Archive for July, 2009

Remembering Bobby Robson

July 31, 2009

Sir Bobby Robson – what a man. Never has one man in football been loved by so many. I am unable to put into words how much he meant to me or anyone else (I will leave that to the far more talented writers out there), so I will instead simply recall some of my fondest Sir Bobby Newcastle United memories: 

1)       Newcastle 8 – 0 Sheffield Wednesday. Bottom of the league, winless and rudderless. Enter Bobby Robson. After a much improved performance in a 1-0 defeat at Chelsea, Robson got the opportunity to lead out Newcastle United in his first game at St James’ Park as manager. Shearer scored five goals (a joint record) and Newcastle beat Sheffield Wednesday 8-0. How one man can make such a difference in such a short space of time really is a mystery, or at least it would be if it were anyone else.

2)       Newcastle 3 – 0 Man Utd. In early February 2000 we were to receive a sneak preview of where we would be in a few years. Shearer and Duncan Ferguson combined to take Man Utd apart in a magnificent (largely forgotten about now) win. This was a team that was at the bottom of the league when Robson arrived only a few months earlier – mental.

3)       Newcastle 4 – 3 Man Utd. New signings Craig Bellamy and Laurent Robert had looked lively in the early parts of the season, but it never occurred to anyone that we would end the season in a Champions League position. It seems a lifetime ago, but do you remember when Newcastle had pace to burn and looked a real threat whenever we went forward? That was all Bobby.

4)       Arsenal 1 – 3 Newcastle. The London jinx was broken and Newcastle went top of the league with a blistering example of counter attacking football at its best against the eventual double winners.

5)       Leeds 3 – 4 Newcastle. Incredibly, days after the Highbury win, Newcastle rocked up at Elland Road and won yet another thriller to remain the Christmas time Premiership leaders. The prospect of games at Highbury and Elland Road within four days of each other was a daunting one indeed, and to come away with all six points was an incredible achievement.

6)       Newcastle 1 – 0 Juventus. One of the most incredible nights on Tyneside in recent memory. Only a win would do. Every Newcastle player gave it their all and an Andy Griffin goal (Buffon OG if we’re being honest) sealed a momentous win for the club. This win led to my favourite Bobby Robson inspired game of all time…

7)       Feyenoord 2 – 3 Newcastle. We all remember this one, so I won’t dwell on it. Bellamy in the last minute. I’ve never known drama like it. An incredible moment to be a Newcastle United supporter. Up next, Barcelona and Inter Milan. All thanks to Bobby.

There’s so many more memories – too many to mention.

On behalf of football fans everyone, thanks for the memories Bobby. The world is a far poorer place tonight.

Hero

Hero

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Newcastle 0 – 0 Leeds & Martins to Wolfsburg

July 30, 2009

Newcastle United 0 – 0 Leeds United

Team: Harper (Krul 60), Beye (Xisco 70), Bassong (Coloccini 60), S.Taylor, Enrique, R.Taylor, Smith (Donaldson 84), Barton, Gutierrez, Ameobi (Nolan 60), Carroll (LuaLua 70)

Newcastle United failed to beat, or score in open play against League One opposition for the second game in succession last night at St James’ Park. Alan Smith was yet again inexplicably given the captain’s armband, and the question remains; what exactly does Alan Smith actually do? 

But at least we didn’t concede I suppose after our mauling at the hands of Orient. A back four of Beye, Bassong, Taylor and Enrique is undoubtedly our strongest and – if we were able to keep them together – would surely be too good for the majority of the Championship. Don’t count on it however. All four of them are far too good for this division and there will be plenty of Premiership interest in them between now and the end of the transfer window. Is Ashley strong enough – mentally or financially – to resist a bid of say, £8m if Spurs come sniffing around Bassong? I doubt it.

Lua Lua was again left on the bench. Shocking. Our most exciting prospect and one of the few players that is apparently not simply going through the motions this pre-season, and he’s now behind the pathetic Ryan Taylor and Gutierrez. Jonas – if you don’t want to be here, go. No one wants you here anymore, and certainly no one is begging you to stay. A winger with no goals or assists to his name is completely fu**ing pointless. Take away his work rate and he becomes even worse – a Geremi. I was initially a huge Gutierrez apologist which is perhaps why I am so angry at him now. He let me down. He made me look stupid to my friends. I assumed that he had to do something in the final third eventually. He is completely useless. Get rid. 

No sight of Danny Guthrie or Damien Duff last night, nor Martins (on his way). A midfield four of Lua Lua, Guthrie, Barton and Duff would offer me slight hope for the coming season, but it is far more likely to be made up of R Taylor, Geremi, Smith and Gutierrez. So it looks like our main problem this season will be the same as last – no creativity, pace or final product in our midfield.

By all accounts Beckford – a rumoured Newcastle target – wasn’t hugely impressive for Leeds last night. Hopefully this won’t dissuade us from putting in a cheeky bid of £2m. His attitude and temperament may be highly questionable, but he is a hell of a lot better than Ameobi or Xisco. We need a player who has experience of leading a team’s attack and scoring 20-25 goals a season. The fact that Beckford did this in the division below should not be too off-putting as the gap between League One and the Championship is far smaller than between the Championship and the Premiership.

Reports today that we have accepted a bid of around £9m from Wolfsburg for Obafemi Martins are suggesting that I was massively wrong on two counts the other day. Firstly, the fact that it was the Mail that broke the story in the UK. They also reported that Joe Kinnear was set to be named full time manager for the forthcoming season so I was naturally a little dubious when this one came out. Fair play, they may have got this one right. The theory of the broken clock being correct twice a day springs to mind here though. Secondly, I speculated that we would get nowhere near the rumoured £8m for the Nigerian international. I am genuinely shocked that he may in fact be going for £9m. It was only six months ago that we only got approximately £6m for Shay Given – one of the best keepers in the world. Had Wolfsburg done their homework, they may have discovered that we have actually recently been relegated, putting us in no position to negotiate on anything. Financially, we are right in the sh** at the moment, and by all accounts Martins was one of the first names that we were desperate to get rid of. Ashley would probably have taken Wolfsburg’s arms off for anything over £4m and his entire wages off our wage bill. Still, the above makes it sound like I’m angry – I’m not. £9m is a great deal for us and a very pleasant surprise. What isn’t so encouraging is the likelihood that Ashley is going to simply pocket the Martins money but I’ll save that for another day.

Profitable Group, Takeovers and Administration?

July 29, 2009

So, as predicted, the Profitable Group takeover has collapsed. Funny that, because the word ‘collapsed’ implies that there was a remote possibility of it ever actually happening in the first place.

Stories are coming out that the Profitable Group were unable to prove they had the necessary funds to complete the deal. As usual when it comes to Newcastle United and Mike Ashley, we don’t really know exactly what’s gone on. Perhaps it was the Profitable Group that were messing around, and perhaps it was Ashley that was taking the piss, who knows? But remember that it was only a few weeks ago that Llambias told us that more than one party had met the £100m asking price, which we now know to be completely false. Don’t believe a word of what they say.

Billy Liar

Billy Liar

What we can probably all agree on is that Mike Ashley’s unrealistic valuation of the club is, frankly, ridiculous. He needs to be told that just because he was stupid enough to pay over the odds for a football club that was on the verge of financial meltdown, doesn’t mean someone else is going to come along and make the same mistake for him.

Three years ago this summer, Aston Villa were bought by US billionaire Randy Lerner for £60m. That’s £60m for a Premiership club in no debt and with a very reasonable wage bill. Mike Ashley wants £100m for a Championship club that is apparently in substantial debt and has an unsustainable wage bill. There is also no manager or infrastructure of any kind in place and there is a little over a week until the new season begins. Its simple maths and the numbers don’t add up. No one is going to pay Mike Ashley £100m for Newcastle United and his decision to not accept a penny less is suicidal.

Which brings me onto claims that the club could be entered into administration by Mike Ashley if a takeover deal can’t be struck soon. Now I’m no businessman but how does this make any sense? How would this possibly be in the best interests of either Mike Ashley or Newcastle United?

Surely a much easier, financially sensible decison would be to follow these simple, simple steps:

  1. Give up the ghost and admit that the club is not going to be sold this summer.
  2. Publicly declare that whilst you are open to offers or discussions at any time, you must now begin to actively prepare for life in the Championship to ensure that Newcastle United’s immediate future remains safe.
  3. Appoint a manager. It can be Shearer, or it could be a more experienced manager with a proven track record. Offer them a one year rolling contract. You must decide on a strategy and a policy with regards to buying and selling players. Explain said policy to the manager before appointing them so that they do not get any nasty surprises further down the line. Don’t change your mind once they’re in the job. If they know the full circumstances when they take the job, they won’t complain at a later date when it emerges that, for example, he will have to sell the entire squad and will have no money to replace them.
  4. Begin the clear out of the players that so spectacularly failed to do their jobs last season. Accept little or even no transfer fees if necessary. Their attitudes stink and we can’t afford their wages. Do not continue to pay a portion of their wages even after they are gone. It is a recipe for disaster and doesn’t make any sense.
  5. Bring in a blend of young, highly rated players and players with experience of the Championship. A few examples of players we could have had this summer – Chris Gunter, Daniel Fox, Simon Cox and Ched Evans. All moved this summer to Forest, Celtic, West Brom and Sheffield United respectively for a combined total of approximately £7.5m. Players we could and should have got. There are good players out there that would be significant improvements on our current lot, for a fraction of the cost.

It’s not rocket science, and it makes a hell of a lot more sense than entering the club into administration.

One quick thought, why must the club come to a standstill anyway whilst it is in the process of being sold? Plenty of clubs get sold every year, and none of them adopt Newcastle’s tactic of do nothing until the club is sold as we don’t want to do something that a potential future owner may not like. It is very rare that a new owner comes into a club that doesn’t have a manager upon their arrival, so I don’t see why it is so important that we leave the position vacant just incase a new owner might want their own man. It doesn’t make sense. If they want their own man, they can sack the existing manager the same way everyone else does. They’re businessmen, and they can surely appreciate that some kind of manager needs to be there for the time being. And if you appoint a manager on a one year rolling contract (like Di Matteo’s at West Brom) as suggested above, then the new owners needn’t worry about compensation issues if they do decide to replace him.

The reason Newcastle fans are so frustrated is because the solutions are so simple. That a supposed self made billionaire is completely unable to grasp this is what is truly bewildering.

Leeds at home tonight in what is inevitably going to be billed as the clash of Leeds United and the new Leeds United. Lets hope that the players don’t give the headline writers the excuse to write what they all want to write.

Martins to Wolfsburg? Does anyone care?

July 27, 2009

Obafemi Martins is being linked with a move to Wolfsburg in today’s papers, although I haven’t seen any actual quotes from Wolfsburg specifically regarding Oba.

Martins himself has supposedly been quoted as saying:

“The Bundesliga is on the up and could soon become one of the best in the world, that’s why I am keen on joining a side that has recently become champions of that division,” Martins said in Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung.
“I am hoping this transfer is going to be pushed through real soon.”

 

 

Whilst Wolfsburg boss Armin Veh had this to say on the issue:

“We are under no pressure,” he said.
“We are able to start the new season with Edin Dzeko and Grafite up front if we have to.”

 

 

Considering that they won the Bundesliga last season with that hugely impressive partnership of Dzeko and Grafite, I doubt that Martins is currently sky high on their agenda (unless Dzeko or Grafite are sold of course).
 

 

Good luck to him if he does move on. Hopefully it will be an amicable split and he is able to return here one day to a warm reception, rather than the worryingly inevitable sulk that seems to descend on any player that wants a move away from Newcastle United. As I stated the other day, I’ll be left with fond memories of him despite the fact that he was far from perfect. Incidentally, I don’t see this rumour coming true.

One thing that has particularly annoyed me this evening is a small article on the ever excellent nufc.com. Someone has sent in a photograph (presumably checked to make sure it was taken at the time they said it was) of Xisco and Coloccini all shits and giggles on the tube in the wake of the pathetic display against Orient. I guess we are supposed to be furious that Coloccini is not crying into Xisco’s shoulder.

 Now I hate these two clowns as much as the next man but come on! Lets not crucify them for smiling within 24 hours of a defeat. Even I cracked a few smiles on the evening of our relegation. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t absolutely gutted, it means that I was with my mates and they said something funny.

If we’re going to (rightly) slate them, lets do it for their abysmal performances in the Newcastle shirt. Not getting on and socialising with their team mates outside of work. They are not blind drunk (at this stage of the evening at least). They are sitting on the tube, chatting, and Colo is showing Xisco something on his phone.

Finally, I’m sure there wasn’t one football fan that wasn’t effected by the sight of Bobby Robson at St James’ Park yesterday. What a man, and it is devastating to see him so unwell. Good on anyone who went to the game (I couldn’t). And good on Shearer for putting away one of the most dubiously awarded penalties I’ve ever seen. Sir Bobby – what a legend.

Til next time, and hopefully with some more news on the takerover/managerial situation.

Leyton Orient 6 Newcastle United 1 (but that wasn’t the real disgrace)

July 25, 2009

NUFC: Krul (Forster 46), Beye (Tozer 80), Enrique (Kadar 73), Nolan, Coloccini (Carroll 46), Steven Taylor (Lough 80), Smith, Barton (Geremi 46), Gutierrez, Martins (Xisco 46), Duff (LuaLua 73).

(Quick estimation of the wage bill of our starting XI today leaves me with a figure of approximately £530,000 p/w)

Jesus Christ. Where to begin?

A full strength Newcastle United team lost 6-1 to League One side, Leyton Orient in what has to go down as one of our most humiliating results in recent history.

I know that after recent victories over Darlington and Huddersfield, people have been quick to play down the significance of friendly victories – fitness and match practice are more important – but today’s defeat cannot be ignored. The truth is that I have no idea how significant this result is.

Anything can happen in friendlies, I know that. In recent weeks, Man City have lost to Orlando Pirates and Arsenal have drawn with Barnet, but this result is far more worrying. The club is currently reeking of ‘crisis’ and the opposition will be able to smell it a mile off in coming weeks.

I’m not going to talk about individual aspects of today’s game – what’s the point? So just a few quick comments…

Captain Wow

Captain Wow

Not for the first time this season, what the fuck is Alan Smith doing as Newcastle United captain? Forget the result, this is by far the thing that has angered me the most today. This is a man that has done absolutely nothing for the Newcastle United cause during his two-year spell on Tyneside. Maybe his effort can’t be questioned (maybe), but fuck me, is this the same man who played and scored in the Champions League with both Leeds and Man Utd? Two years in a Newcastle shirt and not one goal. £6m transfer fee and (presumably at least) £50k a week. The only thing he is half decent at is giving away free kicks and collecting yellow cards like Panini stickers. How the hell can he be ahead of Beye, Taylor or even Duff in the captaincy stakes? Was it his birthday? Does he possess some incriminating photos of Chris Hughton and Colin Calderwood? This man is not fit to wear the shirt, much less the captain’s armband. The worst thing is that there is not a chance of being able to offload him. Typically, Sam Allardyce has expressed an interest but been put off by Smith’s disgusting wages – wages that were awarded to him by yep, Sam Allardyce. You couldn’t make it up.

Ah, Chris Hughton, Chris Hughton, Chris Hughton. And to think I was defending him the other day. Never has a man so inept managed to end up in such a high profile, lucrative job. I previously thought ‘Fuck it; he might be better in the Championship. And at least he is more aware of the younger players in the squad than his predecessors’ – not so on today’s evidence. Where was Lua Lua? By far our most promising youth prospect and consigned to the bench in favour of Alan fucking Smith – clearly an indication that Hughton has no intentions of dropping his £50k a week stars to the bench this season. What do you think had more of an impact? His riveting half-time team talk? His decision to introduce Geremi, Xisco and Forster into the game? God knows, but neither could have been particularly inspiring. This man is horrifically out of his depth. Will he ever resign? Exactly how far down the league system would we have to plummet before Hughton would take the hint and step down? There is something distinctly McClaren-esque about his desperation. Why on earth would any self-respecting man stay in his position? This is his third attempt at the caretaker manager’s role in twelve months and each one is seemingly destined to be more disastrous than the last.

Finally, the fact that this defeat was dished out whilst we were wearing the most embarrassing and ludicrous football shirt in living memory does not help one bit. Maybe I’m making a big deal out of it and maybe it is just a football shirt, but this club has a long way to go to turn around its reputation as a national laughing stock. It’s going to take years. And things like playing in the most ridiculous football shirt ever designed do not help one bit. I’m sick of being a laughing stock but unfortunately it doesn’t look like there’s much of an end in sight.

Leeds at home next. The two biggest disasters in the English football league. The media is going to love that one. Can’t wait!

“Bringing Alan Shearer back to Newcastle United was the best decision I have made” – What’s that Mike?

July 24, 2009

Its now almost two full months since Mike Ashley was quoted as saying:

“Bringing Alan Shearer back to Newcastle United was the best decision I have made”

And his best friend Llambias added:

“We want him to be the manager 110%”

The Daily Express today contains quotes from ex-Mag Robert Lee:

“I speak to Alan every day and he’s frustrated to say the least. He’s coming to the end of his tether now. He’s waited for ages and been told that things were due to happen, but nothing has and he’s very frustrated.”

No sh*t. You don’t need to be Shearer’s best friend to realise that he must be seething when he sees what Ashley is doing to this club. Would Shearer say yes if Ashley hastily offered it to him at the end of August with no transfer budget and a necessity to offload half the squad? Unlikely. Would Ashley even swallow his pride enough to go crawling back to Shearer if the sale doesn’t go through? Even more unlikely.

The Daily Mail is reporting this morning that Wolfsburg are weighing up an £8m move for Obafemi Martins. Excuse me if I don’t hold my breath. I do fully expect Oba to leave before the close of the transfer window, but firstly, it was the Mail that reported last week that Joe Kinnear was set to be announced as Newcastle United’s permanent manager. Secondly, there is not a hope in hell that we will get anything like £8m for him. And thirdly, we are apparently reluctant to either buy or sell any players until the takeover is sorted one way or another.

But this rumour got me thinking… Obafemi has a touch that is, at times, non-existent, his finishing technique seems to be ‘close your eyes and hope for the best’ and he is prone to the odd bout of laziness (though nowhere near as bad as some). But when he inevitably departs this summer, it won’t be with anything like the abuse that Michael Owen received on his way out.

Despite having an inferior goal record to Owen, and possessing the above mentioned flaws, Martins somehow developed a bit of an affinity with the Newcastle United fans. He had pace, he was able to create chances out of nothing, and he always presented our most dangerous goal threat. Don’t get me wrong, he is nowhere near the standard of some of our greatest number 9s, but I’ll always have a lot of time for Oba. Its been mostly doom and gloom recently, so to counter this, below are my top 5 Oba moments (in reverse order):

5) Newcastle 2 – 0 Aston Villa (Two 2nd half goals to lift Newcastle off the bottom of the table against a very good Villa side)

4) Bolton 1 – 3 Newcastle (Two goals on the opening day of the 07/08 season, one an overhead kick, that made me foolishly think that we were going to have an amazing season)

3) Man Utd 1 – 1 Newcastle (The header that put us 1-0 up at Old Trafford on the first day of last season. A brilliant team performance that day under Keegan. Even the rest of the country thought we looked half decent for once)

2) Tottenham 2 – 3 Newcastle (The cracking 25 yard bullet into the top corner. One of the goals of the 06/07 season and the best Newcastle United goal in recent memory)

1)) Newcastle 3 – 1 Boro (The goal that won us our (at the time) biggest game in twenty years. What an atmosphere. Shame it counted for nothing in the end!)

Channel 4 are actually in the process of compiling a ‘Top 100 six yard Obafemi Martins misses’ programme so I won’t bother with listing those bad boys.

The despicable Phil Brown is today distancing himself from reports linking Hull with the signing of free agent Mark Viduka. Considering that in the past two weeks he has been rejected by both Fulham’s Bobby Zamora and S*****land’s Daryl Murphy (2 league goals between them last season), I don’t think he should be so hasty in dismissing a player of Viduka’s undoubted ability – no matter how fat he gets. Jesus, he was looking pretty hefty at the end of last season when Shearer apparently had him on intensive training to get him through the last few games. Imagine what state he’s in now that he’s been let loose in Australia for two months.

Finally, rumour has it that both Portsmouth and HullCity are interested in signing the brilliant Habib Beye. Hopefully there’s nothing in this one either. He’s a class act on and off the pitch, and would make an excellent captain this season. If he must go, fair enough – he deserves better – but I’m not sure I would class Portsmouth or HullCity as ‘better’. They’ll both be with us in the Championship next season… assuming we’re not relegated to League One.

On that cheery note.

Forget the Gerrard trial, another crime took place that day

July 23, 2009

With all this Steven Gerrard trial nonsense going on at the moment, the real crime of that day is sadly being somewhat overlooked. Just hours earlier, Fabio Coloccini was caught masquerading as a Professional footballer during Newcastle United’s pathetic 5-1 defeat to Liverpool (the straw that finally broke Shay Given’s back). 

 

A sobering thought - Coloccini has 32 caps for Argentina

A sobering thought - Coloccini has 32 caps for Argentina

 

Some might wonder how a man that is afraid of heading a football, possesses no pace and lacks any form of footballing intelligence might ever successfully pass himself off as a Premiership defender… And I too would like to know the answer to this question. More specifically, I would like to know exactly what Mike Ashley was smoking when he signed a £10m cheque for this clown on the say so of his nephew, Dennis Wise.

The thought of Coloccini lining up against West Brom in a couple of weeks fills me with a mixture of laughter and horror. Here is a defender that doesn’t like heading the ball, playing in perhaps one of the most long ball orientated divisions in the world. Not only that, but the man has absolutely no desire to play for the club anymore. He is going to have big strikers on his case week in, week out, and I don’t think he’s up to the challenge. ‘Not being Boumsong’ is no longer a valid excuse for his inclusion.

I realise that I am picking on Colo a bit here, but the truth is that these criticisms could just as easily be applied to the majority of our current squad. It’s just that aside from Shay’s superhuman efforts, my most vivid memory of that day was Coloccini being repeatedly raped (as Alan Pardew would say) by Gerrard & Co. He’s an easy target.

Coloccini allegedly threw a punch at the end of the Huddersfield game last night, and whilst Hughton may be clutching at straws with his assessment that ‘at least they are showing some passion’, I’m not convinced. Now, whilst I’m well aware that this scrap was nothing more than a bit of handbags, I’m worried that some of our players are going to lose their rags in the Championship this season if provoked. If a referee sees any player in a black and white shirt so much as tickle someone’s ear lobe next month, it’s going to be a red card. We need to sort out our discipline – something that also cost us dear last season.

No news on the takeover front, as usual, and I think it’s now safe to say that time really is on the verge of running out. Jesus, why am I even trying to fool myself into thinking that there’s a slim chance a deal might happen? Ashley and Hughton will be in charge for the coming season, without a doubt. The Shearer bridge has been well and truly burned, and I doubt that Ashley has the nous about him to appoint someone like Curbishley or Coppell (not that they would even want the job – a job that is now surely the most unattractive proposition in football since… well, the other day, when Jordan set her sights on poor Frankie Lampard (RIP Frankie Lampard)). I suppose we should be grateful that even Ashley wasn’t stupid enough to throw a wheelbarrow full of cash at the walking sack that is Sven – a disaster waiting to happen at Notts County if I’ve ever seen one.

If Hughton is the poor bastard that is given the reins of Newcastle United, then we are just going to have to get on with it and take solace in the fact that he isn’t Joe Kinnear, Sven or Gerry fucking Francis.
 
 One last point. Why doesn’t someone – preferably in the media – ask Derek Llambias what the fuck he was talking about the other week when he said that more than two parties have submitted bids of £100m for the club? The snake – wormtongue – was clearly lying through his teeth, and I’m sick of it. If Ashley has to stay, so be it, but Llambias cannot be allowed to continue in his role. Remember, whilst it is Ashley’s money and the decisions are ultimately his to make, it is Llambias’ job to oversee the day to day running of the club and, presumably, to advise Ashley on the best course of action to take. Whilst most consider the departure of Keegan/sticking with Wise as the beginning of the end, it is worth reflecting on how much we have missed Chris Mort’s presence over the past 12 months.

(not so much) Xisco Fever: Huddersfield 0 – 1 Newcastle United

July 21, 2009

NUFC Starting XI: Steve Harper (C); Habib Beye, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique; Jonas Gutierrez, Joey Barton, Danny Guthrie, Kazenga LuaLua; Andy Carroll, Xisco Subs: Fraser Forster, Tamas Kadar, James Tavernier, Kevin Nolan, Damien Duff, Ryan Taylor, Alan Smith, Ryan Donaldson, Samuel Adjei, Shola Ameobi.

A half decent result against Huddersfield Town then, but by all accounts Huddersfield were well worth a draw. Kevin Nolan grabbed the only goal of the game.

The game was marred by scuffles at the Half Time and Full Time whistles. Hugely unnecessary, but this is the sort of thing that the Newcastle players are going to have to get used to over the next year. Make no mistake about it, lots of opponents are going to look to ruffle the feathers of some of our ‘star’ players (and believe me, I use that word in its loosest possible sense), and that is something that we are just going to have to deal with… (odds of 2/5 on Barton getting sent off in the first game of the season – great price)

Xisco was given a start, and despite lots of endeavour, failed to find the net yet again. Knowing that this lad is on a 5 year £50k a week contract makes me want to take out my brain and punt it at Dennis Wise’s little dwarf head. Shocking.

As for the rest of the team, I actually really like the look of that starting midfield. A bit of pace on the wings in Jonas and Lua Lua and a bit of bite, creativity and energy in the middle with Barton (scum) and Guthrie. I don’t like to criticise Nicky Butt as his heart is in the right place, but give it up son. Watching him is like watching Tom Watson at the Open; Respect for playing until you’re 59, but ultimately, age will catch up with you.

On a side note, the players have supposedly been told that Chris Hughton will – in all likelihood – be in charge of the first game of the season at West Brom in three weeks. Quelle surprise. I don’t know what to make of this one… Oh yeah I do – are you having a fucking laugh? I actually feel sorry for Hughton now. He clearly doesn’t want the job – he knows he’s horrifically out of his depth – but Ashley knows best. You’ve got to say fair play to Chris Hughton though I suppose… At the moment, he is genuinely the only man that is keeping this football club ticking over, despite the fact that he knows no one wants him there. It really is a thankless task. Hopefully a new owner will eventually come in, appoint a real manager and offer to keep Hughton on the coaching staff as a reward for being messed around so much over the past year.

As for our prospects next season? Don’t be fooled by the three pre-season wins. Ameobi has a nasty knack of looking half decent in friendlies only, and our opponents have been mostly dire. Not to mention the possibility that half these players will be gone in a month with no replacements.

Reasons to be optimistic? Carroll, Lua Lua, S Taylor, Beye and Enrique. Five players that I’m convinced could do an excellent job in the Championsip and who genuinely seem to care about the club and its fans.

‘Til next time.

Takeovers, Embargoes & Man Utd’s New No.7

July 21, 2009

So, less than three weeks until the beginning of the new season and still no further news on the takeover. I’m not alone in suspecting that Mike Ashley will still be the owner come September, right? The man has repeatedly shown himself as being unable to organise a piss up in a brewery, so this fiasco should come as no surprise. Remember, this is his second attempt at selling Newcastle United. Last time, he slapped an unrealistic price tag on us and we kept being told that there were plenty of interested parties but there seemed to be a worrying lack of progress… Sound familiar?


The ex-Liverpool footballer, Steve McMahon – now of the Profitable Group – has come out and said that whilst they are still very much in the hunt for Newcastle United, time is running out and they are hopeful that things can be wrapped up within the next week. Time, as we all know, is of the essence, as it has been ever since the defeat at Aston Villa. Unfortunately, Mike Ashley seems blissfully unaware of this fact. Alan Shearer, in his post-match interview at Villa Park, was quick to point out that we had to begin the rebuilding process immediately if we were to stand a chance of immediate promotion back to the Premier League. That was almost two months ago. So, time is off the essence. The potential buyers know this, Alan Shearer knows this, the players know this and the fans know this. Why then, is it so difficult for Ashley to get his head around it?

 

In these past two months, we are yet to either buy or sell one single player (aside from the players whose contracts expired). We are now being told that this is because there is a transfer embargo on the club until it is sold, not – as I’d thought – that simply no one wanted any of our players and the wages that come with them. OK, so there’s an embargo. I understand the theory behind that. Infact, it could even be argued that an embargo is the correct business decision. But surely there is a cut off point somewhere? Surely Ashley isn’t so stupid (yeah, I know) as to imagine that there is no possibility that the club will not be sold?

 

In the immediate aftermath of our relegation, I was of the opinion that at least 7 or 8 high earning players needed to be sold and suitably replaced. I was under the impression that Ashley simply cannot afford to pay those wages himself next season. It is time that Ashley faced up to the grim prospect that he will still be stuck with us come September, and he needs to begin to prepare for such an outcome. He doesn’t want us, and we don’t want him – everyone knows this. But if nothing else, he is not going to want to lose any more of his own money unnecessarily – which he will do if he doesn’t get a move on with the clearout.

 

One faint glimmer of hope for next season is that apparently there are close to 25,000 season tickets sold already. Ignoring the fact that the majority of these would have been sold as part of a three year deal (ie. People were stuck with them), it is undoubtedly good news that there will be a decent sized crowd behind the lads next season. When you include away fans and the inevitable late ticket buyers, it is not entirely unreasonable to expect crowds of 35k+ for a large portion of the games, which is truly astonishing when you consider the shite that the fans have had to put up with during the last 12 months. I’m sure certain sections of the football world would love nothing more than to see us play in an empty stadium next season, so that they could dust off their ridiculous stats about us playing infront of crowds of 50 people from 20/30 years ago, so hopefully we can shove it back up their arses.

 

Finally, and on an actual footballing matter, I see that the little weasel Michael Owen has scored his second goal in two games for Manchester United. Good luck to him, I’m sure he’ll be very happy now that he’s found a club that is big enough for him. Putting aside the fact that I genuinely hate the man, I do think he will turn out to be a very good signing for them. With the lack of transfer fee and his incentive laden wages, he presents virtually no risk. Man Utd are more than capable of playing to his strengths the way we were unable to, in that they can afford to effectively play with 10 men for 90 minutes and still carve out the chances for him to pounce on. It’s just a shame that the whole Keegan debacle happened, as it really did look like he was starting to get the best out of him. Oh well, good riddance.

Edit: The Newcastle Evening Chronicle is reporting this evening that West Ham are interested in signing youngster Andy Carroll. Lets hope that there is nothing to this one as Carroll was one of the few bright spots last season and could play a big part in our bid to gain promotion back to the Premier League. Given the choice of starting the West Brom game with Carroll, Ameobi or Xisco, I know who my pick would be.

Ameobi has had his chance. I don’t buy this theory put forward by some that ‘he just looks lazy because that’s his style’ aka Kanu, Berbatov etc. He is truly diabolical. Stoke and Ipswich deemed him not good enough for the Championship a year ago, and I don’t see what’s changed.

 Xisco, I feel sorry for. He was made a scapegoat in the wake of Wise/Keegan-gate, but sadly I’ve just seen nothing from him that makes me think there is even an ounce of quality somewhere inside him. I even heard a rumour that he topped a poll of ‘The Worst Strikers in Spain’ whilst at Deportivo – Great! He should fit right in.

Until Next time!

Greetings!

July 20, 2009

Good evening!

This is my first venture into the world of blogging, and it mostly came about as a result of there being very little to read about regarding my team, Newcastle United.

NUFC.com and True Faith are the two shining lights amongst the dross and if I can come across half as knowledgeable or passionate as the guys that run these two sites I will be a happy man.

As we all know, this is a horrible time to be a Toon fan, and we must stick together in the face of (largely justified) nationwide ridicule and laughter. Some of the tripe that I have read over these summer months has been bordering on criminal, and it boils my piss that there are (otherwise) intelligent football fans and journalists that don’t have a clue about our club.

This is actually a terrible time to be starting a Newcastle United blog, as there is essentially nothing going on. But I’m sure I will find some things to comment on in the coming weeks. And if not, there is always the obligatory Ashley bashing to fall back on.

Toon Toon