Steve Bruce

Liverpool seals 99-point season with comeback win at Newcastle

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Newcastle – Liverpool: Three different goal scorers and assist men helped Liverpool to a 3-1 comeback win over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Sunday.

Old nemesis Dwight Gayle scored early to put the Reds down 1-0 but Virgil van Dijk, Divock Origi, and Sadio Mane scored to send the champions out on a club-record 99 points.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Newcastle finishes 13th with 44 points. Ex-Liverpool man Jonjo Shelvey assisted Gayle’s first minute opener.

WATCH NEWCASTLE – LIVERPOOL FULL MATCH REPLAY


Two things we learned (We’ll keep this quick)

1. Champs go out on top and deserve a rest: Liverpool, more than anyone else, has earned a proper break and the chance to recharge its batteries. It’s going to be monumentally challenging for the Reds to regroup with the same intensity and weekly desperation to outlast the competition but who cares? Order a lot of sandwiches and don’t think of soccer for a while, gents.

2. A word for Steve Bruce: Newcastle could hardly find a manager after Rafa Benitez left and Steve Bruce got a load of grief after accepting the job at his boyhood club. Whatever you think of the Magpies’ season — and they were very fortunate in many wins and draws — Bruce did one of his best managing jobs and deserves more than a few high fives if only for dealing with all the “Hey are you going to get fired if the takeover is completed?” questions. That he took so many without taking a swing at anyone deserves a wink and a nod.

Man of the Match

Mane only played about a half-hour but scored an absolute beauty. Call this a season-achievement award:


Newcastle – Liverpool recap

Former Newcastle teammate Georginio Wijnaldum trusted Shelvey a bit much in handing him the ball for a quickly-played free kick that sprung Gayle on Alisson Becker.
Gayle has done some things against Liverpool in his day, memories erased by the Reds’ lovely title this season.

Dubravka then made a flying save to deny Takumi Minamino’s dribble and rip in the 29th.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross was put home by Van Dijk to make it 1-1 at half.

Newcastle regrouped after the break and substitute Sean Longstaff could’ve had the Magpies back in front off a Shelvey feed but missed wide.

Origi made it 2-1 when he defied Dubravka just before the hour mark.

Salah then smashed off the post and was denied again when his break was denied by a sliding Federico Fernandez.

Latest Manchester City record a very Pep Guardiola mark

Manchester City record
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Manchester City did what now?

The Premier League soon-to-be runners-up set a league record for passing on Wednesday in a 5-0 blowout of Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Led by David Silva in a vintage performance, Pep Guardiola’s men completed 787-of-840 passes according to Opta.

Silva completed 104 of those passes at 94 percent, and City’s 93.7 completion rate is the best percentage since the league started keeping passing data 17 years ago.

That includes an almost absurd 42-of-48 (86 percent) on long passes (nuts!). Rodri only misplaced one of his 50 passes and striker Gabriel Jesus completed all of his 21 passes despite playing in the thick of the final third.

Here’s Pep Guardiola, who likes a pass, y’know? From the BBC:

“We played really good all the games but unfortunately dropped points. In general the way we are playing and the performances are really good. … David Silva is a huge competitor, playing in the small spaces he is a fantastic player. He played really good.”

Sometimes it’s better to get feedback from the people on the other end.

Steve Bruce really put a bow on facing City on Wednesday.

“Interview in the rain after being beaten 5-0, painful. Not as half as painful as watching that. We are disappointing but they were far too good for us, we have to do better, we gifted them some goals and you cannot do that against a team of this caliber.”

No kidding. City finishes with Brighton, Bournemouth, Watford, and Norwich City and also had to contest an FA Cup semifinal, possible final, and the Champions League next month.

Stream Man City-Newcastle, Sheffield United-Wolves, West Ham-Burnley

Manchester City - Newcastle preview
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Manchester City – Newcastle: Man City looks to take another step toward sealing second place on the table as plucky Newcastle United visits the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday (Watch live at 1pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and that highlights three games at 1pm ET.

The nine losses Pep Guardiola’s overseen this season are the most in a single league season over his celebrated career, but City’s still second and the advanced stats say they’re playing the best football in the league.

MANCHESTER CITY – NEWCASTLE STREAM LIVE

WEST HAM – BURNLEY STREAM LIVE

SHEFFIELD UNITED – WOLVES STREAM LIVE

It’s a funny game, and the same wisdom can be applied to Steve Bruce’s strong season at Newcastle. The well-traveled and well-liked boss has led the Magpies to a better season that Rafa Benitez did in 2018-19, though it’s pivotal to note that Bruce has been blessed with much better transfer outlay.

Here’s a look at the team news for all three games at 1pm ET.


Team news

Sergio Aguero remains out for Man City after undergoing knee surgery, while John Stones comes into the starting lineup. Newcastle are without star wingers Miguel Almiron (on the bench) and Allan Saint-Maximin (out of the squad), while USMNT right back DeAndre Yedlin comes back into the team.

West Ham bring Andriy Yarmolenko into the starting lineup, while Sebastian Haller is on the bench. Burnley have Chris Wood on the bench, while Kevin Long is at center back with captain Ben Mee out injured for the final few weeks of the season.

Sheffield United bring Billy Sharp in to replace the injured David McGoldrick, while Jack O’Connell comes into the starting lineup. Wolves make one change with Diogo Jota coming in for Leander Dendoncker.


What they’re saying

Man City’s Pep Guardiola on bouncing back from Southampton: “Of course we have confidence in the players and we are the same guys. We’ve done it in previous seasons. The way we played is similar, but we have to win the games. Next season will be next season. We will try to score more goals and avoid conceding chances. The control is there, the way we play is there. We need to try to increase these kind of things.”

Magpies boss Steve Bruce on leading scorer Jonjo Shelvey“It becomes easy, the game of football, like a game of golf, to him. He’s blessed with a natural ability. He can see a pass that other people can’t. He can deliver a pass. He can score a goal. Physically and mentally, he’s bought into everything we’ve tried to put over to him and fair play to him. At the minute, he’s reaping the benefits of how good he looks, and of course he’s playing at the top of his game, which is always good to see because he has been outstanding in the last few games.”


Odds and ends (Full matchweek odds)

DraftKings’ heads will explode if Newcastle gets this one done, +2000 being attached to the Magpies as opposed to Man City’s -835.

Newcastle and Man City have been twice already this season, both at St. James’ Park. The Magpies drew City 2-2 in league play via Jonjo Shelvey’s late goal before losing 2-0 to City in an FA Cup quarterfinal in late June.

It is rare that Sheffield United (+310) are the underdogs at home but they’ve looked a bit shaky since the restart, while Wolves (+107) are the favorites and need a win to boost their Champions League. The tie is +210.

West Ham (+104) are the favorites and a win against Burnley (+285) would significantly boost their survival hopes. The tie is +235, which looks like a decent bet.


How to watch Man City – Newcastle United stream, start time

Kickoff: 1 pm ET Wednesday
TV Channel: NBCSN
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

All Premier League games, stream

Kickoff: 1 pm ET Wednesday
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Carroll, teammates paid for Newcastle kit man’s new hip

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George Ramshaw has been Newcastle United’s kit man for 25 years and has seen the club yo-yo between the Premier League and EFL Championship on more than one occasion; he’s something of an institution at the Tyneside club.

[ MORE: Update: Which soccer leagues are still playing? ]

So, when Ramshaw, who is in his 70s, needed an operation and a new hip, it was Andy Carroll, who joined the Newcastle academy when he was a boy, who started a group-funding campaign inside the Magpies locker room to get Ramshaw the help he needed — quotes from the Guardian:

“I’m eternally grateful to the players. I was in a lot of pain with my hip and it would have been months before I could get an operation through the [National Health Service] given how busy they are.

“The players said, ‘Can we do something?’ to our club doctor, Paul Catterson. Within a fortnight, I was in and had it done. All the lads came together and put in. Me and my wife are both very grateful.

“I’m feeling great now. I was off for about four months but I’m back full-time now — or, at least when the training ground reopens.”

Manager Steve Bruce, another figure who was a boyhood fan of the club, revealed that Carroll set the plan in motion to come up with $17,500 for Ramshaw’s operation.

“It was a lovely touch. Footballers get much maligned these days but they sent him off to get it done privately. I think it might have been Andy Carroll’s initial idea. Andy, of course, has known George for a long time.

“He’d only just come back to work in the past couple of weeks and he’s all fixed and healed. It seems to have been a big success. We were all thrilled to see him back because George is a lovely, lovely man. He’s as good as gold now. Before we closed down he was jumping around the place. I thought he’d be playing soon.”

Newcastle spent four weeks preparing for ‘inevitable’ stoppage

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Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce has revealed that those in charge of the club have been planning for an “inevitable” stoppage of fixtures “for the past four weeks,” just hours after the Premier League announced it will suspend play until at least April 3 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: Nigel Pearson slams government’s “lack of leadership” on coronavirus ]

Magpies players have been given individual training programs to perform during a two-week shutdown of the club’s training facilities. Bruce, speaking on behalf of his entire coaching staff, is thankful that the PL came to the correct decision after a period of uncertainty — quotes from the Guardian:

“We’ve been talking about what would happen if everything was suspended for the past four weeks now. I don’t think there’s any alternative. My staff and I were sitting watching the TV yesterday and the news [games were then going ahead] came through from the prime minister, and we all thought: ‘Okay.’

“We were saying, ‘Well, what happens if one of the players or a manager gets it?’ And then lo and behold, Mikel Arteta did. It was inevitable, wasn’t it?”

“The plan is for the players to go away with their own individual programs. We’ve set the personal plans in place and they’re ready to go. It’s to take them away from here, because we’re on top of each other. There’s 70 or 80 of us in a confined space, so if someone got infected and then came back here that clearly would be an issue — and coronavirus is so contagious.”

[ MORE: Klopp on PL suspension: “We must protect one another” ]

While Bruce doesn’t yet know whether or not his players will be permitted to leave their homes in the UK should the hail from a foreign nation, he does know one thing with absolute certainty: it was always going to be all or nothing with regards to playing games in front of packed stadiums, or not playing them at all.

“I’ll have a chat with our doctor. Whether you stay here or go abroad, you run a risk of contracting it. I’ll be guided by the individual medical advice.”

“You play football to be in front of fans. There would have been 52,000 at St James’ Park for Sheffield United on Saturday, and the game is all about those supporters. The idea of playing in front of nobody doesn’t appeal at all. For me, you’ve got to suspend it and wait until you get the all clear.

“Thousands could die from this disease. People’s welfare is more important than a football match, a season or a tournament.