How John Eustace’s plan changed Birmingham on the pitch

There is a growing sense of “I told you so!” In Birmingham City as the long-troubled club packs quietly into the middle of the championship table. Three months ago, Birmingham’s new head coach John Eustace and captain Troy Deeney spoke passionately about beating the “relegation candidates” tag and the persuasion in their words suggesting he was more than just a pre-season rant. Eustace, who took a seat on the big bench at the age of 42, was simultaneously an assistant manager at both fellow second-tier team QPR and with the…

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Mark Hughes on making sure the Bradford Fire is always remembered and played twice a day

Mark Hughes, as confirmed earlier this year by taking charge of a failing Bradford City in the bottom half of League Two, loves a challenge. This willingness to face anything that appears in front of him once led the 72-game Wales striker to agree to play twice on the same day at the height of his career. As if that wasn’t stressful enough, the two matches were in two different countries. “I just joined Bayern Munich,” Hughes told The Athletic. “My first appearance was on Saturday before and I was…

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On trial with Chelsea stars Reese and Lauren James’ father

Nigel James, father of duo Reese and Lauren in Chelsea, can be heard hearing planes take off from nearby Heathrow Airport. It’s a trial day for the academy he’s running, Nigel James Elite Training, at Bidfonte Football Club. There are about 40-50 boys present trying to get under 18 and listening to his every word. “It’s a beautiful day,” he says, “you have a great facility here, and there are no excuses.” ‚ÄúThis is your stage, you have to show everyone how good you are. Nobody knows how good you…

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