Wednesday’s big stories

They’ve given it Roy till end of season

It’s January 2032 and struggling Premier League outfit Salford City turn to an 84-year-old Roy Hodgson to get them out of trouble.
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It’s January 2042, newly formed North London FC are being threatened with European Super League elimination after picking up zero points from their first 20 games, and turn to a 94-year-old Roy Hodgson to prevent His Footballing Excellency Florentino Perez from dumping them out of the competition.
It’s 2052 and World Super League’s basement club Merseyside Maestros have binned off Trent Alexander-Arnold and turn to a 104-year-old… okay you get the point.
The man is remarkable.
Roy Hodgson is back in the Premier League and already barking orders at a Watford squad he hopes to save from the drop.
You have to admire his work ethic, returning to the Premier League aged 74 and showing the spritely desire of those half his age – and certainly more than any of the motley Warm-Up line-up.
For good measure, Hodgson is joined by former Watford boss and trusted assistant Ray Lewington, a combination the club believe could well haul them out of trouble.
If anyone can, former Halmstads BK, Bristol City, IK Oddevold, Örebro SK, Malmö FF, Neuchâtel Xamax, Switzerland, Inter Milan, Blackburn Rovers, Grasshoppers, Copenhagen, Udinese, United Arab Emirates, Viking, Finland, Fulham, Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion, England and Crystal Palace manager Hodgson can.
Cheers, Wikipedia.

Where are all the transfers?

A check-in with a couple of Done Deals pages on the interweb back up our curiosity – there has barely been a single Premier League transfer for the past fortnight.
Since Lucas Digne joined Aston Villa and Chris Wood signed for Newcastle on January 13, just two Premier League sides have made a permanent signing – Chelsea bringing in youngster Dylan Williams from Derby, and Wolves bagging Chiquinho from Estoril.
Yes, Anthony Martial may well have joined Sevilla on loan from Manchester United, but in terms of incomings it’s oh so quiet. It may well be the calm before the storm, but time is running out for clubs the make moves they hope will boost their chances of Champions League football or avoiding relegation.
Newcastle have evidently hit a few stumbling blocks, and have just six days to get some more deals over the line – namely Jesse Lingard and a centre-back or two. Their survival could depend on it.

Golazo after golazo at AFCON

The Africa Cup of Nations has produced several stunning goals so far and we were treated to two more last night.
Gabadinho Mhango could well claim to have scored the best of the lot when opening the scoring for Malawi against Morocco from 35 yards out. His pearler of a curler just about evaded Yassine Bounou to hand Malawi a shock lead after just seven minutes.
However, the tables were turned, and in the 70th minute Achraf Hakimi scored his second incredible free-kick this tournament to send Morocco into the quarter-finals.
From a similar position to his glorious goal against Gabon, this time Hakimi found the near-post top corner and gets the added bonus of calling this the winner.
Still, that Mhango moment will live long in the memory of Malawian football.

In other news

Senegal could feel the wrath

Expect there to be fallout from Senegal’s decision to allow Sadio Mane to play on after a mid-air collision left the Liverpool player concussed… before he then scored the opener against Cape Verde… minutes before being taken off and taken to hospital.
Mane looked more than a little shook-up following the clash of heads, and returned to the deck after his goal – a clear sign he should never have continued.
At least he’s smiling now, pictured below with Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha, but Liverpool may well be asking what concussions protocols are in place at the Africa Cup of Nations. A nation’s desire to advance is understandable, but players carrying on with concussion should not be a matter for discussion.

In the channels

File this under things you love to see. Christian Eriksen training with his old club Ajax ahead of a potential move this month.

Retro corner

Okay not that retro, but a reminder of the player Manchester United bought, and the player he could still be? Martial, now seven years ago, scoring his debut goal to remember…

Coming up

A potential AFCON corker as Ivory Coast take on Egypt for a place in the quarter-finals at 4pm, with Mali against Equatorial Guinea to follow at 7pm. West Brom are in Championship action against Preston, while Chelsea will look to close the gap on WSL leaders Arsenal when taking on West Ham.
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