Before we go any further, there is no doubt in my mind that the most important and meaningful part of Sunday will be the poignant, tribute to John Alder and Liam Sweeney, prior to the game. St James’ Park will provide an opportunity for our supporters to demonstrate a collective, unity and showcase our respect and regret at two sad losses to the Newcastle United family.
A hearty “welcome,” to several new players, who will help form a new look Newcastle United. Some already look quite slick, some will need to do their ‘adjusting’ in competitive action.
In terms of a squad, we have 40 names on the back of the programme. Are they all good enough for the Premier League? Absolutely, not. The squad is bloated and top heavy with ‘squad’ players who need moved out and hopefully allow us to bring in a couple more “purples” – if we still call them that?
Pre-season has been a bit hit and miss. I’ll admit to taking an interest in pre-season at first. I went to Oldham and wasted ½ a day of my life. I watched 1 of the New Zealand games and I gave Sheff Wed a swerve, but clocked the 2 Germany fixtures via tv. I dodged Huddersfield and watched the Sociedad game at home. Some things immediately jump out. Janmaat (needs a song) looked good. Siem De Jong (Needs a song) looked tidy, but I sense Pardew fancies playing him up-front. Cabella (Needs a song) looks talented, but also quite different, to Hatem Ben Arfa – more on him later. Colback… Hmmmm, we already have Anita to do nothing! Riviere, has impressed, Ferreyra has given the impression that it will take him a while to adjust.
The star of pre-season in my opinion has been Aarons. I’ve been watching this kid for a few seasons now at our younger levels and he’s looked a bright prospect at every level. Perez looks like he can play a bit, might need some mince and dumplings in him mind.
So with results meaningless, but new players looking alright, all must be sweet on Barrack Road eh?
Well, not quite. For whatever reasons, and this isn’t the place to start speculating, a new season did not herald a clean slate for some of our players. Marveaux, Gutierrez, Shane Ferguson and (sadly) Hatem Ben Arfa have been excluded from the 1st team. Personally, I’m disappointed Marveaux has gone as I really think we have a talented player there. Jonas, did as much for United after relegation as anyone and deserves respect from the club in my opinion. Ferguson, flopped at Birmingham last season and his career has stalled since ‘Pardiola’ – remember him? – decided he’d switch him to a left back having spent his development years as a left winger.
But it’s Ben Arfa, the crowd favourite (or ½ the crowd if you read twitter) whose exclusion has caused a bit of a negative background as we run into the season. For me? He’s our star man, best player and would be in my team every week. Pardew finds him difficult to manage and it seems he wants him out. But with Pardew largely unpopular with the crowd, there’s a portion of our support ready to snap. I sense some are waiting for us to go 1-0 down, to then start singing his name and play him off against the manager. This absolutely will not help the team on the pitch.
United need to urgently either give a full and honest explanation for the exclusion and move him on, or, re-integrate him. This state of flux mustn’t rumble on and distract any longer.
So, on Sunday, we welcome the champions, Manchester City, who, I don’t like very much. It’s nothing personal, I don’t like many teams if I’m honest.
The Citizens have reshaped their squad a bit too. Sagna, Fernando, Caballero, Lampard, Mangala and Zuclini have replaced Patilimon, Rodwell, Lescott and Barry.
They’ll be amongst the favourites to win it again, although I reckon Chelsea will win it.
Negrado is their only injury concern
Tiote and De Jong are rumoured to be touch and go. Santon is crocked as is Cisse. Gouffran had a bit of an injury scare last weekend whilst Ryam Taylor is on the comeback trail.
Krul is pretty much cemented in at No.1 despite not exactly being flawless. Elliot looked ok in pre-season, Alnwick didn’t.
Janmaat will replace Debuchy with Ryan Taylor the natural cover and Satka appears to have switched from a centre back to a right back since last season.. 3 players are up for left back and with Santon injured, Haidara and Dummett are looking to get in.
Williamson and Coloccini are likely to be our first choice pairing although they’re far from solid. Steven Taylor and Yanga-Mbiwa have blown every chance they’ve had to nail their place in the team. Neither are good enough for the Premier League in my opinion. But Streete and the injured, Curtis Good are the back up
A fit Tiote is a first choice and depending on what system we play, Anita and Colback are there to play centre midfield too, although both of those together would end badly in my opinion.
Abeid is back but if we’re being honest hasn’t pulled up any trees in pre-season. Bigirimana has disappeared.
Out wide, Cabella is a certainty, whilst I fear Sissoko will be used on the wing too, despite having the attributes of a centre midfield powerhouse. Gouffran will always be a Pardew favourite as he’ll run all day despite his clear weaknesses. Obertan suddenly appears back in contention. Sammy Ameobi has drifted and needs a loan desperately. Vuckic is fucking, useless whichever position he attempts.
The goal scoring burden will be placed on Riviere’s shoulders, I expect to see De Jong playing up front a lot, who looks quality, but plenty reports suggest he’s a midfielder who pushes on. Ferreyra has some work to do. Cisse is still injured but he’s been shite for 2 years now anyway.
Santon – Knee – September
Cisse – Knee – September
Good – Groin
Possible Team (4-4-1-1)
2. Janmaat, 5. Williamson, 6. Coloccini, 3. Haidara
7. Sissoko, 4. Tiote, 8. Colback 11. Cabella
10. De Jong
Elliot, Steven Taylor, Gouffran, Ferreyra, Anita, Yanga-Mbiwa, Aarons
Referee: Martin Atkinson
History vs The Citizens at SJP
1983/84 Won 5-0. A dream day on our way to promotion with goals from Keegan, Beardsley (3) and Waddle. Attendance, 33,675
See the wonderful rout here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O87AvsO98Nc
1985/86 Won 3-1. Another win for United on the last day of the season as we cemented our comfortable mid table finish. Roeder, Clarke and Whitehurst notching for us. Attendance, 23,479
1986/87 Won 3-1. Gazza, Cunningham and Neil McDonald on the mark this time during an inconsistent spell for us. We’d survive relegation by 3 points, City were less fortunate. Attendance, 21,780
1993/94 won 2-0Back in the big time, we’d qualify for Europe in our first season in the Premier League. A double for Goal King Cole. Attendance, 35,585
1994/95 Drew 0-0. Our 3rd 0-0 in 5 games as we came to terms with Cole’s departure and realised Paul Kitson was fucking hopeless. Attendance, 34,437
1995/96 Won 3-1. Ferdinand (2) and a Beardsley penalty in front of 36,501.
2000/01Lost 0-1. Shaun Goater with the winner at the Leazes End as we went through a period of transition under Bobby Robson. Attendance, 51,981.
2002/03Won 2-0 United continued impressive home form with goals from Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy. Seeing Keegan in the opposition dug out, just didn’t feel right. Attendance, 52,152.
2003/04 Won 3-0 Yet more Keeganness but 2 late Shearer goals plus one from Shola Ameobi. Attendance, 52,159.
2004/05Won 4-3 It looked like a straight forward 3 points when Laurent Robert and Alan Shearer put us 2 goals ahead, however they pegged us back to 2-2. Robbie Elliott put us back in front only for City to equalise with 13 mins left. Craig Bellamy scored a last gasp winner. Attendance, 52,316
2005/06 Won 1-0 Michael Owen’s poachers finish was enough to see off Stuart Pearce’s side in front of 52,280. Sadly, this was our last 3 points earned at SJP vs. This lot.
2006/07 Lost 0-1 to Mpenza’s strike 10 mins from time. Attendance, 52,004
2007/08Lost 0-2 A very cold night, Elano and Fernandes with the goals, but frankly, Fat Sam was serving up shit and many left after the 2nd goal. Attendance, 50,956
2008/09 Drew 2-2 Having seen Habib Beye wrongly, red carded and Robinho score the non existent, penalty, we feared the worst.. However, an Ameobi goal and Richard Dunne OG miraculously put us in front, but pressure told in the end and Ireland equalised. Attendance, 45,908
2010/11Lost 1-3 A shit Boxing Day as Barry and Tevez had the visitors 2-0 up in 5 mins. Carroll pulled one back but Tevez’s late effort was deflected in off Coloccini. Attendance, 51,635
2011/12 Lost 0-2 We managed to hold on until the last 20 minutes when Yaya Toure kicked in and scored twice. Attendance, 52,389
2012/13 Lost 1-3 Unite were going through a shit patch of bad form and injuries when Man City rolled into town. Again they went 2-0 in front through Garcia and Aguero. Demba Ba pulled one back, but Toure finished us off. Attendance, 49,579
2013/14Lost 2-1. Robbed after Tiote’s goal was disallowed……… Well…. maybe that would have just annoyed them and we’d have been hammered? Attendance, 49,423.
Man City Fanzines
Blue Moon – bit of an online forum thingy http://www.bluemoon-mcfc.co.uk/
King of The Kippax – Seems more digital than paper based http://kingkippax.blogspot.co.uk/
It’s not a prediction as such, but, how I’d love to beat the champions of England at St James’s Park in honour of our absent friends.
All of them.
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