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Three Lions in potential UEFA Nations League exit

Last Updated: 12/10/2026 10:00pm

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Sancho celebrates his goal against Croatia


England's hopes of making the semi-final stage of the UEFA Nations League are hanging by a thread after the Three Lions could only muster one point from their away double header against the Netherlands and Croatia. The results mean that only a win for Croatia in Eindhoven and a home win at Wembley will guarantee England a spot in the final four in the tournament which they won in 2025 thanks to a Harry Kane penalty.

Now the holders face elimination after two less than impressive showings.

On a balmy evening in Amsterdam, an error by Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn gave the host nation the driving seat in Group A3 with a second successive group win. Gunn spilled a curling free kick from Liverpool's Frenkie de Jong straight into the path of defensive midfielder Diego van de Kreeke and the Wolfsburg man couldn't miss the simple chance presented to him. England's matters were not improved when star striker Kane walked off injured with suspected rib damage after just 54 minutes, putting his participation for the Croatia game in doubt.

The Dutch could have had more with Dave Heatubun of Manchester United wasting the best of the opportunities, whilst England's best chance came late on when Delé curled one wide in the closing stages.

England lined up in Amsterdam as follows:

Gunn; Alexander-Arnold ©, Gomez, Laycock, Chilwell; Armstrong, Clark; Byers, Foden, Rashford; Kane. Substitiutes: Nketiah (for Kane 54), Delé (for Clark 70), Smith-Rowe (for Byers 70)

A late, late equaliser denied the Three Lions three points in the Makisimir Stadium and left England Head Coach Mark Duell ruing his team's lack of concentration in the final seconds.

In front of a partisan home crowd, Croatia took the lead in the 13th minute when Mateo Kovacic cut open the England on his own to place an effort beyond debutant goalkeeper Dean Henderson. The Olympiacos custodian was one of four changes Duell opted to make after the Netherlands loss and produced a series of good saves to keep his nation in the contest. Also coming into the side were John Stones (for Craig Laycock), Reiss Nelson (for Steveroy Byers) and Jadon Sancho (for Harry Kane). Kane had been deemed not fully recovered from his rib injury sustained in Amsterdam and this allowed Marcus Rashford to push forward.

Needing a much improved second half showing, Duell's men lifted their performance but it was still a long way from what the nation expected. The equaliser came in the 57th minute when half time substitute Delé placed the ball over the top and Nelson's first time cross was headed home by Sancho on his recall to the national side. Delé also had a hand in the goal that gave England the lead in the 69th minute, another weighted pass caught out Croatia and whilst they dawdled and looked for an offside that was never coming; Rashford was left one on one with Josip Posavec.

The Manchester United star showed incredible composure to side step the keeper and then lift the ball over him into the far corner. Surely England would have enough time to see this out? Well, you would have thought so but Croatia had other ideas. The home support increased their raucous vocal level and were rewarded in the second of five minutes added on. England came unstuck at a corner and after a spot of pinball, full back Borna Sosa drilled home his first international goal from eight yards out. The home nation erupted, England crestfallen. It was the fitting end to a very entertaining international.

England's team in Croatia was as follows:

Henderson; Alexander-Arnold ©, Gomez, Stones, Chilwell; Armstrong, Clark; Nelson, Foden, Sancho, Rashford. Substitutes: Delé (for Armstrong HT), Smith-Rowe (for Foden 56), Sessegnon (for Chilwell 77)
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2026-27: End of October Summary


A four game spell played in another truncated month because of yet another international week. Could we pick up a much needed win?

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MATCHDAY 9 - Saturday 3 October 2026
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The last game in September had seen us, with our new formation, gain a superb draw at St James Park but would the momentum continue when we hosted a Leeds United that have had a great return back to the Premier League. Our situation was not helped by the fact that the disciplinary chiefs had increased Cristiàn Cuevas' suspension from one game to three which meant that with Thomas Eaton still not match fit, young Peter Brown stayed in the left wing back role. After soaking up plenty of opening pressure, we took the lead in the 14th minute thanks to a deft header from Brijan Ibrahimi after a superb cross from Connor Roberts. It was Albanian Brian's second of the season.

Considering we were on home turf, Leeds absolutely battered us. They had 35 shots on our net (we had 18 on theirs) but they were wasteful otherwise we could have been on the end of a mauling. They thought they had equalised just before the half hour when Lucas Romero blasted in from range but good old VAR saved us with an offside decision against the Whites Nicolàs Gonzalez. Yet they did equalise three minutes before half time when Nedim Barjami lashed in a shot that had Jasper Schendelaar watching the ball whizz past him like a rocket. Neither side could breakthrough after that and we secured a backs to the wall point against an opponent who should have won convincingly.

MATCHDAY 10 - Monday 19 October 2026
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Another backs to the wall performance gained us another point on a rainy Monday night on the South Coast. Just like Leeds in the previous game, Bournemouth should have won but failed to take their chances when presented. Our back three had to work hard but they came through this latest examination with a pass. We could have even shocked all and sundry with a winner in the final throes of the game, substitute Ronaldo Vieira heading over the bar from a Jack Harrison corner. But have we used up our luck now?

The game also saw a début for Eaton, despite not being 100 per cent fit, as I opted to take young Brown out of the firing line even though he had done a good job deputising. It will certain help the youngster's development now he knows how much a step up it is from Under 23's football to that in the first team and in the Premier League too.

MATCHDAY 11 - Saturday 24 October 2026
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Our penultimate game of October saw us take on Fulham at Deepdale. We certainly owed our visitors one after they had dumped us out of the Carabao Cup last month, and I made sure that the team were reminded about it in the dressing room pre-game. Cuevas had completed his three game suspension whilst Nikola Vukcevic was given a rest after playing a heck of a lot of football recently. In fact it was his Montegrin international colleague Ongjen Stijepovic who put us ahead with a stupendous strike from the edge of the area in the 24th minute. As soon as it left his boot; you just knew where it was going..top bins! I think Fulham keeper Rubén Blanco is still looking for it now. Unstoppable from Ongjen.

Yet we couldn't hold on as the Cottagers took home, in fairness, a deserved point from an end to end game. That came in the 72nd minute when Nahuel Leiva directed a header into the bottom corner. Yet like at Bournemouth, we could have taken the points late on. First of all, Ollie Watkins shot wide when it looked easier to score then with the last chance of the game, Stijepovic clipped the bar with a header from a Cuevas corner kick.

MATCHDAY 12 - Saturday 31 October 2026
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We held a team meeting to try and pick up team morale in the week before the game at Pride Park, and Derby manager James Beattie stoked the fires further prior to kick off by claiming I don't rely on home grown players and we're overrated. Well that was just the motivation we needed to gain our first win in eight and extend our unbeaten run to five. Kasey Palmer was given the chance to re-establish himself after a spell out injured whilst on loan Frenchman Vincent Morel led the line once more as we looked to find the perfect blend.

In fact it was Morel who opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a low shot inside the D that zipped off the wet turf and in. We were then awarded a penalty in the 32nd minute when Watkins was fouled by Lewis Baker but Palmer's effort from 12 yards was saved by Pigliacelli low to his right. Derby were making Beattie angry as they failed to convert chance after chance, and you just knew we would make them pay for that. Our second of the afternoon came in the 62nd minute, some fancy work from an inspired Morel saw him tee up the returning Palmer who blasted a shot into Pigliacelli's top corner leaving the former AS Roma keeper no chance at all.

The icing on the cake came seven minutes from time when we were awarded a second penalty in the game for a foul on Stijepovic by Hakan Çalhanoglu, Cuevas stepped up and hammered the spot kick home. 3000 North End fans started doing the conga, a number of Rams fans headed for the exits. The new formation seems to be working a dream...well, for now at least!

So this is how the Premier League stands at the end of October:

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An unbeaten month and whilst we are still in the bottom half of table, we can see a bit of daylight appearing. There's an astonishing nine points gap between us and 18th placed Cardiff. Plus the goal difference factor is well in our favour too, and to me that's crucial especially at this level indeed. The team seem to have adapted to the new tactic and I'm now more hopeful we can start to climb the table a bit further. However, we need to keep our feet firmly on terra firma and not get too carried away. Three bad results and we could be where we don't want to be, it's all about picking up the points no matter how.

If we can hit 20 points by the end of the first half of the season then perhaps we can still start to believe in survival. Oh as for the takeover, still talking....
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October 2026 Award Winners


A look now to see who won what in the monthly awards.

Manager of the Month:
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And we have our third different winner of the Manager of the Month award, but it's not me. The winner this month Arsenal's Swedish Head Coach Mats Gren, so as they say "Grattis Mats" in his home nation. Gren took the award in a tight battle with Red Devils boss Diego Simeone, both having identical 100% records. The difference, Gren won his in one less game.

Player of the Month:
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Winning the Player of the Month award is Chelsea's French midfield maestro, Cusiance is in his third season at the Bridge and is having a bit of a breakout season, scoring virtually every other game. Guess who's gonna be man marked when we play Chelsea? Second and third place went to the Manchester United duo of Leon Bailey and Mario Ricci, yeah the latter who cost United £104 million in the summer..

Young Player of the Month:
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The winner of the Young Player of the Month is City's highly rated Belgian central defender. The press have him down as a wonderkid so you can also imagine they're drawing comparisons with a certain Vincent Kompany. Last month's winner Wladimir of Arsenal finished runner-up and third placed was none other than our own Corrado Pantanelli. Considering Corrado only played twice, he is making a bit of an impression already.

Goal of the Month:
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So the winner of October's Goal of the Month is Manchester United's Leon Bailey for a stunning solo strike where he scythed his way through the Cardiff City defender like a knife through hot butter before netting. No place though for Vincent Morel's stunner against Derby then or Ongjen Stijepovic's howitzer against Fulham? Guess if either these players played for a bigger club than us then they might have been included.
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2026-27: November Preview


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A short three game span in November which again is truncated by yet another international football period.

We start the eleventh month of the year 2026 with a home game against London giants Chelsea. The Blues last won the league in 2017 under Antonio Conte before he departed after the following season despite a winning percentage of over 65%. Since his departure, Chelsea have been managed by Maurizio Sarri and French football legend Zinedine Zidane who lasted less than two years in the Blues hot seat. The current manager is Hungarian Pál Dárdai who has been in charge for almost five years. He's picked up three trophies in that time and at the moment doesn't seem to be becoming Roman Abramovich's 15th different full time manager since the oligarch took them over in 2003.

Opponent Expected Finishing Position: 4th
Player to Watch: Jagoba Alonso - a young Spanish striker who is now in his second season at Stamford Bridge after signing from Athletico Bilbao for £105 million last June. Alonso repaid a chunk of his large transfer fee with 17 goals in his first campaign as the Blues finished 3rd last season; an astonishing 21 points behind eventual winners Manchester United. With 4 goals in just 8 appearances for his nation so far, big things are expected from a player who is expected to lead their front line for years to come.

After yet another international break, the third one this season so far, we resume our domestic campaign with the first of two successive away games. This first one takes us to the home of the 2015-16 Premier League Champions, the Foxes of Leicester City. Jamie Vardy is no more leading the line, and the club themselves have an unknown manager in charge. That man is 40 year old Swede Joakim Rydberg, who arrived at the King Power Stadium in March after 14 months in charge at Crystal Palace. Other than a couple of Manager of the Year awards in Sweden with AIK, little is known about him as he has not won any trophies since his managerial début with Norrby in 2019. A proper unknown quantity.

Opponent Expected Finishing Position: 8th
Player to Watch: Dylan Clayton; a promising winger who that has done well since his joining the Foxes in the summer from Sheffield United for a fee that could reach £43.5 million inclusive of add ons. The 20 year old has already made an international impression with 4 goals in just 8 Under 21 appearances and is one to keep an eye on for the future. Quick and direct, Clayton has many admirers and is also eligible to represent the Republic of Ireland as his grandfather comes from Limerick.

We conclude the month of November with a game that some are already calling Mission Impossible for us as we make the trip down the East Lancs Road to take on league leaders and four time Premier League Champions, Manchester City. Still backed by Sheikh Mansour's billions, City are now managed by former Dortmund, PSG, Bayern and Milan Head Coach Thomas Tuchel. Tuchel arrived at the end of May after Massimilano Allegri was sacked just 14 days after winning the FA Cup Final. City will be hoping that the German's arrival will bring them a fifth Premier League crown, the last arriving as far back as 2020 when they also won the Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA World Cup and Champions League too.

Opponent Expected Finishing Position: 2nd
Player to Watch: Leroy Sané; the German winger has played in over 400 games for the Citizens since arriving in 2016 and has picked up silverware in abundance. He's still a regular on the international stage for Die Mannschaft and always is a potent threat to any opponent. Capable of playing on either wing, left side preferred, or occasionally behind the front man: Sané is a world class player that teams need to be at their best to stop.
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Duell shuffles his international pack again; stalwarts Stones and Holding are notable absentees.

Last Updated: 05/11/2026 12:00pm

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England Head Coach Mark Duell has announced his latest 23 man squad which will form the basis for the friendly against Uruguay as well as the potential UEFA Nations League decider against the Netherlands. Once more Duell has made a few changes from his previous squad and this squad sees a recall for Eric Dier who missed out with injury last month whilst both John Stones and Rob Holding are both dropped.

Duell commented:

"Of the three squads I have named so far, this was a very hard one to name. Naturally some players will feel a bit disappointed to miss out but as I re-iterate: the door is not closed to anyone. If I think they merit inclusion then I will include them. England are blessed with plenty of options in every position and this squad is no exception.

We will have a good workout against a formidable opponent in Uruguay before taking on the Netherlands in what might be a must win game for us if we want to retain our UEFA Nations League crown. Then again that might be taken out of our hands. Either way, the 23 selected are the chosen ones. Nobody is a guaranteed pick, we will be continually looking to plan for the future."

The squad is as follows:

GOALKEEPERS:
Jack Butland (Tottenham Hotspur, 54 caps/0 goals)
Angus Gunn (Southampton, 14 caps/0 goals)
Dean Henderson (Olympiacos, 1 cap/0 goals)

DEFENDERS:
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool, 95 caps/6 goals)
Joe Gomez (Liverpool, 74 caps/5 goals)
Ben Chilwell (Arsenal, 70 caps/3 goals)
Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur, 129 caps/14 goals)
Ethan Laird (Southampton, 1 cap/0 goals)
Craig Laycock (Southampton, 6 caps/0 goals)
Anthony Davles (Wolverhampton Wanderers, 3 caps/0 goals)
Declan Rice (Valencia CF, 41 caps/2 goals)
Richard Latham (Southampton, 0 caps/0 goals)

MIDFIELDERS:
Dominic Clark (Manchester United, 6 caps/0 goals)
Lewis Cook (Leicester City, 40 caps/3 goals)
Dylan Clayton (Leicester City, 0 caps/0 goals)
Delé Alli (Tottenham Hotspur, 121 caps/27 goals)
Ryan Sessegnon (Manchester City, 33 caps/1 goal)
Jadon Sancho (Chelsea, 55 caps/12 goals)
Emile Smith-Rowe (Arsenal, 12 caps/2 goals)

FORWARDS:
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur, 137 caps/91 goals)
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United, 132 caps/58 caps)
Eddie Nketiah (Manchester United, 22 caps/7 goals)
Tammy Abraham (Cardiff City, 2 caps/0 goals)
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Henderson suffers Three Lions injury blow; Pickford announced as replacement

Last Updated: 08/11/2026 12:00pm

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England Head Coach Mark Duell has been forced into a change from his initial 23 man squad when Olympiacos goalkeeper Dean Henderson was ruled out for three weeks with a hamstring injury. The former Manchester United stopper picked up the injury in his side's 2-2 draw with PAOK and was forced to leave the pitch after just 12 minutes. It's a blow for the goalkeeper who made a more than creditable début last month in Croatia and was looking to establish himself in the England set up.

Duell commented:

"We've been dealt a blow to our plans for the forthcoming internationals with news that Dean (Henderson) has picked up a hamstring injury whilst playing for his Club side in Greece.

Dean was supposed to link up with the squad today but unfortunately this is not going to happen. He had a great début last month in Croatia and I was planning to give him some more game time at international level this month too. He would have definitely featured in one of the two games if not both.

He's a quality keeper and any nation would be delighted to have him at their disposal. However, we're blessed to have such great options available in case these circumstances sadly arise. We have chosen to recall Jordan Pickford back to the national fold as a replacement and I'm sure Jordan is chomping at the proverbial bit to be establish his credentials to me having not featured in my plans for the first couple of months of international football.

He's a more than capable replacement with plenty of experience behind him."

Pickford, 32, has been capped 61 times for the Three Lions with his last cap coming in June when England defeated China 1-0 in their FIFA World Cup Group B encounter played in Dallas.
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Consortium takes over Lilywhites

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16 November 2026

The battle for ownership of Preston North End today reached a conclusion.

After months of protracted negotiations, some of them late at night, the Club has been purchased through a consortium by headed Cardiff-based investor Chris Burrows. Mr Burrows, who made his fortune from a series of stationery stores in his native South Wales, has acquired the club from Ira Gordon after plenty of talking and puts an end of what seemed to be a never ending saga.

Mr Gordon, who himself purchased North End in June 2019 for an undisclosed amount from Trevor Hemmings, has left the Club immediately after the confirmation was given the green light this afternoon. Also departing Deepdale are Managing Director Danny Goode as well as Directors Marcus Dickenson and Jay Madden. Comprising the new Board alongside Mr Burrows are new Managing Director Ronnie Adam and Club Director Mike Exall.

The new Chairman thanks all concerned for their patience whilst the talks were ongoing, even when some quarters had speculated that the deal was dead in the water.

Fans will be pleased to know that Mr Burrows will be holding a special "Meet the Fans Forum" in the Greats' Room at Deepdale in the next few weeks. Details will be announced shortly.
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Five-star England rout Dutch to secure UEFA Nations League Semi-Final spot

Last Updated: 17/10/2026 10:00pm

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Nketiah: scored one and created two as England finished with a flourish


England needed a two goal swing to make the UEFA Nations League semi-finals and they did just that plus more with a second half showing which saw the Dutch blitzed with four goals in the final 13 minutes. The comprehensive result saw Mark Duell's men leapfrog their visitors and take the final four spot on goal difference.

England's starting line up saw four changes from the side that began the friendly against Uruguay as Duell reverted to his usual 4-2-3-1 formation he has brought into the national fold. With the rain falling incessantly, the Three Lions took the lead in only the ninth minute. A curled free-kick from Marcus Rashford was played to the back post and Delé sidefooted a calm finish past Eric Selimi in the Dutch goal. It was the Tottenham man's 28th international goal. Both teams were creating chances aplenty and therefore it came as no real surprise when the visitors equalised in the early stages of the second half: Remy Deckers' cross being headed past Jordan Pickford by Dave Heatubun of Manchester United.

However the game swung in England's favour when Duell chose to substitute the ineffective Harry Kane with Eddie Nketiah with 25 minutes to go. The Manchester United man suddenly had the Dutch retreating in numbers every time he had the ball at his feet, and he had a part in the goal that restored England's lead in the 77th minute. The front man skipped away down the right and then delivered a perfect cross onto the boot of club colleague Rashford who hammered the ball past Selimi having being denied twice in quick succession by the Dutch custodian moments before. England were in the ascendancy, and two goals in as many minutes put the game beyond any reasonable doubt.

In the 84th minute, Ryan Sessegnon bombed down the left and fired in a low, hard cross which was converted by Jadon Sancho from six yards out. Then as the Netherlands pushed forwards for a goal which would put them back in pole position, England hit them with their fourth of the evening. Virgil Van Dijk was robbed just outside the England penalty area by Eric Dier as he looked to re-establish a Dutch attack from a less than impressive corner, and the loose ball was switched out to Sancho. The Chelsea wide man played the ball forward to Nketiah, and he shrugged off the attentions of Jeroen Heerkens to lash the ball beyond Selimi and send the majority of the Wembley crowd into sheer delirium.

The Dutch were crestfallen beyond belief as if the roof had fallen in on them, and it got worse in the third minute of time added-on as England scored their fifth. Nketiah had a goalbound effort parried by Selimi but straight to the feet of Rashford who finished emphatically and complete a great performance by those men in white.

England's line up was as follows:

Pickford; Alexander-Arnold ©, Gomez, Rice, Sessegnon; Dier, Clark; Sancho, Delé, Rashford; Kane. Substitiutes: Nketiah (for Kane 65), Cook (for Clark 65), Smith-Rowe (for Delé 71)

Six days previously, England warmed up for the Netherlands game with a friendly against Uruguay. Although Wembley was only around two thirds full, those present would have seen the Three Lions show their recovery powers to defeat their South American visitors with two goals in the final 12 minutes to take the honours 2-1.

England, who handed international débuts to Richard Latham and Dylan Clayton, looked to be on course for a home loss when Wolfsburg's Maximillano Gomez lashed an unstoppable shot past substitute keeper Angus Gunn with just 14 minutes left. Yet the Uruguayans lead lasted a little more than two minutes when England equalised thanks to a first international goal for Dominic Clark. The Manchester United midfielder picked up a Ryan Sessegnon pass on the edge of the area, and although his goal bound effort took a wicked deflection off Elizaide, the ball nestled in the corner beyond Boselli.

Three minutes after, the Three Lions scored what proved to be the winner. Marcus Rashford teed up the recalled Lewis Cook twelve yards out, and the Leicester City midfielder smacked the ball into the net. It could have been even more convincing when England were awarded a penalty in injury time when Gomez tripped Emile Smith-Rowe in the area. However, Mele sprung low to his right to deny Rashford with a smart save.

England lined up like this:

Pickford; Alexander-Arnold ©, Latham, Laycock, Sessegnon; Dier; Cook, Clark; Clayton, Rashford; Kane. Substitutes: Smith-Rowe (for Clayton HT), Rice (for Dier 63), Gomez (for Alexander-Arnold 63), Nketiah (for Kane 68), Gunn (for Pickford 74), Davies (for Laycock 74)
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2026-27: End of November Summary


A short three game month because yet more internationals. The fixture list wasn't nice but can we continue to stay outside the drop zone?

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MATCHDAY 13 - Saturday 7 November 2026
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Despite being completely dominated by the Blues, we conceded just once but that goal was good enough to see the three points head back to SW6. It came in the 28th minute when Swedish internationalist Alexander isak converted at the near post from a low cross delivered by Houseem Aouar. We had just one shot in the whole ninety, granted it was on target too, and that was in the opening minute of the second half from former Chelsea trainee Charly Musonda.

Another bright spot, aside from the preventable hammering, was the performance of keeper Jasper Schendelaar. The big Dutchman was in solid form and probably stopped Chelsea getting more than one. He's been a great acquisition since signing from AZ Alkmaar in the summer, I'm more than happy to have him as our first choice number one.

MATCHDAY 14 - Sunday 22 November 2026
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We were given very little chance to come away from the King Power Stadium as well despite the Foxes playing well below expectations this season. Ongjen Stijepovic was given a rest after a long run in the starting eleven and feeling jaded, Corrado Pantanelli replaced him in a direct swap whilst winger Andrew Ferguson got his chance to impress after repeatedly asking for one. Other than that, we continued with the wing back system.

It was against the run of play that saw us take the lead on the half hour, Ollie Watkins playing a delightful ball into Vincent Morel and the on-loan Frenchman took a couple of touches before blasting the ball into the net from outside the box, Iczo in the Foxes goal had no chance. The lead lasted just seven minutes as Brazilian winger Malcom headed in off the bar from a deep cross by Dylan Clayton, one of my highly rated England prospects. The same player put the Foxes 2-1 ahead when he was allowed space to cut in and then somehow squeeze the ball under Schendelaar and into the net.

Yet we kept plugging away, and hoped something would come good if we did. It did as we equalised with six minutes from time thanks to a second goal of the game from Morel. It was another sensational strike from the Monaco loanee and again from outside the box. Vincent now has four goals this season, and is our top scorer.

MATCHDAY 15 - Saturday 28 November 2026
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I'd watched City in midweek against Schalke in the CL, one to see how they line up but also to see how England squad member Ryan Sessegnon played from an international perspective and knew we would be in for a long afternoon. It was just that as City had an unbelievable 53 shots, but less than half on target. That and possession in their favour, meant it was indeed probably the toughest afternoon's football I've ever had cause to experience.

City took the lead in just the sixth minute. It came from the penalty spot when the referee adjudged that Jules Koundé had fouled Andrew Balstrue in the area. It looked a bit harsh but there was no use remonstrating, the decision had been made. Portuguese star Joao Felix stepped up and despite Schendelaar getting fingertips to it, the ball found the bottom corner.

Five minutes later they scored against, German winger Leroy Sané heading in at the far post. You sensed that they would run riot, but no - we stunned them in the 13th minute when Pantanelli found Cuevas in a pocket of space and our Chilean left back hit a low and hard shot that just had Ederson rooted to the spot. Our fans went crazy! City set about punishing us the only way they knew best, scoring more goals but once more Schendelaar was superb in goal. They did score a third eventually to put it beyond our reach, Sané scoring his second of the game with seven minutes left.

So this is how the Premier League stands at the end of November:

https://i.postimg.cc/xTSWQnHS/PL-End-Nov2026-Table.png

So we are still managing to stay out of the drop zone, and didn't get hammered out of sight by Chelsea and City which impressed me no end. However, the atmosphere in the dressing room has dropped to a very scary 20 per cent but the managerial support is at a contrasting 83%. The losses we have achieved might have been a bearing on it, but we are playing at a higher level. Whether we can ride out this impending storm in the next few months remains to be seen.

The good news this month? The takeover finally went through which was a relief to anyone but the new owners haven't been very approachable at the moment. When they came in they promised investment in the training ground, however as we enter December that's been shelved. Hopefully we can get some results in and show them that this is a team that deserves some kind of serious investment put into. Otherwise I might have to look after my own interests. I'm happy here and want to stay for a while but when on and off pitch matters start to change the dynamic, maybe a change of scenery will do the trick. We shall see, right?.
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November 2026 Award Winners


A look now to see who won what in the monthly awards.

Manager of the Month:
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A fourth different winner of the Manager of the Month, predictably enough it isn't me though. The winner is former Barcelona playing Xavi who is bringing the Catalan feel to Wolverhampton. He won each of his three games in November to take the award ahead of Thomas Tuchel and Frank de Boer.

Player of the Month:
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Now in his 11th season at the Etihad since signing from Schalke 04 in 2016, Sané continues to shine and wow the City supporters. He's still only 30 and has plenty of good seasons ahead of him. Wolves Rhian Brewster scored more goals and had a better overall monthly rating but I guess the big team mentality got the German the award.

Young Player of the Month:
https://i.postimg.cc/pr0Gvh9X/PL-YPOTM-Nov2026.png
For the second month in four, Arsenal players swept the board in this particular category. This time right-back Osvaldo took the award, with central midfielder José Andres Razo being runner-up and striker Wladimir taking third place.

Goal of the Month:
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The winner this month was Demarai Gray of Fulham whose free-kick against Cardiff City got him the award. That said though, our very own Vincent Morel finished in place for his opening goal at Leicester. Further proof that we might have a quality player here.
HockeyBhoy
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Is there trouble brewing down at Deepdale?


By Dave Seddon
Monday 30 November 2026, 1:00pm

There could be trouble brewing down at Deepdale after winger Andrew Ferguson formally handed in a transfer request.

The former England Under 21 internationalist, who has started the Lilywhites last two games ahead of Jack Harrison, is apparently unhappy with the amount of game time he has seen this season under manager Mark Duell and now sees his future away from Preston. Ferguson, a target for Everton early on this season, admitted it wasn't an easy decision to make:

"Despite the team being in a higher division this season, I have handed in a transfer request to the manager due to the lack of games I have started this season for the Club. I feel I am more than capable of starting games in the Premier League, and although I have had a little run in the side so far; it's far from enough.

As much as I have enjoyed being a Preston player for the last two and a bit seasons, I have to weigh up my options as a professional. If this means that I have to find pastures new then so be it.

I hope the fans understand that I am still committed to them, but under the current manager I don't see much of a future for me. I'm not being greedy, I just want to play first team football."

With dressing room morale allegedly not being great at the moment, this couldn't have come at a worse time for Duell with the all important December fixture list around the corner.
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Third Round Draw made

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1 December 2026

We last night found our opponents in the Third Round of this season's Emirates FA Cup.

The draw was made live on the BBC's "The One Show" by former Manchester United captains Bryan Robson and Peter Schmeichel.

Preston were drawn at home to League One side Doncaster Rovers at the Third Round stage. Rovers have seen off AFC Telford and local rivals Chesterfield to make it into the final 64. This tie will be played at Deepdale on Saturday 2 January 2026 at a 3:00pm kick off time. In other ties, holders Manchester City start their defence against League One Brentford at the Etihad whilst there's an exciting all Premier League encounter between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. In addition Leeds United face fierce rivals Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road in a Yorkshire derby that will whet many an appetite on the other side of the Pennines.

Tickets for the Rovers game will be on sale very shortly to season book holders first of all.
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2026-27: December Preview


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Five more league games to play before 2026 can be marked as complete. We start and end the month at home but face three testing away games which we know we need to take some points from if we are to edge towards the survival zone. With dressing room morale probably at the lowest point so far in my reign here, I know that I need to get results to get the players feeling good again and not let it drag us down. Otherwise with a new Chairman in place, my time at Preston might come to a shuddering halt and all the memories from last season will be just that: memories.

We begin December with a visit from Everton, a team that actually interviewed me for the manager's position before Preston actually came calling. They're in an Europa League spot as we start the month and only three points off a Champions League spot which goes to show what sort of task we face in our last home game before Christmas. Like most of the best sides in the Premier League, there's quality in abundance throughout the side and I'm sure goalkeeper Jordan Pickford will be looking at producing a performance and give me food for thought for when the time comes to name my next England squad.

What follows next is a run of three away games. This begins with a trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London to face Spurs; another team that interviewed me for a vacant managerial spot. In fact, that was only this summer just gone so if we can get something there then maybe I will have proved a point to Daniel Levy as if to say "You picked the wrong man Levy!" to him. We had no such luck there last season when we played them in the Emirates FA Cup but we did keep a certain Harry Edward Kane off the scoresheet that afternoon. A repeat of that and taking an unlikely point (three of course would be better) might just improve the mood around these parts.

The next away game comes the Saturday before Christmas and it's another trip to London for the boys. This time, we're bound for the London Stadium to face West Ham. We held them to a 2-2 draw in the opening game of the season so we know we have the ability to compete with them, the question is can we go one result better this time? Boxing Day sees our three game road trip conclude with a trip to a Watford that start December in 6th place which is massively overachieving for them but if we want to look at see what it is possible then perhaps this is a good benchmark as anything.

We return back to Deepdale 48 hours after the Watford game as we host a Cardiff City side that have had a terrible start to this season. They've got a former Preston player in the shape of Grady Diangana. You can bet he will be keen to put one over his former side whilst we will be hoping to take a three point haul to push his new side even closer to the Championship trap door even as early as December. If ever there was a game classed as a proverbial six-pointer this is one. This is a game we have to win.

So not many people will fancy us in December and are expecting more misery for us. We have performed when the odds are against us before, so why not again? If we can take around seven points, tall ask I know, then maybe we might just have enough about us to stay the right side of the drop zone line and keep the proverbial wolves away from our door. The pressure is on, especially with new owners in place now, I know I have got to deliver soon otherwise I might be sacked for the first time in my career.
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England get Nations League Italian Job

Last Updated: 01/12/2026 7:00pm

https://i.postimg.cc/bvmCnm6p/Daniele-Rugani.jpg

Juve's Daniele Rugani will be hoping to dash England's Nations League dreams


England tonight learned whom they will face in the semi-final of the UEFA Nations League 2027.

Mark Duell's Three Lions will face Italy in the last four as they bid to retain the Nations League title won two years ago, ironically when they defeated the Italians in the final played in Spain. This semi-final will be played at the Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal, on Wednesday 2 June 2027. The other semi-final sees Germany take on Spain, again being played at the Emirates Stadium. The clash between Germany and Spain will take place first with a 3:00pm, before the Three Lions match at 7:30pm.

The Final is provisionally set for Saturday 5 June 2027.

With another international break coming up in March, England have announced friendlies against Russia at Wembley on Friday 19 March 2027, before travelling to Gibraltar four days later. Therefore the race is on for players to impress if they are looking to feature in the Nations League squad of 23 this summer.
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Moore appointed to Under 23's role

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11 December 2026

Preston North End can today confirm the appointment of Darren Moore as their new Under 23's manager.

Moore, 52, headed the list and is North End's choice to succeed Dean Keates who left Deepdale on 22 November 2026 to become the new first team manager at Charlton Athletic. The new incumbent enjoyed a 20 year playing career which involved spells at Doncaster Rovers and West Bromwich Albion before returning to the Hawthorns as Under 18's coach in the summer of 2012; his first coaching role.

Since then he has held the manager's role there plus stints in charge of Huddersfield Town and most latterly; Bolton Wanderers where he was sacked in February 2025 after less than 14 months in charge at the University of Bolton Stadium.

The Club welcomes Darren to Deepdale as part of Mark Duell's back room team.
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2026-27: Mid-December Summary


With December being a busy month of fixtures, here's the summary of the first half of it.

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MATCHDAY 16 - Saturday 5 December 2026
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Before the home game against Everton, I decided to call another team meeting to try improve the dressing room morale. I made two changes from the side that lost 3-1 to City, Julio Pleguezeulo and Charly Musonda coming in for Ezri Konsa and Ollie Watkins, but other than that we were unchanged. Ten minutes in and we were behind, Munir's shot from outside the area taking a wicked deflection off the returning Pleguezeulo and wrong footing Jasper Schendelaar before nestling into the bottom corner. An unlucky return for the Spaniard. Nine minutes later and we found ourselves 2-0 down, Kasper Dolberg heading in a near post cross from Doinkou. We needed an immediate response to avoid embarrassment and got it, Corrado Pantanelli curled a low ball into the area and whilst Everton dozed: Vincent Morel poached in his fifth of the season.

28 minutes gone though, Everton reinstated their two goal lead when Geiger's corner was headed in by Dolberg for the Dane's second of the game, We didn't concede further that half but you could tell how deflated the team were at the interval, their heads sunk low as if to say we're going get hammered here. I thought about giving them hell but that would have only made things worse so plenty of encouraging words were said instead. Eight minutes after that restart we had a way back into the game when Kasey Palmer saw his shot rebound into the path of Musonda who rifled a shot into the roof of the net and beat Jordan Pickford at his near post.

Could we salvage a draw? Well those words seemed to have had some positives as we scored a third on the hour. A pass from Connor Roberts carved open the Toffees defence like a knife through hot butter to the feet of Morel who took a couple of touches before blasting in a low shot under Pickford for his sixth of the season. Deepdale was bouncing! Neither side could find a winner, not that they didn't try, and the teams shook hands on a six goal thriller at the end.

MATCHDAY 17 - Sunday 13 December 2026
https://i.postimg.cc/R0QnqDVZ/PNEFC-202627-Game17.png

The last time we played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round last season when Spurs defeated us 3-0 with all the goals in the first half. There was no Christian Eriksen around to torment us this time, the Dane no longer an automatic choice but good enough to be on the bench. We made one change from the Everton draw, Palmer replaced in central midfield by Ongjen Stijepovic. Predictably enough, Spurs controlled the game from start to finish but were wasteful in front of goal which probably has annoyed Frank de Boer no end.

One goal decided the game on the half hour, Ryan Kelly's cross from the right wing being headed in by Chilean Matias Venegas. And that was that in a dour game to be honest. We did keep a certain Harry Edward Kane quiet again, who was deployed as right winger for some reason.
siepod
6 years ago
17 hours ago
214
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Great updates as always! Be interesting to see what impact the takeover has. I'm still waiting and hoping for one at Valencia to get me out of the financial hole we find ourselves in!
HockeyBhoy
5 years ago
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Premium
Thanks for the kind words as always @siepod. I'm going to be intrigued to see what impact this takeover has, it'll either be good or bad. Keep up the good work with the Valencia save, I'll be tuning in regularly.

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England to face auld enemy in Euro qualifiers

Last Updated: 20/12/2026 7:00pm

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This evening, at the headquarters of UEFA in Nyon, the draw for the qualifying groups for the 2028 European Championships were made. 54 nations were grouped into ten groups with the winners joining hosts Sweden for the Finals in June 2028. As current holders of the title, Mark Duell and his England squad were attuned to see whom they would face as part of their defence.

England were placed into Group G, which is one of the six five team groups. In that group, they will encounter old foes Scotland, Austria, Georgia and Malta. The renewal of clashes with the "Auld Enemy" is sure to get the juices flowing when the first set of qualifiers kick in March next year. The two nations last met in a World Cup qualifier in 2025 at Wembley Stadium when the Scots surprised the Three Lions with a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Aberdeen's Kevin Wilson and Motherwell's Chris Cadden whilst Manchester United's Eddie Nketiah (then of Arsenal) scoring England's sole goal.

Austria will provide an equally stern test for the Three Lions, having lost by the odd goal in five each time that they played England. Marcus Rashford scored a hat-trick on England's last trip to the Ernst Happel Stadion, and supporters of the Three Lions will be hoping the experienced Manchester United man will be on the scoresheet again when they go there again. England will be expected to breeze past both Georgia and Malta, although Georgia away is always a potential banana skin.

The campaign begins at Wembley on Friday 19 March 2027 with that mouth watering game against Scotland; and Wembley is sure to be a sell out for it.
HockeyBhoy
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2026-27: December Summary (continued)


MATCHDAY 18 - Monday 21 December 2026
LIVE ON https://i.postimg.cc/bYgZS1VW/sm_skysportsmainevent.gif
https://i.postimg.cc/tTLP6TvN/PNEFC-202627-Game18.png

We headed to the London Stadium to face the Hammers on a cold Monday night in the smoke. A win could move the team up two places to 15th, leapfrogging AFC Bournemouth and Fulham in the process. We named an unchanged side again from the side that lost narrowly at Tottenham Hotspur in our last game. Predictably enough, the Hammers controlled proceedings from start to finish (43 shots in 90 minutes) but it took them until the 44th minute to open the scoring. The goal came when Piotr Zielinski threaded the ball into Simon Matthews, and the Scot turned away from his marker Connor Roberts to sweep a low left foot shot under Jasper Schendelaar and into the net.

It proved to be the only goal of the game, but we were unlucky not to go back to the North West without a point as we had a 83rd minute goal chalked off for an questionable offside. The goal was headed in by left-back Cristiàn Cuevas from a wonderfully flighted free-kick by Jack Harrison, and to be honest it did appear harsh. And so we slipped to yet another defeat.

It was to prove to be my last game in charge of Preston...
Shedender
14 years ago
4 days ago
13,723
t was to prove to be my last game in charge of Preston...[/justify]

Sacked or did you leave via "mutual consent". 😉

It seemed you were doing a decent job with Preston in the Premier League although I haven't been about for like a month so I don't know whether that was your first Premier League season w/ North End or not but either way, it's interesting to see who you end up managing next,

KIU though. 👍
siepod
6 years ago
17 hours ago
214
Premium
The plot thickens... did you walk or were you pushed. Focus on England or is there another new job in the offing. We wait with baited breath....
HockeyBhoy
5 years ago
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https://i.postimg.cc/L8TDrKYd/500miles.png


The final whistle sounded at the London Stadium, and the majority were in a good mood having seen their team win but equally concerned that despite having 43 shots: they had only scored just the once.

For me, I walked back into the away dressing room and addressed the players.

"Lads, it wasn't to be...again! Once more I'm sounding like a broken record but I'm proud of each and everyone of you. You gave it a good go despite the statistics being in their favour. Now let's get showered, changed and back on that coach home."

With that, I left them be.

Twenty minutes later, the team started to filter onto the bus one by one. The doors of the luggage compartment closed, and I made my way up the steps to the seat which I usually occupied at the front of the bus: headphones in. I could hear the sounds of those players who enjoyed a game of cards towards the rear and did a quick head count.

All present and correct.

"Time to go Albert, we're all on board." I said.
"Right oh Mark." Albert replied.

It was then when I saw the Chairman sat in the front seat, something I hadn't had on the way down as the Chairman had been in a meeting for his stationery business in the City earlier that day.

"Mr Chairman, wasn't expecting to have you on board."
"Mark, we need to talk." Chris said. "Please take a seat."
"OK." I sat down, my eyes transfixed at what the Chairman was going say next. Was he about to sack me on the bus? That would be rather crass if he was.
"Mark, I want to wish you good luck in the future. It pains me to see you go but I'm convinced you'll be good for them."
"Uh?"
"The team that had you on their radar. Well, we've agreed on £1.2 million compensation figure. It was all sorted during half time."
"Right."
"You might as well call the lads in for a little meeting tomorrow morning and tell them."
"Sure. Albert, stop the bus."

Albert stopped the bus, we had travelled all of five miles.

"Jules." I called out, and skipper Jules Koundé made his way down the aisle.
"Yes boss? Anything I can do?"
"Yep, get the lads to Springfields for 11:00am in the morning. I got an announcement to make. Right Albert, we can go again."

And the bus headed north, tears starting to dribble down my face.
HockeyBhoy
5 years ago
17 hours ago
976
Premium
Sacked or did you leave via "mutual consent". 😉

It seemed you were doing a decent job with Preston in the Premier League although I haven't been about for like a month so I don't know whether that was your first Premier League season w/ North End or not but either way, it's interesting to see who you end up managing next,

KIU though. 👍


The plot thickens... did you walk or were you pushed. Focus on England or is there another new job in the offing. We wait with baited breath....


Thanks for the comments lads as always guys, all will be revealed at the weekend or a few days after that.
HockeyBhoy
5 years ago
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The journey back to Preston was not the best one, by a long chalk. Not because the team had lost once more, but of the sadness that was unfolding around me.

I had a good 17 months at Deepdale, they had certainly driven my career forwards. I mean I don't think I would have landed the England role if I hadn't taken the Preston role and stayed at Tranmere. I would certainly have remained a lower league manager still trying to build his stock up but Ira Gordon (the then Preston Chairman) obviously saw something in me that the Club liked.

I got them back in the Premiership at the first time of asking, running away with the Championship title. Granted the Premier League is a massive step up in class for a Club such as North End, I wasn't really getting hammered week and week out. In fact, beating current Champions Manchester United was some feat. They're still talking about it now! But there comes a time where you simply can refuse an offer that might only come across once in a lifetime, and that was happening to me right now. I called the team into the training ground, senior and youth squads as one, to announce my departure. And it was emotionally charged to say the least.

"Thanks for coming in today lads, especially the senior players on their day off."
"No problems gaffer." Jasper Schendelaar replied. "What's a matter, you look a bit down."
"I'm alright Jasper, really I am."
"You don't look it gaffer." Kasey Palmer injected.
"Honestly I really am. Anyway I have something to announce."

The players looked at each other as if to think what is going on.

"Today's my last day with you." I blurted out, shedding a few tears.
"What the actual?" Jack Harrison asked. "Has that f**king nobody of a chairman sacked you after all you have done here?"
"No Jack, he hasn't."
"Good job, I'd rip his head off if he had."
"I'm leaving Preston for a new job. It's an opportunity I could not say no to, an opportunity of a lifetime."

There was a hushed silence.

"I'm going to a club that I have had an affinity for since I was growing up, and I'm sorry to leave you all in the lurch."
"Don't be daft gaffer, you're probably realising a dream." Jules Koundé, my skipper, sounded.
"I am definitely doing that Jules. Darren and Lloyd are going to look after you until the Club finds a replacement. You can survive this lads, you're better than the teams below you."
"Thanks gaffer. You'll be a good hire for that new Club, and if you want to take any of us with you then we'll not turn you down."

I smiled, and hugged each and everyone of the team: players and backroom staff alike. It certainly made me feel a lot better in myself. Ten minutes later, a black Jaguar rolled up to Springfields.

"Mr Duell? I've come to collect you on behalf of Mr Delcroix."
"Right, I'm ready. Good luck lads!"

A raucous round of applause followed, and I stepped into the back seat of the Jaguar. Where was my next adventure taking me?
HockeyBhoy
5 years ago
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Liverpool can today confirm that the appointment of Mark Duell as the Club's new manager on a three year contract.

The 45 year old joins the Reds from fellow Premier League side Preston North End having built up quite a promising reputation since dipping his toes into football management back in 2018. Duell has had stints in Scotland, Finland and France before gaining his first job in England across the Mersey with Tranmere Rovers in 2023.

Chairman Didier Delcroix explained why he has appointed Duell:

"To manage a club like Liverpool, you need to be a big name and we will feel that we have that in Mark. He's the current Head Coach of the England national side and deals with the top players in the Premier League. You don't get that job without being a quality manager and to have him on board as Liverpool's manager is something special.

He has won trophies wherever he has been and we're hopeful he can deliver for us.

He was always our first choice, and we're delighted to have him on board. We've got the best young manager in the world here at Anfield that's for sure."

The new manager had this to say:

"To be appointed as the manager of Liverpool Football Club is quite simply something special.

This is a name that is synomous with trophies and attractive football which is something that is also close to my heart. So why leave Preston and join the Reds you may ask? Well, this is a club that I have a very close affinity to since I was a youngster. The all red Liverpool kit was the first English kit my father bought me and if I couldn't make it as a player, then I dreamed of managing this team. To follow into the giant footsteps of legends such as Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish is one of I am so proud of.

I had no hesitation in accepting when Mr Delcroix called to offer me this role. I am thankful though to all my previous teams, most recently Preston, for helping make me the manager that I am. Now let's get winning some trophies at Anfield."

The new manager's first game is on Boxing Day when Newcastle United visit Anfield before the Reds have an appetising away game at the Emirates Stadium three days later. #WelcomeMark
siepod
6 years ago
17 hours ago
214
Premium
Special move.... Good luck! Can't wait to see the transfer business you start doing...!
HockeyBhoy
5 years ago
17 hours ago
976
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As soon as the Jaguar turned off Walton Breck Road into the stadium, the flash bulbs were popping like they had never gone before in my football managerial career. Almost nine seasons ago, I walked through a leisure centre in Midlothian to become a football manager: now I was walking into what seemed to be an absolute cauldron.

Mr Delcroix opened the door and stuck out a hand. It was the warmest handshake ever.

I had been to Anfield many a time as a supporter, and also on the Stadium Tour. The buzz I was getting was quite simply phenomenal, proper hairs on the back of your neck type buzz. I had never experienced it anywhere to be honest, not even when I was given the England Head Coach's role in summer. This really was something else.

We walked into the Press Room where I was unveiled to scenes of journalists holding dictaphones and microphones with more and more camera flash guns popping every second. Compared to just one single solitary person when I was appointed at Edinburgh City back in 2018, this felt almost surreal. I had to literally pinch myself that it was really happening to me.

Am I following in the steps of greats such as Shankly, Paisley and Dalglish, I asked myself in my head as I took the barrage of questions.

After thirty minutes, which to be honest felt like thirty bloody hours, the final question was asked and answered before yet more photos in the Main Stand. The massed media departed and I was sat there with Mr Delcroix, smiling. It was then when the giant figure of Virgil Van Dijk appeared up the staircase.

"Mark, you're the new manager right?" Van Dijk said whilst thrusting a right hand out to shake.
"Yeah I am Virgil. Pleased to meet you."
"I'm the Club Captain here, I'll get you to meet the Lads at the AXA Training Centre in the morning. 9:00am start, yeah?"
"Sounds good Virgil, sounds good."

And he was gone. So the adventure now has taken a massive upturn. Just hope I can deliver what they want.
Shedender
14 years ago
4 days ago
13,723
Fair play, it's a massive step up from Preston. Good luck.
HockeyBhoy
5 years ago
17 hours ago
976
Premium
Special move.... Good luck! Can't wait to see the transfer business you start doing...!

Thanks mate, I've got an initial £61 million to spend but I always have an eye for a bargain out there.

Fair play, it's a massive step up from Preston. Good luck.

Sure is mate, biggest test so far in this career. Will need all the luck in the world but I can only give it my best. Keep following...
HockeyBhoy
5 years ago
17 hours ago
976
Premium
https://i.postimg.cc/Kj8JkpLd/LFC-Logo.png

2026-27 Season Expectations


So these are the expectations that my new Chairman has given me:

https://i.postimg.cc/wB3NNKb5/LFC-202627-Season-Expectations.png

League first; the board are wanting the team to qualify for the UEFA Europa League which to some is the poor man's Champions League as the prize money isn't as good. I have joined the Reds with the team sitting in 7th place which ironically is the final Europa League spot so if I stay where I am then I'll have achieved what they want. However, me being me, wants to go a bit better than that.

We start my reign just three points behind Tottenham and they are in the final Champions League qualifying spot. I want to gate crash those Champions League spaces because this Club deserves to be in there. They have had a very upside down season so far but finishing in the top four is certainly not beyond us.

The current Champions League campaign sees us in the last 17 where we face Borussia Mönchengladbach of the Bundesliga. So four games and we could achieve this particular objective. The Mönchengladbach tie sees us away in the first leg which suits me down to the ground, it's my first taste of this actual competition by the way, my objective for the game will be to keep it tight at the back and nab the odd away goal or two before ideally finishing the job back at Anfield.

A tougher examination is presented with the FA Cup, nothing less than a place in the showpiece Final at Wembley will be deemed good enough. Our road there starts with a home tie against Leyton Orient of League Two. I've already decided that in games against opponents of L1 or lower then I'll combine the team with some first team and some fringe players. Anything of Championship standard or a fellow Premier League side will see the first team be shipped out. Nobody wants to be the victim of a giant killing, and it certainly wouldn't down well here considering the size of the Club itself. This is Liverpool.

So the Carabao Cup predictably enough is considered the least important of the four competitions we find ourselves in. As I join, the team are just two games away from reaching the Final. We face fellow Premier League side Newcastle United in our last four match up with the first leg at SJP. The other semi final is between London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea. The incentive is that if we win it, then we will have automatically made it into the Europa League so despite the board's view: I'm seeing this tournament as important as any other one. The team have beaten Bristol City, Derby County (on penalties) and trounced Southend United to get to the final four: the last game played a week before my arrival in L4.

All in all, I think we can still end up with a very good season providing it starts to click almost immediately. That's the issue I face, implementing my style on a squad packed with internationalists in every position.

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