Despite our absolutely amazing start to the season I was not sure we would pick up anything from our last three fixtures - as it turns out we could have picked up four points! There is no doubt that we rode our luck at times at Old Trafford, but Chelsea on Saturday could have been very different. Mike Dean's failure to send Luiz off in the very early stages of the game was a disgrace - I am almost certain we would have won playing against 10 men for almost all of the game. Vs 11 men we struck the woodwork three times and had a shot cleared from the line, so imagine the chances we would have forged with a man extra? AVB might well have taken off Sturridge to strengthen the backline had Luiz been red carded, but Sturridge ended up being their best player on the day.
Anyway, 14 games into the season we find ourselves up in 6th place two points off a Champions League spot and three above massive spenders Liverpool. Even more encouragingly we are eight points clear of the 8th placed Stoke.
This is obvious progress. How has it been achieved?
© Getty Images
November 3, 2011
More and more we are hearing about overseas fans of the Premier League and La Liga. Numbers are growing in football's 'emerging markets' throughout the world with unprecedented interest from the USA, Malaysia, China and more.
Liverpool chairman Ian Ayre recently commented that his club would like an end to the collective funding agreement in which all Premier League clubs benefit from an 'equal share of the pot' - he would like Liverpool (and all other clubs) to go their separate ways in terms of individually negotiating TV deals in foreign markets. Thankfully this was met with outrage from senior officials in the English game and it is believed that the other Premier League power-houses have distanced themselves from Ayre's comments.
This comes not too long after the Premier League bandied about the idea of 'the 39th game' - a possible additional game for each Premier League club in the domestic season to be played overseas - a larger scale version of what the NFL have been doing in London this past four or five years or the Italian's in the Beijing Super Cup.
This coming Sunday Real Madrid face Osasuna in a match that kicks off at 12.00 noon - something that Madrid are keen on pushing, including for el Clasico's, in order to benefit from the Asian TV market.
Football is changing - is it for the better or worse? Will this hinder the development of the domestic game within the emerging markets? How will China ever grow their own league and national team if the people are only interested in watching what Europe has to offer? Or will it raise the game to an all time high in terms of profile and attract more young people to play the game, therefore having a positive impact?
The MLS seems to be going from strength to strength and I often communicate with a number of Stateside NUFC fans on here and through Twitter. Those chats plus all of the above left me wondering what it must be like to support and love a football club from afar. I was born in Newcastle and live four or five miles from St James's Park - it dawned on me that I take that fact for granted. What would it be like if I couldn't go?
This week I caught up with Robert Schwoch and Tom Ziemer from www.newcastleunited.us (you may know them as @NUFC_US on Twitter) to find out exactly what it is like. Great guys. Enjoy:
June 4, 2011
A 12th place finish is above the pre-season expectations of most (including me) which is great, but also disappointing in some ways. In the 89th minute of our final game of the season we were set for 9th place - a top half finish in our first season back would have been the icing on the cake. A couple of minutes later we were 12th and ÂŁ2.4 million lighter.
Tempered expectations came from another summer of little investment - the summer transfer window saw us bring in James Perch (ÂŁ1m), Dan Gosling (Free and long term injured), Sol Campbell (Free), Hatem Ben Arfa (Loan) and crucially Cheick Tiote (ÂŁ3.5m). Most of us felt that we needed more than that in order to avoid another relegation struggle.
We were also handed the toughest start possible - an away day to the eventual champions at Old Trafford. We were soundly beaten (3 v 0) but we had our moments and it was a decent enough performance and at least that one was out of the way.
Six days later and Villa were heading to SJP for our first home game back in the Premier League. As we all know, Villa were the last team that we played in the relegation season and the despicable behaviour of their fans left a bad taste that the home crowd were seeking revenge for. Villa were in some turmoil themselves with Martin O'Neill walking out days before the season start. No one expected the absolute slaughter that we would subject them to. Andy Carroll was phenomenal - he scored 3 of our 6 goals on the day - the first treble by a Newcastle player in the PL at home since Alan Shearer vs Sheff Wed in 1999! (6 v 0) and we were back in the big time. http://blogs.soccernet.com/newcastleunited/archives/2010/08/sixy_football_nufc_6_v_avfc_0.php
Wolves away was a brutal game. We were very unlucky to leave with only 1 point on an afternoon when the Wolves players, clearly under instruction to do so, took turns at hacking Joey Barton. Some of the tackles were horrendous - most notably from Karl Henry. Credit to Barton, who managed to keep his head and did not rise to the provocation - one of the biggest improvements in his game this season. Unfortunately Match of The Day highlighted the lot and they found it hilarious including, disappointingly, Alan Shearer. The same programme also failed to highlight an absolutely disgraceful tackle on Barton at Chelsea 9 months later. If it had been Barton flying through the back of Lampard it would have been replayed hundreds of times since - but that is a different storyâ€¦
May 10, 2011
Our 2 v 1 win over League Cup winners Birmingham City on Saturday finally confirmed what we have suspected for a while - we will be staying up comfortably.
You might think that it is slightly premature to write up a review player by player with two games remaining, but several of the players have insisted that they would look at renewing their contracts once we were officially safe - so the building starts now.
1. Steve Harper P18 Conceded 22
At 36 years of age, 'Harps' is not getting any younger. Fortunately we have a few excellent young goalkeepers waiting in the wings. Harper has put in some decent performances this season and has probably been our number one, but at times he has been slow to get down and has conceded a couple of goals because of this. He can also be FAR too relaxed - that is a good thing in terms of settling the back 4, but he is the only keeper I have ever seen shepherd the ball onto the inside of the post! I am not sure about Harper as the #1 next season.
SEASON RATING: 7
May 5, 2011
David McCreery has joined Twitter @DavidMccreery and has offered you the chance to put your questions to him via ESPN Soccernet.
David played 243 times for Newcastle from 1982-1989 whilst also winning 67 Caps for Northern Ireland - including featuring prominently in his nations legendary 1982 World Cup run and also in Mexico '86.
April 28, 2011
Thursday brought news that Kev Nolan could soon be signing a new contract at NUFC - his current deal has two seasons to run.
Reported in the Evening Chronicle, it is believed that the contract will be concluded within the next couple of weeks. This is great news for us for more than one reason.
March 31, 2011
My first game at St James' Park came back in 1983/84 as a boy of five or six and I have been to the vast majority of the home games since then. In that time we have watched some exciting and amazing players as well as many more complete donkeys!
Most of the time in the early years we (my dad, brother and pals) watched the game from the Leazes Family Enclosure - great memories of stone barriers to sit on and absolutely rank toilets. Being the age I was back then I can hardly remember a thing - my first memories come from 1988 and onwards.
I had some time to kill when travelling recently and I got thinking about what my Newcastle United dream team would be - not an all time dream team with Milburn and Supermac, but a team made up of players that I watched.
Here is that team and the reason, by player, that I included them. It is unlikely that anyone out there will agree with the selection from 1-11, there are some glaring omissions, but I stand by my selection!
March 28, 2011
Alan Pardew participated in a 90 minute phone in on Radio Newcastle tonight, and below are some of the random notes that I took from various points that he tried to make.
I am sure there will be a link to the interview on the Radio Newcastle website at some time soon, so you can go on and have a listen for yourself.
On having the Andy Carroll money to spend:
"If we get over the line (and avoid relegation) we will get the chance t spend that money"
What happens if we don't?
"We don't want to make the mistakes of previous regimes in terms of signings."
A valid point. Even more terrifying that the mistakes of previous regimes have been the mistakes of this regime - Jimenez Wise, Xisco etc.
"I am not a sound bite for Mike and Derek"
I am not sure I believe him on this one!
March 15, 2011
This past weekend saw rumours re-emerge of a bid for Newcastle United by Indian billionaire businessman Anil Ambani. Ambani has been linked with the club before and has also been associated with rumours of a bid for Everton in the recent past. For what it is worth, I don't believe a word of this weekendâ€™s story - there isn't a month goes by without rumours of one bid or another and despite what he says, I don't think Mike Ashley would sell. His alleged actions the last couple of times he 'put the club up for sale' indicate that.
I know everyone reading this is familiar with Ashley and his actions to date - but here is a reminder of what has happened at our football club since his arrival.
Ashley would have us believe that he did not undertake due diligence when he purchased the club. That is incredibly hard to believe from a man who had made over ÂŁ1billion in business - but it has to be true. Some would have us believe that if a buyer had not been found, Newcastle would have 'done a Leeds' if not worse following the handling of the club from the Shepherd's and Hall's.
From poor managerial appointments and player signings to dubious business deals, Newcastle United still made the Hall's and Shepherd's money with no little scandal on the way - who can remember the rented warehouse story?
Freddy Shepherd's brother allegedly bought a warehouse for ÂŁ175,000 and then the club leased it on a long term deal that saw the owners make their money back several times over:
January 9, 2011
Alan Pardew has managed Newcastle in five games now (I am excluding the Liverpool game due to the fact he had been there a day and had hardly met the players as pointed out by Joey Barton in the post game interview).
This is a brief review of each of this games and a summary as to how I think he has fared to date.
As ever, please feel free to add your thought and comments!
Newcastle United 1 v Manchester City 3 (Premier League)
Despite the scoreline this was a decent performance. The game started in the worst possible fashion with 2 goals conceded within the first 5 minutes.
The opener came from a horrendous mistake by Tim Krul - his awful pass ended up with Gareth Barry netting and three minutes later Tevez doubled the lead assisted by another terrible error - Tiote played the ball off Nolan and Tevez broke away and scored.
Most sides would have caved in at that point, but we gave it a real go and were unlucky not to pick up a point at least.
Having said that the naturally negative approach of Mancini saw City sit back for the remainder of the game inviting our pressure on.
Andy Carroll pulled one back with 12 to go and on any other day Nolan would have equalised with one of the great chances that came his way.
City ended the game with a 3rd (and a 2nd for Tevez) as we piled forward looking for a point.
Paredew review: It would be harsh to criticise Pardew for the two errors that set us back as they were down to individual players. The way the players bounced back was commendable and the team spirit that delighted the crowd under Chris Hughton was still there for all to see. 7/10
December 29, 2010
Well that's 2010 almost at an end. Another Soap Opera of a year in the history of Newcastle United Football Club.
We have enjoyed some real highs this year but, as ever, they have been matched by some awful lows.
Here are some of my memories (there are loads more but I would end up going on forever!), feel free to comment and add your own.
December 6, 2010
The boat has well and truely been rocked once more by the owner of our great football club. The majority of Newcastle United fans seem to be disgusted - I know I certainly am. I am very disappointed and deflated.
Let me know what you think on the sacking of Chris and the potential replacements. Pardew? Please, no.....
The following are a few entries from Twitter:
theseats: Should we take bets on which hack/gutter press blames the fans and 'outrageous expectations'?
TOTTvital: is it possible to unite as a fan base and boycott (PROPERLY BOYCOTT) Ashley until he's gone?
Promotion-winning Newcaslte manager Chris Hughton has been sacked.
Apologies if this is not as well written or as well formatted as my usual entries - I've jumped straight on here in outrage and emotion.
Mike Ashley, you don't know what you have let yourself in for. Chris Hughton is the most widely backed manager (from fans and media) that we have seen at SJP in years.
Your handling of the man has been despicable. Your handling of this football club continues to be disgusting.
Chris has spent next to nothing - he took us from a shambolic football club falling apart at the seams to Championship Champions at a canter and with style.
He has us in 11th DESPITE your lack of support. Who would not have taken that before this season kicked off?
If this is a knee-jerk reaction to yesterdays performance then you are a fool - we were missing SIX key players.
Ashley - you are a disgrace. GET OUT OF OUR CLUB.
November 25, 2010
It is less than a month since the Halloween slaughter of the folks from the Village of the Damned. Even less since we turned over Arsenal at The Emirates. How circumstances can change quickly in football.
After the sunderland game there was a clamour from many fans of NUFC to get Chris Hughton tied up to a long term contract ASAP. After the Arsenal game more people joined in on that show of support and some areas of the national press piled in behind the likeable English/ Irish/ Ghanaian.
Then came a run of 3 games in 10 days that yielded only 1 point and all of a sudden we have a few callers to the regular local radio football phone in's suggesting that a 'more experienced' manager would be preferable. Yes, these voices are (quite rightly) in the minority but there was an obvious increase after the thrashing we received at Bolton.
November 16, 2010
Due to reasons beyond my control, the Toon Talk phone in will not be happening on Thursday evening.
I bet you were all lining up to phone in and give us some stick too!
October 29, 2010
What is it about our football club? At the start of the season the overwhelming consensus amongst the fans was that they would be happy if we finished 15th and stayed up. Most saw the Carling Cup as an unwanted distraction and many were not bothered whether we lost to Accy Stanley in round 2.
A few months later and we are sitting in 9th place in the Prem and reached the last 16 of the cup - and all of a sudden there are 'supporters' phoning national radio stations and questioning whether Hughton is the right man for the job! Incredible! Only days before the biggest game of our season too.
October 6, 2010
I am gutted for Hatem Ben-Arfa. Young lad, new club, new country only to have it possibly ruined all so quickly by a footballing nut job.
I didn't need a TV replay to see that de Jong's tackle was reckless - despite the totally incompetent Martin Atkinson waving play on and giving City a free kick moments later for a nothing challenge from Tiote. Failing to spot a leg snapping challenge merely set the tone for Atkinson's obvious City bias, but that is a different story.
Mackem fan Chris Waddle described it as a "Grite tackle" (or words to that effect) but I would like to know how a grite tackle can leave a player with his leg hanging off?
September 29, 2010
If I was a betting man I would steer well clear of ever having a Newcastle United game on my coupon. A home defeat to Blackpool was followed up with superb away wins at Everton and Chelsea which in turn were followed up by another very poor home defeat.
I think most of us who watched the Blackpool game realised that 4-5-1 at home to bottom half sides does not work. 4-5-1 is perfect for those difficult away games in which you need to soak up some pressure but it is too negative when the solution is to take the game to a side. Unfortunately it would seem that Chris Hughton regards it as the formation for any fixture.
I have heard claims that we are actually playing 4-4-2 with Nolan as the second striker but that is not the case at all. Nolan is no more than an advanced midfielder - a strange role for him given his obvious lack of mobility. If Hughton uses the Carling Cup as a tool to motivate fringe players suggesting first team selection then this wonâ€™t last long - I never thought I would type these words but surely Shola should have been involved after his Chelsea exploits? Jonas, who was very positive when he finally got on, also had a good case for selection.
September 17, 2010
"I'm not suited to Bolton or Blackburn, I would be more suited to Inter Milan or Real Madrid"
August 27, 2010
Chris Hughton took the brave decision to drop all 11 players from the 6 v 0 Villa win to field a very young side in the League Cup 2nd round on Wednesday night. Not only did the gamble pay off, but it also showed the fans that we do have strength in depth, albeit through a very talented crop of teenagers.
The starting XI contained no fewer than six players aged 19 or under and only one player over 30 (Lovenkrands â€“ though promising youngster Shola will hit the big 3 0 soon) and the average age of the side was 21. If Andy Carroll had started instead of Lovenkrands the average age would have been down to 20.
August 7, 2010
Definitely an area of strength.
Harper is obviously Hughtons number 1 and he has been OK.
Behind him we have Tim Krul and Fraser Forster â€“ both first team footballers of the future. I just hope that we donâ€™t stick with Harps through good form or bad on the grounds that he is one of the dressing room leaders â€“ this would hinder the development of whichever keeper is not out on loan.
August 3, 2010
â€śCome writers and critics who prophesize with your penâ€ť (Hard to beat a bit of Dylan)
Saturday marked one year to the day of the sad passing of football Legend Sir Bobby Robson. On the 30th August it will be six years since he was sacked by Freddy Shepherd shortly after a 4 v 2 defeat to Aston Villa. Little did we know then how much would change at the club within a relatively short period of time.
March 25, 2009
Having plunged well into the depths of the relegation zone after a dismal draw at Hull City, and then defeat at home to Arsenal 3-1, things are grimmer than ever on Tyneside - no surprises there then.
We are now third bottom of the table, with the gap between us and our rivals getting bigger and bigger by the week. It seems no-one, repeat NO-ONE (thanks Mr. Cashley) is going to help us in our bid for survival. Chris Hughton is clueless, Joe Kinnear is ill and equally quite clueless, in my humble opinion, whilst out of our current squad, I have faith in not one of them. Of all that I thought could perhaps save us was Obafemi Martins, but after his weakest of all weak penalties ever against Arsenal, my faith is even lost in him.