I’m not sure I’d describe the purchase of Georginio Wijnaldum from PSV for a reported €14m as a “spending spree” as one newspaper did today but it is a massive step in the right direction for a club that has unquestionably lost its direction in so many different ways and needs to get itself back on the right path quick snap. Even the most cursory research into the new lad is enough to suggest he has a load of promise and let’s hope he can have a really big impact at United next season and many thereafter.
Clearly, a lot more business needs to be done. The priorities are up top with two quality strikers required and as is my wont for repeating on social media, I believe what we need is hard, fast, tall skilful bastards and particularly in attack but a couple of quality PL defenders are essential as well.
It’s good to see the club being heavily linked with players I think would fit the bill but they need to translate those reports into action and the sooner the better. We have little less than a month before the season kicks off and a pre-season tour of the USA in between. United has at least made a start and they are to be applauded for that but there’s a long way to go before years of a lack of neglect of the squad will reverse a sour atmosphere around the club, in the media and amongst the support.
Since January, the club has lost six players from the ranks (Mbwia, HBA, Santon, R.Taylor, Jonas and Sammy Ameobi now gone on a year’s loan). I’ve no beef with any of those players leaving but our ranks are sorely depleted (they weren’t that strong beforehand) so action just has to be made to at least replace those and hopefully with a lot better players.
In terms of the club’s ability to invest, there just has to be the potential to invest and to invest heavily. It was reported that in the accounts up to 6/14 United made a declared profit of £18m but there was also a surplus of £34m in those accounts too. It’s not inconceivable that United made those sorts of numbers again in the period ending 6/15 so along with a sorely reduced payroll, the money has to be there to make prudent investment that will help push the club on, restore some level of belief for many (I still get those e-mails every other days it seems from NUFC pushing season tickets) and basically generate some excitement and optimism. Contrary to what some might believe I’m not really a miserable bastard who loves the negativity around United. I can’t tell you how much I want to look forward to going to matches again with some expectation and I know that applies to the vast majority of you reading this whatever shade of opinion you might have on what the club has been through over the Ashley era.
Mind, as much as I believe the club should have and be able to invest heavily in the players it needs, I don’t get too much of a hard-on for players arriving with big fees. I’d take a Cabaye-style signing over an Albert Luque one any day of the week and if United can get a player of the quality of Demba Ba on a free then I’m not going to complain. For me it’s all about the player. Some will come with big fees and deliver (i.e. Alan Shearer) and some will come and won’t (Michael Owen). So, for me the arrivals have to have been scouted to within an inch of their lives and we need to know what day their mother’s birthday falls by the time they sign. That’s regardless of reputation or fee. They also need to have the rubber stamp of approval of the man who is responsible for coaching and selecting them. We hear far too much of Pardew not being happy with certain players brought in by Carr for it to be idle paper-talk. For what it’s worth, I probably was with Pardew when it came to Mbwia (watching him shit his pants up against Lukaku was sobering), whilst Santon’s positional sense was all over the place and Cabella is nowhere near my demand for tall, fast, hard, skilful bastards in the team. I do hope a change of coach has some impact upon him (if he’s here next season). Looking at the kite on HBA in Nice and remembering his derby performances hasn’t convinced me Hatem was badly coached, I just think he’s got no self-discipline and he’s a bad professional for all of his wonderful talent. Marveaux though? I think there’s a player inside him. We’ll see if McClaren can get it out of him if its there.
Anyway, hopefully McClaren will be consulted on every player coming in and going out of United because let’s face it, he’s going to be the one getting it in the neck if it turns to rat-shit next season. Carr is almost as invisible as Charnley when it comes to developing a relationship with the media and supporters.
I am about to say something nice about Newcastle United and Steve McClaren, so please sit down. I have to say I like some of the things I’m hearing from Darsley Park about discipline. In what kind of world is it acceptable as a professional athlete to be late for training? Particularly when it starts at bloody 10am. I found myself nodding at news McClaren had sent players home for lateness and if this part of a new culture of banned mobile phones and all of the rest of it, I can only see that as a positive. I also like to hear that there is a strong focus on using the ball in training. I’m one of those deluded Geordies who imagines the Newcastle United way of playing can be rich and varied but it does not involve hoofing the ball up the pitch as we did so much under Pardew. Without presuming to claim the SJP ascetics I believe the United way is to play passing football, to play with pace and to be committed to attacking. We don’t have an exclusivity on that of course and there is opposition when it has to be modified but that’s surely our thing right? That’s good that appears to be part of the plan under the new man.
Away from the training ground I’m hearing McClaren wants to have a constructive relationship with the media. That is critical to change the atmosphere and for him not to be collateral damage in a war the club has decided it wants to have with the press-pack for whatever reasons. You can’t continually treat people like shite and expect them not to react. United has to be less touchy about its coverage and realise it comes with the territory. It needs to be bigger. They won’t change it and their response to date has made it worse. To paraphrase Kevin Keegan when discussing the media – write your own headlines by what the team does on the park. It really is as simple as that.
Back to throwing plaudits (don’t worry, read on for the usual bile) I thought United got two things spot on last week. Allowing the Newcastle United Woman’s Football Club to train at Benton is a nice touch and whoever made that call should be praised. Well done.
The second of course was taking a first team squad to Gateshead on Friday night.
Gateshead is our nearest and dearest of course and the impact of a good few thousand of our tribe showing up does wonders for a club at their level and I for one (okay, I’m a Gateshead lad, I admit it) hope this becomes a regular feature of our pre-season preparations as was running on the Longsands at Tynemouth has been for many seasons going back to at least the 1950s to my knowledge. A strong relationship with Gateshead is mutually beneficial, particularly as young players can only benefit so much from U-21 football. Let them get knocked about and compete with older players in a competitive league as their first steps into professional careers hopefully. That helps Gateshead, helps United and helps the players themselves. United has developed a good relationship with our near non-league neighbours and I hope it continues for many years to come.
Okay, where was I, oh aye, the bile. Cough. The Fans Forum! Is there a greater waste of time and energy than this absolute charade? With all due respect to some who have participated within it and who have done so with the best of intentions, really what has it achieved? The paranoia of United for wanting to control what it sees as the message with the participants committed to some kind of omerta (Mafia code of silence) hardly generates a confidence it really is a two-sided exchange of opinions, ideas and scrutiny as it should be. The curt, that’s your lot nature of the answers to anything probing and the associated minutes which allow no room for follow-up questions is really not on and I sometimes wonder how some of the good people (and I know there have been good people involved) manage to stay in their seats.
The bottom line is every single representative sitting on the Fans Forum should be elected every season and not handpicked by Lee Marshall or as I have told to me suggested by those who are already in the tent. It happens at other more self-confident clubs, so why not Newcastle United?
When the thing was being established myself and others had Marshall all over us like a bad suit – I had a kind of promise I’d be allowed to sit in as an observer but that was removed about 2 weeks before the first meeting and the NUST was banned indefinitely for reasons that have never been adequately explained and with correspondence from NUST and the FSF on the matter completely ignored. Brusque is the kindest description for them though pig ignorant might be more accurate.
Elections would root out the self-important whoppers who represent an inert, unaccountable, undemocratic imagined grandee wing of the Toon Army (sic) and who operate with the most vaguest of objectives. I’ve never been part of any kind of organisation worthy of the description that doesn’t have any elections, objectives and /or accountability. The Disabled supporters representation is a completely different matter as that has specific interests they are best placed to submit to the Forum.
Why am I bothered? I don’t think many people give it anything more than the most cursory of attention to be honest.
For all that and though Mike Ashley didn’t attend the Fans Forum despite the empty demand of someone who presumed to represent them, Steve McClaren did and he appears to have impressed a few who were in attendance. Fair play to him, it was something Pardew didn’t arse himself with, though I was similarly impressed by the current Palace boss when I met him amidst the rarity of a winning run back in his early days at United.
Anyway, the players are off to the USA and let’s hope our fans over there enjoy the games and the rare experience of seeing their team live. We hope to have match reports from those games online so fingers crossed all that works well.
As you might have seen we have had our Northern Soul Gallowgate and Leazes End design classic now out as a t-shirt. We had it on sale as a pin badge last season so we thought you might like it as a t-shirt as well given its popularity. In a couple of hours I’ll press the button and hopefully get them on sale for you. Over the next few months we’ll be adding more t-shirts and merchandise with the view of providing you with something a bit different, something associated with this gobshite fanzine and what it has stood for since 1999 but also the culture of Newcastle United supporters and the communities we all come from and that is part of the club’s hinterland. Hopefully you know our shizzle well enough by now.
You can get at the t-shirts by clicking here
We do have a few ideas to bring out t-shirts for some charitable causes we support as well. Watch this space.
Everyone who buys one of our t-shirts will also be given a FREE E-Book we are working on which we hope to have ready for you by Christmas.
Enough already as the team probably won’t hear said in the USA.
Have a great week and hopefully we’ll see more of that vital transfer business done over the next few days.