Good morning, Toon Army. I disagree with a fellow blogger twice after the jump. Still respect you, Ed...
The first thing my wife, a medical professional, would notice about this picture is Robbie Keane's external jugular. I can't help but think of how nice he would look in black and white stripes. Photo credit unknown
According to this tweet by George Caulkin of The Times, Hatem Ben Arfa has agreed in principle to deal that will make his loan stay at Newcastle permanent. No corroboration that I can see yet, so stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE: MirrorFootball also reports the story. I'm at late Christmas with the in-laws where cell phone signal is very weak, so I can't open the story, but the headline says he will sign. Hat-tip to @VanCanToonFan for the link.
Good morning, Toon Army. Steven Taylor isn't going anywhere for five and half years, which is awesome. I'm a little more worried about today, though. Let's hope he can help contain van der Vaart and Bale. Again, we'll have a combination of previews and news today.
Rafael van der Vaart celebrates one of the two goals that he scored against Aston Villa on Sunday. Getty Images
Off this loss to Citeh (which we will review later in the week along with this game at Spurs), the Magpies are headed to White Hart Lane to take on the Lilywhites. I think we're in much the same situation we were coming into the Citeh game; Spurs are top side with a dangerous offense, and we'll have to play a good game to come out on top.
We have a few Halfway Point features planned, and today is supposed to represent that milestone. However, since: (A) Only 5 of the 20 teams have played all 19 of their matches, and (B) We have another match tomorrow, we will start posting these on Wednesday. HTL!
So it's Christmas, and you're on this blog. There are no judgments here. In fact, thanks for being so dedicated. In lieu of links today I'll pose a couple of questions (inspired by EPLTalk and MirrorFootball) to you for discussion:
1. If you could get rid of one Newcastle United player, who would it be?
2. Who do you want Alan Pardew to go and get during the transfer window? If you want, you can name a dream choice and a realistic choice.
3. As long as we're dealing with hypotheticals, here's another one: If you could only protect 5 players on the team, who would you choose?
Happy Christmas all, tomorrow the lads the will have the first rematch of the season against the billion dollar boys of Manchester Citeh. I shouldn't have to remind anyone what happened the last time these clubs clashed, but I will for the shameless sake of word count. Last time we met Citeh, Nigel De Jong dejonged (it's a verb, I made it up) Hatem ben Arfa to the tune of a double fracture in the left leg. The fallout saw Nigel De Jong chastised justly by the FA and chased out of the EPL. Wait, that's not right, that was my "perfect world" dream. At least he won't be playing for the Dutch anymore... Though HBA is recovering at a blistering pace, said to be possibly returning as early as February, he will obviously not be present for this match in St James' Park. De Jong will be there however, watch your lower legs lads.
Good morning, Toon Army. It's December 20, which can only mean one thing: All of our players are for sale - at least if you believe everything you read. Put on your critical thinking cap and follow the jump for the details.
The Angel of the North - Free of flying scarves, as it should be. (Don't get it? Click here) Photo credit unknown
If you're looking for news about what happened in today's match against Birmingham City today, you won't find it here...or anywhere else. The match was postponed due to weather, and no makeup date has been announced yet. We're taking the day off as well. Have a great Sunday!
Don't forget to check out our own preview. RKW predicts a 1-0 win and I'll go with a 1-1 draw.
Paul Doyle, The Guardian - A combo of staunch defense from the home side and Newcastle's lack of scoring on the road has him thinking draw. His selection projection mirrors my ideal lineup for this game.
Toonsy, nufcblog.org - Worries over defensive selection and lobbies for Coloccini and Taylor in the middle. Predicts a draw.
Good morning, Toon Army. Hypothetical question: If the Magpies win on Saturday, will you believe in Alan Pardew? If not, how many wins in a row would it take? 3? 5? 10? Something to ponder as you go through the links today.
Could this man be the difference maker on Saturday? Photograph: Joe Giddens/Empics Sport
Last week it was a big win against The Reds; this week it's an important away tie against The Blues. This Birmingham side has been, if I'm honest, lucky to find themselves out of the relegation zone, if only just. So NUFC should be looking to poach an away win here, but I doubt BCFC will go quietly, even if all they can seem to do is force 0-0 draws.
The number one thing that I take away from Saturday's game is that it looks like, at least for now, that the players are still willing to play. Even if they all dedicated the game to Chris Hughton, as Joey Barton did with his MOTM award, this win bodes very well for the reign of Alan Pardew. Let's get right into it after the jump.
Even Tim Krul had to come forward after that howitzer. via Telegraph.co.uk
Neither one of us were able to watch the game live today, unfortunately. We are on media blackout until they replay the match on foxsoccer.tv. This post is scheduled to go up about when the game should be over, and of course the questions are pretty generic. I'll update it later tonight.
Feel free to treat this as your conversation starter. We want you to be as much a part of this blog as we are, especially as we make some changes as we head toward the new year.
How was Pardew's first game? What did you notice that was different?
Were the protests noticeable and effective?
Were you happy with the selection and substitutions?
Alan Pardew will have his work cut out in his first match as Newcastle Manager as a Liverpool side under new ownership comes to Toon. There is much talk of a sit out style protest at St. James' park this Saturday, and while we support any burrs in the side of Mike Ashley we can't help but wonder how the lads we actually care about will take it. I think they realize that the ire of the Toon Army is focused on one man and one man alone.
As for the rest, we've had our time to rant and rave, to say farewell to a man we all grew to respect, really, to mourn his loss. I think Saturday is the time to get back behind what we really care about. After all, let's remember, we don't care about Ashley, we don't care about me, all we care about is NUFC. Let's not forget that we still have a relegation zone to avoid and whether we like the decision to change managers or not, we still have a job to do as fans, and that's cheer on the lads.
It's looking pretty firm that Alan Pardew will take over for the exiled Chris Hughton. This entire situation is disgusting from top to bottom. Starting with a BBC report that Pardew was talking to the club as early as ten days ago. As if the Hughton sacking wasn't a big enough travesty against the Toon faithful, Pardew is the candidate that was claiming less that 5% of the vote in most polls. Follow us past the jump and let's try to figure out what this means for what we actually care about. After all, we don't care about Ashley, we don't care about Pardew, we don't care about me, all we care about is NUFC.
Yes Alan, there is a bad taste in our mouths as well via fourfourtwo.com
Good morning, Toon Army. I have to admit that for a good portion of the day I stayed away from news about Chris Hughton's replacement because I didn't want to admit that it's true. I suspect that I'm not the only one. Whenever you're ready, take a deep breath and follow the jump to catch up on who the rumored replacements are at this hour.
No picture today. Picture a world where Mike Ashley no longer has anything to do with this club.
Good morning, Toon Army. Obviously, today's links will be dominated by news of Chris Hughton's sacking and the search for his replacement. Before we jump in, I want to share with you this piece of bitter poetry:
In the hours following the news that Hughton had been let go, the interweb devolved into a cesspool of unsubstantiated rumor and speculation reported as fact. You'll find none of that here. Follow the jump to get the full rundown on this story.
I've never wanted to do one of these less. Not only was Sunday's game horrible, but I just can't imagine that anybody who wants a break from the Chris Hughton madness would want to torture themselves by reading the match reviews from the debacle that got him fired. I'll offer the links with no commentary.
Chris Hughton must be replaced, reports of Paul Gascoigne trying to sweet-talk Mike Ashley into reversing his decision notwithstanding.
So who will it be? Internal replacements are always the first thought, but none of the internal candidates for Calderwood's job have the "experience" Ashley cited in his press release. Some of the names being bandied about (Sachin Nakrani, The Guardian) are Alan Pardew (controversial ex-Southampton manager), Alan Curbishley (ex-West Ham boss with a history of clashing with ownership), Lee Clark (former Toon midfielder and current boss of League One side Huddersfield Town), Martin O'Neill (you may remember him for quitting on Aston Villa just before the season), Alan Shearer (his name will always be brought up, but I don't see it happening), and Joe Kinnear (that would just be spitting in the face of the Toon Army, wouldn't it?). The Journal also has Paul Gascoigne at 100/1 odds. That would be just what this team needs, right? Our star striker was recently placed on house arrest for assault, so why not bring in a guy with two pending DUI charges? I'm tempted to wager on those odds, because it would be just like Mike Ashley to make such a move.
Kidding aside, I'm not in love with any of these options, but if we can't have Hughton back, my early preference is for O'Neill or Clark.
And so it came to pass that when the team Chris Hughton managed through the time of trial in the Championship League met with its first run of adversity, an axe fell from on high and he was its solitary victim. The man that brought us Hatem ben Arfa and Cheik Tiote and cleaned the clocks of the mackems is out. Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images Europe
Terrible news today as Chris Hughton has been sacked, according to multiple sources. Lee Ryder of The Chronicle has a write-up here.
Nobody was happy with yesterday's result, least of all us, but this sort of knee-jerk reaction will likely not have the intended consequences of jolting the players back to form. The leaderless team (no assistant was ever found for Colin Calderwood, either) will face Liverpool at home in just 5 days.
This will certainly not be a popular move with the Toon Army, who were actually clamoring for Hughton to receive an extension, as were many former footballers and pundits in the media.
Just an awful, awful decision. Let's hope this isn't the start of a downward spiral.
Forgive me if this week's reaction is a little less reasonable than usual. I should probably wait for at least another day before I write this, but I couldn't help myself as I read through other reviews from this match. It can be described in so many words, but bluntly it was nothing short of horrendous. Fundamentals were flawed, leaderships was lacking, execution exited the building, passion took a pass, the offense was (pardon me) offensive, the defense deplorable. Our Magpies couldn't pass, possess, shoot, cross, clear, tackle, or keep the ball out of their own net. Other than all that they didn't play very good football either.
I think I'm done ranting, come with me past the jump and let's see if there's anything worth learning from this atrocity.
What in the world is he doing? This was a common question today. Getty Images
The Magpies remain at 19 points following a 3-1 loss at The Hawthorns. We'll have a match review up in a day or two, but until then, consider this your place to vent your frustrations or otherwise discuss the state of the Magpies.
1. This week Shola Ameobi said the reason Newcastle is so inconsistent is that they don't respect their opponents each week. Do you feel that Newcastle treated West Brom with the proper respect? 2. What was the major problem in your eyes? 3. Will you forgive Danny Guthrie? 4. How do you feel about the substitutions? (Lovenkrands for Ameobi, 45'; Ranger and Smith for Routledge and Guthrie, 73') 5. 5 yellows for the Toon and none for them. Just? 6. What did you think of the decision to play the midfield line so far back?
The Magpies are the top of four teams sitting on 19 points. On the bottom of those four are the Throstles of Albion, which, if you're wondering, is a song bird, like the one on their emblem. Follow us past the jump for the full preview.
These fellow promotion season Baggies are a team not unlike our own lads. They've snagged wins away at Emirates and Everton, and at home have won against ManC(Carling Cup) and drew with ManU. On the other hand, they've also lost at home and away to Wigan, Fulham and Blackpool, while only forcing draws with West Ham and Bolton.
It seems as though they are struggling just as we are to find or re-find an identity in the Premiership. Here's hoping it takes them at least one more week than us, because this can be a dangerous game. On its face it would seem that we have all the tools it would take to beat this team, but that's just the kind of situation in which we've made a habit of finding a way to lose, isn't it?
Our side will have some sorting out to do with Colo and Willo still out and skipper Kevin Nolan out with an ankle bother, while Joey Barton will be back from his three game ban. The starting 11 should look something like this:
Krul Simpson Saylor Sol Enrique Barton Guthrie Tiote Jonas Andy Shola
Reasons we win:
Fullbacks- WBA have honed the skill of scoring away, having scored twelve on the road this year, so a key to this game will be whether or not Saylor and Sol can continue to shake off the rust and play like they did against Chelsea, which I think is altogether probable.
Score Early- This Magpies side is markedly better when it scores the first goal, and I think that will continue to be a theme for the team as the season goes on. With Barton back in the lineup, I'd expect the crosses to Andy Carroll to start coming in early and continue often. If we can put one of the early chances in, which I think we can, this should be just the kind of match we can win.
Cheik Tiote- Midfield control is such an important part of Premiership success. If Tiote is on his game, which he is much more often than he's not, then the midfield should be ours. If we can keep the Albion attack one dimensional then we give ourselves a better chance at the clean sheet and the win.
Reasons we lose:
Respect- Shola said it best this week when he said we have to start respecting these "other" sides as much as we respect the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea. If we don't, we could have another game which we will look back on in disappointment.
Passing- Not that it's been a major issue, but when we get behind in a game our passing goes to crap . If we do get behind in this game we have to keep our heads, especially in the passing game. When you're behind those giveaways can be so demoralizing to the side that's already feeling down.
Goalkeeping- Albion has been a side that makes the absolute most of its chances. In their win against Arsenal they only had seven shots and only five of those on target; three of those were goals. Arsenal poured on 12 SOG with only two finding the net. If Tim Krul isn't on the top of his game for every shot, he's likely to find himself digging the ball out of the net.
Several weeks ago, when NUFC beat Chelsea in the Carling Cup, most of the post match banter was about how Chelsea started the scrubs. Our review said that simply was not the case, and empirically it was not. That's before we even get started mentioning that Newcastle itself did not run out its top eleven. This week it's the same song but a different verse.
Good morning, Toon Army. I don't want to divulge anything specific, mostly because nothing's been finalized, but exciting changes are ahead for us. But you didn't come here for us; you came here for the Magpies...so, Tuesday's links are after the jump.
Cheik Tiote battles for possession with Didier Drogba, who in this instance has chosen to stay on his feet. Associated Press
Today we debut a new feature: Talking Points. Because of our policy of waiting a day or two to post a review (hence the name "Reasonable Reaction") and because there usually isn't enough news on the day of a game to merit a links post, we often don't post anything immediately following a game. This feature will change that. Following each game we will post some suggested talking points for all to discuss in the comments. (We know you're out there; the numbers say we've got readers, but no commenters. Consider this your invitation to join the conversation.)
Talking Points: 1. Are you happy to escape with a point against a top side, or disappointed to settle for a draw at home? 2. Are you satisfied with Sol Campbell and Steven Taylor in the back? 3. For the Shola Ameobi haters: Why? 4. Sort of a follow-up: Do you want Shola or Nile Ranger up front with Andy Carroll? 5. Chelsea: Bad floppers or the worst floppers?
Good morning, Toon Army. FC Dallas lost the MLS Cup last night, making them the third Dallas team in a row to go into a Championship as the favorite and lose. That sucks. Fortunately, the hand-wringing over Newcastle has been kept to a relative minimum.
I don't really want curly hair this week. Photo credit unknown; pulled from thesun.co.uk
Good morning, Toon Army. Vacation was very nice; thanks for asking. Rather than trying to recap a week's worth of news (injuries to Ryan Taylor AND Kazenga LuaLua? More Andy Carroll drama? Darren Bent says NUFC fans torched his car? I guess vacation is bad luck...), we will simply give you some previews for tomorrow's tilt against the Wanderers. Enjoy!
RKW and I are going on vacation this week. We and the wives will be hanging out in central Texas doing some fishing and lots of eating, to be sure. We won't be updating the blog until at least Saturday unless something huge happens. I know that RKW has a review of the Fulham match still to post (I've seen the draft, but I'm not sure when it's going up), so watch for that. Here's hoping we come back to a new assistant manager.
Well, I look silly. I predicted this match would be a race to three goals and both teams would be scoring goals. A 3-2 Newcastle win, I said. Five total goals. If I'm being honest, I actually thought it could go higher than that. So of course it all ended up in a 0-0 tie. Follow us past the jump for the complete review.
Colo vs Davies, meh. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA via Guardian.co.uk
Earlier in the week and in more than one article we have said that Cheik Tiote was suspended for today's game due to receiving 5 yellow cards. It has been brought to my attention that he in fact only has 4 to his name, so he is eligible to play today. We apologize for any confusion.
In lieu of a proper preview for this match, and in order to get to know our opponent for this weekend's match a little better, we (or I should say RKW did; I had little to do with it) got together with Russ Goldman of Cottagers Confidential, a Fulham FC blog, and we exchanged some questions and answers. Listed here are the questions we asked with his answers. To see the other side of the conversation, go here. Many thanks to Russ.
CHN: Since we're Americans, and more than that Texans, we have a soft spot in our heart for your Clint Dempsey. Tell us how the Fulham fans feel about Clint. We know the American personality can sometimes be tough to mesh with English teams, but it seems like Clint fits right in.
Russ:To be honest, Clint Dempsey is what brought me to Fulham and the initial reason I became a fan of the club. I think Fulham fans have really taken to Clint. He has scored some key goals for the club. I know many fans will never forget the goal he scored against Juventus in the Europa League last season. I think it might have been the best goal ever scored by an American in a European club competition.
CHN: What's Fulham's biggest fear coming to Saint James' Park? To put it another way, a few reasons why you could lose this match.
Russ:Well, Fulham have not won a road game since last August at Portsmouth. Winning on the road is a major issue for Fulham. They are playing better, but still have not found a way to win. I think some injuries in back are concerning and could make Fulham vulnerable. Both Chris Baird and Carlos Salcido should be out for this match. Stephen Kelly is average at right back and Matthew Briggs is a promising player at left back, but he is very young. Also, Fulham are below average at best at defending set pieces. This has been a concern for awhile for the this club.
CHN: What do you feel are the Cottagers' biggest strengths matching up against NUFC? In other words, give me a few reasons why you could win this match.
Russ: I think Fulham have an emerging star up front in Moussa Dembele. I think he is close to breaking out with a big game. He is a player for Newcastle to keep an eye on. Also, if Danny Murphy has a strong game in the central midfield, Fulham could be on their way to a victory. He is really the engine of Fulham in the middle and feeds the guys up front.
CHN: Aaron Hughes and Damien Duff are both Cottagers now, will they start? How will it be for them to roll back into Tyneside?
Russ: Both players I expect to start and have big roles in this game. I am sure both players will want to put on a big performance against their former side. Both players are integral parts of Fulham and when they are out, Fulham are not as cohesive of a club.
CHN: Cheik Tiote and Joey Barton have been in steadfast control of our midfield, especially over the last several games. They will both serve suspensions this weekend, how well does this bode for Fulham? Gamechanging?
Russ: This could be a huge advantage for Fulham. As I mentioned before, Danny Murphy is really the key to Fulham. When he plays well, the club seems to win. The reason being is he sets up the offense like a point guard in basketball. His passing helps create scoring opportunities for the strikers up front.
Good morning, Toon Army. There was so much content on the Joey Barton situation that I felt the need to make a separate post covering it all. I'd like to think that with a match coming up on Saturday that all of the attention will calm down over the next day or two, but I have a feeling that we'll be writing about this for weeks to come.
Punch in the chest: 3 games. How many would it have been if it was in the face?
Joey Barton has decided not to appeal the FA's decision to charge him with violent conduct, meaning he will be suspended for the next three matches, which are against Fulham, Bolton, and Chelsea. He also apologized to just about everybody he could think of. (Lee Ryder, The Chronicle) Blackburn forward Jason Roberts had some harsh words to say about Barton, (Sky Sports) while Morten Gamst Pedersen, the recipient of Joey's punch, invited Joey out to dinner as a peace offering. What a class act. (Simon Bird, MirrorFootball)
Meanwhile, since Joey Barton is a lightning rod for criticism, people from all over are taking the opportunity to say their peace about him. The Guardian listed all of Barton's indiscretions without commentary, then Barry Glendenning and Rob Bagchi of the same publication said, among other things, "a leopard cannot change its spots." Harry Redknapp chimed in as well (What on earth is doing writing for The Sun of all things? Oh well, another topic for another day...), saying that Barton's indiscretion will definitely hurt Newcastle's play for the next three games. Simon Bird of MirrorFootball says that all of Joey's progress that he's made over the last few months was erased in just a moment. Lee Ryder says that all of the criticism aimed Barton's way is overblown.
UPDATE: Fixed the links. According to The Sun (and various other sources, see this), Joey Barton has been charged by the FA with Violent Conduct for punching Morten Gamst Pedersen on Wednesday.
The charge means that Barton will likely be suspended for the next three games. A three game suspension is never good, but it's especially bad timing as Cheik Tiote will be forced to sit for one match as he has now picked up five yellow cards.
Sometimes as I put together the links for each new day, I feel like all I'm doing is writing about Andy Carroll. That's not a bad thing, and certainly not unexpected. Carroll does, after all, wear the storied #9 jersey and he's a talented young striker that makes news on and off the pitch. It follows that people would want to write about him.
I've read so many of these articles that I feel like I could write them myself. Carroll, the talented but troubled young Geordie, has the opportunity to play for a top side in his own backyard. He scored 19 goals last season and is now out to prove that he can score against Premiership-level teams. Recently, a former footballer came out and said that Andy Carroll can be an all-time great if he can keep his affairs in order. Fabio Capello hasn't called him up to England yet, but he's scouted him several times and surely he'll get the call this time. Insert a joke about Captain Nolan wiping his bottom at home, and you have a standard Andy Carroll feature.
I'm not trying to say that each feature I come across doesn't have its own intrinsic value; I like reading about the talented young striker that plays for the team I cheer for. But the fact that so many of these articles contain much the same material makes this piece by Kevin McCarra of The Guardian that much...weirder, for the lack of a better term. I'm struggling to figure out what McCarra is trying to accomplish here. He seems to say the following: Carroll is good, but probably not that good, because Newcastle were just promoted. He'll probably get the call anyway because England is sort of low on strikers at the moment. Also, Chelsea said that they wanted to poach him, so that's a good segue to talk about what the big clubs are doing right about now and how they could benefit from a better striker.
I know it seems strange for me to pick a random article out from a reliable publication and nitpick it. I just don't know what else to do with this bit of writing. Andy Carroll: The enigma that confuses defenses and sportswriters alike.
You know that feeling you get when you turn on Match of the Day 2 and The Toon have made the cut for the show? Multiply that feeling times 10 and that's how I get when I see that Newcastle has received the Zonal Marking treatment. It's the little things in life that can give us great joy, and the week after a 1-0 win is always joyful. Read and yes...enjoy.
It's called Red Rover on our side of the pond but I think its title has something to do with bulldogs in the UK. At anyrate it fits more comfortably as in my title if I use the US name.
The midweek games are here and what better time to start them than when your side has just come of three straight wins. The first of these will be against a middle of the table Blackburn side. That middle of the table placing may be deceptive though. Follow us past the jump to find out why.
Let me first say that I have never felt more anxious about a half of football than Sunday's second half at Emirates. But, I'm on record saying how well this team plays when it is the first to score a goal, and I had faith in not only that, but Hughton's ability to manage that slim lead to the end. After four minutes of stoppage time, it turned out that my faith was not misplaced.
First of all, I would like to apologize for not having a links post with previews up this morning. An elder lady that was very important to me passed away early this morning, throwing both my work and personal lives into disarray. (Those of you who know what I do for a living will understand.) Since RKW works nights and happened to be working last night, I was unable to rely on him as a safety net as I so often have.
In any case, nothing will take away from the joy that comes from a 1-0 victory over a top side. The Magpies are in excellent form, to say the least, and the fact that they were able to get this result as News of the World was spreading nasty rumors about a "cocaine orgy" at skipper Kevin Nolan's house makes it even sweeter. RKW will post a proper review in due time, so for now, let's all take joy in the following two facts:
(1) Midweek games are finally here! We play Blackburn on Wednesday, and there's no better time to play three games in a week than at a time when the team is playing well together.
(2) Newcastle stands alone at #5. It seems like every week I read previews from other team sites that take every opportunity to call this team "newly promoted," which, while technically true, does not tell the whole story. This is not a fresh new team that is intimidated by the Premiership. Take notice: As of this moment, Newcastle is a Top 5 side. We may not stay there, but 17 points in 11 games sounds good to me. Enough sermonizing; let's let the table do the talking.
On Sunday NUFC will look to end a ten game drought against Arsenal, but the last time we came off such a decisive win the next few games looked rather poor. Here's hoping that the lads have learned that lesson.
Injuries remain largely the same as Gosling, Harper, Best, and Ben Arfa will be unavailable. Sol Campbell has seemed doubtful but insists that he wants to play in this game. Steven Taylor should also be ready after playing an hour in the Reserves match agains Wigan.
I expect to see much the same side that faced S*nderland on Sunday, playing much the same style that saw that unlucky loss at ManC. Ameobi has certainly bought his place at the front and I cannot see Perch winning his place back with what Danny Simpson has shown in these last two ties. I expect the side to look something like this: --------------Krul------------- Simpson---Colo---Willo---Jose --------------Tiote------------ Barton-------Nolan------Jonas -------Ameobi----Carroll------
NUFC are 11/1 dogs for this tie and I expect the game to go a bit like that. Don't get me wrong I don't think points here are completely out of the question, but I think it's fair to say they are unlikely. A hard fought loss won't be anything to sneeze at. NUFC 1-3 AFC.
Another day, another player coming out in support of Chris Hughton. Today it's Steve Harper. (Luke Edwards, The Journal) Harper is hoping to come back before Christmas. (Paul Fraser, The Northern Echo)
Danny Simpson remembers what happened after Newcastle beat Aston Villa by a wide margin - they fell off the next week. He says the team is not taking anything for granted. (Mark Douglas, The Journal)
As we reported a couple of weeks ago, former Magpie Paul Gascoigne has had trouble with the law recently, and he appears to have made it worse by making bad jokes during his latest court appearance. (CaughtOffside)
Cheik Tiote answered fan questions on the NUFC Official Site. It's clear from his answers that he's nothing short of a class act.
While the Unwashed were busy getting their clocks cleaned by The Toon, one of our Twitter followers humorously asked, "Hughton Out?" It was such an off-the-wall (and of course, tongue-in-cheek) suggestion that I literally laughed out loud. Surely nobody wants Hughton out after that glorious day, right?
Following the drubbing of the mackems, several local and national writers spoke out about Hughton's contract situation and what the most recent result means for negotiations. Mark Douglas of The Journal says it's time to reward "shrewd" Chris Hughton for his "stunning work." Louise Taylor of The Guardian concurs, saying Hughton's position was "strengthened immeasurably following the Derby win.
However, two writers of MirrorFootball offered some commentary about just why nothing has gotten done yet. Simon Bird has a lengthy article about Mike Ashley and the board of directors playing hardball with Chris Hughton. David Anderson of MirrorFootball adds that the tension be a result of Hughton not being a "big enough" name for Ashley. Frankly, I find Ashley's position on this absurd, and I know I'm not the only one. Hughton has done everything that's been asked of him and more with little resources, a problem which belongs to the owner, by the way. Sure, things could go south. The Magpies have shown some inconsistency this season, no doubt. But I fear that if Ashley, et al, continue to hold such a hard position, their relationship with Hughton may be damaged beyond repair. Extend him now, before another Premiership team snaps him up and we have to face him twice a year!
Chris McQuade of EPLTalk posted his "Top 5 Transfer Flops of the Season, So Far" earlier this week, and one James Perch is listed at #5. I don't want to get into what McQuade's entire list should look like, but I disagree with Perch's inclusion.
I think the reason Perch was included is that his numbers simply don't look great. Much was made of the fact that he was forced to sit out after just 5 games due to discipline problems, and he had an own goal against The Potters of the "wrong place at the wrong time" variety, but we all know how those can be blown out of proportion. He has had a couple of games where he looked out of sorts - the Wigan match jumps to my mind immediately.
However, he has also been a solid replacement for Danny Simpson - a needed one. Can you imagine the back line without Perch? Simpson, Steven Taylor, and Sol Campbell have all gone down with injury. At times there has actually been competition for selection, but at other times there have been exactly 4 viable options at defense to choose from. I suppose you could argue that another transfer could have come in and done the job just as well or better, but for 1 million pounds, I don't see Perch as wasted money.
Offensively, the chemistry between Perch and Routledge (when he plays) has been critical in getting the ball down the right side of the pitch. The combination of playing a high defensive line and experimenting with different combinations of wingers on the right side could be the cause of Perch's defensive miscues - at times it looks as if he's unsure about how aggressive he's supposed to be. Does this make Perch a flop? Not in my mind.
In fact, I wouldn't even call Perch the biggest flop of the transfer window for Newcastle. That honor belongs to Sol Campbell, who couldn't see the field early because of match fitness and can't see the field now because of injuries. Sure, it's unfair to give him a grade that's anything but an incomplete, but how can you not be disappointed? Campbell was supposed to provide on the field veteran leadership, and has instead been an absentee. Perch is relatively young and has shown plenty of promise. To call him a flop when another defender from the same transfer window has had much less of an impact is simply unfair.
RKW and I went to Game 5 of the World Series last night and watched the wrong team win it all, so please forgive us for taking a few hours off. We have plenty more to say about the mackems and we're already looking forward to taking on The Gunners for real, so stick with us.
For now, head over to CaughtOffside to see a video of each goal. Below is my personal favorite: Goal #4.
In our short and sweet preview we left you with a 3 word mantra for contemplation on the Derby: Beat. The. Mackems.
Blood in the water. Getty Images
Even without a public prediction I expected a hard fought game. I expected for it to be a tactical battle, a competition of matchups. For 26 minutes the tie seemed to be just that. On that 26th minute something changed. Kevin Nolan once again found himself in the right place at the right time, and then he found himself at the bottom of a dog pile.
After going up 1-0 I was literally screaming at my screen for the lads not to protect this lead but to continue to attack. I wanted to see a "blood in the water" attitude, and on the 34th minute I was obliged. Nolan, again in the right place at the right time, hammered home from point blank and I started to notice how well this team plays after it gets an early goal. A penalty, converted by SholaAmeobi, in overage had us into the half up 3-0.
When the second half started I was feeling more comfortable about protecting the lead, but the lads continued to keep the pressure high. Titus Bramble suffered the most from that as he was sent off to a chorus on the 53rd minute, which really would have capped off a great day for most folks, but the lads were still not satisfied. Ameobi would be the beneficiary of that dissatisfaction in the 70th minute, and four minutes later The Skipper headed another one home. Have I mentioned that Kevin Nolan is a "right place, right time" scorer? No play better illustrates my point than this 74th minute goal. As Joey Barton's corner crossed in Nolan slid himself into a soft part of the defence, but he wouldn't be on the end of the cross in that spot. But, Shola rose to put a head on it and though he had not a chance to put in on goal at that height and angle he did have a chance to put it right into that soft spot that Kevin Nolan had sniffed out as the right place to be. At that point the Defence didn't have a chance to stop Captain Nolan from becoming Captain Hat Trick a feat not achieved in the derby since the year after my cohort and I were born.
Before I talk about form and starters let me first say that the Chris Hughton rumors have been in very poor form and I hope that this result goes a long way to shutting those shite peddlers up. Off soapbox. Hughton played the same side that faced West Ham a week ago, and much the same style. I was glad to see two attackers up front, and I hope to see more of it. He was dressed smart too, I like to see a coach on the touchline in a suit and tie, and not, say, a hoodie with the sleeves cut off.
Danny Simpson seems to be returning to good form, he looked a lot better than he did at West Ham. Not that he looked at all bad, he just seemed rusty. In fact the whole defense looked great, Colo and Willo are quite a pair, and Williamson has seemed to recover very nicely from his bad luck outing at ManC. Thought they did allow the consolation goal very late.
Tiote continues to hold down the midfeild like, well, I don't really have a good simile for what it is that he does on a weekly basis. He's just in top top form. Jonas did his thing on the left and Barton did his thing on the right, but obviously Kevin Nolan was the story of the midfield.
Andy Carroll had a quiet game, playing more the decoy to open up Shola and Nolan, but handled himself very well I thought. And Shola was Shola, with that lackadaisical approach that he has. I can see why people think he's lazy, but I think he just has an approach to the game that people don't quite understand. We will continue to defend him.
Man of the Match: Kevin Nolan, Obviously.
Beat. The. Mackems. And beat them we did. What a treat for all the Geordie boys out out there. By the way, this win put us 7th in the table! Howay the Lads.
We like to impress ourselves sometimes. We write previews and talk about tactics, selection, storyline, formations, and form. We make predictions that never come even close to reality, then conveniently ignore them when it comes time to write up a review. Those things are good to talk about - what's a blog for, after all? Sometimes, though, you don't need to read or write something like that to know the gravity of the situation. If you pay enough attention to this site, you know what I feel about this match already. It's time to let the game do the talking.
Only one thing matters today, and it's summed up in three words: