Southampton extend Ralph Hasenhüttl’s contract

Prior to the 2019-20 Premier League season restarting later this month, Ralph Hasenhüttl has put pen to paper over a new 4-year deal at Southampton.

The Austrian has been at St Mary’s since December 2018 having previously spent two seasons at RB Leipzig. He replaced the departing Mark Hughes, dragging the club out of the relegation zone and with only one win to their name before his arrival, to a 16th-place finish.

Hasenhüttl’s future at Southampton appeared to be in jeopardy last October when his side were humiliated 0-9 at home to Leicester City in a Friday night game.

However, the Saints board stuck with him and in December his side beat Chelsea, and then Tottenham Hotspur on New Year’s Day. A turnaround was confirmed 10 days’ later with a 2-1 win away to Leicester.

Southampton announced on Twitter a short while ago that Ralph Hasenhüttl has signed a four-year extension with the club:

Southampton will be away to Norwich City when the 2019-20 Premier League season restarts on the weekend commencing Friday 19 June. They are 14th in the standings, seven points above the relegation zone with nine games to go.

Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side are based on a high press and quick transition. They are generally difficult to play against as they proved in a 2-0 win away to Chelsea and 1-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur this season.

Southampton play a high tempo game, he has switched between 3-5-2 and a narrow 4-4-2 formations in the Premier League.

How Man Utd could lineup with Sancho & Havertz

Manchester United are being strongly linked with the signings of German Bundesliga stars Jadon Sancho and Kai Havertz, according to several reports.

With Borussia Dortmund unlikely to win the German Bundesliga again this season and perhaps for the upcoming seasons, a move to Old Trafford and a salary increase could be on the cards for Sancho this summer.

Likewise, Havertz is making a name for himself at a club that are not realistic title contenders next season. The 20-year-old already has seven caps for the German national team, whilst his five goals in four games since the Bundesliga restarted would have been scouted by clubs around the world as the only major league currently back in action.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has done a good job in the transfer market for Manchester United to date – signing Harry Maguire, Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Bruno Fernandes.

The Red Devils are expected to be in the market for a right winger, centre-back and central midfielder this summer. Both of the aforementioned players can play on the wing whilst Havertz has been playing up front in recent weeks too.

Acquiring either or both would surely be a great upgrade for Manchester United. Here’s how their lineup could look next season with Jadon Sancho and Kai Havertz:

David de Gea hasn’t been at his best in recent seasons but is capable of being the best goalkeeper in the world on his day. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire have been excellent since joining the Premier League giants last summer.

United could upgrade in holding midfield where Nemanja Matić has been in decline. Fred put in some improved performances since the turn of the year, whilst Scott McTominay has done the same. Paul Pogba is still an option for the time being. Bruno Fernandes has been a star in supporting the front three.

How good does that front three look? Kai Havertz and Jadon Sancho supporting Marcus Rashford – three goalscorers in their own right, with Anthony Martial and Daniel James in reserve.

Jürgen Klopp explains training during COVID-19

Liverpool have been one of the clubs affected most by the COVID-19 outbreak – they were set to win the Premier League in a game or two prior to football’s suspension around the world from mid-March.

The resumption, set for Wednesday 17 June 2020 was music to the ears of supporters who wanted to be sure they claimed their first league title in 30 years.

Players of Premier League clubs have been back in small group training since Tuesday 19 May, which allowed for non-contact sessions up to 75 minutes in groups of five at most.

Clubs then moved to phase two of Project Restart at the end of last week by voting to allow contact in training sessions, three weeks before the 2019-20 season restarts.

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has now spoken to the club’s official website to explain the changes in training during the COVID-19 outbreak. The German coach said:

“It’s absolutely brilliant, a massive difference.

“The weather is just outstanding, it means all the things we have to do outside – we don’t have changing rooms here, that makes it all slightly difficult – but with the weather it’s absolutely no problem, it’s rather nice to do it this way.

“So, we enjoy it a lot. We could work on all the things we wanted to work on. The first week was already really good with the small groups, I enjoyed that as well, because it was just important to get on track again, to get used to the pitch and ball and boots and all that stuff. And now we work on tactical things, that works really well.”

Moving onto the new regulations, Klopp went onto explain the preparation that’s gone into regulating temperatures, ensuring social distancing measures are in place, and keeping everything sanitised:

“It’s [been] a massive organisational challenge, to be honest. What Ray Haughan did in that department is unbelievable – where we can park, where we can walk and all that stuff.

“When you make the step from 10 players of two groups of five, to nearly 30, that’s massive. And we still have to stick to the same things. So, we are fully concentrated when we come in here, let me say it like this; that we do the right things, that we get the temperature tested and all these things. It’s not like it usually is.

“It’s completely fine but it’s just when you come here it’s not like, ‘Yippee!’ – you think, ‘Where do I have to drive, where is somebody who gets my temperature?’ and all that stuff. That’s how it is in the moment.”

At the time of the Premier League’s suspension, Liverpool had a staggering 25-point lead over Manchester City in second. The Reds had nine matches left to play and Pep Guardiola’s side, 10.

The Merseyside derby at Goodison Park had been Liverpool’s next fixture and is now expected to take place between Friday 19-Sunday 21 June. Liverpool would win the title at Everton’s home ground with a victory matched by Arsenal beating Manchester City on the Wednesday before.

Championship season to resume 20 June

The EFL have announced tonight that the Championship season will resume on Saturday 20 June.

Football in England has been suspended since 13 March due to the COVID-19 pandemic but it was confirmed last week that the Premier League will be back in action from Wednesday 17 June.

In a statement from the EFL they said the date was “provisional” and subject to “the strict proviso that all safety requirements and government guidance is met”.

There are 113 games still to be played, including the play-off semi-finals and final. In comparison, the Premier League has 92 fixtures remaining.

The EFL are aiming to complete the Championship season with the play-off final “on or around 30 July”.

The UK government gave the green light for competitive sports to return behind closed doors from tomorrow, Monday 1 June.

Snooker and horse racing are set to return as early as tomorrow whilst darts has been able to continue throughout lockdown.

Players of Championship sides were able to return to training on Monday 25 May whilst full contact training can begin this week. In all, that gives the second tier clubs just four weeks to get prepared for competitive football, compared to five weeks that Premier League clubs have been allocated.

There have been three rounds of coronavirus testing conducted in the Championship to date with the 24 clubs combining for more than 1,000 tests each time.

Two people at Hull City have tested positive, two unnamed Fulham players and Blackburn Rovers captain Elliott Bennett all tested positive in the first two rounds. There were then 10 positive tests across eight Championship sides in the third round, including Preston North End striker Jayden Stockley.

When the season resumes Leeds United will be top of the table, one point ahead of West Bromwich Albion, who have a six point lead over Fulham in third, each wth nine games remaining.

Barnsley, Luton Town and Charlton Athletic make up the relegation zone.

Man Utd target to announce ‘new club’ within 3 days

Atlético Madrid midfielder Saúl Ñíguez has posted a cryptic message on his Twitter account saying he will make an announcement about his “new club” in three days’ time.

The 25-year-old came through the youth system at the Madrid club, spending a season-long loan within the city at Rayo Vallecano in 2013-14 and has been a regular in Atléti’s first team ever since.

Saúl is a central midfielder who makes numerous challenges per match out of possession and is good in build-up play in attack. He doesn’t have much in the way of goal involvement so you could compare him to Luka Modrić.

The Spanish international has long been linked with a move to Manchester United, particularly with Paul Pogba continually being linked with a move away from Old Trafford.

In a post on his Twitter account on Sunday afternoon, Saúl has hinted he is set to reveal a ‘new club’ on Wednesday this week:

La Liga clubs are set to resume full training on Monday so it will be interesting to see if the player is in Diego Simeone’s camp or not.

Spanish outlet Todo Fichajes claimed three weeks ago that Manchester United had agreed an €80 million (£71m) with Atlético Madrid.

The Red Devils certainly have the purse available whilst they are likely to be in the hunt for a central midfielder before the start of next season. It will be interesting to see if Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side have been successful in their pursuit…