Rafa Benitez and Newcastle finally part ways, what next?

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In the end it was no surprise that Newcastle would let Rafa Benitez leave the club. It was a relationship that painfully never worked and it still seems a rather odd choice and turn of events that Benitez went to the Magpies in the first place.

Benitez’s 3 year reign ended this past weekend after he was critical of the board and was quoted as saying that he didn’t see a way forward for the club- he is right.

The Spaniard has been incredibly loyal to Newcastle, what other manager who has just come from Real Madrid takes over a team in the English Championship? After getting the Magpies promoted he simply wasn’t given the budget for Premier League football. At the same time he was able to keep the club up, but they still finished in the bottom half the table this season.

Benitez and club owner Mike Ashley just never got along and it usually came down to a power struggle about money. Benitez wanted experienced quality players whilst Ashley was happy to spend little but bring in youth so they could be sold for much higher rates, the exact strategy it seems that Monaco have adopted over the last few years.

Tick tock and with Benitez’s contract running out day by day, he refused to sign a one year extension and his reign is over. He was more or less loved by the fans and at the end of the day only wanted a transfer budget befitting a team that are trying to finish in the top half of the Premier League. Ashley just wanted a team that would survive in the Premier League. He still has that but for how much longer? And the rift between Ashley and the fans seems to have grown much wider.

So who is the favourite to take over at St. James’ Park? That name is Mikel Arteta currently the number 2 at Manchester City. Other names that have been mentioned are Claudio Ranieri, Gary Monk, David Moyes and Jose Mourinho. Perhaps Mourinho’s name doesn’t look right in that list but Mourinho is actually the second favourite to take the job given that Ashley may finally sell it to middle eastern billionaires, if that happens then even more change will happen for the Magpies.

As for Benitez he may just take a year off before looking at his options again, there is little doubt that he will be back with a major team again and perhaps will want to prove Newcastle wrong for letting him go.

 

From Real Madrid to PSG- Are major European clubs ignoring the special one Jose Mourinho?

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Jose Mourinho has been out of a job since being sacked as Manchester United manager back in December and while he is adamant that he will be back coaching soon, it doesn’t seem that way at all. One could, with all validity wonder if the same European super clubs have had enough of the special one?

One huge telling point was when Mourinho was linked with a return back to Real Madrid. And it almost made sense given how poor the club had been under Santiago Solari. True Solari could not be wholly blamed for Madrid’s chaotic season but his name simply did not scream ‘big enough’ for the club. Madrid were not getting the desired results and Mourinho was out of a job.

There was talk and then a feeling that Florentino Perez the Real Madrid president would go back to Mourinho. It’s true that his style the first time around did not seem to fit the club, but with Mourinho comes trophies- there have always been trophies before the inevitable meltdown. But this time Madrid passed and before you could say French football legend- Zinedine Zidane was back at the same club he had walked out on the summer before. Mourinho had been ignored.

There was talk he could go back to Portugal and coach Porto where the glory all started. But Mourinho himself dismissed this idea. Then there was the Bayern Munich link but despite Novak Kovac’s up and down season in his debut one for the club, Bayern did win the league and he doesn’t look like he will be going anywhere.

The links continued- how about PSG? The job would surely have been the perfect fit for Mourinho who would have had a bottomless pit of money to buy whoever he wants. But PSG turned round and gave current coach Thomas Tuchel a new 3 year deal.

Once Juventus had parted ways with Massimo Allegri this seemed to open up the door for Mourinho to seamlessly join the biggest and best club in Italy where he would be reunited with Cristiano Ronaldo. But Juventus appointed Maurizio Sarri instead.

So now we arrive at a point where all of the vacancies at the big clubs have long but gone. It just makes that question even more intriguing- where will Mourinho go next?

That club could be Newcastle United, a club that never would have been linked with Mourinho even six months ago. The change is that the Magpies might be taken over and a cash injection that much to rival PSG could be on the cards, with the club seeing a major overhaul.

All of this could sound ideal for Mourinho apart from the fact that even when clubs get taken over and are thrown pots of money at them it takes time to adapt and become used to winning league titles- it did for Manchester City. For Chelsea it was quicker, but then again by that point Arsenal were fading in the mid 2000s and Chelsea’s only legit rival was Manchester United.

Now the Premier League is incredibly hard to win and next season it should be a two way tussle between Manchester City and Liverpool. As for Mourinho if he does join Newcastle, will he be around to see the club reap the benefits, before his 3rd season syndrome kicks in?

Football is a party and for now it feels like Mourinho does not have an invitation.

Are Newcastle about to become the next Manchester City?

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There isn’t a whole lot of love for Newcastle United’s owner Mike Ashley, from the current manager Rafa Benitez to the fans there has been friction between the ‘three’ which has caused problems on the pitch as well as off. Now that could be set to change in a massive way as reports suggest that Mike Ashley will sell the club for around £350m.

Of course we have been here before and it was revealed just last year that Ashley almost sold the club to Sheikh Mansour who of course went on to purchase Manchester City and the club never looked back.

But this time it feels more concrete more real and unless something dramatic happens in the coming days it seems that now is finally the time that Ashley will sell his beloved club, a team that he has supported for his whole life. But what will leave fans and the football world flabbergasted is that Ashley looks set to sell the club to Shiekh Khaled.

Shiekh Khaled is a cousin of Shiekh Mansour and the thinking is that if Khaled does take over the club that the Magpies could end up being one of the big teams of the Premier League.

Newcastle have had to endure a torrid time in recent years and it has been almost 25 years since they nearly won the league which was scuppered in the heat of the moment when Alex Ferguson’s mind games got the better of the then Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan and the club blew a 12 point lead. Since then it has been a battle without any trophies and one wonders if a new era could be taking shape at the infamous club.

What is certain is that manager Rafa Benitez who has been incredibly loyal to the club after coaching them in the Championship could leave the club at the end of June when his contract runs out. No one at the club wants that given that the Magpies have to stabilise. It is thought that if Khaled does take over the club that he wants to keep Benitez as manager, which would be good for the club.

As far as how much the Premier League has changed it all started when Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea in 2003. That signalled the end of Arsenal and Manchester United’s reign of the English league. A few years later it was Manchester City. As we enter a new decade could it be that Newcastle will join them? Will Khaled change the history of the club? This summer will undoubtedly be one of the biggest of Newcastle’s in some time.

EPL Game of the Weekend – Newcastle vs Liverpool

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When you are still in the race for a league title, the pressure is of course on. At this late stage of the season, with a single point deficit and an away day to consider, one could be forgiven for feeling a little added pressure on your day job. When you are Liverpool, with the weight of the expectations of millions of fans across the globe resting heavily on your shoulders and facing an uphill battle to reclaim the crown once so familiar, an away day at Newcastle United is one of the last things you would fancy. That is not a knock on Newcastle at all, of course – but with such a rich history of clashes between the two sides, and with reining champions Man City watching on with interest, anyone connected with the Reds could be forgiven for feeling somewhat pressured.

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EPL Player of the Week – Ayoze Perez (Newcastle)

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With the future of Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez still very much up in the air – despite the Spaniard recently indicating he would be happy to remain on Tyneside beyond the expiration of his current contract in the summer – the club’s fans will take all the good news they can get at this stage. After a decent, albeit underwhelming, season now all but finished the sight of seeing one of your own players controlling a game and capping it all off with a hattrick is a beautiful one to behold. That is exactly what 25-year-old Spaniard Ayoze Perez delivered during the Magpies’ home game against Southampton last weekend, scoring all three goals in the 3-1 win which secured the Tynesiders’ Premier League survival.

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EPL Best XI – Week 35

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With the Premier League season continuing whittling itself down to what seems destined to be a thrilling conclusion, nothing more was decided during this past weekend’s action. The battle to avoid being the last side to be relegated from the top flight this season remains far from over, while various intricate races / challenges at the top of the table appear nowhere nearer to being resolved. Liverpool remain two points ahead of Man City at the top of the league with City having a game in hand, Everton impressed many by beating Man Utd 4-0 at Goodison Park and Crystal Palace pulled off a great 3-2 win over Arsenal at the Emirates. With all that said, let us now adopt a 4-3-3 formation and take a peek at which players performed the best this weekend.

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Predicted lineups for this weekend’s Premier League action

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The FA Cup semi-finals take place this weekend in England. As a result, there will be only six Premier League fixtures played between Friday and Monday.

St Mary’s is where the action starts with the meeting of Southampton and Liverpool on Friday night. It’s a huge fixture in the Premier League title race with Jurgen Klopp’s Reds looking to go back on top with a win.

At the other end, Burnley will be hoping to take something from their game at Bournemouth as they look to shake off Cardiff City in the battle to survive relegation.

Arsenal and Chelsea are the only two teams from the top-four battle who are in league action over the coming days. Continue reading

EPL Weekend Picks – Week 33

HiguainThere is quite a bit of Premier League football to see this week, with games every day bar Thursday. For the purposes of this week’s list we will be looking more at the matches taking place between Friday 5th and Monday 8th, so Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s fixtures won’t be considered too heavily here. Friday sees Southampton hosting Liverpool in what should be an entertaining game, while Saturday’s best match sees Newcastle welcoming Crystal Palace to Tyneside. On Sunday, Arsenal travel to the blue half of Merseyside to do battle with Everton, and Chelsea host West Ham on Monday. With that in mind, let’s adopt a 4-3-3 formation this time around and look into our crystal balls to see which players could be worth your consideration.

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Predicted lineups for this weekend’s EPL action

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It’s FA Cup weekend coming up so there are just five EPL matches to look forward to.

Saturday’s games see Bournemouth host Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United at the Vitality Stadium while Huddersfield Town make the trip to London to face West Ham United.

Brendan Rodgers brings his Leicester team to face Burnley at Turf Moor at the same time. Burnley have lost their last three league games while Leicester won 3-1 against Fulham last time out.

On Sunday, Liverpool travel to meet Fulham as The Reds look to go back to the top of the Premier League, temporarily at least. Everton play host to Chelsea later that day. The Toffees have won just once in their last six games. Chelsea drew 1-1 with Wolves last Sunday.

EPL Game of the Weekend – Newcastle vs Everton

perezNewcastle fans have had something of a rough time of things this season – they have seen their side struggle to finish off the opposition, struggle to pick up the wins and all the while without the safety of knowing that their popular manager will be at the club for a great deal longer. With rumours surrounding the future of Rafa Benitez refusing to go away, the players have, at times, seemed unable to muster what was needed to get the job done. The quality in the squad can not be disregarded, but this has not always lent itself to fluent performances. As a result, when the Toon Army saw their heroes fall two goals down at home to Everton on Saturday, they could have been forgiven for expecting the worst.

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