Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rout off

So it looks as though Wayne Routledge will definitely be leaving us, finally, with Swansea his destination. Personal terms have apparently been agreed, with a medical to follow. The Swans will be his seventh Premier League club - yet incredibly he's still yet to score at this level...

No news on Mevlut Erdinc or any possible serious approach for Jermain Defoe, but it's a case of friends (or at least team-mates) reunited at Villa Park, where Toon old boys Charles N'Somnia and Shay Given will once again be sharing a dressing room.

Labels: , ,


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Transatlantic tales

And now, a first for Black & White & Read All Over: a guest match report from another continent. What follows is regular reader Bob Mueser's eyewitness account of Tuesday's friendly against Columbus Crew.

* * * * *

In the comments of the "Toothache" post I had passed along a link explaining why the US had denied the visas for ASBO, the Lone Ranger and Yohan Cabaye and that I had just recieved my tickets for the Newcastle v Crew match. Ben asked me if I would be willing to write up something about the match... I really enjoy this blog so I am happy to help out. Be warned, though: I'm not a life-long Newcastle supporter like I'm sure most of you are, but after the trip to the Toon in August 2008 and a visit to SJP to see a 1-0 victory over Bolton I proudly enlisted in the Black and White Army. This isn't going to be the most technical review, but hopefully it will at least be entertaining...

A couple months ago when I first learned of the US tour and the Columbus date I was rather excited until I learned it was on a Tuesday night. I don't know much about Columbus other than it's the capital of Ohio, home of Ohio State University, the Blue Jackets and the Crew and it's 200 miles (three and a half hours) away from where I live (Pittsburgh, PA). We took the afternoon off from work and packed up the boys (two-year-old Ryan and 11-month-old Logan) and made the surprisingly pleasant drive (the boys slept most the way) to Crew Stadium. After pulling into the parking lot, I immediately saw a patch of black and white and we were greeted by a number of cheers when we got out wearing our strips. I thought the grounds were very nice, very clean and simple to navigate. We checked out the Budweiser Clydesdale horses and the playground and grabbed some dinner before making our way to our seats in the south end.

The Newcastle supporters were given the south stands for the main group, but looking around the half-filled stadium you could find a number of black and white kits in the sea of gold. Quick renditions of 'God Save The Queen' and 'The Star Spangled Banner' ensued, Mark Allison of Run Geordie Run did the coin toss and we were underway. I can't say enough about the supporters and the lengths that some people traveled for the match. I talked to people from all over Ohio, ran into other Pittsburghers, someone from Wisconsin (500 miles and 9+ hours away) and even overheard some displaced Geordies talking in the refreshments line.

I also can't explain how good it was to sing, stomp and clap for my team again in person. Despite having to deal with tired and squirmy little guys, I'm very glad that we took our little ones with us. On a side note, you might be able to finance a trip Stateside next year by selling kids kits and "My First Toon Kit" onesies in the parking lot, judging by the volume of questions we got...

As for the match, I thought that the lads looked very good. I was very pleased with Tavernier. I thought he defended well (on the few occasions he had to) and I liked how he distributed the ball upfield. Marveaux seems like he's going to be a good addition to the squad as well. Spidermag had an iffy first half with just about as many errant passes as good plays, prompting the supporter behind to advise him to "loosen up that pony tail". He must have done something in the locker room as he looked much better in the second half. Big Lad also looked good scoring the opener around the ten-minute mark. I was getting Ryan situated with his water when I looked up and saw Shola behind the defense and slotting the ball home.

The talking point of the match came in first minute of first-half stoppage time when Ba was sprung loose and Andy Gruenebaum came out and made the stop with his hand. Unfortunately, he was about five yards out of the box. As soon as the play happened, the first thing out of my mouth was "Let's see some color, ref!" and the man in the middle didn't disappoint. As someone who officiated for 15+ years, this was the correct decision for this level no doubt. Argue all you want about "it's only a friendly / exhibition game", but the purpose of the match is for everyone to get better, to make the right decisions, and this goes for the officials as well.

The second half was all Newcastle with the man advantage. Ba had a good chance early on, but it was Sideshow Bob with the goal. From the corner, the ball bounced right to his feet, and he turned and picked his spot; the keeper had no chance. This of course led to many verses of the Coloccini song for the rest of the evening. That's when Pardew started subbing the main players out and by the 85th minute I swear he was sending in fans from the stands... Sadly, I missed what was apparently a beautiful goal by Vuckic at the end of the match - that's the price you pay for keeping a two-year-old up past his bedtime.

It was good decisive victory for our side, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. The Crew rested a number of their players, their back field played very sloppy and the 'keeper who played the second half wasn't part of the squad a week ago.

The one thing that surprised me was that only Steven Taylor came over to the south end to thank the fans for their support. I assumed more players would do the same, so I wanted to thank Steven for that, as I'm sure he reads this site as well!

Finally, I wanted to echo some points from another Bob from his I Wish I Was A Geordie blog: "It was clear from the faces of the players that they didn’t expect to see scenes like the one pictured above in the middle of Ohio. A lot of folks in those stripes aren't English. Earth to Newcastle: soccer people in America are getting a little weary of Manchester United and Arsenal and their boring synthetic look-we-won-again US followers."

I can't agree with this more. Last season, only two Newcastle matches were broadcast live on ESPN - not surprisingly, it was both times they played Man Utd. Every other match that I watched was downloaded after the fact via BitTorrent.

Back to Bob: "...that’s why Newcastle United has joined the small list of Premier League clubs with national fan organizations in America; and that’s why this tour was a better idea than United seemed to know. It’s a goldmine sitting here. The club should keep mining it. Newcastle United needs to come back to the USA soon. And do it right. With more advance preparation and a decent immigration lawyer, the club can bring a full roster, play in temperatures under 90, and win on the field as well as off it. We’re not going anywhere, NUFC. If you think this trip was a party - just wait."

I don't see any reason why Newcastle and any other mid-table club couldn't fill a football stadium to at least 75% capacity if:

1. the game's marketed correctly, namely to youth soccer clubs
2. it has the backing of the city and host team (ie meet players, local news interviews, etc)
3. it's played on a weekend night.

Some other links from Tuesday:

The Crew's official recap
The Chronicle's recap
Video highlights
My pictures and video

Last but not least thanks to Ben and Paul for this blog. I really enjoy their take on things and I'm glad I was able to contribute.

* * * * *

Well, allow us to return the thanks, Bob - it's our pleasure.

Labels: ,


Thursday, July 28, 2011

What's in a name?

As anyone who has ever spent more than a couple of minutes reading our musings over the years will know, we're fond of a nickname on this site. However, we realise that some of these are a bit less obvious than others - so, in a bid to make life easier for new readers or anyone trawling the archive, here's our (non-exhaustive) list of nicknames that we've used/continue to use:

Owners/chairmen/board members past and present

Dirty Doug = Douglas Hall, Fat Fred's News-of-the-World-sponsored drinking companion

Fat Fred = Freddie Shepherd, our erstwhile owner and piggy-eyed professional gobshite

Jabba = Mike Ashley, for his resemblance to the Star Wars character (also recently labelled Iron Mike in reference to his hardline stance on transfers and in contract negotiations)

Llambiarse = Derek Llambias, Jabba's lickspittle

The Poison Dwarf = Dennis Wise, for being a horrible little twat instrumental in King Kev's second resignation


Fat Sam = Sam Allardyce, a man whose gut is distended by hot air and only dwarfed by his ego

JFK = Joe Fucking Kinnear, for announcing himself to the media in such low-key style

King Kev = Kevin Keegan, whose crown never slipped despite Jabba and Llambiarse's attempts to knock it off

The Silver Fox = Alan Pardew, ladies man

Sourness/Soumess = Graeme Souness, a rival to Fat Sam in the bitterness stakes post-Toon sacking

Current players

Big Lad = Shola Ameobi, as named by the man who used to sit behind me on match days and shout "Gan on Big Lad" whenever Shola had the ball

Dreamboat = Yohan Cabaye, both for his sublime skills and his handsome features

HBA = Hatem Ben Arfa whose name has been optimistically shortened to a more twitter friendly length in the hope we'll be using it frequently

Little Big Lad =Sammy Ameobi, Big Lad's younger brother

The Lone Ranger = Nile Ranger, for obvious reasons as well as the fact that he's been known to tote a gun

Master T = Gael Bigirimana, who resembles a younger Cheik Tiote in both mohican and on-pitch attitude

Mr T = Cheik Tiote, on account of his haircut and hardman no nonsense attitude on the pitch

Obertan Kenobe = Gabrial Obertan.  Jedi powers as yet still to be demonstrated.

Perchinho = James Perch, utility player initially derided but whose ability to play in a multitude of positions and silky brazilian skills have seen public opinion deservedly soar

Raylor = Ryan Taylor, to distinguish him from Saylor

Saylor = Steven Taylor, in a bid to distinguish him from Raylor

Sideshow Bob = Fabricio Coloccini, whose hair is astonishingly similar to that of the recurring Simpsons character

Spidermag = Jonas Gutierrez, on account of his seemingly retired Spiderman mask goal celebration

The Xisco Kid = Xisco, who has thus far spectacularly failed to show us his moves


Agent Bramble = Titus Bramble - see Agent Chopra but with added comedy

Agent Chopra = Michael Chopra, during his time playing for the opposition, especially those from the Dark Place and generally doing all he can to undermine his current employers for our benefit

ASBO = Joey Barton, due to his past misdemeanours (and inspired by now-defunct blog The Return Of The King)

Begbie = ASBO, during his unfortunate Trainspotting-esque moustache phase at the start of the 2010-11 season

Bigger Lad/Rocky = Andy Carroll - the first on account of being taller than Big Lad and the latter in reference to his oft-displayed pugilistic streak

Captain Pasty = Mark Viduka, on account of his visible appreciation for Greggs

Charles N'Somnia/The Zog = Charles N'Zogbia, the former nickname coming from JFK's famous insult/gaffe

Everyone's Favourite Peruvian Trumpet-Playing Love Rat = Nobby Solano, on account of two of his favourite extra-curricular activities

Fat Pat = Patrick Kluivert, more interested in expanding his waistline and adding notches to his bedpost than chasing the odd loose ball

Fat Sol = Sol Campbell, for piling on the pounds on honeymoon rather than getting himself trim in the hope of winning a contract

Homer = Marlon Harewood, on account of his resemblance to a certain Simpsons character, rather than a love of classical Greek literature

Leon O'Best = Leon Best, Republic of Ireland qualified striker presumably because he once drank a pint of Guinness

Little Saint Mick/England's Michael Owen = Michael Owen, the goody-two-shoes who did little but try the club's patience and has since regularly badmouthed us in public

The Lion of Gosforth/Wor Al = Alan Shearer, of course

The Little Waster = Kieron Dyer, our erstwhile perma-crocked, Sir-Bobby-aggravating, Bowyer-bashing bad boy (partly in tribute to the late great Bobby Thompson)

The No-Necked Text Pest = Craig Bellamy, for his physical appearance and ill-advised communiques to Wor Al in the wake of the 2005 FA Cup semi-final

One Size = Fitz Hall - though, to be fair, this was one he brought with him

Porridge = ASBO, during the time he spent detained at Her Majesty's pleasure

Sir Les = Les Ferdinand, scorer of 41 goals in 68 appearances over just two years


Colin Wanker = Neil Warnock - a most apt anagram

David O'Blarney/O'Bleary = David O'Leary, thankfully not linked with us for some time

Droopy = Harry Redknapp, for his phycial resemblance of the cartoon dog of the same name

Ol' Cauliflower Face = Steve Bruce, possessor of a visage so vegetably it would win first prize at most village fetes

Mackem Tango Man = Phil Brown, nuclear-orange-hued idiot with a penchant for karaoke and a ludicrous ambition to manage England but now "sadly" managing in League One

Monkey's Heed = Peter Reid - what is it with Mackem managers and amusingly-shaped bonces?

Shrek/The Granny Botherer = Wayne Rooney, our weird-looking tormentor-in-chief and frequenter of pension-collecting prostitutes

Taggart = "Sir" Alex Ferguson, a man whose face is often as purple as it is sour

That Bloody Woman/TBW = Louise Taylor, Guardian journalist and Mackem lover who Cannot Be Named

Hope that was helpful...

*Last Updated: 4 November 2012*



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crew cut down to size

At last, some good news from our US tour: a comfortable victory, in the last of our three fixtures. Columbus Crew were humbled 3-0 in front of their own fans and a considerable contingent of Toon followers thanks to goals from Big Lad, captain Sideshow Bob and substitute Haris Vuckic - though it would have been a more encouraging result had our opponents not had to play half the game with ten men, 'keeper Andy Gruenebaum receiving his marching orders just before the break.

No new injuries to bemoan, though, while Sylvain Marveaux and Demba Ba both started and Mehdi Abeid was granted a five-minute cameo. There was more pitch time for Dan Gosling and James Tavernier, and Paul Dummett made his first-team debut from the bench. Jose Enrique filled the left-back role as usual - but, after Sunday's rant, for how much longer?

The Youngsters, Crims & Rejects' tour of the Netherlands came to a less satisfactory conclusion, with what on paper appears to have been an almost defenderless side going down 3-2 to Almere City. Wayne Routledge and James Perch both played the full 90 minutes, while Xisco lasted over an hour but couldn't make it onto the scoresheet. Our goals instead came from the Lone Ranger and Sammy Ameobi - thankfully this time there was no consequent pitch invasion...



Quote of the day

"After the Andy Carroll thing I am not going to use the word 'promise', it is a dangerous word. However, I am confident we will get a striker in."

A fascinating aside from Alan Pardew, talking before the Columbus Crew friendly about (we assume) Mevlut Erdinc. Has he had his fingers burned and learned his lesson, perhaps? That lesson being: never say never as long as Jabba's in charge. I can't imagine the statement will have gone down too well with the owner, hinting as it does that Pardew was lied to. There's a punitary precedent for those who speak out against Jabba's transfer decisions - a fine of two weeks' wages - and, as the person who had to dish it out to Jose Enrique, Pardew should be only too aware of it...

Labels: ,


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A fine mess

I wonder whether Jose Enrique regrets Sunday night's anti-Jabba Twitter rant, now that his paymaster has hit him with a fine of two weeks' wages (£100,000 to you and me)? Probably not - it'll just have hardened the Spaniard's resolve to escape from Tyneside. It would be interesting to know whether Wayne Routledge also got a ticking off for claiming his wantaway team-mate had "hit the nail on the head".

Having given Enrique a stern talking to, Alan Pardew pontificated on the dangers of Twitter in the manner of a sinister Thought Policeman: "I'm all for people expressing themselves - they just have to be very careful". If the club is trying to control the social networking activities of the players, then it's got its work cut out given the number of them who are now active on Twitter. It'd be a challenge to gag or muzzle ASBO, let alone any of the youngsters...

Meanwhile, the Sun also reheated the old news of an interest in Man City's Wayne Bridge as Enrique's replacement, and suggested that we fancy pairing someone with Good Touch For A Big Man with, er, Big Lad.

Labels: , , ,


Monday, July 25, 2011

Red Devil indeed?

First Arsenal, and now Man Utd. Could ASBO really have caught the eye of Taggart as well as Arsene Wenger? With Paul Scholes now retired, I suppose the Red Devils are lacking a box-to-box card magnet in central midfield. While ASBO's no stranger to being on wanted lists, it would be a novelty for him to be the cause of an unseemly scrap rather than one of the protagonists...

Meanwhile, it seems as though some good might actually come of our thus-far-disastrous US tour. The Sun reports that yesterday's opponents Orlando City are interested in Alan Smith. Whether Smith would be content to leave for a club that isn't even in the MLS is a moot point, but Jabba for one would be delighted to see the back of another of the strong-willed and influential senior pros while also lightening the wage bill load by a hefty £60,000 a week. I wonder if they're still keen after watching him in action at close quarters?

Desperation could also result in us waving goodbye to the Lone Ranger, though possibly only temporarily. With the Championship and Europa League campaigns soon to be upon his new club Birmingham, Chris Hughton is getting panicky about the size of the squad at his disposal and has apparently earmarked Ranger as the man to solve the specific striking crisis.

As far as incoming transfers are concerned, the Daily Heil is among those suggesting we're edging closer to a deal for Mevlut Erdinc. Less than a fortnight ago the Turkish striker's agent was claiming his client would be staying at PSG to fight for his place - but the determination of the French club's moneybags new owners to sign further forwards seems likely to force him out.

One target who looks destined to line up elsewhere is the Zog, for whom Villa have agreed a fee with Wigan. There have been hints that he might try to force his exit by going on strike. Now where have we heard that before?

Labels: , , ,


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Up in flames

Wondering what that burning smell is? That'd be Jose Enrique publicly torching his bridges with the club hierarchy. The Spaniard took to Twitter to echo the views of many fans, criticising the policy of letting star players like Rocky and Kevin Nolan leave and then not reinvesting the money in the team. There was also a slight against our clutch of French-born imports, none of whom he apparently deems "quality players".

If this was all a ploy to try to force Jabba's hand, then Enrique's a brave man - our owner has shown he isn't keen on being dictated to. That said, it would seem hard for him to remain at the club now.

Needless to say Enrique's Twitter account has now been deleted, the damage having been done, though at least one of his colleagues used the social networking site to spread a positive message. Congratulations to Danny Simpson, proud father of a newborn baby girl.

Labels: , ,


Plastic not fantastic

The second game of our tour of the US ended in a dismal 1-0 defeat to Orlando City notable largely for being played on a plastic pitch and for the inevitable injury, this time to Ryan Taylor. Fraser Forster and James Tavernier played the whole 90 minutes, while Dan Gosling continued his comeback, replaced on 71 minutes by Haris Vuckic, himself back from injury. Demba Ba and Mehdi Abeid both came on as substitutes, but Sylvain Marveaux didn't feature.

Better news from the Netherlands, though, where the Youngsters, Crims & Rejects squad fought back from a two-goal deficit to win against an FC Utrecht XI. ASBO and Ryan Donaldson were once again on the scoresheet, the other goal coming from midfielder Michael Richardson. While Mike Williamson made a surprise appearance (his wife due to give birth imminently), there was no sighting of Yohan Cabaye - hopefully not due to injury...



Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kansas City KO

So, two pre-season friendlies and two clean sheets, even though we couldn't actually score in yesterday's dull 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City. But once again the headline news is neither the result, nor the performance, nor the debuts for Sylvain Marveaux and Demba Ba - no, it's the injury sustained by Hatem Ben Arfa.

The Frenchman lasted 35 minutes, hitting the post from behind the goal-line at one point, before being stretchered off with an ankle injury that's since been deemed sufficiently severe as to rule him out of the rest of the tour and necessitate a return to Blighty. There's no indication yet as to the likely length of the lay-off, but, knowing our luck as we do, forgive us for fearing the worst.

Dan Gosling, like Ben Arfa pretty much a permacrock last season, also picked up an injury. It was to the face, though, and after extensive treatment early in the game he was able to continue until replaced by Danny Simpson shortly after the hour mark.

Meanwhile, over in the Netherlands the Youngsters, Crims & Rejects squad recorded a 2-2 draw with amateurs HVV Hollandia. ASBO scored early, as he did against Darlington, but went on to miss a penalty as the Dutch outfit came from behind to take the lead. Good of the Mirror's Simon Bird to remind ASBO of his mocking verdict on the USA v Brazil shoot-out in the Womens' World Cup... Thankfully Ryan Donaldson was on hand towards the end to spare our blushes. ASBO's fellow visa rejects Yohan Cabaye and the Lone Ranger both played a part, as did Xisco and Wayne Routledge, the latter probably not a Newcastle player for too much longer.

Labels: , ,


Access denied

Still puzzled by the visa situation with regard to ASBO, the Lone Ranger and Yohan Cabaye? Here's a native to explain all the ins and outs - and critique our amateurishness and naivety. "Moral turpitude" - now there's an expression that ASBO certainly won't understand...

(Thanks to Bob for the link.)

Labels: , , ,


Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Incredible. Not only were ASBO and the Lone Ranger denied visas for the US trip, but new signing Yohan Cabaye's was delayed so long that he was unable to go either. And what was his misdemeanour? GBH? Toting a replica gun? No, a dispute over a dental bill, apparently. You couldn't make it up.

As it is, Cabaye has headed off on the Reserves' tour of the Netherlands with his fellow first-team miscreants. Also not making the transatlantic trip are Danny Guthrie and Shane Ferguson, both crocked during Friday's farce at Darlington. Funny how Pardew has gone from claiming he needs to trim a few fringe players off the wage bill before buying to bemoaning the number of players at his disposal: "I wouldn’t say we’re on a knife-edge with injuries, but our squad isn’t particularly big"...

Labels: , , ,


Quote of the day

"In order to combat any possible trouble at future away fixtures, a new policy will be implemented by the club which will see ticket sales restricted to Season Ticket Holders and Members only. As such the buyer will be held accountable for any trouble associated with the purchase/use of a ticket."

The club responds to Friday's debacle with a stern statement and a hardline stance. An understandable reaction - but well done again to those few morons for making life more difficult for the ordinary, law-abiding, casual fan.



Forward thinking

New to the NUST site (and to our sidebar blogroll): a blog for discussing the hot topics around ownership, governance, finance, and the future of Newcastle Utd and the fans' part in it. With Jabba still in charge and the Rocky cash apparently leeching into the club generally rather than being reinvested in the team as promised, it could be lively...

Labels: ,


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ugly duckling still might be a Swan?

Confirmation from Brendan Rodgers yesterday that Swansea have upped their offer for Wayne Routledge. We paid around £2m for him, and presumably are keen to get our money back for a player who was a great asset in the Championship but who has flattered to deceive in the top flight. What happens next will be interesting: we want to sell and the Swans are desperate to buy, but might we allow the recent dispute over Neil Taylor to affect how receptive we are to their advances?

Meanwhile, it's been reported that Wigan have rejected Aston Villa's bid for the Zog despite loveable Dave Whelan declaring that the Frenchman will definitely be sold. One ex-Toon player who will be at Villa Park this coming season, though, is Shay Given, who has ended his unhappy spell at Man City by signing a five-year deal and replaces Spurs-bound pensioner Brad Friedel. Expect him to get a standing ovation when Villa visit St James' - assuming he's first choice, that is...

Labels: , ,


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Darlo dust-up

Our first friendly of the pre-season ended in a 2-0 victory over Darlington, with goals from captain-for-the-night ASBO and substitute Sammy Ameobi, but that only tells part of the story. The game has unfortunately hit the headlines for a pair of pitch invasions and a handful of ensuing violent confrontations involving members of the 6000-strong travelling contingent. Well done, lads (and lasses) - thought it was about time shame was brought on the club by the actions of the fans rather than of the players, did you?

As would be expected, the club (via Llambiarse) has strongly denounced the actions of the minority, whom police will attempt to identify with video evidence and prosecute. I suppose a punishment for the club remains a possibility too.

Alan Pardew noted that the initial pitch invasion took place following "a jovial kind of chant" - "If Sammy scores, we're on the pitch" - but that it soon turned nasty. He, John Carver and some of the players were forced into peacekeeping roles, shooing miscreants off the pitch and urging calm. On Twitter ASBO has refuted claims in the Daily Heil that fans confronted players.

All in all, hardly auspicious circumstances in which to make your Newcastle debut. Welcome to the Toon, Yohan Cabaye and Mehdi Abeid. Life's never dull around these parts...

Labels: ,


Football focus a problem for Jose

Speaking about the two great unknowns in the current squad, ASBO and Jose Enrique, Alan Pardew has underlined his frustration with the latter:

"Joey seems pretty focused on Newcastle whereas the noises coming out of Jose's camp are that he wants to get a new club playing Champions League football.

We cannot offer him that at the moment, so that seems to be his focus. Hopefully that will change. It is a moving feast. We have got to be ready because if he goes, it is going to leave a big hole in the team and we need to fill it quickly. But he does travel to the United States with us.

It is not ideal for us, as you can imagine. It is difficult. We have offered him a massive contract for this football club and he does not seem to want to sign it, so it is a very difficult position.

That alleged desire for Champions League football would presumably rule out a move to Liverpool, who were on his trail long before flogging off flop Paul Konchesky to Leicester. Arsenal, though, could give him what he wants and need to replace Gael Clichy.

Our own attempts to plug the left-back gap, should Enrique leave, have been hit with a setback, royally stymied by Neil Taylor's decision to sign an improved deal with Swansea. It's left us looking a little bit sheepish, our bullish assumption that we'd activated a release clause in his previous deal turning out to be misplaced. Never mind - we move on. Perhaps Burnley's Danny Fox might be a candidate, as recommended by Lloyd of The Two Unfortunates in yesterday's Football League scouting report?

Meanwhile, Pardew also confirmed there's a bid still on the table for a striker - Mevlut Erdinc, I think we can assume - though a reunion with Charles N'Somnia looks unlikely given that Aston Villa seem determined to capture the Frenchman as a replacement for Liverpool-bound ex-Smog Stewart Downing. Kazenga LuaLua appears to be on his way back to Brighton for another loan spell, this time in the Championship, while Pardew also confirmed that Wayne Routledge's future almost certainly lies away from St James' Park.

Finally, he sought to quash rumours of interest in Mr T from Chelsea. Their apparent ardour for our Ivory Coast star will have only been increased by news of the long-term injury to midfield powerhouse Michael Essien. Probably best to brace ourselves for a bid...

Labels: , , , , ,


Friday, July 15, 2011

View From The Away End: Football League scouting report

Thus far this summer all of our acquisitions - Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye, Sylvain Marveaux and Mehdi Abeid - have been recruited from the continent or the Premier League, while we've been closely linked with a whole host of other players from those origins. But our scouts' attention has also been caught by at least a couple of Championship stars, Swansea's Neil Taylor and Reading's Shane Long. So we thought we'd take the opportunity to ask Lanterne Rouge and Lloyd, founders of Football League blog The Two Unfortunates, about the pair, and about potential transfer targets in the Football League in general, in the style of their own recent Conversations With... posts.

* * * * *

Ben: Do you think Neil Taylor would be a worthwhile signing for us?

Lloyd: Taylor came from nowhere as far as I'm concerned, so I'm not best placed to answer that one!

Lanterne Rouge: I understand Taylor’s release clause is for just £1m which is small change in Premier League terms. He’s done well since taking the Principality’s southward leading roads from Wrexham a year ago but was sent off after less than a minute of their play-off trip to Nottingham Forest. One might argue that it’s a typical Pardew signing – picking a player to fit into a system and one who won’t break the bank if it doesn’t work out – file under Routledge, Best, Perch etc.

Ben: Well, that release clause was under dispute - and now it's emerged he's signed a new deal at the Swans... So what of Long? As a Royals supporter, what do you make of him?

Lanterne Rouge: The dispiritingly mediocre fortunes of previous Reading departees makes me nervous about giving a solid endorsement – Kevin Doyle has done reasonably well at Wolves but has hardly troubled the scoring charts at times, and yet he’s superior to Long as a player in most respects. Long’s strengths are a prodigious leap (possibly honed as a hurling player in his youth), a renewed confidence in front of goal and speed that will take him past most defenders at the lower level. Unfortunately, the presence of not a few hares among Premier League defences partially negates this last quality and I wouldn’t put money on him breaking into double figures should he sign for Magpies.

Lloyd: As a denizen of Reading, I've seen Long play on various occasions and I have to say that he's come along nicely over the past 18 months or so. Prior to that, I didn't think an awful lot of the Irishman, and unlike Lanterne Rouge was never particularly impressed with his pace or aerial ability. I wasn't quite sure what type of striker he was supposed to be; he didn't quite fit the criteria of a runner, a target man or a poacher. But following the sale of Kevin Doyle and the arrival of Brian McDermott, he's really improved and post-Matt Mills' departure has to be viewed as Reading's most prized asset given his age. He just gets into positions that force defenders into mistakes, and has a real eye for goal. I think his next move will be to a Premier League club (unless Leicester give up on Nicky Maynard, perhaps), but he's no Alan Shearer I'm afraid; rather a striker of modest talents who's had a good run of form in an adequate league.

Lanterne Rouge: A reason why I might be proved wrong is the vast improvement in attitude he has shown after a real dip in form under Brendan Rodgers’ stewardship. It seems that Brian McDermott thrust the proverbial ram round him and the result has been 18 months of giddy form. I would love to see him do well but see him as back-up for a club of Newcastle’s size. There is talk of Leon Best as a makeweight in the deal – Best probably has more skill than Long but is likely behind him in determination.

Ben: As our interest in Taylor and Long would suggest, we're in the market for a striker and a full-back. Anyone else in the Football League you could recommend as worth a peek?

Lloyd: There are a few decent players knocking around in those positions. Brighton's full-backs, Marcos Painter and Inigo Calderon, are destined for better things I feel, and a cautiously ambitious Premier League club could do worse than take a closer look at Burnley's Danny Fox, who was tipped for big things when he was at Coventry a few years back. Otherwise, I've heard that Ipswich have a good crop coming through, but I couldn't tell you anything in particular about individuals, although one player I do like is Yeovil's left-back Nathan Smith, whose athleticism and touch suggest a player who could hold his own a league up in the Championship at least.

Lanterne Rouge: Hard to disagree with the main thrust of Lloyd's comments although I would certainly be careful about dropping as low as League One in the hunt for players - Jermaine Beckford may have worked (kind of) but for every one of him, there's a Fabian Delph.

Lloyd: Forwards-wise, Danny Graham, Steve Morison, Grant Holt and Connor Wickham, some of the Football League's finest, will all be playing in the top flight in the year ahead. Jay Bothroyd is still available, I see, and I'll be gobsmacked if he doesn't line up in the Premier League alongside those contemporaries. [As it turns out, Lloyd definitely won't be gobsmacked - Bothroyd having signed for QPR yesterday.] Perhaps Newcastle have been in touch, who knows, but the aforementioned Maynard of Bristol City might be another worth tracking, although I personally feel he could do with another Championship season given that he's suffered injury problems in the past.

Ben: What about players who are much talked about, highly rated and on the face of it look to be tempting propositions but whom you would caution us against pursuing, for whatever reason?

Lanterne Rouge: One of the main aspects of the game that separates the Premier League from the lower echelons is pace, so old-fashioned centre-halves who look dominant in the Championship rarely pass muster when up against a van Persie or a Hernandez. Hence, the Forest back line of Luke Chambers and Wes Morgan are effective but neither should rate serious consideration by a Premier League club.

Ben: Your old boy Matt Mills might have been worth a punt, if he hadn't already been snaffled up by Leicester, as part of Sven's bid to rebuild his entire defence. Worth adding too that Roger Johnson and Scott Dann both stepped up from the Championship to become a much-admired and much-coveted partnership in the Premier League (in Birmingham's first season up, at least), so it can sometimes work.

Lanterne Rouge: And then of course there is the biggest enigma of all - Adel Taarabt. He was hands down the best player this past Football League season and some of his goals and flicks were jawdropping. But ... better than Jonas Gutierrez? I wouldn't necessarily say so. In a post on our blog earlier this year, Taarabt's Premier League credentials provoked heated debate in the comments section. I would love to see him do well - preferably at QPR - but he appears to have a very greedy agent and has the attention span of a goldfish. Not a correct fit for the Toon in my opinion.

Ben: And finally, why don’t more Premier League teams scour the Football League for players? Is it because they aren’t value for money compared with recruits from abroad? Or because the gulf in quality is too large for Football League players to be able to step up and immediately settle in? Or is there another reason?

Lanterne Rouge: It became clear to me in the two seasons that Reading were in the Premier League that players I had previously dismissed as a bit rubbish based on a TV viewing were actually more than half decent – Kieran Richardson, Stewart Downing, Manuel Almunia etc – and that the gulf is, sadly, just as big as the cliché-mongers make it out to be. Look how the likes of Fabricio Coloccini and Graham Dorrans suddenly looked like world-beaters against Scunthorpe and Barnsley. As a strong advocate for the joys of lower league, grass-roots football, I would argue that the standard at Championship level gets better all the time ... but it’s got a way to go to match the level above.

Ben: In fairness to Coloccini, he looked far better last season in his second spell in the Premier League. I generally agree with you, though - but it's interesting that a newly promoted club like Norwich, who know the Championship and League One well, seem to have focused on those divisions. Clearly they think the players they’ve bought can do a job in the top flight.

Lloyd: The signings of Graham, Morison and Holt, albeit the former two by newly promoted clubs, suggests that if anything Premier League sides are scouring the lower divisions and Norwich's strategy, whereby they're bringing in former League One players such as Anthony Pilkington and Elliott Bennett, is particularly encouraging. Rather than focus scouting networks overseas and worry about your new recruits struggling to adjust to a different way of life a la Robinho, perhaps some of the rising stars from the 72, who've often been released from top-flight clubs in the first place, are worth punting on instead? There are so many players across these divisions who are steadily improving their game under good managers before picking their next moves wisely, that aspiring European sides like Newcastle, who must compete with all manner of sides around them in the global transfer market, really should give the Paul Lambert approach some further thought should the Canaries manage to adapt to this, a second step-up in as many years.

Ben: Yes, that's the crux. There may be a lot riding on Norwich's success or failure this season - the steady flow of Premier League transfer fees into Football League coffers, for a start...

* * * * *

Thanks to Lanterne Rouge and Lloyd for their time.

Labels: ,


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cock a Hoop

Look who's managed to spawn himself another year's paid leave in a Premier League treatment room. Now 32, Kieron Dyer mustered a staggeringly poor 34 appearances in four years at West Ham, at a cost of over £175,000 each (not taking into account his sizeable wage packet). The Hammers can't say we didn't warn them. And now the Little Waster has scored another pay day, moving across London to newly promoted QPR.

Dyer had the audacity to claim: "I've got something to prove after the couple of years I've had, but I feel good and I'm really looking forward to playing my part next season." "The last couple of years"? Seriously?! He's hardly kicked a ball since the middle of the last decade. Meanwhile his new gaffer Colin Wanker declared: "I instantly liked him when we met. You get feelings like that as a manager." Just you wait, Colin - you might be regretting your decision when he demands that the team coach turns around so he can return to an away dressing room to collect a diamond earring...

Only a few days ago I commented about the Hoops keeping their transfer powder conspicuously dry, but in addition to Dyer they've just announced the signing of former Toon target Jay Bothroyd, also on a free. The journeyman striker is determined to add to his solitary England cap - and, with Demba Ba recently arrived at St James', he probably stands a better chance of doing that by getting regular football in west London.

Labels: ,


No go Joe

ASBO's past has returned to haunt him, with confirmation that he will not be allowed to take part in our pre-season US tour, after the Yanks denied him a visa.

Speaking on the subject, ASBO has shown admirable humility commenting: "I regret not being able to travel with the club on this trip, but at the same time, I don't expect to be treated any differently or more favourably than anyone else in a similar situation."

At least it makes a change from the usual "Don't you know who I am" mentality which a lot of players appear to suffer from.

Instead of travelling to the States, ASBO will now join the reserves on a pre-season tour of Holland. I can't be alone in appreciating that having being denied a visa to enter America due to his past misdemeanours, he's instead off to a country famed for its tolerance of activities most countries consider illegal.


It turns out ASBO isn't the only one of our players to be denied a working visa (although it is ironic that he was allowed in to the States for his recent summer holiday), with the Lone Ranger also barred from entering the US on account of his previous misdemeanours.

It's like a return to the days of Robson's brat pack, only with the added problem that we've organised a tour where half the players can't travel.  Seriously, which bright spark came up with this plan?

Anyway, both ASBO and Ranger will now join up with the reserve trip to Holland.

Labels: ,


Right to buy?

Our protracted pursuit of Swansea's Neil Taylor has taken a fresh turn, with the BBC reporting that he's asked a Premier League arbitration panel to sit in judgement on the case. The dispute centres on the interpretation of a clause in Taylor's contract - we believe our offer of £1m triggers his release, whereas the Swans are adamant that it only grants us permission to speak to the player.

While it's not clear how long the situation may take to resolve, and we seem determined not to increase our bid to something more palatable to Swans chairman Huw Jenkins, it's heartening to note that Taylor is clearly keen to force through a move to Tyneside. Rarely do clubs hang on to unsettled players against their will - better to have a dressing room in which everyone is pulling in the same direction, united for a common cause. Of course, the same applies to Jose Enrique, the man Taylor would be expected to replace...

As one drawn-out transfer wrangle looks like it might end in our favour, another doesn't, with Mevlut Erdinc's agent claiming the Turkish forward has decided to stay put at PSG.

Meanwhile, Nile Ranger may be on his way to Blackpool, either permanently or just on loan; West Brom are the latest side to be linked with a bid for Reading striker Shane Long; and we're among a clutch of clubs the Metro has credited with an interest in Arsenal lunk Nicklas Bendtner. I continually fail to see anything of merit in the Dane, so hope nothing comes of it...



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Routledge set to make Rodgers jolly?

Maybe that's the key to shifting our unwanted fringe squad players off the wage bill: post something about the fact that interest in them seems to have waned. No sooner had I written about Wayne Routledge being left in the shop window than the BBC report he's been the subject of a £1.5m bid from Brendan Rodgers' Swansea.

Routledge would be a perfect fit for the Swans' system, predicated as it is upon flying wingers with an eye for goal like Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer. And of course, as Paul has pointed out, he might prove to be the vital oil in the cogs of our protracted bid for the Welsh club's left-back Neil Taylor - indeed, given the players' respective values, a straight swap deal probably isn't out of the question.

Meanwhile a clutch of ex-Mags have been on the move: former Toon and Leeds teammates Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer have joined Stoke and Ipswich respectively (the latter reunited with Agent Chopra), while Steven Caldwell has signed for Chris Hughton's Birmingham. It's also been confirmed that we've missed out on Yohan Cabaye's ex-Lille colleague Gervinho, who's become Arsenal's first acquisition of the summer.

Labels: , ,


Monday, July 11, 2011

View From The Away End: A West Ham fan's perspective

Given that the summer has seen us exchange Demba Ba for Kevin Nolan and Fat Sam take up the reins at Upton Park, we thought we'd ask long-suffering Hammers fan Kenny for his take on events.

In recent years the fates of the two Uniteds that count (ie West Ham and Newcastle) have been fairly closely linked. With the Hammers' descent into the Championship that might have changed this summer, but transfer dealings and/or personnel switches between the two sides have conspired to create a curious synergy.

In the immediate aftermath of Avram Grant's departure the front-runner to be his successor was former Toon boss Chris Hughton, who briefly played for the Irons and had a track record of transforming an underachieving team into runaway leaders of the Championship and getting promotion back to the "promised land" of the Premiership at the first time of asking. His apparently meek demeanour towards his board at Newcastle would also have pointed to this being a good bet given Gold/Sullivan/Brady's seeming control-freakery.

And yet in the end the availability of another ex-Toon supremo Fat Sam Allardyce proved too big a temptation to resist. It wasn't the most popular decision initially amongst Hammers fans many of whom still cling to a notion of Upton Park being a theatre for a particular passing game never really associated with Allardyce's teams. But his pulling power in terms of bringing in Toon captain Kevin Nolan as a readymade replacement for the outgoing Scotty Parker, with the added value of better end product (ie goals season on season) and recent proven ability in our new division, will buy him time with the Boleyn Ground faithful.

Heading in the other direction, of course, is Demba Ba, who had a release clause in his contract in case of relegation, along with Thomas Hitzlsperger (the latter seemingly Villa-rebound). Ba proved he can score at Premier League level (seven goals since his transfer window arrival) but was only truly effective when playing upfront and centre, often drifting out of games when playing just off Carlton Cole. Played as a traditional Toon No.9 he will get you plenty of goals and no doubt become a cult hero, but of course WHUFC still got relegated with his goals on board, so a bit of a warning there about building your team around him alone. But on the whole I'm happier he's going to Newcastle than the usual vultures like Spurs and Everton, or teams local to myself (rather than the team) like Wolves, Villa or Albion.

Many Hammers fans still have fond regards for current Toon gaffer Alan Pardew and will be wishing him well in his latest assignment. His biggest strength at Upton Park was his shrewd moves in the transfer market, however, so I'm concerned for him if the majority of these dealings are being taken out of his hands.

There's still a lot of business to be done before the seasons start, but I foresee tough campaigns for both sides. Financial prudence often wins brownie points in the media, but once the games start both teams may rue releasing proven talent from their ranks. What both teams will need to meet their targets is everybody pulling together, from the board down to the fans, and for realism not to give way to complacency or defeatism. Add to that the usual requirement of huge dollops of good fortune and who knows, the fixture of West Ham v Newcastle may become a Premier League staple once more.

Amen to that, Kenny - and best wishes to the Hammers in their quest to bounce back at the first attempt.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Rout of favour

Amidst all the talk of comings and goings, one player who's been largely forgotten about is Wayne Routledge. The BBC reported on Thursday that new Forest boss Steve McLaren has expressed a firm interest, but personally I find it surprising that QPR didn't finalise a deal long ago.

Routledge was excellent for the Hoops while on loan there for the second half of the Championship season, and would hardly break the bank for a side not short of a few quid. Perhaps their lack of transfer activity generally is symptomatic of the continuing uncertainty over manager Colin Wanker's future - but whatever the situation at Loftus Road, it would certainly be a surprise to see the winger in action for us again.

Labels: ,


Friday, July 08, 2011

Sideshow the main man

According to the Chronicle, Sideshow Bob has been handed the captain's armband ahead of next season.

Undoubtedly one of our stand-out players last season, Sideshow Bob has improved massively from his early days with the club, when the physicality of the league looked to trouble him, and a season snuffing out Championship attacks (under the watchful eye of ex-defenders Hughton and Calderwood) clearly paid dividends.

Whether his appointment will help to convince Jose Enrique to stay looks doubtful, but it can't hurt.

Of the other candidates for the job, it seems to me that it was essentially a four horse race, with Steve Harper, ASBO and Steven Taylor the other names realistically in the frame. Of those, Harper looks to have a fight on his hands to stay in the side ahead of Krul and Forster, so is far from a certain starter next season. ASBO is too much of a loose cannon off the pitch (and in the last year of his contract) so that rules him out too. Given his criticisms of the board in recent weeks, and his Twitter comments on the Nolan transfer it was always doubtful that Jabba would sanction his appointment even if Pardew had wanted to give him the armband on a full-time basis.

That leaves Taylor, who got himself back in the team at the end of last season thanks to Mike Williamson's injury, and is now probably established as Sideshow Bob's first-choice partner, but as the second best centre-back at the club (at present) appointing him as captain would have made it awkward should Taylor lose a bit of form and Williamson perform well in training.

What will be interesting to see is who takes on the armband should Sideshow Bob be rested or injured. Will it go to one of the three mentioned above, or will Big Lad, Mr T or new boy Yohan Cabaye be entrusted with the role?

Labels: , , ,


Thursday, July 07, 2011

A Month Of Saturdays: June 2011

Zut alors! June was mostly spent saying "Bienvenue! Ca va?" to a succession of French-born imports. Forget Julio Geordio - his 2011 equivalent is Pierre le Geordie: "Haway les jeunes hommes, y'kna! Pour aller au marche de Bigg, s'il vous plait?"

First to officially sign up was Yohan Cabaye, who - oddly enough - had been sold on a move to Tyneside by compatriots David Rozenhal and Charles N'Somnia. His teammates Belgian winger Eden Hazard and sometime Toon target Gervinho may have grabbed the limelight, but Cabaye was Lille's midfield lynchpin as they secured an unlikely Ligue 1 title. Expect the French international to give us added stability, steel and drive through the middle, particularly away from home - and hopefully in tandem with Mr T.

Then, in the space of two days, came two acquisitions on free transfers: Demba Ba and Sylvain Marveaux. In his few months at Upton Park, Ba was unable to help haul West Ham out of the relegation zone and preserve their Premier League status, but it certainly wasn't for want of trying. Given that the mobile and powerful Senegalese striker caught the eye of a number of managers, our swoop was a smart piece of business - the wheels of the deal once again being oiled by a glowing recommendation from a player, this time Hatem Ben Arfa.

Marveaux, meanwhile, is more of an unknown quantity, though one whom Liverpool had already come very close to signing (if that's a guarantee of quality - and, looking at Paul Konchesky and Milan Jovanovic, I'm not sure it is...). While there remain concerns about his fitness following an injury-plagued final season for Rennes, it's to be hoped that Marveaux - a predominantly left-sided midfielder/forward - will bring guile, craft and pace to the attack.

And finally there was one for the future, Mehdi Abeid, an out-of-contract teenage midfielder recruited from Lens who broke the news long before the club. With the possibility that there may yet be further additions to our French foreign legion (including a reunion with the Zog), it's only a matter of time before snail pies are on the pre-match menu and the team runs out not to 'Local Hero' or the very-nearly-150-year-old 'Blaydon Races' but 'La Marseillaise'...

All this isn't to suggest that June was an unmitigated triumph as regards transfers. We were frustrated in our bid for Swansea's Neil Taylor, for instance, while our interest in PSG's Turkish forward Mevlut Erdinc never seemed to take concrete form and not one but two alleged targets wound up at 5under1and, Craig Gardner following former Brum colleague Sebastian Larsson up to the Dark Place.

But without a doubt the most talked-about move was outgoing: the controversial sale of Kevin Nolan to West Ham. Both Paul and I were provoked into posting reactions to the deal, which was indicative of several things: Jabba's refusal to be dictated to or held to ransom over salaries or contract lengths; his determination to assert his authority over a key member of the "players' committee" that had rallied the troops following the Leyton Orient friendly defeat and that had questioned the sacking of Chris Hughton; Alan Pardew's relative powerlessness; the fact that ultimately every player has a price and is dispensible. There was however cautionary advice from the BBC's Robert Peston, though, who - analysing the results of Deloitte's investigation into football finance for the 2009/10 season - effectively argued that a Jabbaesque policy of shipping out high wage earners and replacing them on the cheap is likely to meet with failure. Basically, you have to speculate to accumulate, as the saying goes.

Not only did Nolan's unceremonious ejection deprive us of our captain and top goalscorer (from midfield, crucially), but it also threatened to destabilise and tear apart the remaining squad. Hot-headed as ever, ASBO was unable to restrain himself, blurting out his disgust and disappointment on Twitter and suggesting that he, Jose Enrique and Spidermag would be next out of the door, only to subsequently backtrack with some hollow platitudes. No doubt he was cheered by being linked with Arsenal. (Though perhaps not as much as by being granted a personal audience with Morrissey at Glastonbury - we missed a trick with an ironic headline of "This charming man", didn't we?) Meanwhile it was reported that fringe members of the squad have been made available - Leon Best, Alan Smith and also Nile Ranger, with whom it seems patience may finally have run too thin.

Nolan's new manager at West Ham is actually his old one, Fat Sam having blagged the gig in the wake of Avram Grant's departure, and there'll be another reunion when the Hammers play fellow relegees Birmingham, who've named Chris Hughton as Alex McLeish's successor. Bucking the trend of former Toon managers scoring themselves new jobs were Wor Al, interviewed but overlooked by Cardiff, and his one-time nemesis Ruud Gullit, sacked by Chechen club Terek Grozny for allegedly being more preoccupied with extracurricular leisure activities than trying to reverse his side's ailing fortunes. Elsewhere Shearer's erstwhile strike partner for club and country, Little Saint Mick, took logic to new levels of complexity by signing up for another year on the Old Trafford bench just days after whining about the unfairness of his continued exclusion from the England squad, and Agent Chopra left Cardiff for Ipswich. As with the new men in charge at Upton Park and St Andrews, we wish one of them well...

Finally, in the month which saw the publication of the fixture list - our campaign opening with the visit of Arsenal followed by a trip to Mordor - there was another fixture of personal significance. Thanks to Paul for the write-up (though he neglected to mention the Brown Ale bottles used as vases...), and to Jen for indulging my persistent need to pontificate at length on all things black and white round these parts.



Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The true cost of free transfers

So, according to Llambiarse, there's no such thing as a free transfer: "We have acted early and we have got the players we wanted, but none of them have been cheap. We have paid good prices for them. They certainly weren’t free transfers, there are fees and wages to consider". OK, but haven't we lightened the wage bill by shipping out Rocky and Kevin Nolan too? If you're going to take account of the wages of incoming players, Del Boy, then you need to do likewise for those who've left - which means we should have had more than the £39m in combined transfer fees to play with.

Speaking to the Torygraph, Llambiarse reiterated the point that "not a single penny of the £35 million has left the club and neither will it" - which, of course, isn't the same as saying every penny will be spent on reinvestment in the squad, as Alan Pardew was promised. Llambiarse also suggested that the hierarchy are keen to hold back some funds in reserve: "If we spent all the money on players this summer, what are we going to do in January if we need to bring somebody else in? We are using the money sensibly". Fine in principle - but what's in question is the exact amount being held back...

Pardew, for his part, now appears to be singing from the same hymn sheet as the MD: "When you sign someone like Demba Ba and Marveaux there are huge fees in there. Lots of money in those deals doesn’t come back into the system. It goes out through agents. We have spent a fair amount on those players, more than fans realise. If you add up the money and think we have not spent the 35 million you will be way off. I have to mark the cards of the fans on that one". It's never entirely clear with Pardew whether he backtracks because he's just been spouting off fan-pacifying guff he knew was untrue at the time, or because he did genuinely believe it, has discovered he's been misled by Jabba and Llambiarse and is now having to toe the party line. Answers on a postcard.

Labels: ,


Preferred striker prefers Paris?

Another day and the future of transfer target Mevlut Erdinc may be edging towards resolution. Local journo Luke Edwards - now writing for the Torygraph, it seems - reports that we've now firmed up our interest in the PSG striker with a £7m bid. According to Edwards, its success hinges on the viewpoint taken by the French club's incoming sporting director Leonardo.

But even if PSG and Leonardo decide they're prepared to let Erding go, the player himself might well prefer to stay in the French capital. Sky Sports have quoted the Turk as saying he's unfazed by the competition for places which has increased with the acquisition of Kevin Gameiro from Lorient.

Meanwhile, should Mr T be sold this summer, you wonder whether Alan Pardew's search for a replacement will reduce him to trawling through YouTube footage. Owen Hargreaves was a great player - past tense - and his dodgy knees would make him even more of an expensive liability than his former Old Trafford teammate Little Saint Mick. £17m in transfer fee and a whole lot more in wages - it must be nice to be able to shrug off that kind of loss without wincing.



Hughton already suffering from the Blues

Spare a thought for poor old Chris Hughton. No sooner has he got his feet under the table at Birmingham than his new club's president is up on money laundering charges. Add to this the fact that his best midfielder has been flogged to the Mackems, a host of experienced pros have already packed their bags and a whole load more are expected to depart before the season kicks off, and Hughton - who reportedly wants former Toon accomplice and current Hibs manager Colin Calderwood to help him out at St Andrews - will probably be fondly reminiscing about the summer of 2009 on Tyneside as a time of calm and stability...

Another old boy embarking upon a stern managerial challenge is wonky-nosed former German international midfielder Dietmar Hamann, newly installed as boss of Stockport County. Hamann's appointment, by the new consortium that's taken charge of the club, smacks of an attempt to excite fans dismayed and disillusioned by two successive relegations and chronic mismanagement. Deposed manager Ray Mathias has been harshly treated, and the move may yet come back to haunt the Hatters.

Labels: ,


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Quote of the day

"We all know that's political and not professional".

ASBO continues to presume that making egotistical allegations of prejudice and discrimination with regard to his exclusion from the England squad is a sure-fire way to force himself into Fabio Capello's thoughts.

And this after ASBO had ridiculed the suggestion that former Toon captain Scott Parker might have been more deserving of the Football Writers' Association Player Of The Year award: "He's not in my league ... FACT he s [sic] actually in the championship ... Did I not dismantle him twice, think it was 2-1 at their place, 5-0 at ours!! And they were easily relegated #justsaying" Perhaps spending time with Moz at Glasto has had an effect and now he's back to being the ringleader of the tormentors?

Once again, ASBO's Twitter feed has proven grist to journalists' mills. Someone muzzle him - and quick.

On a related note, Alan Pardew - speaking on BBC Radio Newcastle on Monday - hinted that ASBO might yet see out the final year of his contract on Tyneside, though seemed markedly less confident of retaining Jose Enrique (particularly in view of the fact that, with the sale of Gael Clichy to Man City, Arsenal have now joined Liverpool in the hunt for a new left-back).

Labels: ,


Bonjour, qu'est-ce que vous avez fait pendant les vacances?

Monday saw the squad back in training after the summer break, with our burgeoning French contingent swelled by Mehdi Abeid, whose arrival from Lens on a free transfer was finally confirmed by the club on Friday, weeks after the player himself announced the deal. Good to know that our new recruits will all (hopefully) have a full pre-season - as will Hatem Ben Arfa and Dan Gosling.

Labels: ,