Whitecaps stay in-house for new head coach, tabbing Carl Robinson

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There’s a Welshman running the Whitecaps.

Carl Robinson has been named the new head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps, taking over for the fired Martin Rennie. Having retired from his playing career in 2011, Robinson had been an assistant coach for Vancouver since 2012.

“This is a very proud moment for me to sit here today,” Robinson said during a Monday afternoon press conference. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing.”

Robinson was emotional at times during the press conference. He called himself “soft” as he mentioned his late father “watching” from above.

“He’ll have the support of the front office,” said club president Bob Lenarduzzi. “He’s established great relationships with them as well. This has been evidenced by the amount of feedback we’ve received.”

It was a five-week interview process, and Lenarduzzi admitted that the team spent a weekend with Bob Bradley before the former USMNT head coach turned down the opportunity to guide the club. Bradley’s openness to the opportunity caught the interview process off-guard, happening after they had spoken with their remaining pool of candidates.

“When we started the coach search, we interviewed a select group,” Lenarduzzi said. “We were happy with the quality of that group. Bob Bradley became available as a result of Egypt not qualifying for the World Cup. We contacted his agent to see if there was interest in Vancouver or MLS, expecting the answer to be, ‘No.'”

Robinson spent most of his playing career in England and the United States, where he manned the midfield for Sunderland, Norwich City, Toronto FC and Wolverhampton before finishing his career with a 12-game stint for the New York Red Bulls. He was capped 52 times for Wales.

He said he wants to play an attacking style with “good footballers” and while his job is one of evaluation, his objective is the playoffs. Robinson called them a “must” for their club on an annual basis, as well as the Canadian Cup.

Robinson said the status of captain Jay Demerit is one of his top priorities.

Vancouver was the only team to miss the MLS playoffs despite having a positive goal differential (+8).  They were one of only six teams to score more than 50 goals, but also were in the bottom half in goals allowed.

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.