Pep Clotet appointed Oxford manager

Oxford have announced the appointment of former Leeds assistant head coach Pep Clotet as their new manager.

The 40-year-old Spaniard, also Garry Monk's number two at Swansea, replaces Michael Appleton at the Kassam Stadium.

Appleton, after leading Oxford into Sky Bet League One during the 2015-16 campaign, opted to leave the club last month to become assistant to Craig Shakespeare at Leicester.

Clotet has previous managerial experience at Cornella, Figueres, Espanyol B and Malaga B in Spain as well as Swedish side Halmstad.

"I am delighted that Pep has chosen to launch his managerial career at Oxford United," chairman Darryl Eales told the club's official website.

"It is an appointment that demonstrates our growing reputation within football as a forward-looking and ambitious club.

"Pep is a proven coach, progressive and hugely knowledgeable, and I believe we are fortunate to have attracted such a highly-regarded individual who is destined for an outstanding managerial career.

"Pep was the unanimous choice of the board and we believe he will build on the significant progress we have made over the past three years and accelerate our collective objective of sustainable Championship status."

Clotet announced on Twitter last month that he would not be linking up again with Monk at Middlesbrough.

He said: "I'm really thrilled to be embarking on this new challenge at a club as ambitious as Oxford United.

"It's an exciting prospect and I'll be giving my all to ensure that as a team, and with the fans' support, we go on and achieve the targets we set ourselves.

"I wish to thank the chairman, Darryl Eales, and his board of directors for placing their faith in me."


Peterborough new signing Ricky Miller explains bite which led to six-game ban

New Peterborough striker Ricky Miller has claimed he was forced into biting an opponent because he was being held in a headlock at the time and was "struggling to breathe".

Miller was found guilty of violent conduct by the Football Association on Wednesday while playing for his previous club Dover in a National League match at Guiseley in March.

The 28-year-old was banned for the first six matches of next season - a decision which Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony described as "unfortunate news".

But prolific scorer Miller, who joined his hometown club Peterborough last month, says he was forced into his actions because of the behaviour of a Guiseley opponent.

"I would just like to take this opportunity to put into a bit of context the six-match ban that I have received from the Football Association relating to an incident while playing for Dover Athletic at the back end of last season," Miller said in a statement on Peterborough's website.

"Whilst I apologise for my actions, I was in a situation in which I was struggling to breathe.

"I was being held in a headlock by an opponent for six seconds, and felt it was my only option to get out of it which was acknowledged by the Football Association.

"It is important to put the incident into a bit of context because I am aware without knowing the full story, people can make judgements, which are not accurate.

"It will be frustrating to miss the start of the season, but I will be working extremely hard during the pre-season campaign to get myself in the best possible shape to be ready for when I can be called upon for selection.

"I am delighted to be playing for Peterborough United Football Club. Everybody has made me feel welcome and I am looking forward to repaying the faith shown in me."

Miller joined Sky Bet League One Peterborough on a three-year deal after making his name in the National League.

The former Luton player won the competition's player of the year award after netting 42 goals in 43 games last term - a haul which included five hat-tricks.


Safe standing in Football League moves closer as Shrewsbury apply for rail seats

Shrewsbury have become the first English club to apply for the introduction of safe standing at their ground.

The Sky Bet League One side is aiming to create a safe standing area with a capacity of around 500 in the Salop Leisure Stand.

Shrewsbury's stadium, Greenhouse Meadow, was built 10 years ago and is one of 29 in the Football League which can currently apply for safe standing.

Clubs in England's top two divisions have been legally required to have all-seater grounds since the measure was recommended by the 1990 Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster.

Should Shrewsbury win approval from the Sports Ground Safety Authority, then they would become the first all-seater stadium in England and Wales to introduce safe standing.

"There's a clear demand from our fans for an area where they can stand safely," Roger Groves, the joint-chairman of the club's Supporters' Parliament, told the Shrewsbury website.

"We see that at every game with several hundred choosing to stand at their seats, which is not altogether safe.

"Rail seats will ensure that nobody falls over no matter how wildly they celebrate a goal and, by having a dedicated standing area, we believe that the overall atmosphere in the stadium will also be enhanced."

The Premier League recently wrote to its 20 clubs asking if they would be interested in taking part in a trial to reintroduce standing sections in their grounds.

Ladbrokes Premiership champions Celtic installed 2,600 rail seats - seats that can be flipped down or locked into an upright position, with safety barriers separating each row - at Parkhead last season and it was considered a major success.

"As a Scot, I am very familiar with the great success that Celtic have had with their rail seating section," said Shrewsbury chief executive Brian Caldwell.

"So when the Supporters' Parliament approached me about introducing the same concept here, I was immediately keen on the idea.

"Our safety officer has also visited Celtic Park recently and is all for it."

Shrewsbury plan to replicate Celtic's method and are raising the funds required through a crowdfunding campaign.

"We see it as an enhancement in spectator safety and a welcome provision of supporter choice," added Caldwell.

"We hope, too, that by pioneering the use of rail seating in the EFL, we will be playing a useful part in paving the way for other clubs in England and Wales to follow suit in due course."


Rochdale midfielder Joe Thompson announces he has beaten cancer for second time

Rochdale midfielder Joe Thompson has revealed he has beaten cancer for the second time.

The 28-year-old announced on his Twitter feed on Wednesday evening that he is "cancer-free" after the nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma with which he originally was diagnosed in 2013 and battled successfully struck once again.

Thompson tweeted: "Let me just confirm! #TWICE means I'm in complete remission!! Simple terms I'm cancer free. Extra Time & Penalties but THOMPSON 2 Cancer 0."

He later added: "I'll write a best selling book one day."

The player revealed the cancer had returned in March, but vowed to meet it head on.

He said in a statement: "I came back from a goal down before, not only to equalise, but to take the lead.

"This illness may have found an equaliser, but the quest for me to get the winner starts today and I can assure you I will get the most important win of all time."

Thompson underwent six months of chemotherapy after cancer first struck before returning to football in August 2014.

His second diagnosis prompted him to launch a fresh fight with the support of his wife Chantelle and daughter Thailula-Lily, his home-town club, manager Keith Hill and his team-mates.

He said at the time: "I will fight this life hurdle with the same belief, courage and desire as my previous battle."


Clubs vote in favour of retaining current format of Checkatrade Trophy

Premier League Under-21 teams are set to continue competing in the Checkatrade Trophy for the next two seasons.

Clubs in League One and League Two have voted in favour of retaining top-flight youth sides in the competition following this term's trial format.

The League One and League Two clubs voted on whether to retain the current format, revert to a 48-team knockout competition or scrap the tournament altogether.

And two thirds of the English Football League (EFL) clubs canvassed voted in favour of extending the Premier League youth outfits' continued participation.

"The history of the EFL Trophy is one of new ideas and innovation, but at its heart has always been the belief that this is an opportunity for League One and League Two clubs to taste cup success," said EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey.

"I am therefore delighted to see the backing the Checkatrade Trophy has received from our clubs for the next two seasons, following a full and comprehensive review of this year's pilot format."

The EFL has also moved to make reassurances that the inclusion of Premier League youth teams is not the forerunner to the addition of top-flight B teams to league competition.

"The EFL have assured clubs that it isn't the thin end of the wedge in terms of Premier League clubs being able to enter B teams into the league," said Luton manager Nathan Jones.

"I know our supporter groups have been consulted all the way through by the club's board when giving our views, and hopefully any fears they had on that front have been allayed."

The EFL has increased the competition's total prize fund to £3million, with the invited Under-21s teams continuing to be required to field six players in their starting XI under the age of 21.

Coventry lifted the 2016 trophy courtesy of a 2-1 win over Oxford at Wembley in April, with manager Mark Robins now backing the tournament's continued format.

"The Checkatrade Trophy has been an invaluable experience for those players at an under-21 level to participate in senior football. It will certainly aid their development moving forward," he said.

"We won the competition with what was primarily a young team, and if you can get to Wembley and experience a fixture in front of that many fans at the National Stadium, it can only be a positive."


Swindon Town terminate Nile Ranger contract.

On Friday evening Swindon Town and Nile Ranger came to an agreement to terminate the Striker contract. Nile Ranger hasn’t played for Swindon since Valentine’s Day due to a hamstring injury picked up against Colchester in the 0-0 draw played at the County Ground

The club statement which came through yesterday evening

“Following on from yesterday’s disciplinary meeting with Nile Ranger and his PFA representative, Swindon Town can confirm that both the club and Nile Ranger have mutually agreed to a termination of Nile’s contract with immediate effect”

This was the last straw for Swindon Town Board after the striker off the field problems sparked off again. There was a video that went viral on the Daily Mirror website last weekend when Ranger kicked down a door in the block of flats he is living in Swindon and struck a woman three times. A couple days later the striker handed himself into the local police and was charged with criminal damage.

As far back in January before the league game against Peterborough there was talk that the Board and Ranger would come to an agreement to terminate his contract but that was put on hold. Since his injury the off the field problems have re-surfaced, Ranger was cleared of Rape in March in a court case in Newcastle. But there were more incidents as Nile Ranger was arrested for drink driving and in Liverpool he was arrested for criminal damage on a taxi in the early hours of the morning.

Magic Jackett

On a fine spring Black Country day, those at Molineux witnessed not only unfamiliar conditions but a recently unfamiliar outcome. Wolverhampton Wanderers have been riding on a crest of a wave, crashing in results and performances that have swept Kenny Jackett's team to summit of League 1. Here they were looking to expand on the club's record breaking sequence of 9 consecutive wins and take any advantage that may present itself from the game between Leyton Orient and Brentford, the Black Country club's closest league rivals.

The day however, was to end in disappointment for the league leaders. In front of what was this season's 2nd largest Molineux crowd Shrewsbury Town frustrated their hosts, who showed none of the recent vibrancy, to the point that Jackett will no doubt view the result as another valuable point. Prior to kick off there was a warm welcome back to Molineux for the man who oversaw what is probably the most transformative period in Wolverhampton Wanderers history. Graham Turner managed the club from 1986 to 1994, a period in which he took training in the Molineux car park and a racecourse, as well as Wolves to a Wembley victory.

It was Turner who rejuvenated the club. Stealing Steve Bull, Andy Thompson and Robbie Dennison from West Brom, all of whom figured heavily in the clubs meteoric rise from the doldrums of English football’s 4th Division, to within touching distance of the top tier. And there are some comparisons to be made here with Wolves’ current plight.

At the start of the season many had Wolves as nailed on promotion favourites. With a large squad, swollen with talent and experienced professionals, a sure financial footing and the added benefit of a further Premier League parachute payment, who could argue? On the face of it, it didn’t seem fair.

However like Turner, Jackett took the helm at a club in crisis. Successive relegations and a litany of misguided decisions made by the Molineux hierarchy meant that this wasn’t to be the stroll in the park that most outside of Wolverhampton would assume.  Instead some foresaw Wolves on the precipice of a further disaster and a prolonged spell outside of English football’s top 2 tiers.

But Jackett dealt with the issues early on, in a calm and considered approach, reminiscent of his predecessor Turner, but not without grit and steel. His eyes were clearly wide open when accepting the role at Wolves. Almost his first action was to banish some of the club main assets to training away from the 1st team. These players were identified by Jackett as having no part to play in his Wolves. It was a bold move to turn his back on what some saw as the pernicious presence of Johnson, Henry, O’Hara and Ward but he managed the situation in a faultlessly even handed manner, never apportioning blame. It was just the next step. Others moved on Tongo Doumbia to Valenciennes (on loan), Steven Hunt, Christophe Berra, Adam Hammill, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.

Whilst moving players on he also began to bring fresh faces in. Golbourne from Barnsley, McDonald from Sheffield United, Leigh Griffiths was dragged away from a Scottish loan posting for the first time in his Wolves career and Sam Ricketts arrived from Bolton. Some of the old Molineux guard remained, clearly those that Jackett felt he could rely on, in Stearman, Sako, Elokobi, Foley, Hennesey and most surprisingly Kevin Doyle. However the fact that only two of those remain as first choice players in March, shows the extent to which Jackett has made this team his own.

He also looked to the club’s academy, much overlooked in the past, for answers. There he found first teamers in waiting in Danny Batth and Jack Price. Also Evans, Ebanks-Landell and Doherty would get their opportunities as would McCary, McAllindon and Cassidy although to a lesser extent.

The malicious fug of spite that had hung over the club, the board, the players and the fans was beginning to clear. It seems to me this is almost entirely down to Kenny Jackett. Maybe the board deserve some credit for what at the time seemed an understated and if truth be told, underwhelming appointment. Probably that was exactly what was needed. Kenny Jackett was, it seems, exactly what was needed.

What has happened since has seen a renewed sense of belief flourishing from those who follow Wolverhampton Wanderers. Obviously League 1 is not where the fans want to be, but top is top and besides the grimness of the journey down, they seem to be enjoying this seasons ride with bumper away attendances all over the country. This is doubtless helped by the style of the football being played, not always a Wolverhampton speciality, which in some reckoning is some of the best since the 70s.

McDonald, Jacobs, Henry, Price, Batth, Sako and Dicko have all stood out at times this season. These, with the exception of Sako, are Jacketts men. But this Wolves is built on a strong and positive collective spirit and an honesty that the fans can relate to. Just as they did with Bull, Mutch, Dennison, Downing et al in Turner’s day.

So Jackett takes his Wolves to Crawley on Tuesday for a rearranged fixture looking to get back to winning ways in what is the final stretch of the season. Whatever the result on Tuesday at Broadfield, Wolves should have enough to gain an automatic promotion place, although it won’t be easy and Orient and Brentford seem certain to push them all the way.

If Wolves do gain promotion this season, Jackett rightly will deserve a large slice of the credit. The way he’s artfully brought players in, shipped players out, utilised the academy and developed his team into an effective, talented and stylish team, all whilst handling the famous Molineux expectation is admirable. Despite their pre-season billing as champions elect and Jackett’s effortless, unflappable demeanour, being in the Wolves hot seat is never an easy ride.