Usually, when teams are relegated to the Championship, squad salaries must be reevaluated to make ends meet, often meaning the axe for players who are deemed too costly.
That won’t be the case with Newcastle next season.
With manager Rafa Benitez back on board with the hopes of navigating the Magpies back to the Premier League as quickly as possible, owner Mike Ashley has handed Benitez the reigns.
Benitez confirmed he will have complete, unmitigated control of the squad roster in exchange for his services.
“What I have is the assurance that if I don’t want to sell any players I don’t have to,” Benitez said in his second unveiling as Newcastle manager. “We can keep all the players who we want to.”
But that’s not all. “For football business I will have responsibility. But the main thing is that I have had assurances we will have a strong team. We will have a winning team and the fans have to be sure I will try to build a strong squad. If I am sat here it is because I am sure we can do it. To clarify I am a person who likes to talk. But if I have to take responsibility I will, no problem.”
This is not only big news for anyone relegated to the Championship, but especially big news for a Mike Ashley club. Not even Sam Allardyce or Alan Pardew were given this type of total control of the club. Ashley knew he had little leverage with such a big name having fallen out of the Premier League, and he needed to make concessions to get his man.
Matchweek 16 of the Premier League season is here, as the busy festive season has well and truly arrived.
Get in there.
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The full TV schedule for the games this weekend are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.
Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today, Sky Sports News, NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.
[ STREAM: Premier League live here ]
You can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” for all the goals as they go in around the grounds. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App.
[ MORE: Premier League “Goal Rush” ]
If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.
Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days.
FULL TV SCHEDULE
7:30 a.m. ET: Everton v. Chelsea – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Bournemouth v. Liverpool – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Tottenham v. Burnley – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Watford v. Crystal Palace – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
12:30 p.m. ET: Man City v. Man United – NBC [STREAM]
9 a.m. ET: Aston Villa v. Leicester City – NBCSN [STREAM]
9 a.m. ET: Newcastle United v. Southampton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
11:30 a.m. ET: Brighton v. Wolves – NBCSN [STREAM]
9 a.m. ET: Norwich City v. Sheffield United – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: West Ham v. Arsenal – NBCSN [STREAM]
In the latest The 2 Robbies podcast, Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle discuss Everton’s decision to sack Marco Silva after their 5-2 defeat to Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby (0:50), Arsenal’s shocking defeat at home to Brighton (14:00) and Tottenham’s 2-1 loss to Manchester United in the Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford thanks to a brace from Marcus Rashford (22:25).
Plus, thoughts on Gabriel Jesus‘ long-term role at Manchester City (29:00), Jamie Vardy and Leicester City can’t stop winning (35:10), back to winning ways for Chelsea (39:00) and the Underappreciated Performances of the week (43:40).
To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.
And you can follow them on Twitter @The2RobbiesNBC here.
[ Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]
A feisty Manchester Derby takes center stage at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) as Man City and Man United need the points for their respective title and top four bids.
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
With key players missing or injury doubts for both teams, there is plenty of debate about who will line up for Man City and Man United.
Below we look at how Pep Guardiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should set up their teams and give our own analysis of the situation.
—– Ederson —–
— Walker — Stones — Fernandinho — Angelino —
—- Rodri —- Silva —-
—- Bernardo —- De Bruyne —- Sterling —-
—– Jesus —–
—– De Gea —–
— Wan-Bissaka — Lindelof — Maguire — Young —
—- McTominay —- Fred —-
— James — Lingard — Rashford —
—– Martial —–
Analysis: Man City have a few big decisions to make in defense, with either John Stones or Nicolas Otamendi expected to partner Fernandinho at center back, with Otamendi likely to get the nod after playing against Burnley in midweek. At full back Pep has been rotating his options with Angelino maybe edging ahead of Mendy, while Walker seems to be winning the battle with Cancelo. For now. Midfield picks itself with Rodri the holder and Kevin De Bruyne playing ahead of him, but the big decisions is who out of David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan starts alongside Rodri. Up top Riyad Mahrez is pushing Bernardo Silva for a start with Raheem Sterling on the other flank and Gabriel Jesus continuing up top with Aguero out injured.
Given their injury issues, which have eased a little, Man United’s lineup choices are a little simpler. De Gea will have Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire and probably Young ahead of him, while McTominay’s return in midfield is a big boost and he will likely line up with Fred. Up top they are sweating on the fitness of Anthony Martial who missed the midweek win against Tottenham and is questionable to start, but Rashford, Lingard and James are expected to start behind either Martial or Mason Greenwood.
Brendan Rodgers has been rewarded for his incredible start to the 2019-20 season with Leicester City, with the club extending his stay in charge by three-and-a-half years to 2025.
The Northern Irishman has signed a new five-and-a-half year contract with the Foxes, as he’s led them to second place in the table through the opening 15 games of the Premier League season as they’ve won seven in a row.
Rodgers had been linked with the vacant position at Arsenal in recent days and seemed to confirm that there was a release fee of $18 million in his old Leicester contract. It is believed that clause has either been removed or the amount has been increased substantially.
Rodgers spoke to the media about his decision to sign a new deal with the Foxes and believes there is plenty more to come as they aim to secure a return to the UEFA Champions League.
“It’s something we’ve been speaking about for a few weeks. I’m delighted to commit the next five-and-a-half years to here,” Rodgers said. “I was honored that the club was happy with our work since we came in. I’ve got a great team here at the stadium and the training ground. My commitment is to the players and the team. The key thing for me was the potential here at Leicester City. Since we came in we’ve identified a way of playing that improves the players and gets results.”
After joining Leicester from Celtic in February in a midseason move which was lambasted by many, Rodgers has 17 wins from 26 Premier League matches in charge with Jamie Vardy, James Maddison, Caglar Soyuncu, Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans in particular playing superbly since he arrived at the King Power Stadium.
Rodgers has the Foxes playing with an increased swagger on the ball but they have also kept their ruthless streak as Vardy has scored in each of his last seven goals (netting nine times in that run) and leads the PL with 14 goals this season.
It may be too much for Leicester to push Liverpool all the way for the Premier League title this season — they are currently eight points behind the league leaders — but with Rodgers locked down to a new deal and so many young players in incredible form, the future is very bright for the Foxes.
Leicester seem set to become genuine top four contenders for the next few seasons, at least, and locking Rodgers into this deal sets everything up.