Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Big Lad, hot streak
As for the match, it was a relatively uneventful affair which we generally dominated and could have won by more, though Rob Elliot did have to tip a Craig Cathcart header onto the bar and in-demand manager's son Tom Ince was a continual threat. Agent Chopra, now a Tangerine following his departure from Ipswich, offered little.
Strangely enough, it's hard to get excited about a 1-0 win over lacklustre Championship opposition when our first Premier League opponents are Man City, deposed champions who've spent the best part of £100m in the close season. What chance us actually spending anything at all before the big kick-off?
Quote of the day
Fine words from Lee Marshall, the club's PR and supporter liaison manager, but only time will tell whether this newly revamped forum will genuinely give fans a voice - and, of course, whether the notoriously cloth-eared Jabba will be prepared to listen.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Another loan leaver
Meanwhile, one youngster who looks set to leave on a permanent basis is Brad Inman. Having performed well on loan to Crewe last season as they won the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, the Aussie midfielder has rejected his parent club's offer of a new deal and now appears to be on the verge of signing for the Railwaymen. Already in the employ of a new club is striker JJ Hooper, who has signed a deal with Northampton following his release by Newcastle.
Named and shamed
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Cisse makes peace as Welby declares war
As for Wonga, they've hit the headlines again today with the news that the Archbishop of Canterbury has announced his intention to force them out of business by expanding existing credit unions, plans which have now received the backing of Business Secretary Vince Cable. Would Cisse have a problem with wearing a Church of England-branded shirt, I wonder?
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Sideshow Bob at full throttle
Caetano had opened the scoring in the 15th minute, with Big Lad grabbing our equaliser, and that's how it finished, though things could have been different. Haris Vuckic was at the heart of the action, first heading against a post and then clearing a Pacos effort off the line late on. His manager's claim that "we were far better than them" was infused with increasingly characteristic exaggeration, but it was nevertheless a much-improved performance against a side who will be competing in the Champions League this coming season.
Quote of the day
Newcastle city councillor and Muslim Dipu Ahad on the revelations that Papiss Cisse is "an occasional visitor" at Aspers Casino, where Jabba infamously lost £1m in an evening. Like Ahad, I've been defending Cisse's stance with regard to the Wonga-branded shirts as a matter of principle for some time now (though also querying why he didn't have a similar problem with Virgin Money), and have been inclined to be dismissive of persistent suggestions that his behaviour was cynically motivated by a desire to engineer an improved contract. Now that his nocturnal activities have come to light, I'm afraid those suggestions look to have a lot more weight.
Brum deal done for Shane
Elsewhere in the Championship, following the fortunes of QPR this season as a non-fan may just have become even more entertaining. ASBO is still on the club's books, with another loan spell at Marseille yet to be resolved, and so 'Appy 'Arry signing of Karl Henry on a free transfer from Wolves may just spice things up nicely. The pair really aren't very fond of each other at all. Expect reports of a training ground bust-up any day now...
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Mackem Mick won't play second fiddle to JFK
Announcing his decision, Harford said: "It was an honour to be asked to work at a fantastic club." However, the fact that he's a friend and former colleague of JFK and yet still turned down the offer of becoming his deputy in favour of the assistant manager's job at perennial Championship strugglers Millwall speaks volumes about how attractive a proposition we are at the present moment - to players and backroom staff alike.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Ave oh dear
Quote of the day
The Winnipeg Free Press back in 1949, during the club's tour of the US and Canada. How times have changed, eh?
Here's When Saturday Comes' Paul Brown (via the Guardian) to recount the eventful jaunt, during which we won all ten of our friendly fixtures. A certain Mr Milburn scored in them all, racking up 31 goals in 31 days.
Saturday, July 20, 2013
Mystery man unmasked
We know, for instance, that he's "a brilliant boss" because he's more than happy to strip down to his undercrackers to the strains of Tom Jones and gyrate around at parties in Chinese restaurants. I wonder if King Kev or ASBO - who once memorably described him as a "cretin" and "the Ayatollah" - would agree.
We know that, when it comes to rival businesses, he has no mercy: "Mike’s ruthlessness is just unbelievable. He set out to destroy his rivals in the 1990s and 2000s, and now look at them. They’re all but finished. The competition is destroyed. There’s no question: if you get on the wrong side of him, he’s not a very nice man." Acting as a wrecking ball for JJB was easy - just whistleblow on their attempts to fix prices of replica football shirts. Hence the continued antipathy between Jabba and Delusional Dave Whelan.
We know that he has a sense of humour - even if that often manifests itself as at the expense of those who line his pockets by filling St James' Park week in week out, chuckling at the abusive chants of fans protesting about any of the numerous unfathomable decisions he's taken during his tenure. (As an aside, I'm not sure where the claim of anti-Semitic abuse against him comes from - certainly it's not something I've heard or seen reported anywhere else.)
We know (at least according to someone "familiar with the negotiations") that his intention in buying the club was to flog it off almost immediately for a hefty profit. "But the deal never came off. And what do you call a deal that goes wrong? An investment. Newcastle’s become a very costly investment for Mike meant to make a quick buck but didn't work out."
And we know why he's sticking around - according to the same source, "He will never sell that club at a loss. It’s just not in his make-up". Biding his time, then.
But what we still don't know is what really makes him tick. What makes him feel compelled to lob a spanner in the works just as soon as the machine finally seems to be functioning to full capacity and efficiency again? Perhaps we'll never know.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Time to Ciss and make up
The Toon party has flown out for friendlies with Rio Ave (Saturday) and Pacos de Ferreira (Tuesday), off the back of a 4-2 victory at Motherwell in our opening pre-season fixture on Tuesday evening. It may have been a very young and scratch squad that triumphed over the SPL runners-up, but three senior players - Goofy, Moussa Sissoko and Sylvain Marveaux - weighed in with goals while Haris Vuckic, finally back to fitness, opened the scoring.
Quote of the day
The Silver Fox seems to be in much the same boat as us, then - hoping and praying that signings come soon, rather than confident deals will materialise. Needless to say, that's just not good enough - a fact only underlined by the fact that down the road 5under1and are busy snapping up anything that moves.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Welcome to Hull, Harps
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Big Lad back in the frame
The key to his return appears to have been the removal of a clause in his Newcastle contract preventing him from competing in the Africa Cup of Nations. The fact that we've consented to this would suggest that we're no longer so bothered about him being available for selection by the Silver Fox - an indication that the much-needed striking replacement for Demba Ba is on the way, or just that Big Lad is deemed too old or too inconsistent to be of much use? We'll see, but perhaps it's both.
Update 1: Commenter Paul has suggested that in fact any such clause would be virtually meaningless, as it would be in contravention of the FIFA regulations - so a third possibility is that the Nigerian FA have gently reminded the club of this and it's been dropped.
Update 2: Since the last update, another commenter suggested that the mooted "clause" was actually simply an informal agreement - something borne out by Big Lad's latest comments. So a case of something getting twisted in translation, then. Still, regardless of the semantics and intricacies, it remains interesting that the club has now decided to no longer stand in his way.
Closure - at last
Thursday, July 11, 2013
A Month Of Saturdays: June 2013
The re-employment of JFK was an extraordinary move and a cruel joke even by Jabba's exceptionally high standards. Our first reaction was to check the date - nope, 1st April had long gone - and then to cling to the hope that the club's silence on the matter was telling and that JFK would follow up the revelation by claiming that the Premier League is secretly run by lizards. Incredibly, though, what had seemed like the ravings of a delusional old duffer were eventually substantiated by the club, who confirmed that he had indeed been appointed director of football. While sides split the length and breadth of the country (and beyond), we were left to wonder whether Jabba had been following events down the road with interest and decided that having our own egomaniacal lunatic buffoon in residence would be the best way forward.
JFK kicked off his first spell on Tyneside with that infamous inflammatory press conference - not a charm offensive, just an outright offensive - but this time around his media strategy appeared to be different. Rather than bombarding hacks with more four-letter words than a Quentin Tarantino movie, he instead opted to bamboozle them with a barrage of lies and baseless self-aggrandisement like someone outrageously embellishing their CV. He exaggerated the length of his managerial tenures at other clubs, he insisted he has the ear of every big-name manager around, he claimed credit for the signing of Tim Krul. Every day seemed to bring new nonsense, and the press pack was left astonished by such brazen bollocks.
If Jabba's decision to bring JFK back was aimed at stirring things up, then it was soon fully vindicated. The mulleted fuckwit swung into St James' Park with all the subtlety of a wrecking ball. Within two days he'd upset a whole host of players by mispronouncing their names or, in the case of Little Big Lad, confusing them with their much older siblings, and Llambiarse had quit, apparently hastily and in disgust. As the sobriquet he earned indicates, we were often critical of our outgoing managing director's words and actions but nevertheless remain appreciative of some of the work that he accomplished behind the scenes, and it was telling that Jabba seemed to have no compunction in infuriating and then waving goodbye to his erstwhile trusted and loyal deputy. Speculation inevitably followed about the futures of Graham Carr and the Silver Fox - now the second-longest-serving manager in the Premier League, but for how much longer? - but the former appeared to want to stay (and to think we had him down as a man of astute judgement).
Alan Shearer, treated with criminal disrespect following our relegation in 2009, voiced his disbelief at JFK's return in the press and immediately suffered the indignity of being mocked by the subject of his criticism and having the bar bearing his name rebranded without any consultation whatsoever. A minor news story, perhaps, but it nevertheless demonstrated Jabba once again showing scant regard for history and sentimentality, instead ruthlessly exerting his authority.
Even before the news of JFK's improbable return had broken, Dreamboat sounded dissatisfied and unsettled, hopeful that his agents would be busy engineering him a move away from Tyneside (perhaps either to Man Utd or newly promoted Ligue 1 Flash Harrys Monaco). You suspect he can't now get away fast enough - just as Sideshow Bob is no doubt kicking himself for committing to the club for another season just before all the upheaval, despite having a clear yearning to go back to his native Argentina with San Lorenzo. Papiss Cisse and Mr T were also reported to be disgruntled, though for them the cause wasn't so much mooted big-money moves or JFK's mangling of their names as the fact that, as practising Muslims, they're uncomfortable with having to wear the new Wonga-branded shirt. (That decision was another one of Jabba's pokes of the wasps' nest, and sadly not one likely to be reversed, despite the fact that a clear precedent now exists.)
While we'd part with any of that quartet with a heavy heart, the same can't be said of Dan Gosling, Mehdi Abeid or Romain Amalfitano, all of whom arrived with high hopes and yet whose impact has been negligible at best. A BBC article in June revealed how shockingly few homegrown youngsters are coming through the system and getting first-team opportunities in the Premier League, but in truth they still need to be good enough and on the evidence we've seen Abeid and Amalfitano certainly aren't.
So much for potential outgoings - what about players coming through the gates that were, it turns out, neither legendary nor iconic? Talk of ex-Mackem Darren Bent and central defender Douglas persisted, other names reportedly in the frame were Derby's Will Hughes and Reading's Alex Pearce, and clubs published their released lists which, rather like the reduced section in the supermarket, seemed to offer a broad range of rotten fruit and veg and a few expensive luxury items that were well past their sell-by date - slim pickings, in other words.
But, despite JFK's claims of his international connections and eye for a player, no new additions of any kind were forthcoming. Instead we had to face up to the fact that we were inching ever closer towards the new season and a lovely opening-day obliteration at deposed champions Man City with the squad unimproved, the manager undermined and the director of football doing nothing but wreaking havoc and spinning yawnsome yarns about his talents. If this is all part of your masterplan, Jabba, then you're one hell of a strategist.
Labels: a month of saturdays
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
The manager bites back
Much of his energy was, predictably, directed at vigorously defending his own apparently precarious status and position amidst the shake-up: "I'm my own man and I will manage this football club to the best of my ability". (Some would suggest that "the best of my ability" doesn't really amount to an awful lot, but I'll let that go.)
However, he also took the opportunity to take a couple of nicely subtle swipes at the man Jabba's brought in for him to report to. The first was evidence of his disgruntlement at the way his players have had their names mangled: "Some of the things Joe said, he's apologised for, especially getting the names wrong of our players. That needs to be corrected, because there's a certain respect needed there". Consider your wrist slapped, JFK.
The second jibe was buried within the Silver Fox's attempt to rationalise the departure of Derek Llambias: "Mike feels Joe probably knows the scene better than Derek. That might be Mike's opinion, but as far as I'm concerned the most important factor for Joe is transfers". In other words, and by implication, Jabba's opinion that JFK is an upgrade on Llambiarse is wrong. I don't doubt it.
The Silver Fox also struggled to communicate exactly how the new off-pitch structure will operate in practice. Certainly it seems somewhat convoluted, with individual roles somewhat ill-defined and a very real danger of too many cooks spoiling the broth - not least when one of said cooks is JFK. How long before the Silver Fox does a Keegan, driven out by what he perceives to be unwelcome and unwarranted meddling and interference?
First there was the news that Mr T is set to declare "I ain't no fraudster, fool" and contest the five charges against him for driving-related offences. The trial is set for October, by which time he may no longer be a Toon player - certainly his star has fallen considerably with us and I suspect we'd be more inclined to cash in if a reasonable bid was to be received.
And then there was confirmation that the Lone Ranger will be facing a rape charge. Yet more reason (should it have been needed) to be relieved we finally washed our hands of him back in March.
However, there's still no sign of any new additions to the first-team squad, as we get used to our default role as impotent mute bystanders while our targets - most recently Arouna Kone - move elsewhere. After the complacency of last summer, things need to start happening soon.
A sign of the times
Sunday, July 07, 2013
Quote of the day
Demba Ba talks about observing Ramadan as part of an article on the growing number of Muslims in the Premier League. I wonder whether by "manager" he's referring to the Silver Fox here - after all, questions were raised about the Senegalese striker's fitness level and performances early in his time on Tyneside, and whether his fasting may have been the cause.
While much effort has been made in recent years to ensure that players from different countries and cultures feel comfortable and at home at the club, it's overstating the case somewhat to suggest that the presence of Papiss Cisse and Mr T (and, until January, Ba too) at St James' Park is indicative of a sensitive and inclusive attitude to Muslims at Newcastle - or of a seachange in the Premier League more generally, for that matter. There was nothing about the club's decision to eagerly accept sponsorship from Wonga that suggested any shred of consideration for the club's Muslim players, for instance...
Thursday, July 04, 2013
In stepping down to the Championship, Perchinho has followed in the footsteps of Danny Simpson, who - as had been expected - has opted to sign up and become part of 'Appy 'Arry's attempt to get QPR back into the top flight at the first time of asking. The player stats suggested was the best right-back in the Premier League as recently as April last year now finds himself in the capital, with all the temptations and distractions that holds for someone who didn't always keep his nose clean while in our employ. We'll watch with interest how 'Appy 'Arry's attempts to change the culture of unprofessionalism at the Hoops pans out...
Kem comes to Toon
Kemen should fit in just fine - judging by the photo accompanying the story on .com (admittedly not completely up-to-date), he's already sporting the apparently regulation bouffant mohican favoured by Mr T, Master T and Little Big Lad...
Super Eagle flies the nest
One of the potential beneficiaries of Big Lad's disappearance from the international frame (perhaps under pressure from his employers, you imagine) might be a certain Obafemi Martins, now plying his trade for the Seattle Sounders. The way things are looking, we'd be delighted to have the erratic but occasionally astoundingly brilliant marksman back in black and white...