Under-fire McClaren pleads for patience at crisis-hit Newcastle

Beleaguered Newcastle manager Steve McClaren pleaded for more time to turn around his club’s woeful run after a 2-1 home defeat against Watford left them languishing in the Premier League relegation zone.

McClaren’s team are second bottom, with only local rivals Sunderland keeping them off the foot of the table, after Watford’s Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo shattered the fragile hosts at St James’ Park on Saturday.

The Magpies are without a win in their six matches this season and have just two points.

Daryl Janmaat’s second half goal was Newcastle’s first in the league in 464 minutes, but it wasn’t enough to prevent them extending a miserable record of just one win in 17 outings dating back to last season.

McClaren’s players were jeered off the pitch by furious Newcastle fans at full-time, but the former England coach insisted he could still enjoy success on Tyneside given time.

“I can understand the fans’ reaction. We are just turning things around and I think the majority understand that,” said McClaren, who was hired from Derby to replace interim manager John Carver in the close-season.

“Like we have said to the boys in the dressing room, it’s not a crisis, it’s not a time to panic — it’s too early, and we’d never do that anyway.

“No matter where you are at what stage, we’d never do that, we have too much experience to know that.”

McClaren knows the criticism of Newcastle from fans and pundits will only grow louder this week, but he is confident they will turn things around as long as the dressing room doesn’t become divided with feuding players.

“We have got to stick together. We are going to get a lot of criticism and that can be flying from not just media, but also fans, and in that dressing room we have got to stay tight, we have got to stay calm,” McClaren said.

“I am under no illusions, this is a hard job — everybody knew that and you know it. You want proof, we’ve got proof.

“But we have got the experience in the backroom staff to deal with this. We are lucky that it’s early — it’s only two and a half months that we’ve been working with each other and there’s a long way to go and a lot of things to do.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Van Gaal’s winning formula boosts United

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling says Louis van Gaal has finally discovered a winning formula ahead of Newcastle’s visit to Old Trafford on Saturday.

Van Gaal chopped and changed his side at the start of his United reign last season and had to wait four games for his first Premier League win.

But 12 months later, the United manager is reaping the rewards of selecting a more settled line-up.

And while he may make the odd tweak against Newcastle this weekend, with Bastian Schweinsteiger pressing for a full debut in midfield, continuity appears to be the key.

That is particularly the case in defence with the same goalkeeper and back four likely to continue their ever-present records, having played together for every minute of United’s two Premier League wins and their midweek 3-1 Champions League play-off first-leg victory against Club Brugge.

Smalling is one of those to have benefitted from van Gaal’s policy and he should carry on alongside Daley Blind in the middle of United’s defence.

The England international is convinced the selection policy is paying off as van Gaal’s side have kept clean sheets in their league games against Tottenham and Aston Villa this season.

“Last season there were that many changes it was hard to get a good run – even though I still don’t think we conceded that many goals in the second half of the season,” he said.

“But that togetherness and that work ethic is showing on the pitch now because we are not letting that many chances in.”

– Benchmark –

United’s winning start has made them one of four teams with 100 per cent records in the Premier League.

And with an early kick-off to look forward to against winless Newcastle on Saturday, Smalling wants United to steal an early march on their rivals for top spot.

“We must continue our good start. It is another home game and we have to assert ourselves early on,” he said.

“It is good that we again get to be in the first game that plays and, hopefully, set the benchmark for the weekend.”

United will again be without midfielder Marouane Fellaini, who scored in their Champions League win but still has to complete a domestic three-match ban.

Goalkeeper David de Gea is again expected to be overlooked as his future at Old Trafford remains uncertain, while defender Phil Jones is also set to be absent through injury.

Florian Thauvin hopes to make his Newcastle debut at Old Trafford after sealing his move from Marseille.

The arrival of the France Under-21 international on a five-year contract takes the Tyneside club’s spending since last season to £47.7 million ($74 million), and the 22-year-old former Lille midfielder said: “I’m delighted to be about to start my Newcastle career against such a big team with such a great reputation.

“I can’t wait to get out there, and I’m really looking forward to it.

“It’s great to know that Newcastle have wanted me for such a long time, and to know they wanted me so badly. It’s a massive club.”

Newcastle’s Dutch full-back Daryl Janmaat is suspended after his red card in the 2-0 defeat at Swansea that leaves Steve McClaren’s side searching for their first victory of the season, at a ground where they’ve won just once in 43 years.

Steven Taylor is expected to start alongside skipper Fabricio Coloccini in central defence, with Chancel Mbemba switching to right-back.

Photo Credits : AFP

Newcastle star Papiss Cisse ‘gets married – without telling his girlfriend’

The Newcastle striker apparently wed volleyball ace Diallo Awa in the French capital – but didn’t tell model Rachelle Graham, who he’s been dating on and off for two years.

Rachelle, a former Miss Newcastle, claimed she only found out when she stumbled across a picture of Cisse and his new bride on Facebook and Instagram.

She said: “I’m hurt and disgusted to learn Papiss has got married without me knowing after we spent so much time together recently.” The pair tied the knot at a swish yacht club on May 30 – just three days after Rachelle packed Cisse’s bag and kissed him goodbye at the airport.

A friend of the model claimed Cisse “couldn’t be with her properly” because the star’s family expected him to marry an African Muslim woman. The Senegalese striker, who earns £40,000-a-week, is a strict Muslim who prays five times a day and refuses to drink.

The pal added: “She worries now that people will think she’s stupid and naive.”


Under-fire Wenger faces Newcastle threat

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will again look to confound his critics when his side welcome in-form Newcastle United to the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League this weekend.

The Frenchman was jeered by a small group of Arsenal fans as he boarded a train following his team’s 3-2 loss at Stoke City last Saturday, in scenes widely condemned within the football community.

That loss meant Wenger’s side were unable to take advantage of league leaders Chelsea’s first defeat of the season and left the north London club in sixth spot, 13 points adrift of the head of the table.

A title challenge now seems unlikely and while Arsenal reacted positively by winning 4-1 at Galatasaray in the Champions League in mid-week, Wenger remains under scrutiny.

In particular, he has been criticised for his failure to strengthen his defence during the last transfer window, although the manager can point to an alarming run of injuries to key players this season.

A victory over Alan Pardew’s upwardly mobile Newcastle will be the best way to silence the doubters, and midfielder Aaron Ramsey says the players are fully behind their manager.

“It was obviously a disappointing first half at Stoke, but we did well in the second half and almost got back into it,” said the Wales international.

“It was important to bounce back from that defeat and we did that. Every player here wants to work hard for the manager. We proved that again on Tuesday night (against Galatasaray).

“He has been under some unfair criticism, but we are all out there; we are in it together. We wanted to get the result for us and for him.

“I think whenever we go into a game, he knows our qualities, always believes in us and gives us a great feeling for matches. Every time we go out there, we are representing ourselves, our club and our manager.”

– Pardew disgusted –

Wenger is one again facing problems in defence, with Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal injured and Calum Chambers suspended after being dismissed at Stoke.

Midfielder Mikel Arteta and winger Theo Walcott remain sidelined, while Ramsey could be forced out with a hamstring problem.

Meanwhile, Pardew fears the abuse levelled at Wenger last week could make his side’s task harder at the Emirates, because the vast majority of Arsenal fans will want to show their backing for the manager.

“I think 99 percent of Arsenal fans would have been ashamed of what happened and we could get the backlash from it,” Pardew said. “They will want to show him how much they love him.”

Pardew was disgusted by the way Wenger was targeted after the defeat at Stoke, which saw Arsenal come close to completing a comeback after falling 3-0 down.

“It was total disrespect,” said Pardew. “This is a guy who has done an unbelievable job and the stadium should have been named after him.

“When they moved houses (stadiums), they couldn’t have competed in the Champions League without him being so astute in the transfer market.

“Bearing in mind the debt they had when they first moved in, he has done an absolutely marvellous job. He’s had a couple of difficult results recently, but Arsene will get through it as every manager does.”

Newcastle are the Premier League’s form team following their 2-1 victory over Chelsea last week, which left them level on points with Arsenal in seventh place.

They will be without Moussa Sissoko and Steven Taylor because of suspension, while 21-year-old goalkeeper Jak Alnwick will start a league game for the first time because of injuries to Tim Krul and Rob Elliot.

Liverpool lose 1-0 to Newcastle as they beg Gerrard to stay

Newcastle’s only goal for the game against  Liverpool came in the 73rd after some dreadful defending from Liverpool allowed Perez to blast it ftom close range.

Liverpool is in contract talks with Steven Gerrard over the coming weeks to reassure their captain they want him to extend his career at Anfield, but the former England midfielder may be forced to accept a reduced playing role before committing to a new deal.

Brendan Rodgers has made it clear to Gerrard he wants him at the club beyond this season, and the same message will be relayed by the club hierarchy to prevent any possibility of the 34-year-old moving elsewhere.

However, with Gerrard set to turn 35 before his contract expires next summer, the player could be faced with the dilemma of remaining at Liverpool and playing fewer games or accepting lucrative offers from overseas, with interest anticipated from clubs in the United States.

Gerrard said earlier this week it was “Liverpool’s decision” whether he remained at his boyhood club, and those comments have prompted a positive response at boardroom level as well as the manager’s office.

Newcastle spring Cup surprise on holders Manchester City in 2-0 win

Holders Manchester City were knocked out of the League Cup as a youthful Newcastle side earned the club’s first win in 12 attempts at Etihad Stadium.

Teenage forward Rolando Aarons put the visitors ahead with an angled drive into the far corner.

Newcastle keeper Rob Elliot superbly denied Stevan Jovetic before his skipper Fabricio Coloccini sliced against the post before half-time.

Moussa Sissoko slid in the second as Newcastle reached the last eight.

Now they will travel to Premier League rivals Tottenham in the next round, bidding for a place in the semi-finals for the first time since 1975-76.