Alisson improving but ‘not that close’ to Liverpool comeback

Liverpool are yet to put a time frame on Alisson’s return from a calf issue suffered against Norwich City.

Alisson is walking without crutches but Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp remains determined not to rush the goalkeeper back into action.

The Brazil international suffered a calf injury during the opening fixture of the Premier League season against Norwich City a fortnight ago.

Deputy keeper Adrian came on as a substitute and started the penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup and the 2-1 league victory at Southampton last weekend.

The former West Ham man saved from Tammy Abraham in the Super Cup but committed an error to gift Southampton a goal and put Liverpool's win under threat.

Alisson has resumed fitness work in the gym, but Klopp appears ready to be patient over his return.

"Not that close," Klopp said of the 26-year-old on Friday when asked how near he was to playing again.

"I had lunch with him today so at least he can eat! He looks good, good shape, good mood, but it will take time. I don't know how long exactly.

"[There is] No date really in my mind, or nobody told me a date. We didn't ask [the medical department]; we want to give him the time he needs.

"At the beginning, he was on crutches, which is normal with the injury he had. They are not there now so he walks normally. He can really train now, [which is] completely different to a week ago.

"I think now it will go quickly but I don't know how quick."



Liverpool also remain without Naby Keita, who will miss Saturday's match against Arsenal due to a muscle strain.

The Reds won 5-1 when the Gunners visited Anfield last December but, with the teams level on six points after two games this term, Klopp is braced for a tighter contest.

"I wouldn't expect [a high-scoring match], to be honest," he said.

"Both teams are probably offensively orientated, at least. Arsenal will probably change at least two key positions. Probably [Nicolas] Pepe will start, which does not make them weaker, and [Granit] Xhaka.

"It happened a lot to us in the last few months: we analyse a team and then they play completely different against us.

"I am not saying Arsenal will, but it makes life tougher, especially in the early stage of the season."

He added: "If you look at how they set up, they have good footballers in each position and real speed up front. Wow, real speed.

"That makes it tricky to defend. You have to be brave, play your own football, try to keep possession, be direct.

"There are a lot of things to consider in this game."

 

Rangers hit with partial stadium ban for sectarian chants

UEFA has told Rangers to close part of Ibrox against Legia Warsaw after some fans were found guilty of racist behaviour against St Joseph’s.

Rangers have been hit with a partial stadium ban by UEFA after some fans sung sectarian chants during the Europa League qualifying match against St Joseph's in July.

The club have been told to close a section of Ibrox for their next home game in UEFA competition after breaching rules relating to racist behaviour.

Rangers must therefore ensure no fewer than 3,000 seats are empty for the play-off second leg against Legia Warsaw next Thursday.

The club have promised to try "to restrict the impact to offending supporters" and has told fans to stay away from matches if they cannot conduct themselves "in a civilised manner".

"Our supporters have been asked repeatedly by the club to refrain from indulging in this, and other forms of unacceptable behaviour," a Rangers statement said of the sectarian chants.

"Sadly, the warnings have fallen on deaf ears and the actions of this minority will cause the club and the majority of good and decent Rangers supporters to pay a heavy penalty.

"Unfortunately a significant number of supporters, innocent of any wrongdoing, will be unable to attend next week's match [against Legia]. This is deeply regrettable to all at the club and we hope that the guilty parties, who attracted the attention of UEFA might reflect on the damage their unacceptable behaviour is causing Rangers and their fellow supporters.

"If any individual supporter is unable to behave in a civilised manner then please stay away from Ibrox and our club. You are harming Rangers and that is something a genuine supporter would never wish to do."

Rangers chairman Dave King added: "Rangers is a club open to all and we will continue to convey this message at every opportunity through our Everyone Anyone initiative.

"Rangers has players and supporters from many religions, cultures and backgrounds but we are one and the same when we gather to support our club. If any supporter cannot accept that then Rangers is not the club for them."

 

Mauricio Pochettino ready to welcome back Son Heung-min but pleads patience for Lo Celso

Tottenham forward Son Heung-min

Son Heung-min missed the first two games of the Premier League season due to a ban but Mauricio Pochettino is ready to welcome him back.

Mauricio Pochettino says Son Heung-min will be ready to take on Newcastle United after serving a Premier League suspension, but warned fans not to expect too much too soon from Giovani Lo Celso.

Son missed Spurs’ first two games of the new season due to a ban after he was sent off against Bournemouth at the end of last term, while Lo Celso made his debut in a short cameo at Manchester City last weekend.

The South Korea star hit 12 league goals in 2018-19, a campaign disrupted by the Asian Games, where he led his country to glory and avoided being called up for military service as a result, and their subsequent run to the Asian Cup quarter-finals.

Son’s availability to face Newcastle on Sunday comes with Tanguy Ndombele ruled out by a thigh injury, while England midfielder Dele Alli has returned to training after a hamstring problem.

“Unlucky for him that [the ban] was over the holiday,” Pochettino told a news conference. “I think he was training really, really hard to keep fit and improve in different areas. We are happy in the last few weeks he was unbelievable in the way he was available to train and compete in every single training session and I hope it’s going to help the team from now.

“I think it was a good opportunity for him to build his fitness and have a proper pre-season which sometimes when you’re involved in competition is difficult. For him, looking at last season which was really, really complicated for him and difficult and we used that situation and trying to be positive and helping him to get really fit to help him and the team.

“Because the pre-season is so important for every player, but sometimes the priority is holidays and this type of situation with him it was so clear that he was going to be suspended for two games and the plan was to provide him with good quality training to improve in different areas – and when the moment he is available to play to be in the perfect condition.”

Lo Celso, who joined Spurs on loan from Real Betis with a view to a permanent deal, played five minutes from the bench in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against champions City.

“I think Lo Celso is a situation that is not going to be easy,” Pochettino said of the versatile Argentina midfielder. “He was in extended holidays after the Copa America, he didn’t have a proper pre-season and didn’t train too much.

“Then signed for us after a week without training. He’s training well but is still so far away from what we expect from him. We need to give him time. He was involved [on Saturday] and will maybe have the possibility to help the team in some points, but we won’t expect too much from him.

“We need to not put the responsibility on him, only to improve and adapt himself with us and see. It’s a natural process to learn and improve. In the moment he will be fit and deserves to play then sure he will have the chance like other players.”

Lewis Hamilton has no plans to quit Formula One

Lewis Hamilton says there is more to do and more to win in his Formula One career at the age of 34.

Lewis Hamilton has no plans to quit Formula One in the near future as he remains hungry for more glory in a “phenomenal journey” with Mercedes.

The Brit is well on course to surpass Juan Manuel Fangio’s tally of five Formula One world titles and move one away from Michael Schumacher’s record haul of seven.

Hamilton is not contemplating quitting the sport and gave a strong hint he would be keen to stay with the Silver Arrows beyond 2020, when his contract expires.

“One day I will have to stop, but right now I feel fantastic physically and mentally.” the 34-year-old said.

“I don’t currently have any plans of stopping soon. There’s more to do, there’s more to win, there’s more to achieve together, inside and outside of the car.”

 

 

He added: “It’s been a phenomenal journey. I think right now I’m just excited to see what more we can do together and what’s next.

“I honestly don’t know why some people decide to stop at the times they decide to stop, but I love driving. I really, really love the challenge.”

Hamilton is not expecting Mercedes to get things all their own way in the remainder of a season he will resume after the summer break with a lead of 62 points.

“Eight wins in the first half of the season is obviously exceptional.” he said.

“Ferrari have had a good package, they’ve obviously come with a certain philosophy this year that doesn’t work everywhere. Red Bull, I don’t know what changes they’ve done to their car but they seem to really be able turn it round, I think the engine has really made a big step for them as well which is great.

“I look at those races and I say eight out of 12 [wins]? There’s still some missing. So how did we miss those ones? How were we not perfect on those weekends?

“We’ve also had races where we were fortunate and Ferrari were quicker. Sometimes it was team error or sometimes it was driver error.

“I do think the next half of the season could be much, much harder as we continue to have this battle.”

 

‘I am not Russell Westbrook’ says Shai Gilgeous-Alexande

Gilgeous-Alexander, acquired from the Clippers in the blockbuster Paul George trade, knows some expect him to help offset Westbrook’s loss.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander met the media Thursday for the first time as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he made one thing clear right away.

“I am not Russell Westbrook,” Gilgeous-Alexander said (via the Oklahoman ). “I do not have the same name, same body type, stuff like that. So, I’m just going to try to be myself and be the best me and everything else will take care of itself.”

Of course, there’s only one Westbrook, the 2017 NBA MVP who averaged triple-doubles his final three seasons in Oklahoma City. But Westbrook is playing in Houston now. Gilgeous-Alexander, a 6-6 point guard acquired from the Clippers this offseason in the blockbuster Paul George trade, knows some fans will expect him to help offset the loss of the eight-time All-Star.

But he’s not Westbrook.

“I’m just a basketball player,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Regardless of the situation, I’m going to continue to work hard and play my game. I know that eventually it will come out. I don’t worry about starting. I’m not worried about accolades or things like that. I just work hard, keep my head down and (stay) true to who I am.”

Gilgeous-Alexander played well as a rookie with the Clippers, averaging 10.8 points and 3.3 assists per game while shooting 36.7 percent on 3-pointers. He made the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

Now in OKC, the 21-year-old Gilgeous-Alexander is expected to share playmaking responsibilities with Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder. He admitted Thursday he needs to improve in some areas.

“I feel like I need to get stronger, and I guess shooting the ball deep, off the dribble as well as catch-and-shoot,” he said.

But he brings strengths too — just not as many as Westbrook. It’s worth noting that Westbrook wasn’t Westbrook at age 21, either, shooting a terrible 22.1 percent from 3-point range.

So give Gilgeous-Alexander time to grow into his new role.

“He set the bar pretty high,” Gilgeous-Alexander admitted.

 

 

John Stones still out but Oleksandr Zinchenko fit to face Bournemouth

Manchester City will again be without John Stones this weekend, while Oleksandr Zinchenko and Joao Cancelo are available.

John Stones will be missing again for Manchester City against Bournemouth but Oleksandr Zinchenko is fit to start on Sunday.

England defender Stones did not feature against Tottenham in the Premier League last week due to a thigh injury, with Nicolas Otamendi instead partnering Aymeric Laporte.

The same duo are set to start again for City this week, as Guardiola offered little update on Stones other than to confirm his continued absence.

“No, I don’t know. He’s not fit for this weekend,” Guardiola told a news conference, before he was asked about next weekend and replied: “We’ll see.”

There was better news on Zinchenko’s fitness, however, after the left-back looked to be struggling during the closing stages of the 2-2 draw with Spurs.

Guardiola confirmed the 22-year-old had merely been suffering from cramp and would be available at Bournemouth.

“He’s fit. He has been training. It was cramp,” the manager said.

 

 

“It was such a demanding game against Tottenham. We had incredibly tough games against Liverpool [in the Community Shield] and Tottenham and the people, at the end, were tired.

“If we were more clinical in both boxes, the game in the last 20 minutes might have been easy. By going to 2-2, it’s always so demanding. Against top teams, the physicality is tough.

“We’re not yet in the normal process of games every three days where the rhythm is there. It was cramp, but he’s okay.

New signing Joao Cancelo “is ready with his understanding”, according to Guardiola, but he added the full City squad will not be needed until the fixtures ramp up following the international break.

Cancelo would have been one option to replace Zinchenko had he missed out, but the City boss is not short of alternatives, with Benjamin Mendy also back in training.

“On the left, we have Oleks, we have Angelino, we have Mendy coming back now in training all week with us,” Guardiola said.

“Normally, [Cancelo] would play right-back, but he can play left. Juventus played him left many times. He can play both sides and as a winger, too.

“He can play several positions, but normally we think about him playing right-back because Kyle [Walker] cannot play every week every three days. It’s impossible.”

 

Pep Guardiola say “I doubted milestone man David Silva before City move”

David Silva had doubters as he arrived at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola was among them, he has revealed before the captain’s 400th game.

Pep Guardiola acknowledged he was among those who doubted David Silva would be a success at Manchester City as he lauded the midfielder’s “just incredible” longevity.

City captain Silva is set to make his 400th appearance for the club against Bournemouth on Sunday, having joined from Valencia in 2010.

The Spaniard has played a part in four Premier League title wins, yet, to many, his diminutive stature and silky skills did not appear a good fit for English football.

This was put to Guardiola in Friday’s pre-match news conference and the City boss interjected to say he had similarly thought Silva might struggle before being proven spectacularly wrong.

“Yep, me included [in those who thought Silva would struggle],” he said. “I think it’s his character. It’s not just his quality to move in small spaces, it’s that he’s a huge competitor.

“In the training sessions, the games, in the bad moments, how he reacts, he is a huge competitor.

“For his specific qualities to survive in the Premier League is not easy for a long time. And he did it. He has to be so proud of himself and what he has done.

“He’s a technical player – he’s not a box-to-box – and my image of English football from the outside was that maybe he’s going to falter. But I was happily, happily wrong.

“That was my first impression, but from the beginning – it’s not just that David played well this season – he was playing good with other managers, Roberto [Mancini], Manuel [Pellegrini], with us.

 

“After I spoke with managers he had in Spain, what everybody speaks, I realised what I realised here. Everybody knows about his quality with the ball, but he’s more than that. He’s incredible.

“He is a competitor, a winner. Four Premier Leagues he won, and a lot of domestic prizes. This generation of players – like Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero – helped to make this club in a better position in the Premier League and in European competition.”

Discussing his appearance milestone, Guardiola said of Silva: “I admire a lot. What I admire the most is when you look at these records or numbers.

“To do 400 games means many years, many bad moments, many good moments, being there day by day, week by week. I admire that a lot. You can have a good year, a good season, but almost 10 seasons here doing that is just incredible.

“Big congratulations. For the City supporters – me included – it is a privilege what he has done at this club. Hopefully in the last season he is going to be here, he can help us to achieve.”

 

Frank Lampard has faith in misfiring Chelsea forwards after Michy Batshuayi makes goalscoring return

Frank Lampard is backing Michy Batshuayi, Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham to come good for a Chelsea team that needs goals.

Frank Lampard is confident Chelsea’s forwards will start to come good in the Premier League after Michy Batshuayi made a goalscoring return to action on Monday.

The Belgium striker scored twice against Liverpool for the Chelsea Under-23 side in a match in which Antonio Rudiger managed 90 minutes for the first time since suffering a knee injury in April.

Batshuayi’s goals were a boost to head coach Lampard, who has yet to see any of his recognised strikers score in a Premier League fixture since he took charge before the start of the season.

Lampard now hopes to see Batshuayi, Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham get off the mark as soon as possible as his side prepare to face Norwich City on Saturday.

“Michy got the fitness work he needed out of the game. He scored two good goals, two very good finishes. I thought he worked hard and that’s exactly what the game was there to do for him,” Lampard said.

“As I’ve said here and I’ve said on the training pitch, we need Michy, we need the competition up front with the three strikers we have. I used to love practicing my finishing in training, it’s what I felt made me lucky at the weekend, and gave me an edge in front of goal.

“What I have got is great attitude in the three strikers particularly, but others in the squad also always want to stay out, want to work harder. The reality is that moments come when things don’t quite go for you. [If] Tammy’s goal goes in off the post against United, [it’s a] different story for him, different story for the game.

 

“But you can’t get too down about that. I don’t think we need to go negative about it. It’s about positivity, working hard and the belief that it will come, and I believe it will come. We’re talking about quality players in terms of our attacking players, so it will come.”

Chelsea lost 4-0 to Manchester United on the opening day and were held 1-1 by Leicester City at Stamford Bridge last time out, having failed to capitalise on encouraging spells in each of those matches.

Lampard says it would not be fair on Norwich to describe the meeting as Carrow Road as “must-win” for his side, but he is taking encouragement from the Blues’ performances so far.

“This is the Premier League and you can’t disrespect any team to say, ‘it’s must-win’ or ‘we’ll turn up to win’ because every game is difficult,” he said.

“I was clear with the players: the performance [against Leicester] spoke for itself. The first half was fantastic. Normally that first half would be two or three-nil, and from then on very comfortable.

“We’ve shown some really good bits, but we’ve still got work to do. We’re not where we want to be, and it would be impossible to say that three games into the season. It’s not easy in pre-season with players coming back late to try and change everything in one go. You can’t. You just have to work hard and keep trying to deliver messages throughout.

“We’ll get better and the good times are good, but we also know there’s a lot to improve on. We’re not there yet.”

N’Golo Kante faces a fitness test for the match, while Rudiger and Callum Hudson-Odoi are not likely to return until after the international break.

“Kante has got an injury he has carried all week, so we’ll assess that over the next 24 hours over whether he is [available],” Lampard added. “Rudiger’s not fit yet, hopefully for next week. That’s the only changes from where we were last week.

“Callum is training, looking bright and sharp but now we’re in the zone where it’s about protecting him, giving him conditioning with fitness, especially in the area of his injury. He has had quite a long time out.

“The international break comes at quite a good time for us with both of those and for Reece James. They’re all in a position where, I hope, two or three weeks of strong training puts them back in the frame for the squad.”

 

Conor McGregor apologises after appearing to hit man in Dublin pub altercation

Former UFC champion Conor McGregor has apologised after appearing to strike a man during a Dublin pub incident in April.

Conor McGregor has admitted he was “in the wrong” after an apparently violent altercation with a man in a Dublin pub in April.

Footage emerged earlier in August that appeared to show the former UFC champion striking the man in the head.

McGregor has apologised, insisting he is aware he must “get his head screwed on” and concentrate on making a return to UFC.

“I was in the wrong. That man deserved to enjoy his time in the pub without having it to end the way it did,” McGregor told ESPN.

“It was five months ago and I tried to make amends and I made amends back then. I owe that to the people that have supported me.

“I owe it to my mother, my father, my family. I owe it to the people that trained me in martial arts. That’s not who I am.

“I have to realise that’s not the attitude or the behavior of a leader, of a martial artist, of a champion.

“So, I must get my head screwed on and just get back in the game and fight for redemption, retribution, respect.”

McGregor also declared he hopes to make his comeback to UFC before the end of 2019.

The 31-year-old has not fought since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October.

 

Pavel Nedved praised Paulo Dybala as a “great player”

Juventus official Pavel Nedved praised Paulo Dybala as a “great player” despite the club’s reported willingness to move him elsewhere.

Paulo Dybala’s presence is no hindrance to Juventus’ ongoing search for new signings, according to the club’s vice-president Pavel Nedved.

The Serie A champions head into Saturday’s season opener against Parma with a host of new signings at their disposal, including Matthijs de Ligt, Aaron Ramsey and right-back Danilo.

Argentina forward Dybala seemed set to make way amid the influx with Manchester United, Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain all linked at various stages.

None of those proposed moves have transpired and the 25-year-old is still standing at Allianz Stadium, a situation that sits comfortably with Nedved.

“Dybala will never be a problem for us because he is a great player,” the former Bianconeri midfielder said on Friday, sitting in at a pre-match news conference as head coach Maurizio Sarri continues his recovery from a bout of pneumonia.

“Maurizio is using him as a false nine and I believe he is playing the role very well. He had a great pre-season.”

 

 

Nedved dodged questions about Inter outcast and rumoured Juve target Mauro Icardi but revealed there could yet be further new arrivals.

“[Sporting director] Fabio Paratici has had done extraordinary things, some beautiful and important deals,” he said.

“The transfer window is still open and we will see if there are opportunities we can seize.

“We are not forced to do anything. If there are possibilities, we will do something. Otherwise we will remain as we are.”

Juve will, however, have to do without the guidance of head coach Sarri for their first two Serie A fixtures as he recuperates.

The former Chelsea boss is to return to work after the international break, Nedved confirmed.

He said: “Pneumonia is not a simple thing. Sarri would like to be out the training pitch and in the office every day because he is a great professional, but he needs time. He is getting better.

“Obviously there are difficulties for us, but we have managed them before.”

 

 

Aaron Wan-Bissaka describes his love for tackles

Manchester United right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka has described his love for tackles, with every challenge boosting his confidence.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka insists he was not nervous before his Manchester United debut and says his confidence grows with every tackle for the Premier League giants.

Wan-Bissaka joined United from Crystal Palace during the close season for £50million and has impressed in his early appearances.

The England Under-21 international only became a regular at Palace last term, yet he insists there have been no nerves since the switch to the grander surroundings of Old Trafford.

Indeed, Wan-Bissaka, who has made 75 tackles in the Premier League in 2019, more than any other defender, is thriving from the support his combative displays are receiving.

“I just like to play my game, play without fear, do what I’m capable of doing,” he told United’s official website before facing Palace for the first time this weekend.

“Was I nervous before my debut? No. Me? I block it out. I know what nerves can do. Nerves keep you quiet.

“I’m just waiting for the game to start. I’m in the changing room, just waiting, thinking, ‘Can this game hurry up and start?’

 

“The longer it takes, that’s when the nerves could come in. So I just want to get the waiting over and done with. I just want to get into the game, get the ball as much as possible. That stops the nerves.

“Then I like to get the tackles in, because I get a lot of confidence from tackles. The fans help as well, cheering them, so, after that, I want to get into the next one, then the next one. That helps.”

Further discussing his approach, Wan-Bissaka added: “I love tackles, man. I want to come out with the most tackles from each game. That’s my aim.

“I’m not really happy when I come out of a game without many tackles. At the same time, when I look back at it, it doesn’t mean anything negative, necessarily.

“It might mean that the winger’s not confident to keep on coming at me, for me to have the chance to tackle him.

“Wingers hate it. When I was a winger, I hated being tackled. When I attempted to beat a player and he slide-tackled me, I’d just think, ‘I don’t want to go down there again’, and change the route, change my play.”

 

Tanguy Ndombele off field againts Newcastle United due to minor injury

Tottenham will be without Tanguy Ndombele this weekend against Newcastle United, although Son Heung-min is available again.

Tanguy Ndombele will miss Tottenham’s Premier League clash with Newcastle United due to a “minor injury” suffered in training, the club have revealed.

Midfielder Ndombele, who became Spurs’ record signing when he arrived from Lyon in the close season, has impressed in his early displays in England, scoring on his debut against Aston Villa.

But Tottenham will be without the France international against Newcastle on Sunday, his absence confirmed via Twitter on Friday.

A post ahead of Mauricio Pochettino’s pre-match news conference stated Ndombele had sustained a thigh issue in training, although he was seemingly only ruled out of the Newcastle game.

 

Juan Foyth and Ryan Sessegnon are continuing rehabilitation from respective ankle and hamstring injuries, but there was positive news elsewhere.

Dele Alli, who has been out with a hamstring problem, is back in full training, while Son Heung-min will return this weekend from a suspension carried over from last season.

 

Hector Bellerin compliments Dani Ceballos, best player he has ever seen

Hector Bellerin considers Dani Ceballos, a team-mate of his at Arsenal for this season, to be among the finest players he has encountered.

Hector Bellerin believes Arsenal team-mate Dani Ceballos is one of the best players he has ever seen.

The midfielder, on loan for the season from Real Madrid, produced a fine performance on his full Premier League debut as the Gunners beat Burnley 2-1 last time out.

The 23-year-old set up the goals scored by Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he controlled proceedings from the heart of the midfield at Emirates Stadium.

Bellerin, a team-mate of Ceballos at youth and senior level for Spain, thinks Unai Emery has a hugely influential and talented player on his hands.

 

 

“I think Dani’s one of the best players I’ve seen in my career,” the full-back told Arsenal’s official website. “I’ve played with him since we were, like, 18 or 19 years old. We’ve played in the Under-21s; we get on really well off the pitch.

“He’s a great player. I think he’s going to be a great addition to the team. The Premier League is very different to any other league, but he’s shown in training that he’s ready for it.

“He’s up for it and he’s a player who will go through thick and thin to do the best for his team. He’s got a great heart and he plays for everyone around him. I think he’s a great addition.”

Arsenal take on European champions Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.

 

“there’s always a storm” says angry Steve bruce

The scrutiny Steve Bruce has been subjected to in his early weeks at St James’ Park has frustrated the Newcastle United head coach.

Steve Bruce suggested “there’s always a storm” at Newcastle United as he responded angrily to suggestions his players do not know their roles.

Bruce was appointed as Newcastle’s new head coach heading into the season, replacing the popular Rafael Benitez, and has endured a tough start.

The Magpies were beaten by Arsenal on the opening weekend following confusion over a second-half substitution, while they were completely outplayed in a humbling defeat at Norwich City.

Heading into a match against Tottenham, for which Newcastle will have £40million striker Joelinton fit, Bruce told a news conference: “After two games, there’s a so-called mini-crisis and all the rest of it.

“That is over-sensationalised. Everything seems to be that way. But look, I understand that, it’s the nature of the club – it always has been. There’s always a storm in Newcastle and, at the minute, we’re in one.

“The only way we can do it is to get a couple of results and the team to perform. After two games, it’s very, very early to judge just yet.”

 

Criticism of Bruce built this week as former Newcastle striker Michael Chopra claimed he had been told “some of the players don’t know their jobs”.

Meanwhile, defender Paul Dummett had to clarify on Twitter that issues with the warm-up at Norwich were “about us as players and as a team, not the coaching staff”.

Bruce has been frustrated by the scrutiny, and said: “The Chopra thing was blown out of all proportion.

“It’s laughable, really, for the people in the dressing room and my staff. Some of this stuff is just nonsense, but obviously it gets mentioned regularly.”

 

Bruce said many of the claims made about Newcastle have been “fabricated and lies”, adding: “When it’s like that, you think, ‘Why is that making national headlines?’.

“For the past four or five weeks, it’s been relentless – let’s make no mistake about it – but I’ve grown accustomed to it and if I can protect the players then I will.

“Ultimately, it’s always my responsibility. I’m the one who sits here, I’m the one who talks to [the media], I’m the one who picks the team.

“No formation, no tactics, substitutions wrong? It’s the whole thing at the minute. We can’t even take a warm-up?

“Some of it is a bit laughable, but you just have to try to get through it and keep your dignity and make sure you’re strong enough to see it through.”