New York Red Bulls ready to move on Gary McAllister as new coach

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UPDATE: New York denies McAllister’s received offer

The number of head coaching vacancies in Major League Soccer is about to be cut in half. That’s because Gary McAllister, long-linked with the job in Harrison, appears set to be named head coach of the New York Red Bulls.

An announcement could happen as early as today, with a formal unveiling expected later this week.

McAllister’s last long term head coaching job was with Leeds United in 2008. With only caretaker stints at Aston Villa (where he was an assistant) between then a now, there’s little to say what he’ll bring to Red Bull area.

He’s Scottish, has a long history in the English game (playing for Leicester City, Leeds, Coventry City, and Liverpool), and is being brought in by two men (Andy Roxburgh and Gerard Houllier) hiring him based on his time in British football. Draw whatever stereotyping conclusions you want from that. They may be correct.

Given the wait-and-see approach we’ll have to take regarding McAllister’s on-field contributions, the most interesting parts of this story are …

  • a.) Now only Montreal is left without a coach. At last rumble, Impact owner Joey Saputo’s list was down to two candidates.
  • b.) FOX Soccer personality and U.S. Men’s National Team legend Eric Wynalda had talked with the team about the job. That Roxburgh and Houllier went in a different direction shows they have no aspirations to make my life as easy as possible.
  • c.) McAllister initially wanted $2 million to take the job, which sounds perfectly reasonable for an coach with limited managerial experience moving to a league with financial constraints that’s notoriously hard on imported coaches.

Steve’s talked about the foreign coach phenomenon, while I tend to take every opportunity I can to denounce Anglophilia in North American soccer culture. So on the surface, there is a lot for PST to dislike about this move.

But McAllister is a respected name, and not only because of his 23-year playing career or his 57 caps for Scotland. He has earned enough coaching credibility that a boss’s job was inevitable. That he’s elected to take one in Major League Soccer rather than descending the Football League’s ladder could prove a good lifestyle and career move. Success at a club with New York’s profile would be noticed back home (thanks to Thierry Henry).

Whether McAllister finds that success will depend on his willingness to adapt the the landscape. It’s been two short years since an Englishman led a club to a title (Gary Smith with Colorado in 2010). That will be the expectation in New York.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.