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 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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Is Rafa Benitez ruining his career at Newcastle United?

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How Rafa Benitez is still manager at Newcastle United is anyone’s guess. He has had major run ins with owner Mike Ashley and has not been given the budget to match his transfer requests after steering the team to Premier League football.

Benitez has been a real servant to the club and let’s not make any mistake about it Newcastle are a big club with a fine stadium and a fantastic set of supporters. But did Benitez make a huge error joining the club and has he overstayed his welcome?

It all must have hit home for him on Boxing Day when his troubled side travelled to Anfield to play Liverpool. Just over 10 years ago he was the boss man at Liverpool where he oversaw 2 Champions League finals with The Reds winning in 2005 in that infamous final with AC Milan where they came back from 3-0 down to win the trophy. Utterly memorable times. Fast forward to 2018 and Benitez saw his side lose 4-0 to Jurgen Klopp’s team one that is still unbeaten for the season, it was easy to feel sorry for how far Benitez has fallen managing a team that are in the bottom six of the league and could be relegated.

And relegated is word that Benitez has used on more than one occasion this season. Benitez has been manager of Newcastle for 2 years following his sacking at Real Madrid that lasted for 7 months after him and his coaching team made fatal errors. One of them at Madrid was fielding an ineligible player in a Copa del Rey match that meant the club were thrown out of that seasons competition. It was a schoolboy error at the biggest club in the world and could not be tolerated.

Somewhat one could argue that Benitez shied away from La Liga and the big leagues to take a job with Newcastle who were at that stage in the Championship, that decision in and of itself seemed like a shock one. But his decision seemed justified as The Magpies under his guidance were promoted to the Premier League.

But it has been a hard slog back in the league this season and Benitez has won just 42.7% of his games with the club. This is his lowest win rate since coaching in the second division of the Spanish league 21 years ago.

At 58 Benitez has time on his hands and he has at least another 10 years maybe more in the game as a coach. But one has to wonder if he has damaged his resume somewhat by sticking with Newcastle. Not seen as a lack of respect for this great team but they are not amongst the elite of some of the clubs that Benitez has coached in his career. Some believe this will be his final season with Newcastle, he has the support of the fans and after the club was relegated he stayed with them, not many coaches of his experience would have done that.

Benitez remains a very special manager but will some of the bigger clubs believe that to be true and will these past few seasons be thought of as the wilderness years for him?

Which Premier League strugglers will sack their manager before 2019?

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The 2018-19 Premier League relegation battle is one of the most difficult to predict in the league’s 26-year history.

At the start of November, Newcastle and Huddersfield had three points from 10 matches, while newly promoted Cardiff and Fulham were hovering just above them on five points.

Having won three matches between them, it looked as though those four teams would be fighting to escape the drop zone all throughout the season.

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The huge problem facing Burnley and Newcastle that nobody talks about

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What do Sean Dyche, Alan Pardew and Michael Laudrup have in common? All three of them know first hand how taxing and frustrating the Europa League can be on teams who are not built to compete in it; though only the former, and his Burnley side, are still living through it now. The Clarets are preparing to welcome Newcastle United to Turf Moor on Monday night.

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Benitez: Substitutes crucial to Newcastle’s first win

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Just six minutes after half time during Newcastle United’s first win of the season against Watford on Saturday, everyobody feared the worst. Jonjo Shelvey, the creative hub of Rafael Benitez’s squad, hobbled off the pitch to be replaced by Ki Sung-Yueng. He was joining Yoshinori Muto and Jamaal Lascelles in being forced off through injury.

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Is it time for Rafa to walk away from Newcastle?

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He’s still saying all of the right things as far as the club are concerned.

Rafa Benitez’s most recent press conference had the Spaniard suggesting that he truly believes he can make Newcastle a top eight Premier League club, albeit his most immediate priority is survival.

No wins, bottom of the table and with things looking more and more desperate after each passing week, one has to admire Rafa’s optimism. Continue reading

Should Rafa Benitez be given a second chance at Real Madrid?

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Julen Lopetegui’s job isn’t just on the line at Real Madrid, it’s basically over it after he saw his team destroyed in El Clasico by Barcelona 5-1. This has left the European champions in 9th place, so bad is this position for the club that you almost have to glance twice at the tables.

Real have now lost 40% of their games and are 7 points behind leaders Barcelona who won 5-1 without Lionel Messi who is injured. The pressure was already under Lopetegui before the game and this result will surely end his job. Club president Florentino Perez has continued to take no prisoners when he sees his team hit a bad run of form, and Madrid’s display only underlined why Zinedine Zidane decided to leave in the summer, it was absolutely perfect timing.

As for Lopetegui, if he does, as expected, get the chop he’s in no mans land. In charge of the national team, Spain he went over 20 games unbeaten but after his ill timed move to Real Madrid before the World Cup, it has all gone wrong for him, and the gamble has massively backfired. In truth Lopetegui is a good manager, but he won’t be given the time to change things around for the club.

Rumours have already surfaced that assistant coach and former player Santiago Solari will take over, but that could just be in a temporary role. Real Madrid will be looking in earnest for a new permanent manager, but who should that be?

One name that comes to mind is Rafa Benitez. Benitez of course was given the job a few seasons ago and lasted just 7 months in the hot seat. He had lost just 3 games but Perez fired Benitez for three reasons: The first was that the defeats had become significant against their title rivals. The second was that he didn’t have a grip of the dressing room and the third led to a huge error where Madrid were ejected from the Copa del Rey after they played an ineligible player. It was, to put it mildly a bit of a circus.

But some credit needs to go to Benitez- a very decent manager. He took over at Championship side Newcastle United, then got them promoted to the Premier League and then received no backing from the chairman. Newcastle look destined for a relegation dog fight this season and if Madrid come knocking for Benitez surely he would go.

Benitez loves the club and his career has swarmed in and around Real. He has tons of experience in Spain, notably with Valencia. He could be the calm that the team need in the heat of Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure which has surely rocked the club. Other coaches will be amongst the favourites to be the next Madrid manager, but perhaps the right choice is staring Perez in the face.