Tough week for Newcastle ends with Shearer’s iconic sign torn down

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What a terrible week it’s been for Newcastle supporters.

On Sunday owner Mike Ashley makes the highly controversial decision of hiring Joe Kinnear as Director of Football. Kinnear, who managed the club for a brief stint in 2009 but was forced to abandon his post after being rushed to hospital with heart problems, is the figure who specialized in ‘long ball’ and many believe led to the club’s relegation.

In the midst of public outcry, Kinnear decided to give an interview to Talksport on Monday in which he embarrased himself by making ridiculous and untrue claims while botching the names of numerous figures in the club.

Among his soundbites, the 66 year old claimed responsibility for signing Tim Krul (he was recruited by Graeme Souness) and James Perch (he was bought by Chris Hughton), called Newcastle’s managing director, Derek Llambias, “Derek Llambezee,” claimed Llambias had resigned as “director of football” (that was not his position and at that point in time, had not resigned) and also referred to Shola Ameobi as “Shola Amenobee”, Yohan Cabaye as “Yohan Kebab” and Hatem Ben Arfa “Hatem Ben Afre”.

By Wednesday, Llambias handed in his resignation, which was widely understood to be a direct consequence of Ashley’s decision to appoint Kinnear. Llambias, who is credited for bringing the likes of Fabricio Coloccini and Jonás Guttiérez to the club, kept it classy in his exit, graciously thanking the club staff and supporters while not mentioning Kinnear.

Many feared that Alan Pardew, who signed an eight year contract with the club last fall, would be the next in line to show himself to the gallows but Pards refused, saying “I am staying to take the club up the league.”

The situation was enough for Newcastle legend Alan Shearer, who ripped the club for hiring Kinnear:

Right now people are laughing at the club I support and that sickens me. I promised myself years ago to never be surprised by anything which happens in football, particularly when it came to Newcastle. But this situation really is stretching it a bit.

Newcastle have a manager who has just been totally undermined. I’m sure it will be a difficult situation. It’s no way to treat a man who 12 months ago was manager of the year after guiding Newcastle to fifth place. He is in such an intolerable position.

What are the players to think when Joe Kinnear can’t even get their names right. It’s all a PR disaster. Mike Ashley just keeps on making too many decisions which alienate the Newcastle fans. They deserve better, much better.

Just after Shearer made the comments, the club sent a wrecking crew to tear down the iconic “Shearer’s” sign at the entrance to the St James’ Park bar named after the striker. The move incensed supporters and a club official was quick to note that the sign change was “purely coincidence,” and that the decision to revamp the bar and change the name to “Nine” (Shearer’s number) had been made long ago.

It’s sad to see a club be tortured by such a difficult week of news especially since the effects could be devastating. Current players – especially those who Kinnear botched in his radio interview – will feel alienated and may be more inclined to seek a transfer (Cabaye and Ben Arfa have been the subject of rumors) while potential transfers into the club – Joleon Lescott, Eder, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Loic Remy – could look elsewhere for their future home.

Chicharito says Mexican team “always feels welcome” in the United States

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Mexico will take on Wales on Monday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA as they warm up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Playing in the United States is nothing new for the USMNT’s southern neighbors, and it doesn’t phase them. In fact, they love it.

Star striker Chicharito told reporters that he and the rest of the squad is more than happy playing north of the border, because according to him, apart from a pair of venues, they can’t even tell they’re on the road.

“We always feel welcome here,” Chicharito said. “It’s like our second country, if we can say that, apart from Columbus [Ohio] and apart from the stadium in Miami when we played Colombia…those two stadiums, that’s the only time I’ve felt that we were the away team.”

Chicharito knows that the high population of his countrymen and women in the United States helps the Mexican team feel close to home when they play over the border. He’s all for the melting pot of the US.

“We feel at home [in the United States],” Chicharito said. “We have plenty of Mexicans here, so I don’t know what else to tell you, we feel welcome, we feel glad, happy to be in touch with those people here. They are sacrificing a lot of things, and they are all enjoying their lives that they decide to live in the USA…it’s great. It’s great when you come to another country and you feel like you are home. You see all the stadium green, shouting and screaming your names, screaming your goals, so yeah, it’s great.”

Mexico will play Wales on Monday at 9:00 p.m. ET, and will return home to take on Scotland at Azteca on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET.

England international Delph expecting child in middle of World Cup

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England international Fabian Delph could face quite the dilemma if England advances past the group stage of the World Cup.

Delph’s wife Natalie is expecting the couple’s third child on June 30, which is two days after their pivotal group stage match against Belgium, and two days before the squad would take the field July 1 for its Round of 16 game should they win Group G. If they finish second in the group, they would play their Round of 16 game on July 3.

When asked what his plans are, Delph joked that his wife would manage on her own. “She’s tough, she’s a Yorkshire lass so she’ll deal with it,” Delph said with a smile.

He then coughed up the truth: they’re not quite sure what the plan is.

“We’re not 100% certain, with a game on the 28th there might be an opportunity to fly back and then get back fast,” he said. “[England manager] Gareth [Southgate] has been fantastic. There’s nothing more important than family to me – family always comes first and always will.”

There’s another dilemma that Southgate must navigate involving Delph. The 28-year-old is a natural winger, but played wing-back in Pep Guardiola‘s title-winning system for much of the year and saw a massive uptick in form in the new role, playing in place of the injured Benjamin Mendy. Southgate must decide where he wants to deploy Delph – if at all – and if he wishes to fit his formation and tactics to mold Delph’s season under Guardiola.

Authorities drop assault charges against Hope Solo

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KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) — Prosecutors in Washington state have dropped domestic violence charges against former U.S. national team star goalkeeper Hope Solo.

Solo was charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault in 2014 after police said she assaulted two family members at a home in Kirkland, east of Seattle. The case was delayed by appeals.

KING-TV reports that city prosecutors dropped the charges Wednesday, saying the witnesses in the case wanted to move on with their lives and did not want to participate in a trial. An attorney for Kirkland, Melissa Osman, wrote in court documents that the circumstances were unlikely to be repeated.

The longtime national team goalkeeper and two-time Olympic gold medalist recently ran unsuccessfully for president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. She has called for equal pay and equal treatment for the U.S. women’s team.

Mark Hughes signs new long-term contract at Southampton

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Mark Hughes has gone from Stoke City outcast to Southampton savior in little under six months time.

The Welsh boss was let go from Stoke City with the Potters 18th in the table and headed towards eventual relegation, but he was picked up by fellow relegation candidates Southampton after the departure of Mauricio Pellegrino. He steered the club to safety, finishing three points above the drop in 17th.

With the Saints in the top flight for another season, the club has announced the signing of Hughes to a new three-year contract.

“Mark, Eddie and I are thrilled to have signed long-term contracts with the club. It was the only option we considered, having spent the last eight weeks with the club,” Hughes said of himself and his assistant coaches Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki. “Now it is vital that we take the unbelievable support we received from the fans during the last few games into next season. The staff and the players will work hard every day to deliver the success this club deserves, and with everyone pulling together we will achieve our goals.”

Hughes guided Stoke City to three consecutive ninth-placed finishes, the highest the club had ever finished in the English top flight, but they finished 13th last year and regressed even further this campaign. The sale of playmaker Marko Arnautovic was particularly damaging, and the club scored just 35 goals in 38 games as a result.

At Southampton, Hughes took over a club that sat in 17th with just eight matches to go. He lost three Premier League games in a row to start his tenure and only won two league matches with Saints the rest of the way, but managed to keep the club barely afloat.