Ben Olsen admits his job on the line at D.C. United

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It’s getting harder and harder to see how D.C. United manager Ben Olsen survives his team’s dismal, ongoing plunge into the 2013 season. United’s campaign quickly went into a ditch, and the club’s third-year manager, still the league’s youngest, appears unable to pull it out.

Last night’s 4-0 loss to D.C. United wasn’t just his team’s sixth consecutive loss; it was a wet metaphor for what this season has become, an effort uninspired and full of error, dripping with alarming indifference on the field and obviously flagging interest in the stands.

Forget for a second that four-goal losses at home are quite rare in soccer; meanwhile, consider that Houston was ripe for exploiting, having played Sunday night in Los Angeles and then traveled across country to meet the well-rested home team.

Even the manager sounds like he’s had enough of this manager. From Steven Goff’s report in this morning’s Washington Post:

Is my job on the line? It better be. I am the leader of this team. But I have faith in what I am doing and I will continue to go about my work.”

United was down 2-0 within 28 minutes, antagonizing a crowd that was probably around 5,000 in actual attendance, according to the Post’s veteran reporter.

Olsen said he tore into the team at halftime – but some of this is clearly on the team’s roster (not improved enough in the off-season) and on the staff’s ability to prepare players (and to pick the right ones in the first place.

More from Olsen:

I still don’t get how it takes a coach to throw things and yell at you [at halftime] to now play with aggression and with the right spirit. It’s mind-boggling to me. Maybe I will do that from the start. … If that is what it takes to get you to play desperate and with high concentration, some guys are in trouble with just being professional athletes. Some of this has to come from within.”

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.