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.