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Author Archive for Louise Taylor

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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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North-south football divide is a figment of the imagination | Louise Taylor

David Moyes thinks Sunderland suffers for its location but a look around the north-east and a conversation with Newcastle’s Rafael Benítez reveals it can attract the best talent

David Moyes is discussing culture shock, regional imbalances and their role in his club’s relegation. “Along with Manchester, London is the capital of English football and those cities will always attract the best players,” says Sunderland’s manager, a few weeks before his resignation.

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North-south football divide is a figment of the imagination | Louise Taylor

David Moyes thinks Sunderland suffers for its location but a look around the north-east and a conversation with Newcastle’s Rafael Benítez reveals it can attract the best talent

David Moyes is discussing culture shock, regional imbalances and their role in his club’s relegation. “Along with Manchester, London is the capital of English football and those cities will always attract the best players,” says Sunderland’s manager, a few weeks before his resignation.

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Fulwell73 consortium withdraw bid for Sunderland to leave Short sweating

• American-funded group ends interest in takeover at Stadium of Light
• ‘Due to our TV and film commitments now isn’t the right time for us’

Ellis Short’s hopes of selling Sunderland now depend on his ability to strike a deal with a German consortium by early next month after a group of Sunderland fans withdrew their proposed bid on Wednesday.

Gabe Turner, Leo Pearlman and Ben Turner of television production company Fulwell73 issued a statement through the supporters website A Love Supreme signalling an end to their interest. They were believed to have been fronting a largely American-funded consortium interested in succeeding Short at the managerless Championship club but have clearly had second thoughts.

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Sunderland continue to pay the price for more than 10 years of mismanagement | Louise Taylor

Relegated, managerless and up for sale for half the price of 12 months ago, two consortia are apparently giving the club the once over, one a group of Sunderland fanatics who want to give Tony Adams a key role

During an often proud history, featuring the collection of six English league titles, Sunderland have variously been dubbed “the team of all the talents” and the “Bank of England club”.

These days the latter – attached in the 1950s – seems something of a sick joke. After a decade spent in the Premier League, the newly relegated Wearside club somehow find themselves at least £110m in debt, up for sale and managerless.

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Huddersfield’s David Wagner tightly bonds players on road to Wembley | Louise Taylor

Manager uses unconventional methods to keep his squad’s minds firmly rooted in buildup to Monday’s Championship play-off final against Reading

Lunchtime beckons at Huddersfield Town’s attractive, canalside, training ground, and a tableau capable of turning Arsène Wenger, José Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and company apoplectic is fast unfolding.

David Wagner’s players are happily queuing up alongside members of the public as they wait to be served by cheerful cafeteria staff.

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Hull’s Marco Silva to disappoint Watford and take charge of Porto

• Talks with Porto herald end of time at Hull City
• Champions League football may be factor in move to Portugal

Marco Silva spent Tuesday in his native Portugal holding talks with Porto and is understood to have reached an agreement to swap Hull City for the Estádio do Dragão.

The Hull manager is scheduled to return to meet the club’s owners, the Allam family, on Wednesday but it seems he will be bidding them farewell before joining Porto later this week.

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Julio Arca: ‘The nearest I got to Wembley as a professional was driving past’

The former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder feels the wow factor before playing for South Shields in the FA Vase final on Sunday against Cleethorpes

Four years ago Julio Arca was angry, rudderless and struggling to come to terms with the end of his professional career. Torn between two continents and unsure what to do with the rest of his life, the future seemed daunting. “I felt a bit sad,” he says.

Little did Arca know that, just over the horizon, the fulfilment of a longstanding ambition awaited. “Wembley’s always been a dream,” says South Shields’ star midfielder as he prepares for Sunday’s FA Vase final against Cleethorpes Town. “So this is one of those wonderful things that sometimes happen in your life. These unexpected things you never see coming can happen.”

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David Moyes unhappy with amount of Sunderland injuries for Chelsea match

• Club are without 11 senior players for final league match of the season
• Manager disappointed that some of them have not ‘rolled their sleeves up’

David Moyes is disappointed some of the 11 senior Sunderland players who have declared themselves unfit for Sunday’s trip to Chelsea were not prepared to put themselves through the pain barrier at Stamford Bridge.

“I would have hoped that, knowing we’re in a difficult situation, some would have pulled through, rolled their sleeves up and shown that they’re committed to trying to find a way of playing,” said the relegated club’s manager. “It looks like some haven’t – they are all ruled out.”

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Sunderland youngsters target final flourish after season of woe

Elliott Dickman’s under-23 side have restored hope to Wearside and will be roared on by 20,000 fans as they chase International Cup glory against Porto

Sunderland have taken contrariness to new heights by managing to combine relegation from the Premier League with their first European final.

While David Moyes’s first team are Championship bound, Elliott Dickman’s under-23s host Porto on Wednesday night in the final of the Premier League International Cup, with a crowd of more than 20,000 expected at the Stadium of Light.

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What next for Championship-bound Hull, Middlesbrough and Sunderland? | Louise Taylor

The managers and players of the Premier League’s relegated trio face uncertain futures but generous parachute payments mean an instant return from the Championship has to be the target

Will the manager be there next season?

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David Moyes will stay at Sunderland only if given funds to rebuild

• Manager to learn his fate at relegated club in the next week or so
• Sebastian Larsson: ‘We are where we deserve to be – bottom’

David Moyes’s future at Sunderland remains uncertain after the relegated club’s fans made it plain they would prefer another manager to oversee next season’s rebuild in the Championship.

“We want Moyes out,” proved the soundtrack to the 2-0 home surrender against Swansea City on Saturday during which Ellis Short, Sunderland’s watching owner, saw a crowd exodus at half-time and, at the final whistle, the manager headed straight down the tunnel. “The fans were showing their disappointment at me and I didn’t want to make things worse,” the Scot said.

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