Monday, July 9, 2012
Zola time, Woodgate's return
Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.
Zola time at Watford
As expected, Sean Dyche has been replaced by the far more glamorous Gianfranco Zola at Watford, with the Italian charged with lending the "Hornettos' the same attacking flair that he once treated English football to in the colours of Chelsea. Zola's appointment followed the wishes of the Pozzo family, Watford's ambitious new owners, who are targeting a return to the Premier League.
"Everyone knows how Gianfranco Zola likes football to be played," said Watford director of football Gianluca Nani. "I think Watford's fans can expect an exciting and attacking style from his team. Gianfranco represents this project perfectly."
Dyche, meanwhile, will surely feel hard done by. The 41-year-old did a creditable job in his first and only season as manager of the club, leading them to a respectable 11th place finish despite working with limited resources. "His [Dyche's] achievements under difficult circumstances mean he will rightly be held in high regard by Watford supporters," read an official statement from the club. Not that it will serve as any consolation to the now unemployed Dyche.
The first time Jonathan Woodgate joined Middlesbrough, he came on loan from Real Madrid in 2006. This time around, the 32-year-old former England international defender returns to his hometown club on a free transfer after being released from Stoke, and into what surely represents his last-chance saloon.
"Tony Mowbray explained his plans for next season and how he is building a team that wants to get back in the Premier League as soon as possible," Woodgate said. "I want to be part of that and if we can achieve promotion in my time here it will be a fantastic way to end my career."
Brighton sign Bridge
Manchester City full-back Wayne Bridge has become the latest high-profile addition to Brighton's squad for the new Championship season. Bridge has been a peripheral figure since joining City from Chelsea in 2009, and arrives on a season-long loan deal at The Amex targeting regular first-team football.
"He's been one of the top three left-backs in this country for many years," said Brighton manager Gus Poyet. "We have all got to learn from him and I'm sure that he will have a very good season with us. It's going to be very nice to sit back and watch him on the pitch."
Brighton's capture of Bridge follows deals to bring in former Manchester United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak and Valencia full-back Bruno Saltor on free transfers. The Seagulls have also managed to keep Spanish midfielder Vicente on board for at least another season, with the ex-Valencia man signing a new 12-month deal on the south coast.
Pogba joins Crewe
Paul Pogba's long-winded exit from Manchester United to Juventus might have grabbed all the headlines, but his older brother has made a notable move too. Forward Mathias, 21, has left non-league Wrexham to join Crewe in League One for the new season.
"Having the chance to play in League One was a big factor for me," said Pogba. "I really enjoyed my time at Wrexham and they gave me a chance, but I want to test myself at a higher level."
Di Canio corner
"[Mario] Balotelli is just selfish. He deserves a lot of slaps," said Paolo Di Canio in his latest attempt to stay out of the limelight and focus on preparing Swindon for life in League One. "He is an egotist who thinks the world revolves around him," the coach continued. Of course, some might say the same of Di Canio.
Di Canio and his squad are currently training in Lake Garda, Italy. The Italian has admitted attempts to sign a mystery European-based player have fallen through, but told the Swindon Advertiser he has another unnamed, yet supposedly "big-name" target on his radar instead. Di Canio's world is never short of intrigue, that's for sure.
Homesick Wright departs
Goalkeeper Richard Wright has left Preston North End after deciding he wasn't prepared to unsettle his family back in East Anglia. The 34-year-old had only recently signed a 12-month deal with the League One outfit, after being released by Ipswich, but it wasn't long before he realised it wasn't going to work out.
"It might seem somewhat dramatic, but I have only been away from my home in East Anglia for a few days and I know already that I simply cannot live that far away from my family," Wright said. "I have children settled in school, so moving isn't an option. I think it is only fair to be honest now rather than down the line when the club may not be able to solve the problem that I am creating."
Takeover at Vale
Businessman Keith Ryder has completed his takeover of League Two Port Vale. That's as much as we know right now, and the news comes courtesy of the briefest announcement at the club's official website, which read as follows: "In accordance with Football League Regulation 94.1 - Publication of ownership: Port Vale F.C. Ltd is owned 100% by Mr. Keith Ryder."
Care to elaborate, Port Vale? Perhaps The Trawler should get on to Robbie Williams for a more fulsome explanation.