Below are some questions that I answered for the excellent Spurs supporters site 'What a Fantastic Run'
Check their site out at http://whatafantasticrun.com/
WAFR: Welcome back once more to What A Fantastic Run. After a little dip in form in December (4 points out of a possible 18) you managed to pick up another good run in January and find yourself back in the mix for a Top 4 finish. You must be pretty pleased?
Absolutely. I was expecting some improvement this season after some shrewd signings, but to be where we are right now exceeds the expectations of even the most hardcore optimists!
WAFR: In your last interview you felt that Newcastle would perhaps have an upper-mid table finish, are you stating to believe that Newcastle could maybe push themselves in to at least a Europa League spot now we have crossed the half way mark?
A lot depends on our injury situation. A starting XI of Krul, Simpson, Santon, Colo, S Taylor, Jonas, Marveaux, Cabaye, Tiote, Ba, Cisse would be a match for anyone, but beyond that we donâ€™t have great depth. Taylor and Marveaux are now out for the rest of the season with Ryan Taylor and Leon Best picking up knocks last week we are very thin. To be fair to the lads who have stepped in (Guthrie and co) they have done very well hence our decent past month, but it will be tough to maintain our form. I think we will finish 7th with an outside chance of Europa â€“ that would be improvement vs last year and we are moving in the right direction.
WAFR: It has been a remarkable season so far for Newcastle, with all the focus directed at Tottenham this past week and in light of recent events down at The FA; Pardew for England?
No. Pardew is doing a great job up here, but he has been in the role little over a year. He needs to achieve a lot more in his career than he has for him to hit those heights in my opinion! Thatâ€™s also the reason I donâ€™t think Harry should be given the job. Another foreign coach would be my preference â€“ Hiddink.
WAFR: We talked a few times about Mike Ashley and the fans perception of him, his dealings with the club and so on, I am guess the way things are right now the heat is off him?
Yes, things are suspiciously quiet. Even quite positive with the arrival of Cisse and no major out-goings. People are starting to buy in to Ashleyâ€™s current policy of buying low priced/ high potential players (Tiote and Cabaye combined cost Â£12million less than Jordan Henderson) but it takes a long time to forgive and forget relegation. In previous quiet periods he has unleashed bombshells such as the Hughton sacking or the stadium renaming, so a lot of people sometimes worry about what might be around the corner. Hopefully nothingâ€¦â€¦.
WAFR: With Spurs certain to leave White Hart Lane in the next few years what was the Newcastle fans response to the recent name change at St James Park?
Mixed â€“ the majority were angered by it as were a lot of supporters of other clubs and some of the media. The local council refuse to acknowledge the new name. My thoughts are that if they bring in money that is properly invested, then crack on! However at the moment it appears to be a free advertising vehicle for Ashleyâ€™s company, which I am not comfortable with. Besides, it will always be St Jamesâ€™ Park to most.
WAFR: Papiss Demba Cisseâ€™s Newcastle career got of to a flyer against Villa last weekend which naturally has got a lot of pundits very excited. Goal aside, did his overall performance give the impression there is more to come or is he potentially going to be your version of Danny Rose?
Considering he had only been back from the ACoN for a couple of days and he came on earlier than expected, he looked very promising. His touch was decent and his movement very good. It would have been nice to ease him in, but we may not have that luxury now. In many ways he looked very Andy Cole-like.
WAFR: Typically Harry Redknapp couldnâ€™t keep his mouth shut when asked about Djemba Ba with a lot of talk around this minimum release clause in his contract. Do you think Newcastle will move to make sure they do not lose him during the summer?
Having failed medicals within the past 18 months in both Germany and England, there is obviously a problem there. It is one thing taking Demba on a free as we did, quite another paying Â£10+m for him as someone else would have to, so for that reason he might well stay. Not to mention the fact that Cisse is a good friend of his. Having said that, who knows what is going to happen?! The bloke is a phenomenon.
WAFR: What has been the highlight of your season up to this point?
Probably the Man United game. Quite a few of us fancied a result, but to obliterate them in the way that we did was tremendous. Ba and Cabayeâ€™s goals were incredible and the atmosphere was as good as it gets.
WAFR: Like Newcastle, Spurs fans are generally pretty surprised as to where we are right now â€“ what is your assessment of our season?
Superb. After missing out on the Champions League last season, a few Spurs fans that I know feared that the club had missed the chance to progress and were questioning Redknapp. The Modric scenario then came in to play and to bounce back from those things and move on in the way that you have is quite exceptional â€“ I was particularly impressed by your performance at home to Liverpool.
WAFR: And as always, let have a score prediction
As good a season as we are having, we go in to this game without Steve Taylor, Cabaye and Tiote â€“I fear the worst. 3 v 1 (my record of forecasting NUFC defeats this season is working brilliantly for us in the other direction!)
September 19, 2011
Before our second round tie at Scunthorpe and ahead of Tuesday night's Carling Cup third round tie at the City Ground in Nottingham, I have read a lot of debate on Social Media sites and Newcastle United forums about how seriously we should take the Carling Cup this year.
We HAVE to take it seriously. Why?
First and foremost, we have not won a domestic trophy in a ridiculous 56 years. 56 YEARS! Who are we to turn our backs on a tournament that offers a trophy at the end? Of course there are no guarantees and to go all of the way we need the luck of the draw and some luck on match days, but when you consider that seven different sides have won this tournament in the past ten years it is not altogether unrealistic. 22 different teams have won the trophy in its 50 year history and sadly we are not one of them.
One of the main arguments that I have read against us taking this competition seriously is that we should be focussing on the league and that we have a thin squad. Despite our fantastic start to the season (we sit in fourth place as I type) I think we all know that a top four (or even top six) finish is a pipe dream and will not happen. We have the quality to finish 7th but our lack of bodies means that we could finish anywhere from 6 to 16th! So lets have a crack at this!
Forest are in the Championship relegation zone after a difficult start to life under Schteve McClaren â€“ they might be looking to rest players in this one as they look to revive their awful league form. Then again they might also view this as an opportunity to revive their season. Either way we have more than enough to win the game.
I was encouraged by Pardewâ€™s strong selection at Scunthorpe and I would go with much the same here â€“ the vast majority of the players who have been stating games this season supplemented by the players who have shown real promise â€“ Marveaux for example. Hatem Ben Arfa may also be in contention, which would be fantastic.
A good run could give us a great day out at the new Wembley Stadium. I have attended every game that weâ€™ve played at Wembley in my life time (sadly that is not too many games!) and, despite the fact we havenâ€™t won any of them, I had a fantastic time.
And finally, Europe. The Europa League has its knockers but I would love to see us playing European football again. I had some amazing trips abroad during our many European years and would love to travel to watch the Mags again.
Come on lads, lets have a go.
You can follow me on Twitter @MarcSDuffy
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August 17, 2011
It is far too early in the season for a Tyne/ Wear derby and a trip down to the darklands. For starters we still haven't signed our new, big money superstar striker that the boss promised us 200 or so days ago!
We don't even have a senior left back on our books - but don't let all of that concern you - I'm sure both positions will have been adequately filled by the time the transfer window closes *cough splutter*
Of the new boys who played in our season opener against Arsenal last week, Gabriel Obertan was the most impressive. He showed an exceptional turn of pace and played a couple of lovely short passes - he may well find himself with a starting place.
July 18, 2011
On Wednesday, Newcastle visit Sporting KC in the first game of our US tour. The MLS club have played in the league since its formation in 1993. Formerly known as Kansas City Wizards, Sporting re-branded in November 2010 when moving into their new 18,500 seater purpose-built stadium Livestrong Sporting Park.
Last year Sporting beat Manchester United 2 v 1 in a friendly at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs, so they will provide some solid opposition.
For any NFL fans out there - Chad Ochocinco is an honourary member of the Sporting KC squad!
Ahead of Wednesday's clash, Sporting forward CJ Sapong shared his thoughts on the game, the MLS and more:
July 15, 2011
On July 23rd Newcastle head to Orlando to face up against one of America's newest and most ambitious football clubs.
Orlando City S.C. were founded late in 2010 - Stoke City Director Phil Rawlins moved the Austin Aztecs to Orlando and Orlando City were born. Orlando have big ambitions - they want to bring a MLS franchise to Orlando within 3 - 5 years and they have made a very positive start to footballing life.
Managed by former Everton star Adrian Heath and with an obvious English influence on and off the field (their assistant manager Ian Fuller is a big Newcastle fan), 2011 has seen them post a record of: P31, W19, D7, L5, F52, A24 - an impressive start.
Erik Ustruck wears number 8 for City and this week he shared his thoughts with me on the up and coming game as well as football in the USA:
March 28, 2011
Ten games to go and somehow we have managed to find ourselves drifting towards the wrong end of the table. If the performance and tactical decisions at home to Everton were worrying, the setup and capitulation at Stoke was terrifying.
On Saturday we play Wolves at home - they are third from bottom but only four points behind us. A win is a must.
At time of writing we are 11th in the table with a league record of:
P30 W9 D9 L12 F44 A45 PTS36
Our current form (last five games) reads:
Stoke (A) 0 v 4 L
Everton (H) 1 v 2 L
Bolton (H) 1 v 1 D
Birmingham (A) 2 v 0 W
Blackburn (A) 0 v 0 D
People often refer to the 'magic 42 point mark', but I wonder if 42 points will be enough this season? Will we survive?
I am boldly predicting the outcomes of the last 10 games and, amazingly, I am doing this with my optimistic hat on:
August 9, 2010
13 days before we entertain Aston Villa in our opening home game, Martin O'Neill has 'done a Keegan' and walked out.
Is this over the potential sale of James Milner? If so it is a remarkable parallel to the circumstances that saw Keegan walk out in his last stint as manager. Surely the sale of Shorey has nothing to do with it?
Listening to a phone-in on the subject, the Villa fans generally seem quite pleased!
October 20, 2008
After two fairly sound displays against Everton away and Manchester City at home, both producing satisfactory 2-2 draws, we face Sunderland away tomorrow with the expected return to action of controversial midfielder Joey Barton. The scene is set for yet another classic derby match, and I cannot help but admit that this as fearful as I have ever been going in to one. Joe Kinnear today announced that Michael Owen is only 40-60% chance of being fit for the game, and Jonas Guttierez is also unlikely to start. With this in mind I feel we may well struggle tomorrow, although it has to be said that Shola Ameobi looked a different player against Man City last Monday night, and credit must be given to the manager if this is to be the re-invention of a footballer who has always, in my eyes, failed to meet the demands of the Premier League. Perhaps Sir Bobby Robson burdened him when he famously said watching him was like watching 'Bambi on ice'.
I have always wanted Shola to make it at the top level, as there is no doubt that he has potential, but just when this potential will be realized is another matter. Here's hoping that he can score for the second game in a row and prove most people wrong about his goal scoring abilities. I have also noticed that we have a prolific youngster playing in the reserves at the moment by the name of Nile Ranger, who is scoring goals for fun at the moment. This has been noticed by many up here in geordieland and many, like myself, believe that youngsters like Ranger, should be thrown in at the deep end as oppose to persistent non-events such as Ameobi, amongst others. However, this is Shola's big chance, and having scored against Man City, I get the impression that this really is make-or-break time for the Geordie born striker and he will be keener than anyone to put his lethargic displays of the past few years behind him.
Marc Duffy is a National Account Manager in the alcoholic drinks industry - a career in alcohol was obviously the natural step after following Newcastle United for all of his 32 years. Marc blames his father for his obsession with Newcastle United - since attending his first game at the age of 4 Marc has endured many ups and downs, and despite the lack of silverware remains positive that a trophy will be won at some point in his lifetime! (Wait, does the Intertoto cup not count?) Follow Marc on Twitter @MarcSDuffy