Steve Bruce responds to ‘personal’ criticism from Newcastle United fans

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce believes criticism from some fans is ‘personal’, but says he will not walk away from the club because of it.

Bruce has been in charge of the Magpies since July 2019, taking over from fan favourite Rafa Benitez at St. James’ Park.

Fans of the club have started a ‘Bruce Out’ movement following defeat to Sheffield United, who picked up their first win of the Premier League season after 18 games against Newcastle, with Bruce admitting afterwards that he picked the wrong team for the game.

Steve BruceSteve Bruce
Bruce is under big pressure at St James’ Park | Pool/Getty Images

Bruce believes though that the criticism is personal from some, because they never thought he should have got the job to begin with.

Speaking in his pre-game press conference ahead of Monday’s trip to Arsenal (via BBC), Bruce said: “I’ve made a career of never giving in so I won’t [now], I will keep trying to do my utmost to make this better.

“[The criticism] has been personal from day one – certain people out there think I shouldn’t have been in the job to start with. All I can do is accept it and try not to be too down with it.”

Newcastle are winless in six games in the Premier League and have slipped into 15th position in the league, and they’ve been knocked out of the Carabao Cup in the semi-finals and the FA Cup in the third round, with the club’s official supporters trust claiming they are ‘sleepwalking to relegation’.

Steve BruceSteve Bruce
Bruce believes the criticism is personal from fans that never wanted him to get the job | Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Bruce acknowledged that his side are in a relegation battle this season but defended his defensive approach to games.

“I understand the supporters’ frustration and anger – I would be the same way,” added Bruce, who was a Newcastle United fan growing up.

“But I keep stressing if you’re in the bottom half of the Premier League, you have to be a bit pragmatic. Now, getting that balance right, I fully, fully understand.

“Have Newcastle been a good watch for years? We’ve been in the bottom half of the Premier League. Now we’re not saying it’s acceptable, but it’s the way it is. So we have to have a certain way of defending well, but I agree we have to offer more going forward.”

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Mauricio Pochettino tests positive for COVID-19

Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino has tested positive for COVID-19 and has now been forced into a period of self-isolation.

It’s been a rollercoaster of a start to life in Paris for Pochettino, who joined on January 2 and needed just 11 days to lift his first trophy, steering PSG to a 2-1 win over Marseille to lift the Trophee des Champions.

For PSG, the hope was that they could carry that momentum over to Ligue 1 to reclaim their usual spot at the top of the table, but they will have to do so without Pochettino as the Argentine must now isolate.

“Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino has tested positive for COVID-19,” a statement on the club’s official website read. “He will therefore respect isolation and is subject to the appropriate health protocol.

“His assistants Jesus Perez and Miguel D’Agostino will take over from tomorrow in Angers.”

Rafael Alcantara, RafinhaRafael Alcantara, Rafinha
Rafinha is one of three players to test positive | Xavier Laine/Getty Images

Pochettino is the latest person at the Parc des Princes to test positive for the virus, following defenders Colin Dagba and Thilo Kehrer, and midfielder Rafinha.

PSG currently sit second in Ligue 1, just one point behind leaders Lyon, so Saturday’s meeting with Angers is a great chance for the defending champions to keep up the pressure.

The two sides met back in October, when PSG roared to an emphatic 6-1 victory, but Angers have bounced back since then and currently find themselves in seventh, picking up recent wins over high-flyers Lille and Marseille.

Neymar Jr, Mauro IcardiNeymar Jr, Mauro Icardi
PSG thumped Angers earlier this season | Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

“We’ll have to be ready on Saturday, because it’s a very difficult game against Angers that’s ahead of us,” Pochettino said of the game before his test results came in. “We want to win again, and to do that, we have to be ready.

“We want to be top of the Ligue 1 table and to get there, we’ll have to win. The most important thing is to be consistent in our performances. We’re very happy with the way the players are picking up our concepts. I want to thank them, the staff that we already had here, and the fans who encouraged us before the match.”

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!

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Wayne Rooney – the greatest English player of his generation

As Wayne Rooney moves into full-time management with Derby County, so comes to an end the playing career of the greatest English talent of his generation.

Rooney’s transition into coaching and management is not unexpected. He joined Derby specifically as a player-coach when he returned to England in January 2020 and has been speaking about his ambition to become a manager for several years. He was working towards his coaching badges as early as 2016 when he was still playing for Manchester United and only 30.

This was someone born to be in football.

Wayne RooneyWayne Rooney
Rooney won the lot during his glorious club career | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Rooney made his breakthrough at Everton aged just 16 and quickly went on to score one of the all-time iconic Premier League goals against reigning champions Arsenal in 2002.

He was a first-team regular for the Toffees at 17 and commanded a record fee for a teenager worth nearly £30m when he moved to Manchester United at 18 in 2004.

It had been Rooney’s performances for England at Euro 2004 that summer that sealed Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision that he had to have him. The prodigy scored four times and his injury early into the quarter-final against Portugal when England were leading has always been regarded as a huge ‘what if’ moment.

Rooney score a hat-trick on his United debut in the Champions League against Fenerbahce and got 17 goals in his debut season. He was part of a new and exciting young team, built around the partnership between himself and Cristiano Ronaldo that brought the club’s most concentrated period of success at a time when domestic and European competition was fiercer than ever.

Wayne Rooney of Manchester United celebr...Wayne Rooney of Manchester United celebr...
Rooney was a key part of an exceptional Man Utd team | PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Rooney won the first of five career Premier League titles in 2006/07, netting more than 20 goals in a single season for the first time. The following year he took the number ten shirt that he would soon become synonymous with and added another domestic title and a Champions League trophy.

With Carlos Tevez also having joined the fold for 2007/08, Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez has become revered as one of English football’s all-time great attacking trios.

Another Premier League title and Champions League final followed, with United losing out to Barcelona in Rome. Ronaldo then departed and Rooney assumed the mantle as chief goal threat, showcasing a different side to his game as an out-and-out striker. He got 34 in all competitions in 2009/10 in the first season after Ronaldo’s exit to Real Madrid.

Manchester United's English striker WaynManchester United's English striker Wayn
Rooney proved himself as a goalscorer after Cristiano Ronaldo left | ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

Rooney’s time at Old Trafford wasn’t without controversy. He asked to leave United at least once, most famously in 2010 when he questioned the club’s ambition. But he signed a new contract and that season brought his most famous goal – a match winning overhead kick against Manchester City – and a record breaking 19th league title for club as a whole.

Again tasked with scoring goals, Rooney got another 34 in 2011/12. The following season, he was back to his usual deeper role, playing provider for new front man Robin van Persie as United won a milestone 20th league title, the fifth of Rooney’s career. It was his raking pass that Van Persie volleyed home in the decisive game against Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

An FA Cup, League Cups, a Club World Cup and the Europa League completed a full set of trophies.

With the club struggling in a changing environment after Ferguson’s retirement, Rooney inherited the captaincy in 2014. By then, he was starting to play a little less often and would regularly drop deeper into midfield to plug holes and add creativity to an poorly recruited squad.

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN-UTD-ROONEY-GOALS-STOKEFBL-ENG-PR-MAN-UTD-ROONEY-GOALS-STOKE
Rooney finished his career as Man Utd’s leading goalscorer | OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Rooney’s consistency was remarkable. For 12 consecutive years as a United player, he scored at least 14 goals in all competitions every season – only in his 13th and last did he drop below 10. As a result, by 2017 he had broken Sir Bobby Charlton’s longstanding goal record, scoring his 250th in a game at Stoke and extending it to 253 by the time he left a few months later.

Rooney had already broken Charlton’s England record in 2015, becoming the first player to score 50 senior international goals for the Three Lions.

The player was still capable of making an impact when he returned to boyhood club Everton in 2017 and was a revelation during 18 months in MLS with D.C. United. He single-handedly resurrected the club’s 2018 season, taking them from the bottom of the standings into the playoffs.

What makes him the best English player of his generation when compared to the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard? It’s easy, he won more.

Wayne RooneyWayne Rooney
Rooney scored 53 goals in 120 England appearances | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Rooney was often heavily criticised for underperforming in an England shirt. But he was short of fitness at the World Cup in 2006 after rushing back from a broken foot and carried the weight of an expectant nation on his shoulders after his heroics in 2004.

Lampard, Gerrard and others also underwhelmed for England time after time during that period, so Rooney is far from alone in failing to deliver on the promise of the Golden Generation.

When measuring Rooney’s career, consider that he played 676 games at the highest level for Everton and Manchester United and over 760 at club level in total. He scored 366 career goals for club and country and is the all-time record goalscorer for both England’s most famous and revered club and the national team, as well as England’s most capped outfield player.

He is one of only two players in Premier League history to have scored more than 200 goals in the competition and won best goal at the Premier League 20-year anniversary ceremony. He was also a PFA and FWA award winner and at his peak was genuinely world class.

Enjoy your retirement, Wazza.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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Manchester United to rival Chelsea for West Ham’s Declan Rice

Manchester United are preparing to rival Chelsea for the signing of Declan Rice in the summer transfer window, as the race for his signature hots up.

The West Ham midfielder has been a standout performer for David Moyes’ side this season and attracted the attention of Frank Lampard who is interested in bringing him back to Stamford Bridge, where he came through the academy.

Paul Pogba, Declan RicePaul Pogba, Declan Rice
Rice is a target for Manchester United | Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

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However Manchester United are now interested in signing Rice for their defensive midfield position, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues to overhaul his squad. According to ESPN, United are keen to sign a centre-back and a defensive midfielder in the summer, although they are wary of spending large amounts while the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing.

It’s believed that a move for Rice is also dependent on the immediate future of Paul Pogba. The Frenchman has been in fine form over the last six weeks since his agent Mino Raiola revealed his intention to move the player on at the end of the season.

The 27-year-old has 18 months left on his contract at Old Trafford, but with the pandemic affecting the funds of all the major clubs across Europe, it’s unknown whether Juventus or Real Madrid could afford the transfer fee and wages it would take to move him.

Declan Rice, Frank Lampard, Emerson Palmieri, Angelo OgbonnaDeclan Rice, Frank Lampard, Emerson Palmieri, Angelo Ogbonna
Rice came through the Chelsea academy | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Rice is expected to favour a move to Chelsea over United, who looked to sign him in last summer’s window too. Frank Lampard’s position could potentially be linked to any move the club make for him though, and with his future in doubt, United have chosen to make their interest known now.

It’s expected that West Ham would demand a fee of around £70m for their vice-captain, who has a contract at the London Stadium that runs until 2024 with an option to extend it by a further year.

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Chelsea vs Manchester United WSL preview: How to watch on TV, live stream, kick off time & prediction

Chelsea host Manchester United in a huge top of the table clash in the Women’s Super League on Sunday, pitting the reigning champions against the pretenders to the throne.

Chelsea were awarded last season’s title ahead of Manchester City on a points per game basis when the season was abandoned. But United have emerged as a brand new challenger in 2020/21 in what is only their second year as a WSL club.

The pair met on the opening weekend of the new season at United’s Leigh Sports Village home and played out a 1-1 draw – a fair result in the end. Both are the only WSL teams still unbeaten, neither has really put a foot wrong in the four months since then.

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It was 1-1 when Man Utd & Chelsea met in September | James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images

Ahead of kick-off on Sunday afternoon, United lead the way by three points. Chelsea have a game in hand and a victory would mean leapfrogging their opponents into first place by virtue of a slightly stronger goal difference. A draw would maintain the gap as it is, but still give Chelsea the opportunity to claw it back with their extra game, while United will be hoping for a landmark win.

It was only recently that Casey Stoney’s side got their first league win over one of the WSL’s ‘big three’, beating Arsenal in November. They then held their own in a Manchester derby the very next game, actually coming back from 2-0 to showcase their grit and fight.

United are yet to beat in three previous meetings in any competition and will see this as an important hurdle to clear in their quest to become part of the established WSL heavyweights. Chelsea, however, haven’t lost in 30 WSL games.

Emma HayesEmma Hayes
Emma Hayes has led Chelsea to WSL games unbeaten | Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images

When Is Kick Off? Sunday 17 January
What Time Is Kick Off? 14:30 (GMT)
Where Is It Played? Kingsmeadow
TV Channel? BT Sport (UK)

Having recovered from a heart condition that brought her close to retirement, Fran Kirby is in sparkling form for Chelsea scored four times against Reading last time out.

Blues boss Emma Hayes has a ridiculous array of attacking talent to call on, with Pernille Harder, Ji So-yun and Bethany England only appearing from the bench in that Reading game.

Fran KirbyFran Kirby
Fran Kirby is in top form for Chelsea | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Tobin Heath and Christen Press were both left off this month’s USWNT squad list, while Leah Galton will be looking to continue her fine form, having been WSL player of the month for December.

United have bid farewell to left-back Lotta Okvist this week. The Swede arrived at the club in the summer of 2019 as a direct replacement for Alex Greenwood, but she struggled to nail down a regular place and has joined Damallsvenskan champions Kopparbergs/Goteborg.

Tobin HeathTobin Heath
Man Utd will be looking to Tobin Heath | James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images

Chelsea

Reading 0-5 Chelsea – WSL (10 Jan)
Chelsea 3-0 Benfica – Champions League (16 Dec)
Brighton 0-1 Chelsea – WSL (13 Dec)
Benfica 0-5 Chelsea – Champions League (9 Dec)
Chelsea 3-2 West Ham – WSL (6 Dec)

Manchester United

Man Utd 6-1 Bristol City – WSL (20 Dec)
Everton 1-0 Man Utd – Continental Cup (16 Dec)
Reading 1-2 Man Utd – WSL (13 Dec)
Aston Villa 0-2 Man Utd – WSL (5 Dec)
Man Utd 0-0 Man City (AET – Man City 4-4 on penalties) – Continental Cup (19 Nov)

Casey StoneyCasey Stoney
Casey Stoney will make sure Man Utd are prepared | James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images

Chelsea have a deeper and objectively better squad than Manchester United, but that gap is gradually closing because the latter is improving.

This will be a tight game likely to be dominated by two strong defensive units and United have shown this season they can handle Chelsea.

The WSL title won’t be won or lost here, with plenty of games still to come.

Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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