Rafael Benitez To Leave Newcastle

Newcastle United’s Spanish manager Rafael Benitez.                                                     Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Rafael Benitez will leave Newcastle United after three years as manager when his contract expires next week, the Premier League club confirmed on Monday.

Benitez was a hugely popular figure among the Newcastle support after stabilising the Magpies in the Premier League and the news is likely to spark more protests aimed at the club’s owner Mike Ashley.

“It is with disappointment that we announce manager Rafael Benitez will leave Newcastle United upon the expiry of his contract on 30th June 2019,” Newcastle said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Women’s Cup: England Beat Cameroon, Advance To Quarter-Final

“We have worked hard to extend Rafa’s contract over a significant period of time, however, it has not been – and will not be – possible to reach an agreement with Rafa and his representatives.”

Despite failing to keep Newcastle in the top flight shortly after taking over in March 2016, Benitez earned hero status on Tyneside as he led Newcastle back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. He then comfortably secured survival by finishing 10th and 13th in the last two seasons.

However, the Spaniard did not hide his displeasure at the lack of backing he was afforded by Ashley and was believed to be seeking assurances over the budget he would have to work with before committing his future to the club.

“I have been trying to win titles everywhere, in different countries, and we have to have a team that can compete,” the former Liverpool, Inter Milan and Real Madrid manager told Sky Sports in April.

“The city, the club, everyone in Newcastle is supporting the team so it’s massive. I’m not saying £200m but doing a little bit more, doing the right things, we can compete against the teams that are now maybe between seventh and 12th. But we have to do things right.”

Benitez, who won the Champions League when in charge of Liverpool in 2005, has been reportedly offered a contract worth £12 million-a-year at Chinese club Dalian Yifang.

British retail tycoon Ashley bought Newcastle in 2007, but has been a deeply unpopular figure among fans, largely due to a lack of investment in the playing squad that has seen the club relegated twice during his reign in charge.

The signing of Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United for £20 million in January finally broke a transfer record that had stood since Michael Owen’s arrival at St James’ Park from Real Madrid in 2005.

Last month representatives of Dubai-based Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a relative of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour, said they had “agreed terms” with Ashley for a potential takeover of the club.

AFP

Brighton Sack Manager Chris Hughton

Brighton’s Irish manager Chris Hughton arrives for the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on May 12, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Brighton sacked manager Chris Hughton on Monday in what chairman Tony Bloom described as “one of the most difficult decisions” he had ever had to make.

Hughton leaves despite guiding Brighton to the FA Cup semi-finals and retaining their Premier League status for a second successive season.

However, a slump in their league form in the latter part of the season — which saw them sucked into a relegation battle — forced Bloom’s hand.

READ ALSO: ‘Work Starts Now’ For United After Dismal End To Season – Solskjaer

“Undoubtedly, this has been one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make as chairman of Brighton & Hove Albion, but ultimately one I have made due to how we struggled in the second half of the season,” said Bloom in a club statement.

AFP

Tottenham Manager Pochettino Could Appeal Against Touchline Ban

Pochettino Warned Tottenham Players To Keep Cool During Derby Brawl
Tottenham Hotspur’s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino gestures on the touchline. Credit:  Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

 

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says he could appeal against the two-game touchline ban he received for his furious blast at the referee in last month’s defeat at Burnley.

Pochettino accepted a Football Association charge of improper conduct and apologised for the incident that followed Tottenham’s controversial 2-1 loss on February 23.

Infuriated by Burnley’s first goal coming from a corner that he believed shouldn’t have been given, the Argentine stormed onto the pitch to confront Mike Dean at the final whistle.

But Pochettino was shocked at the extent of a punishment, which also included a £10,000 fine and would leave him in the stands for both Saturday’s fixture at his former club Southampton and against Liverpool on March 31.

He is still waiting for the FA’s explanation and is considering his options, partly because he believes the indiscretion to be his first in English football.

READ ALSO: Messi Returns To Argentina Team After Eight-Month Absence

“It wasn’t the idea to appeal. Because in my mind it wasn’t a big deal and it wasn’t the best way to complain or talk with the referee, but I never expected this type of situation,” Pochettino told reporters on Thursday.

“Now I need to think. I need to see the reasons why and then we’ll see what happens.

“I am a little bit in shock because it is completely unfair. It’s my seventh season in England and you can see my behaviour from day one.

“It is my first time here that I’m maybe not completely right in my behaviour but I feel this is too much. I feel a little bit sad and disappointed. It’s unbelievable, no?”

Tottenham could be strengthened for Saturday’s fixture by the return to fitness of England midfielder Dele Alli, who has trained following a hamstring injury and faces a late fitness test.

Harry Winks will be assessed because of a potential groin problem before Pochettino selects his starting line-up.

Pochettino’s impressive spell as Southampton’s manager led the Argentine to be recruited by Spurs, and he revealed the heartache that followed his move from St Mary’s

“Of course a lot aren’t going to forgive me, but I still love them,” he said. “I love Southampton. The time I spent there was a great experience; I enjoyed it a lot.

“I cried a lot when I left. My family, too. It was one of the most important periods of my life with my family, that I enjoyed the most, which is why it was so tough.”

AFP

Algeria’s President Bouteflika Sacks Campaign Manager

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika/ AFP

 

Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika sacked his campaign manager Saturday, state media reported, following mass protests against the ailing leader’s decision to stand for a fifth term in office.

Former premier Abdelmalek Sellal — who oversaw Bouteflika’s past three successful re-election bids — was removed just hours ahead of a deadline for election hopefuls to formally submit their candidacy.

Sellal was replaced as campaign manager by Abdelghani Zaalene, the transport minister, APS news agency said, citing Bouteflika’s campaign team.

While no reason was given for the decision, it comes after tens of thousands of Algerians protested Friday against the 82-year-old president standing for re-election.

READ ALSO: DR Congo President Pledges Amnesty For Political Prisoners

Bouteflika, rarely seen in public since a 2013 stroke, has been in Switzerland for nearly a week for “routine medical checks” according to his office.

There is no legal requirement for election contenders to be in the country on Sunday to meet the midnight (2300 GMT) deadline to submit their candidacy for the April 18 vote.

AFP

Fulham Sack Coach Ranieri, Appoint Parker As Caretaker Manager

Claudio Ranieri/LOIC VENANCE / AFP

 

Claudio Ranieri’s short, unsuccessful spell as manager of Premier League strugglers Fulham came to an end on Thursday, the club announced.

The 67-year-old Italian, who memorably guided Leicester City to the 2016 Premier League title, failed to ignite a revival in the club after he replaced the sacked Slavisa Jokanovic in November.

He was in charge for just 16 league games but won only three, and Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat to Southampton left them second from bottom, 10 points adrift of safety with 10 matches remaining.

“Following our discussion this afternoon, Claudio Ranieri agreed to my decision that a change was in the best interest of everyone,” said Fulham chairman Shahid Khan in a statement.

Khan, whose investment of over £100million in new players in the close season after they were promoted to the Premier League has backfired spectacularly, said Ranieri behaved like a “perfect gentleman” during the talks.

“Claudio’s tenure at Fulham didn’t produce the outcome we anticipated and needed when I appointed him as manager in November, but be assured he is not solely to blame for the position we are in today,” said Khan.

READ ALSO: Victory Over Tottenham Can Save Chelsea’s Season, Says Sarri

Ranieri, who was sacked by Leicester months after their fairytale success, said he was sad the good start the club had made under his charge had not been maintained.

“I am obviously disappointed with the recent results and that we could not build on the good start we made following my appointment,” said Ranieri, who took over at a time when Fulham had secured just one point from their previous eight matches.

Khan added former England midfielder Scott Parker — who ended his playing career at Fulham — is to be the caretaker manager.

“Scott’s immediate assignment is merely to help us stabilise, grow and rediscover ourselves as a football club,” said Khan.

“If Scott can answer that challenge, and our players respond to the opportunity, perhaps victories will follow in the months ahead.”

Ranieri is the sixth Premier League manager to lose his job this season and comes just days after Claude Puel was sacked by Leicester — Jokanovic, Mark Hughes (Southampton), Jose Mourinho (Manchester United) and David Wagner (Huddersfield) being the other casualties.

AFP

Solskjaer Back ‘Home’ At Manchester United

Cardiff City’s former Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks on before the English FA cup third round football match between Newcastle United and Cardiff City at St James’ Park in Newcastle upon Tyne on January 4, 2014. Ian MacNicol / AFP

 

New Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says it is “like coming home” as he starts his temporary tenure as the Red Devils’ boss, he told the club’s MUTV channel on Thursday.

Solskjaer, 45, made more than 360 appearances in 11 years for United and scored a dramatic Champions League winner in 1999 to seal a historic treble.

“It feels like coming home. It’s been a few whirlwind days, very hectic,” he said in his first interview since taking over from Jose Mourinho.

United called time on Mourinho’s two-and-a-half years at the club on Tuesday, with the club languishing sixth in the Premier League, 19 points behind leaders Liverpool.

Solskjaer will be at the helm at Old Trafford until the end of the season when the club will appoint a full-time successor.

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino is the current front-runner.

“It’s six months, I’m going to enjoy the ride. It’s about being myself. The club’s running a process to find the next manager so I’m just going to be myself in the meantime,” he added.

He will take charge of his first match on Saturday against Cardiff, where he spent an unhappy spell as manager in 2014.

AFP

Reading Sack Manager Paul Clement

Paul Clement                                                                                                              Geoff CADDICK / AFP

 

Paul Clement has been sacked by Reading after less than nine months in charge, the English Championship club announced on Thursday.

The Royals are outside the relegation zone on goal difference after winning just four of their 20 league games so far this season.

“Reading Football Club can announce that Paul Clement has left his position as manager of the club with immediate effect,” said a club statement.

“Clement was appointed towards the end of March and earned two victories and a final day draw in Cardiff which proved enough to secure the club its Championship status at the end of a challenging 2017/18 campaign.

“However, following five wins in the first 22 league and cup matches of 2018/19, owners Mr Yongge Dai and Ms Xiu Li Dai have made the difficult decision that the time is now right to make a change.”

Former Derby and Swansea manager Clement, 46, signed a three-year deal when he replaced Jaap Stam in March.

AFP

Southampton Appoint Hasenhuttl As Manager

Southampton has confirmed on December 5, 2018, that they have appointed Ralph Hasenhuttl as manager. Photo: Valery HACHE / AFP

Ralph Hasenhuttl has been tasked in reviving Premier League strugglers Southampton’s fortunes after being named their new manager on Wednesday.

The 51-year-old Austrian — who comes into the role on the back of Mark Hughes being sacked on Monday — has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the club.

Hasenhuttl attracted Saints’ interest through his success at his previous club, RB Leipzig, guiding them to second in the Bundesliga in the 2016/17 season and the Europa League quarter-finals last term.

He left Leipzig after they finished sixth in the 2017/18 Bundesliga campaign.

“The urgency to find a path back to our potential and to the results that we expect cannot be underestimated,” said Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger in a statement.

“For that reason, we are extremely pleased that Ralph Hasenhuttl has agreed to become our new manager and do all he can to help guide us back on that path.”

Hasenhuttl takes over a side that did show some improvement in a 2-2 draw at home to Manchester United last Saturday — although it was too late to save Hughes’s job.

Southampton, who parted ways with a long-serving head of football development Les Reed earlier in the season, are third from bottom of the Premier League ahead of a tough match away to Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.

Krueger said the qualities Hasenhuttl displayed in taking unheralded German side Ingolstadt from the foot of the second tier to promotion to the elite augured well for Saints’ future.

“We have been aware of Ralph since his days at FC Ingolstadt, where he showed the qualities that we believe we need at the club,” said Krueger.

“He has since gone on to develop those attributes with a track record of success in the Bundesliga and with a progressive and ambitious club in RB Leipzig,” added the 59-year-old Canadian, a former coach of the Swiss ice hockey team.

Krueger said Hasenhuttl represented an ideal match for the club.

“As soon as we met, Ralph’s enthusiasm for football was contagious and his hunger to take on a new and challenging job in the Premier League was evident,” said Krueger.

“In our discussions, he very quickly aligned himself with the values and the vision of the club.”

AFP

Managing In England Is ‘Dream Come True’ – Guardiola

Manchester City's Guardiola Regrets Redmond Rage
Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola looks on before the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City at The Hawthorns stadium in West Bromwich, central England, on October 28, 2017. Lindsey PARNABY / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola said managing in England is a “dream come true” as he was honoured by the Football Writers’ Association fresh from a 6-1 Premier League victory against Southampton.

The Manchester City manager was recognised for his side’s Premier League title last season and the club are again setting the pace this season, with nine wins in 11 games.

Speaking at Sunday’s ceremony in Manchester, he said: “I’m fortunate to be here in your country, in England.

“It’s incredible. It was a dream from a little boy for a young manager to come here to your country and be a manager here. It’s a dream come true.”

City won 32 of their 38 games last season, scoring a record 106 goals and amassing a record 100 points.

“I want to share, of course, this award with the whole Manchester City family because I know it’s a real family,” said Guardiola.

“I know people say we have a lot of money. That’s true but despite that it’s incredible the people I’m working with and I’m a lucky guy to be here.

“Thank you so much to make me feel at home in your country here and in Manchester.”

The 47-year-old also made light of his outfit for the evening — the event’s dress code was lounge suit and Guardiola accepted the award wearing a casual top.

Pointing to his outfit, he added: “Everyone is so elegant with a suit and tie and I came here with… I am a little bit embarrassed, I’m a disaster. I didn’t expect how important this event was.”

AFP

Arsenal’s Emery Is A Top Manager, Says Liverpool Boss Klopp

Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Unai Emery gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on August 12, 2018. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp says Arsenal boss Unai Emery has proved himself as a top manager as the two coaches prepare to go head to head for the first time since the 2016 Europa League final.

Emery, then in charge at Sevilla, got the better of Klopp in the final in Basel, with his side coming from behind to win 3-1, and subsequently won the French league title with Paris Saint-Germain.

The Spaniard’s arrival at Arsenal as a replacement for Arsene Wenger earlier this year was not met with universal approval from fans after some underwhelming results in the Champions League with a star-studded PSG squad.

But Klopp believes Emery has won enough in his career — three successive Europa League titles and five major trophies at PSG — to warrant the respect his current 13-match unbeaten run deserves.

“All people in football knew how good he is but I am not sure all Arsenal fans were over the moon at first when they heard it would be Emery,” said Klopp.

“But that’s England a little bit, you want the poster boys. Unai was in France and before that in Spain in a smaller club, so you can go a bit under the radar.

“Not for all the people in football, though. I saw yesterday that he won eight titles in two or three years. That’s pretty big.”

Klopp, whose side are level on points with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, dismissed the suggestion that Emery produced a tactical masterclass to get the better of his side in the second half of their Europa League final encounter.

“You’re giving managers a bit too much credit if you think we have that much influence. He couldn’t defend (against) us in the first half. We had to help with that by missing our chances,” he said.

“They won, we lost, that’s already history,” he added.

Klopp’s record against Arsenal since arriving in England is impressive. He has never lost against the Gunners, with three wins and two draws from five matches.

The fixture has a history of high scores, with the past nine Premier League matches bringing 42 goals.

“It doesn’t look like that will change. They score a lot of goals and are really good offensively,” said Klopp.

“We have to see how this game will develop. With two very offensive-orientated teams it can often happen. It doesn’t have to — we saw in the Manchester City game (a goalless draw) that, but it is possible at least.”

Klopp will still be without midfielders Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita, who are not likely to be in contention for a recall until next weekend.

AFP

Guardiola Handed Two-Match Ban

Houston Derby: Despite City Loss, New Signings Impress Guardiola
Manchester City Manager, Pep Guardiola

 

Manchester City Manager, Pep Guardiola, will start the English champions’ quest for a first Champions League title from the stands next season after being hit with a two-game touchline ban by UEFA on Monday.

Liverpool were also fined 20,000 euros (£17,567) by UEFA for the damage caused to City’s team bus on their arrival at Anfield for the first leg of a bad-tempered Champions League quarter-final between the sides as windows of the vehicle were shatterd by bottles and cans thrown by supporters.

The second match of Guardiola’s ban, though, is suspended for a probationary period of one season.

The Catalan coach was sent off for furiously protesting after City were wrongly denied a second goal in the second leg with the tie still in the balance.

City were leading 1-0 on the night after a 3-0 first-leg defeat when Leroy Sane was flagged offside despite the ball towards the German winger coming off Liverpool’s James Milner.

With Guardiola sent to the stands by Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz for the second half, City went on to lose 2-1 on the night and 5-1 on aggregate.

Liverpool were also fined a further 9,000 euros for the setting off of fireworks in the second leg with City and the second leg of their semi-final at Roma.

AFP

Sunderland Sack Manager, Put Up Club For Sale

FILE PHOTO Chris Coleman                                                                                                     Credit: AFP

 

Sunderland sacked Manager, Chris Coleman, on Sunday, and then announced that owner Ellis Short was selling the club following the northeast side’s relegation to the third tier of English football.

Sunderland said Short plans to sell to a group led by Stewart Donald, chairman of Eastleigh, a non-league club in the south of England.

Sunderland have dropped from the Premier League to League One in under 12 months following two successive relegations, with Short admitting in a statement his disappointment at how his stewardship of the Black Cats had ended.

“It is no secret I have been trying to sell Sunderland but I have waited until the right group came along that have the experience, finances and plan to take this great club back to where it deserves to be,” he said.

“Overall my chairmanship has not gone the way I would have wished; the many high points of a decade in the Premier League have been overshadowed by the low points of the last two terrible seasons.

“I was, therefore, determined to ensure that I leave Sunderland in the best possible hands and in the best possible state to turn the corner.”

Short added: “To achieve this, higher offers from less qualified buyers were rejected and I have paid off all debts owed by the club and leave it financially strong and debt free for the first time since years before I owned it.”

The deal is subject to English Football League approval, with Donald confirming he intends to sell Eastleigh who play in the National League — the division below the three tiers of the English Football League that in turn sit beneath the elite English Premier League.

Coleman, 47, replaced Simon Grayson in November but won just five of his 29 games, losing 16 times.

“Sunderland AFC announces that manager Chris Coleman and his assistant Kit Symons have been released from their contracts,” said the earlier club statement.

“The club would like to place on record its sincere thanks to Chris and Kit for their tireless efforts in what has been a hugely disappointing season for everyone involved with the club.”

Sunderland’s relegation to the third tier for the first time in 30 years was sealed by a  2-1 loss at home to Burton last weekend.

AFP