One week, one draw and of course a whole load of stuff to talk about off the field – it’s NUFC after all… Here’s our round-up of the non-playing Newcastle United news that you may have missed this week.
After signing a whopping 6 and half year contract with us last week, Cheik Tiote spoke with the media earlier this week claiming that he turned down a late opportunity to join Chelsea on deadline day. In an encouraging interview he stated “I would like to be here for a few years. I can learn here. I feel settled here. I enjoy it here” basing said enjoyment on good squad morale and being able to focus on his work – something he feels he wouldn’t be able to do in the capital as “London is too busy, there are too many people”. Although nothing is ever certain with NUFC under Mike Ashley’s rule, the words do go some way to calm jitters about an imminent departure. Equally, had this alleged transfer went through on January 31st along with Carroll’s it isn’t worth thinking how that would have went down with an already seriously irked fan base – not to mention a misled manager…
If that was Joey Barton…
It may be an incident that (thankfully) was nothing to do with NUFC, but we couldn’t let Wayne Rooney prove he was a striker in more than one sense pass us by this week. Despite being caught bang to rights needlessly thrusting an elbow into the face of Wigan’s James McCarthy, the ill tempered alleged granny fancier will face no suspension – with Mark Clattenburg insisting to have seen the incident at the time but believing there was no need to take action. Of course, the source of the issue is Clattenburg – the air head having ample retrospective chance to say that he, perhaps, didn’t have a clear view of the incident – which upon seeing TV reviews his body position would make that a very plausible argument for such a glaring error. This was not the case, and at that point the matter was considered finalised with the FA hiding behind their own illogical rule of double jeopardy with startling comfort. Rules are there to be upheld, and of course the FA should attempt to standby their officials at every opportunity – but in the case of such obvious violent conduct (the factor of endangering player safety arguably separating it from regular ‘terrible’ decisions such as incorrectly given penalties, offsides etc) it does smart to see Rooney walk away without so much as a warning. Especially when you consider how quickly (and rightly) NUFC have had the book thrown at them this season. We can hope one day when common sense prevails.
Bitter or Realistic?
Former manager Kevin Keegan appeared on Gabby Logan’s Five Live show this week to promote NPower’s ‘Whats your Goal’ campaign – briefly discussing this before being quizzed at length about current footballing topics, including current opinions on Newcastle based upon his second spell as manager here. On the topic of the sale of Andy Carroll – something which echoed that of James Milner under his stewardship, Keegan said:
“I saw an interview with Alan Pardew afterwards where he said he hoped to get some of the £35million and I thought, ‘Alan, you ain’t going to get any of that'”.
A slightly pessimistic view, but one which is held by many Newcastle fans – and it has to be said with some degree of justification. But how Keegan can be so certain of this when he left the club days after the Milner transfer is another question… Regardless, it would be hard to shout that view completely knowing he has experience of Mike Ashley first hand, which is something of a rarity. Keegan continued on, arguing the sale was good business in financial terms, but badly timed, saying:
“I think £35million for Andy Carroll…if I’d been manager I’d have took it, but how can you spend it on the last day of the transfer window? My big argument was that we were selling James Milner for a lot of money – probably above the valuation we put on him – and I said, ‘Please don’t sell him before we get someone in, I’ve got four days’. The reason I didn’t want them to put that out and to hold on a little longer was so I could get a good value signing with the money. If you sell Milner for £11million then they say, ‘If he’s worth £11million, our guy must be worth £9million. It’s business, it’s the sensible way to do it”
A sensible point indeed, of a problem which likely to be encountered in the summer as every club not only knows the fee for Carroll but the £25m down payment the club instantly received for him. Hopefully playing devil’s advocate on the subject of how much money will be released for transfers this summer, expecting pennies to be given pounds, has some effect – although it’s unlikely. Regardless of all these comments, if Ashley wants to keep the club as a profitable asset he will have to venture into the treasure trove in some form or other. We wait with baited breath.
State of the squad
Hatem Ben Arfa was back at St James’ last week to watch our draw against Bolton, but unfortunately this is as close as he will get to the pitch for the time being as his return has been put on hold until medical staff are confident he will suffer no reactions. Possibly influenced by the set-back that Gosling suffered in a 10 second cameo against the makems, the move to keep him on ice seems an entirely sensible one and we look forward to the Wolves home game when he has been pencilled in to return to rousing reception. Stephen Ireland on the other hand was looking strong in training and likely to play a part in the game this weekend – that was until he suffered a thigh pull on Thursday and now his participation against Everton will be decided late in the day. Elsewhere, Shola has been fitted with a diamond encrusted protective mask and is on the verge of a return – Joey Barton’s injury that kept him out of the Bolton game still has no official return date to look forward to at the time of writing.
Also, earlier in the week, a strong rumour circulated that Danny Guthrie would be moving to Nottingham Forest on loan, although this was quickly rebuffed by wee Billy Davies in a Harry Redknapp style denial by saying “I have made no attempt to sign Guthrie. He is a player who was on our list, when we were looking at possibilities and he is a player who had been out of the picture at his club. But is he available? I don’t know. Would he come here? I don’t know. He is not somebody we have tried to sign”. So essentially, Billy Davies wants a bit of Guthrie – although given our tracing paper thin squad it’s unlikely he’ll be moving anywhere before the end of the season.
Contracts (like a broken record…)
Slightly less widely reported / discussed this week was the news that Joey Barton has joined with Jose Enrique in putting his contract talks on hold until summer – all this despite previously claiming terms had been agreed in principle and the dotted line was ready to be signed. Official word as to why he has done this has yet to emerge – which is surprising considering Joey isn’t one to shy away from airing his thoughts. NUFC manager / PR officer Alan Pardew is, at least officially, unawares of why he has either, stating “I think Joey’s view is to perhaps see what happens in the summer” – which is as good as saying if the Carroll income isn’t spent he’s not going to be hanging around too long. It’s slightly disappointing given the debt Barton still owes to the club for sticking by him while him was fighting on streets and attempting to mark every come back by breaking an opponent’s leg – although hopefully come the summer months he will commit to an extension and continue his rehabilitation as a footballer, and a person, to our worthy benefit.
Northern League Day – 9th April
Another plug for Northern League Day – which has been inked into the calender for Saturday 9th April. With no NUFC game that day (we play Aston Villa at Villa Park the day after) why not have a change of scenery for a day / ignore the DIY / use it as an excuse not to be dragged around Ikea, to visit your local non-league team, while putting a few extra pounds in their coffers that can help keep the lower end of the game alive. Visit http://northernleagueday.wordpress.com/ for more information or follow @Grassroots11 if your a tweeter. We’ll be heading over to Ryton, keeping an eye out for any Chris Waddles that may be sitting under the footballing radar (in the decent footballer sense, not the sh#t pundit sense…).
Any other business?
A couple snippets (literally) also from this week – the first being glamour girl Chenade Laroy (aye, me neither) talking about good friend Nile Ranger, saying that he once coaxed her into clipping his toe nails (and to clarify, she isn’t a chiropodist or nail technician…). Chivalry is dead.
Also, Kevin Nolan said he had looked into the possibility of playing for The Republic of Ireland with his England prospects looking bleak under Fabio Cappello – who probably doesn’t even know the North East of England exists. Nolan said “I did try and cheat like Tony Cascarino did by going over and having 14 pints of Guinness. Didn’t work though”. The Irish Football Federation themselves kept deadly silent on the subject.
Elsewhere, financial / football blogger Swiss Ramble, who produced a superb piece on NUFC’s finances a while back (which I couldn’t recommend any higher to any supporter who hasn’t already read it) has this week taken a look at the finances of the makems. Like ours, this is an excellent read and if for nothing else, is worth delving into for a bit of verbal ammunition.
And finally – news broke late Thursday night that Victor Anichebe had successfully sued NUFC for loss of earnings, described as a ‘6 figure sum’, after a reckless Kevin Nolan challenge in the fixture at home to Everton back in February 2009. Nolan apologised for the tackle immediately afterwards but this still left Anichebe with 11 months on the sidelines, suffering numerous set-backs afterwards which his legal team argued prevented him from earning substantial appearance based fees. The tackle was quite out of character for Nolan, but totally unacceptable non-the-less and it’s hard to disagree with the verdict.
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