Eddie Howe: No need to panic over lack of forward signings

Eddie Howe: No need to panic over lack of forward signings
Eddie Howe insists now is not the time for panic at Newcastle United despite not adding any much-needed forward reinforcements ahead of the start of the Premier League season. (AFP)
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Updated 06 August 2022

Eddie Howe: No need to panic over lack of forward signings

Eddie Howe: No need to panic over lack of forward signings
  • Newcastle United coach is expected to strengthen his attack this summer, but will go into season opener against Nottingham Forest with no new additions

NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe insists now is not the time for panic at Newcastle United despite not adding any much-needed forward reinforcements ahead of the start of the Premier League season.

The Magpies head into this afternoon’s Premier League opener with Nottingham Forest still light of the striker and wide attacker they had hoped to sign this summer.

However, they have not been quiet, having spent more than $66 million on three players already.

And while some question whether adding three recruits in the defensive third — Nick Pope, Sven Botman and Matt Targett — has significantly strengthened the Magpies, Howe is confident in the players he has in his ranks at present, especially as he knows there is more to come before the Sept. 1 transfer deadline.

“I love the squad that we have. It’s very competitive. We have strength in every position,” said the head coach.

“I think where we need to strengthen the squad is in case of injuries, which you have to guard against. It’s a long season, a lot of games with the World Cup squeezed in.

“Understrength? No. Maybe a player or two light, possibly yes. It’s never perfect when you’re in my position. You have to do the best you can with the resources you have.”

While frustration has been allowed to build in the fan base, that is not translated across to the club, Howe or his coaching staff.

“There’s certainly no frustration aimed at the club. It’s the circumstances surrounding (deals),” he said.

“There are players who have decided to move elsewhere, but that’s a delicate thing. It’s not always the other club. A whole host of things have to drop for you.

“It’s an ever-moving thing, it’s always changing, but I’m very confident we can do what we need to make the squad as strong as possible.”

An attack-minded player heavily linked to the Magpies in recent weeks has been James Maddison of Leicester City.

The England international No. 10 is understood to be keen to move to the northeast with unrest in the Foxes’ camp this summer.

However, a fee has proven tough for Newcastle to agree, with Brendan Rodgers’ men wanting upwards of $70 million for the player, which would be a Newcastle record purchase.

When asked about the attacker, Howe said: “I’m not going to talk about any individual player in respect to their club. We’re working hard to try and improve the squad.”

The Magpies are set to be backed by yet another sell-out St. James’ crowd for the visit of Steve Cooper’s newly promoted side.

Two-time European Cup-winning Forest have not graced the top flight in England for more than two decades.

Howe is hoping the positivity from last season will spill over into this — well, for Newcastle at least.

“Positivity, enthusiasm, energy — we’re going to need all those things, especially at home. I embrace that and encourage that from our supporters,” he said.

“I think for the players it’s a dangerous thing sometimes as you’ve got to be cool, calm and collected, and stick to our processes.

“The most important thing is to find a way to win the games. Then, hopefully, the feel-good factor can continue throughout the season.”

On the opposition, he added: “We’ve had a good chance to watch them both last season and during pre-season. I think they’re dangerous opponents for us. Steve Cooper deserves a huge amount of credit for the job he’s done.”

On the injury front, Jon Shelvey is the main casualty this summer and the only likely starter set to miss out on the opening day.

Howe said: “Jonjo is in London for another assessment, so we don’t have any clear timeframe for you on his injury. He’s probably the big one to come out of pre-season.

“Everyone else, we’ve got Jamal Lewis and Fede Fernandez who are working their way back to fitness, which shouldn’t be too long. Javier Manquillo is back in training and looked good. We’re not too bad, apart from them.”

One player who looks likely to make his senior United bow at St. James’ is goalkeeper Nick Pope. The England international was a $12 million summer signing from Burnley.

Even though he has walked out at United many times from the away dressing room, Pope cannot wait to swap across the corridor and represent the Magpies in the top flight.

“You’re imagining as a new player what it’s going to be like — that buzz of walking out the tunnel for the first game of the season. It will be a special experience I’m sure,” he said.

“It’s a good test, of course. The Premier League nowadays, as a league, gets tougher and tougher.

“Whoever it had been, you wouldn’t have said, ‘That’s an easy one to start with.’ That just isn’t the case anymore.”


Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman

Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman
Updated 24 sec ago

Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman

Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman
  • Dutch center-half likely to start on the bench again with Dan Burn facing former club Brighton at the Amex Stadium

NEWCASTLE: Star summer signing Sven Botman’s Newcastle United development will not be rushed, insists head coach Eddie Howe.

The Netherlands youth international has so far been the Magpies’ stand-out signing of the summer, having arrived on a $36-million deal from Lille on July 1.

Howe, though, opted not to hand the 22-year-old his full debut on the opening day against Nottingham Forest, instead retaining his central defensive partnership from last season, Dan Burn and Fabian Schar.

Ajax academy graduate Botman did get his first taste of Premier League action off the bench, however, as a 90th-minute sub.

“The more training time we can get into Sven, the better,” Howe said.

“But every situation is very unique. You can never blueprint because that changes within seconds sometimes.

“The more training, the more he gets to understand how we want him to play and his teammates around him will serve him very well.

“I’ve been very pleased with him in pre-season. Him not playing (against Forest) wasn’t a reflection on his performances, he’s been excellent.

“As I said after the game, it was about keeping continuity in our backline that performed very well during the back end of last season.

“Sven’s got a huge part to play.”

The Magpies head to Brighton and Hove Albion today, looking to make it two top-flight wins out of two.

They face a side, though, who recorded their first win at Old Trafford against Manchester United, and who have one of the most respected managers in the English game, Graham Potter.

“Brighton are a very unique team. When you play them, you have a huge challenge on your hands,” Howe said.

“Tactically, I think they’re excellent — Graham (Potter) has done an amazing job there and it’s well documented how innovative and forward-thinking he is.

“Watching the game against Manchester United was a really interesting one from a tactical viewpoint so we’re going to be challenged.

“Every game is different in the Premier League but this one is a big challenge and we’re going to need to respond to it. It’s very different to Nottingham Forest — we’re away but we have prepared for Brighton and hope we can impose our style on them.”

One of Newcastle’s stand-out players from last term started 2021/22 as a Seagulls’ player.

Center-half Burn was a revelation for Howe after making the January switch north — and the head coach is expecting more of the same at the Amex Stadium this afternoon.

He said: “Dan’s an incredible professional. He’s been outstanding for us since he signed for the football club.

“I know it will be a big day for him and probably an emotional day in some ways, going back to a club that he’s performed very well at and consistently performing at a high level.

“I’m sure he’ll get a good reception and welcome for everything he gave Brighton.

“He has been a real presence in the training ground and a very calming influence. He’s got good experiences in the game and has never had it easy.

“He’s had to graft to get into the position he’s in now and he’s not prepared to let that go easily. He’s very popular in the dressing room and the lads look up to him.”


Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut
Updated 13 August 2022

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut
  • Spaun was at 11-under 129 and only looking ahead
  • Despite missing the cut, Scheffler and McIlroy, at least, get to play next week in the BMW Championship, being high enough in the standings not to lose too much sleep over it

MEMPHIS, Tennessee: J.J. Spaun hopes he’s only getting started on the road to the FedEx Cup finale. Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth will have to wait another week.

As for Jason Day, his season is over.

Spaun made a late birdie for a 3-under 67 to take a one-shot lead Friday in the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the opening event in the PGA Tour postseason that no longer has three of its biggest stars for the weekend at the TPC Southwind.

Scheffler, the Masters champion and No. 1 player for the last five months, never quite recovered from what he could only describe as an “out-of-body experience” with his putting in the first round. He had birdie chances on two of the last three holes he couldn’t convert and his 68 was one shot short of making the weekend.

“Obviously, it’s really frustrating coming into the playoffs,” Scheffler said. “I was practicing really hard at home, actually playing really good, and I showed up and had the worst putting day ever. Golf smacks you in the face sometimes.”

McIlroy went from rough to gallery to fringe to bogey on his last hole for a 69 for only his second missed cut of the year. Spieth’s hopes of playing the weekend ended with a tee shot into the water on the par-3 14th that led to a 74.

At least they get to play next week in the BMW Championship, being high enough in the standings not to lose too much sleep over it.

Day opened with a 65 and was hopeful of a big finish to advance into the top 70 who made it to the next playoff event. Instead, the former world No. 1 dropped five shots over the last eight holes, shot 74 and missed the cut by one shot.

Day was among 31 players who started outside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup and missed the cut, meaning their season is over.

Rickie Fowler, who came in at No. 125, ended the back nine (double bogey) and front nine (bogey) poorly and shot 71. He was tied for 33rd, around for two more days but needing to contend to advance.

Spaun was at 11-under 129 and only looking ahead.

He was one shot ahead of Sepp Straka, who birdied his last three holes for a 66, and Troy Merritt, who had a 65. Merritt started at No. 64 in the standings, so this was just what he needed to make sure he would be moving on.

With a clear sky, hot sun and a little more wind, Spaun was as proud of his 67 on Friday as his 64 the day before. Mostly, he feels his game his coming around after going into a lull following his first PGA Tour title at the Valero Texas Open in early April.

“It’s so hard to be consistently good at the highest level. Some guys that do it like that, like Tiger and McIlroy and all those guys. It’s just insane how good they are for so long,” Spaun said. “I did it for a few months and then kind of fell off, but here I am kind of making my way back.”

Straka knows the feeling. He had not made it to the weekend since the Memorial in early June. And then he opened with rounds of 64-66.

“Hadn’t played great coming into this week. Missed a bunch of cuts coming in,” Straka said (in his case, “a bunch” would be six in a row). “But that’s golf. You’re going to have the ebbs and flows and just kind go with it.”

And off he went, especially at the end, when he finished with three straight birdies to get to 10 under.

Tony Finau, coming off two straight victories, had his 11th consecutive round at 68 or lower dating to the final round of the British Open. His 68 on Friday left him three behind.

Spaun didn’t feel as though he had much of a lead — one shot, not to mention 15 players within four shots of the lead and 36 holes still to play.

“It’s anyone’s weekend, and it’s going to mine,” he said playfully.

The first part for so many players was getting to the weekend, and two players who seized on the opportunity were Ryan Palmer and Lucas Glover.

Palmer is at No. 110 in the FedEx Cup, shot 67 and joined Finau, British Open champion Cam Smith (65) and others at 8-under 132.

Glover is No. 121. Even with a bogey on his final hole, his 68 put him four shots out of the lead.


Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke
Updated 13 August 2022

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke
  • After Friday’s display Popovici will be hot favorite to continue what has been a golden summer in which he also won three European junior titles in his home town of Bucharest

ROME: David Popovici continued his dream summer of swimming on Friday by easing into the 100 meters freestyle final at the European Swimming Championships with a new European record of 46.98 seconds, while world champion Nicolo Martinenghi won the 100m breaststroke.

Teen sensation Popovici looked in fine form earlier on Friday when he easily won his heat and delighted fans by finishing over a second ahead of Italian Lorenzo Zazzeri.

Only two other swimmers managed to dip under 48sec, Kristof Milak and Alessandro Miressi in the other semis, but both were some way off 17-year-old Romanian Popovici.

“It’s a fine route to the final and a step toward the right direction. It feels normal for me to go step-by-step and keep improving my time,” said Popovici.

Popovici, who in June became the first man to complete the 100-200m freestyle double at the World Championships in nearly 50 years, will now compete in Saturday’s final.

After Friday’s display he will be hot favorite to continue what has been a golden summer in which he also won three European junior titles in his home town of Bucharest.

Martinenghi was a double gold winner at the Budapest worlds and got the home crowd roaring in Rome with a time of 58.26sec in his final, beating countryman Federico Poggio by 0.72sec.

Andrius Sidlauskas took the bronze for Lithuania.

“This victory means a lot to me. This season has been a very long one and I’m not in my best shape, but it was important to continue winning,” Martinenghi said.

The 23-year-old’s win was one of four golds for Italy in Friday’s evening session at the Foro Italico.

Margherita Panziera won the 200m backstroke, Thomas Ceccon claimed the honors in the 50m butterfly and Simona Quadarella won European gold in the 800m freestyle for the third straight time.

However, the Italians finished second in the 4x100m medley relay, leading for most of the way only to finish nearly two seconds behind the Netherlands and settling for silver.

Ukraine’s Marta Fiedina followed up on her artistic swimming team technical gold by winning the solo technical discipline, pipping local hope Linda Cerutti in the final moments.

Also double gold winner at the recent worlds, Fiedina was the last to take to the pool and won over the judges to earn a score of 92.6394, 1.7555 points ahead of Cerutti who had been leading since finishing her routine as fifth of 21 participants.

“I really gave everything I could at this moment. This is my best performance in Technical Solo this year, for sure,” said the champion.

Giorgio Minisini won the European championships’ inaugural men’s edition of the solo technical with a score of 85.7033, the Italian finishing over six points ahead of Spain’s Fernando Diaz Del Rio Soto.


‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg
Updated 13 August 2022

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg
  • The visitors dominated the early stages, with Anthony Modeste — playing in his first game for Dortmund just days after transferring from FC Cologne — striking up an immediate partnership with captain Marco Reus

BERLIN: Eighteen-year-old Englishman Jamie Bynoe-Gittens scored one and created another as Borussia Dortmund came back to defeat Freiburg 3-1 on Friday with all their goals coming in the last 13 minutes of the game.

With the game drifting toward defeat, Dortmund were again able to rely on their young brigade, with Bynoe-Gittens and 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko scoring two quick goals to see the visitors pick up a valuable three points in their quest for a sixth Bundesliga title.

Dortmund manager Edin Terzic lauded his side’s depth and praised “game-changer” Bynoe-Gittens.

“With him, it’s pretty simple — he’s got the skills to decide games,” said Terzic.

“He’s a game-changer and (I told him when he came on) I wanted to see that from him.

“We fought back, scored three goals through three substitutes and showed how good the squad is.”

The visitors dominated the early stages, with Anthony Modeste — playing in his first game for Dortmund just days after transferring from FC Cologne — striking up an immediate partnership with captain Marco Reus.

Reus teed up Modeste to run into the left side of the penalty box in the 20th minute, forcing Freiburg keeper Mark Flekken into a save.

Modeste also had a chance right in front in the 32nd minute after superb one touch football from Jude Bellingham and Raphael Guerreiro, but the Portuguese’s cross was inches too high.

As if stunned into action, Freiburg then flipped a switch, building pressure on a suddenly shaky Dortmund defense.

Roland Sallai won a free kick on the edge of the box with 33 minutes played.

Dead-ball specialist Vincenzo Grifo stepped up to force a fingertip save from Gregor Kobel in goal.

Freiburg took the lead minutes later, when former Dortmund defender Matthias Ginter found Michael Gregoritsch who deftly drifted a header over Kobel and into the top right corner of the goal.

Terzic turned to youth halfway through the second half, bringing on Bynoe-Gittens and Moukoko to introduce some potency to Dortmund’s attack.

Known more for his dribbling and assists, the Englishman equalized with a stunning strike from outside the box.

While his shot was helped by a poor attempted save from Freiburg keeper Mark Flekken, the goal spurred Bynoe-Gittens and Dortmund into action

The former Manchester City academy player had a chance to put his side in front after 82 minutes, but was unable to control a sharp Marius Wolf pass with the goal begging.

He then set up Dortmund’s second just a minute later when he slalomed past several Freiburg defenders on the edge of the area before delivering a no-look pass to Julian Brandt.

Brandt, who had also been brought on by Terzic in the second half, found Moukoko in the box, with the teenager whipping in from close range.

Wolf, another who was subbed on in the second half, then put the result beyond doubt in the 88th minute, striking powerfully across goalkeeper Flekken and into the bottom left corner of the net.

The game was manager Terzic’s ninth win in a row in charge of Dortmund, breaking a record set by former mentor Juergen Klopp a decade ago.

The loss continues a poor run of home form for Freiburg recently, with the Breisgauer now conceding 16 goals in their last six games at Europa Park Stadium.

Despite the loss, Freiburg manager Christian Streich said he was impressed by his side’s “unlucky” performance.

“We played a good game, I’m satisfied,” he said.

“Ultimately we lost, it’s a shame... but it doesn’t achieve anything to think we were unlucky to lose the game.”


Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees

Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees
Updated 13 August 2022

Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees

Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees
  • Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Erling Haaland and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo were all included, as were Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min

PARIS: Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi was omitted from the 30-man list of nominees for the prestigious award on Friday for the first time since 2005.

The Argentina great edged out Poland striker Robert Lewandowski for the Ballon d’Or last year but wasn’t nominated this time after an underwhelming first season at Paris Saint-Germain.

The 35-year-old forward also won the prize in 2019 — it was not held in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Neymar also missed the cut this time.

Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Erling Haaland and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo were all included, as were Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

Alexia Putellas, Ada Hegerberg, Sam Kerr and Vivianne Miedema were on the list of 20 female nominees. US players Alex Morgan, Catarina Macario and Trinity Rodman were also named.

The men’s list features six Manchester City players: Phil Foden, Joao Cancelo, De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, and new signing Haaland (formerly Borussia Dortmund).

Liverpool also has six nominees: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Luis Diaz, Fabinho, Darwin Nunez, Salah and Virgil van Dijk.

Mane, who helped Senegal win their first African Cup before leaving Liverpool for Bayern Munich, is included, as is Bayern teammate Joshua Kimmich.

Benzema leads a group of six Real Madrid players. The others are Casemiro, Thibaut Courtois, Luka Modric, Vinicius Junior and new signing Antonio Rudiger.

The other nominated players are Sebastien Haller (Ajax), Rafael Leao and Mike Maignan (both of AC Milan), Christopher Nkunku (Leipzig), and Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus).

The award will be presented on Oct. 17.

Among changes announced in March, the award is now being awarded based on performances over the course of a regular European season, rather than a calendar year. A reduction in the number of voters was among other changes, with the goal of streamlining the process. Voters also will no longer consider a player’s career accomplishments.

France Football magazine has given out the award to men every year since 1956 and to women each year since 2018 — when Hegerberg became the first female winner — though both were canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Putellas became the third winner of the women’s award last year. Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Aitana Bonmati was also nominated.

Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze and Beth Mead — who helped England win the European Championship — were included.

France has four players on the list: Selma Bacha, Kadidiatou Diani, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Wendie Renard.

The other nominated women are Christiane Endler, Lena Oberdorf, Asizat Oshoala, Alexandra Popp and Fridolina Rolfo.