Cam Newton on benching: 'It's going to be a permanent change' if I don't improve

Last week, we wrote about how Cam Newton’s Patriots were 2-3, and how Newton shouldered the blame.

Newton’s Patriots are now 2-4 and looked even worse in their latest loss than they did prior to Newton’s acceptance of fault. Newton had his worst game as a Patriot, too, throwing three interceptions and falling short of 100 passing yards before he was removed from the action with the game out of reach.

Newton was frank following the loss, which has the Patriots mired in their longest losing streak since 2002, explaining the situation bluntly on Monday: “It’s simple, I have to play better.”

What was anticipated to be an entertaining game was instead a dominant win for San Francisco, which regained its ground attack and forced four turnovers. Patriots coach Bill Belichick acknowledged the outcome was decided in the second half when he removed Newton, replacing him with second-year developmental project Jarrett Stidham, a move that did not surprise Newton, and one he did not resist.

“No. I am a realist,” Newton said Monday. “But yet through it all, I am coachable. .. [Bill] came and said, ‘Stidham is finishing.’ I agreed and that’s what it was. For any type of competitor, do you feel embarrassed? Yeah.”

Before Newton faced the reporters or the talk show hosts at WEEI on Monday morning, he had to first reflect upon his performance. For the former NFL MVP, that reflection came from his vehicle’s rearview mirror.

“If you keep playing games like that, bro, it’s going to be a permanent change,” Newton said he told himself during his drive home from the game Sunday evening.

Newton hasn’t received the best protection in recent weeks, but he welcomed reinforcements along the offensive line for Sunday’s game and still struggled. His timing with Julian Edelman was off on at least one play, when Newton threw a pass behind Edelman, deflecting off the receiver’s hand before it was intercepted. Newton acknowledged a “funk” within the Patriots right now, saying he thinks he will “have to let off some chakras or some sage.”

The good news: Half of the season remains, which is plenty of time for a Belichick-led team to turn it around. That includes Belichick getting his team’s defense in order, which wasn’t helped by the turnovers, but also surrendered 467 yards (including 197 on the ground) Sunday.

Newton needs to be better, too.

“For me, I know I am better than what I am putting on film,” he said. “That is simple. … I know there’s light at the end of the tunnel. You can’t get to three or four wins without getting one win.”

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How Liverpool could line-up against Midtjylland as Jurgen Klopp prepares changes

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Liverpool are set to take on FC Midtjylland in the Champions League on Tuesday night, with Jurgen Klopp expected to ring the changes at Anfield.

The Reds returned to winning ways in the Premier League over the weekend, picking up a 2-1 victory against Sheffield United on Merseyside.

Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota got on the scoresheet after Sander Berge had fired the visitors in front from the penalty spot, meaning they managed their first league triumph in three games.

Now Klopp will hope to see his side build further momentum in their second Champions League outing of the season against Midtjylland.

The Premier League champions ran out 1-0 winners in their opening fixture away at Ajax last week, an impressive result given their recent blow of losing star defender Virgil van Dijk for the majority of the campaign.

As well as Van Dijk, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains out of action with a knee injury.

Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita, Joel Matip and Konstantinos Tsimikas are also doubts to feature against Midtjylland on Tuesday, yet they could be available for this weekend’s clash with West Ham.

Alisson returned from a spell on the sidelines in Saturday’s win over Sheffield United, but having only just recovered from a shoulder problem he could be rested in this Champions League outing.

Adrian is therefore likely to start in goal, sitting behind a back four consisting of youngster Neco Williams, Fabinho, Joe Gomez and Andrew Robertson.

Due to current injury doubts and Fabinho being shifted to centre-half in Van Dijk’s absence, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner and academy graduate Curtis Jones could start in midfield.

Captain Jordan Henderson, who has only just returned to action, may be given a rest after racking up 90 minutes against the Blades.

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Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane also played the entirety of that victory; meaning Diogo Jota is expected to keep his place on the right flank, with Takumi Minamino on the left and Roberto Firmino deployed through the middle.

Liverpool predicted lineup vs FC Midtjylland (4-3-3): Adrian; Williams, Fabinho, Gomez, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner, Jones; Jota, Firmino, Minamino

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The real story of FC Midtjylland, the club trying to find rationale in the emotion of football

It is just more information for Midtjylland to absorb and adapt to. The story of the club since Brentford owner Matthew Benham’s 2014 takeover – which has represented the real next stage of the club – has been steady experimentation with different innovations as much as intelligent reading of the numbers. Hence the appointment of a “brain scientist”.

“We have done some things in the past, some of them have worked and some have not worked. It’s about seeing how we can get better outcomes by doing things differently. A few years ago we were discussing whether we needed another coach for the group – not a head coach, obviously, but another coach – and we decided to recruit a brain scientist instead. That in turn has raised interesting questions about how football players actually work.

“One thing we’ve been very good at in the last five years, and has been a big part of why we won three championships, is our focus on set-pieces. I haven’t looked at the stats but I think if you look at goals scored from set-plays per game over the past five years we are probably in the top two or three in the world, maybe even the best. That is an inefficiency in football that we try to exploit. Both Midtjylland and Brentford we have been adopting quite a data-driven approach to recruitment and we have been fairly successful in buying talent for cheap, developing it and selling it on much more expensively. There are various ways that we try to be different. We have invested a lot in our academy. In the last two years the Midtjylland academy has reached the quarter-finals of the Youth Champions League. It is against the odds that that should be possible here, how we take local guys from this area and develop them to play against the best teams in Europe and compete very well.

“We worked a little bit with meditation but not as something that gives us a competitive edge. We have a sleep coach who helps players optimise sleep. That is still underrated within elite sports. We have a ball-striking coach who works with the guys’ output on direct free-kicks, but just in general. It is like in golf where players work with their swing. Why don’t footballers do the same with how they strike the ball? In the set-pieces, we take a lot of inspiration from American football and how they have playbooks. An American footballer is meant to remember 100 plays every season. Why can’t a footballer not remember 10 set piece corner combinations? American football has a lot of stop-start combinations you can compare to football. So we try to optimise that.”

This has been the real story of Midtjylland: trying to find rationale in the emotion of the game.

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DeAndre Hopkins 'swerves' through MAGA caravan in Ferrari, middle fingers up

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Jurgen Klopp hails Liverpool players for their reaction since Virgil van Dijk’s injury

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been impressed with how his side have coped in the absence of Virgil van Dijk.

The Reds recorded hard-fought victories against Ajax and Sheffield United last week without their talismanic central defender, who requires knee surgery and faces several months out after being clattered by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during the Merseyside derby on October 17.

Midfielder Fabinho has been tasked with filling in for the injured Dutchman at the back alongside Joe Gomez and has received praise for adapting to the circumstances quickly.

Klopp, who confirmed Joel Matip, Naby Keita and Thiago Alcantara will not be fit in time for Tuesday’s Champions League clash against FC Midtjylland, believes Liverpool are doing as well as can be expected without “the best defender in the world.”

“Every team in the world would miss Virgil van Dijk,” said Klopp at his pre-match press conference.

“He is the best in the world. You play a game, he gets injured, and you play three days later so of course that’s difficult to do because all the boys played together with him and we didn’t have long for them to get used to playing without him.

“Fabinho, who normally plays as a six, has had to come in and play with Joe (Gomez). For that we did pretty well and that will get better 100 per cent because unfortunately everything in life takes time and defending takes time.

“They all played with Virgil at some point but not many times did they play together with each other so we do not expect perfection – but not too far away from perfection.

“Everyone needs time to replace a massive person or player, Virgil is the best defender in the world and so far we’ve done pretty well.”

Tuesday’s clash at Anfield will be the first time Liverpool and Midtjylland have ever met in a competitive fixture.

The game sees six-time winners of the competition Liverpool host a club who were only founded in 1999 and are making their first appearance in the Champions League.

It has been billed as David against Goliath by some of the media in Denmark, but Klopp does not see it that way.

“We don’t see Midtjylland as a small club, we see Midtjylland as a proper challenger in this group,” he said.

“No-one is part of the Champions League because they are nice cities, they are in the Champions League because they earned the right the year before.

“There are no small teams in the Champions League, there are only teams who show how big they are on the pitch, not in the press conferences before games.

“The 4-0 against Atalanta was not a 4-0 – it was because the score was 4-0 but Midtjylland were in the game. Tomorrow it will be a real challenge and we have to be ready for it, and we will try to be.”

Last season, Liverpool, as defending champions, were knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16 by Atletico Madrid and forced to watch the finale of the competition from their summer training camp.

Klopp is keen to avoid another early exit this time around and is ready to resume the club’s love affair with the competition.

“It should not happen again, of course, but that is far away. We played a really good game against Atletico, but people tend to forget that when you lose,” said Klopp.

“We love the competition even though we got knocked out early. It is Liverpool in the Champions League at Anfield again tomorrow, even though there is no crowd, and it is a competition we love. I hope we showed that last week too.

“There are no guarantees but plenty of opportunities and we like opportunities, so let’s see where we go.”


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Predicting starting salaries for best available 2020 NBA free agents

Which players will be available in the 2020 NBA free-agent class, and how much money are they expected to command?

It’s easy to project a max contract for Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis, the best player in free agency.

But what about the other starters and rotation players waiting to sign new deals?

Here are complete lists, broken down by position, of the salary ranges for each free agent along with their likely roles.

Based on a projected $109.1 million salary cap, ESPN is projecting only four teams — the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks — to have significant cap space this offseason. (The Phoenix Suns could create room but at the cost of not re-signing centers Aron Baynes and Frank Kaminsky and forward Dario Saric.)

How will the other 26 teams navigate free agency?

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Liverpool fans spot Adrian’s reaction to Fabinho’s goal-line clearance vs Ajax

Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian pretended to clear the ball at the same time as Fabinho made an all-important goal-line clearance in the Reds' 1-0 win over Ajax in the Champions League.

Fabinho was filling in for the injured Virgil van Dijk in Liverpool's first game after the Dutchman suffered an ACL injury in the Merseyside derby.

And the versatile Brazilian put in a good performance at the back, with his last-gasp clearance ensuring Liverpool won the game.

Just before the end of the first-half, former Southampton star Dusan Tadic looked to have found the back of the net after lobbing Adrian.

However, Fabinho had other ideas, producing an acrobatic goal-saving clearance.

Now, Reds fans have spotted Adrian replicating the clearance in time with Fabinho, with one commenting: "Adrian's reaction is funny".

"don't act like you didn't get caught in the moment and boot your coffee table", joked another.

"I do that too sometimes when playing football lol, must be a natural reaction. Klopp did the same when Jota scored his header on Saturday, motioned to head the ball", added a third.

  • Steven Gerrard insists he wasn’t jealous when Liverpool won Premier League

Speaking to Liverpool's official website after the game, Adrian was full of praise for Fabinho, saying: "I was expecting that performance from Fabi.

"He's a top player, top players adapt to the position. It's not a new thing for him because he played before in that position last season, even at Monaco [he] played a few times in that position.

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"He has enough quality to play there. We have other players in that position that can do this in different occasions. The young players are doing really well in training as well. I think we are well covered to face the next few games.

Liverpool are back in action in the Champions League on Tuesday, when they host Danish side FC Midtjylland at Anfield.

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Pitch to Post: What's going on with Donny van de Beek at Manchester United?

Having not started a Premier League game for the club, just what is going on for midfielder Donny van de Beek at Manchester United?

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The £39m signing from Ajax has found playing time hard to come by this season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, playing just 59 minutes in the Premier League, with United themselves struggling domestically.

Sky Sports’ Gary Neville questioned the use Van de Beek in commentary following the 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Saturday, saying: “He doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans in every game. It’s a bit of a mystery.”

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But in this week’s Pitch to Post Review podcast, Jasper Taylor is joined by Dharmesh Sheth and Gerard Brand to discuss the Netherlands international’s role, why he may be a victim of circumstance, and we also ask is playing two defensive midfielders really the ‘Manchester United way?’


A victim of circumstance?

Could Van de Beek’s omission be more about saving a desperate situation, than the 23-year-old’s quality? Dharmesh Sheth thinks so…

“I don’t know whether it is reluctance from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, I just think Van de Beek has become a victim of circumstance this season,” Sheth told the Sky Sports Pitch to Post Review podcast. “Solskjaer was asked the question after the game, and he promised he would get games because of the packed schedule, but I think he will have to be patient.

Donny van de Beek minutes this season

“I think people hoped Manchester United would pick up where they left off last season; they had a fantastic run of form when football resumed, with Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba playing together, and all was well at Old Trafford.

“I just think that 6-1 defeat to Tottenham, coupled with the defeat to Crystal Palace on the opening day, and the performance against Brighton, has changed things for United.

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“Many thought that when Van de Beek came in, it was going to be two players from Bruno, Pogba and Van de Beek in that position. Now, because of these results, you would think Solskjaer has decided to give the defence more protection by picking Scott McTominay and Fred, and as a result, instead of it being two players from Bruno, Pogba and Van de Beek, it’s now one. That place, given current form and profile, is always going to be filled by Bruno Fernandes.

“That is why Van de Beek has found limited opportunities, even more so now, because of the deployment of the two holding midfielders. United fans would love to see Donny van de Beek given an extended run in the team, but some I have spoken to have just been puzzled by the actual transfer itself, with United appearing to strengthen a position in which they already seemed strong.

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“It’s difficult to argue against what Solskjaer has done since the 6-1 defeat by Tottenham, however. They won late at Newcastle, beat PSG, and kept that much-needed clean sheet at home to Chelsea.

“You wonder how now Van de Beek gets his chance, unless there’s an injury. I’m sure Van de Beek did not foresee coming into United into this situation, but I genuinely think it’s because of circumstance – the United results and the need for change – that he has found opportunities hard to come by, rather than his ability.

“I think pre-Bruno they were playing those holding midfielders, and since Bruno came in they have tried to accommodate him and Pogba, which did work when football resumed initially.

“To me, a defence is only as good as the protection the defence is given. It’s not always down to the ability of the defence, but what is in front in midfield, the ability to protect them, and that’s what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is thinking right now.”

Defensive football… surely not the ‘United way’?

So, United are seemingly trying to protect their defence, but is playing two defensive midfielders really the ‘Manchester United way?’ And does that even exist any more?

“I’m going to go back to Fergie – people like to remember that time as United playing free-flowing, attacking football,” said Gerard Brand on the Pitch to Post Review podcast. “It wasn’t that a lot of the time. One thing Fergie used to do, particularly away at sides not even in the top six, or even at home to a top-six team, is set up and make it a stinker in games he knew would be difficult.

“He had the authority and presence to convince his players that would get them results, convince them that although they have a better 11 than their opponents on paper, if they set up this way they have a better chance of winning this game.

“It’s very romantic to say: ‘Go at them and beat them with your quality, go toe-to-toe’ but that doesn’t always work. I know we want entertaining football but I think this approach is necessary at the moment for United.”

But has the varied style of managers since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure made it difficult to form an identity at Old Trafford?

“Many clubs knew what Manchester United were about under Fergie,” Sheth added. “I just think since he left, and David Gill left, they employed four managers who share very different philosophies. They all picked players who fit the manager’s identity, not the identity of the squad.

“So what Solskjaer has is players from Fergie’s era, Moyes’ era, Van Gaal’s era, Mourinho’s era, and his own players. It can’t be easy to try and get a squad and philosophy going when you have so many players left from different eras, to try and then really focus on what this United way is.”

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Tottenham squad revealed for Burnley showdown as Jose Mourinho drops star and two return

Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho has reportedly left Dele Alli out of the squad which has travelled to Burnley ahead of their Premier League clash. The 24-year-old has been in and out of the side so far this season, making just one league start.

That came in Spurs’ opening day loss to Everton, with Alli taken off at half-time and then omitted from their next two Premier League squads.

He did come off the bench for a 20-minute cameo in their dominant 6-1 win against Manchester United but Mourinho left him out of the squad once again for the 3-3 draw with West Ham.

Now, the Athletic are reporting that Alli will once again miss out against Burnley, with the midfielder said to have not travelled up north with the squad ahead of the fixture.

The decision once again throws his Spurs future into doubt, with his lack of playing time meaning he has not featured for England since September 2019.

JUST IN: Tottenham: Sherwood thinks Mourinho is snubbing one player on purpose

With the European Championships approaching, Alli will need to find regular first team football if he is to force himself back into international contention but whether that will come at Spurs or elsewhere remains to be seen.

In a major boost for Mourinho, Giovani Lo Celso and Erik Lamela are back in contention, with the pair recovering from injury to feature in the 3-0 win over LASK in the Europa League.

Lo Celso had missed Tottenham’s last two Premier League games with a muscle problem, while Lamela was also absent from the squad which drew with the Hammers.

Speaking ahead of the game against Burnley, Mourinho praised Sean Dyche’s side, saying: “You will feel how strong they are by March or April when lots of teams will be fighting for relegation, and they will be already safe.

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“They will be already eight, nine or 10 [points clear], comfortable in the table. This is Burnley, so the fact they only have one point in this moment – they have played one match less and the fact they have one point doesn’t tell me much.

“Burnley is Burnley. The way they play, the players they have, their style of play, the manager, nothing’s changed there. It’s always difficult and it’s going to be difficult.”

“They don’t concede many goals, they defend very well, they know what it is to strop the strongest teams from winning against them.

“So I expect a very difficult match and to be scoring goals is a consequence of how well we are playing. That of course brings confidence. We will go there confident, but I have to make sure I pass to the players my feelings and my feelings don’t change since the first day I played Burnley. It’s difficult.”

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Full Tottenham squad available:

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Joe Hart, Paulo Gazzaniga

Defenders: Matt Doherty, Sergio Reguilon, Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez, Serge Aurier, Ben Davies, Dennis Cirkin, Joe Rodon

Midfielders: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Harry Winks, Erik Lamela, Moussa Sissoko, Giovani Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndombele, Jack Clarke, Gedson Fernandes

Forwards: Harry Kane, Steven Bergwijn, Lucas Moura, Gareth Bale, Carlos Vinicius, Son Heung-min

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Rangers boss Steven Gerrard hoping for a future away from football due to family

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Steven Gerrard will take time away from football to be there for his family in the future.

The Rangers boss, who is hoping to stop Celtic from winning 10 league titles in a row during his third season as a boss in Scotland, has warned fans that he won’t be managing forever.

The 40-year-old, who made 710 professional appearances for Liverpool and 114 for England, hung up his boots after a short spell with LA Galaxy in 2016 to turn his hand to coaching.

He has since won 83 of his 131 games as Gers boss, but is yet to bring any silverware to Ibrox.

Gerrard and his wife, Alex, share four children together having wed in 2007.

Lilly-Ella, Lexie and Lourdes were joined by Lio in 2017, after which Gerrard stated that his family was complete.

Although the Champions League winner has enjoyed his time as Rangers boss, he has now hinted that he will take time away from the club in the future in order to care for his family.

Speaking on The High Performance Podcast, he said: "When you are representing Rangers and you know what it means to certain people, there are times when it dominates your life and you can't control that.

"But there will be a stage in my life where I have to give it up for the sake of my family and myself, to live life with a bit of peace. I hope I can do that.

“I think there has got to be a stage of your life where you have calm and peace but at the moment I don't feel ready for that. I do see opportunities to have more highs and buzzes and adrenaline rushes.

"I see things I want to achieve, so I'm not ready for that now.

“But for Alex and the kids at some stage, I will have to give myself to them 100 per cent."

Rangers are currently six points clear of bitter rivals Celtic in the Scottish Premiership table having played one game more, but Gerrard and his staff are keen not to get carried away.

Assistant manager Gary McAllister said at the weekend: "It's been a positive week with three 2-0 wins in a row. The thing that has pleased me is we've seen two very high calibre, high quality goals from Jermain Defoe and Kemar Roofe's the other night.

"It's a competitive squad, we've got two players for every position, and when they get a chance to get the jersey they've got to go and take it."

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