Saturday, 7 July 2012

Zola named new Watford Manager

Former Chelsea star Gianfranco Zola has been named as Watford's new manager on a two-year contract. The announcement comes after new owner Giampaolo Pozzo announced on Monday that the Italian would take charge of the Championship outfit following a verbal agreement with the 46-year-old. The club sacked Sean Dyche, who had been in charge of the club since June 2011 and managed to lead the club to their highest finish in five seasons (11th), last week to pave the way for Zola's arrival. Zola has two years managerial experience at the top level, having been West Ham boss from 2008-10 when they were in the Premier League, where they have just returned. He was praised for an attractive style of football at the east London club, while also being hailed for integrating the youth set-up into the first team. However after finishing just five points above the relegation zone in his second season, the former Blues man had his contract terminated. The board are hoping he can bring a free-flowing attacking style of football to the team, while insisting the ex-Italy international is a good fit for their vision.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Woodgate Returns to Middlesbrough

Jonathan Woodgate has completed a return to Middlesbrough after agreeing a three-year deal. Boro have confirmed that the 32-year-old former England international has signed for his hometown club for the second time after making a £7million switch from Real Madrid in 2007. Woodgate was a free agent after his contract at Stoke expired at the end of last month. The defender, who expects to end his career at the Riverside Stadium, told the club's official website: "The pull of helping Boro back in the Premier League is very strong for me, and from what I have seen of the current squad I think it's achievable. " [Manager] Tony Mowbray explained his plans for next season and how he is building a team that wants to get back in the Premier League as soon as possible. "I want to be part of that and if we can achieve promotion in my time here, it will be a fantastic way to end my career."

Watford confirm Dyche departure

Watford's new owners have confirmed the sacking of manager Sean Dyche in a statement issued on their official website. Dyche, 41, only in the post for 12 months, guided Watford to an 11th-placed finish in the npower Championship last season. But the Italian-based Pozzo family, who already own Serie A side Udinese and Spanish club Granada, completed their takeover of Watford from Laurence Bassin on Friday with countryman Gianfranco Zola expected to now take the helm from Dyche. Giampaolo Pozzo told Sky Italia on Sunday that they had reached a verbal agreement with Zola, who has been out of work since being dismissed by West Ham in May 2010. The statement read: "Watford football club confirms that it has terminated the contract of first-team manager Sean Dyche, with immediate effect. "His achievements under difficult circumstances mean that he will rightly be held in high regard by Watford supporters. Everyone at the club extends their warmest wishes to Sean for the future."

Wayne Bridge joins Brighton

Manchester City's Wayne Bridge has dropped down to the npower Championship and joined Brighton on a season-long loan deal. The 31-year-old former England left-back moved to the Etihad Stadium from Chelsea in 2009 but has endured a torrid time in recent years, having fallen well behind Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov in boss Roberto Mancini's plans. Bridge was farmed out to West Ham and Sunderland over the past two seasons and has now agreed another loan that will see him spend next term with the Seagulls. Seagulls manager Gus Poyet revealed Bridge has been one of his main summer targets and is delighted to be able to bring in the former Southampton defender. "It's difficult to say how I happy I am because it's not easy to get top-class players," Poyet told the club's official website, "I'm absolutely delighted to have Wayne with us. He's been one of the top three left-backs in this country for many years. "There were a lot of things that had to come together to make it happen. Firstly, (City first-team coach) David Platt has been great at Manchester City and then Wayne and his agent have helped a lot too."

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Derby County have sold Jason Shackell to Championship rivals Burnley

Derby County have sold Jason Shackell to Championship rivals Burnley and the Rams are close to signing another central defender.The fee for Shackell is undisclosed but is thought to be in the region of £1.1m. He has signed a four-year deal.The 28-year-old centre-back was ever-present in the back four last season and departs 12 months after arriving in a £750,000 deal from Barnsley. Chief executive Tom Glick said the club were disappointed to see Shackell leave and confirmed that Derby were set to make their own move in the transfer market. "Plans are well under way to not only secure the services of a central defender but also strengthen other areas of the first-team squad." said Glick. Derby turned down four bids for Shackell last month. At the time, Manchester City-bound Glick described him as a top player in the Championship, saying: "So it would take a lot to pry him away from Derby. I expect him to be with us for the start of the season." Shackell made 49 appearances last season and wore the captain's armband in the absence of Shaun Barker. He was also runner-up to Craig Bryson in the fans' player-of-the-year poll. His contribution has been praised by manager Nigel Clough. "Jason has always been 100% professional and a fantastic player to work with," said Clough. "He played every game last season, so it came as no great shock when other clubs started to register their interest in him." Cardiff City and newly-promoted Charlton Athletic also entered the race to sign Shackell. Burnley are his sixth club, as he has also played for Norwich City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Doncaster Rovers. Clough said: "Although I am sad to see Jason leave, we have Jake Buxton, Tom Naylor and Mark O'Brien, who have all proved to be more than capable at performing in the Championship. "We are also actively looking to bring in another central defender and hope to make an announcement in the not too distant future." Derby have indicated all summer that they might cash in on Shackell at the right price if it would help to strengthen the squad.