Newcastle

Benitez on his future at Newcastle: We’ll meet this week

Leave a comment

Rafa Benitez has made no secret of his wish to receive substantial funds to improve Newcastle’s squad over the past few years, yet he’s been rebuffed time and time again.

This season almost proved to be a breaking point, and despite the thin squad, Benitez guided Newcastle to a 13th place finish in the Premier League table, with 45 points, one more than a year ago. Now, the big question is whether Benitez will remain. His response, basically – we’ll see what happens.

[READ: Newcastle routs Fulham at Craven Cottage]

“We meet hopefully this week and see where we are,” Benitez told BBC’s Match of the Day following Newcastle’s 4-0 win at Fulham on Championship Sunday, referencing a potential meeting with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley. “We have plenty of time to enjoy, I have been very clear about the potential of this club.”

Benitez and Newcastle were able to break the club’s transfer record with the $27 million signing of Miguel Almiron, and while the Paraguayan didn’t score, he did provide a boost to the squad and set up a few goals on Newcastle’s way to securing survival in the Premier League.

However, there’s plenty of improvement needed across the squad, from improving the backline, central midfield, and potentially even at striker. Solomon Rondon is only at the club on loan, at the moment, and while a talented player, he still only finished with 11 goals this season in 34 Premier League matches.

Additionally, Newcastle will likely lose holding midfielder Isaac Hayden this summer as he looks to move to a club in London where he can be closer to his daughter and family. Should Benitez leave, there could be further overhaul, something that may negatively impact right back DeAndre Yedlin and Almiron moving forward.

Long-time Newcastle, Liverpool left back Enrique says he is cancer free

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The world is full of bad news these days, but here’s a story that should be uplifting to you, regardless of who you support.

In an Instagram post on his official page, former Liverpool and Newcastle left back Jose Enrique announced that a recent MRI revealed he was free of cancer after an 11-month long battle. In May 2018, Enrique revealed after going to the hospital for some headaches and vision problems, doctors had found a tumor in his head, a rare type called a chordoma, per the BBC. This type of cancer grows along the spine, and in Enrique’s case, it was sitting behind his left eye along the base of his skull.

However, despite the world-shattering diagnosis, Enrique seems to have responded just as doctors had hoped to treatment, and he revealed he’s cancer free in the video below.

“We’re so happy about it,” Enrique said. “I can look forward now, not looking back, and I can keep fighting.”

Enrique played 127 times for Newcastle between 2007 and 2011 before moving to Liverpool, where he featured 99 times for the Reds before being released in 2016.

Now retired, it’s great to see Enrique is healthy and hopefully he can now focus on whatever pursuits he wants to make in the future, whether within or outside of soccer.

Perez brings Newcastle three points closer to safety (video)

1 Comment
  • Perez scored his seventh Premier League goal of the season
  • Almiron played 78 minutes before being substituted
  • Vardy fails to score after three goals in two games
  • Newcastle up to 13th place on 38 points

Ayoze Perez scored a first half header and Newcastle’s stayed resolute against late Leicester City pressure to secure three crucial points on the road. Newcastle defeated Leicester City, 1-0, at the King Power Stadium on Friday evening, with James Maddison nullified at one end and Perez scoring the winner at the other.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

January signing Miguel Almiron was like the energizer bunny, constantly making lung-bursting dribbles forward down the wing or through the heart of the defense to help push the ball out of Newcastle’s half of the field, though he failed to score again.

With the win, Newcastle moves up to 13th place with 38 points, and may have just secured safety in the Premier League for another season. Newcastle now sits ten points above Cardiff, which is in the final place in the drop zone to head back down to relegation. For Leicester, it remains in seventh place, but it has played two more games than eighth-place Wolves. Both clubs are on 47 points in the table.

Leicester City seemed to set out to pass their way through the Newcastle defense, with Rafa Benitez‘s side sitting in a low block and inviting pressure to allow Perez and Almiron to race forward and create counter attacking chances. Newcastle came closest to scoring in the 15th minute, when Solomon Rondon absolutely smashed a curling free kick off the crossbar, before it was headed away to safety by Leicester City.

The Magpies did get on the board finally thanks to some strong dribbling work at first from Almiron. The Paraguayan tried to dribble through two Leicester City defenders before Ricardo Pereira stepped in and knocked the ball away. It fell though right to Matt Ritchie and in the 32nd minute, Ritchie’s near-post cross was flicked past Leicester City’s Kasper Schmeichel and in for a goal.

Leicester City took the game to Newcastle in the second half, but just couldn’t find its way past the Newcastle backline. Leicester City’s best chance of the match came in the 78th minute. Star forward Jamie Vardy, who had three goals in his last two games, was played through into the box and was one-on-one with Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka. However, Vardy’s looping strike went over the bar, the latest of many occasions in which Brendan Rodgers‘ side failed to execute properly in front of goal.

Newcastle’s Hayden on family struggles that nearly derailed season

1 Comment

For more than a year, Isaac Hayden has been making regular trips down the English motorways between his current home Newcastle and his childhood home, London. The trips aren’t for him to see old friends or to have some fun in the big city. It’s to take care of his daughter.

In Newcastle’s match-day program, Hayden revealed how his daughter was born six weeks premature and has had a myriad of medical issues to deal with, a nightmare for any parent. In addition, Hayden’s fiance also has some medical issues of her own, putting more of the parenting work on Hayden. Had Hayden’s family been able to be in Newcastle, it may have been more manageable, but with Hayden’s daughter seeing doctors in London, it’s meant numerous five-hour drives and train rides down the length of England every week.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

“I did three trips to or from London in one day – I flew, got the train and drove,” Hayden said thinking back to a game against his former club Arsenal in December 2017. “I got back in at about 11 o’clock. The next day, I trained, got the flight back down and played 90 minutes against Arsenal. I was ******. Absolutely ******.”

Hayden added: “It’s not like normal work where you can go in and say, ‘I’m feeling down’ or ‘this has happened or that has happened so I can’t go into work’, or take a certain amount of leave – it doesn’t work like that in football,” he says. “You can say, ‘I’m not going to come in’, but at the weekend, someone else is going to play and take your position. They could do well, and then you’re out of the team. You always have that element of ‘you have to keep going’, even if you were knackered, like I was, or mentally drained.”

In the wide-ranging interview, with Hayden touching on the criticism soccer players endure without thinking of the human wearing the jersey, Hayden’s revelation makes it even more impressive for his form this season. The 24-year-old central midfielder has finally received a run of games in the Premier League, and his steel and strong aerial ability has been on full display this season.

Hayden has started 16 straight games for the Magpies since coming into the lineup in December, and is an integral part of the squad that could make a late run to avoid relegation from the Premier League, with a boost from Miguel Almiron.

Since being inserted into the starting lineup, Newcastle has picked up 21 points, including a win over Manchester City. Newcastle is currently seven-points clear of the drop zone, and are just five points away from the 40-point mark of safety.

However, no matter where Newcastle is playing next season, it looks unlikely that Hayden will still be there. He handed in a transfer request that was rejected last summer and he made it clear that he doesn’t want to continue commuting between Newcastle and London for his daughter’s doctor appointments.

“She’s a one-year-old who’s used to doing five-hour journeys,” Hayden said. “Most one-year-olds would be kicking and screaming after an hour, not happy at all. But she’s used to doing it. I’m sitting here looking at her thinking, ‘this isn’t fair on you anymore’.

“When I go home sometimes and we drive into London for the day, she’ll be in the car for an hour and then she’s looking at you when you stop the car, as if to say ‘are we not driving any further?’

“I think I’ve made it very clear to the club’s hierarchy, and the fans. I’ve got my side of the story out – I’ve made it pretty clear how things go,” he says. “I don’t think there’ll be too many questions. I don’t think the summer’s going to be an issue. It’s pretty well-documented how I feel.”

Eales: Atlanta United ‘set the table’ for future MLS transfers to Premier League

Leave a comment

Atlanta United’s protracted negotiations with Newcastle United for Miguel Almiron turned out to give both sides what they want. Newcastle got a star young attacking midfielder, with Atlanta United turning a profit in a record transfer deal.

According to Atlanta United club president Darren Eales, the deal has set the table for future transfers out of MLS.

[READ: Champions League Last 16 Predictions]

“Clearly, Rafa (Benitez) wanted the player and they had done their homework,” Eales told the Newcastle Chronicle. “He was someone they had thought about. They had done their due diligence and thought ‘okay, we’re going to push the button on this one’.

“It was important for Miggy because it was his dream. It was important for the league, too, for that type of number. It is by far and away the record transfer fee for MLS. I think we have helped to set the table for future transfers.”

Almiron’s $27 million deal to Newcastle raises the value of all players coming out of MLS. With South Americans looking north and young Americans looking to move to Europe, European clubs are now beginning to see the Smerican market as a good proving ground for raw talent, and a cut-rate prices compared to Europe.