Steve Bruce Loses First Game As Wolves Beat Newcastle

Newcastle United’s Rolando Aarons (2nd R) challenges Wolverhampton Wanderers’s Adama Traore (L) during the 2019 Premier League Asia Trophy football tournament in Nanjing, in China’s Jiangsu province on July 17, 2019.
HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP

 

The scale of the task facing new head coach Steve Bruce was brutally laid bare as Newcastle United were thrashed 4-0 by Premier League rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers in China on Wednesday.

Former Manchester United defender Bruce, whose appointment was confirmed just hours before kick-off, will jet over to take charge of Newcastle’s next friendly, in Shanghai on Saturday.

It was only a low-key exhibition match, but the heavy defeat to Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves in Nanjing was more evidence that Newcastle is likely to be battling relegation this season.

Newcastle has risked stoking the anger of their frustrated fans by hiring former Sunderland boss Bruce, who has sealed a three-year contract to succeed the hugely popular Rafael Benitez.

READ ALSO: Steve Bruce Named Newcastle United Head Coach

There were even isolated chants against hated club owner Mike Ashley during the Wolves loss.

Federico Fernandez, the Newcastle defender, called on fans angry with Bruce’s arrival to get behind the new man.

“We are looking forward to working with him, he is a man of great experience, we are thinking positive,” said the Argentine.

“I understand the fans’ situation,” he said, addressing supporters’ negative reaction to the 58-year-old Bruce, a lifelong Newcastle fan.

“For us, we want to work, we want to do better as a team… to show the fans and everyone that we can compete.”

In a statement, Bruce, who resigned from Championship side Sheffield Wednesday to join Newcastle, called it “a very special moment for me and my family”.

“This is my boyhood club and it was my dad’s club.”

Bruce might be a local boy, but his two-year spell as coach of Newcastle’s fierce rivals Sunderland and a mediocre record as a Premier League manager are major black marks for an already infuriated fan base.

Bruce, who has won four promotions from the second tier of English football, has suffered relegation from the Premier League twice.

His highest finish was 10th with Birmingham in 2003-04 and Sunderland in 2010-11.

Bruce has his work cut out at Newcastle, who have lost their leading forwards from last season — Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez — and are the only Premier League club yet to make a summer signing.

The transfer window closes in less than a month, adding to the pressure on Bruce and Ashley as they try to win over disillusioned fans.

There have been calls for a boycott of St James’ Park until Ashley sells the crisis club.

If Bruce was watching on television, he would have been exasperated by what he saw from his side in China, who were under the interim stewardship of academy coach Ben Dawson.

Diogo Jota struck twice in the first half for Chinese-owned Wolves as demoralised Newcastle wilted alarmingly in the Nanjing heat.

Champions Manchester City were to play West Ham United in the next match in the Premier League Asia Trophy.

AFP

Wolves Seal Premier League Promotion With Birmingham Win

Wolves Seal Premier League Promotion With Birmingham Win
Photo: LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers marked their promotion to the English Premier League with a commanding 2-0 win over struggling Birmingham City on Sunday.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side had already been guaranteed a lucrative place in the top flight 24 hours earlier when promotion rivals Fulham were held to a draw by Brentford.

Diogo Jota got the party started at Molineux as his 17th goal of the season put Wolves on course for victory after 21 minutes.

Birmingham were reduced to 10 men in the 52nd minute when Harlee Dean was sent off for his challenge on Helder Costa.

Wolves substitute Benik Afobe made the game safe three minutes from time.

Wolves, back in the Premier League after a six-year absence, need one more point to be sure of going up as second-tier champions.

Their superior goal difference over second-placed Cardiff City means that honour is almost secured already.

“I am very pleased. This is a big moment, first for the fans. It is why we work, for our fans,” Nuno said.

“The players have been fantastic from day one. It was a very hard season but the players deserved to be promoted.

“They believed in something that was changing. They trust and believe and they kept doing that.”

Nuno allowed his players to celebrate with a beer in the changing room after the game and he added: “That is something I have never allowed. It was the first time.”

While Wolves look to a bright future, their local rivals Birmingham are in danger of dropping into the third tier.

They are only two points clear of the relegation zone and have managed only one point from their last three games.

Wolves were indebted to goalkeeper John Ruddy for preventing Birmingham from taking the lead in the 11th minute.

Lukas Jutkiewicz prodded a pass through the Wolves defence and the ball was collected by Maxime Colin.

Colin only had Ruddy to beat from 12 yards but saw his shot beaten away and when the rebound flew straight back to Colin, his second attempt was also saved by Ruddy.

Wolves finally mounted a threat of their own when Ruben Neves tried his luck from 30 yards only to see his shot comfortably dealt with by goalkeeper David Stockdale.

But, while Stockdale was able to deny Neves, he was powerless to prevent Jota breaking the deadlock four minutes later.

Matt Doherty crossed from the right and his centre into the six-yard box was an invitation that Jota was not going to turn down as he bundled the ball into the net from close range.

Birmingham’s task became even harder when Dean was dismissed for bringing down Costa as he raced towards the penalty area.

Jutkiewicz was then denied by Ruddy five minutes from time before Afobe ended their challenge, lifting the ball over Stockdale after a pass from ex-Dundee United man Barry Douglas.

AFP

Wolves Promoted To Premier League After Six-Year Absence

 

EPL

Wolves’ return to the Premier League after a six-year absence was confirmed on Saturday after Fulham’s 1-1 draw with Brentford gave Nuno Espirito Santo’s men an unassailable 10-point lead over the Londoners with just three games of the season remaining.

Bought over by Chinese group Fosun International in 2016, Wolves’ return to England’s lucrative top flight has been bankrolled by huge investment and links to Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes.

Portugal international Ruben Neves, signed for a Championship record £15.8 million from Porto in July, was one of a number of Portuguese players recruited in the summer and that investment has told on the field as the Midlands side have streaked away from the chasing pack.

Neves produced one of the moments of the season in midweek with a sensational 30-yard wonder strike to see off Derby 2-0.

Victory over Birmingham on Sunday will also take Wolves to within a point of sealing the Championship title ahead of Cardiff City.

However, Wolves’ big spending has provoked complaints for other sides in the league.

“Congratulations to the best team but hope the league can be fair and equal to all 24 teams,” protested Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani after his side were beaten 3-0 by Wolves last month.

“Not legal and fair [to] let one team owned by a fund who has shares in the biggest players’ agency with evident benefits (top European clubs giving players with options to buy… why the other 23 teams can’t have the same treatment?).”

Mendes is the founder of the Gestifute agency which represents a host of international stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo.

On the field Wolves have proved unstoppable as they amassed a huge lead at the top of the table on the back of losing just three of their opening 27 games of the campaign.

And despite a mid-winter blip, Wolves have finished as strongly as they began with 16 points from their last possible 18 securing promotion.

Cardiff’s hopes of joining them in the Premier League next season were also boosted by Brentford’s dramatic 94th-minute equaliser to hold Fulham at Craven Cottage.

The Welsh side lead Fulham by a point and have a game in hand after scoring twice themselves in the final four minutes to win 2-0 at Norwich.

Aston Villa’s 1-0 win over Leeds on Friday also kept them in the battle for automatic promotion, three points behind Fulham.

Middlesbrough were the big winners in the battle for playoff places behind the top four on Saturday as they edged past Bristol City 2-1.

Millwall extended their 17-game unbeaten league run with a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United to remain in the final playoff place.

However, Derby’s playoff push suffered another setback when they were beaten 3-1 at relegation-threatened Burton.

That win moved second bottom Burton to within five points off safety.

But Sunderland look set for back-to-back relegations after a 2-2 draw at Reading left them rock bottom and still six points adrift of safety.

AFP

FA Cup: Liverpool Crash While Arsenal, Chelsea, City Advance

Liverpool Crash Out Of FA CupChampionship side Wolverhampton Wanderers held on to oust Liverpool and reach the FA Cup fifth round with a deserved victory at Anfield.

Richard Stearman put the visitors ahead after only 53 seconds and Helder Costa set up Andreas Weimann to double Wolves’ lead later.

Divock Origi scored a late consolation for the largely subdued Liverpool.

The result is the second defeat in cup competition in four days for Jurgen Klopp’s side after they lost to Southampton in the EFL Cup semi-finals on Wednesday.

However, it was a massive win for Arsenal in spite of the manager Arsene Wenger’s touchline ban.

A Danny Welbeck brace, followed by a Theo Walcott hat trick ensured that the Gunners trashed Southampton 5-0 at the St Mary’s Stadium.

In other FA Cup matches played on Saturday, Sean Dyche’s Burnley knocked out championship strugglers Bristol City with a 2-0 win  at Turf Moor, while league leaders Chelsea put four goals past Brentford with Willian,  Pedro, Branislav  Ivanovic and Michy Batshuayi all getting on the score sheet.

Elsewhere, Manchester City put their troubles in the league behind them to beat Crystal Palace 3-0.

Blackburn Rovers also defeated Blackpool 2-0 while League One side, Oxford pulled off the biggest upset in the round with an impressive 3-0 victory over promotion chasers Newcastle United.

Stewart Downing’s superb 69th minute strike sent Middleborough through to the next round as Aitor Karanka’s men beat Accrington Stanley 1-0.

Tottenham came back from behind to beat League Two side Wycome Wanders 4-3 as South Korean forward Son Heung-Min scored a stoppage-time winner.

Yusuf Invites 26 Players For Super Eagles Friendlies

Super Eagles-Salisu Yusuf-Eagles FriendliesSuper Eagles Head Coach, Salisu Yusuf, has called up 26 players for the international friendlies against Mali and Luxembourg in Europe.

The three-time African champions would take on the Les Aiglons of Mali in France on May 27 before flying to Luxembourg to play the country’s national team on June 1.

Yusuf, who was installed as interim Head Coach by the Nigeria Football Federation last week, picked a relatively young squad that also includes former U-20 and former U-23 players.

All the invitees in the goalkeeper categories are: Carl Ikeme (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa), and Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Sunshine Stars).

The defenders invited are: Abdullahi Shehu (Uniao da Madeira, Portugal), Musa Muhammed (Istanbul Basaksehir, Turkey), Elderson Echiejile (AS Monaco, France), Kingsley Madu (AS Trencin, Slovakia), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa SK, Turkey), Leon Balogun (Mainz 05, Germany), Gbenga Arokoyo (Gaziantepspor, Turkey), William Troost Ekong (Haugesund FC, Norway), and Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal).

For the midfielders, players called up are: Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy), John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England), Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, England), Wilfred Ndidi (KRC Genk, Belgium), Raheem Lawal (Osmanlispor FK, Turkey), and Etebo Oghenekaro (SC Farense, Portugal).

The players invited in the forward category are: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium), Victor Moses (West Ham United, England), Odion Ighalo (Watford FC, England), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England), Aminu Umar (Osmanlispor FK, Turkey), Aaron Samuel (CSKA Moscow, Russia), and Brown Ideye (Olympiakos FC, Greece).

Enyeama Opts Out Of Tanzania Game

enyeamaSuper Eagles Captain and goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama has opted out of this weekend’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against the Taifa Stars of Tanzania.

Enyeama has asked to be exempted from the trip to Dar es Salaam, owing to personal reasons.

The team will depart for Tanazia on Thursday with the two goalkeepers currently in camp.

They are Wolverhampton Wanderers’ goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme and Sunshine Stars’ Ikechukwu Ezenwa.

Both keepers have so far impressed the Nigerian National Team selectors, who are yet to make a decision on who gets the nod in the absence of Enyeama.

The former African Champions began their 2017 AFCON qualification campaign on a winning note with a 2-nil win against Chad in June.