Tag Archives: Newcastle

It’s the hope that kills you

Villa Park provided the backdrop for Newcastle United’s Premier League relegation in May, 2009, as an own goal from Toon misfit Damien Duff, one of a slew of under achievers on the books at the time, consigned the team to a 1-0 defeat that meant they beat Hull to the drop by a single point.

Disaster on the face of it, but ultimately the demotion proved a blessing, with declining veterans and mercenaries released into the wilderness, and a squad of courageous warriors forged under the astute leadership of the club’s underrated coach Chris Hughton.

Fast forward seven years and Villa Park once more played host to the Magpies’ struggle to survive the drop, the nails in the coffin this time provided by a 0-0 draw against the already relegated hosts, coupled with arch-rivals Sunderland’s 3-2 win against Chelsea. Commence doom and gloom.

Andros Townsend
Andros Townsend: likely to leave in the Summer

This time it feels different. In appointing Rafa Benitez, Newcastle have finally placed the club under the supervision of an elite leader, this disappointing stalemate making it five matches without defeat for the first time in around 18 months.

That survival is even possible at this stage is courtesy of the Spaniard organising a hitherto malfunctioning back four into something resembling a half-decent defence; dispensing with previous stalwarts Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor in favour of young, teachable central defenders, led brilliantly by the supremely gifted Jamaal Lascelles, a 22 year-old left out in the cold for the majority of previous Manager Steve McLaren’s soul sapping tenure.

There is so much more to lose now. The club’s most natural outlet, Andros Townsend, is said to have an £8m relegation release clause in the deal he signed during the Winter window and a queue of admirers, whilst the likes of Benitez and his staff are unlikely to stick around to oversee things in the lower leagues.

There are no battle hardened spearheads in the mould of Kevin Nolan, no talismanic Andy Carroll’s coming through the youth team. The remnants of this latest disaster conceivably a team sheet smothered with names luminaries as Riviere, Ameobi, Gouffran, Haidara and Saivet.

AA: Adam Armstrong has shone on loan at Coventry.
AA: Adam Armstrong has shone on loan at Coventry.

Players recruited at the say so of Chief Scout Graham Carr, a man formerly held in high esteem. As the results of his approved acquisitions have diminished, so has the reputation of the 71 year-old, who despite working within the constraints of a blinkered blueprint could surely not have been expected to get it so spectacularly wrong so often.

Adam Armstrong offers hope, although his flame has dimmed in the latter months of a loan spell at Coventry City. Other gifted youth prospects such as Rolando Aarons and Kevin Mbabu are beset by regular injuries and have contracts that expire imminently. Will they be keen to stay put at a club seemingly in perpetual transition? Nobody could blame them, or the likes of Freddie Woodman for wanting to escape the Titanic.

Of course, in an ideal world the parachute payments of around £45m, as well as a reduction of wage bill with the release of high earners such as Taylor, Papiss Cisse, Marveaux et al, would allow the club to somehow talk some of the better players, and more importantly the management team, into staying put.

In reality any scenario where clubs actually want to purchase and pay wages to the likes of Riviere, Gouffran, Haidara, Coloccini (Palace apparently willing to pay £4m last Summer!) and others is wishful thinking indeed; the equivalent of sticking your best of Steps album on eBay with a £20 reserve.

Wijnaldum may be easier to shift, and for such a talented player he has probably been our biggest flop in the second half of the season. He’s a quality player in full flow, with bags of pace and technical skill, but as the seasons have changed so seemingly has his attitude.

A team with a spine of Elliot/Darlow/Krul, Lascelles, Mbemba, Dummett, Mbabu, Tiote, Aarons, Armstrong, Mitrovic and Perez could probably bounce back from the second tier, but make no mistake; this will not be a glorified 102 point cake walk as in 2009-10. If we scrape promotion by our cuticles it will be an excellent achievement. If we don’t then a prolonged drift around the bowels of English League football is likely to commence.

Our football club has become the sweaty man hiding a secret, in Rafa we are punching several weights too high already, we might be able to get Nigel Pearson or Tim Sherwood to shout us back up though.

For Aston Villa relegation provides a broom to sweep away the rubble, for Newcastle United it channels the gust of wind that blows away a short lived promise of better times. This one really hurts because this time we were given hope.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Transfer Window 2015: How did your club do?

With the Summer transfer window now slammed shut for Premier League sides, it’s time to reflect on the increasing, surely unsustainable spending that’s occurred during two crazy months.

Arsenal

Total spent: £11m
Notable addition: Petr Cech (Chelsea, £11m)
Notable departure: Abou Diaby (Released)

Arsenal addressed the need for a top quality custodian by acquiring Chelsea’s second choice stopper, Petr Cech, who promises to add stability to the set-up. Unfortunately they still look a striker and midfield destroyer short of challenging for the title, and an additional central defender wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Aston Villa

Total spent: £52.5m
Notable addition: Jordan Amavi (Nice, £10m)
Notable departure: Christian Benteke (Liverpool, £32.5m)

Christian Benteke’s departure was inevitable, but Fabian Delph’s transfer to Manchester City was a little more contentious, with the England midfielder, having rejected City’s initial advances, pledging his allegiance the Villains, only to perform an about turn and join the Eastlands club less than a week later. Villa have raided France, bringing in some promising talent; most notably Jordan Amavi from Nice.

Bournemouth

Total spent: £23.8m
Notable addition: Max Gradel (£6.8m, Saint-Etienne)
Notable departure: Brett Pitman (£1.2m, Ipswich Town)

The Cherries have picked up from where they left off last season, playing aesthetically appealing football and getting decent results along the way. On paper their squad looks short of quality, although the likes of Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings are astute additions. With Eddie Howe at the helm anything seems possible, and perhaps their best piece of business was retaining the talented Callum Wilson.

Chelsea

Total spent: £69m
Notable addition: Pedro (Barcelona, £21.4m)
Notable departure: Petr Cech (Arsenal, £11m)

A quiet, by Chelsea standards, transfer window, coupled with some disappointing results, has emphasised the need to reinvigorate a declining squad. John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic in particular have looked as if they’re on the slide. The ultimately fruitless pursuit of Everton’s John Stones will have left Jose Mourinho bitterly frustrated.

Crystal Palace


Total spent: £25.3m
Notable addition: Yohan Cabaye (PSG, £12.8m)
Notable departure: None.

Palace have quietly assembled one of the most thrilling squads in the Premier League, having enjoyed an excellent transfer window, whilst remaining under the radar. Their capture of Yohan Cabaye could be one of the deals of the summer; the diminutive playmaker already having made an impact for the Eagles.

Everton

Total spent: £21.75m
Notable addition: Ramiro Funes Mori (River Plate, £9.5m)
Notable departure: None.

Everton have decided to keep their powder dry for the most part this summer, adding five new faces without spending (relative) big bucks. Keeping John Stones away from Chelsea may prove a short-term victory; that said, a reported £40m offer for the defender was exorbitant, and unlikely to be matched in future, less frenzied times.

Leicester City


Total spent: £25m
Notable addition: Shinji Okazaki (Mainz, £7.2m)
Notable departure: Esteban Cambiasso (Released)

The unexpected departure of manager Nigel Pearson left a gaping hole in the Foxes’ recruitment drive in the early weeks of the window, but that soon picked up when former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri took the reigns. The ‘Tinkerman’ has made half a dozen useful signings, the best of which looks to be talented Japanese marksman Okazaki.

Liverpool

Total spent: £80.5m
Notable addition: Christian Benteke (Aston Villa, £32.5m)
Notable departure: Raheem Sterling (Man City, £49m)

The Reds started the summer as if they planned to purchase an entirely new squad, perhaps with one eye on the impending departure of Raheem Sterling to Manchester City. Benteke has the ability to become a club legend, and the signings of Danny Ings, James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne provide value for money, although none are exactly marquee purchases.

Manchester City

Total spent: £154m
Notable addition: Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg, £55m)
Notable departure: James Milner (Liverpool, free)

The Citizens have resumed the spendthrift stance that was temporarily foiled as a result of the club besmirching FIFA’s “Financial Fair Play” regulations. Stockpiling players once again, they appear to have all bases covered, and anything less than European glory will probably result in Manuel Pellegrini receiving his marching orders.

Manchester United

Total spent: £115.8m
Notable addition: Memphis Depay (PSV, £24.4m)
Notable departure: Angel Di Maria (PSG, £44.8m)

A whirlwind deadline day saw United secure the services of prodigiously talented teenage attacker Anthony Martial from Monaco for an initial £36m and a deal to trade David De Gea to Real Madrid thwarted by tardy paperwork. Despite all of that, their best business was agreed before the window opened, with exciting winger Depay swapping Holland for England.

Newcastle United

Total spent: £48m
Notable addition: Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV, £13m)
Notable departure: Jonas Gutierrez (released)

The Toon Army have (finally) been treated to a host of exciting additions, as well as a much needed revamp in coaching set-up and management. Wijnaldum is, literally and figuratively, the biggest name addition to the group, although both Chancel Mbemba and Floran Thauvin have impressed thus far. Aleksandar Mitrovic should become the number nine supporters have long craved… If he can stay on the pitch for long enough.

Norwich City

Total spent: £12m
Notable addition: Robbie Brady (Hull City, £7m)
Notable departure: Mark Bunn (Aston Villa, free)

Norwich haven’t managed to attract anyone particularly exciting to Norfolk, but what they have done is embellish their midfield with stable top-flight performers. Irish full-back/winger Robbie Brady is a gifted player who deserves the chance to fulfil his undoubted ability, but there is a feeling that the Canaries will end up relying heavily upon the jet-heeled Nathan Redmond.

Southampton

Total spent: £42.5m
Notable addition: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord, £10.5m)
Notable departure: Morgan Schneiderlin (Man United, £27m)

Saints have had a wonderful knack in recent seasons of getting top dollar for outgoing players and replacing them with better, cheaper alternatives. Jordy Clasie may prove to be another coup, although he’s not in the Schneiderlin mould just yet. Nataniel Clyne is a loss, but hanging on to Spurs target Victor Wanyama on deadline day was vital, while the late addition of Virgil Van Dijk is savvy.

Stoke City


Total spent:
£29.8m
Notable addition: Xherdan Shaqiri (Inter Milan, £12m)
Notable departure: Asmir Begovic (Chelsea, £8m)

The evolution of Stoke City continues apace, with the addition of skilful innovators such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Marco van Ginkel to the ranks. Mark Hughes has assembled a quality squad at the Britannia Stadium. The departure of the brilliant Asmir Begovic has afforded the promising Jack Butland an overdue opportunity.

Sunderland

Total spent: £25m
Notable addition: Fabio Borini (Liverpool, £10m)
Notable departure: Connor Wickham (Crystal Palace, £9m)

The Mackems don’t appear to have sufficiently addressed their leaky defence, conceding 13 goals in their five league and cup matches so far this season. The additions of Fabio Borini, Jeremain Lens and Yann M’Vila have at least given Dick Advocaat’s men a previously absent cutting edge.

Swansea City


Total spent:
£15m
Notable signing: Andre Ayew (Marseille, free)
Notable departure: Nathan Dyer (Leicester City, loan)

The Welsh side have been among the shrewdest Premier League operators this summer, picking up high calibre signings with minimal or zero transfer fee attached. Andre Ayew has immediately settled, while Eder provides important backup for on song target man Bafe Gomis.

Tottenham Hotspur

Total spent: £51.3m
Notable addition: Son Heung-Min (Leverkusen, £22m)
Notable departure: Aaron Lennon (Everton, £5.2m)

With Spurs fans crying out for additional fire power, Daniel Levy was only able to conclude deals for support acts and defenders. The club have done well to trim much of the fat from an inflated squad, but may rue the as of yet fruitless pursuit of West Brom’s Saido Berahino.

Watford


Total spent:
£31m
Notable addition: Etienne Capoue (Tottenham, £6m)
Notable departure: None

The most active top-flight team in this transfer window, the Hornets made no less than 15 signings during the summer. On the surface it appears to be a case of quantity over quality, although the likes of Etienne Capoue and Valon Behrami at least have the capacity to supply sufficient ammunition for Troy Deeney and co. to trouble the scorers.

West Bromwich Albion


Total spent:
£33m
Notable signing: Salomon Rondon (Zenit, £12m)
Notable departure: Joleon Lescott (Aston Villa, £1m)

The Baggies have had a successful window, retaining the services of star striker Saido Berahino against his will, while adding real quality in the shape of Salomon Rondon, Johnny Evans and James Chester. Tony Pulis has steered clear of panic deals, upgrading key areas. With Rickie Lambert now on the books, Albion have a mouthwatering three-pronged front-line available if they can get Berahino to stop sulking.

West Ham United


Total spent: £35.6m
Notable addition: Dimitri Payet (Marseille, £10.7m)
Notable departure: Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough, £5m)

A new manager and a dozen additions to the playing staff may seem excessive, but the Hammers needed revolution rather than evolution this term. Multiple deadline day deals so often spells impending disaster, but the quality of players such as Alex Song and Victor Moses can’t be questioned. Dimitri Payet holds the key to unlock any defence in Europe.

Did we nail it? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.