Tottenham should have kept Jose Mourinho in charge for the EFL Cup final as he knows how to set up a team to play against Manchester City, says Wayne Rooney.

The day after confirming their involvement in the 12-club breakaway European Super League, Spurs announced the departure of Mourinho after less than 18 months in charge.

A 2-2 draw away at Everton last week further damaged Tottenham's hopes of a top-four finish in the Premier League, while they were knocked out of the Europa League after failing to hold on to a 2-0 first-leg lead against Dinamo Zagreb at the last-16 stage.

However, they do have the possibility of securing silverware on Sunday when they take on City at Wembley, making the timing of Mourinho's departure a surprise to Rooney.

"I think it's crazy doing it before a cup final - strange timing anyway," the Derby County boss told the media.

"Surely they could have waited until after the cup final if that's the direction they wanted to go in? Jose is a fantastic manager, one of the best managers the game has seen.

"Unfortunately, his time has come to an end at Tottenham, but I'm sure he will bounce back. There will be a lot of top clubs out there looking to bring him in."

Rooney worked with Mourinho during his final season as a Manchester United player, including making a brief cameo appearance off the bench in the Europa League final win over Ajax in 2017.

The former England international feels the Portuguese coach could have helped Spurs produce an upset against City, who saw their hopes of a quadruple ended at the weekend when they exited the FA Cup with a semi-final defeat to Chelsea.

"I just think before a cup final, Mourinho is a manager who loves to win trophies, it's clear to see, he's won a lot of trophies throughout his career," Rooney continued.

"I think if there was one manager to set a team up to play against [Manchester] City, in a cup final, it's Jose Mourinho.

"Now, obviously, Tottenham haven't had the best of seasons, so I think from that point of view, I think it's a bit crazy and is a massive risk.

"I'm sure Daniel Levy could have waited until the day after the game because I think that would have made more sense if they wanted to get rid of Mourinho."

Mourinho had replaced Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs during the previous campaign, steering them to a sixth-placed finish in the league.

Rooney expects the former Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid boss to be in demand around the world, despite his latest ill-fated spell in charge of a club.

"I'm sure there are a lot of teams in England who would love to see him managing their clubs," he said on Mourinho's future. 

"So, that's purely up to him if he wants to go into another club in England. I'm sure there are a lot of clubs around the world who would love to have him."

When FIFA last year announced they were set to introduce limits on the number of players teams could send out on loan, unsurprisingly many people's first thoughts turned to Chelsea.

At the time, the Blues remarkably had 28 players at other clubs, though this was by no means a recent trend: in 2018-19 that figure was 41.

The 'hoarding' of talent might be a solid ploy when looking to stunt the growth of a rival team or generate long-term revenue on Football Manager, but in the real world it was a practice that had long attracted criticism.

While by no means the only club in the world to have lots of young players out on loan, Chelsea have – rightly or wrongly – arguably been the most synonymous with it.

Some feel this has directly contributed to the club's struggles in developing homegrown talent because they have so many players, whereas others believe it offers a greater number of individuals the chance to play first-team football at a higher level than the Under-23s.

Putting aside some of the moral issues, Mason Mount falls into the latter category and proves there is a route to the first team through the fog of war for Chelsea's loan army.

By his own admission Mount needed an extra kick when he was in Chelsea's Under-23s as an 18-year-old, and that led to his temporary switch to the Eredivisie with Vitesse Arnhem, where he won the club's Player of the Year award.

But it's unlikely even he realised how important his next move would be as he linked up with Chelsea great Frank Lampard.

In at the deep end

Mount made 44 appearances across all competitions for Derby County in 2018-19 as they missed out on promotion in the play-off final, but regardless of that ultimate disappointment it proved a massive year for both he and Lampard.

With Maurizio Sarri departing Stamford Bridge to join Juventus despite Europa League success, Lampard was brought back to the club as head coach. Given his status and the trust he placed in young players – and, more pertinently, young players owned by Chelsea – at Derby, Lampard was seen as the ideal candidate to guide the team through a transfer embargo by bringing through homegrown talent.

Whether or not Lampard was a success as Chelsea coach is a discussion for another time, but his faith in Mount was unquestionable, chucking him straight into the team on the first day of the 2019-20 season.

 

The Blues suffered a rather harsh 4-0 defeat at Manchester United, but Mount didn't look out of his depth in the Premier League, playing four key passes over the course of the match.

He never enjoyed a more productive Premier League game in terms of chances created in 2019-20, while he finished the season with 12 goal involvements (seven scored, five set up), a figure bettered by only Tammy Abraham (18), Willian (16) and Christian Pulisic (13) in the Chelsea squad.

Similarly, Willian (76) was the only Chelsea player to lay on more key passes over 2019-20 than Mount's 52 and he appeared in more league games than any of his team-mates (37).

But those points don't quite tell the whole story. To say he was consistent throughout the season would be a lie, as after the turn of the year there was a growing sense of frustration regarding his form. Between the start of November and the final day of the season, his three assists amounted to a couple of corner deliveries for Antonio Rudiger to head home, and a free-kick against Arsenal that Bernd Leno made a mess of. Mount's one open-play assist of 2019-20 came on the final day of the season against Wolves.

 

Some felt Mount was being over-worked by Lampard, others put his issues down to being used in a variety of roles – one week he'd occupy a central midfield position, the next he could be deployed as a winger and then he might play as a No.10.

The "teacher's pet" tag began to raise its head, with Lampard's almost incessant use of Mount leading to suggestions of preferential treatment. 

A star of his own merit

When Thomas Tuchel was hired as Lampard's replacement in January, there wouldn't have been too many particularly worried for Mount's future given he had been a fixture in the team.

But when Mount was dropped for the German's first game in charge, Tuchel's decision certainly made people sit up and take note.

While he explained it away as opting to go with experience, dropping Mount suggested for arguably the first time since his return from Derby that he had a fight on his hands.

But it would be fair to say he's risen to the challenge.

"I understood and wanted to get back into the team, so that motivation and that fire that I have inside me came out," Mount said at a news conference last month. "I really tried to push to get back into the team. It's been brilliant."

Since then, he's become more productive almost across the board in the final third under Tuchel than he had been for Lampard in 2020-21.

 

Seemingly one of the main contributing factors is his role. While Lampard used Mount in numerous positions, Tuchel has largely deployed him further up the pitch in an attempt to get him closer to the opposition's penalty area – activity maps show a significant change between the two coaches' usage of the 21-year-old.

Not only is he involved in passing moves more often as a result, he's contributing to sequences that end in a shot with greater frequency as well. His 72 (7.8 per 90 minutes) during Tuchel's 12 Premier League matches is the second highest in the division since the German's appointment, while his 96 (5.6 per 90 minutes) involvements in Lampard's 18 top-flight games this term was the eighth most.

The expected goals value from these sequences has increased too, going from 0.43 to 0.65 per 90 minutes, meaning Chelsea are creating greater quality chances with Mount further up the pitch.

Furthermore, there's been a considerable improvement in his own productivity. While his chance creation record in the past may have been skewed by set-pieces, he's moved up the rankings in terms of open-play key passes per 90 minutes. With 1.5 each game, only 12 others have done better than Mount since Tuchel's arrival – beforehand, his 1.2 per 90 minutes had him 43rd in those rankings.

 

While he may still be without a single open-play assist in 2020-21, it's clear to see that Mount's strong associative talents and ability to play tidily in busier areas of the pitch make him a real asset to Tuchel, who has acted quickly to shift the England international into a position that seemingly suits him better.

Scoring has been an issue for them, with the likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz continuing to struggle, and this has undoubtedly impacted Mount as his expected assists from open play is 3.5 - with more clinical finishing he wouldn't still be sat on zero.

 

Mount's form lately seems to suggest that once Chelsea begin to click in front of goal, he'll be key to much of their build-up.

A homegrown beacon of hope

Throughout Roman Abramovich's time as Chelsea owner, the club has often found itself in a sort of purgatory – while they've undoubtedly wanted success and a first-team full of homegrown talents, it's difficult to say they've truly struck a balance between the two.

After all, since the start of the century, Chelsea products reaching 100 Premier League appearances for the club have been a rarity.

John Terry, of course, leads the way, but beyond him it becomes a bit murky. John Obi Mikel and Nemanja Matic perhaps come closest to fitting the bill, though both did play senior football elsewhere before joining the club as teenagers.

Granted, Mount remains a little way off yet as well having played 67 times in the top-flight for Chelsea, but he's quickly making up ground.

Not too far behind him are Tammy Abraham (56), Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (both on 54), while Andreas Christensen – at Chelsea since 2013 – has featured 70 times.

What's in store for their long-term futures at Chelsea remains to be seen – they are far less certain than Mount.

But Mount especially shows that where there wasn't much hope for young talent coming through at Chelsea in the past, now there is for arguably the first time in the Abramovich era.

Liverpool's need for defensive reinforcements was always likely to dominate the headlines on transfer deadline day and so it proved as the Premier League champions made two late signings.

Centre-back Ben Davies arrived from Preston North End, while Liverpool made a further addition to the heart of their backline with the loan signing of Ozan Kabak from Bundesliga strugglers Schalke until the end of the season.

Those signings came on a day that saw Joel Matip ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle ligament injury. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are long-term absentees and Liverpool were forced to play Jordan Henderson and Nathaniel Phillips at centre-back in Sunday's win at West Ham.

Heading for the Anfield exit door is Takumi Minamino, the forward moving to Southampton on a six-month loan deal having only joined Liverpool last January.

It came after Southampton loaned veteran Shane Long to promotion-chasing Championship side Bournemouth.

Bournemouth also sanctioned the departure of Joshua King to Everton for a nominal fee until the end of the season.

There were outgoings at Arsenal as well, with Shkodran Mustafi signing for Schalke on a short-term deal and Joe Willock going on loan to Newcastle United, who let DeAndre Yedlin leave for Galatasaray.

Arsenal also sent Ainsley Maitland-Niles to West Brom on loan.

Turkish giants Galatasaray acquired Gedson Fernandes on a temporary deal from Benfica following an unsuccessful stint at Tottenham.

In Serie A, Parma landed Bayern Munich's teenage forward Joshua Zirkzee in a loan deal that contains the option to sign the 19-year-old permanently.

Atalanta are firmly in contention for a top-four finish in Serie A and bolstered their ranks for that push with the capture of Ukraine midfielder Viktor Kovalenko from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Roma can afford to have hopes of a title challenge and brought in teenage full-back Bryan Reynolds from MLS outfit Dallas on an initial loan deal, with an obligation to buy, to help them.

Frozen out at Juventus, midfielder Sami Khedira is back in the Bundesliga following a switch to Hertha Berlin, but one of European football's most exciting talents is heading to Italy after Udinese signed Jayden Braaf on loan from Manchester City with an option to buy.

Elsewhere, Everton defender Jonjoe Kenny joined Celtic on loan for the rest of the season, Brighton and Hove Albion signed highly rated midfielder Moises Caicedo from Independiente del Valle, West Brom loaned Okay Yokuslu from Celta Vigo and defender Teden Mengi moved from Manchester United to Wayne Rooney's Derby County on a temporary basis.

Paul Pogba can make the difference for Manchester United and help them win the Premier League title this season, according to club legend Wayne Rooney.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side overcame an early deficit to defeat Fulham 2-1 on Wednesday, a result that moved them back to the top of the table. 

While Manchester City and Leicester City are just two points adrift – and defending champions Liverpool are six back with a game in hand - Rooney feels his former side have the strength in depth to last the distance. 

United's all-time leading scorer pointed to Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani helping to add a winning mentality to the squad, though Rooney feels Pogba is key to their hopes of success.

"Over the last few years Man United haven't been ready to challenge for the title," Rooney, now appointed as permanent boss at Derby County, told the media on Thursday. 

"Where I think now, they've built a squad of players. Fernandes coming in has helped massively. Cavani, with that winning mentality, has helped massively - now the squad is challenging for the Premier League title.  

"I said six weeks ago to the coaches in the office that I felt Man United will win the league. I still feel that today - and Paul Pogba will have a massive part to play in that. 

"They have bought players in who have a winning mentality, who will relieve a bit of the pressure on Paul and let him do what he does best in showing his quality on the pitch."

Victory at Fulham means United are now unbeaten in their past 17 Premier League away games, equalling their longest ever such run on the road in top-flight history. 

Pogba scored the winner in the 65th minute, his sixth in the competition from outside the penalty area in his career but just the third he has managed with his left foot.  

Having lined up wide on the right in the 0-0 draw with Liverpool at the weekend, the France international was utilised in a deeper central midfield role at Craven Cottage, though still made the most passes in the opposing team's half of any player on the pitch, demonstrating his influence on proceedings.

Pogba, whose long-term future with the Red Devils still remains in some doubt, also managed the only goal of the game in the recent 1-0 triumph at Burnley.

Alex Ferguson says Wayne Rooney has a "presence about him" and is hopeful the legendary forward will succeed in management after announcing his retirement from playing.

Rooney was officially named as Derby County boss on Friday, two months after replacing Phillip Cocu as interim coach.

The 35-year-old enjoyed an incredible playing career that spanned nearly two decades, during which time he won 16 trophies at Manchester United, the majority of those under Ferguson.

He retires as United and England's all-time leading goalscorer and while Ferguson believes that will be an advantage for Rooney, he warned the former forward results were all that mattered as a coach.

"He is England’s top goalscorer, he is Manchester United’s top goalscorer and he has had a fantastic career as a player and it will give him a starting point," Ferguson said on the 'A Team Talk With Legends' panel on Friday.

"But like anyone else it is a results industry and you need to get results. He will know that better than anyone.

"He has had a good start… and he has knowledge of the game, a presence about him and I hope he does well.

"It is a big step for him. He is quite a wealthy young man now with his career in football, so he probably doesn't need to go into management to look after his family, but he wants to do it and that is important.

"There is no point being a manager because someone asks you to be. He went there as a player-coach, he then become player-manager and now he has the manager's job and that's what he wanted. Hopefully he does well.”

England manager Gareth Southgate was also pleased to see Rooney take the helm at Derby.

Rooney joins former England team-mates Steven Gerrard (Rangers), Frank Lampard (Chelsea) and Scott Parker (Fulham) in management.

"He has had an incredible career. I am pleased we have the likes of Wayne, Steven, Frank and Scott Parker – we don't want too many [Jamie] Carraghers sitting on the sofa because those good football brains are gone from the game," Southgate said.

"What you want from an England perspective is young English managers and ex-players to come in and add to the game and help develop young players.

"Those lads have brilliant experiences and it will be a huge challenge of course, but Wayne loves football, has a fantastic brain for football and I wish I had the chance to manage him five years earlier – not be the one to leave him out of the England squad, I'd rather be the one picking him at his peak."

Wayne Rooney called time on one of the greatest playing careers in English football on Friday, vowing: "I wouldn't change a thing."

Since springing to prominence with a stunning goal as a 16-year-old for Everton against Arsenal in 2002, Rooney has achieved feat after feat in the game.

He retires as the record scorer for both Manchester United and England, having won 120 caps and captained his country, and will focus on his new full-time job as manager of Derby County.

Gary Lineker, third on England's all-time goalscoring list behind Rooney and Bobby Charlton, said the new Rams boss had enjoyed "a truly wonderful career on the field".

What is clear is that the 35-year-old Rooney is relishing a career in management, and he has shown impressive early aptitude, with Derby conceding only four goals and losing just twice in their nine league matches under his caretaker leadership.

"For me, to try and help the club get back to its glory days is a massive opportunity," Rooney said.

"My future is in management. I’ve had a great career with a few ups and a few downs, but I wouldn't change anything. But now, I'd like to write some history in my managerial career.

"My whole life has been playing football, so I'm fortunate that I'm still part of it. It's a new chapter for me.

"Will I miss playing? Of course. But, time doesn't stop. I've had my time, it's time for the younger generation to have their time and for me to guide them."

Former England team-mate Steven Gerrard, who is now managing title-chasing Rangers in Scotland, said it had been an "honour" to play alongside Rooney and wished him "good luck" at Derby.

Rooney, who has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the Championship club, is close to lifting Derby out of the relegation zone having taken over at a time when they sat rooted to the foot of the table.

His last competitive match as a player, assuming there is no U-turn, will have been the 3-0 defeat to Middlesbrough on November 25.

He won five Premier League titles with United, along with a Champions League and FA Cup and EFL Cup successes, and in the 2009-10 season he was named PFA Player of the Year.

During his Old Trafford career, which ran from 2004 to 2017, he scored 253 goals, while he netted 53 for England.

Wayne Rooney has been appointed the new Derby County manager after impressing as interim boss.

The former Manchester United and England captain has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the Championship club.

Rooney, 35, has overseen three wins and four draws in nine games since taking temporary charge back in November after Phillip Cocu was sacked with the Rams bottom of the table. They are now 22nd and only in the relegation zone due to goal difference.

The decision to take over as full-time boss means Rooney has officially brought his illustrious playing career to an end.

"When I first arrived back in the United Kingdom I was completely blown away by the potential of Derby County Football Club," Rooney said in a statement. "The stadium, training ground, the quality of the playing staff and the young players coming through and of course the fan base that has remained loyal and supportive.

"Despite other offers I knew instinctively Derby County was the place for me.

"To be given the opportunity to follow the likes of Brian Clough, Jim Smith, Frank Lampard and Phillip Cocu is such an honour and I can promise everyone in involved in the club and all our fans, my staff and I will leave no stone unturned in achieving the potential I have witnessed over the last 12 months of this historic football club."

Rooney's impressive impact upon results has come despite turmoil around the club, including a wage delay, a protracted takeover by Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan and a coronavirus outbreak that forced the closure of the training ground.

Derby kept five clean sheets, conceded only four goals and lost just twice in their first nine matches under Rooney. No side conceded fewer goals in that time and only Brentford suffered fewer defeats (zero).

Rooney initially joined Derby in a player-coach role in January 2020 after spending two years in MLS with DC United.

England and Manchester United's all-time record goalscorer played 35 times for the Rams, the last of which was in a 3-0 defeat to Middlesbrough on November 25.

Liam Rosenior, Shay Given and Justin Walker will all stay on in Rooney's backroom team, with Rosenior named assistant manager. Former England boss Steve McClaren will continue as technical director.

The days of a Rooney scoring spectacular strikes for Manchester United might not be done for good.

Wayne Rooney's record of 253 goals for the Old Trafford outfit remains unmatched, but his son Kai may soon be in pursuit of that benchmark.

The 11-year-old, the former England captain's oldest child, signed for United on Thursday, his dad revealed on Instagram.

The interim Derby County boss uploaded a picture of Kai signing papers at United next to a Rooney number 10 shirt.

"Proud day," Wayne wrote. "Kai signing for @manchesterunited. Keep up the hard work son."

Rooney famously made his Everton debut at just 16, meaning Kai could soon be on the big stage if he can match his father's meteoric trajectory.

Millwall have described themselves as "dismayed and saddened" after supporters at The Den jeered a demonstration in support of Black Lives Matter prior to Saturday's game against Derby County.

Fans are coming back to stadiums in some parts of England - including London - this week amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But their return for the Championship clash between Millwall and Wayne Rooney's Derby was marred by the loud boos that met the players' now customary anti-discrimination display as they took the knee.

The act, popularised in the United States by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, has remained part of elite competition across the world since the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis in May.

Players are demonstrating in support of BLM and against racial injustice and police brutality, but these protests have taken place behind closed doors in English football until now.

A statement from Millwall, who lost 1-0, read: "Millwall Football Club was dismayed and saddened by events which marred Saturday's game against Derby County at The Den.

"The club has worked tirelessly in recent months to prepare for the return of supporters and what should have been a positive and exciting occasion was completely overshadowed, much to the immense disappointment and upset of those who have contributed to those efforts.

"The impact of such incidents is felt not just by the players and management, but by those who work throughout the club and in its Academy and Community Trust, where so many staff and volunteers continue passionate endeavours to enhance Millwall's reputation day after day, year after year.

"The club will not allow their fine work to be in vain.

"The players are continuing to use the biggest platform they have to support the drive for change, not just in football but in society generally.

"There is much work to be done and at Millwall everyone is committed to doing all that is possible, both individually and collectively, to be a force for good and to ensure that the club remains at the forefront of football's anti-discrimination efforts.

"Over the coming days, club, Academy and Community Trust staff will meet with Kick It Out and representatives from other appropriate bodies in an attempt to use Saturday's events as a catalyst for more rapid solutions which have an impact both in the short and long term."

A Football Association spokesperson said on Saturday: "The FA supports all players and staff that wish to take a stand against discrimination in a respectful manner, which includes taking of the knee, and strongly condemns the behaviours of any spectators that actively voice their opposition to such activities."

Frank Lampard believes John Terry could be the ideal man to lift Derby County from the doldrums.

Although Wayne Rooney is in interim charge at Pride Park, there is no guarantee the former Manchester United striker will become permanent manager of the Championship club.

Now 39-year-old Terry, who is assistant manager at Aston Villa, is being linked with the job.

It would be a first experience of being manager of a club for the former Chelsea and England captain, a team-mate of Lampard with club and country.

But with Lampard having spent a year as Derby boss before being handed the Stamford Bridge top job, he sees it as an ideal club for Terry.

"I think John is destined to be a manager. He is obviously working very well alongside Dean Smith over the last few years at Aston Villa, so would have been learning a lot," Lampard said.

"But what John knows and his experiences in the game as a player will be huge, I know that from playing alongside him so long what he has to offer.

"I think it is a great opportunity potentially for him if true and for Derby."

Former England manager Steve McClaren has been helping out Rooney, but it remains to be seen if the club's owners wish to retain that partnership.

Terry may be seen as a man with not only the passion but the right kind of coaching experience to step in and lift the club off the foot of the table.

Speaking in a Chelsea news conference on Tuesday, Lampard added: "John will be a hungry, ambitious manager, whether it's Derby or whatever other opportunities come his way as he goes along.

"I don't know anything [about the Derby link] but John is going to be a fantastic coach in my opinion."

Former Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney will be in sole charge of Derby County this weekend as he takes his first steps in management.

Rooney, a player-coach at Derby, has shared responsibility of the first team since Phillip Cocu was sacked earlier this month.

The veteran forward was joined by Liam Rosenior, Shay Given and Justin Walker in the coaching set-up, but the Rams lost at both Bristol City and Middlesbrough without scoring.

Hindered by a points deduction, Derby are bottom of the Championship table, six points shy of safety and winless in nine.

With a takeover imminent, the club have made a change, promoting Rooney in a decision the new interim coach hopes will provide "clarity".

Rooney, who will not play at home against Wycombe on Saturday, revealed technical director and former England boss Steve McClaren - returning to Derby this week - was "part of that conversation".

"For the two previous games, the four of us did it together, preparing the team and picking the team together," Rooney said.

"We felt that it needed one voice, one person to do that and make the decisions on the team, the starting team and obviously the subs coming into the game.

"We felt I felt I was the right man for that. That's where we're at.

"It's obviously exciting for me to do that. Management is something I've always said I wanted to go into. It's an opportunity for me to try to pick the right team to get us a positive result."

Despite his eagerness to kickstart his coaching career, Rooney refused to look beyond Saturday's match.

"Tomorrow is so important to us that we have to focus on tomorrow," he said. "We can't focus on what happens in the long term just yet.

"There will be conversations, obviously, but we have to focus on tomorrow and can't look too far ahead. It wouldn't be fair on the players to be looking at what happens in the next few weeks.

"We have to solely focus on tomorrow's game and then the new owners will be in, I'm sure, in the next few days. Once that's complete, there will conversations and we'll see where that goes.

"I wouldn't sit here and say I'm auditioning myself for the job. This football club deserves better than that. It deserves better than someone saying they're having an audition."

Rooney believes he could not juggle the new role with playing - at least for now.

"Obviously I played the last game, but if I'm making decisions on who plays the game and doesn't play the game and the preparation of the team, I wouldn't be able to give it my full attention and still be part of the game," he said.

"I won't be involved in the game tomorrow. I'll be focusing on getting the team right to play the game."

Asked if he would miss the opportunity to use a player of his talents on the pitch, Rooney replied: "Of course, but as I said before, this is what I want to do, this is what I see myself doing.

"As much as you'd like to carry on playing for as long as you can, there comes a point where you have to make decisions. For tomorrow, I think it's the right decision."

Derby County have announced that a deal has been agreed "in principle" for the sale of the Championship club to a company owned by the Abu Dhabi royal family.

The Rams are currently owned by Mel Morris, who became their sole owner in September 2015, but the Derby businessman has recently been seeking to sell up to bring greater investment into the club.

Derby issued a statement on Friday which said that negotiations between Morris and Derventio Holdings, which is owned by Sheikh Khaled Zayed Bin Saquer Zayed Al Nayhan, had now reached a favourable outcome.

Sheikh Khaled is the cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Derby claim his proposed takeover has been approved by the EFL.

A statement from the Rams said: "Derby County owner and executive chairman Mel Morris has been in discussion with Derventio Holdings since May in relation to taking over the ownership the club.

"These talks progressed to the point where a deal has, in principle, been agreed between the two parties. The club's submission under the owners' and directors' test for Derventio was approved by the EFL board on Thursday.

"Derventio Holdings may now proceed with the transaction, which is expected to close very soon."

Derby, who are managed by former Netherlands international Phillip Cocu and have ex-England and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney in their squad, are currently 23rd in the Championship table.

The Rams have reached the Championship play-offs four times in the previous seven seasons but have missed out on promotion to the top flight on each occasion.

Derby were last in the Premier League in 2007-08 when they were relegated after just one season with a record low 11 points.

Bournemouth will start life back in the Championship at home to Blackburn Rovers, while Watford host Middlesbrough and Norwich City travel to Huddersfield Town.

The Cherries were relegated after a five-year stay in the Premier League, while Watford and Norwich were also demoted in a top-flight campaign that was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

That halt means the new Championship season starts on September 12, with beaten play-off finalists Brentford travelling to Birmingham City on the opening day, while south Wales rivals Cardiff City and Swansea City – who also made the top six – host Sheffield Wednesday and visit Preston North End respectively.

Wycombe Wanderers – playing in the second tier for the first time – welcome fellow new boys Rotherham United for their first game, while Coventry City's return to the Championship starts with a trip to Bristol City.

Derby County and Barnsley start at home against Reading and Luton Town, with Stoke City and Nottingham Forest heading to London to face Millwall and QPR.

Bournemouth host Norwich in the third round of matches, the same weekend Watford renew acquaintances with fierce rivals Luton. Watford and the Canaries face off at Vicarage Road on December 26.

The three relegated teams will hope to be in the promotion hunt come the final day on May 8, with Bournemouth and Watford at home to Stoke and Swansea, while Norwich go to Barnsley.

Derby County goalkeeper Scott Carson will spend a second season on loan at Manchester City. 

The former England international spent the 2019-20 campaign with Pep Guardiola's side as third choice keeper behind Ederson and Claudio Bravo. 

City have signed the 34-year-old on for another season, so he appears to have played his last game with Championship side Derby as his contract expires in June 2021. 

Carson will again provide cover for Ederson, with Zack Steffen set to be the Brazilian's understudy after the United States international returned from a loan spell with Fortuna Dusseldorf. 

Former Barcelona keeper Bravo has left the Etihad Stadium after his contract expired. 

Juventus' elimination from the Champions League spelled the end for Maurizio Sarri and the start of a new era under Andrea Pirlo.

Despite leading the Bianconeri to a ninth straight Scudetto in 2019-20, Sarri was fired after Juve crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage to Lyon on Friday.

Pirlo was at the heart of Juve's brilliant midfield during the start of their Serie A dominance, winning four Scudetti, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana twice during a four-year stint that ended when he moved to New York City in 2015.

A week after returning to Juve as their Under-23 boss, Pirlo was handed the reins of the first team ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

He is not the first club legend to go back and manage a team they played for, though, and we have taken a look at the biggest successes and failures.

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away in May 2018, only to return 10 months later. He has already won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana in his second stint.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job in 2014. Pirlo will have to get the better of his former coach Conte, now at Inter, if he is to maintain the Bianconeri's run of titles.

Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning just 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league position in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

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