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Newcastle United

Newcastle United round-up: Merino discusses Benitez’s importance; Mitrovic happier when with Serbia

Jake Jackman

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Newcastle

Newcastle United are approaching a key period in their history. The uncertainty regarding the future of Rafa Benitez continues to cause concern among supporters, but a few positive results during the next few weeks will improve the mood on Tyneside. Mikel Merino has already emerged as a fan’s favourite at the club and looks set to play a significant role this season. The Chronicle posted quotes from the midfielder regarding his new manager and his importance to the club:

“Rafa says to us to keep the faith and we believe in his words. So what we have to keep doing is keep trying hard, keep playing, and the main thing is to keep doing good things and if we do it then we know good things will come. We are with our coach and we know this is the way to act.

“Newcastle needs to be a compact team, we are like a family and we have to keep this mentality because we don’t have the potential that Manchester City, Manchester United or the other big teams have. So we have to keep playing, keep running a lot with all the effort, this is not negotiable – and we have to each give 100 per cent out on the pitch. Only like this can we have a successful season.”

These quotes are enlightening and show the relationship that Benitez has with his players. The Spaniard has been criticised for his public comments regarding the transfer window as they show a disrespect for the current players, but that doesn’t seem to be a huge issue for the squad. Newcastle need to be well organised and battle hard for every point. Merino’s comments underline that approach and it should be one that provides success if carried out correctly.

Benitez still has his critics and the latest person to direct his frustration at the Newcastle boss is the Slavoljub Muslin. The Serbia national team coach has been discussing Aleksandar Mitrovic. The striker has been in great form for his country and his coach suggests that he is more comfortable playing international football.

“Maybe the system we play with three attackers suits him better. “Perhaps the coach in Newcastle doesn’t have as much confidence in him as I do. He is our first centre-forward. Perhaps he feels more comfortable playing for the national team than he does for his own club.”

The striker may not be the first-choice at St James’ Park, but he has himself to blame for that. Benitez doesn’t trust him and that is justified. In the last match, he scored against West Ham, but he also picked up a three-match suspension for elbowing Manuel Lanzini. He needs to mature and concentrate on playing for the team rather than himself. If he does that, he will have a chance of succeeding on Tyneside.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Manchester United

“Imagine thinking Phil Jones is better”: Newcastle fans react to Jamaal Lascelles omission

Newcastle fans can’t believe Jamaal Lascelles is not going to the World Cup this summer.

Max Cohen

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Jamaal Lascelles
Photo: Getty Images

Chelsea narrowly defeated Manchester United in Saturday’s FA Cup Final, thanks to Eden Hazard’s first-half penalty.

United centre-half Phil Jones conceded the spot-kick, felling the Belgian in the box and drawing the ire of Twitter in the process.

Newcastle United supporters were baffled at Jones’ poor cup final performance and criticised England manager Gareth Southgate for selecting the 26-year-old defender ahead of Jamaal Lascelles in the World Cup squad.

Against Chelsea, Jones made headlines for his high-profile mistake 20 minutes into the match.

The defender was caught flat-footed just inside his own half when Cesc Fabregas played a lofted ball in the direction of Eden Hazard.

The Belgian’s first touch was excellent and left Jones for dead, putting the Englishman on the wrong side of the ball.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Hazard then cut back across Jones, before the defender lunged into an ill-timed challenge that got nowhere near the ball.

In a cup final of such importance, mistakes such as Jones’ can prove immensely costly. And as United lost the match by the solitary goal, the centre-back’s error was devastating.

And the Manchester United defender’s poor showing incensed English supporters, who were furious at his inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man team.

In particular, Newcastle United fans felt aggrieved that Jones was selected in front of their captain Jamaal Lascelles.

Lascelles has been superb all season for the Magpies, marshaling the Newcastle defence while leading the club to an impressive tenth-placed finish.

Unlike Jones, who has been an inconsistent feature in United’s side, Lascelles featured in 33 Premier League matches this season – ten more than the United defender.

The Newcastle United faithful expressed their discontent at the England manager’s defensive team selections, arguing Lascelles would have proved a far more effective option in Russia.

And as one intrepid Twitter user noted, when Newcastle United played host to Chelsea just one week ago, Lascelles kept Hazard in check and held the Blues scoreless. Jones, on the other hand, capitulated in the face of the Belgian’s skills.

England face Belgium on 28 June in their final group stage match; Newcastle and Three Lions fans alike will be praying Phil Jones does not feature.

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Huddersfield Town

Newcastle United toxicity means Rafa Benitez should move to West Ham

The Spaniard is being linked with a move to London.

Max Cohen

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Benitez
Photo: Getty Images

After West Ham United announced David Moyes would be leaving the club this summer, Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has been heavily linked with the position by Sky Sports.

Although Benitez has worked wonders at St. James’ Park and enjoys life in the Northeast, he should make the switch to east London to finally enjoy the transfer budget he deserves.

There can be no questioning the Spaniard’s tremendous accomplishments at Newcastle. Benitez was appointed too late to save the club from relegation in 2015/16, yet achieved promotion at the first time of asking in 2016/17.

Even more impressive, the ex-Liverpool boss steered the Magpies to a tenth-placed finish this season.

The team was largely the same squad that won the Championship the previous year, and it is a testament to Benitez’s skills as a manager that he led Newcastle to the top half of the table despite minimal investment.

(Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

In particular, the manager craved a top-class goalscoring striker, yet was never given the funds to pursue a centre-forward that could effectively lead the line for the Magpies.

But it is simply unacceptable that a manager of Benitez’s quality is denied access to substantial transfer funds to strengthen his squad. In December, the Spaniard publicly aired his frustration at the uncertainty surrounding his transfer budget, due to the frugal nature of owner Mike Ashley.

There had been hopes that a takeover would occur at Newcastle, but recent reports claim that the move is off after Ashley increased his valuation of the club.

Unfortunately for Benitez, this seems to signal another offseason of limited funds and missed transfer targets. Ultimately, conditions such as these are unacceptable for a manager who has brought so much success to Newcastle.

A move to the London Stadium would allow Benitez to truly shape his squad with a generous transfer budget, a luxury that the Spaniard must be craving after several barren years under Mike Ashley.

Rafa Benitez would do well to leave behind the toxic reign of Ashley and move to West Ham, where he would be appreciated and rewarded by a supportive ownership.

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Chelsea

Newcastle United can do better than Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham this summer

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Photo: Getty Images.

Rafa Benitez will have been disappointed to have seen his January signing of Islam Slimani end in complete and utter failure with the Leicester City loanee spending more time in the stands than on the pitch and now he is focused on bringing in an improvement to St. James’ Park for 2018/19, but Tammy Abraham is not the answer.

TEAMTalk say that the Spaniard may return to the striker, who was strongly linked with a move to the north-east last summer, according to the Daily Mirror.

On that occasion, the report indicated that a deal could not be agreed to satisfy Chelsea, but having struck a deal for Kenedy since then the relationship between the two parties may be better and make a move for Abraham smoother.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Then, Abraham was hot property having set the Championship alight with Bristol City, but his loan spell at Swansea has been less convincing. Having scored just five goals and registered three assists in 39 appearances for the Swans, Abraham has made only two Premier League starts in 2018 as doubts continue to emerge about his ability at this level.

What is clear is that he is not ready to walk into Newcastle and be the solution that Benitez needs. In part, that is because Abraham would not be an alternative to the likes of Aleksandar Mitrovic, impressing in the second tier himself now, or Slimani, given that whilst he is tall and physical, his game is about much more than simply being a target man.

The Newcastle boss is clearly looking for a way to add goals to his team, but Abraham, whilst promising, may not be ready for such pressure after a frustrating season in difficult circumstances in south Wales and would be a cheap gamble if Newcastle were to opt for him as their main addition up-front.

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