those teams, then it will be one hell of an achievement.

What did you make of Cardiff's decision to sack Mark Hudson?

Ultimately, I look at Cardiff and since Neil Warnock left, you have to look at some of the decisions they've made. They wanted to carry on from Warnock's style which is why they hired Neil Harris.

When that didn't work they went with Mick McCarthy, which was brilliant at the start before turning a little stale and sour. Then they went down the road of Steve Morrison and allowed him to change the style of play, be a bit more possession-based and bring in lots of players.

But they weren't patient with that really and it did surprise me. I think if you're going to change your style and bring in lots of new players into the football club, then you have to be patient and give a manager time.

I don't think if Cardiff City had left Steve Morrison in charge, that they'd be in this relegation battle as much as they are now. They give it to Mark Hudson in a difficult situation and ultimately results didn't go well enough.

In the Championship you probably get less time compared to other leagues to try and get it right. They tried to promote from within under Hudson, but they couldn't turn it around.

They're entrenched in a relegation battle, which is not where Cardiff City want to be and it's unfortunate for Hudson. I've seen Sam Allardyce linked, which would obviously be going back to that Warnock, Harris and McCarthy style.

But they've got a completely different set of players, the likes of Aden Flint and Sean Morrison aren't there anymore. Basically, what they've done with the decisions they've made, the hierarchy at Cardiff City have created this mess. 

That's what it is right now and they're slightly fortunate with the form of the teams below them.  It's been a lucky break for Cardiff with Wigan and Blackpool's recent form. The only team slightly picking up is Huddersfield Town.

Cardiff have got a little cushion with some big games coming up, if they don't turn it around soon then they could end up being in League One, which is where they don't want to be.

For our readers who are interested in football betting.... 

Who are the 3 teams you predict to get relegated in the Championship?

I hate trying to predict the Championship because it can make you look stupid. What I will say is that the managerial bounce hasn't worked at Wigan Athletic. Kolo Toure wants to go in and change the style, but with a group of players who haven't really got that much Championship experience between them.

They're low on confidence because they're finding it such a struggle and a little gap is now starting to appear. It'll take one heck of a turnaround, but I do hope the board are patient with Kolo Toure. If they are going to go down, he needs time to adapt his style and make it work.

Blackpool have just appointed Mick McCarthy and I think he will get more out of Blackpool. He took over Cardiff City in a similar situation, I know it didn't end well but when he first went in at the start, they were as good as anybody. Not only did he save them, but there was also talk of a late playoff charge.

That immediate impact when someone like Mick McCarthy goes in, gets the team organised and makes it black and white what he wants from them. Blackpool you would think would improve.

Huddersfield Town have won one or two games, I always thought they were doomed so I'll stick with that. Then there's Cardiff City, Rotherham United and Birmingham City which is a tough one to predict.

Birmingham are on a real slippery slope and in some really bad form, but they do have a bit of a cushion.Rotherham have been hit and miss under Matt Taylor, so I'm going to go with Wigan, Huddersfield and one of the others.

It's a real scramble, but having said all of that, football can make you look stupid, and it wouldn't surprise me if Wigan or Huddersfield went on a run to get them out of trouble.

Having worked in the Championship for so long, you can expect the unexpected at times.

Not many expected Plymouth to be leading the way as it stands in League One – will they have enough to keep the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County away?

We can't forget Ipswich, who are also going to be in the mix, but my answer would be yes, they have enough to go up in terms of automatic promotion. Whether they'll win the league is another question, when you look at Sheffield Wednesday and how they're coming and putting together a very good run.

Plymouth and Sheffield Wednesday seem to be the only ones averaging those two points a game that gets you over the line automatically. In both of their cases they have a little bit of leeway, they can afford to lose the odd game here and there and still be averaging that magic two points per game.

What Steven Schumacher has done at Plymouth Argyle needs huge praise because he's doing an incredible job. I'm actually shocked that when vacancies started to appear in the Championship that clubs weren't going to Plymouth and making them an offer they couldn't refuse. I rate him that highly, not only when you look at their results but the way they're achieving it.

The football they're playing and the structure they're playing from, they've been a wonderful watch this season. I think they will go up automatically along with Sheffield Wednesday.

It's also been impressive the way they've dealt with losing Morgan Whittaker and they've had to rejig a little bit and carry on from where they left off. I would expect them to carry on that confidence through to the end of the season.

What did you make of Portsmouth's decision to sack Danny Cowley?

Well, they started off great, they were nine or 10 games unbeaten and were up there with the likes of Plymouth, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich. They were flying and looking good for at least a playoff spot, but then they started losing games and went on this really bad run.

When you're Portsmouth and it's your fifth season in League One with ambitions of going up having lost a couple of times in the playoffs, then you're desperate to make that next step. I haven't been to a game this season, but I can only presume the crowd weren't happy with the way things were going. That makes it difficult for a club's hierarchy and ultimately, they've come to that decision.

You stand and fall by your decisions in football whether you're a manager, a coach, an owner or a chief executive. You stand and fall by your decisions and the decisions you make.

Clearly, they couldn't see it getting any better, they've brought in John Mousinho who got off to the best possible start. They're only nine points off the playoffs as it stands, so it's doable but it's a tall order.

There's a lot of sides above them who are very good teams, so to dislodge them is going to be a difficult task. To name a few, currently there's Ipswich, Bolton, Derby, Barnsley, Wycombe, Peterborough, Bristol Rovers and Oxford.

Portsmouth have to overhaul all of these teams that are above them and I'm not sure that's achievable. It's a case of wait and see for John Mousinho, but I'm struggling to see if Portsmouth can compete this season.

But it's always sorry to see good people lose their jobs. Danny and Nicky Cowley are good lads and hopefully they'll be back in football soon.

What have you made of Stevenage this season, how have they turned it around considering they were fighting to stay in the Football League 12 months ago?

It's simple really, they appointed Steve Evans. He was brought in to save them from relegation from the Football League at the end of last season.

They were three points above the drop zone, and they ended up winning four from the last nine games to survive. He's taken it on from there, they've managed to keep that momentum going and he's been allowed to add to the squad and change it.

A full pre-season with the team has allowed Steve Evans to implement his style and he has pedigree at that lower level. He gets teams promoted from the lower leagues and the fact they've just beaten Leyton Orient 3-0 who are streaks ahead along with Stevenage says a lot.

I think those two teams will go up automatically, but it really comes down to the Steve Evans effect. I'm sure Stevenage are very happy they made that appointment now.

Barrow were one of the favourites for relegation when Pete Wild was appointed at the start of the season, how impressed have you been with them, and can they sneak into a playoff place? There's no doubt that they're in with a shout of making it.

The Barrow story is an interesting one, Ian Evatt got them into the Football League and then left for Bolton Wanderers where you must forgive him for taking on that job and totally understand that decision. It was a tough first season for them, but they secured survival with two games to go and had to go through a few managers in the end.

They finally seem to have found the right manager in Pete Wild because he's come in and given them consistency. That's something Barrow haven't had since they returned to the Football League.

They're just outside the playoff places, so they've given themselves a chance of breaking into that top seven. What's more impressive is that they're three points off what they got in the whole of last season, so that's one heck of an effort.

They’re in a big scramble for a playoff spot, it's a division that is brutal with the congestion of clubs in a fight to get into the playoffs.

There are 10 to 12 teams in with a shout and Barrow are one of them. When you get yourself into that position, you've got to shoot for the stars, but Pete Wild has done a brilliant job regardless.

Who has made the best signing in the EFL in this January transfer window and why?

I find it really hard to pick just one. Looking at all the tables across the three divisions, it's difficult to pinpoint just one signing and acknowledge every single transfer that's occurred.

But the eye-catching one for me that hasn't had an impact yet, but I'm absolutely certain will given time, is the fact Middlesbrough signed Cameron Archer from Aston Villa. I think the whole of the Championship wanted Cameron Archer, but Middlesbrough sold their project to him, and he's gone there.

It might not be the obvious one right here right now with a week left in the transfer window. But I would say keep an eye on Cameron Archer because I think he can score plenty of goals at Middlesbrough. 

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January 2022 Interview

Leeds United are clearly depleted right now with the sheer amount of injuries they have, can Bielsa keep relying on youngsters or do they need to add in some additions?

I think he's a man who likes to work with a small squad notoriously throughout his managerial career. Usually he's got away with it, but the intensity of the Premier League along with the pandemic where games come even more frequently, they've had an unbelievable amount of injuries.

Unfortunately for Leeds it has happened to key players such as Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford. If you could pick two players you wouldn't want to lose if you're Leeds United, it would have been those two.

They're nine points clear of the drop zone and its over teams who are struggling to win games of football means they're going to be ok. I think this part of their history shows is that the academy are doing something right with these youngsters coming through.

A lot of young players are coming into the squad, they're learning on the job, and they will have the occasional bad moments within games. But in general, they've been doing ok, Leeds have been competing and those back-to-back wins are huge.

Those six points make a huge difference, and you'd start to worry if you took those away, but hopefully they can get a couple of bodies in January and finish the season strongly.

Have you seen improvements in Norwich from Daniel Farke to Dean Smith? Can they mount a strong enough bid for survival?  

The first thing you need to look at is the numbers, Daniel Farke was in charge of the first 11 games, and they took five points. Dean Smith has been Norwich Manager for 10 games, and they've taken eight points, so straight away you can see they're picking up points at a faster rate.

Whether that's a correct assessment of how they're playing or who's performing better, then that's up for debate. I do find it remarkable that a team who have been in the bottom three for so long, lost their opening six games, but with that win over Everton they're still in with a shout of safety.

It's a unique situation at the bottom of the table and that game against Watford on Friday night has become a massive game. The problem remains the same though, the biggest problem Norwich have got is that they're simply struggling to score goals.

They've had three goals in their last nine Premier League games, and they've struggled to score in seven of those games. If you can't score goals, you can't win games of football, so that'd be my worry.

I think if they're patient, which they usually are Norwich, with Dean Smith, I think even if they did fail to survive this season, then they'd still have the right man in charge. Overall, there has been a slight improvement, but I still think they're capable of more.

Can Wayne Rooney keep Derby County up this season?

We'd be looking at them without the 21 points deduction as an outsider for the playoffs, especially given the vein of form they're in. That's what makes what they're doing quite remarkable at the minute because it just seems like it's one obstacle after another.

They keep picking themselves up off the floor, getting knocked down again and keep picking themselves back up. This last weekend has been really significant, losing Jagielka and losing Graeme Shinnie for only £35,000 to Wigan.

More of their best players are likely to be sold, but if they can hold onto their players from now until the end of the season, then the form they're in and the teams above them are in, they would potentially be in line to do one of the most remarkable things that football has ever seen.

Wayne Rooney, the players and the day-to-day staff, my heart goes out to them because they're suffering and it's not their fault. It's a consequence of gross mismanagement from the top of this football club over the last number of years.

Wayne Rooney is doing an incredible job as Derby manager, there's a small possibility they might lose him, but I admire him for sticking around. in pre-season when he had hardly any players he stayed, and this is someone who doesn't need the money or hassle.

He's invested in this football club and in these players, so I think he's covered himself in glory and whatever happens between now and the end of the season, Wayne Rooney comes out of this with his reputation massively enhanced both on and off the field.

Wayne Rooney has been linked with the vacant Everton managerial position? Do you think he deserves that opportunity or should he show loyalty to Derby?

We'll find the answers in the next week or so. Is he ready for the Everton job because you look at the experienced managers that have been in that job in recent times couldn't sort it out. You'd be asking a manager who's got just over a year of experience to go in and sort out a mess because that's what Everton is.

It's an absolute mess of a football club at the minute that needs to realign on and off the field and right from the top of the club. They need to find some kind of a structure because they're almost a rudderless ship, but the lure of them for Wayne Rooney would be huge.

I don't think it would be something he'd be able to turn down, but whether or not he'd be able to make a success of it in a short time is the question. He'd only get a year to 18 months at most to turn it around, so whether he'd be able to do that, I really don't know.

At the moment the other thing to look at is what happens at Derby over the next week and will more of their players go. If they do, then it'll become impossible because you can't survive by playing your youth teams in the Championship.

Should that materialise and aligned with whether Everton want him, then he may not be at Derby County for much longer. Regardless of when he chooses to leave Derby County, I think he's been more than loyal.

Can Daryl Dike fire West Brom to promotion? If not, where else does Valerien Ismael need to strengthen before the end of the month? Will his job be under threat if they don’t earn promotion?  

If you look at the table, they're currently one point above seventh placed Huddersfield Town and Stoke have have a game in hand on them Coventry aren't far off, Nottingham Forest have hit form and Sheffield United are picking up results.

I don't think West Brom can be looking up, they're seven points off second and I'd be more worried about looking who's over my shoulder. They have to address this slide they're on and the huge problem is that they can't stick the ball in the back of the net.

They were the top scorers in the first 10 games of the season with 20 goals and in the last 16, they've only scored 11. That sets alarm bells ringing because they have missed a lot of chances.

Expected goals isn't the Bible, but it gives you a rough idea if teams are creating chances which they have been in West Brom's case. They've just been missing them and that's where Dike comes in, he needs to hit the ground running. If he can be that striker and converting those chances, then at the very least they'll secure a playoff spot and they'll be a handful in that.

But if they don't start converting these chances, then they could face the disaster of slipping out of the playoff picture and I don't think any manager would survive that if you're West Brom and in the Championship.

Are Marco Silva's Fulham side the best attacking side that the Championship has ever seen?

I had a peak back into history, and I could only find Bournemouth scored 98 goals when they got promoted. Norwich a couple of seasons ago scored 93, but when you look at the fact Fulham have scored 64 goals already and Watford were promoted last season having scored 63 across the whole season, it's remarkable.

They're just a goal scoring machine, the players they've got, obviously Mitrovic with the sheer numbers he has. But in terms of who's been the best player in the league, you could make a case for people like Harry Wilson. Despite being behind twice against Bristol City, there's just no need for any panic because they're full of goals.

The numbers are staggering, and I expect them to break records in terms of goal scoring and I would expect them to win this league with the form they're in. This could genuinely be a record-breaking season for Fulham. They're a great watch, they're an entertaining side and it's hard to see anyone that can stop them at this minute in time.

Where do you think Ben Brereton Diaz's future lies - Premier League or abroad?

Ultimately, I think his career will lie in the Premier League, but do I think he should leave now? Probably not. He's got a coach in Tony Mowbray who's getting the best out of him, he's in a team aiming to be in the Premier League and they're playing really well. They're in the best form of anybody in the Championship right now and when you are going to leave a football club, you need to make sure you're leaving for the right football club.

Who's to say hypothetically, if he went to Burnley that Blackburn wouldn't be a Premier League club next season and he'd be back in the Championship with Burnley. We just don't know that, so it's important for players when they are successful to leave to only go to the right football club for them.

When you step out of the Championship to the Premier League, there is a danger that you become a 'bit-part' player which totally defeats the object. If I was him, I'd be sticking around for the next six months at Blackburn Rovers and I'd be trying to continue this rich vein of form and getting Blackburn into the Premier League.

Then in the summer, you can take a bit of stock and see what happens.

Jed Wallace is being linked with a move to Nottingham Forest - Thoughts on this? Would he be a good addition for the Reds?

You'd have to say he'd be a good addition because he's such a creative player. He's been really loyal to Millwall and recently he said he's in no rush or keen to leave Millwall, he loves it there.

You've got to applaud him for that, but in terms of Nottingham Forest, he would certainly make them better. His numbers of the last three years have been really good in terms of goals and assists.

He delivers wicked set pieces and at 28 years old, he's in the prime of his life, looks physically and mentally at the top of his game. He would be a massive addition to Nottingham Forest if they can prize him away because he's gone on record that he's very happy at Millwall.

Do you fancy Paul Heckingbottom's Sheffield United to secure a play-off place this season? 

It's a tough one, these rafts of postponements are affecting teams. Fulham weren't in the greatest of form until they started playing again, Coventry and Luton came off a poor-ish run of form.

Sheffield United were flying before their games were postponed and then they went and lost first game back. They've got games in hand, but they need to get back on that winning run pretty quickly. I think it's a tall order to be honest with the form of some of the teams above them.

It would be one heck of an achievement, but if they can get on the winning trail now, then you never know. It is all done to the poor start they made, they've been playing catch up right from the off and given themselves a mountain to climb.

It might be a mountain just slightly too high.

What do you make of the situation at Reading FC?

I think themselves; Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday last season serve as a warning about living within your means and playing by the rules. This club is in an absolute mess, they have spent loads of money chasing the dream and failed.

When you put all your eggs into one basket and it doesn't work out, then you leave yourselves in trouble. That's where they are now, they can't spend money, they're relying on free agents and loans and they've had an unbelievable injury list.

Veljko Paunovic has been dealt a poor hand and it was a massive overachievement them finishing seventh last season. As it stands with the captain falling out with the club and they're leaking goals for fun so they could do with a Liam Moore at his best to stop the awful run of results.

I think they're relying on teams below being not good enough to catch them rather than digging themselves out of a hole. They're having to play a load of kids in the first team, and I'd be really worried as a Reading fan at the minute.

Should Sunderland entertain a move for Jermain Defoe following his Rangers exit? Are Sunderland getting promoted this season?

You don't know what Jermain Defoe you're getting because he's only played two games for Rangers this season so far. I think for all parties it would be worth him have a couple of weeks of training and Lee Johnson assessing the situation.

If he's got the desire and hunger to play at that level, he certainly has the club in his heart from his previous spell, it's a club that he loves. It could be a fairy-tale reunion if they could get him match sharp and I think he would be an asset to anybody.

I think at the moment, it's the not knowing where he's at from a fitness perspective. It's a wait and see job, but if you can get a Jermain Defoe anywhere near the levels of past, then of course anyone would want him.

Sheffield Wednesday haven’t quite lit up League One this season with the squad they have available, do you expect things to click into place in 2022?

I think you expect them to be in the mix, but you look at that league and it's a strong, tough league and there's seven ex-Premier League clubs in there. Chuck Wycombe and Rotherham who were relegated from the Championship in glorious failure almost, they were both desperately unlucky to be relegated from the Championship.

Then there's Oxford, Plymouth, MK Dons who are all flying.

It means Sheffield Wednesday have it all to do, but when you look at the quality within their squad, it is good enough, but the question is whether it'll be consistent enough. In the first half of the season, it hasn't been, so the onus is on Darren Moore to get the best the out what it arguably the best squad in League One.

They're up against it because the quality of the competition is very strong. Wigan have a lot of games in hand over the teams around, is that an advantage or will the schedule catch up with them eventually?

I think normally you'd say you'd want the points on the board, I think that's a widely acknowledged view within football. They're just behind Sunderland with five games in hand and they're in form.

They're strengthening their squad in light of what is to come, they've already pinched Greame Shinnie from Derby County and Josh Magennis from Hull. These are quality players at League One level, but I think they will be looking at what happened to Rotherham last season. There's no question in mind that 12 games in 36 days cost Rotherham United relegation because it was a league above.

But that's the critical factor because it was the league above, every game in the Championship was a game where they were probably underdogs. That's different for Wigan this season, they're a good team at this level, one of the best if not the best in the division.

If you'd like me to choose which club I'd like to be at the moment of any club in that division at the moment, then I'd choose Wigan Athletic.

Should Bolton be worried that they aren’t quite clear of the relegation places? How important is it that the club retains their League One status?

It's really important they stay in the division; it just seems to have gone pear shaped since Ian Evatt said they were the best team in League One. They just went on an awful run, but I truly believe they're better than where they're at, but they just have had a horrible run.

They're a big club and they're striving to get back to the big time, prior to that Ipswich victory they had lost four in a row. Ironically it was the first time they've beaten a team in the top half since September and that was also Ipswich.

They need to back it up with results, but I don't see them being one of the four teams that will go down, but they would want to make it more comfortable than it's looking at the minute. A couple of wins will make that happen.

Derek Adams might have to mastermind another playoff promotion with Bradford City, are they capable of breaking into the top 7?

It's been a slow burner with Bradford under Derek Adams, I'm sure we all and Derek himself would have expected more points on the board at this stage. Bradford would have felt they should be closer to the automatic places, and I imagine that would have been the aim at the start of the season.

The problem they've got is that, although they're hard to beat, they've drawn 11 games and that's a hinderance to them. After the start of the season, you thought it was all falling into place, but they haven't won back-to-back games since the start of the season.

They need to string a winning run together; I do think they have the right man in the job and he'll get them moving in the right direction up the table. But they are chasing when we all thought they'd be the ones being chased, but there's no doubt I have implicit faith in Derek Adams ability to get Bradford promoted.

There's a gap to bridge, but they have enough ability in that squad and knowhow from the manager to do just that. But as I said, they need to go on a winning run sooner rather than later.

What do you think of the situation at Oldham Athletic having had a number of games disrupted with pitch invasions in protest against the owners?

It's terrific when you look back at the club with me being a certain age, remembering them being in FA Cup semi-finals, being in the first division and the Joe Royle days with that team they had.

They were relegated into League Two back in 2018 and it was the first time they'd been in that division since 1971.

They just haven't been anywhere near getting back into League One, they've been closer to going out of the league and now they are in serious peril. When fans and owners have a massive fallout, you rarely see success when clubs are fractured.

We've seen it at varieties of different clubs, Blackpool springs to mind when they got themselves to Premier League and because of that fractious relationship they ended up in League One. Coventry ended up all the way in League Two, so it's not a good recipe and they've gone through so many managers in the last few years.

The current ownership is clearly struggling to find the right formula and the right person to guide them. The way it's being run chopping and changing managers, I can understand the frustrations of the fans.

I can't condone pitch invasions, but I can certainly understand the frustrations. I use the adjective mess with a few clubs, but this just might be the biggest mess of the lot.  

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