Claudio Ranieri does not fear history will repeat itself after comparisons were drawn between Sampdoria's predicament and the one he faced at Fulham. 

The 67-year-old has taken the reins at a club residing bottom of Serie A, with the Blucerchiati posting just three points from their opening seven games to cost Eusebio Di Francesco his job.

Fulham were also rooted to the foot of the Premier League table when the Italian took charge in November 2018, but he was dismissed after winning only three of his 17 games at the helm. 

However, Ranieri considers the task at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris to be vastly different from the one he took on at Craven Cottage. 

"Sampdoria are not Fulham. Don't forget, Fulham were a newly promoted club with players who had never been in the Premier League," he said.

"In the January transfer window, they followed the advice of algorithms. This is totally different. Sampdoria have played good football and are struggling, so now need the desire to fight hard.

"The quality towards the lower half of the table has improved significantly, which adds difficulties to us, but is also a sign that Italian football is returning to the top level."

It is Ranieri's birthday on Sunday and he will mark the occasion with a home match against his former employers and the club he supports, Roma.

"I am a Roma supporter, but have always appreciated Samp," he said, having also succeeded Di Francesco at Stadio Olimpico. 

"I was happy when they won the Scudetto [in 1991] and disappointed during the European Cup Final defeat at Wembley [in 1992]. I respect Di Francesco and hope he finds a new role as soon as possible.

"As for facing Roma on my debut – and my birthday – it's all wonderful. Naturally, when we step on to that pitch, there is no love, but only professionalism. May the best team win, we will try to give our best."

 

West Brom charged to the top of the Championship with a 4-2 win over Cardiff City as Slaven Bilic's side took advantage of shock losses for Swansea City and Leeds United.

Swansea went down 2-1 at home to struggling Stoke City, while 10-man Leeds were beaten by the same scoreline away to Millwall.

Those results allowed West Brom to surge to the summit, while Nottingham Forest – who beat Brentford 1-0 at home – moved up to second, with only goal difference keeping them off the top.

Preston North End and Bristol City are the other occupants of the top six after they won on Saturday, with Derby County, Huddersfield Town, QPR and Sheffield Wednesday also tasting victory.

 

SWANSEA AND LEEDS SHOCKED

Swansea were top of the league and playing winless bottom side Stoke, who had baffled many observers by sticking with manager Nathan Jones this week.

It looked like the match would go exactly as the form book suggested when Andre Ayew scored after 57 seconds, but Sam Clucas levelled the match and substitute Scott Hogan scored from close range in the last minute to seal a stunning victory.

Leeds were unable to overcome a 14th-minute incident that saw Gaetano Berardi sent off for conceding a penalty by fouling Tom Bradshaw, with Jed Wallace converting the Millwall spot-kick.

Bradshaw's backheel made it two on the stroke of half-time and despite Ezgjan Alioski getting a goal back 16 seconds into the second half, Leeds could not salvage a point as Millwall caretaker boss Adam Barrett – who has been linked with the vacant managerial role at Southend United – made a superb start.

 

WEST BROM TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE

Impressive loanee Matheus Pereira scored one and set up two more as West Brom won their third straight home game despite Cardiff making life interesting towards the end.

Long-range strikes from Pereira, Grady Diangana and Charlie Austin had the Baggies three goals clear with 15 minutes to go, but substitute Danny Ward scored twice for the Bluebirds before Romaine Sawyers sealed the hosts' victory in stoppage time.

Ben Watson's volleyed winner – his second goal in as many home games – was enough to earn victory for Forest, who are now 10 league games unbeaten.

Preston are one point behind the new top two after Daniel Johnson scored twice in a 5-1 home win over second-bottom Barnsley, Alex Neil's men scoring four times in 27 second-half minutes.

 

MITROVIC EARNS DRAMATIC DRAW

Fulham came from behind on two occasions to draw 2-2 with Charlton Athletic at Craven Cottage, a clever finish from on-loan Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher having put the visitors ahead in the first half.

Three goals in a mad eight-minute spell after the break meant the match was level after 63 minutes, Ivan Cavaleiro finding the top corner and Aleksandar Mitrovic scoring from close range for Fulham either side of a Macauley Bonne header.

Scott Parker's men dropped two places to seventh, one place behind Bristol City who beat Reading 1-0 courtesy of Famara Diedhiou's early diving header, Daniel Bentley impressing in goal for the home victors.

Elsewhere, Tom Lawrence – who has been charged with drink-driving – was among the scorers as Luton Town lost 2-0 at Derby.

Huddersfield beat Hull 3-0 to move out the bottom three, Massimo Luongo scored the only goal as Sheffield Wednesday saw off Wigan Athletic and Eberechi Eze netted in QPR's 4-2 win over Blackburn Rovers.

Leeds United reclaimed top spot in the Championship with a 1-0 victory over West Brom, while Huddersfield Town picked up their first win of the campaign away at rock-bottom Stoke City.

Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds side had won just one in four previous league outings, but Ezgjan Alioski's strike seven minutes before half-time at Elland Road lifted them back to the summit.

At the opposite end of the table, Huddersfield got off the mark under Danny Cowley - appointed as Jan Siewert's successor last month - thanks to a late 1-0 victory over Stoke at the bet365 Stadium.

Juninho Bacuna scored from Huddersfield's first shot on target to end a winless run spanning 19 league matches, a result that leaves Stoke at the foot of the table and with the pressure well and truly on boss Nathan Jones.

FOREST SLIP UP

Nottingham Forest had led the way at the top of the division after Saturday's action, but they were held to a 1-1 draw by Blackburn Rovers in Lancashire.

Joe Lolley scored two minutes after Adam Armstrong had opened the scoring for Blackburn, though Forest could not find a winner and slip to third in the table, behind West Brom on goal difference.

Fulham are now just a point behind Forest and two adrift of league leaders Leeds after thumping Reading 4-1 at the Madejski Stadium.

Aleksandar Mitrovic and Tom Cairney helped themselves to a couple of goals apiece before Reading, who had John Swift sent off 20 minutes in with the score at 1-0, pulled one back through Yakou Meite.

BORO'S SLOW START CONTINUES

Middlesbrough had Darnell Fisher to thank as they recovered to earn a 1-1 draw against Preston, though it is now just two wins in 11 matches for head coach Jonathan Woodgate. 

Preston defender Fisher put the ball into his own net under pressure less than two minutes after Josh Harrop had opened the scoring for the play-off chasing visitors, who are unbeaten in seven league outings.

Sheffield Wednesday also have eyes on the top six, but they suffered a 1-0 loss at Yorkshire rivals Hull City.

Tom Eaves found a way through with a bullet header 18 minutes from time to score his first goal for the club and condemn Wednesday to their fourth defeat of the campaign.

Birmingham City also dropped down the table following a 1-0 defeat in their meeting with Wigan Athletic, who secured the three points through Anthony Pilkington's long-range striker on his return from injury.

Pep Clotet's side have now lost three games in a row and are 14th in the table, two points above their opponents.

Nottingham Forest are top of the Championship after a 3-2 comeback win at struggling Stoke City, while Fulham moved up to seventh place in the table by beating Wigan Athletic 2-0.

Nathan Jones' woes deepened as his Stoke side, knocked out of the EFL Cup by lower-league outfit Crawley Town this week, collapsed to their seventh league defeat of the campaign.

The Potters took a 10th-minute lead at the bet365 Stadium on Friday when Lee Gregory controlled the ball in the box and fired home from close range.

Forest hit back before half-time with a driven finish from Joe Lolley beating goalkeeper Jack Butland and Sammy Ameobi then crashed home a header from Matthew Cash's perfect right-wing cross.

Sabri Lamouchi's side extended their lead in the 61st minute when Lewis Grabban hit his fifth Championship goal of the season, but first in over a month, after fine work on the left from Ameobi.

James McClean struck to spark hope of a Stoke fightback but Forest, who have won four out of their past five league games, held on and climb above teams including Swansea City and Leeds United to take top spot by a point.

In Friday's other game at Craven Cottage, second-half goals from Joe Bryan and captain Tom Cairney saw Fulham end a run of five games without a win in all competitions, with Wigan still yet to record an away victory this season.

Dimitar Berbatov has announced his retirement from football, saying: "I played the way I wanna play, and I scored the goals I wanted to score!"

The 38-year-old former Manchester United, Tottenham and Bayer Leverkusen striker played his last game for Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League in February 2018.

He announced his retirement on the ninth anniversary of his hat-trick for Manchester United in a memorable 3-2 win over rivals Liverpool.

After starting his career at CSKA Sofia, Bulgarian Berbatov made a name for himself in the Bundesliga with Leverkusen and then enjoyed success in the Premier League with Spurs.

United paid £28million to take him to Old Trafford in August 2008 and he won two Premier League titles with the club, before going on to play for Fulham, Monaco, PAOK and Kerala.

In a post on his Instagram account, Berbatov said: "My last game was more than one year ago, so I think it's the right time now to stop and it's long overdue!

"Although when I think about it, it's never The End, because I will stay in the game in one way or another, the time has come to say that after almost 20 years playing football I am stopping with my professional ACTIVE football career!

"I will miss it! I will f***ing miss it! Everything! The games, trainings, the goals, preparations, the pressure, my teammates…the roar of the fans when I scored another banger.

"I was blessed and work hard to have the opportunity to play with one of the best ever and against some of the best ever! And coming from small country this makes it even more special for me!"

Berbatov reflected on the ups and downs of a career that included three Champions League final defeats – one with Leverkusen and two with United.

His most prolific spell came in Germany, where he netted 91 goals in 202 matches for Leverkusen, but he won his only league titles at United, along with the League Cup, the Community Shield and the FIFA Club World Cup.

He also netted 48 goals in 78 appearances for Bulgaria to become the country's all-time leading scorer before retiring from international football in 2012.

"I had my highs and of course some lows in my career, won my fair share of trophies, scored some goals along the way as well!" said Berbatov.

"I played the way I wanna play, and I scored the goals I wanted to score!

"Thank you to all the people who helped me develop, and became the player I always wanted to be!

"Thank you to all my former teams, my teammates and my coaches and staff! It was a pleasure! I know at times I was not easy to work with, but I always gave my everything for the teams I played for!

"I hope you all have enjoyed my game, and everything I gave to entertain you on the pitch!"

Jamaica international Michael Hector has officially completed a move from English Premier League (EPL) club Chelsea to Championship club Fulham but will be unable to play until the next transfer window.

The 27-year-old Reggae Boy joined the Blues in a surprise move on deadline day in 2015 but was immediately loaned back to Reading for the 2015-2016 campaign.

 The defender spent the next three seasons on loan at clubs like Eintracht Frankfurt, Hull City, and Sheffield Wednesday and never made an appearance for his parent club.  Although he cannot officially beginning playing for the club until January, Hector will join Fulham to immediately begin training with the squad.

“Although Michael can’t officially join our First Team until January, what’s important is he’s now a member of Fulham Football Club,” Fulham’s co-owner Tony Khan said.

“Michael will help us challenge for promotion and make us better in the second half of the season, at a time when depth, experience, and quality will be at a premium in the Championship. Come on Fulham!” he added.

He spent last season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, playing in 37 Championship games for the Owls.

“It was an easy decision to make. My mum’s from Fulham, so it’s nice to join a club that some of my family support,” Hector told Fulham’s official club website.

Hector, who was close to completing a deal to join the club on deadline day before it fell through, signed a two and a half year contract.

 

 

Fulham have announced they will sign Michael Hector from Chelsea in January for an undisclosed fee.

Defender Hector joined the Blues from Reading in 2015 but has never made a competitive appearance for the club.

He spent last season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, playing in 37 Championship games for the Owls.

The Jamaica international has also had time on loan with Hull City and Eintracht Frankfurt but has committed his future to Fulham until 2022, with the club also holding the option to extend for a further 12 months.

"It was an easy decision to make. My mum's from Fulham, so it’s nice to join a club that some of my family support," Hector told Fulham's official club website.

"It's good to now be a part of the set-up here. Hopefully things can work out well and we can get promoted. I know how tough the Championship is and it won't be any different for us.

"We'll have to work hard for it but the squad is very good and my job will be to help them push for promotion."

Hector will train with Fulham, who are sixth in the Championship table, until completing his move to Craven Cottage at the start of 2020.

I wish I could decide my career like in Football Manager.

That was the thought of Christian Eriksen after he was unable to engineer a move away from Tottenham.

The transfer window slammed shut on Monday but Eriksen is still in the headlines.

 

TOP STORY – INTER EYE ERIKSEN BID

Inter are interested in making a January move for Tottenham star Eriksen, claims The Express.

Eriksen wanted to leave Spurs prior to the transfer window closing but a departure did not materialise amid reported interest from the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus.

Now, Antonio Conte's Inter could be willing to offer Eriksen a way out of London.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to The Sun, Inter may have a battle to secure Eriksen's signature. Having been linked during the transfer window, Manchester United are reportedly preparing a shock move for the Spurs star in January.

- Marca says Neymar's father "harassed" Real Madrid with phone calls as a return to Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain became more unlikely.

- AS reports that Mariano Diaz rejected a move to Schalke prior to Monday's transfer deadline day. The Bundesliga side wanted Diaz, however, the Real Madrid forward opted to remain at the Santiago Bernabeu.

- Yannick Bolasie turned down the chance to join Russian giants CSKA Moscow over racism fears, according to the Daily Mail. He decided to swap Everton for Sporting CP on loan instead.

- What is better than one Sessegnon? Two. After signing Ryan from Fulham, Tottenham are targeting his twin brother Steven Sessegnon, says The Sun.

Cardiff City were unable to make the most of their numerical advantage as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by 10-man Fulham, with Harry Arter sent off against his former club.

The contest between sides relegated from the Premier League last season saw two contrasting styles on display, but in the end neither Fulham's possession-based approach nor Cardiff's more direct outlook came up trumps.

Fulham started the brighter of the two teams, but Cardiff improved after the half-hour mark and found the breakthrough in the 42nd minute on the counter – Josh Murphy firing across Marcus Bettinelli.

But their lead did not even last until the break, Tom Cairney releasing Ivan Cavaleiro and his low delivery was tapped in by Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Fulham's hopes took a hit 22 minutes from time when midfielder Arter – who spent the 2018-19 season on loan at Cardiff - was dismissed for a second bookable offence, appearing to dive just a few moments after being handed his first yellow card for a robust challenge.

The Cottagers understandably sat back more after the dismissal but Cardiff failed to break them down, with the point leaving Fulham fourth and their hosts in 10th place in the table.

Fulham thrashed Millwall on Wednesday but are only third in the Championship table thanks to victories for Leeds United and Swansea City.

Sheffield Wednesday went top on Tuesday but have dropped three places following wins for three of the early-season pacesetters.

Cardiff City overcame Huddersfield Town in south Wales in a battle of two of last season's Premier League sides, while Jack Butland had a game to forget for Stoke City at Preston North End.

West Brom and Nottingham Forest, meanwhile, each earned a point by virtue of late goals.

 

FULHAM ON SONG AS CARDIFF EDGE HUDDERSFIELD

Fulham's front three of Ivan Cavaleiro, Anthony Knockaert and Aleksandar Mitrovic is starting to look a formidable attacking threat.

All three were on the scoresheet as the Cottagers saw off Millwall 4-0 for a third win in a row in England's second tier.

Cavaleiro fired home the opener and crossed for Knockaert to make it 2-0 at the end of a move that saw 26 completed passes involving all 11 Fulham players.

Mitrovic got the third from the penalty spot and Cavaleiro added a cool fourth for a Fulham side who enjoyed a remarkable 84 per cent of the possession and completed 934 passes.

Cardiff and Huddersfield, who joined Fulham in dropping out of the Premier League last season, played out a much more even encounter at Cardiff City Stadium.

Trevoh Chalobah cancelled out Joe Ralls' opener, but Neil Warnock's side snatched all three points in the 88th minute through Junior Hoilett's deflected strike.

LEEDS AND SWANSEA SETTING THE STANDARD

Leeds and Swansea are the only two teams with 10 points from their first four games of the season, although Marcelo Bielsa's side left it late at home to Brentford.

Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah was the hero on his Championship debut at Elland Road, tapping in Helder Costa's cross with nine minutes to go to seal a 1-0 win.

Swansea were a little more comfortable, although their 3-1 win away to QPR came despite them attempting 10 shots to the hosts' 22.

Bersant Celina put them ahead and, after Jordan Hugill headed in an equaliser, Borja Baston converted a penalty and Sam Surridge secured the points at Loftus Road.

BUTLAND IN DEEP TROUBLE AT DEEPDALE

Stoke's miserable start to the season continued with a 3-1 loss to Preston in which goalkeeper Butland had something of a nightmare.

Having failed to stop Daniel Johnson's improvised half-volley from finding the bottom-right corner, Butland allowed Billy Bodin's shot to squirm beneath his body and put Preston 2-0 up after 25 minutes.

Former Manchester United man Josh Harrop netted the third from a rebound after Butland denied Johnson, meaning James McClean's close-range finish was little consolation for a side who have taken one point from four games.

West Brom had been staring at a home defeat to Reading until the 88th minute, when Kenneth Zohore's penalty – conceded by Ovie Ejaria – cancelled out a stunning goal from the Royals' Liverpool loanee.

Charlton Athletic's meeting with Forest at The Valley also finished 1-1, with Albert Adomah earning a point after Lyle Taylor had headed in the opener.

Huddersfield Town have sacked head coach Jan Siewert three matches into the new Championship season.

Siewert was appointed by Huddersfield in January following David Wagner's departure but he failed to keep the club, who were already facing relegation, in the Premier League.

The German was dismissed after Friday's 2-1 home defeat to fellow relegated side Fulham left the Terriers 20th in the second tier having taken one point from three games.

Huddersfield won a single match in all competitions - beating Wolves at home in February - during Siewert's seven-month tenure.

They also crashed out of the EFL Cup at the first hurdle this week, losing 1-0 at home to League One side Lincoln City.

Karlan Grant scored for the third Championship game in a row but Ivan Cavaleiro struck late to earn Fulham a 2-1 win at Huddersfield Town on Friday.

Fulham took the lead in the 51st minute when Juninho Bacuna hacked an awful clearance into the air with Aleksandar Mitrovic climbing above Tommy Elphick to profit on the error by nodding home at the back post.

Their advantage lasted only six minutes as Grant's third goal of the season levelled the scores, the striker's header narrowly crossing the line despite the best efforts of Cottagers goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli.

But Fulham followed a 2-0 home win over Blackburn Rovers last time out with another three points against their fellow relegated outfit, who are yet to win this term, when Cavaleiro whipped in a fantastic finish in the 80th minute.

Jamaica international Michael Hector is likely to be without regular first-team football until the next transfer window after deadline day moves to Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham collapsed.

The 27-year-old defender signed with Premier League club Chelsea in 2015 but has spent all his time on various loan spells.  Since signing for the Blues, at Stamford Bridge, the Jamaican has been loaned back to Reading to Frankfurt, Hull City, and Sheffield Wednesday.

Having clearly found himself to not be a part of new manager Frank Lampard’s plans, Hector was in talks with Sheffield Wednesday over a permanent move a few days before the close of the summer window. 

Chelsea were, however, said to want £5 million for Hector, who recently entered the final year of his contract with the club for whom he has never played a competitive fixture. 

The player came close to joining Fulham on Thursday but that move fell through.  Fulham were hopeful of landing Hector before the window closed but couldn't as they were still waiting on the agreement for Ryan Sessegnon to be completed with Tottenham.

The Cottagers were then forced to go for other targets on loan in order to comply with FFP regulations.  Hector is, however, expected to join the club in the January window.

 

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