Trailblazing coach Ashvir Singh Johal says working with Brendan Rodgers at Leicester City was the perfect education for his new role as first-team coach at Wigan Athletic.
Singh Johal will become the first Sikh-Punjabi to take to the touchline in Sky Bet Championship history when he joins newly-appointed Wigan manager Kolo Toure in the away dugout at The Den on Saturday afternoon.
The Leicester-born coach spent almost a decade with the Foxes, working across the club’s development centres and community schemes, before progressing into a full-time employment at Leicester’s academy – where he worked with every elite age group right through to U18 level.
Rodgers has spent nearly four years as Leicester boss, and Singh Johal said the former Liverpool manager’s dedication and precise approach separates him from other coaches in the game.
“It’s been a real education to be around Brendan for the last few years,” Singh Johal told Sky Sports News.
“Brendan Rodgers is a top, top manager, he’s someone who is a great role model for young coaches working in the game now. He’s very, very organised, very detailed and he’s a very good people-person, so his relationships with players and with staff [are excellent].
“He’s very organised, and to see that level of detail at the highest level of the game is [mainly] what I took off him over the last few years.”
Toure followed Rodgers to Leicester from Celtic in 2016, and takes over a Wigan side that sit 22nd in the Sky Bet Championship, having lost 10 league matches this season.
Singh Johal explained his relationship with Toure has grown over the course of time, adding the Ivorian’s coaching staff are ready for the challenge and know they will be judged solely on results.
“I’ve known Kolo for a number of years now since he came in with Brendan Rodgers and his staff to Leicester City. And over those years, we’ve gotten to know each other a little bit more. We [regularly] spoke about football, and we worked a little bit together, and now I’ve been given this opportunity to work with him here as part of his staff at Wigan Athletic.
“It’s going to be an exciting time, and thank you to the club for giving me the opportunity to come in as part of Kolo’s backroom staff. We’ve got to make sure now that the work every day on the training pitch and on a matchday helps the team improve and helps the team win games.”
Singh Johal is a product of hometown club GNG Leicester, who are linked to one of the city’s, and the country’s, most famous Sikh temples, Guru Nanak Gurdwara.
The Wigan first-team coach wears a traditional Sikh head covering called a patka, and is relishing the opportunity to inspire South Asian and Sikh-Punjabi children, who aspire towards a career in the game.
“I’m a Sikh, so my principles, the way I live my life, I follow a certain set of principles from the Sikh religion and that will not change whether I’m in football or not.
“Whether I’m in training sessions [or] in the dugout on a matchday, that’s who I am, that’s how I am and I think if that visibility provides inspiration to somebody watching then that can only be a positive thing.”
West Ham academy link mentor and former Leicester academy coach Rashid Abba, who has known Singh Johal since he was young, told Sky Sports News earlier this week that the 27-year-old is “a wonderful role model”, adding that he has given hope to the next generation of coaches from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Singh Johal said: “Thank you to Rashid for those kind words. Rashid is someone who I’ve known since I was four or five. He’s someone who has coached me at GNG, he’s been involved at Leicester City and now at West Ham.
“He’s a real legend of football, a top, top person, a top coach, a top coach educator. And it’s nice to hear those words from him.”
British South Asians in Football
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Chelsea FC: Brilliant Badiashile leading way for new signings as Thiago Silva partnership blossoms
His promising early form at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will hope, hint at better times to come through their new signings.
The arrival of French centre-back Badiashile at the start of last month kick-started a record January spending spree of more than £300m.
After Chelsea were sent spiralling into crisis with defeats by Manchester City and Fulham, Badiashile made his debut in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
After the Blues claimed a further two clean sheets in 0-0 draws away at Liverpool and at home to Fulham, he is building an impressive partnership with Thiago Silva.
Badiashile was one of five new signings to feature in Friday’s 0-0 draw with Fulham. He started alongside £106.8m Enzo Fernandez, who started well but faded over 90 minutes, £89.5m Mykhailo Mudryk, who struggled over 45 minutes while carrying a cold, and £30m Noni Madueke, who was bright after being brought on at half-time.
“What a waste of money” was the regular chant from the Fulham fans in the away end.
That felt harsh in Badiashile’s case. With his size and speed, he looks like a perfect partner for 38-year-old veteran Silva.
In addition, he showed the ability to play brilliantly out of Fulham’s well-drilled press and he coped in his duels against Aleksandar Mitrovic.
There is still adaption to be done, as Graham Potter barked instructions about his positioning in relation to Silva.
However, using French to communicate with the former Paris Saint-Germain captain, Badiashile has helped steady the ship in the absence of the injured Wesley Fofana, and with Kalidou Koulibaly out of form.
While still only averaging just 1.05 goals per game in the Premier League, Chelsea will draw more than they win unless their new midfielders and forwards step up.
Arriving in the weeks after Badiashile, the likes of Fernandez, Joao Felix, Mudryk and Madueke have not had as much time to adapt to their surroundings.
With Chelsea still in 10th place and increasingly falling behind in the race to qualify for Europe, they must follow Badiashile’s lead and hit the ground running before time runs out.
Reporter’s notebook: Jesse Marsch’s Leeds side showed encouraging signs at times but lack of points cost him his job | Football News
Jesse Marsch was approaching his one-year anniversary as Leeds United head coach before the decision was taken on Monday to relieve him of his duties.
The defeat to Nottingham Forest a day earlier had been the final straw for the Leeds board, who were all aligned in the view that a change was necessary after almost three months without a Premier League win.
The recent statistics paint a grim picture for Leeds. Seven Premier League games without a win and just two wins in the last 17 league games. And against Forest, although they dominated in the first half and created the better chances, a worrying pattern had started to develop which had become a huge concern for fans. Leeds were producing performances with lots of positives, but not enough points.
There is little doubt that a large proportion of the fan base had lost patience with Marsch, and they made their frustrations clear at the full-time whistle on Sunday with calls for a change of head coach.
What is very evident is that Leeds have not kicked on this season. At times there have been really promising signs, but the fans and the board at Leeds wanted more. Marsch will feel that with time he could have delivered more, but he was also realistic enough to know that he was walking a tightrope.
I got to know Jesse well during his 12 months at Elland Road and it was abundantly clear he cared passionately about the club. He understood what it meant to be head coach of Leeds United and what the club meant to the city and the fans. And he has to be given great credit for keeping Leeds in the Premier League last season.
Although it hasn’t worked out for Marsch this season, there is a strong argument to suggest that the next Leeds boss will be in a great position to move the club forward.
Patrick Bamford and Luis Sinisterra are now fit, and the January additions should make the starting line-up stronger. The club has also invested heavily in young players and one of those, Willy Gnonto, has emerged as one of the shining lights of the season.
Those factors have created an expectation that Leeds are better than their current league position, and that means a reluctance to accept another season fighting to avoid the drop. It also means that there are reasons to be optimistic about the future.
The process of finding a replacement for Marsch is already underway and Leeds hope to make a swift appointment. A move for Marcelo Bielsa is highly unlikely, but West Brom boss Carlos Corberan, who worked under Bielsa, is a candidate, while Ange Postecoglou at Celtic has also been linked.
It is also worth noting Leeds have a track record of leftfield appointments, so as they work through their list of targets, there is a good chance that a candidate emerges that could surprise everybody.
In the meantime, Michael Skubala, Paco Gallardo and Chris Armas will take training at Thorp Arch, and will be in the dugout for Wednesday’s Premier League fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
February 8: Manchester United (A) – kick-off 8pm
February 12: Manchester United (H) – kick-off 2pm, live on Sky Sports
February 18: Everton (A) – kick-off 3pm
February 25: Southampton (H) – kick-off 3pm
March 4: Chelsea (A) – kick-off 3pm
March 11: Brighton (H) – kick-off 3pm
March 18: Wolves (A) – kick-off 3pm
Tom Brady in his underwear is taking over Twitter
It’s Super Bowl week, and if you thought Tom Brady was going to let this week go by without being all up in your timeline…well. Just a week after announcing he’s retiring from football (you’ll never convince me he didn’t play an extra year just to stick it to Adam Schefter), Tom Brady has dropped his first thirst trap on Twitter. Or, attempted thirst trap. Actually, IS this a thirst trap?
As will many things Tom Brady, the attempt to be cool and edgy just winds up being sterile, boring, and kinda sad. A beige man in a beige room in beige underwear with a “pleass clap” look on his face.
And because OF COURSE:
Yes, Tom. We all knew the plug as coming. I’m not sure what color “heather crimson” is supposed to be, but I believe this is what we used to call “puce,” which… meh. The fact that there is something called the “Brady Boxer Brief” is enough to make me want to stick my head in the oven, because you know there are guys in New England burning up the internet right now to wear the same undies as their hero. And even more so because no amount of refusing to mask during COVID, vouching for Antonio Brown, stumping for Donald Trump, or getting a PPP loan during a nationwide pandemic is enough to get people to stop buying what this guy is selling. He’s even gotten to Jane Fonda, for crying out loud.
Of course, this entire thing was set up by Brady’s own brand:
So…whatever. It’s Super Bowl week and everyone is talking about Tom Brady, which is exactly how he wants it to be.
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