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Mar 29, 2011

Roy's record and getting shirty

Norman Hubbard is ESPNsoccernet's resident anorak. If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to asknorman@hotmail.com and he'll try to answer as many as possible.

I was watching Birmingham v West Brom and was momentarily shocked to see Roy Hodgson on the touchline. Of course, after my brain woke up I remembered that he was coaching another Premier League team now - West Bromwich. I think this is his fourth spell with a different Premier League team (third in the last year or so), which seems strange to me. Has any manager been the main man in more than four different Premier League teams? Vlad from New York asked.

You are right: within the last 12 months, Hodgson has managed Fulham, Liverpool and now West Brom. An earlier spell at Blackburn means he has been in charge of four Premier League teams. That puts him level with Graeme Souness (Liverpool, Southampton, Blackburn, Newcastle) and Harry Redknapp (West Ham, Portsmouth, Southampton, Tottenham). All still have some work to do to catch up with Ron Atkinson, who managed six top-flight teams - West Bromwich Albion, Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa, Coventry City and Nottingham Forest. Even 'Big Ron' is upstaged on the continent, however: by my reckoning, Luis Aragones has managed eight different clubs in La Liga and Carlo Mazzone has led a remarkable ten in Serie A.

As a Brighton & Hove Albion fan (now here in the US) I'm interested to know what is the longest spell any team has stayed in the top spot (of any of the English leagues)? Is our current spell at the top of League One a record? Rob Lamb from Lexington, South Carolina asked.

Gus Poyet's team are indeed on a terrific run. They have been top of League One since September 25. However, that isn't a record. There are a select group of teams who start the season with winning runs and never trail anyone else. Two such were Preston's Invincibles of 1888-89 and Jose Mourinho's Chelsea team of 2005-06. The North End team led the league from August 15, the Chelsea side from August 24, with only goal difference keeping them off the top beforehand. However, even they are surpassed by Tottenham's Double winners of 1960-61, who led the First Division from start to finish, beginning the season with 11 straight wins.

I was wondering if you could clarify the rules regarding players' shirt numbers in the Premier League and the Champions League/Europa League. The reason I ask is that when Andy Carroll made his Premier League debut for Liverpool against Man United he wore No. 9, but in his next game against Braga in the Europa League he had No. 29. This also reminds me of Man United's Treble-winning squad of 1999. In the Champions League (against Brondby, I think) I recall a young Wes Brown wearing No. 30, but in his subsequent Premier League appearances that same season he was wearing No. 24, which he would continue to wear until inheriting the No. 6 when Laurent Blanc retired some years later. Derek Lee from Australia wrote.

Yes, Carroll's first two games for Liverpool have the making of a quiz question. The reason is because of different rules between the Premier League and UEFA: in Europe, only one player can wear any squad number in a season for any one club and Fernando Torres had already been Liverpool's No. 9. That isn't an issue with the Premier League and once Torres left Liverpool, it was free to be allocated to anyone who wasn't registered under another number. Brown, incidentally, took the No. 6 shirt from Rio Ferdinand, who switched to No. 5 when Blanc retired.

Is Paul Scholes the most carded player in the history of the Premier League and the Champions League? Ralford Matthews from Kingston, Jamaica asked.

He is in the Champions League. Scholes' total of 32 yellow cards places him three ahead of AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso. In the Premier League, however, he only has a share of third place behind Lee Bowyer (99) and Kevin Davies (92). Then come Scholes and Robbie Savage, level on 89. The official statistics, by the way, do not count games in which two bookings led to a sending-off (red cards overriding a solitary yellow), which is why Bowyer has actually been shown a century of yellow cards.

Which forward holds the record for maximum number of red cards? Bishu from India asked.

In English football history, that record belongs to a rather short-tempered striker called Roy McDonough. In a career that included spells at Birmingham, Walsall, Chelsea, Colchester (twice), Southend (twice), Exeter and Cambridge, he collected 13 red cards in the league - a record he shares with defender Steve Walsh - and 21 in all competitions. That total of 21, by the way, is also the final tally of the former Rangers, West Brom and Scotland winger Willie Johnston, though his dismissals occurred on three different continents.

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