Well, the Tottenham game didnt exactly go to plan did it? Another frail defensive display cost us dearly and, despite the best efforts of our increasingly impressive attack, we couldnt get the goals we needed.
Anyway, onwards and upwards as they say. This weekend we travel to the Mike Ashley Alan Shearer Sports Direct @Kevin Keegan and St James’ Park Arena Soccer Dome to try and get 3 very much wanted points.
With last seasons terrible display in this fixture still stuck in my memory I spoke to Paul Glover, member of the Wildcard Racing Syndicate and passionate “Toon Army” disciple on his thoughts of the season so far, Alan Carr’s father, Pardew’s seemingly never ending contract and the game itself.
What are your thoughts on your start to the season?
Predictable to be honest, playing poorly but luckily picking up points. If you read my season prediction on False 10 I had this fear. The Europa League has been a distraction already and we’ve picked up one or two frustrating injuries to Colo, Krul, Simpson and Tiote. Cisse has looked short of form but I’m convinced he is ready to explode again after his cameo in the Capital One cup, I may be wrong but I’m convinced Ramadan has an impact on the early form of our Muslim players.
It feels like a lot of people are expecting an awful from you this term considering how well you did last season. How do you think this will affect the team? Will they be motivated by the added expectation or will they wilt under the spotlight?
We probably did over achieve last season which adds pressure to repeat that feat but I still don’t feel the pressure from the media because rarely do we get that much credit or coverage for what we achieved. Added to Everton’s great start if we hit form we can sneak up the league without being noticed. The team spirit at the club is sky high and already in games against Everton’s, Reading and Villa they have shown a never give attitude. Does that sound like a team that wilt?
Alan Pardew has recently been handed a lengthy new contract. Have the initial concerns about him being your manager been put to bed or are there still fears that he isn’t the right man for the job?
I was shocked by the management teams 8 year contract (don’t forget Carver and Stone also got the same deal) but nothing shocks me from Mike Ashley anymore! I’m not going to lie I never wanted Pardew but the guy has done a great job and is learning every day, he’s even getting the best out of Ben Arfa and is slowly showing signs of being a quality manager. He’s clearly learnt from mistakes at Charlton and Southampton, media wise needs to stop being so honest and play a few of his cards closer to his chest and tactically sometimes struggles to find a plan B but he’s growing all the time. Is he the right man for the job? Ask me again in eight years!
Mike Ashley is another who has been criticized very heavily by the supporters but recently that seems to have died down. Do you think the majority of fans are happy with him as an owner or is it simply a case of people realising he isn’t going anywhere so they might as well make the best of it?
It’s a combination of all the above, he’s decided to stick around and is taking things seriously, but do I trust the guy? Not a chance. This is Newcastle, we are never far from controversy or disaster! Right now though it’s working, financially sensible, solid team and stability throughout. I think most fans are now converting to realists rather than romantics. Buy cheap, sell for huge profit, not exactly a science unknown to Mike is it – you been in Sports Direct recently? He just has to remember this is a football club and not just any old business.
With all the signings you’ve made, which have been almost universally accepted as some of the most astute in the premier league, do you think it’s about time that Graham Carr got the recognition he deserves? Surely that man has to be one of the best, most consistent chief scouts in all of Europe?!
Recognition? Dont you think an eight year contract is recognition?? I think already he’s respected extremely highly in the football community but a scout will never get overall recognition that you suggest. He’s not new to this job, he scouted and helped bring in all Man City’s signings under Sven, Giovanni, Corluka etc and I believe he had a similar role at Spurs. It’s not just the players he sniffs out release clauses from a continent away! In Carr we trust.
There seems to be a genuine sense of realism at your club at the moment. Rather than the usual “He’s not available. We won’t sell him” nonsense which a lot of clubs churn out, Pardew has openly said that every player is available to buy but only if someone offers their asking price. Do you think this sensible approach to the squad and the transfer market has played a part in your progress in the sense that, no offence intended here, that players may see themselves as “being the shop window”?
I don’t think many of our players were actually realistically obtainable to the teams that would want them. For example Man Utd signed Kagawa for around £9m but due to contract length if they had wanted Cabaye or Ben Arfa I doubt the board would have listened to an offer below £15m and Sir Alex would never pay over his valuation. Players will only leave the club if the offer is ridiculous or the player decides he wants to move to a “bigger club” because his head has been turned (Jose Enrique take note). The problem starts when we can’t match wage demands and we have no option but to sell. I’d counter your “shop window” comment though by saying if we challenge for top four again, then maybe the players will start to believe they are at a club doing the window shopping.
Onto the game itself, who do you think will win?
Defensive crisis for the weekend doesn’t help my confidence but Man Utd have not looked convincing this season but they rarely lose two in a row. I’m going to say we are good enough for a draw on this occasion.
I dread to ask because I’m sure I know what your answer will be but … what is your favourite Manchester United vs. Newcastle United game?
Seriously?? Philliiiiiiiiiiiiipe Alberrrrrrt!!!! Need I say more …
Where do you think you will finish this season? Is top 4 a genuine possibility?
It’s a genuine possibility if we avoid major injuries, can cope with the African Cup of Nations, Demba Ba stays and we get defensive cover in January. Not much to ask is it?
Where will Manchester United finish this season?
Always the team to beat, if Sir Alex can work out how to play RVP, Rooney and Kagawa they could win it but I think they will finish second to either Citeh or Chelski.
Thanks to Paul for his time. You can follow him on Twitter here