Monday, 24 May 2010

A Kit of Alright - First Images of New Puma Shirts

One of the most hotly anticipated days of the (off)season, for myself at least, has finally arrived. It's kit day!

A number of sites are reporting that two leaked images of both a brand new home and away shirt are in fact the genuine articles, and I'd be inclined to agree.

Being the obsessive that I am when it comes to new kits I've been trawling numerous websites for weeks now waiting to see our prospective new kits. In the process I've seen leaked pictures of every team's new kit, from Manchester United to Accrington Stanley and the one thing that seems to ring true is that when these images are 'leaked' they turn out to be genuine.

We've known for some time that Adidas are out and Puma are in, one website in particular found it amusing we'd be wearing a black cat on our shirts for the next two years.

First impressions of the new designs are that whilst somewhat uninspired, they are thankfully much less offensive than last seasons legendary away kit. The main topic of conversation seems to be the unusual cut of the neck but personally I like a bit of originality.

We clearly weren't quite as high a priority for Puma as some clubs and I for one am disappointed not to have seen a design similar to that of the rumoured new Tottenham shirt.

Still though, what do you guys think? Better or worse than the last set, or just a different logo?

Friday, 14 May 2010

"Take the gumshield, Chris."

It may not be difficult to take the Michael out of the Premier League's overpaid and often underachieving 'stars' but what is something of a rarity is to consistently get people laughing.

Mysterious Spurs fan, tehTrunk, has gathered something of a cult following on the interweb with his mock animations of the goings on at White Hart Lane. Living with a Spurs fan means I've been a fan of his for some time and you can imagine my joy when I heard that this week the North Londoners have drawn Newcastle in the cup.

No one escapes a tongue lashing at Spurs and they've kept the same modus operandi as they take on Newcastle with Hughton, Jabba and even the great Alan Shearer getting the treatment. Take a look at the video below.

Oh and remember, it's only a joke!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Making A Statement

It's been a busy week for everyone. So much so for myself that I've barely been able to keep up with all the nonsense coming out of St. James' Park.

On Sunday, Newcastle released a statement outlining the future for the club that seemed to address the press, the fans, the players, their agents and just about anyone else who holds any interest in the Toon. As if that wasn't enough, a second statement was released to add the little fact that our esteemed owner was in no rush to have his £111 million loan to the club repaid. To be fair, it's an easy thing to forget.

The media were thrown into a frenzy when the original statement was released as it revealed that nobody on the Newcastle board would be willing to say anything about anything. Not now, not ever. Ironically, something the second statement seemed to almost immediately contradict.

Apparently the press believed this was a bad thing which of course it is, for them. The news makers have had more than their fair share of fun with quotes from former chairman such as when the ignominious Freddy Shepherd once claimed the manager's position at the club was one of the top five job's in Europe.

In reality this is a good thing for Newcastle fans, after all no news is good news, right? The infamous statement also said that only the manager and the coaching staff would comment on football matters, such as selection, tactics and transfers. Again, definitely good news.

The biggest talking point from the statement was by far the subject of transfer funds. The Sun and The Mirrror conveniently forgot stories they ran just a few days ago that claimed Chris Hughton would have between 15 and 25 million pounds to spend this summer, to report that he would in fact have nothing.

Once again they had read between the lines and found something that wasn't there. When we take a look at what the statement actually said, it read like this.

"The first team squad that won the Championship this year will form the basis of the team for next season in the Premier League. There is no plan for new capital outlay on players."

To me this says that the board haven't handed Hughton a blank cheque and sent him out into the world. Instead they've asked him to be prudent and make the most of what he's got, which isn't to big a surprise in a week when we've found out that the Toon have suffered £30 million losses in succesive seasons and, despite promotion back to the Premier League, don't expect to break even until 2015.

I never expected us to go chasing big names this summer, or even little names with big prices and this statement seems to have confirmed that feeling, but I do believe that Hughton will be backed if he believes a player is truly worth their price tag. As he was with both Wayne Routledge and Mike Williamson in January.

Let's not forget we signed just one player last summer and that was a man who had been with us during the back end of the previous season, in Peter Lovenkrands. Yes, it is definitely a different task going up a league than going down one but there is no denying this group of players is almost completely different to those that were relegated.

It's certainly not the same Kevin Nolan and Alan Smith that fumbled around the Villa Park pitch on that fateful day and Andy Carroll has discovered something of a clinical touch after a season in the second tier.

Team spirit has propelled us this season and I believe that is the most important thing at the club right now. I'm not too bothered who comes in because I genuinely believe we already have a squad capable of staying up.

You can quote me on that.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

A Job Well Ton

A Peter Lovenkrands goal was enough to see of ten man QPR at Loftus Road and round off the season in style.

The Toon smashed through the 100 point barrier and became the first team to do so for four seasons, and just the fourth team in history to make such a total at this level.

But reaching the magical mark isn't just something to look back on in a few years and be proud of but is a symbol of how far this group of players has come this season.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the turnaround has been nothing short of magnificent. From the form and attitude of individuals to the spirit of the whole team, it's strange to think that largely the same group of players could perform so differently.

The biggest transformations have been seen in the performances of Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll. Seventeen league goals each and over ninety games between them this season have seen the two become talismanic players in the Newcastle line-up.

But it's not just the players that were relegated that proved their worth to the club. The signings Hughton made in January have more than done their job too. Wayne Routledge has scored three goals and created another seven in his sixteen appearances for the Toon, while Mike Williamson has become a mainstay in the back-line since his move from Portsmouth.

Saving the best 'till last of course means it's time for Chris Hughton to receive some praise. A man who had previously taken charge of two caretaker spells at the club was some way down the list of possible managers for many fans and yet now I worry about where we'd have been without him.

His ability to take the sting out of the media's attentions and get the player's in the right frame of mind with his laid back style of management has worked a treat for the Toon. A less than inspiring pre-season was soon forgotten when he won three of the first four Manager of the Month awards.

Hughton picked up his fourth award of the season this week when he was announced the top manager for April. The ever-modest manager saluted the whole team when he picked up his latest accolade.

Hughton said, "It's been a great month which has seen us secure promotion and the title but these awards are for everyone because it has been a real team effort from day one."

So that's that for the Toon, time to get ready for a return to the horrors glitz and glamour of the Premier League, we may not enjoy a season as much as this one for some time.