‘Supporting Newcastle United is like being a Brexiteer…’

newcastle united

Supporting Newcastle United is like being a Brexiteer, in that we know what we want…

We have bought our tickets. Dressed in our colours.

Voted (with our feet and money) and are committed to our team. Gone to games home and away.

All based on the pre-season bravado statements with the club saying all is changing for the good.

That we are moving forward.

That our new manager will promote attacking football and the hierarchy endorse this new direction of travel.

Well folks, surprise surprise.

What has been served up is indeed not the same old rubbish.

Oh no, we have now instead found a completely new offering of trash – look at the league table, it does not lie – but even more revealing, just look at our performances .

According to Steve Bruce we were robbed of a result at Chelsea because the officials missed a foul.

Get real – was he watching the same game as everyone else? We were shocking and with possession at some 28%, even when we got the ball we were about as exciting as spent fart.

No skill, no flair, no flamboyance, no speed, no cohesion , and certainly no attacking plan, with an average of less than 30% possession you need all of these accessories in your armoury to be able to counter-attack effectively but we appear to have none.

Having said all that, I do feel sorry for Miguel Almiron, who tried his heart out playing to Steve Bruce’s plan.

However, saddled with a playing partner who at £40m is only possibly equal to the now departed Joselu, gives you an idea of the scale of his problems. Joelinton is slow to think, act and move, with a ponderous first touch just awful to watch, in fact woeful to watch.

Also, why on earth are we playing Andy Carroll who is slower than a snail and whose only skill is to head the ball? Which is great if you have support players and a plan to put pinpoint crosses into the penalty area – we have neither sadly and his substitution for Almiron cost us a point.

Unfortunately, it has to be said that Newcastle United are the most boring team in the Premier League.

The football dross played out before us is inept in its perception and execution, with maybe half of the Newcastle United squad way below Premier League standard – sadly, I also include our manager.

Hidden amongst this football morass we do have some jewels  – the Longstaff boys, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Dummet and Dubravka, to name but a few. However, our future depends on these gems being used in a more enterprising and entertaining way, let’s all hope it happens soon.

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Longstaff to be offered new contract

After the entire summer we have been hearing about Manchester United wanting to sign Sean Longstaff, the player stayed at St James’ Park. Then the rumours started again about his potential move to Old Trafford in the January transfer window, but now it looks like it is Matty Longstaff who is taking the spotlight for […]

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Racism, England and Newcastle United – A reality check

Racism is the hot topic.

All the talk before the game wasn’t the usual tedious ‘can England beat yet another poor team to complete the typical ridiculously easy route to a finals, instead it was racism.

Bulgaria are one of those destinations repeatedly flagged as having the racism problem and England and the media were keen to talk the issue up beforehand.

I doubt it was with any kind of hope that this prevent any problems on Monday night, instead I think it was all about putting UEFA on warning, so that when the predictable behaviour did take place, the ball would be very much in their (UEFA’s) court for them to deal with.

As in…they were warned and now what are they going to do about it?

Ahead of the game, Bulgaria’s manager/coach Krasimir Balakov reacted to the worries by claiming that England had a worse racism problem than Bulgaria.

You can only ‘admire’ his determination to keep to the script when after last night’s 6-0 defeat in a game where the match was stopped twice due to the appalling behaviour of many Bulgaria supporters, Krasimir Balakov said:

“I personally did not hear the chanting.

“I saw the referee stopped the game but I also have to say the behaviour was also not only on behalf of the Bulgarian fans but also the English fans, who were whistling and shouting during the Bulgarian national anthem.

“During the second half they used words against our fans which I find unacceptable.”

Not making light of the issue but the ultimate Arsene Wenger-like ‘I didn’t actually see/hear the incident(s) myself…’

The only problem being, the Bulgarian coach COULD hear what England fans were saying but nothing from the home supporters.

The Vasil Levski Stadium was already subject to a partial closure for last night’s match after Bulgaria were sanctioned by UEFA for racist behaviour in qualifiers against Kosovo and the Czech Republic.

The Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov wasn’t following the same path as his boss of pretending there was no problem, he was praised by the likes of Marcus Rashford for trying to intervene, going over to talk to home fans at half-time.

The Bulgarian coach did though admit that if his hearing had been faulty…

“If this turns out to be true we are truly sorry and we as the Bulgarian Football Union and the Bulgaria national team are working very hard.

“We’ve had this problem ever since England were about to come to Bulgaria and all I’ve heard for three weeks is people talking about anything else but football. I don’t think this was the proper manner to prepare and play a football game.”

I think there would have been racist behaviour whatever had been said or done beforehand but what happened beforehand probably did make last night worse, as those who wanted to act up knew that they had the perfect opportunity and biggest audience (via TV) to get maximum publicity/coverage.

I totally disagree with those who say England should walk off and have the game abandoned if racism strikes.

Why punish all those England fans who have spent a lot of time and money going to support their team?

Yes UEFA should punish Bulgaria in whatever way(s) possible, whether it is points deduction, playing behind closed doors, banning them, or whatever.

However, that is also really avoiding the unavoidable truth.

This is not a football problem, it is a society problem.

Not all, or even a majority of, Bulgaria fans are racist. However, they have a society which is allowing it to openly happen.

Nobody pretends that racism has disappeared amongst Newcastle United fans, or any other English club’s supporters, they will always be there (Though hopefully in ever decreasing numbers) because there are racist people in the population.

The difference now is that through years and years of education thanks to the likes of Tyneside based Show Racism the Red Card: fans, clubs and the authorities are now well aware of what is right and wrong and what can’t be tolerated.

Last night you could clearly see the faces of home fans acting up, yet the police went in and arrested nobody and no doubt nobody will be charged with racist behaviour in the aftermath.

If somebody was acting like that at a Premier League match they would be identified and dealt with.

Imagine sitting inside St James Park and people next to you are persistently making monkey noises and/or racist chanting, most of those around them would be appalled and somebody would ensure that police and stewards were alerted.

If like me you grew up standing on the Leazes and then Gallowgate terraces in the 1970s and early 1980s, was it actually that different to what we saw/heard last night?

Police moving in to arrest Newcastle fans for racist songs/chanting? If it happened it certainly passed me by.

As a kid you knew no different and so many other (older) people doing it, you just joined in or at the very least, thought nothing really of it.

Society here in England has changed, certainly when it comes to what is deemed acceptable at football matches.

It might appear to be a bit of a depressing/defeatist attitude to some but maybe you just have to accept that in countries such as Bulgaria they are 40 years behind the times and there are no easy solutions. Simply a combination of both carrot and stick needed over a long period of time to drag them into the 21st century.

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I don’t want to go to Chelsea – Newcastle United return tickets

chelsea fans

It is Chelsea away on Saturday, the first game after a bleak international break fortnight and three weeks since the last away trip.

However, despite this Newcastle United can’t shift their allocation of tickets.

I have criticised the daft decisions when Newcastle refused to take the full away allocations for Norwich and especially Leicester.

However, on this occasion you can’t blame NUFC for sending tickets back to Chelsea.

The West London club revealing on Monday that they had extra tickets for sale after returns came back in from Newcastle.

Even despite those returns, the Newcastle United official ticketing website is still showing 218 tickets still for sale, only four days ahead of the match.

People might find this a bit strange, especially when it is a rare 3pm on a Saturday afternoon away game.

However, Chelsea has never been one of the most popular London away venues for whatever reason(s) so that may play some part.

Also, Chelsea have insisted that Newcastle’s away allocation can’t be put on sale to the NUFC general public, only season ticket holders and members.

However, whilst that will stop some and inconvenience many, the simple fact is that the majority of Newcastle away fans at a typical London away game are our supporters living down south, people used to relying on friends/family in the north east (and elsewhere) to get hold of tickets if they themselves aren’t members or season ticket holders.

Price isn’t really a serious issue now for your regular or even irregular away attender, with the £30 cap on away ticket prices. I remember some 25 years ago going to Stamford Bridge when they had put away prices up to an outrageous £25 and they kept going up and up from there, until this recent away price cap in the Premier League.

You can’t get away from the Mike Ashley factor because if it is affecting the attendances at St James Park, why wouldn’t it then affect the enthusiasm for some/many to go to away games.

The owner has drained so much enjoyment and enthusiasm out of supporting our club, there are bound to be casualties (in terms of fans just wondering why they should bother – especially worrying if you then look further ahead if ex-pats aren’t brainwashing their kids into the black and white faith to the same degree).

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Heartbreak for Newcastle midfielder now out of ACON and ex-NUFC defender scores on Scotland debut

newcastle united

On Wednesday, Newcastle United midfielder Mo Sangare started in the 1-0 win over Chad.

That was the 21 year old’s fifth senior international appearance for Liberia and he helped them to a one goal lead in a two-legged African Cup of Nations preliminary qualifier.

Sunday has seen the second leg of the two-legged tie and after 90 minutes it was 1-0 to Chad, 1-1 on aggregate.

Chad winning the penalty shoot-out 5-4 to knock the Newcastle midfielder and his international teammate out of the 2021 African Cup of Nations, as defeat denies them entry to the qualifying group stage. No details at the moment on what today’s line-up was.

Slovakia play Paraguay in a friendly later tonight. It looked as though Martin Dubravka would be facing Miguel Almiron but not sure what Almiron’s status will be for this game having been sent off in that friendly defeat to Serbia on Thursday.

Elsewhere on Sunday afternoon, it was a great day for a former Newcastle United defender.

Now playing for Kilmarnock, Stuart Findlay made a winning debut for Scotland and it was a scoring one, the ex-NUFC centre-back scoring the fifth goal in a 6-0 thrashing of San Marino.

Wednesday 9 October

Liberia 1 Chad 0 – ACON Two-legged Qualifier (Mo Sangare)

Making his fifth international appearance, the NUFC midfielder played the first 56 minutes of the first leg win.

Thursday 10 October

Serbia 1 Paraguay 0 – Friendly (Miguel Almiron)

Not a great night for Miguel Almiron, booked in the 43rd minute he got a second yellow in the 54th minute which added up to a red.

Then to make matters worse, former NUFC striker scored Serbia’s winner in the last minute.

Slovakia 1 Wales 1 – EC Qualifier (Martin Dubravka)

Martin Dubravka was beaten in the 25th minute by Kieffer Moore but Slovakia equalised in the 53rd minute through Kucka. Dubravka’s  team then dominating but unable to find a winner.

With two group games left to play, Slovakia are three points behind leaders Croatia and a point ahead of third placed Hungary.

Friday 11 October

USA 7 Cuba 0 – CONCACAF Nations League (DeAndre Yedlin)

DeAndre Yedlin sat out this seven goal thrashing, the NUFC defender watching on as USMNT raced into a 6-0 lead at half-time, before easing off after the break.

Saturday 12 October

Malta 0 Sweden 4 – EC Qualifier (Emil Krafth)

As usual, an unused sub for the 90 minutes.

This easy win leaves the Swedes in second, five points behind Spain and one ahead of Romania, with three group games remaining.

Denmark 1 Switzerland 0 – EC Qualifier (Fabian Schar)

A blow for Switzerland and the NUFC defender who played the full 90 minutes, an 84th minute Poulsen goal winning the match.

Switzerland now four points behind joint leaders Denmark and Ireland, with a crunch game on Tuesday night when the Swiss host the Irish – only three and two games left respectively in the group.

Sunday 13 October 

Chad 1 Liberia 0 (1-1 aggregate and Chad win 5-4 on penalties) – ACON Two-legged Qualifier (Mo Sangare)

Slovakia v Paraguay – Friendly (Miguel Almiron and Martin Dubravka)

Tuesday 15 October

Sweden v Spain – EC Qualifier (Emil Krafth)

Switzerland v Republic of Ireland – EC Qualifier (Fabian Schar)

Canada v USA – CONCACAF Nations League (DeAndre Yedlin)

Thursday 17 October

Burkina Faso v Ghana – ANC Qualifier (Christian Atsu)

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At Everton and Newcastle United the numbers just don’t add up – A must read

newcastle team v everton

Amongst the many embarrassing things that Alan Pardew said and did at Newcastle United, his comments on Everton were one particular highlight.

After that fifth place finish in the 2011/12 season, Pardew claimed that Newcastle were now competing in a league with Arsenal, rather than likes of Everton and Aston Villa.

That went well.

About as well as when back in the day one of Mike Ashley’s minions, Derek Llambias I think it was, said that Newcastle were modelling themselves on Arsenal.

In actual fact, even in that freak season when Ashley/Pardew managed fifth (in 2011/12), Everton were actually only two places behind in seventh.

Pardew left to choke on his daft comments when in the immediate season afterwards, he was almost proved correct that Newcastle would be operating in a completely different league to Everton. Mike Ashley refusing to allow any investment in that fifth placed finish, leading to a disillusioned team/squad having a season-long relegation struggle and almost ending up in the Championship, reaching safety only when winning their final away game. Meanwhile, Everton ended up sixth in the Premier League in 2012/13.

Indeed it is interesting to compare the two clubs during the 12 years of Mike Ashley, when it comes to league finishes…

Newcastle league placing first and then Everton:

2007/08 – 12th and 5th

2008/09 – 18th and 5th

2009/10 – 21st and 8th

2010/11 – 12th and 7th

2011/12 – 5th and 7th

2012/13 – 16th and 6th

2013/14 – 10th and 5th

2014/15 – 15th and 11th

2015/16 – 18th and 11th

2016/17 – 21st and 7th

2017/18 – 10th and 8th

2018/19 – 13th and 8th

When you look at the stats above, Alan Pardew looking very daft, as that fifth place finish is the ONLY time Newcastle have ever finished above Everton during Mike Ashley’s reign.

People talk about Newcastle fans being deluded but shouldn’t it be reasonable to at the very least compete with a club such as Everton…?

The popular refrain these days is that money decides pretty much everything, the more money you have the higher the league position. There always will be exceptions to the rule but certainly over a period of years, money should talk.

Having a look through the Deloitte Football Club rich list (highest revenues in each particular season) reports has made interesting reading as well.

Listed below are the Deloitte positions for both Newcastle and Everton, with each club’s revenue that season in brackets, first the NUFC money list position and total revenue, then Everton’s (the figures are in millions of Euros):

2007/08 – 17th (125.6) and not listed (95.6)

2008/09 – 20th (101.0) and 27th (93.5)

2009/10 – Not listed (£52.4m – Approx 65m Euros) and 27th (96.6)

2010/11 – 25th (98.0) and 28th (90.8)

2011/12 – 20th (115.3) and 26th (99.5)

2012/13 – 25th (111.9) and not listed (£86.4m – Approx 100m Euros)

2013/14 – 19th (155.1) and 20th (144.1)

2014/15 – 17th (169.3) and 18th (165.1)

2015/16 – 21st (168.2) and 23rd (162.5)

2016/17 – Not listed (£85.7m – Approx 100m Euros) and 20th (199.2)

2017/18 – 19th (201.5) and 17th (212.9)

2018/19 – Figures not published so far

Farhad Moshiri came along in 2016 and has invested money in Everton, showing ambition.

However, until those last available figures of 2017/18, every single year when they were both in the Premier League, Newcastle were higher than Everton in the Deloitte list with higher revenues.

That is despite Mike Ashley making Newcastle United subservient to his retail empire and showing zero intention/ambition on and off the pitch for NUFC, including in terms of growing revenues – especially the commercial revenue.

So the pattern overall is that all but one season Everton finished higher in the league and yet until the 2017/18 season, every single season in the Premier League Newcastle still brought in more money than Everton, despite Mike Ashley running the club with no ambition.

When you look back at Ashley’s  very first season, when commercial deals etc still were running from the previous regime, the gap was massive, despite Newcastle finishing 12th and Everton 5th in the Premier League, NUFC pulled in 125.6m (euros) compared to EFC’s 95.6m.

The seasons before Mike Ashley took over, the differences in revenues between the two clubs are even more extreme, season after season after season.

For example, in 2004/05 Newcastle were bringing in 128.9m (euros) compared to Everton’s 88.8m.

Going further back, in the Deloitte rich list Newcastle United were as high as ninth in 2002/03 and fifth in 1997/98.

Things have changed to an extent over the years in terms of Premier League club revenues but nothing explains why Newcastle have failed on the pitch compared to a club such as Everton, in this Mike Ashley era.

What is increasingly obvious is the fact that whilst Mike Ashley remains, he will more and more hold Newcastle United back both on and off the pitch.

Everton are just one of many clubs who have done or are intending om significantly increasing their capacities, either by expanding current stadiums of building new ones. Mike Ashley instead is trying to curb St James Park ever increasing due to the land he bought from NUFC and then sold at a profit to developers opposite the Gallowgate.

Pretty much every other Premier League club is looking to get any advantage they possibly can by investing in the infrastructure of the club such as new state of the art training complexes, whilst Mike Ashley refuses to go ahead with Newcastle’s which he promised in 2013 and described as ‘essential’ if NUFC were going to be able to compete. The same with the Academy, Rafa wanted proper investment and Ashley refused, whilst other clubs properly finance theirs, in the hope of producing rewards in the future.

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That black cloud from the south descended over Newcastle United and has never left

newcastle united

There I was ringing the Newcastle United hotline every night.

Who have Newcastle United signed today…?

Such happy days.

I was born in the north but have lived all my life in the South, how I wanted to see Newcastle up the top of the league.

My grandad was a Geordie and although he lived 350 miles away, he was my hero.

All those years of mundane football…we had some rubbish teams, until Kevin Keegan arrived it was like a different world.

The joy though of watching them play attacking football.

The joy of going to work on Monday morning and getting the thumbs up from your workmates.

There were more Newcastle United shirts worn in the south then I had ever seen before.

It has all changed though.

One huge black cloud moved from the south in 2007 and has remained over St James Park ever since.

Everyone’s getting rained on and no thumbs up at work, none of the joy that used to last all week.

I will though continue to keep on looking for that bright sun to once again appear over the horizon.

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