Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United are just one win away from setting a new all-time club record of ten consecutive wins in all competitions after beating Leeds United 2-0 at Elland Road last weekend.
To go one game and one step further will be a significant milestone for a club that for too long have been nearly men, beaten finalists, title runners-up and then sank into the despair of not even trying to win the big prizes.
Under Rafa Benitez, that attitude and mentality has changed: the most decorated Cup-winning manager of modern times is not at St. James’ Park to oversee a collection of also-rans – the Spaniard is a natural born winner intent on setting new standards & realising Newcastle’s giant modern potential to win trophies.
True, he is standing on the shoulders of giants – Kevin Keegan saved the club from relegation to the 3rd division in 1992 and transformed The Magpies into title contenders whilst business supremo Sir John Hall rebuilt the stadium, first to 36.500 then to its modern capacity of 52,000.
Then Sir Bobby, that most revered of Geordie gentlemen all over the world put the good name of Newcastle United firmly on The Champions League map with successive qualifications in the early 2000s alongside Premier League titles challenges ensuring the Geordie club remained contenders in the football consciousness.
After narrowly failing to avoid an agonizing relegation at the end of last season, Rafael Benitez is now at the helm to restore Newcastle to full functionality starting.
Kevin Keegan, whose record was nine games won in a row in the 1992-3 Division Two-winning season, is adored by fans yet nine is an almost number, 9/10, 90%, and of course Keegan’s Entertainers were thrilling in the 90s without actually winning any major trophy despite coming agonizingly close along with his greatest no.9 Alan Shearer.
The Geordie striker joined his hometown club to win trophies like he had at Blackburn yet despite becoming Newcastle’s top goalscorer of all time eclipsing the great Jackie Milburn, he would not add to the Premier League trophy he won at Ewood Park under Kenny Dalglish.
Its fitting that the first record Benitez will break at the club against Blackburn Rovers at St. James’ Park on Saturday is 10 consecutive winning matches, for the number 10 is the number of perfection, attainment, achievement, wholeness – the completion of a cycle, a project and its ultimate success, victory.
The early comparisons with his fantastic predecessors of the recent past, Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson, who excelled in the 1990s and early 2000s respectively, are inevitable yet they are also men whose records Rafa has to beat and better by winning trophies at the top level if he is to be a total success.
After two excellent modern-era managers, Benitez has to go one step further than they did – as well as Kenny Dalgish and Ruud Gullit who were beaten FA Cup Finalists in 1998 and 1999 – and deliver the silverware the Geordie fans crave and deserve.
Newcastle fans who pack St. James’ Park to the tune of 50,000+ fans every game mean the club – even in the second tier Championship of English football – are firmly established in the top tier of fans worldwide and make the Geordie giants one of the best supported clubs in Europe.
By establishing a new winning record, Benitez will be stretching the idea of what is possible at Newcastle.
On course for The Championship title five points clear of 2nd-place, Newcastle head to Hull City in The EFL Cup Quarter-Final on Tuesday night with real ambition to make a mark in that Cup competition as well.
Its an exciting time indeed to be a fan of the black and white sleeping giant slowly awakening.
Birmingham City Fan Jailed for 14 Days for Punching Aston Villa Player
27-year old Paul Mitchel, a Birmingham City fan has been jailed for 14 days after he plead guilt to assaulting Aston Villa midfielder Jack Graelish during the derby on Sunday.
Mitchell rushed the pitch and took a swing at Graelish when the player’s back was turned at Birmingham City’s St. Andrew’s stadium during the Championship match on Sunday.
Mitchell admitted to invading the pitch and has been officially banned from attending any football match in the U.K. for up to 10 years, and was also ordered to pay £350 in total fines.
Graelish made a statement in which he described how he was “shocked and scared” by the attack.
“I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident,” he said (h/t ESPN). “It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon.”
“He cannot explain what came over himself yesterday morning,” Mitchell’s lawyer, Vaughn Whistance, said on Monday.
“His initial foolish intention was to go onto the pitch to whip up the crowd. He is certainly remorseful today. He is a man with a partner, they have a 2-year-old together and they’re expecting their second child.”
“This weekend a line has been crossed in terms of fan behaviour,” said a spokesperson for the FA.
“On Sunday we saw two separate incidents, at Birmingham City and Arsenal, of individuals entering the field of play and assaulting players.
“Not only is it an offence to enter the pitch, which could result in a club ban and criminal charges for the individual, but it also puts the safety of the players at risk.
“This is entirely unacceptable and we strongly condemn both incidents.
“We will be working with the clubs, the leagues and the police to discuss what collectively needs to be done to protect players and officials on the pitch.
“In addition, we have written to both Birmingham City and Arsenal to seek their observations to examine the security measures they had in place.”
Birmingham City apologized to Grealish and Aston Villa and banned Mitchell for life.
“Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa Football Club for an incident in Sunday afternoon’s derby match,” a club statement said.
“We deplore the behaviour of the individual who committed this act and rest assured he will be banned from St. Andrew’s for life. The club will also support any further punishment this individual may face in the eyes of the law.
“The club will be working with the relevant authorities to investigate all the circumstances and we will be reviewing our stadium safety procedures.
“What happened has no place in football or society. Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this — there are no excuses.
“Again, we apologise to Jack and all at Aston Villa Football Club.”
Major League Soccer, Twitch Ink One-Year Partnership
Starting in March, MLS will start streaming the second season of their eMLS Cup, their esports league in conjunction with EA Sports’ FIFA franchise.
“FIFA is one of the main generators of the fans that we have” MLS Digital Senior VP Chris Schlosser said, via an official statement. “If you look at it historically – radio built baseball, television built the NFL and NBA, and the internet is building soccer.”
The partnership between Twitch and MLS could also include content outside of the eMLS Cup, featuring highlights or media produced by MLS teams, or clips of MLS games moving forward.
“We are looking to do some esports events – this is something we are taking a hard look at” DC United Chief Executive and Managing General Owner Jason Levin said, via an official statement.
“All of esports is a dramatically growing industry. It’s an opportunity to engage our current fans and connect with some younger sports fans who don’t know as much about DC United. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to grow our fanbase more than anything.”
It’s an exciting time for streaming, particularly on Twitch, as live sports such as the NBA’s G League, and MLS are starting to develop Twitch streams to help tap into the streaming market, diversify their digital content, and get more involved with esports teams and esports organizations.
Manchester United Place Paul Pogba Contract Talks on Hold
Manchester United is putting a hold on any contract negotiations or talks with Frenchman Paul Pogba, who is two years into a five-year pact he inked with the club when he returned from Juventus back in 2016.
Manchester United remain confident that they can convince Pogba, who has had a roller coaster run at Old Trafford, to stay with the club for the long-term future, according to ESPN FC’s Rob Dawson.
The club had hoped to engage in preliminary negotiations with Pogba, along with his agent Mino Raiola in September following Pogba’s successful stint playing in the World Cup earlier this Summer in Russie, but Pogba’s unhappiness with his situation in Manchester is now coming into play during talks.
While Pogba will not push for a move away in January 2019, he could be tempted by Barcelona next summer should they show a renewed interest in acquiring him.
Pogba’s agent, Raiola, is known for engaging in rather difficult negotiations concerning his clients and had done so during Pogba’s world record £89.3 million move from Juventus, so United was hoping to get an early start on contract talks this time around.
Per the report ESPN FC, after initial talks occurred earlier this month the plan was to step up discussions at the beginning of next season before executing the deal officially in early 2020.
Those scheduled negotiations are now being pushed back.
Per sources cited in the report, United is still relaxed about the situation with Pogba, due to their one-year option that they can fall back on which could be used to keep Pogba at Old Trafford until the Summer of 2022.
However, United is confident that they can reach a breakthrough with Pogba in negotiations prior to then.
It will be interesting to see how the lines shake up as the Pogba negotiations carry on.
OLBG.com has the latest free bets and they will surely keep monitoring the latest lines on Pogba’s future with United.
The report goes on to note that sources close to Pogba continue to insist that the cloud of uncertainty surrounding his future with the club is not designed to be a tactic to elicit any sort of pay raise.
Additionally, had executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward not refused to listen to any offers over the summer, Pogba likely would have joined Barcelona.
While Pogba is fine playing for manager Jose Mourinho this season, despite their well-documented rocky relationship in the past, he is not ruling out a move in the future.
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