Monday, July 16, 2007

Putting a brave face on it

Today's news is obviously dominated by this story, casting a big black cloud over the club, but let's see if we can't introduce a few rays of sunshine.

Well, James Milner's signed a new four year contract. A new deal on improved terms was his just desserts after a season during which he was our best and most consistent performer, but I do wonder whether he'll be such a fixture on the right hand flank this coming season if vying for the position with Geremi and Nobby Solano.

What else? Michael Owen has pledged his future to the club, though he's done so in not particularly enthusiastic terms - "I believe that these can be good times to be at Newcastle, which is why I am more than happy to be here" - and it remains to be seen whether his declaration was prompted by Fat Sam's word in his ear earlier in the summer or by the fact that no serious offers have been forthcoming since.

More good news? Well, the prospect of us signing Nice defender Rod Fanni is, for Paul and myself at least. No more scrabbling around in search of punsome headlines. Now all we need is for Fat Sam to get in there with a firm bid.

That's about where the positive news ends, though, unfortunately.

The Obafemi-Martins-to-Arsenal rumours resurfaced at the weekend, while I'm not exactly thrilled at the fact that Allardyce is sniffing around Fulham's ex-Smoggie whinger Frank Queudrue (not least because of the abysmal record of French players on Tyneside).

Argentinian midfielder and Beckham-knacker Aldo Duscher, available on a free from Deportivo La Coruna, won't be pulling on a black and white jersey this coming season, having come on trial and then been promptly told to do one for not being fit enough. Duscher's compatriot Gabriel Heinze, desperate to leave Man Utd because Taggart seems to rate Mikael Silvestre and Wes Brown more highly, is equally unlikely to pitch up at St James's despite our rumoured interest - are we really likely to outmuscle Real Madrid, Juventus and Liverpool?

Still, it's far from the most fanciful rumour doing the rounds over the past couple of days, the News of the World claiming yesterday that we'd enquired about Ronaldinho only to be told he'd cost us £58m...

And finally, for an insider's perspective on the rigours and madnesses of pre-season preparations, have a read of this post by former Toon, West Brom and Charlton striker Andy Hunt.


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