The Royals have become the bookies’ favourite for the drop following an emotional week in which boss Brian McDermott and his assistant Nigel Gibbs left the club. The Reading players were left shocked by the news, with Dolan revealing morale had initially been “floored”, as owner Anton Zingarevich sought to turn the club’s fortunes around. With a replacement still to be courted and time running out the odds are, however, stacking up against the club. “I’ve asked for focus. We’ve got a Premier League to stay in and that’s our goal now,” Dolan said. Following a weekend in which their immediate relegation rivals all won – including Wigan’s stunning FA Cup quarter-final success at Everton – their five-game losing streak in all competitions has arguably left them as the most vulnerable of the bottom clubs. With nine games remaining Reading are four points adrift of safety, ahead of the resurgent QPR on goals scored only, while they are yet to keep a clean sheet in the league in 2013. It hardly gets any easier for them either with a horror fixture list sending them to champions-in-waiting Manchester United on Saturday, before a trip to Arsenal immediately after the international break. Even if the new manager is installed before then no Premier League club has survived the drop when replacing their boss in March. It is grim reading for the fans at the Madejski Stadium but Dolan is determined to keep spirits high. He added: “There are nine games to go to stay up. We have a realistic target to stay in this league. To do that we need to climb two places in nearly a quarter of the season. “We have to be clear about what we want to do. I am positive we can stay up – 100 per cent positive. The players were floored at the start of the week but they realise the importance for the club. We need to be in the Barclays Premier League next year. “It is in everyone’s interests from the owner, the board, the players, and Brian and Nigel to stay in the Premier League. If we do that then they’ll get even more credit.” Reading caretaker manager Eamonn Dolan has warned his players they cannot afford to feel sorry for themselves if they want to avoid relegation from the Barclays Premier League. Press Association
Ghana defender Samuel Inkoom says he will fancy a move outside Ukraine before the summer transfer window closes.The Former Asante Kotoko defender has re-joined his side Dnipro for their pre-season tour in Austria after last season’s second half loan stint with French Ligue 1 side Bastia.The 24-year old made a return to international football last month when he played in Ghana’s Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Sudan and Lesotho.Inkoom says will not hesitate to make move if a good deal is reached.“Every player wants to go forward and play for the biggest clubs in the World and as a player you need to achieve something in life so if a club comes and a good deal is reached I might move,” he told Joy sports“I have my agent who is working on that and so far I have been told two premiership clubs have shown interest, two from Turkey, one from France and Germany and my agent is still on so let’s see maybe I can go or stay Dnipro.”
But that doesn’t mean the teams aren’t without their weaknesses and questions. Here’s every team’s biggest strength, weakness and question heading into the 2019 MLB season.SN’s 2019 MLB GUIDES:AL: East | Central | WestNL: East | Central | WestMetsStrength: RotationWeakness: Health, health, health, healthQuestion: Can the Mets finally, finally, avoid major injuries?There’s a good chance that Citi Field was built on cursed ground. Last year, the Mets lost Noah Syndergaard to injury for a chunk of the year, Yoenis Cespedes for almost the entirety of it, and Jay Bruce dealt with back and hip issues all season.Though it’s early, the Mets have already lost Jed Lowrie and Todd Frazier to injuries. Drew Smith, a pretty key piece for the 2019 New York bullpen, is out for the season, as he will undergo Tommy John surgery. You’ll have a better chance of seeing Tim Tebow on the field in a Mets jersey than you will Cespedes. (That’s a real thing in 2019.)Fret not, though, the Mets boast plenty of talented players: Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario and Jeff McNeil to name some already on the major-league roster. Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith are battling it out for the first-base spot, and first-year GM Brodie Van Wagenen did a good job this offseason remedying two of the bigger issues around the team: depth and bullpen.Gotham NL acquired Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz from the Mariners, signed Jed Lowrie and Keon Broxton as smart depth pieces. The Mets signed Wilson Ramos to start behind the plate, hoping to end the revolving door of catchers that the team has faced for a few years.These are all fine and good, and on paper the Mets have a much better team heading into 2019 than they did in 2018. But that won’t mean a thing if they can’t keep their best players on the field throughout the season.NationalsStrength: Lineup, rotation.Weakness: ConsistencyQuestion: How will the Bryce Harper departure affect the team?The early answer to that question is “not much.”Nineteen-year-old wunderkind Juan Soto made lots of noise with his bat in 2018, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting, and the Nats still boast plenty of young talent.Harper leaving in free agency would signal a rebuild for most teams, but not Washington. Even without Harper, the Nationals still boast pretty good talent top to bottom: Soto, Trea Turner, Victor Robles, Anthony Rendon. They acquired Yan Gomes from Cleveland, solidifying the catcher spot and signed the No. 1 pitching free agent in Patrick Corbin.Washington fielding quality, competitive teams is as sure a thing as The Rock making bank at the box office: They’ve finished above .500 for the past seven seasons and won four division titles in that span. Dave Martinez is going to have to figure out what went wrong in his debut season as Nats manager, one in which they finished second in the NL East and could never seem to flip the switch. Manager aside, the rest of that team is going to be very, very good and should sit as the favorites in the division heading into 2019.PhilliesStrength: Lineup.Weakness: Bullpen.Question: Who are the Phillies?The Phillies were more up and down than an elevator in a New York highrise last year, finishing sub-.500 and 8-20 in September. With the addition of Bryce Harper, the Fightin’ Phils are in for a fight in the division.But who are the Phillies, really? While Philadelphia was touted by some to be a wild-card contender last year — to be fair, they were in the race for a fair amount of the season — they faltered down the stretch and had to make big-time changes and acquisitions this offseason to ensure that same thing doesn’t happen again in 2019.Consider this: The Phillies acquired the top four in their lineup this offseason: Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, Harper and J.T. Realmuto. Sprinkle in some Rhys Hoskins and you’ve got yourself a pretty good one through five. At the same time, knowing how those guys mesh together is going to be tough to project right now.The Phillies are also going to have to see some improvement from Scott Kingery — he was worth -1.5 bWAR in 2018 — and hope that Aaron Nola can repeat his 10.5-bWAR performance from 2018.So we’ll see a revamped Phillies team in 2019 — but who are the real Phillies? Are they still the team of the future or the present?MarlinsStrength: Uh.Weakness: Yikes.Question: How bad is it going to get?The Odyssey of the Marlins isn’t a secret to the baseball world: They traded reigning MVP Giancarlo Stanton in 2017, they traded the future NL MVP Christian Yelich in 2018 and traded start catcher J.T. Realmuto this offseason. They also parted with Marcell Ozuna after the 2017 season.For what it’s worth, the Marlins are on the right track of rebuilding, so save your jokes and insults for another day. For an organization as rotten as Miami had been over the past decade or so, the new ownership group does have a plan in place. But make no mistake, this year is going to be bad in Miami. Just how bad is the question. While they replenished some of the farm system with the recent trades, there’s still a ways to go until they’re competitive. But for now, the trainwreck in Miami is going to be one you can’t take your eyes off.BravesStrength: The top of the orderWeakness: Starting pitchingQuestion: Who is the real Josh Donaldson? The Beasts of the East.Four teams in the NL East are going to vie for a division crown in 2019 in one of the most loaded and improved divisions in all of baseball. Just check out the starpower among the five teams: J.T. Realmuto, Robinson Cano, Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, Ronald Acuna Jr., Juan Soto, Jacob deGrom, Aaron Nola. It’s an Avengers-like roster of quality names. The Braves won the NL East in 2018 on the strength of Ronald Acuna Jr.’s excellent rookie year. The Braves should have gone bigger in 2018, but it just wasn’t meant to be.Instead, they signed Josh Donaldson to a one-year prove-it deal at massive money. Donaldson grew up a Braves fan, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll translate to great production for Atlanta. In a small sample size with the Indians, Donaldson turned around his 2018 fortunes, hitting .280 with a .920 OPS in 16 games. Could that be the real Donaldson? Or is the real Donaldson the guy who faced injuries and was generally ineffective with the Blue Jays earlier in the year?The Braves are going to need Donaldson to turn back the clock and get back to MVP form to prove their 2018 wasn’t entirely a fluke, especially with a questionable rotation and better competition inside the division in 2019.