Friday, January 14, 2011

We've moved!

We've been talking about this for quite some time, and it finally happened: We've been picked up by the SB Nation network of blogs, which is a fantastic platform. (And no, we're not just shilling for our new bosses.)

We will still be producing the same content. The difference is that we now have better tools to accomplish all of our goals, and the community-building features will enable all of us to interact with each other much more efficiently. We'd love for you to join us.

Our new URL is:

You can view the welcome post here.

CHN Links: Friday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. I really hate reading that the owner had to fly in just to have a meeting with the manager, even if it is just from London.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Match Preview: Newcastle vs S*nderland, Tyne-Wear Derby, Pt. 2

The Magpies are headed to the Stadium of Blight on Sunday for the derby rematch that the M*ckem Unwashed have surely been eagerly awaiting. After the utter domination they suffered at SJP they really should be looking forward to the chance for recompense, but our lads won't be looking to make it an easy day for the Unclean.

CHN Links: Thursday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. Could Andy Carroll and Jose Enrique play this week after all? A national writer gives Carroll some advice, the two derby managers speak out about the clash, and three more names are revealed as targets for the club. All that and more after the jump.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CHN Links: Tuesday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. Not included in today's transfer rumors are rumblings that Shay Given could return. There's not a single substantial report to be found. Sorry, rumor mongers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

CHN Links: Monday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. You over the FA Cup defeat yet? Me neither.

Stevenage 3, Newcastle 1: A Collection of Reviews

Lee Ryder, Blog on the Tyne - "Anybody connected with the black and whites will be hurting like hell today after this embarrassing day in the history of Newcastle United."

Sky Sports - "The home side did not just cope with Newcastle. They pulverised them."

Paul Doyle, The Guardian - "
That was in the fourth minute – and it was the last time Newcastle showed any real quality. Stevenage took control thereafter."

Ed Harrison, - "It’s bad enough to be eliminated from the FA Cup by a fourth division side, but to also lose one of your best players for the next three league games is a disaster for Newcastle and will no doubt count us points in the league, and after this performance don’t anybody even think Newcastle are safe in the Premier League."

Paul Fraser, The Northern Echo - "For all Newcastle were dreadful, Stevenage were outstanding from start to finish and thoroughly deserved the lead when they earned it four minutes after half-time."

The Chronicle - "It was no fluke. In fact, at times it looked as if the home side were the Premier League outfit."

Talk of the Tyne - "Peter Winn finished well to make the scoreline 3-1, a result which haunt Newcastle supporters every year when the media roll out giant killings of previous years."

workyticket, - "The Magpies started poorly, then proceeded to get worse as the game progressed, especially so in the second half when all of the real damage was done. Newcastle’s approach seemed to consist largely of lots of long balls punted into the box but with hardly any real chances created..."

Michael Richard, The Canadian Geordie - Upset about Tiote's red card and provides a video of the tackle.

The Sun - "Stevenage will see victory as revenge for FA Cup defeat against Newcastle in 1998 when a disputed Alan Shearer goal helped knock them out at the fourth-round stage."

Mike Walters, MirrorFootball - So many mixed metaphors it makes my head hurt. Where was Simon Bird?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A couple of questions

Normally on the day after a match, we don't put up a links post. There are a few reasons for that, but the main one is that it usually takes all of the publications we like to link to a couple of days to post their reactions, and we like to put all of those in one place, rather than spread out over several posts. Today, though, there are a couple of things nagging at me. If you didn't watch the game against Stevenage, or you just need a reminder, here are some highlights, courtesy of CaughtOffside:

You won't see either of these things in the above video, but here are my questions:

1) Was that a Stevenage fan that punched one of his own players following the match?

2) Was Cheik Tiote's challenge deserving of a red card? (If anybody has a link to a video of this, please let me know)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Is Andy Carroll Paying for Wayne Rooney's Indiscretions?

Why is Andy Carroll a lightning rod for laughably sensationalist stories about his private life? He has made mistakes, sure, but the level of scrutiny his private life gets is past ridiculous. I am aware that footballers are subject to the whims of tabloid media, but just what has he done to deserve this? Let's take a look at his past.

Just two months ago yesterday, News of the World reported that Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan (with whom he was living at the time) had been involved in a "drug-fuelled orgy" at Nolan's home. Of course, The Sun was more than willing to join in on the fun. Today, Jeremy Armstrong of MirrorFootball claimed that Carroll's thigh injury that has kept him out of recent matches was actually the result of binge drinking and not football-related. Let's say for the sake of argument that this story is true, right down to the anecdote about a meerkat. (A meerkat? Really?!) Armstrong relies on one witness: a drunken gambler hanging out in a casino bar. If the story was corroborated, Armstrong doesn't indicate so. Is this what qualifies as a source nowadays? On top of that, the headline is completely misleading. Skimming only through the day's headlines, as I often do when those headlines don't involve Newcastle, one would come to the conclusion that Carroll had himself ingested 30 Jagerbombs in 6 hours before injuring himself. Reading the story - and again, consider the source - He bought 30 shots for 15 people, which is sort of what rich people do. Even if you're willing to believe that Carroll wasn't injured during the Tottenham game, when Michael Dawson spent the entire climbing his back to get to crosses, you have to admit that this is a pretty flimsy story.

So why print it? The more accurate question may actually be: Why are people - journalists in particular - so eager to believe stories that are frankly unbelievable? The simple answer is probably that, as I stated above, Andy Carroll has developed quite a little reputation for himself. If you're predisposed to dislike Carroll and you squint real hard, you might find yourself nodding your head in agreement with Jeremy Armstrong. Of course he fell off a barstool! That's just the kind of guy he is.

I think there's something deeper in it, and that's the culture of following sports in today's 24 hour news cycle. We love our cult heroes, and we hate when the mask is removed and they're proven fallible. Take the case of Wayne Rooney, for instance. He's no stranger to controversy. In 2006, when he was about Carroll's age, News of the World and The Sun (sound familiar?) reported that Rooney had assaulted his then-fiancee in a nightclub. He subsequently won a settlement against the papers, (Chris Tryhorn, The Guardian) so the public was free to fall in love with him. And boy, did they, with good reason. I don't need to tell you that Rooney is a world-class player. He's a two-time PFA Footballer of the Year, and his popularity seemed to hit its zenith this last summer right before the World Cup:

The parents who named their kids Wayne before his sub-par World Cup performance were even more upset this September when more reputable sources began reporting of his affair with a prostitute. (Matthew Moore, The Telegraph)

So what does Rooney's path have to do with Carroll's? Well, for one thing, Carroll's place on England's national team has been a topic of great discussion the last few months. Fabio Capello has visions of pairing the two players together up front the next time England plays, so the comparison is very natural. (The Guardian) Here's my theory: Given Rooney's fall from grace, both on and off the field (I should mention that I don't believe myself that his play in the World Cup represents his ability as a player, but we're talking perceptions here), Carroll is being set up as an anti-hero. It's the principle of "low expectations, few disappointments." I'm not saying there is a vast conspiracy or that Carroll is above reproach. Andy Carroll is not a saint. He has been arrested for assault at least three times and has had several dust-ups with his teammates. Most people that follow football even casually are aware of his reputation - see Dan Silver of MirrorFootball's joke at Number 10 on this list. I'm not trying to pretend otherwise. I believe that, consciously or unconsciously, the tabloid media is making Carroll pay for the sins of Wayne Rooney and other heroes who have disappointed the masses when their private lives have been made public - and that's a shame.

CHN Links: Gameday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. Let's let this picture tell the tale of what's to come in today's post.

"Then all of a sudden [Carroll] perked up, alert, 'like a meerkat'." - Jeremy Armstrong, MirrorFootball
Photo courtesy of @ToonArmyMIA. Tumblr link

Friday, January 7, 2011

You Thought Nile Ranger's Miss Was Bad? Watch This.

This video is from a Greek Football League game, which Wikipedia tells me is the second highest professional league in that country. In this clip, Veria FC misses an open net FIVE times in one sequence, but they at least went on to beat Levadiakos 1-0. (H/T CaughtOffside and The Spoiler)

CHN Links: Friday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. Conflicting reports about a possible transfer, an amusing anecdote about Stevenage, and more after the jump. (I can't wait until we're on a platform that doesn't limit the number of tags I can put on a post...)

#LeonBestIsMint scores the second of his three goals for Newcastle against West Ham at St James' Park.
Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Newcastle 5, West Ham 0 - A Collection of Reviews

CaughtOffside - Video highlights

Louise Taylor, The Guardian - "Revenge rarely proves sweeter, or more reassuring. It is four years since Alan Pardew was sacked by West Ham United but, quite apart from getting his own back in truly spectacular fashion, Newcastle United's manager discovered that his team really can thrive without the injured Andy Carroll."

Lee Ryder, The Chronicle - "Even the writers of Roy of the Rovers would struggle to come up with a script as good as this."

Simon Bird, MirrorFootball - "[Pardew] added of Best: 'Like all strikers from the Championship, there is a snobbish opinion that they are not good enough, but they can be if they get belief.'"

Paul Fraser, The Northern Echo - "If Sunday was about proving Newcastle United were not a one-man team, then last night showed they can actually cope in the absence of both of their first-choice strikers."

Ed Harrison, - "West Ham were completely hammered – excuse the pun – but Steve Harper had almost nothing to do in the Newcastle goal, as Alan Pardew seems to have made a bright start to his Newcastle management career with 3 wins in the first 5 games in charge, and Newcastle now are on 28 points from 21 games."

Ben Collins, Sky Sports - "But [Best] needed just 18 minutes to justify his selection when he ran on to Lovenkrands' ball over the top to thump a left-foot volley across Robert Green and into the bottom corner."

The Sun - "When Newcastle win at home these days, they win big - this was the third time they have bagged five or more in front of their adoring fans this season."

I'm not able to watch this, but perhaps if you live in England you can view the highlights as featured on Match of the Day 2. Short rant: How is it beneficial for BBC to block US viewers from seeing this content? Would they rather I seek out a pirated copy of the program?

However, it's perfectly okay for foreigners to watch Avram Grant doing his best not to fall asleep during his post-match interview.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reasonable Reaction Review: Newcastle United FC Hammer West Ham 5-0

Well after a tough run to start the second half of the season, Pardew has our lads back on the right foot. That's in spite of the adversity of loosing Andy Carroll and subsequently Shola Ameobi to injury. On Wednesday those injuries gave way to one Leon Best, who was told by Pardew before the match to show something to convince the manager to keep him around instead of shopping him around during this transfer window. I shouldn't have to convince you to agree that he did that and much more.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Game #21 Talking Points

1. Okay, be honest: Did you really believe #LeonBestismint before this game?

2. No really, be honest.

3. Nile Ranger: Bad miss or the worst miss?

4. Feeling good about the team overall? Does 5-0 give you confidence you didn't have before, or does the fact that it was against West Ham give you pause?

5. Name your ideal Starting XI for the FA Cup tie against Stevenage on Saturday.

Hatem Ben Arfa Signs Permanent Contract With Newcastle

According to multiple sources (here is a link to The Guardian's story), Hatem Ben Arfa has officially signed a permanent four and a half year deal with Newcastle United. The 23 year-old is expected to be ready for game action in February.

If the team does nothing else during the transfer window, it should still be considered a successful January, in my opinion.

Match Preview: Newcastle United Hosts West Ham United

Alan Pardew insists he's not bitter about being sacked at West Ham, (Simon Bird, MirrorFootball) but he will no doubt have revenge on his mind when the Hammers visit St James' Park on Wednesday. The match marks the end of an 11-day stretch in which the club will have played 4 games. The Toon is 1-2 in that stretch so far and a total of 2-2 under Pardew's leadership.

The Toon Army has the right to expect three points from this match, despite West Ham's recent stretch of okay form. West Ham has been toiling in the relegation zone all season, and you can be sure that they will be doing all they can to stretch toward that little bit of light they can glimpse under all that rubble. Avram Grant is managing for his job and the team as a whole is trying to prevent management from going into fire sale mode while the transfer window is open. Still, the Hammers will be fighting against history. Before their win at Craven Cottage 11 days ago, West Ham hadn't recorded a victory in their 27 previous away matches. That is not a misprint. They also haven't won back-t0-back away games since December 2007, and haven't won at St James' Park since 1998. This season, they've scored 8 goals in 10 away matches...and 3 of those were in the aforementioned Fulham match. More after the jump...

CHN Links: Gameday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. This may be the last one of these we do at this site...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, Danny Simpson

This is too late for those across the pond, but for those in the States, you still have >5 hours to celebrate Danny Simpson's 24th birthday, so hit your local establishments before closing time.

Newcastle players Ryan Taylor, Andrew Carroll and Danny Simpson celebrate with Shola Ameobi after he scored the opening goal during the Coca-Cola Championship match between Newcastle United and Sheffield Wednesday at St James' Park on August 19, 2009 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images Europe

CHN Links: Tuesday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. Plenty of news and transfer rumors to go around today - so much so that I ran out of room to tag people in this post. (Sorry Andy Carroll and Tim Krul...)

Rumored target Adel Taarabt's playing style has been compared to Hatem ben Arfa. The difference is, Taarabt has two good legs at the moment. What, too soon?
Photo credit unknown

Reasonable Reaction Tuesday: Newcastle United FC Win at Wigan

I don't know about you folks, but Sunday's match was pretty stressful for me despite the stellar play of our lads. It seemed like no one had the finishing touch that they needed to get that second goal, and I wasn't convinced that one was a enough until the final whistle blew. Still, it was a great showing from our lads and a very entertaining match.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Top 10 Moments of the First Half

10. Several Promising Youngsters Locked Up in Long-term Deals

Over the last several weeks, the following players have signed 5 and a half year deals: Nile Ranger, Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor, and Andy Carroll. All but Williamson could be called "young" in football terms, and all are solid players that will contribute for years to come.

9. Newcastle 1, Arsenal 0, 7 November

You know your team has done well when you've caused the London press to wring their hands and wonder how a top team could have possibly lost to a "newly promoted side," and that's exactly what happened when an Andy Carroll header and a perfectly executed game plan vaulted Newcastle into #5 in the table, their high-water mark of the season.

Carroll took one away from Fabianski and Newcastle took three away from The Emirates.
Getty Images

8. The Emergence of Cheik Tiote

Maybe this is cheating, because it's not exactly an event, but Cheik Tiote's wonderful possessive play in the back of the midfield has kept Newcastle afloat during the first half, and I think that deserves some recognition. His story of learning to play growing up in Africa is not totally unique, but it is fascinating and worth reading up on. At the end of this article (Louise Taylor, The Guardian), Tiote says, "Newcastle is perfect for me." Love you too, Cheik.

7. Alex's Howler, 27 November

Coming off of a terrible defeat at the hands of Bolton Wanderers, the Magpies needed something to fall in their favor to have a chance against a slumping Chelsea side, and they got exactly that when Alex was a little too careless in passing the ball back to goalie Petr Cech, and Andy Carroll was happy to capitalize.

6. Andy Carroll's Goal from Distance, 11 December

In Alan Pardew's debut against Liverpool, the two sides had battled to a 1-1 tie that stood for most of the second half when Joey Barton finally broke through in the 80th minute. As the game progressed into stoppage time, the crowd which had gathered to boo Mike Ashley was enjoying what was a very unexpected three points when Andy Carroll, who had assisted on the first goal and was instrumental in the second, gathered the ball outside the box. The crowd urged him to shoot, the defense backed off, and an instant later a rocket found its way to the back of the net.

5. Joey Barton's Cross, 23 October

Sometimes you just have to appreciate a pretty goal for what it is. Watch this video starting at around 51 seconds for a beauty.

4. Andy Carroll's Hat Trick, 22 August

Nobody expected Newcastle to travel to Old Trafford on Opening Day and earn any points, but a 3-0 loss had the doubters out in full force anyway. A 6-0 drubbing of Aston Villa the next week injected some much needed optimism in the fanbase. More importantly, the question "Who will score for Newcastle in the Premiership?" had an answer, and his name was Wor Andy Carroll.

3. Hatem ben Arfa's Goal, 18 September 20

The announcer's commentary on this video clip says it all.

2. Fabricio Coloccini saves the day against Wigan, 16 October

The Magpies were in a bad way heading into stoppage time against Wigan. They'd lost the last two matches as well as their new superstar in the week previous, and they were down 2 goals to 1 against Wigan, with both of the opposition's goals coming from a man who had walked out the door a couple of years ago on bad terms. Then, miracle of miracles, Jonas' cross found an unmarked curly-haired man on the far post to save the match (and according to some, Chris Hughton's job).

Click link to watch video

1. Newcastle 5, Sunderland 1, 31 October

Toon 5, mackems 1. All that needs to be said.

Click link to watch videos

Bottom 10 Moments of the First Half

With the second half about to begin, let's look back at the best and worst moments of the first half. We'll start with the worst:

10. Newcastle Beaten By 10 Men at White Hart Lane, 28 December

I suppose you could take comfort in the fact that Tottenham Hotspur are a good team in good form, or in the fact that they beat Aston Villa the previous match with 10 men as well, but when you're down by a goal and the other side loses a player, you're expected to dominate possession, not give up another one.

9. James Perch's Own Goal, 26 September

Sometimes when a player scores an own goal, you feel bad for them, especially if it's some fluky, weird deflection. Sometimes, though, a defender heads in a corner with 5 minutes to go to lose the game against Stoke City, and you don't feel sorry for them one bit.

8. Charles N'Zogbia Scores 2, 16 October

It hurts when seemingly the only good player on the other team beats you for two goals. It hurts even more when that player used to be one of your own.

7. Andy Carroll's Off-the-field Exploits

Two assault charges and orders from a judge for the top striker to bunk with his captain dominated the headlines this fall. It got to the point that false rumors from one publication about a "drug-fueled orgy" at Captain Nolan's house wasn't even the worst of it. On October 21, Carroll's car was torched and Nolan's garage door covered with graffiti following the release of Nolan's address in the media.

6. Tim Krul's Howler, 26 December

You can't just give goals away in the Premiership, least of all to Manchester City, but that's exactly what Tim Krul did in the second minute of the second meeting of the two teams. Three minutes later, the Blues added another, which ended up being all they really needed.

5. Bolton Wanderers 5, Newcastle United 1, 20 November

A 5-1 loss is bad, no matter how you slice it, but this one featured two goals for the opposition off of penalty kicks plus a red card for Fabricio Coloccini. Colo was sent off for aggressive play against Johan Elmander. Mike Williamson was later suspended for a separate incident involving Elmander, but the striker didn't seem to mind as he also scored two goals on the day.

4. Joey Barton Suspended, 10 November

Joey Barton had been having a relatively quiet season by his standards before he reversed course in a 2-1 loss at home against Blackburn Rovers, punching Morten Gamst Pedersen in the chest and earning himself a 2 game suspension. The club struggled without him, tying with Fulham at home and then being decimated by Bolton.

3. West Bromwich Albion 3, Newcastle United 1, 5 December

This match would have made the list even if it weren't the impetus for getting Chris Hughton sacked. Here's how RKW reviewed the 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."

Following the match, Chris Hughton held an hour-long meeting with his players which was reported to be less than pleasant, but it didn't really matter, as the players were motivated in a much different way 24 hours later.

2. Nigel De Jong breaks Hatem ben Arfa's Leg, 3 October

Hatem ben Arfa was the object of an extended chase by Chris Hughton over the summer. For weeks the Toon Army was subjected to rumor after rumor of the status of a possible transfer for the talented young midfielder, so when he finally arrived at St. James' Park he was already something of a folk legend. Few expected him to live up to that billing, but in the few games that he played before getting injured, ben Arfa exceeded even the loftiest of expectations. The Magpies finally had their creative playmaker who was to lead them to the promised land of survival. In the blink of an eye, Nigel de Jong, who has built himself quite a resume as a dirty player, came in with both legs and snapped both the tibia and fibula of young Mr. ben Arfa, putting not only the season in doubt but also bringing forth the question of whether or not HBA will ever play again on Tyneside, given the conditions of his loan. Here's hoping the reports earlier this week that he will sign a permanent deal are true, and that he really can be ready in early February. The squad's survival may depend on it.

Click for link to video

1. Chris Hughton Sacked, 6 December

Football fans the world over were shaking their heads when Mike Ashley made the ill-advised move of sacking popular manager Chris Hughton. Hughton had led Newcastle back to the Premiership, made several improvements to the club despite limited funds, and gained the respect of his players, but rumors had persisted for several months that the relationship between Hughton and Ashley (and Derek Llambias) had grown frosty. Still, it was a shocking move that disrupted the players as well as the fans. Replacement manager Alan Pardew has only been around for three matches, so the jury is still out on him, but the effects have already been far-reaching in terms of personnel, as Sol Campbell has stated unequivocally that he wants out. For his part, Hughton treated the ignominy in his usual classy manner and has been linked to several vacancies (and a couple that aren't even vacant yet). He will latch on somewhere, and when he does, I will be jealous of the team that's lucky enough to land him.

Match Preview: Newcastle and Wigan, Both Without Their Top Scorer

Apologies for the lack of a review for the MANC and Spurs games. I meant to roll them into one review but never even got around to that with an unexpectedly long week at work. On with the Preview.

Newcastle will be away at DW for the second rematch of the year, and hoping to force the issue a bit better than they did in early October when a home draw was all they could muster. One would think that the Latics should be ripe for picking with their best player out on suspension, but they are also unbeaten in their last four, and you can't give all the credit to N'somnia.