Thursday, 17 September 2009

How Do You Spell That?

Geordies sign Georgian reads nufc.co.uk as Newcastle sign Blackburn defender Kisandfish...Khiszanish...Khizani...Zurab.

I jest, Khizanishvili signs on a three-month loan deal and I for one am ready to immediately overplay what is, at best, a solid signing.

Defensive reinforcements have been the order of the summer at SJP, or at least the only order that's been met as takeover turmoil continues to roll on.

Just in case anyone is keeping count the Takeover-ometer is registering 117 days without news.

The Georgian defender becomes the third 'new' signing on Tyneside this summer after Danny Simpson agreed a loan move from Manchester United and the inspired signing of Danish international Peter Lovenkrands (where did they find him hiding?).

Five clean sheets in a row before yesterdays defeat at Blackpool said a lot more about the poor attacks we have faced than the quality of our defending, in my humble opinion, and I'd be delighted to slot the Blackburn defender in the centre of our defence, right next to Tayls.

Take a rest Colo, you've 'earned' it.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Hopes Well And Truly Grounded

The Telegraph is the latest newspaper to spend a few column inches on talk of a Newcastle takeover being close to completion.

Well actually due to my upper-lower-middle class background I daren't pick up a copy of the Telegraph for fear of it turning to ash in my unworthy hands, but they did deem the story worthy of taking up a few megabytes of their website at least.

I can't help but smile when I imagine the club with a new owner, I mean the on-pitch form's already here, so with Big Al' in charge and a few last minute loan signings slipped in when the Football league's window technician turns his back, would push us dangerously towards looking like a 'healthy' club.

However I, as with many other Toon bloggers, have had our fingers burnt by these stories so many times before that there seemed to be an unspoken rule not to write about takeover gossip.

The only reason I've broken ranks on this occasion is in the hope of reverse psychology playing a part. Everytime I've been optimistic over a potential 'deadline' the club seems to disappear of the map for a few weeks, so this time, if I shun the deal as paper talk, maybe, just maybe it'll go through.

Right, here goes.

A deal by the end of the week? Bollocks.

(Fingers crossed)

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Window Watch: T- Minus 72 Hours

It suddenly occured to me how worryingly close the transfer window is to slamming shut for another four months.

Not counting the half day left as I write this we are left with just three whole days before the chance of any more permanent sigings before the year of our Lord 2010 dawns.

Worth noting that would only be two days if the bank managers wern't too busy earning their wages to open on Monday.

With our paper thin squad already appearing to show signs of tearing at the top after Shola, Carroll and Xisco all preparing for their monthly trip to the treatment table that leaves just youngster Nile Ranger to lead the line.

"No worry," I thought, "We'll get someone in," but will we?

The dripping tap of information from St. James' has been firmly turned off once again with no news to report on the possibility of club ownership switching hands.

Hughton claims to be confident of holding onto players but back in May i'd have never believed you if you'd have told me i'd be sweating over the future of Kevin Nolan.

The scouse star has pulled a Shola and gained a lot of fans, including this one, for his exceptional effort and (whisper as not to curse it) goalscoring touch.

However rumours of Gary Megson being interested in taking his former midfielder back to the Premier League are hopefully, some way off the mark.

So, no new owner, no permanent manager, no permanent signings.

Nothing ever changes.

Monday, 17 August 2009

You Don't Give Up Ameobi

Shola Ameobi's hat-trick against Reading has completely won me over, so much so that I can't think about anything else.

I'm more excited for Wednesday night's game than I have been for any game for quite some time.

This excitement may be born from desperation, the desperation to have someone to rely on, or it may just be nerves.

Either way, the butterflies flutter every time I think about Ameobi's lunging strides into the box to meet an inch perfect cross and fire home a fourth...wait, keep the feet on the ground.

Anyway, this new found high led me to remember this classic clip from 'I'm On Setanta Sports' where 'Dave' confides in Wayne Rooney over his addcition. Enjoy.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The 78th Minute

A heart-filled and spirited performance cascades across St. James' Park, Shola looks a man reborn and we are promised an end to takeover speculation by the time we walk out against Sheffield Wednesday...on Wednesday.

Two out of three ain't bad. Whilst prospective owner Barry Moat's choice of seat gave the Sky Sports commentary team plenty to speculate over, I just can't bear to get my hopes up just to see them dashed once again.

There are plenty of pictures of Moat and Ashley, side-by-side from past fixtures, the only difference is that we know who we are looking at now.

But as much as I nail my shoes to the ground, I can't help but loosen my shoelaces and allow myself to drift of the ground just slightly, to think, "It can't exactly be a bad thing, can it?"

At least on pitch the Toon Army continued to show the fighting spirit that was showcased at The Hawthorns on the opening day.

Shola nabbed three goals and seemed to become a new man the instant his first header bounced, rather gracelessly, into the net.

The second of his trio was an accomplished powerful header(Below), fired into the opposite corner of the net whilst on the run, as if he'd been doing it for years...which we all know he hasn't.

Special praise reserved for Kevin Nolan who has really stepped up his game since relegation. Setting up Duff's equaliser against The Baggies with an inch perfect pass and then chasing a ball everybody else had given up on against Reading to bring about that crucial second goal.

"Who's that big lad wearing 23? It sure ain't Ameobi!" my Dad jovially ventured.

"His name's Shola, Dad," I replied, "Hopefully you'll be hearing it a lot this season."

But a noteworthy occurance took place during this encouraging victory. For the first time in a long time whilst watching the Toon, in the 78th minute of the game, I sat back in my seat. Sunk into the sofa and relaxed as the game was won.

In fact the last time we produced this scoreline, away at Portsmouth last December, is the last time I can remember a game being 'safe', before the referee blew his whistle.

Perhaps a sign of change? I wouldn't get your hopes up.

Watch extended highlights of the game here.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Oba's Sincerity Strikes A Chord

Former Toon hitman Oba Martins has revealed that he left St. James' with a heavy heart and that he had to depart Tyneside to keep his career alive.

Whilst it sounds like the usual drivel that each and every departing player would churn out just out of courtesy, there has always been something about Oba that makes his words seem so much more sincere.

Now it's been a long day and i've written 15 stories for the slave drivers at Goal.com today so I can't bring myself to write anymore.

So here it is, another David Kifford original.

Newcastle United Will Stay In My Heart Forever - Obafemi Martins


VFL Wolfsburg striker Obafemi Martins has revealed that he found it hard to leave Newcastle United, but says he had to in order to relaunch his career.

The former Toon frontman left the club for the Bundesliga after a devastating season saw the Magpies drop into the second tier of English football.

However, Martins claims he will always hold a special place in his heart for the fans and the club.

"Newcastle United will forever stay in my heart but I have a whole lot of work to do now for Wolfsburg," The Nigerian international told BBC Sport.

"I gave my all to the club and the fans know that, unfortunately things went awry on and off the pitch.

"I had a wonderful time with the fans, players and management of Newcastle United but once I spoke to Wolfsburg, I saw a fresh start."

Takeover turmoil has engulfed St. James' Park this summer as owner Mike Ashley desperately attempts to offload the grief-stricken club.

With manager-in-waiting Alan Shearer admitting he has been "left in limbo" over his future, and no new signings, the club is ill-prepared for the new season.

Martins joined Michael Owen, Mark Viduka, Habib Beye, Sebastien Bassong, David Edgar and Peter Lovenkrands by heading for the St. James' Park exit when he joined Wolfsburg for £9 million.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Moat Makes Media Waves

Newcastle United are all over the media, The Sun, Sky Sports, BBC and it's all the same story, that the Toon have a major contender to take them over.

Local businessman Bary Moat is leading a consortium and the widespread media coverage puts a warm fuzzy feeling in my belly.

News of all other potential takeovers has trickled through the press, replicated and repeated in turn but this news has come out of the blue and been splashed over everykind of media, press, TV and Internet.

The fact that this takeover is by a local man only adds to the joy and, whilst the fact that he claims apointing Shearer will be his first piece of business is nothing new, for the first time it just feels possible.

Maybe, just maybe, Moat can keep our heads above water. (Had to be done!)

Friday, 31 July 2009

Super Bobby Robson - A Hero For Always

Sir Bobby Robson has died aged 76.

The legend passed away in his bed at 6:30am, on the morning of July 31st 2009.

The news will devestate thousands of fans, including this one.

The nicest man in football and possibly the world has graced many a life with his warm smile and welcoming honesty but lest not forget he was a true great of the game for his ability as well.

After a succesful playing career Sir Bobby took upon an even more succesful career in management as he managed clubs and country to success on the world stage.

Moulding the career of a young Jose Mourinho at Barcelona and crafting a succesful reign at boyhood club Newcastle United.

There are many more but the tears that fill my eyes and the lump that is weighting my throat, prevent me from giving the great man the tribute he truly deserves.

As I watched a tribute to the great man this morning a commentator on some grainy black-and -white footage of Sir Bobby scoring for West Brom stated "...and a header flicks it on to that great player Bobby Robson."

But Bobby was more than that, he wasn't just a great player but a great person, and the world is a worse place without him on it.

Sir Bobby Robson - Great Player, Great Manager, Great Person.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

It Can't Get Any Worse, Oh Wait...

Just when you think it is safe to allow a molecule of positiveness back into your mind, the pre-season campaign really kicks-off.

For those of you who haven't already been confronted by a 'friend' or attacked by a sibling that can't contain their excitement, Leyton Orient lay-ed the smackdown on Newcastle as they produced a stunning 6-1 win.

Whilst I have little optimism over the current off field affairs at the club, it appeared that the players had at least decided to knuckle down and play some football, sadly not.

The live text from this game was brought to us on the club website by Craig Hope, something fans have got very little left to cling onto.

And Hope uncannily pointed out before the match, "Kevin Nolan and Oba Martins get the game underway. Earlier sunshine has now made way with clouds gathering above Brisbane Road."

However, he couldn't possibly have predicted the storm that this cloud would contain. Newcastle were level for just four minutes of the fixture but perhaps it was just one of those games?

Live text exerts

3min - United spring an early attack down the left...

4min - LEYTON ORIENT GOAL (1-0)

9min - This is all Orient in fairness...

23min - LEYTON ORIENT GOAL (2-0)

29min - United are on the back foot.
..

30min - NEWCASTLE GOAL (2-1)

36min - United are clearly buoyed by their goal and you wouldn't bet against them finding a leveller before the break.

38min - And that equaliser almost comes via the right boot of Kevin Nolan...

41min - Steven Taylor sets off on a cavalier charge from halfway, but it's keeper Jones who again thwarts the visitors.

43min - This keeper Jones is proving unbeatable from open play!

HALF TIME

48min - Andy Carroll unleashes a fizzing 20-yard drive which is saved by Jones just inside the left-hand post - good work from Big Andy.

50min - Damien Duff's run and left-wing cross-cum-shot draws a subsequent "oooh" from the away fans as it flashes into the side-netting.

52min - Kevin Nolan comes close to netting his third of the summer with a shot which drops the wrong side of Jones' crossbar.

53min - LEYTON ORIENT GOAL (3-1)

55min - LEYTON ORIENT GOAL (4-1)


66min - Jones travels outside of the area at the expense of a free-kick. But the keeper redeems himself with a fine full-length save from Guthrie's dipping strike.

69min - Xisco rattles the opposition woodwork with a measured left-foot strike.

77min - Guthrie fizzes a rising strike inches above the frame of the goal - that was close and should have been a goal.

83min - LEYTON ORIENT GOAL (5-1)

86min - LEYTON ORIENT GOAL (6-1)

Full-time, United soundly beaten.

The score tells one hell of a horror story, but the 'highlights' perhaps tell a slightly different one. It seems the youngsters of Carroll, Guthrie, LuaLua and the like are desperate to play attacking football and when it works it works. (See Darlington 7-2)

However when it doesn't it leaves us very, very exposed at the back and, as ever, we just can't cope with it.

The team sheet provides no excuse, Krul, Beye, Colo, S. Taylor, Enrique, Jonas, Nolan, Barton, Duff and Oba were led by captain Smudge (Why not Taylor?) and that is almost certainly our strongest team in terms of experience.

All I can put this down to is a freak result, but maybe that's just because I can't bear to accept the alternative possibilities.

Ah well, friendlies don't mean anything anyway.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Do The Bookies Know Something We Don't?

This morning some disturbing 'news' emerged from the bookmakers. This news was twofold.

Firstly, Chris Hughton was introduced to the pool of betting on who will be in charge of Newcastle on the first day of the season. The caretaker came in at 6/1 third favourite behind Gianluca Vialli [5/1] and of course big Al who still remains firm favourite at 1/2.

Whilst this is not too surprising due to the constant lack of activity on the rudderless ship that is St. James' Park, after all Hughton has been handed the reigns before and he knows the team as well as anyone.

The more worrying news was the speed at which Hughton's odds were slashed to 100/30 and brought down to second favourite.

Hughton may indeed still be behind Shearer in the stakes but the likelihood of his introduction at a short price suggests the bookmakers at skybet have caught wind of something at SJP. Pair that with the news that there is indeed a frankly, quite terrifying back-up-plan in the minds of Fat Ash and Llambias.

Now you may need to be sitting down for this but the news on the grapevine is that Ashley plans to 'weather the storm'.

This means holding on to players, paying their wages and praying we get promoted at the first time of asking.

For the first time I really believe that this season could see the end of the club I love.

Anything other than promotion will bankrupt the club and leave Newcastle destroyed.

If the bookies believe Hughton will be in charge at the start of the season then they must believe a takeover is some way off. If a takeover is some way off then Fat Ash must still be in charge come the season start. If Ashley is still in charge come the start of the season then we may not have a club by the end of it.

The plans to launch FC United of Newcastle start here.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

It's The Not Knowing That Hurts The Most

It was announced today that Joe Kinnear would not be appointed as Newcastle manager, after newspaper reports had claimed that the former Toon boss was set to regain the right to sit in the hottest of seats.

The most surprising thing? That after weeks, months even, of silence a sudden and abrupt response was forthcoming from the club.

In an item named simply "NUFC Statement" was the following;
REPORTS in the press this morning that Joe Kinnear is to be appointed as Newcastle United manager are not true.

The position remains that the Club is still in the market to be sold and is still negotiating with prospective buyers.
Cold, and to-the-point.
But why? After so much silence over the futures of players, agents claiming they can't get in touch with club officials, relentless defiance to reveal even the slightest information on the ownership and potential takeover of the club.

Why speak out on this, quite frankly, weak paper talk?

Despite being an optimist, I fear the worst, and I can only think of two reasons to explain it.

1) Fat Ash and Llambias are trying to keep the fans spirits up as they know that it is probably better to have no manager at the club, than to hir someone other than Alan Shearer.

OR

2) Fat Ash and Llambias are trying to keep the club as buyer friendly as possible. They know that the potential buyers of the club will want to be able to instantly hire their own manager and don't want gossip to put of any of the bidders.

Now the second option is more than likely the pick of the two, why would they start caring about our feelings now?

The most worrying part of this means that bids are unlikely to be any further than the initial stages if they are worrying about scaring of investors.

If anyone had made any progress with a bid, the club would still be staying quiet and ignoring any gossip that comes along as Ashley and Llambias would be confident that it wouldn't be their problem for much longer.

They say, no news is good news.

I say, it's the not knowing that hurts the most.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Turning A Blind Eye

It's been a tad quiet on this blog recently, which to be fair, has almost perfectly represented the amount of news coming out of SJP in the past days, weeks and months.

However whilst my fellow bloggers and bloggees concentrate on the endless takeover gossip, I just can't bring myself to raise the hopes of myself or any other Toon fan.

Instead I'd like to take a look at the apparent advantage we have from being a 'big' team in the Championship, or more importantly, the complete bunkum this is.

First off, we are regarded as a big scalp in the league with various players and managers admitting they were looking for Newcastle when fixture lists were released.

Secondly, I was looking forward to a return to 'real football' with relegation to the Championship. You know, three o'clock, Saturdays, young hungry British talent.

So far we have seen very little of any of this, with no players brought in, very few shown the door and just one three o'clock kick off in our first seven fixtures.

That's right, one in seven!

In a time where we thought we could wave goodbye to the television restrictions of the Premier League and faced with even more in the Football League.

Our kick-off times include a 17:30, 17:20, 19:45 and possibly the most ridiculous of the lot, 14:05.

It appears we've become something of a hot property for Television companies and the big fish is always the one that they want to catch.

Whilst I'm happy to be able to watch my beloved Newcastle from home, I'm worried that my hopes of a chance to rebuild the club out of the spotlight may be completely destroyed.

This may be me making a fuss over nothing, but I was hoping for a bit of traditional footballing values returning to SJP. It seems we could be a couple of relegations away from that.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Getting My House In Order

Apologies for the lack of activity but unfortunately I've been hampered in my crazed obsession of writing about the Toon Army by a rather irritating need to move homes.

Anyways, for the next few days there may be somewhat less frequent posting and updating of the blog, but fear not, just think of me as Mickey O: Back to full fitness soon! (I'm so clever)

Anyway on the subject of the departing players five were released at the start of the month (check the sidebar) and international competitors were given an extra week off, oh and Obafemi managed to turn up twenty minutes late for the first day of training. Good to see Hughton has put the fear in the players.

Mickey O is joining Manchester United...seriously...no I swear...he's having a medical today...check Sky Sports News.

Oh and apparently some Malaysian consortium are getting close to buying us, which means we're unnervingly close to something actually happening at the club soon. Can't say much about the new owners really, as I know nothing about them, but at least we'll have some tough pre-season fixtures against the likes of Kuala Lumpur FA and Negeri Sembilan FA to look forward to next season.

Maybe some free tickets to Sepang for the Grand Prix too. The possibilities are endless.

P.S The header picture will be changed soon, unfortunately the replacement is hidden in a memory stick, which is hidden in a box, which is hidden in a room, which is hidden in my house...somewhere.

Friday, 26 June 2009

No News Is Very Bad News

So the anticipated Londinium meeting for Shearer, Ashley and Llambias to 'thrash out a deal' never took place, and our club aimlessly glides towards the Championship without anyone at the helm.

As players agents claim they can't get in contact with anyone at the club, what chance have we got.

It seems even the press have lost interest in our soap opera, I can't remember the last time we were mentioned on Sky or BBC and with little pressure from the media it's unlikely there will be any rush from the board.

Even when Mickey O 'revealed' he would not be signing a new deal at the Toon, (scoop of the year for Sky Sports News) there was very little talk about the situation at out club.

The only people that care these days are the fans and we are seeing a lesser mentioned side effect of relegation. The lack of influence from the press has undoubtedly kept the sale of the club at snail's pace.

I can't help but feel if we had survived relegation Sky Sports News would've set up 'Toon Watch' and had one reporter stationed outside SJP and another hounding Ashley, wherever he may be.

Unfortunately we did not survive, and we pay the price, without any mainstream media attention we turn to the local papers, which seem to have just a tad more respect on Tyneside than Ashley himself.

The Chronicle and Journal are interesting reads but they don't seem to do anything more than speculate as to what might be happening at SJP. They might as well be picking scenarios from a hat and reporting it these days as their 'sources' seem to be less knowledgeable than the bottle of HP in my kitchen cupboard.

I never thought I'd say it, particularly with all the bad news and black clouds at the end of last season, but I miss the media attention.

I'm convinced a sale would have gone ahead, or at least a manager would've been appointed, had there been some real media pressure that would embarrass Mike Ashley in front of the world, rather than just the North East.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Going For Bassong

You may say I'm getting lazy, I'd say I'm getting industrious.

Yes this is another one of those posts where I force feed you some of my Goal.com writing and make little effort to disguise it as an original blog.

I only do it 'cos I care so much. Really. I don't want you to miss out on the buzz around SJP so here it is, and as you may have guessed it is revolving around Seb Bassong's imminent departure.

Reports suggest Tottenham are heading up the chase for the defender we have valued at £15 million, so here's the full story.

Tottenham Head Chase For Newcastle's Sebastien Bassong

Tottenham Hotspur are in pole position to complete the signing of Newcastle United defender Sebastien Bassong, according to reports on Tyneside today.

The French centre-back was almost the sole highlight of Newcastle's disastrous Premier League campaign which eventually ended in relegation.

The 22-year-old signed for the Magpies for just £500,000 last summer and won the player of the season award at the Tyneside club, becoming a fans' favourite in the process.

His success was particularly highlighted as £10 million-man Fabricio Coloccini struggled to assert his presence in the Newcastle defence.

Bassong has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs but reports in The Newcastle Evening Chronicle suggest Tottenham are the current front-runners.

Whilst Bassong has admitted he has held talks with two Premier League clubs it is believed Tottenham are the only club willing to match the Magpies' asking price.

Reports suggest that Alan Shearer informed club officials to demand £15m for the Frenchman, a price tag that has turned away Arsenal and is unrealistic for North East rivals Sunderland.

However Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp is apparently willing to meet the price, but may try to negotiate a part-exchange deal involving one or two fringe players at White Hart Lane.

Written For Goal.com --- June 2009

If I were to have a guess I would've thought the players that could come towards us would be Chris Gunter and one from Giovanni Dos Santos or Adel Taraabt.

Both Dos Santos and Taraabt, have had loan spells away from White Hart Lane and seem set to leave one way or another. They would most likely jump at the chance to play regular first team football and (hopefully) be back in the Premier League in a season.

Not bad, and if we pocket somewhere in the region of £8 million as well it would be one of the best bits of business we're likely to do.

However if I were dreaming the players would be Michael Dawson and Gareth Bale, with Tayls and Habib we genuinely would have the strongest defence in the league.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Still Hitting The Headlines

As I'm sure all you loyal toonites will know already Steven Taylor was reportedly deep in thought over his future at the club after the delay on Shearer's appointment as manager and just general chaos at the club.

This topical storyline was deemed news worthy by myself and I well and truly plonked it onto Goal.com just yesterday.

Here is the full article for those of you who didn't see this story.

Steven Taylor's Future Hinges On Manager Appointment

Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor will make a decision on his future after a manager is appointed.

Reports in The Shields Gazette claim the 23-year-old will stay if Alan Shearer is appointed as permanent manager, but will consider his options should somebody else be appointed to the role.

The England Under-21 captain returns to pre-season training next week and little progress has been made since he and his club were relegated at Aston Villa on the final day of last season.

Turmoil at the club has seen every player put up for sale but Taylor is on a list of players that should only be sold as a last resort, along with goalkeeper Steve Harper, midfielder Nicky Butt and fellow defender Habib Beye, as the Toon attempt to retain a spine for their Championship campaign.

Taylor has been tracked by a number of Premier League clubs, including Arsenal, West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur, but is keen to stay with the Magpies.

The Shields Gazette source claims that Shearer told Taylor he would not be leaving for any price if he was appointed manager, but with time ticking away before pre-season begins, Taylor may feel he needs to make a decision soon.

Written
For Goal.com --- June 2009

Monday, 22 June 2009

New Away Kit - Newcastle Goes Bananas

Yes every blog will be talking about it, no I don't care.

The new away kit was unveiled today and if you havent seen it yet, click here, then return.

I know, I know...maybe it'll look better with Habib in it, give yourself a second look to take it all in...go on.

Or maybe me?

Yes that's right, yellow and white stripes, whether it is local heroes, international stars or dillusional bloggers, it is still yellow and white stripes.

Now I know what you're expecting, jokes like the one in the title, puns that refer to our defence looking more like clowns than ever before an the like, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to dissapoint.

I like it, in fact I may love it. It's unusual, different and massively unexpected three factors that would provoke bad responses. But it's not ghastly, and in no way painful on the eyes.

The more I look at it the more I like looking at it, then again, maybe it's just Tayls cracking smile.

Oh and by the way, a clever Mackem has already coined the chant "Bananas In Pyjamas, Going Down The League." however I'm sure a cleverer Magpie can swiftly change this to "Bananas In Pyjamas and We're Gonna Win The League!"

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Quiet Weekends Becoming The Norm

With a relatively newsless weekend around the Toon I decided to pass the time by posting up a story I wrote for Goal.com this past week.

It is Burnley boss Owen Coyle, politely stating his lack of interest in signing our very own upturned horseshoe Damien Duff.

Owen Coyle Laughs Off Duff Link

Burnley manager Owen Coyle has laughed off suggestions he is keen on signing Newcastle United's Damien Duff.

The Premier League may bring new levels of riches to clubs, but Coyle still believes the Republic of Ireland winger is out of Burnley financial reach.

Coyle told Burnley's official website, "I read a report linking us with Damien Duff, but he would be nowhere within our reach.

"There will be a host of players out there who are out of our reach. I had to laugh when I was away on holiday [and saw] we were linked with a couple of players who I had never even spoken to!”

The former Chelsea winger is not in Burnley's plans but Coyle did admit that he has had bids for players rejected this summer.

He also made it clear he has the final say on transfers and will be taking the lead in every potential move, adding, "Nobody will speak to clubs or players on my behalf, if there's somebody after them that will be me."

Written For Goal.com --- June 2009

It seems we will be faced with an unusual conundrum before the start of the season, not how to hold onto players, but how to offload them.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Well, Thursday Came And Went

Another week, another piece of hope fading away.

Rumours that Big Al could be appointed manager by Thursday proved to be not entirely truthful, but none of us really expected anything to happen, did we?

It seems the cynics (myself included) that warned this could just be a stunt that happened to fall on season ticket renewal week would appear to have been proven correct, and with The Guardian reporting the sale may slow down further it could be a while until we see any real progress.

The 'Data Room' is officially open however and takeovers do take time so maybe I was expecting to much, however I don't so much want anything to happen but a few words from someone at the club would be somewhat reassuring that the cogs are turning.

In fact, the only person we've heard anything from recently is Sebastien Bassong, and that was only to confirm he is in negotiations with other clubs.

Negotiations maybe, but still there is no real movement in any direction for the club, as a fellow blogger points out, we may well field the same team in pre-season that lost to Villa on the that fateful day.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Finally, We Have Some Friends

At last, some five hours after our entire schedule of league meetings for the season has been announced, the club have managed to cobble together three pre-season friendlies.

This will be the first piece of news that brings Toon supporters back down to Earth once again as our status as a Championship club is well and truly rubber stamped.

Past seasons have seen Newcastle take part in the Asia Cup, and welcome foreign stars to SJP for a friendly kick about, no this year. Away trips to Darlington and Huddersfield are followed by a potential interesting visit of Leeds United to the Toon.

I can't imagine there being anything friendly about these ties but perhaps that will be a good thing as the championship will be more physical than the Premier League.

If you take a deeper look into the fixtures that have been arranged it suggests that someone has decided the kind of tough matches we need to face and the kind of surroundings we need to familiarise ourselves with, whilst avoiding too long a trip away from home.

The visit of Leeds could suggest talks for Jermaine Beckford have progressed with a money-spinning friendly being arranged as a possible bonus for the Yorkshire club.

All it really gives us is a little hope that takeover talks are progressing so much so that perhaps Big Al has been allowed to set up friendly games. The news he could be confirmed as manager before the end of the week is also a boost, but it is convenient how this morale boosting news has just happened to fall on the same week as season ticket forms have been sent out.

Someone please sort out the sceptic in me.

Pack Your Overnight Bags

It's fixture time! So finally we have some games to look forward to, not pre-season but new season. Bear in mind, the only reason we've got these is because it takes absolutely no effort from anyone in the Newcastle boardroom.

A tricky start to the season with an away trip to face West Brom, two teams currently less of a manager but plenty of summer reshaping to come before we truly no what kind of a challenge they'll be.

Same can be said about the visit of Reading as rumours circulate that their new gaffer, Alan Irvine is ready to cash in on hitman Kevin Doyle and midfield workhorse Stephen Hunt whom Everton are circling around with intent.

Sheffield Wednesday will complete the opening three games, and The Owls will be looking for revenge that has been some ten years in the making. Wednesday's last league visit (if my research serves me right) was Newcastle record home league win as the Toon put eight passed the Sheffield club who had no reply. A repeat of that performance would be nice.

Oh and we can all enjoy spending Boxing Day in Sheffield on the return visit.

An important date for your diarys, Tyne-Tees derby matches take place at SJP on 19th December and at The Riverside on 13th March.

As much as I can't stand our "official" website I will give you all the chance to see the full fixture list by clicking here.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Some Good News...

...or at least some good rumours.

During my stint writing news for Goal.com yesterday I stumbled across this story, originally reported on the Evening Chronicle website I added my own little touch and posted it up for the whole world to see.

Thought the least I could do is show it to you fair people as it shows that despite our relegation to The Championship, we can still (occasionally) one-up those pesky Mackems.

Enjoy.

Norwegian Starlet Set To Snub Sunderland For Newcastle


Per Ciljan Skjelbred is desperate to join Newcastle United, despite their relegation to the Championship, and could snub a potential move to Premier League club Sunderland in order to fulfil his dream.

The Evening Chronicle claims the 21-year-old Norwegian prospect is eager to be part of a promotion push and will wait for the turmoil at the St. James' Park club to settle down before deciding on his future.

Reports on the paper’s website suggest that the Norwegian international will turn down Premier League football to join the Tyneside club.

Sunderland, Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur have shown an interest in the Rosenborg playmaker, with attention also coming from Europe in the shape of Italian side Torino.

Potential Newcastle manager Alan Shearer had tracked the player during his time in temporary charge and is still keen to sign Skjelbred.

Newcastle are currently in limbo. The Magpies do not have a single pre-season friendly arranged and there is still uncertainty over who will manage the team next season.

Owner Mike Ashley is desperate to offload the club as quickly as possible and draw a curtain on his disastrous reign.

Written For Goal.com --- June 2009

The Hits Keep Coming

Jamie Dunn's excellent Transfer Watch blog has kept providing us with the most head-turning, insightful and original transfer stories as of late, and this time it is particularly apt for Newcastle fans.

"Where Next For Michael Owen?" asks the Transfer Watch as a man with proven goal scoring pedigree and at what is considered a prime age for strikers is so desperate for a club he has to send out a brochure to show what he can do.

I wonder if Mike Ashley received a copy?

Monday, 15 June 2009

A Chink Of Light

After a weekend of what is becoming worryingly familiar radio silence a breakthrough was made this morning as news was reported that an American consortium are actually willing to take the club out of Ashley's hands.

This news didn't come from Newcastle, as if it would, neither was it announced on the pathetic excuse of an official club website that is nufc.co.uk, it comes from the Independent.

Their sources in the city claim that an American group are ready to take a look at our accounts and that talks are at an advanced stage. Ashley has apparently made all the arrangements to accommodate a change of owner as quickly as possible.

So maybe just maybe something may be sorted soon, but bear in mind the word soon is losing all meaning at Newcastle.

A new manager will be appointed soon.

The sale of the club will be completed soon.

Fans will lose their patience soon.

At least we know the last one is true, for the majority it's already happened.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

A Moment Of Clarity?

As much as I enjoy the various blogs ridiculing and (attempting) to humiliate Mike Ashley even further in the eyes of the Toon Army, I'm always prepared to give credit where it is due.

Reports in various papers and websites, today continued to rant and rave about the ridiculous efforts to recoup funds by putting every member of the first team squad up for sale.

One report on the other hand told how Ashley had instructed that 'Prize Assets' are sold as a last option. Can this possibly be true, a rational decision?

The Sun went as far as to claim that Steve Harper, Steven Taylor and Nicky Butt were not for sale as Shearer had earmarked these players as his spine. With Andy Carroll on top that wouldn't be a bad team to build around.

Whilst I don't quite believe that they are 'not for sale' I can believe that Ashley has pushed them to the bottom of the list and initially tried to sell the flops, the unwanted and the unkeepable in the shape of Colo, Barton and Oba.

With apparent attempts to hang on to the much sought after Bassong, Beye and Taylor I must say, in all sincerity, thanks Mike.

Please don't let me down.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

So What Exactly Does This Get Me?

It's that time of year, season ticket renewal, whilst many of you may have just got your renewal form through your letter box I have very little belief that many of you will be sending them back with a nice fat cheque made out to Big Mike.

This is the time of year when the majority of us Toon supporters are dreaming of a season of success, well maybe not even that far, just a season of fight is a dream these days.

It's a bit rich to ask the loyal fan to pay for something that doesn't even exist as of yet, the chance to watch a Newcastle team play football next season.

With every member of the first team squad being flogged of to the highest, or maybe even quickest, bidder. We are faced with the prospect of watching a group of players flummox about the SJP pitch who don't as yet play for the side.

That's being hopeful, as with an owner who has disappeared of the face of the planet and no manager to speak of, the prospect of signing one single player is a long way off.

What's more likely is that we will have to blood youngsters who in all truth are two or three seasons from being ready to play a full season of professional football.

But as it goes we may have no other option but to hope some young Geordie's can blend with the left-overs we didn't want six months ago, but now are beginning to stay and save this club.

Shola Ameobi will lead the line and at this rate probably be handed the captains armband, as reserve team youngsters Nile Ranger and Mark Donninger are extremely likely to be called on to play regular first team football next term.

So I sympathise with those who receive a season ticket renewal form and try to fathom exactly what you are paying for.

Because these days buying a season ticket for Newcastle is like buying a ticket in a raffle, and your odds aren't good.

Villa Join Chase For Duff

Aston Villa are believed to be prepared to offer Damien Duff an escape route from the Championship, but could face stiff competition from the Premier League new boys.

Reports in The Irish Evening Herald suggest that Villa manager Martin O'Neill is keen on the Newcastle United winger, but will have to beat newly promoted Wolves and Burnley to his signature.

Duff is now facing a fight to hold onto his international place with competition arising in the shape of Reading's Stephen Hunt and Celtic's Aiden McGeady.

A move to a Premier League club will give Duff's international chances a boost, but reports in Dublin suggest the player may be keen on a move to Europe.

Newcastle will be keen on selling to the highest bidder and it is thought that a bid from Spain or Italy may interest both parties.

Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapatoni's connections in Italy may make a move to Southern Europe more likely.

Written for Goal.com --- June 2009

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Transfer Watch

A colleague and friend has set up a brand spanking new blog dedicated to the wild world of transfers.

It's what everyone talks about in the summer so why not sort yourselves out and keep an eye on the Transfer Watch blog.

A fellow Goal.com writer and student at Southampton Solent University means you know you can trust the news on this blog.

The mighty Newcastle United will of course be a focus of his attentions, even if it is just to follow our former players to their new clubs.

Duff May Reunite With McCarthy At Wolves

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy is ready to launch a bid to secure the signature of Republic of Ireland international Damien Duff.

The Newcastle winger has been placed on the transfer list with the rest of the squad as the Championship club attempts to slash it's astronomical wage bill.

The Evening Herald reports that the close relationship between the former Ireland manager and Duff remains from their days together at national level.

This brings a move closer as McCarthy looks to add Premier League experince to his squad.

Duff was one the first Newcastle player to pledge his allegiance to his club after their relegation, but may be forced to leave as the team struggles to cut costs whilst they search for a buyer for the club.

The former Chelsea star may be asked to help the club by leaving and may be keen on a move back to the Premier League to link up with his former national boss.

Written for Goal.com --- June 2009

Monday, 8 June 2009

Portsmouth Looking To Offer Barton Escape

Portsmouth are willing to offer a contract to Joey Barton according to The Newcastle Evening Chronicle.

The former Manchester City player, relegated from the Premier League with Newcastle this season, has been persistently in trouble on and off the pitch.

Most recently Barton was suspended by Newcastle after allegedly abusing interim manager Alan Shearer during a training ground bust-up at the end of the season.

Shearer, who is expected to be named Magpies boss pending a potential takeover, was alleged to have told Barton he would not play for the club again.

The Toon will be desperate to slash their £76 million wage bill, as they prepare for life in the Championship, with high earners Michael Owen and Mark Viduka also expected to leave the club.

Any potential Newcastle owner will welcome cutting Barton's £60,000 a week from the wage bill.

Written for Goal.com --- June 2009

Friday, 5 June 2009

Smith Needs To Relieve "Guilt"

Newcastle midfielder Alan Smith has expressed his desire to help his club back to the Premier League.

Reports in The Newcastle Evening Chronicle suggest Smith is happy to accept his fate and let the club decide if they want to sell him or not.

After two frustrating, injury-marred years Smith is happy to see out the remaining three years on his contract and repay the faith shown in him.

Despite reported interest from Blackburn, Everton and Fulham, the former Leeds and Manchester United front man is in no rush to leave.

Troublesome midfielder Joey Barton has also expressed his desire to stay despite high-profile bust-ups with interim manager Alan Shearer.

"My intention is to stay at the club and help Newcastle back into the Premier League. If Alan Shearer takes the manager’s job and if he doesn’t want me then my hands are tied.” revealed the former Manchester City man.

Irish International Damien Duff was the first Newcastle player to commit his future to the club despite the relegation to the Championship and Newcastle fans will be confident they can now hold onto some of their stars.

Written for goal.com --- June 2009

Friday, 1 May 2009

The Troublesome Trip

A change of tact this week, the focus is solely on Sunday's trip to Anfield, but instead of repeating how this is a 'must win' game (which it is), I thought I'd reminisce about the arguably the most enthralling of Premier League fixtures.

Arsenal vs Manchester United? Merseyside Derby or perhaps the North London Battles?

Nope, none of those, Liverpool vs Newcastle, a fixture that always produces goals.

Cliché? Maybe. But there hasn't been a nil-nil draw in this fixture since the 1973/74 season, on top of that they truly provide the kind of entertainment that the Premier League is famous for, and the kind of football that English fans are proud to export to the world.

One fixture in particular stands out in the memory. In successive seasons, the attacking prowess of Newcastle was met with the never say die attitude of Liverpool at home.

As Kevin Keegan's Newcastle powered through the Premier League season and towards what was seeming ever more inevitably, their first Premier League title he met a Liverpool side who refused to lie down.

A slow start by the Magpies saw Robbie Fowler, steal in to grab a goal after just two minutes for Liverpool, but this little slip was soon corrected by the title contenders as first Les Ferdinand and then David Ginola scored to reverse the scoreline by 14 minutes.

During this season, it was expected that Newcastle, even against the might of Liverpool, would go onto win once they had their nose in front in any fixture.

However on this occasion their need to attack and play as if they have just one minute left in the cup final despite the score let Liverpool in again and Fowler picked up a second goal just after half time to bring Liverpool level.

A flurry of attacking exchanges eventually ended in a Newcastle goal through Colombian striker Faustino Asprilla, Newcastle were ahead again and now it was over...only someone forgot to tell Liverpool.

Stan Collymore poped up on the 68th minute and set up a thrilling finish.

Come the 90th minute and as Ian Rush and John Barnes exchange two yard passes to slowly zig-zag their way into the Newcastle box, eventually the ball bobbles towards the back post and "Collymore's closing in!" screams Martin Tyler.

Kevin Keegan hangs his head over the advertising board in disbelief, an iconic image of the Premier League and an iconic match for the Premier League scrapbook.

The following season saw an arguably more remarkable match where Newcastle battled back from a three goal half-time deficit, to seemingly snatch a draw with two minutes to go.

Only for Robbie Fowler to break Geordie hearts in the same place as the previous season with a stoppage time winner.

This season Newcastle fans saw a dominating display from the opposition as Newcastle shipped five goals in a crushing defeat, and only managed to produce one goal in response.

This weekend may not see a repeat of these classic fixtures, but I can solidly speak for one member of the Toon army when I say that a one-nil victory with a goal off Michael Owen's backside will do for me.

Howay the lads!

Monday, 13 April 2009

Fighting Spirit or Punch Drunk?

Watching, somewhat nervously, as Newcastle fought back against Stoke on Saturday I couldn't help but feel a little let down by some of our players.

No doubt they ran all day, and they clearly want to keep the club up, but it's the way the small minority go about their business that worries me for our crucial end of season run-in.

Messers, Nolan, Guthrie and Ameobi are top of my list.

First up, our friendly midfield maestros. Whilst their inclusion in the team adds bite, grit and pure determination to our midfield I fear for our ability to finish the game with eleven men whenever either of them flies into a tackle or questions a decision.

The pure ferocity that erupts from the pair worries me beyond belief and with the upcoming fixtures set to become ever more crucial as each game passes, will they be able to keep their heads? At the Britannia stadium Nolan seemed desperate for a punch up and he is unlikely to be protected by his captain as little Mickey just seems desperate for a decent ball.

Moving onto Owen's strike partner for the day, the ever-pointless, never-useful Shola Ameobi. I struggle to find a reason why still has a shirt at Newcastle.

Is it due to his four goals in 21 games this term? It can't be because of his failure to score last season, so it must be due to his somewhat persistent injuries that have meant we've never seen enough of the guy to realise quite how useless he is.

It's not inaccurate to say he actually hampered the team by being on the pitch against Stoke. His apparent inability to sprint, shoot and jump leaves me scratching my head as to why he was on the pitch, let alone given the duty of marking the oppositions best header of the ball.

To call Ameobi a Donkey, would be harsh on Donkeys. In fact fielding a Donkey up front would probably not have aroused much more than a, "Aay, our Shola's looking lively today." from the travelling Geordie faithful.

I believe the only time Ameobi sprinted during his painful 74 minutes on the pitch, was to the touchline, when super sub Andy Carroll replaced him.

As it happened, Everything Shola wasn't, Andy was.

The born-and-bred Geordie threw himself at everything in the air, connecting more often than not, in both attack and defence. The Stoke defence were bemused at the aerial threat and it eventually produced a wonderful headed goal.

A goal that could save our season.

If I were Alan Shearer one of my goals for the remaining six games of the season, would be to make sure Carroll gets as much time on the pitch as possible.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Timing Is Everything

Newcastle head into a crunch relegation battle against Stoke City with somewhat less media coverage than last weekend's game against Chelsea managed to attract.

Alan Shearer's first game in charge saw media representatives from all corners of the footballing world inside St. James' Park, and if three more of the Geordie faithful had turned up it would also have been the biggest crowd of the season.

The timing of Shearer's appointment was questioned, many suggested it would have been a better move to take charge after the Chelsea game, a match that Newcastle were unlikely to get anything out of, with or without Shearer in charge.

But perhaps now we are seeing the canniness that Shearer exercised in his timing, to take charge when he did meant that whilst dreams of a debut victory existed, realistically it was a game Newcastle could afford to lose. Now he has had ten days to learn what his squad has to offer, and for his squad to understand his way of thinking.

An open training session at SJP attracted 7,500 fans and with 3,000 following the team down to the Britannia stadium maybe they can see that they still have the support to push on and survive the dreaded drop.

Media coverage has dropped off since the open training session and given players a chance to relax and enjoy training with their new boss.

The atmosphere seems calm, and I'm just hoping that a storm is brewing up to be released on the pitch.

Preview: Stoke City vs Newcastle

Premier League - Britannia Stadium - Saturday 11th April - 17:30

TEAM NEWS

Spanish left-back, Jose Enrique joins Steven Taylor and Peter Lovenkrands on the injury list but Sebastien Bassong brings a boost to a frail Toon defence. The Frenchman has been a big hit on Tyneside and fans will hope his return can sure up a defence that has failed to keep a clean sheet in it's last five games.

Obafemi Marins and Michael Owen are expected to start up front and Owen bagged a brace in the reverse fixture. Tall striker Andy Carroll could make an impact from the bench with his aerial threat against a strong Stoke defence.

Stoke's only injury problem is the long term absence of Madamy Sidibie and with a fully fit and fully confident squad, including free scoring striker James Beattie, Tony Pulis' men will be more than ready for the visitors.

HISTORY

Played - 33
Stoke - 17
Draws - 9
Newcastle - 7
Goals - 79

PROBABLE LINE UPS

STOKE
Sorensen, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye, Higginbotham, Lawrence, Delap, Whelan, Etherington, Fuller, Beattie.

NEWCASTLE
Harper, Coloccini, Cacapa, Beye, Bassong, Nolan, Butt, R. Taylor, Jonas, Martins, Owen

PREDICTION

This will be a very close and likely painful match to watch for all involved. The football on show will not be the most beautiful that the world has ever witnessed but it will be some of the most exciting and nail-biting action all season.

STOKE 1 - 1 NEWCASTLE

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Move Over Colo?

Newcastle's latest defeat to Chelsea a defensive lapse that has seen yet another of our men in stripes have his diagnosis confirmed as a serious bout of centre-back-itus.

On the face of it he seemed to be the signing of the summer, Fabricio Coloccini was brought in at the staggering cost of £10m and was expected to finally solve the problem of a leaky Tyneside defence. Unfortunately he has gone the way of Titus Bramble and Jean Alain Boumsong and despite looking like a solid buy has consistently been overpowered and too easily fooled.

For the away trip to Manchester City, Colo was moved into defensive midfield, his 'favoured' position. It was hard to see why as he failed to complete a pass over five yards for the entire first half and was dropped back into the defence at half time.

The answer is a tough call that I wouldn't like to make, but it is a rather clear one. The Argentine defender must take a place on the bench whilst Steven Taylor and Sebastien Bassong are given the chance to expand on what promises to be a flourishing partnership.

Bassong has been something of a rarity for Newcastle in recent times, a good buy. Just one million pounds was spent to secure the Frenchman's signature and he has looked more than comfortable with the pace of the Premier League.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much money you spend on a door, if it doesn't fit the hole, you can't use it.

The Honeymoon Is Over

It's harsh, but it's football.

Alan Shearer's first match in management went the way most would have expected, with a solid win for Chelsea. Fans flocked to St. James' for a glimpse of Newcastle's latest messiah but unfortunately on this occasion, miracles could not be delivered.

Hark though loyal followers! This is not a defeat that condemns Newcastle to relegation, it does however mean we are deeply immersed in squeaky-bum territory. The bus that takes the squad down to the Potteries this weekend will have to have a few extra seats to accommodate the three points that simply must join the players on their trip back to the Toon.

Shearer has been widely acclaimed as having a one-track mind, something he will need to install into the players. Victory is the only option for this club if they wish to remain amongst England's elite.

Whilst the task of avoiding relegation would still be possible, the already low confidence levels will take a deathly strike if we walk off the Britannia Stadium pitch with no points.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Preview: Newcastle vs Chelsea

Premier League - St. James Park - Saturday 4th April - 15:00

Newcastle's gloom and doom will be wiped away if they can produce a result against title chasing Chelsea on Saturday. The return of Alan Shearer will rally the toon army and raise the temperature at St. James Park.

Chelsea Manager Guus Hiddink has warned against complacency and told his side they will have to work harder to combat the 'Shearer effect'. Chelsea come off a loss to Tottenham and will need to pick up all three points if they wish to stay on the tail of Liverpool and Manchester United at the top of the table.

TEAM NEWS

Interim Newcastle manager Alan Shearer will be able to welcome back Steven Taylor, Sebastien Bassong and Damien Duff from injury for his first game in charge.

Newcastle will need their strongest defence as they have to contend with the return of the Premier League's leading goalscorer Nicolas Anelka. But as the frenchman comes in his Ivorian teammate Didier Drogba will miss out with an ankle injury.

The London club will also be without full back Jose Bosingwa (hamstring) and England Under 21 international Michael Mancienne may deputise, whilst Newcastle will be without frontman Shola Ameobi (ankle).

HISTORY

Played - 64
Newcastle - 34
Draws - 16
Chelsea - 14
Goals - 163

PROBABLE LINE UPS

NEWCASTLE
Harper, Coloccini, Bassong, S. Taylor, Enrique, Nolan, Butt, R. Taylor, Jonas, Martins, Owen

CHELSEA
Cech, Terry, Carvalho, Mancienne, A. Cole, Essien, Lampard, Ballack, Mikel, Malouda, Anelka

PREDICTION

Newcastle will find it tough to get a result after a run of five games without a win and Chelsea will be fully prepared to fight to from minute one to minute 90.

Newcastle 1 - 1 Chelsea

Time Is Right For Ferguson

An interesting week of international football caught the eye as England battled their way to two solid victories, but with no Newcastle players on England duty happenings north of the border may be more intriguing for the toon.

Scotland and Rangers captain Barry Ferguson and goalkeeper Alan McGregor were dropped to the bench for Scotland's qualifier against Iceland on Wednesday night and to find out why you must look back to the previous weekend. The two decided on a late night drinking session after the qualifier against Holland on Saturday and this serious breach of discipline saw them dropped for the following fixture.

This alone landed them in trouble, but what followed left fans and professionals embarrassed and disappointed. The pair decided that instead of graciously accepting their punishment and keeping their heads down, their best course of action would be to stick two fingers up at the TV cameras and watching audience.

They may apologise now but the damage has been done. Both were sent home from training with Rangers and suspended for two weeks, without pay. It's what followed this afternoon that will have stunned them as they were banned from playing for Scotland, for life.

As much as this may interest you, you're probably wondering what this has to do with Newcastle. With Ferguson's international career gone like dust on the wind, what reason is there for him to stay in Scotland?

He will undoubtedly be jeered by fans when he makes his return so why not get out and have one last flurry of comfort in England. He has long been linked with Newcastle and now may be the time Rangers are most open to a sale.

The Geordies have never been a club to turn down a player based on his reputation, look no further than Joey Barton, Lee Bowyer and Duncan Ferguson for proof of this. He would undeniably strengthen the midfield with both talent and experience.

There is perhaps just one hurdle to this potential deal, Newcastle's league status. If relegated this deal is off, but if they manage to stay in the Premier League then I feel this is a very realistic move.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Ashley's Final Gamble

Interim Newcastle manager Alan Shearer insists Newcastle can be saved from relegation.

Shearer's official appointment came just hours after the announcement that controversial figure Dennis Wise had left the club. It was also announced that Wise's role as director of football, a role publicly criticised by former manager Kevin Keegan and Shearer, would cease to exist at the club.

Is this a sign of Ashley attempting to rebuild the club in the fans vision or just the desperate actions fo a chairman who knew what he had to do the bring in big Al?

As much as I hope i'm wrong, I fear the latter may be true.

Ashley has taken more than one managerial gamble; appointing Kevin Keegan pleased the fans, but something never felt quite right and he left after 22 games in charge. In came Joe Kinnear as interim manager before he earned the right to manage the club until the end of the season.

It was a seemingly strange decision to place the reigns of your team in the hands of a man who had been out of football for some time. However when you consider this was at a time when Ashley was attempting to sell the club, it was perhaps less a gamble and more the easy option.

So we find ourselves with eight games to go in the season, with three different men managing to achieve just six league wins between them, we now ask one big man to keep us up. A task that could require another four victories.

We now stand a much better chance of staying up with Shearer at the helm, but if it doesn't pay off, Ashley is all out of messiahs.