Having came back down to Earth following the incredible comeback against Arsenal last weekend, Newcastle have since turned their attention to the trip to Ewood Park to face Blackburn this weekend. In between these matches, Alan Pardew has been trawling the list of free agents who could add to the depleted striking department at Newcastle and concluded his search with the club’s first signing since that Gateshead lad left for Liverpool.
Here is a round up of Newcastle United news that you may have missed this week…
After being linked with Boro cast off Jeremie Aliadiere and Brazilian Ewerthon (pronounced Everton), Newcastle this week announced the signing of 34 year old free agent Shefki Kuqi until the end of the season. A player perhaps recognised more for his goal celebration than his goalscoring exploits, Kuqi fits the description of a football journeyman having played for 12 different teams before signing for Newcastle.
Although there have been plenty mocking the signing this week, it’s important to maintain perspective – Kuqi has not been signed as a replacement for Carroll but instead as backup to Ameobi, Best, Lovenkrands and Ranger and is a temporary measure until the transfer window opens again in the summer. As we said earlier in the week – Welcome to NUFC Shefki Kuqi. Lord knows you shouldn’t be here, but we wish you the best and will support all the same.
Meanwhile in loan news, youngster James Tavernier extended his loan spell at Gateshead until April 9 while Finnish striker Joan Edmundsson returned to Newcastle from his loan spell at ‘the Heed’ having picked up an injury.
Tuesday gone saw the club release details of season ticket packages for the next ten seasons (!) including a ten year price freeze, a 10% discount for those that held a season ticket in the Championship as well as an option to opt out each season. For those over 21 who were likely to renew their ticket regardless of the owner and the league that the team participates in, it seems too good to be true and there will be plenty going through the small print with a fine tooth-comb. Or just with their eyes.
Unfortunately with the season ticket offer comes plans to extend the away section and in the process abolish the singing section in Level 7, leaving plenty disgruntled regulars facing the prospect of relocating elsewhere in the ground although some have indicated that they will simply not renew their ticket such is their disgust at the decision. Quite why the board would want to encourage more empty seats in the away end at the expense of those who are a key factor in generating an atmosphere at St James’ is a mystery. Hopefully the campaign for the singing section to be moved to the lower tier of the Leazes End in level four will be a success. We won’t hold our breaths…
This week was International week with 6 of Newcastle’s first team squad called up for their countries – Tim Krul (U-21s), Tamas Kadar, Cheik Tiote, Shola Ameobi, Leon Best and Nile Ranger (U-21s). However only 2 appeared for their national side – Tim Krul for Holland in the 1-0 defeat against Czech Republic and Cheik Tiote for Ivory Coast in his side’s 1-0 victory against Mali, fortunately both players reported back to the club unscathed.
Kadar, Ameobi, Best and Ranger all withdrew from International duty through injury. Ameobi was denied his first International cap for Nigeria due to his current cheekbone injury and although Best and Ranger cited injury for their withdrawals, both are expected to be fit to play against Blackburn. Interestingly The Shields Gazette reported that Ranger was set to face disciplinary action from the FA for withdrawing without having his injury assessed by England’s medical staff, until it was noted that Manchester United’s Chris Smalling had also withdrew from the squad without being checked. As ever with the FA, the bigger clubs receive preferential treatment while Newcastle are made an example of.
On the subject of injury news, there was more positives this week as Alan Pardew revealed that Ameobi has been sent to America to be fitted for a protective mask and could be back in action in 2-3 weeks. Jonas Gutierrez’ spiderman mask deemed unfit for purpose.
Another player currently out injured, Steven Taylor has also been making positive noises this week about his return to first team action. Taylor, who suffered a small hamstring tear in January, has began running and is expected to return to full training next week in preparation for returning to the first team squad for the Bolton fixture at St James’ Park on Saturday 26 February.
No longer among the financial elite
This week Deloitte produced their ‘Euro richlist‘ of the global Top 20 revenue-generating football clubs of which Newcastle were absent following the drop in revenue, mainly from television deals, as a result of relegation in 2009. Although it is predicted that Newcastle could make a swift return to the Top 20 following their return to the Premier League, the increased television money, the reduction in the wage bill and the sale of Andy Carroll for £35million.
Without wanting to be mistaken for a financial expert, if you want to learn more about Newcastle’s finances read the excellent and in depth ‘Newcastle United’s Finances in Black and White‘ by the Swiss Ramble which ,although written in December 2008, is a fascinating look at the financial aspects of the club.
‘We are the loyalest football supporters’
146 fans were reported to have left St James’ Park at half time last weekend when Newcastle were 4-0 down, those 146 fans equate to only 0.3% of the 51,561 who were present at kick off. The 51,415 who stayed were rewarded in witnessing the most remarkable comeback while adding unquestionable weight to the claims in the Geordie Boot Boy chant that Newcastle fans are ‘the loyalest football supporters the world has ever had’. How those down the road must look on with envy.
Only last week Niall Quinn told of how he despised the sunderland fans who chose to watch the match in the pub on foreign channels rather than attend the Stadium of copyright infringement. Fast forward a week and the forever media-shy Steve Bruce was jumping on the same bandwagon telling Metro Radio that the fans who chose to stay away are doing the club ‘real damage’. Presumably Quinn and Bruce are concerned about the threat of Ellis Short withdrawing his support and financial backing if he continues to be impressed with the low attendances, however slagging off your own fans in an attempt to persuade them to part with their money seems an ill advised technique from the two multi millionaires…
Following intensified speculation through the week that Chris Hughton was in line to take over the vacant managerial position at West Brom, it came as somewhat of a surprise when Roy Hodgson was appointed instead. The West Brom board will no doubt insist that Hodgson was their first choice all along due to his increased experience and the job he did in saving Fulham from relegation and establishing them as a Premier League side, however The Guardian reported that the Hughton appointment stalled over a deal to bring in Colin Calderwood and Paul Barron as his assistants.
Whatever the reasons behind the appointment, it’s a shame and a disappointment for Hughton who came ever so close to regaining Premier League managerial status. We wish him well in his continued job search…
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