Newcastle United appoint Steve Bruce as head coach

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Newcastle have appointed Steve Bruce as Rafael Benitez’s replacement as their search for a new manager finally came to a close.

The Magpies have confirmed the 58-year-old Geordie has left his job at Sheffield Wednesday to become the 10th permanent boss of controversial owner Mike Ashley’s 12-year-plus reign on a three-year deal.

A club statement said: “Newcastle can now announce that Steve Bruce has been appointed as the club’s new head coach.

“The 58-year-old, who was born in Corbridge, Northumberland and raised in Wallsend, returns to Tyneside after signing an initial three-year contract and will be joined at St James’ Park by coaches Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence.”

Bruce and his staff are due to fly out to China to meet up with the players, who open their Premier League Asia Trophy campaign against Wolves in Nanjing on Wednesday morning.

The new boss said: “I’m delighted and incredibly proud to be appointed as head coach of Newcastle. This is my boyhood club and it was my dad’s club, so this is a very special moment for me and my family.

“There is a huge challenge ahead of us, but it’s one that my staff and I are ready for. We’ll roll our sleeves up and we’ll be giving it everything from the off to ensure supporters have a successful team that they can be proud of.”

Bruce’s arrival is unlikely to placate fans still fuming at Benitez’s exit a little more than three years after the club failed to agree a contract extension with the 59-year-old Spaniard, who has since taken over at Chinese club Dalian Yifang.

However, managing director Lee Charnley was delighted to have got his man after lengthy negotiations with the Owls over a compensation package.

Charnley said: “Steve has a deep affection for Newcastle and we are very pleased a coach with his vast experience and connections to the club and city has joined us.

“Steve knows what this club means to supporters and to the region and he will put his heart and soul into leading our talented group of players with the full support of our staff.

“The hard work for Steve and his team starts immediately and we will be fully prepared for the challenge of a new Premier League season.”

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Unai Emery unable to convince ‘important’ Laurent Koscielny to join Arsenal tour

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Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has revealed he spoke to Laurent Koscielny three times in a forlorn attempt to get his captain on the club’s pre-season tour.

The Gunners announced last week that the former France international had refused to fly to the United States and PA understands his decision came after his request to have his contract terminated and find a new club was rejected, with disciplinary proceedings due as a result.

Without Koscielny, a young Arsenal side eased to a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids in their first game of pre-season as new signing Gabriel Martinelli impressed, scoring the third goal after Bukayo Saka and James Olayinka had put the visitors in charge.

After the game, Emery was quizzed on the situation regarding Koscielny and the Spaniard admitted he had spoken to the 33-year-old defender on numerous occasions but had been unable to convince him to travel.

“He started training with us this pre-season and I spoke with him three times for his situation,” Emery said at his post-match press conference.

“We wanted him to come with us on this tour but he decided to stay. Now it is a matter for the club and for the player.

“We spoke with a good spirit for both the team and him but this is his decision, only his decision. He’s speaking only with the club.”

It remains to be seen if Koscielny has a future at the Emirates Stadium following his decision and he continues to be linked with a return to France.

Laurent Koscielny

He could yet buy out the remainder of his deal to allow him to move for free, but Emery insists he remains an “important” part of his squad at this stage.

“He has one year left on his contract,” Emery added.

“For me as a coach he’s an important player. Now it’s one matter for him and the club. The club and him need to speak, they are speaking about his situation.

“I cannot say more than that. I spoke with him before he came here and he decided to stay there.

“Really I cannot say more about that. For me now it’s clear we need to keep moving ahead. We’re here with the players who have the spirit to create the new way.

“Laurent Koscielny for me, now, I’m waiting on his decision with the club.”

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Brazilian teen Gabriel Martinelli stars on Arsenal debut against Colorado Rapids

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Teenager Gabriel Martinelli scored on his debut for Arsenal to help lift the side to a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids during their pre-season tour.

The 18-year-old, who was signed for an undisclosed fee from Brazil’s Ituano FC on July 2, fired home a cross from Dominic Thompson in the 61st minute in Denver.

Bukayo Saka and James Olayinka’s first-half efforts had earlier put the Gunners firmly in control as they kicked off their tour of the United States.

Martinelli was in fine form from the off, just missing a chance to put himself on the scoreboard in the first five minutes when his finish went wide.

Seventeen-year-old Saka put Arsenal in the lead after 13 minutes, dinking the ball over Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin following impressive work from Eddie Nketiah, before Olayinka doubled the advantage 16 minutes later with a strike into the top left-hand corner.

Unai Emery had featured many of the younger players in his starting line-up, but Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette were brought on in the closing minutes.

Arsenal will continue their pre-season tour with International Champions Cup matches against Bayern Munich, Fiorentina and Real Madrid in Los Angeles, Charlotte and Washington DC respectively.

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