Eddie Howe: Only league position might be obstacle to new January signings

Eddie Howe: Only league position might be obstacle to new January signings
Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe during the Premier League encounter with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, London, England, Nov. 27, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 November 2021

Eddie Howe: Only league position might be obstacle to new January signings

Eddie Howe: Only league position might be obstacle to new January signings
  • New coach denies Agbonlahor claim that ‘no one wants to live in Newcastle’ ahead of must-win home matches against Norwich, Burnley
  • Eddie Howe: ‘We will have no problem attracting players to Newcastle for a whole host of reasons’

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United Boss Eddie Howe believes that the club’s league position will be the main obstacle to overcome when attempting to attract players in January — not the location of the city.

However, the head coach said that his focus is not on the winter transfer window. Instead, he remains fixed on getting the best out of his current group and kick-starting their Premier League campaign.

Former Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor claimed on the radio this week that players would rather sign for newly promoted Brentford for less money than go to United, because “no one wants to live in Newcastle.”

But Howe said that this could not be further from the truth.

“That is not accurate,” said Howe, whose bottom of the pile Magpies take on 19th-placed Norwich City at St James’ Park tomorrow evening. “I have not seen Newcastle in the light yet, but I have only heard amazing things about it as a place to live and the town centre.

“We will have no problem attracting players to Newcastle for a whole host of reasons,” he added. “I don’t think that is going to be an issue, but what I do think will be an issue is our league position.

“That is not my focus at the moment, it is preparing the team for a big week ahead.”

When pressed, Howe revealed that he does have “one eye” on trading in January, but cannot lose track of the gravity of the task on hand, with United winless in their opening 13 games.

“We have half an eye on January and that is the same for me no matter what time of year,” Howe said. “As a manager, you are always thinking about how you can evolve your team and improve your squad.”

“Trust me when I say, my main focus is trying to get the best out of the players we have here and our next game and the games beyond.

“I am working extremely hard to make sure they produce their best performances — and I think that is the best use of my time at the moment.

“It has been a very busy time. It has been a very busy few days for us. We are looking forward to the challenges of this week.”

Only Derby County in 2000-01 have ever worked their way to Premier League safety from a winless run as long as United’s at the start of a top-flight season.

And this week — in which United take on the Canaries and fellow strugglers Burnley on home turf — feels like a crucial junction in their survival fight.

Howe said: “We are aware of how important these games are, but it is a dangerous thing to look too far ahead.

“You just have to look, firstly, training then the game tomorrow. It is always a step-by-step process,” he added. “The moment you start looking too far ahead, you can take your eyes off the priorities — and the priorities are the players and being in the best shape we can for the next game.”

Howe’s tenure has opened up with a home draw against Brentford and a predictable loss at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday against Arsenal.

And while the Magpies’ points tally has only been improved by one in that time, Howe has seen positives upon which to build.

“Going back to the last game I look at the amount of chances we created. We showed good attacking threat,” said Howe. “Yes, there were moments the other way that weren’t great. But I saw enough of us as an attacking side — and I did at Arsenal, too, to be honest.

“I wouldn’t say that we created really clear cut chances, but I know that we created enough against a really tough opponent to know that we will be in games from an attacking perspective,” he added. “We have to improve the defensive side of things. Martin Dubravka returned and played very well.

“So for us there were positives in defeat. We do know that we can’t keep saying that and we have to turn these small margins the other way.”


Newcastle lead race to sign Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon

Newcastle lead race to sign Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon
Updated 27 January 2022

Newcastle lead race to sign Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon

Newcastle lead race to sign Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon
  • The Magpies are said to have lined up a $45 million deal for the Brazil international
  • Eddie Howe’s team seem to have beaten Juventus and Arsenal to the punch to land the midfielder

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United appear to have stolen a march on European giants Juventus and Arsenal by lining up a deal to sign Brazil international Bruno Guimaraes.

Arab News understands that while the player’s current club, Olympique Lyonnais, have publicly stated a deal has yet to be finalized, the framework for the transfer has already been agreed between the buyers, the sellers, the player and his representatives.

The fee is believed to be in the region of $45million, although the finer points of the deal are still to be ironed out.

Guimaraes is on international duty with Brazil, who face Ecuador at the Estadio Rodrigo Paz Delgado in Quito tomorrow evening. It is thought he could undergo a Newcastle medical check upon his return to Brazil on Friday.

The signing of the much-coveted Lyon midfielder would represent a real statement capture for United, who so far have only managed to land Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood during the January transfer window.

Arsenal and Juventus have been tracking Guimaraes this season but both failed to show their hands, leaving the door wide open for Newcastle’s transfer negotiators, Amanda Staveley and Steve Nickson.

The player is understood to be happy at the prospect of swapping Ligue 1 for the top flight in England, even with the Magpies locked in a battle to avoid relegation.

At this stage, however, Lyon continue to make it clear, publicly at least, that a sale is not yet agreed. A statement posted on the club’s website on Wednesday read: “Olympique Lyonnais categorically denies the false information disseminated by many media reporting an agreement between Newcastle and OL for the transfer of Brazilian international midfielder Bruno Guimaraes.

“In this transfer window period where the slightest rumor is often presented as reality, Olympique Lyonnais reminds that only information officially released by the club is to be taken into consideration.”

As recently as December, Guimaraes, 24, expressed frustration with French football and revealed he is keen to learn English.

He told Brazilian media outlet Globo: “In France, there are moments where we play like robots; nobody tries to dribble, to find a pass, for example.

“That irritates me sometimes, it is a bit frustrating. I think that those who have talent should profit from that; try to dribble, try to link moves. If you do that, your game will be complete.

“There are moments where I should be more egotistical, as in try to finish well. Because I have a good pass, I think always that my pass will be what is necessary, so I pass when it is the moment to shoot.”

United are keen to recruit at least another three or four players before the transfer window in England closes at 11pm local time on Monday, Jan. 31.

The Magpies are hoping to tie down a deal for Bayer Leverkusen and Netherlands left-back Mitchel Bakker. It’s understood a deal is ready to be signed but can only progress if the Bundesliga outfit find a replacement for him between now and the end of the window. A fee believed to be in the region of $21.5million has been agreed between the clubs.

Meanwhile United’s frustrating pursuit of Brazilian Diego Carlos seems to have come to an end, with the club walking away from the deal. While an offer of about $40million remains on the table, Sevilla are said to want more than $50million, a price United are unwilling to pay for a player a little over a year away from turning 30.

With Newcastle in need of central defensive recruits, the club’s transfer committee, which consists of head coach Eddie Howe, assistant Jason Tindall, director Staveley and chief scout Nickson, have now turned their attention to domestic targets.

Geordie Dan Burn, currently with Brighton and Hove Albion, is one player United are keen on, and moves for Liverpool’s Nat Phillips and Tottenham Hotspur’s Joe Rodon cannot be ruled out.

It is understood that another high-profile move, for Jesse Lingard, has hit the rocks over the fee that Manchester United insisted on being paid should the Magpies remain in the Premier League come the end of the season. This was said to be on top of a loan fee paid up front for the 29-year-old.

The England international’s contract at Old Trafford ends in June and all parties were thought to be happy to strike a loan deal until the end of the Premier League season. However, the Red Devils’ financial demands put an end to the negotiations, at least for now.
 


Footballers suffering from Covid effects after initial recovery

Footballers suffering from Covid effects after initial recovery
Updated 27 January 2022

Footballers suffering from Covid effects after initial recovery

Footballers suffering from Covid effects after initial recovery
  • There have been several high-profile cases of Covid-19 effects preventing players returning to the pitch immediately after testing negative for the virus
  • Bayern Munich midfielder Joshua Kimmich, who was unvaccinated, missed two months of action due to lung damage, while Juventus forward Paulo Dybala said he struggled with a "shortness of breath"

PARIS: Very few top-level footballers have suffered from life-threatening bouts of Covid, but the longer-term effects of the virus are now being seen in the game, with one study suggesting even players’ passing quality can suffer.
There have been several high-profile cases of Covid-19 effects preventing players returning to the pitch immediately after testing negative for the virus.
Bayern Munich midfielder Joshua Kimmich, who was not vaccinated, missed two months of action due to lung damage, while Juventus forward Paulo Dybala said he struggled with a “shortness of breath” when he returned in 2020 after testing positive.
Even seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi admitted that he needed “more time than expected to recover” after contracting Covid over the winter break.
There have been a handful of more serious cases in professional football.
Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow spent three days on a hospital drip, Montpellier winger Junior Sambia was hospitalized in intensive care and Nantes’ Jean-Kevin Augustin has not started a first-team game since 2019 due to long Covid.
But many coaches have also expressed fears in recent weeks about short and medium-term effects.
“When players have the virus and then come back, it’s not done just by a click of the fingers. Even they feel it, it takes time,” said France’s World Cup-winning manager Didier Deschamps.
Researchers from the universities of Duesseldorf and Reading saw results from a study, into 257 Bundesliga and Serie A players who returned after suffering with Covid, that suggested performance levels also fell.
The study found that players’ passing success rate fell by up to five percent and that the virus affected footballers over the age of 30 more seriously.
It also suggested that teams with the most players who had recovered from Covid had worse results than their rivals.
“So far, the results suggest a permanent alteration in the player’s abilities,” said James Reade, director of the economics department at the University of Reading and co-author of the study, albeit with a caveat.
“The majority of players had not been vaccinated (at the time of the study) and this remains a complicating factor.”
There have been reports of players struggling from cardiac inflammation, including Gabon duo Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mario Lemina, who both left the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations to recover from Covid.
But French football federation medical director Emmanuel Orhant said there was no definite link between the virus and increased risk of cardiac problems for footballers.
He found, in December 2020, that 2.2 percent of 350 players who tested positive had a cardiac issue.
“All were mild and disappeared within a few weeks, and it is impossible to say that all were linked to Covid,” Orhant told AFP.
But he did say that players were taking longer to recover from Covid than they usually do from the flu.
“We know that the virus has an impact on short-term ventilation,” Orhant said.
“With the flu, we can put the players back on the pitch as soon as they are better. This requires a longer rehabilitation time.”
But with the vast majority of cases in European countries now being caused by the omicron variant, it is expected that the effects will be far less severe.
“We can no longer talk about omicron in the same way we talked about the first infections, which were much nastier,” added Orhant. “Today, most players have almost no symptoms.”


Saudi authorities honor qualifiers for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

Vice President of SOPC Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz honors the members of the Saudi winter sports team who qualified for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. (SOPC)
Vice President of SOPC Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz honors the members of the Saudi winter sports team who qualified for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. (SOPC)
Updated 27 January 2022

Saudi authorities honor qualifiers for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

Vice President of SOPC Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz honors the members of the Saudi winter sports team who qualified for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. (SOPC)
  • Three athletes from the Kingdom earned enough qualifying points to be eligible to compete at the Games but only one could be selected
  • The Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee chose Fayik Abdi to represent the country in Beijing; he will compete in the giant slalom

RIYADH: Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz, vice president of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, honored the members of the Saudi winter sports team who made history by qualifying for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

On behalf of Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the minister of sport and president of SOPC, Prince Fahd congratulated alpine skiers Salman Al-Howaish (slalom) and Fayik Abdi (giant slalom), and cross country skier Rakan Alireza during a reception at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Olympic Complex in Riyadh.

All three earned enough qualifying points to be eligible to compete in Beijing but Saudi Arabia was only allocated one place at the Games, which was ultimately awarded by the SOPC to Abdi after a technical comparison of the qualifiers.

“Qualifying in itself is an honor and a victory,” Prince Fahd told them, adding that their names will go down in history of sport in the Kingdom as the first Saudis to reach the qualification standard for the Winter Olympics.

He urged Abdi to do his best and represent the Kingdom in a fitting manner, and said that all three will receive a financial award for qualifying.

Abdulaziz Al-Anazi, the secretary-general of the SOPC, and Ahmed Al-Tabbaa, the president of the Saudi Winter Sports Federation, also attended the reception.

The 2022 Winter Olympics begin in Beijing on Feb. 4


Eddie Howe impressed with first-class treatment in Saudi as he eyes Newcastle transfer progress

Eddie Howe impressed with first-class treatment in Saudi as he eyes Newcastle transfer progress
Updated 26 January 2022

Eddie Howe impressed with first-class treatment in Saudi as he eyes Newcastle transfer progress

Eddie Howe impressed with first-class treatment in Saudi as he eyes Newcastle transfer progress
  • Magpies are 3 days into Jeddah warm weather training camp and will face Al-Ittihad behind closed doors on Friday
  • In Howe’s absence from the UK, the club have been busy working their way through a transfer wanted list, with four new players being targeted

JEDDAH: Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe has been impressed with United’s first-class welcome to Saudi Arabia.

The Magpies are three days into a six-day warm weather training camp in the Middle East as they prepare for their next Premier League outing against manager-less Everton on Feb. 8.

And Howe admits that he has been left impressed with the Kingdom and its facilities, even if a little less so with the climate.

Speaking from the club’s Jeddah training facility, Howe said: “It has been good. It has been hot, which is great when you’re not training. When you’re training, the humidity is tough for the players.

“We have finished a good day, and got what we wanted out of the session. Spirits are high — obviously boosted by the last result.”

While Howe was keen to stress that the visit would be a working trip for his Magpies first-team squad, it has definitely not been a case of all work, no play, in Saudi so far.

Discussing the facilities and his side’s schedule, Howe said: “It is very good. The pitches are of a good standard. We have used the gym regularly since we have been here. We have everything we need.

“We have done a couple of team-building activities as well — really pleased so far. There are some days to go and plenty of work still to do.”

Howe, who greeted local youngsters sharing the club’s Al-Ittihad training facility base, added: “The people have been great and the hotel has been first class. We have been treated well.

“It was nice there (after training) to share a moment with the kids and to see what they are doing with developing their youngsters,” he said. “It has been mutually beneficial from both sides — our side and theirs.”

On Friday evening, Howe’s Magpies take on Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad at the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium in Jeddah.

The game itself will be behind closed doors, with no fans in attendance and no livestream or footage of the match available.

Howe thinks the game is of definite value for his squad, although he hopes they come out of the challenge unscathed.

“I think a game is a good thing for us,” said Howe. “When you don’t have a game for a while, I think the damage can be, or the doubt can be that you don’t get a feel for the pitch dimensions. We will be back with the correct match distances, which will be good.”

“The most important thing for us is to not get any injuries from the game. Touch wood it goes well and we will be back at 100 percent.”

On the injury front, Howe has revealed that the three players who succumbed to knocks during the 1-0 win at Leeds United last weekend are yet to train with the first-team squad in the Kingdom.

Skipper Jamaal Lascelles, record signing Joelinton and left-back Paul Dummett were all taken off at Elland Road by Howe.

“The three players who came off haven’t trained. We didn’t expect them to immediately,” said the head coach. “I am not sure of the extent of the injuries. It may be that we need scans to determine that — and we haven’t had the luxury of doing that yet.”

One player who is getting closer to availability is Argentine defender Federico Fernandez.

The center-half, widely regarded as United’s best defender, has not played since mid-December, with a thigh issue.

“He is edging closer to returning to the group,” said Howe. “He is not quite there and it is at a delicate stage with him.”

“We want him back but we don’t want to push him and have a setback. We need to manage the next bit right,” he added.

In Howe’s absence from the UK, the club have been busy working their way through a transfer wanted list, with four new players still being targeted before Monday’s 11 p.m. (GMT) transfer deadline.

A move for Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes is most advanced currently, although United’s transfer deal-makers — Amanda Staveley and Steve Nickson — do have a number of irons in the fire heading towards the final few days of the window.

Howe has set his sights on adding at least “a couple” of new players to his relegation-threatened squad.

He said: “There is a lot of hard work being done back in England. I think I have no news to tell anyone at the moment, but I am being kept regularly updated. My finger is on the pulse with what is happening.

“As we know, it is a tough window, but we just hope we can get a couple more additions to boost the squad.”


Salah scores decisive penalty as Egypt beat Ivory Coast on penalties

Salah scores decisive penalty as Egypt beat Ivory Coast on penalties
Updated 26 January 2022

Salah scores decisive penalty as Egypt beat Ivory Coast on penalties

Salah scores decisive penalty as Egypt beat Ivory Coast on penalties
  • The Liverpool star smashed home his penalty with the Ivory Coast’s Eric Bailly the only player to fail from the spot
  • Carlos Queiroz’s team will face Morocco in the last eight despite having scored just two goals in their four matches

DOUALA: Mohamed Salah scored the decisive spot-kick as record seven-time champions Egypt beat the Ivory Coast 5-4 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in Douala on Wednesday to reach the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.
The Liverpool star smashed home his penalty with the Ivory Coast’s Eric Bailly the only player to fail from the spot, and Egypt go on to play Morocco in the last eight in Yaounde on Sunday.
It was a tense last-16 tie which for long spells resembled a battle of attrition on a poor pitch at the Japoma Stadium in Cameroon’s economic capital, and it looked for much of the game as though Egypt would pay for their poor finishing.
However, Carlos Queiroz’s team are now through to the last eight despite having scored just two goals in their four matches in Cameroon so far.
Meanwhile two-time champions the Ivory Coast are out, once again defeated by an Egyptian side who have long held the upper hand in meetings between the continental heavyweights.
This was their 11th AFCON encounter and still Egypt have lost just once to the Elephants.
Among their many successes against the Ivory Coast was their victory on penalties in the 2006 final, and a crushing triumph in the semifinals in 2008.
This match, like those played on Tuesday, was preceded by a moment’s silence in memory of the victims of Monday’s tragic crush in Yaounde.
In the wake of those terrible events, there was none of the chaos that followed the Ivory Coast’s 3-1 win over Algeria in Douala last week, when fans invaded the pitch at the end.
This time the crowd was well below what might have been expected for such a match, but many of those who were present were clearly there to see Salah, judging by the screams every time the Liverpool star’s face appeared on the big screens.
Salah spoke on the eve of the tie of his desperation to win the Cup of Nations, with the last of Egypt’s record seven titles coming in 2010, a year before he made his international debut.
He was the one who delivered the final blow, but only after he and his side squandered a hatful of chances.
The young VfB Stuttgart winger, Omar Marmoush, almost put Egypt ahead with a superb 17th-minute strike from 25 meters that crashed off the top of the bar.
Salah and Mostafa Mohamed were both denied by Badra Ali Sangare in the first half, while the Ivory Coast lost influential midfielder Franck Kessie to injury after just half an hour.
Still the Elephants almost went ahead when the unmarked Ibrahim Sangare saw his acrobatic effort pushed away by Mohamed El Shenawy.
Sebastien Haller, the Elephants’ own Europe-based attacking superstar, struggled to get into the game before two attempts, either side of half-time, tested El Shenawy.
The experienced Al Ahly goalkeeper came off injured after a long delay late on as the game petered out, with Mohamed Abogabal replacing him for extra time.
The Zamalek shot-stopper produced a fine save to deny the excellent Sangare before Haller was taken off, and as the game went to penalties Abogabal tipped Bailly’s kick onto the bar and Salah then had the last word.