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