Newcastle have option to sign this star in summer, Benitez must activate the clause

Newcastle have option to sign this star in summer, Benitez must activate the clause – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Newcastle signed Martin Dubravka on loan last month and the 29-year-old has had a debut to remember against Manchester United.

According to reports, the Magpies have an option to sign the player permanently for a nominal fee at the end of this season.

Apparently, the Premier League outfit paid around £1.7million to loan the player for the remainder of this season. Newcastle have an option to make it a permanent deal for around £3.5million at the end of the campaign.

Dubravka impressed the Newcastle fans with his heroic display last week and the fans will be delighted with the revelation.

If the January signing continues to put in more performances like the one against United, Newcastle could land a major bargain.

The likes of Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot have failed to impress Rafa Benitez this season and Dubravka is likely to start for the Magpies between now and the end of the season. It will be interesting to see whether he can keep up this level of performance and help Newcastle beat the drop this season.

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Juan Mata sends message to Man United supporters following Newcastle defeat

Juan Mata has expressed his dismay after Manchester United suffered a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United on Sunday afternoon.

Jose Mourinho’s men created a litany of chances, with Anthony Martial missing a one-on-one with Martin Dubravka and Alexis Sanchez failing to take advantage of an open goal, before they were made to pay for their sloppiness by Matt Ritchie’s 65th minute goal.

Martial and Michael Carrick both went painfully close to claiming a late equaliser but Newcastle stood firm to register their first win at home since October.

And Mata, writing in his weekly blog, adopted a notably disappointed tone when reflecting on the defeat to Rafa Benitez’s side.

“Unfortunately this is one of those days when you don’t feel in the best mood to update your blog, neither do you to read it,” he wrote.

“It’s not easy to write after a defeat. The truth is, after losing an away game you think a lot about it on your way back home. You remember every play, every moment, and you try to change the outcome but obviously that’s impossible.

“You can’t turn back time, so the only way to carry on is to turn all this rage into a desire to win, work and attitude for the next game.

“The 1-0 in Newcastle hurts because we had chances to score both in the first and in the second half, but they took better advantage of their weapons.

“We already have to focus on the FA Cup and Huddersfield. It will be a great opportunity to prove that a new win can help to forget yesterday’s game. By the way, thank you to those who travelled to Newcastle, you deserved a different game and a different score.”

This was a not a performance from the same cut of cloth as woeful displays away to Huddersfield Town or Tottenham Hotspur, and perhaps on another day United would have found the opening goal which has so often served as a platform for solid wins this season.

But the cold reality is that United, with 27 games of the season gone, still don’t have a known best starting XI, or even a formation that Mourinho and his staff have agreed upon.

And yet, somehow, they have remained second throughout most of the campaign – a sign of the natural talent and winning nous in the side as well as the fallibility of teams like Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Liverpool.

In other words, the margin for improvement – greater execution, greater tenacity, greater diversity of options – is massive, and ought to serve as a positive challenge for next season.

Pundit: Chris Smalling was embarrassing against Newcastle United

Former West Ham United defender has lambasted Chris Smalling for what was an ’embarrassing’ defensive performance against Newcastle United.

The Englishman could have easily given the hosts a penalty in the first half with a trip on Dwight Gayle just inside the box.

Referee Craig Pawson waved play on but Smalling eventually found himself in his book after a woeful dive near the halfway line having lost the ball in far from challenging circumstances.

Newcastle proceeded to score the winner from the resultant free-kick and Gale, speaking on Sky Sports, was quick to note that Smalling’s display was nothing short of embarrassing.

“Well I think he got embarrassed so quickly he got up so quickly didn’t he,” he said.

“He realised what he had done. His defence would be that he was anticipating the challenge, but that’s not enough.

“You’ve got to have a connection on you and it was embarrassing really, it was quite embarrassing. Watch how quickly he gets up here, he goes down and he’s ‘oh blimey, what have I done, up I get’.”

It is nothing short of astonishing to think that Smalling has been at this club for almost eight years.

Newcastle’s last win over Man United at St James’ Park came back in 2012 on a night that saw Smalling kill the came completely with an own goal, and six years on there he was, once again, needlessly gifting them a chance to score. Someone on Tyneside certainly owes him a beer.

The main point here, I guess, is that despite the number of opportunities and years of experience under his belt, Smalling hasn’t shown any discernible signs of improvement, or even upward trajectory. He continues to thrive and fall short in the same areas – strong in the box but technically way off the mark – and at a club of this magnitude you simply cannot accommodate players who stand still.

Mourinho explains why he substituted this Man Utd star during defeat to Newcastle

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has explained why he bizarrely substituted Paul Pogba during the defeat to Newcastle United.

The two clubs clashed in the Premier League fixture on Sunday afternoon and it was the Magpies who came away with the 1-0 along with all three points.

Fans were frustrated with many aspects of the game but were particularly upset with the decision to substitute one of their key players when United clearly needed more firepower to try to win.

Some supporters pointed out that Pogba was possible injured as he seemed to struggle during the match and there was a little worry in the pre-match warm-up.

However, Mourinho has since denied that the Frenchman was injured and offered a different reason for why he took him off the field.

According to Football365, Jose said to Sky Sports: “I wanted a better way to come out in the first phase against a team that was defending in a very compact block.

“I was trying that with the simplicity of Michael Carrick because he tries to make everything simple and bring Alexis close to an area to Lukaku where he could be like a second striker to try to win the game.”

The Portuguese manager’s explanation possibly makes things worse, not better and adds more confusion to the already puzzling situation.

With the Red Devils 1-0 down, Jose Mourinho opted to bring in the likes of Michael Carrick and Scott McTominay on the field when it was so clear that the team needed more attacking impetus.

Many fans questioned the former Chelsea boss’s tactics in the first place, wondering why he insists on using a 4-2-3-1 formation when the 4-3-3 so clearly suits Paul Pogba more.

Manchester United played a few times with the latter formation and it always seemed to bring out the best of the team as well as the former Juventus man.

Newcastle defeat once again highlighted Manchester United's biggest problem this season

On May 6 2012, Manchester United claimed a 2-0 win over Swansea City in their penultimate game of the campaign.

At right back was Phil Jones, while Chris Smalling featured at centre-back as Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia occupied the wings.

Six years on and, somewhat astonishingly, the aforementioned quartet are lining up as Manchester United’s first choice back four, despite the club making 22 signings in the post-Ferguson era.

Defeat at St James’ Park on Sunday saw them line up together and their collective display – inert, predictable, lacking in zip or discipline – once again highlighted just how absurd it is that, for all the millions spent in trying to evolve this side, nothing of note has been done to advance United’s back four over such a prolonged period of time.

Mourinho fielded the same back four against both Huddersfield Town and Tottenham Hotspur earlier this season and lost, along with witnessing perhaps United’s two worst performances of their Premier League campaign.

That last bit is crucial. In a modern game evolving faster than our senses can comprehend, United have been caught with cold feet and suffered the consequences for failing to evolve in the same way as Manchester City, who only have one semi-first choice defender – captain Vincent Kompany – still at the club since May 2012.

Out of the 22 signings made by United since 2013, only five have been defenders. And what has transpired as a result is a kind of tale of two cities in Mourinho’s side: an attack comprising of diverse, fresh, dynamic options and a back four painfully out of step with the times.

They have hardly been awful. In fact, no team has more clean sheets than United this season. But the problem lies less with objective results and more with the symbolic message it sends.

While Man City, who could be champions in just six games, have spent nearly £180m on defensive reinforcements over the past year, United are still calling on the old guard to come up with modern day solutions.

A defensive overhaul, one matching the comprehensiveness of United’s attacking additions in recent years, desperately needs to begin in the summer.

Paul Pogba provides injury update following Newcastle defeat

Paul Pogba was seen limping through the mixed zone and apparently winced when asked about his injury following Manchester United’s defeat to Newcastle United on Sunday.

The Frenchman pulled up and winced after taking a shot in the warm up and, despite usually being one of the last, went down the tunnel before anyone else, casting doubt over whether he would start against the Magpies.

He did manage to start but was clearly miles below his best, ambling through the game and losing the ball on several occasions before being hooked off after 65 minutes.

And while Jose Mourinho insisted after the game that Pogba had “no problems”, Press Association’s Simon Peach managed to capture a video which hints towards the exact opposite.

There was plenty that didn’t make much sense at St James’ Park: Mourinho’s decision to use a system that has failed them on numerous occasions already this season, along with the use of the same back four which crumbled at Wembley, are just a couple of examples.

But perhaps the most ludicrous of all was the decision to keep Pogba on the pitch despite it being clear that the Frenchman was operating at about 60 per cent.

This was notably different from performances criticised in the past. Even then, the 24-year-old always wanted the ball, always felt involved, determined to bend the game in United’s favour.

Against Newcastle, however, he seemed to float through the encounter like a ghost, barely noticeable at times, his mind and body clearly not in step with the game like usual. Supporters will only hope to see a replenished, fully-fit Pogba next time around.

Man Utd legend blasts club's performance vs Newcastle

Manchester United legend Gary Neville has blasted his former team’s performance vs Newcastle United in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.

Jose Mourinho’s men lost 1-0 to the Magpies who were more determined and hungry for the result which helped further open the gap to the league leaders Manchester City to 16 points.

United are now surely too far behind to catch up with their fierce rivals and their attentions must turn towards solidifying their second place.

Any more similar results will certainly see them fall down the table as Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham all continue to chase the Champions League positions.

Neville believes that the talent is there for the Red Devils but they must fix their attitudes or mentality if they wish to eventually win the Premier League title.

According to Goal, Gary said on his podcast for Sky Sports: “The individual talent is there but to coordinate that into a team is Jose Mourinho’s job in the next few months. He has to make them into a team.

“They look like a team that play five per cent below the intensity that they can play at and should play at. That’s what Jose Mourinho has to do.

“He has to mould this talented group of players into a team that can come together and can win the title. Next season will be Jose’s third season and you would think in his mind, and in everyone’s minds, that he has to win it next season. They have to start preparing now.

“I still think they will finish second and they are still in the FA Cup and Champions League so there is a lot to play for, but they still have these moments where they let games drift.

“They miss chances, they are sloppy in the final third so many times and they have to improve that. They have to become killers in the final third and they are not at the moment.”

Gary Neville’s assessment isn’t far from the truth, most Manchester United fans believe their players don’t know what it truly means to represent the badge and therefore don’t fight for results.

Many believe the club’s winning mentality has practically evaporated and whilst the current squad of players are undoubtedly talented, there’s a real like of positive mentality.

Complacency consistently affects this squad who appear to think that they deserve a win simply because they represent United and seem to have forgotten that their opposition will always fight for a result.

The issue of gelling isn’t necessarily true as the players proved to be fluid earlier in the season and it’s probably more a case of a lack of balance in the team.

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez brilliantly trolls Manchester United

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez was caught on tape at his witty best following his side’s shock victory over Manchester United yesterday afternoon.

Matchup

The two sides went head to head at St. James’ Park, with Jose Mourinho’s visitors having put their disappointing loss to Tottenham last week behind them with a 2-0 win over Huddersfield last time out.

Newcastle, meanwhile, had slipped into the Premier League relegation zone ahead of kick-off yesterday, with the Magpies having picked up draws in their last two outings with Burnley and Crystal Palace respectively.

Shock

The visiting Red Devils understandably headed into the clash as heavy favourites, and took control of the majority of possession from the off.

However, Newcastle made it clear from early on that they would not allow the aura of their opponents to intimidate them, with Rafael Benitez’s men working like dogs when out of possession and making every tackle count.

And, after holding United at bay for the opening 45 minutes, Newcastle were rewarded for their valiant efforts shortly after the hour mark, when Chris Smalling’s ridiculous dive near the halfway-line saw the hosts awarded a free-kick.

The ball was subsequently lofted in towards the edge of Man United’s area, before a flicked header landed at the feet of Dwight Gayle.

From here, Gayle proceeded to expertly lay the ball off into the space behind him, where Matt Ritchie arrived in perfect time to slam home a quality finish into the bottom-left corner of David De Gea’s goal.

Alexis Sanchez and Anthony Martial were both guilty of fluffing guilt-edged chances for the visitors on ‘one of those days’ for United, with Newcastle in the end holding on for a potentially-crucial 3 points.

Benitez banter

Following the full-time whistle, Jose Mourinho’s praise for Newcastle’s ‘animals’ quickly garnered widespread attention, with the Portuguese tactician having proven uncharacteristically magnanimous in defeat.

However, one aspect of the post-match interviews which slipped relatively under the radar revolved around a comment made by Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez, at the expense of Manchester United.

A recap of the exchange, as well as the soundclip itself, are linked below:

Virgil Van Dijk can’t hold back a smile when finding out about Man United’s loss

Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey criticised after Man United win

Should Antonio Valencia have been sent off against Newcastle?

Refereeing consistency

We are approaching the end of yet another bizarre season.

The Premier League title race is all but over and we are only in February whilst debatably every single team from 7th downwards is in a relegation battle.

We have seen the introduction of VAR into English football which has been a very controversial topic whilst transfer fees have reached ridiculous levels.

28 red cards have been awarded so far this season in the top flight of English football after 269 matches, an average of a one red card every 9 games.

Earlier in the season, Liverpool’s Sadio Mane was sent off for a challenge on Ederson.
The Senegalese winger raised his boot high in order to get the ball and connected with the Man City goalkeeper’s face.

The red card was widely debated as many people believed that there was no malicious intent and Mane was simply trying to get the ball. Nonetheless, referee Jon moss sent Mane off and Liverpool were beaten 5-0.

Sadio Mane's challenge on Ederson

Sadio Mane’s challenge on Ederson

Antonio Valencia

Manchester United feel to yet another away defeat on Sunday afternoon as Matt Ritchie’s strike gave Newcastle three points against the Red Devils.

Late into the match, Antonio Valencia performed a similar challenge to Sadio Mane’s earlier in the season but the Ecuadorian defender escaped with only a yellow card.

Craig Pawson was the referee on Sunday and he deemed Valencia’s challenge was not worthy of a red card.

So where is the consistency in Premier League refereeing? Did Valencia deserve a red card? Did Mane deserve a red card?

There was literally no difference between the two challenges and I think both are worthy of a red card even though Gary Neville may disagree.

Newcastle fans react to 29-yr-old's performance vs Man Utd: 'Best I've ever seen'

Newcastle fans react to 29-yr-old’s performance vs Man Utd: ‘Best I’ve ever seen’ – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Newcastle picked up a morale-boosting win over Manchester United on Sunday and the January signing Martin Dubravka managed to impress with his shot-stopping.

Winger Matt Ritchie scored the only goal of the game as the Magpies secured their first league win at St James’ Park since October. The former Bournemouth star scored around the 65-minute mark.

Dubravka pulled off some stunning saves to keep his side in the lead. He managed to deny Anthony Martial in a one-on-one situation. Also, his stoppage-time save helped secure the win for his side.

The Magpies are now 13th in the league table and Rafa Benitez will be hoping to finish the season strongly and survive the relegation battle.

Newcastle signed Islam Slimani and Dubravka in January and the Newcastle fans will be hoping that the Algerian striker can now perform like Dubravka in the remaining games as well.

Here is how the Newcastle fans reacted to Dubravka’s performance on Twitter.

 

 

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