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Author Archive for Louise Taylor

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Newcastle United put up for sale as Mike Ashley seeks swift exit

• Ashley’s lawyer says it is hoped deal can be concluded by Christmas• Option of staggered payments also being offered to potential suitorsMike Ashley has confirmed that he is actively attempting to sell Newcastle United. Although the Sports Direct own…

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Rafa Benítez: ‘Create a good atmosphere and you can win trophies’ | Louise Taylor

As the Newcastle manager faces his former club in an emotional reunion, he insists money is not everything in search for silverware

Rafa Benítez likes to list the very real similarities between the cities of Liverpool and Newcastle and their respective football clubs. He relishes the hallmark, often razor‑sharp humour common to both sets of supporters, appreciates the broad socioeconomic parallels and understands shared fears that their teams are in peril of turning into perennial also-rans.

If such worries are markedly more pronounced on Tyneside, it is approaching six years since Liverpool last won a trophy – the 2012 League Cup, under Kenny Dalglish. Accordingly their supporters head to St James’ Park for Sunday’s meeting with Benítez’s Newcastle United anxious about the balance of Jürgen Klopp’s often thrillingly attacking yet defensively vulnerable side. With memories of Liverpool’s 1980s hegemony increasingly distant, the days when the Spaniard lifted four trophies – most notably the 2005 Champions League – at Anfield are now a source of nostalgia.

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Tim Krul keen to prove point for Brighton after Newcastle exit

The Dutch goalkeeper’s career has faltered since serious injury two years ago, but he is determined to recapture his best form on the south coast

Rafa Benítez’s ruthless streak is rarely evident these days but a notable manifestation occurred in the summer when Tim Krul and Jack Colback, two unwanted Newcastle United players, were banished to train with the juniors.

Colback remains in unhappy exile at the academy but Krul took the hint and eventually secured a deadline-day move to Brighton & Hove Albion. Reunited with Chris Hughton, his old manager at St James’ Park, the erstwhile Holland goalkeeper hopes to make a first Premier League start for his new club when Benítez’s team visit the south coast on Sunday afternoon.

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England women’s coach Mark Sampson in eye of the storm before Russia game

England’s women play Russia in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday but the home coach will probably command more attention than his players

As Mark Sampson took his seat in a quiet corner of a hotel restaurant someone gestured to the small group of journalists gathered at the table and offered him a cycling helmet. “Not yet,” joked the coach of England Women. “Save it for when I really need it.”

Just over two years have passed since that balmy June afternoon in the eastern Canadian city of Moncton, where Sampson and his Lionesses were preparing to begin a watershed World Cup campaign. It concluded with an expectation-exceeding bronze medal, which came gift-wrapped in a series of eulogies to an engaging young Welshman possessing coaching ability, tactical acumen, managerial skills and – for the coach of a senior England side –refreshing candour.

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Rafael Benítez: ‘I was talking to the pilot but little by little I was feeling more sick’

• Newcastle manager had to turn down helicopter ride to Swansea
• Rafael Benítez back in the dugout after surgery for Stoke’s visit

Rafael Benítez will be relieved to return to the dugout on Saturday after being forced to watch Newcastle United’s previous game on television at his home in the Wirral.

He is now sufficiently recovered from surgery to clear infection from the site of an old hernia repair to renew a warm acquaintance with Mark Hughes when Stoke City visit St James’ Park.

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José Mourinho says Manchester United motivation high back in ‘natural habitat’

• United face Basel at Old Trafford on return to Champions League action
• Bans mean Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof set to play in central defence

José Mourinho feels Manchester United will be back in their “natural habitat” when they return to Champions League combat for the first time in 644 days against Basel at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.

“To be in the Champions League is just to go back to the natural habitat, season after season, for Manchester United,” the manager said. “I look forward to tomorrow and hope Old Trafford feels it in the same way we feel it. Our motivation’s high. We’ll try to qualify and enjoy that special knockout phase with the best teams in Europe.”

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Newcastle fans fear Rafael Benítez is ready to answer West Ham’s £6m call | Louise Taylor

Hammers are thought likely to trigger the disillusioned Newcastle manager’s release clause if the mounting pressure on Slaven Bilic ends with the sack

In football parlance, Rafael Benítez faces a late fitness test before Sunday’s trip to Swansea, City but is rated doubtful. Newcastle United’s manager has spent the last week recovering from surgery to clear infection from an old hernia repair, yet, despite being in considerable discomfort, he did not forget about a fan’s fundraising event for a food bank, which was staged on Thursday night. Benítez duly picked up the telephone and not only pledged a generous donation but asked what else he could do to help the cause.

Related: Rafael Benítez open to job offers amid anger over Newcastle transfers

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Rafael Benítez open to job offers amid anger over Newcastle transfers

• Benítez has lost virtually all trust in Mike Ashley’s regime
• Manager would seriously consider West Ham job if Slaven Bilic goes

Rafael Benítez has lost virtually all trust in Mike Ashley’s regime at Newcastle United and, no longer regarding his job as a long-term project, would be receptive to alternative offers of employment at similarly sized Premier League clubs.

Although Newcastle’s manager will not walk out in the wake of a disastrous transfer window, Benítez is angry, deeply frustrated and ready to contemplate a new life away from Tyneside.

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Newcastle’s Rafael Benítez willing to sell Dwight Gayle for £18m

• Manager concerned at striker’s attitude over this summer
• Gayle was top scorer as club won Championship last season

Rafael Benítez is ready to sell Dwight Gayle for around £18m but will not release the striker until a replacement is lined up and guaranteed to arrive at Newcastle United by Thursday evening.

Although Leeds United, who are seeking a replacement for Chris Wood at the centre forward, have apparently cooled their initial interest in Gayle the 26-year-old does not lack admirers in the second tier. Gayle scored 23 goals in 34 second-tier games to help Benítez’s side win the Championship last season, Newcastle’s manager has been concerned by his attitude this summer.

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Newcastle’s Rafael Benítez willing to sell Dwight Gayle for £18m

• Manager concerned at striker’s attitude over this summer
• Gayle was top scorer as club won Championship last season

Rafael Benítez is ready to sell Dwight Gayle for around £18m but will not release the striker until a replacement is lined up and guaranteed to arrive at Newcastle United by Thursday evening.

Although Leeds United, who are seeking a replacement for Chris Wood at the centre forward, have apparently cooled their initial interest in Gayle the 26-year-old does not lack admirers in the second tier. Gayle scored 23 goals in 34 second-tier games to help Benítez’s side win the Championship last season, Newcastle’s manager has been concerned by his attitude this summer.

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Trouble on Tyne: Benítez and Ashley reach boiling point again at Newcastle | Louise Taylor

The manager wants new signings, the owner to sell the club. What are the key questions at St James’ Park in what promises to be a vital week ahead?

Newcastle United face West Ham United at St James’ Park on Saturday after losing their opening two league games without scoring. With the euphoria of promotion a rapidly receding memory, tensions behind the scenes are escalating and the squad look ill-equipped for the Premier League. So how has it come to this, why is the “cold war” between Rafael Benítez and Mike Ashley intensifying?

Surely it cannot be true the manager and owner rarely speak, let alone meet?

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Newcastle’s summer transfer dealings not ideal, Rafael Benítez says

• Owner Mike Ashley’s blueprint now less ambitious than in May
• ‘He knows what he told me and what I was thinking,’ says manager

Rafael Benítez has indicated that Mike Ashley’s summer transfer market blueprint is now significantly less ambitious than it appeared when the two men last met in May.

“He knows what he told me and what I was thinking,” said Newcastle United’s manager, who has not spoken to the club’s owner since that rare get-together and finds himself forced to embrace a new-found minimalism when it comes to refurnishing his squad.

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Rafael Benítez baffled but unbowed by dysfunctional setup at Newcastle United | Louise Taylor

Manager insists ‘we’ll do our best’ on return to Premier League, despite minimal transfer budget and a lack of communication from owner Mike Ashley

The mood inside the room had turned as gloomy as the dark clouds on view through the windows when someone attempted a joke. “It’s North Korea v the United States,” they said, deadpan. “Just without the nuclear weapons.”

It got a laugh, yet Mike Ashley v Rafael Benítez is a little bit different; less Kim Jong-un v Donald Trump and much more a particularly capricious brand of shortsighted parochialism against a worldly wise grasp of the bigger picture.

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Premier League 2017-18 preview No13: Newcastle United | Louise Taylor

As long as Rafael Benítez remains in charge an exciting future beckons but the increasing influence of an Ashley business ally and failures in the transfer market have sounded alarm bells for the St James’ Park fanbase

Guardian writers’ predicted position 13th (NB: this is not necessarily Louise Taylor’s prediction but the average of our writers’ tips)

Last season’s position 1st (Championship)

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Scotland’s Anna Signeul hopes debut and final bow will be a watershed

• Scotland face England in their opening Group D fixture at Euro 2017
• Coach leaving to take over Finland national team after tournament

Anna Signeul hopes her first and last major tournament as Scotland’s manager will be remembered as a watershed in the game’s evolution in the country.

After 12 years in charge the 56-year-old Swede will head for Helsinki and a role coaching Finland in September. First she aims to take her team beyond the group stage – and preferably by upsetting England on Wednesday night.

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Scotland’s Anna Signeul hopes debut and final bow will be a watershed

• Scotland face England in their opening Group D fixture at Euro 2017
• Coach leaving to take over Finland national team after tournament

Anna Signeul hopes her first and last major tournament as Scotland’s manager will be remembered as a watershed in the game’s evolution in the country.

After 12 years in charge the 56-year-old Swede will head for Helsinki and a role coaching Finland in September. First she aims to take her team beyond the group stage – and preferably by upsetting England on Wednesday night.

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England Lionesses dream of landing first major trophy at Euro 2017

After finishing third at the 2015 World Cup, Mark Sampson’s squad launch their European championship campaign against Scotland in Utrecht on Wednesday

Gezelligheid. It is a guttural-sounding Dutch word which, broadly translated, conveys a sense of individual well-being shared with others and is said to capture the essence of national culture in the Netherlands.

England are hoping for a gezelligheid-suffused moment of their own three weeks on Sunday when Mark Sampson’s Lionesses aim to be in Enschede, contesting the final of Euro 2017.

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England’s Fara Williams: ‘We’re feeling the pain but if you want to win it needs to hurt’ | Louise Taylor

The midfielder says a punishing training regime and Mark Sampson’s willingness to let his players go ‘walkabout’ are setting up England well for Euro 2017

Fara Williams takes a seat in the vast hotel lobby and contemplates a soaring ceiling, minimalist decor and the lush, rolling Staffordshire parkland on view through giant windows.

The clever use of light, space and the landscape create an air of tranquillity but appearances can be deceptive. As Williams, somewhat wryly, confirms, this is a place of pain and pressure for England as they prepare for Euro 2017 in the Netherlands.

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Newcastle are testing Rafael Benítez’s patience with tardy transfer work | Louise Taylor

The manager wants eight to 12 players and expected more arrivals by now. Although Benítez is not minded to walk out, tensions are rising at a club where the next crisis never seems to be far away

Shortly after 8am on Monday the security barrier at a deceptively nondescript‑looking suburban football training facility was raised and Rafael Benítez’s car entered the sometimes parallel universe known as Newcastle United.

A couple of minutes later the club’s manager was pictured smiling warmly while extracting a bag from the boot before heading in to his office and awaiting the arrival of first-team players reporting back for the start of pre‑season training.

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Sunderland’s Fabio Borini set for medical ahead of £5.3m move to Milan

• Lazio balk at striker’s £35,000-a-week wage demands
• Milan pay £1m up front with the rest of fee to follow next summer

Fabio Borini will have a medical at Milan on Thursday as part of a proposed £5.3m transfer from Sunderland. Providing all proceeds smoothly, the 26-year-old Italian forward will join on an initial one-year loan, with Milan paying £1m up front and the rest of the fee to follow when the deal becomes permanent next summer.

Related: Transfer window 2017 – every deal in Europe’s top five leagues

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