That’s the pre-season friendlies sorted then and now we have the real stuff to anticipate next week when we welcome to Champions Manchester City to St James’ Park. Given recent history, we’ll struggle for anything though on the flip-side we did well against them last season in the same fixture and might have done better but for some abysmal refereeing which robbed us of a rare Chieck Tiote goal. Opening days often have a surprise. Let’s hope it’s a nice one – for us.
There is no question, the club has done some business over the summer and I am really trying to be positive. However, after predicting there might be some player-trading in the summer months, I am sticking with that assertion because up until now, all the club has done is recycle the transfer fees they received for Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Debuchy. I’m not saying we haven’t done good business. I think we have in part. The likes of Janmaat, De Jong, Colback and Cabella have decent pedigree but I am less convinced by the likes of Riviere, Perez and Ferreya. Demba Ba is a contradiction to the cliche you get what you pay for but he provides the exception that proves the rule.
United had a major objective in the summer and that was to sign a couple of strikers. I am willing to accept they might get something from Riviere and Ferreya in terms of the odd goal but there is little in their references to suggest they can fill the gap provided Loic Remy. Perez is always going to be one for the future. He cannot be thrown into the heat of battle this early or I fear he’ll be ruined.
United needs to make a well-considered and prudent purchase of a striker who will get us 12 – 15 goals per season. That will require investment on a fee and wages. Strikers are the best paid of players because they win matches. It may seem unduly negative on my part but we don’t look like we have a match-winner on the books.
I don’t know how many names have been repeated ad-nauseum as striker recruits on the club’s radar over the last few years and whilst some of them represent little more than kite-flying by some hacks, it’s fair to say Gomis, who made his way to Swansea was one we were serious about. 12 months ago we were led to believe we were ready to pay money for him. Now he has joined Swansea on a free. Its baffling. Then there was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but he seems content to stay in Germany. Obviously, we turned our noses up at Wilfred Bony last summer and after a good season in South Wales, Swansea have a very valuable asset on their hands.
There has to be money at Newcastle United for major investment. United has spent nowt for 18 months and now this summer has simply recycled the fees incoming for Cabaye and Debuchy. Pardew, in his role as Minister for Disinformation may attempt to spin to supporters about money spent but the truth is with the new TV deal and other dough, Newcastle United’s powder remains very dry.
Were United to move to sign a proven striker such as Lacazette and a central defender between now and the end of the month, I would happily point to a good summer of investment and preparation. Until then, it’s just been player-trading.
Sit down. I am going to praise Newcastle United. I think this open day the club has planned for Tuesday at St James’ Park is very commendable. We should have more of this stuff. Newcastle United is a club absolutely and totally defined by the community that follows it.
Players might come from all points on the globe, United may be the beneficiary of mega TV money but at its core, Newcastle United is The Toon – the club of Tyneside, Northumberland, much of County Durham and elsewhere. Fair play to the organisers, I hope it’s a massive success. More, more, more!
I think United has got the tone absolutely correct in its response to the tragic deaths of Liam Sweeney and John Alder on Flight MH17. It has been measured, dignified and hinted at an element of class many of us suspected wasn’t there. I was gratified to see the club flag flying at half-mast over the East Stand for the Real Sociedad friendly and I expect it will be the same next Sunday.
The Man City game offers us the opportunity to mark our sadness at the loss of two lads, senselessly killed on their way to support Newcastle United in New Zealand. I think United has got it absolutely correct. The ceremony before the game involving United captain Fabricio Coloccini and his Manchester City counterpart Vincent Kompany I am sure will be immaculately observed.
I am certain Wearside legend Jimmy Montgomery, who will be representing Sunderland AFC, club and supporters at St James’ Park this coming Sunday, will be warmly welcomed by every single supporter. When we were mourning the loss of two of our most committed supporters, Sunderland fans bared their soul, reached out and showed a straightforward humanity that touched many of us. As far as I’m concerned, it will never be forgotten.
I was pleased, if that is the correct description that the remains of Liam Sweeney have been identified and returned so his family can achieve a close of sorts. We need the same for John Alder so his family can give him a dignified funeral. Clearly, we all wish the Sweeney and Alder families all the very best.
Many thanks to all of you who have signed up for true faith in the new DIGITAL format. We have had some wonderful feedback and that is really, really encouraging. Although the decision to move to DIGITAL was something we knew would come one day and we had prepared for it (future-proofing I may have described it at one of our high level (cough) editorial meetings) the decision was forced upon us by the straightforward inability to get it distributed to a standard that would guarantee we weren’t bankrupted by some corporation’s witless incompetence. But now we are where we are with it, I’m kicking myself we just didn’t do it earlier.
I’d have quite happily have kept knocking out the hard-copy version as long as you lot were kind enough to buy it but I do think the game is up for paper-based fanzines. The media infra-structure, particularly in the regions, is crumbling (you just have to look at the local press to recognise that) but readers are more sophisticated nowadays, demand more and let’s be honest every step taken in fanzine culture has been driven by the availability of technology. We established true faith and others did with other titles due to the availability of affordable software for desk top publishing. Before that it was Letraset and Xerox machines.
So, here we are, with a template I fervently believe will breathe new life into a fanzine culture that has been dying on its arse for some time now. Long-standing titles like When Skies Are Grey (Everton), United We Stand (Man Utd), Red News (Man Utd), Heroes and Villains (Aston Villa), A Love Supreme (Sunderland) and The Gooner (Arsenal) are all available in DIGITAL format. Yes, some have kept their printed versions going too but quite honestly, it is all a matter of time before they do what true faith has done and cross to an exclusively DIGITAL world.
When I talk to the lads at When Skies Are Grey (Everton) who are now exclusively DIGITAL about how things are going, they are like me, absolutely convinced their best days are ahead of them. The idea of going back is preposterous.
We can just do so much more. Last season we were offering 8 issues x 64 pages. This season its 10 pages at 100 pages. Last season a subscription abroad outside the EU cost a crazy £72 and £3 from a seller or off a news-stand. Now each issue works out £1.79 anywhere in the world. Copies don’t get lost in the post or take an eternity to get there. It is bigger, better, faster and cheaper.
We are all buzzing at how well it is going. This is the future and we are determined to be its pioneers. Aye, us daft Geordies in the Desolate North ©
Whether hard-copy or DIGITAL, the secret though is top class fanzine writing and I’m delighted we have a stable of some of the finest fanzine writers in the country. The talent in our stands and in the wider B& community is staggering and I’m thrilled so many see their home with us at true faith. We are enormously flattered to be the home for such great writers.
This current issue is rammed with exceptional writing and in Glenn Ashcroft our design chief, we are putting out a really visually impressive publication.
Its £17.99 for an annual subscription or £5.99 for a quarterly option. Just click here.
For your subscription you will get the next 10 issues of true faith. You will also get access to a back archive of 30+ issues at no extra cost. That includes the recent summer special which weighed in at 169-pages.
true faith : DIGITAL reads really well on PCs, lap-tops, i-phones, tablets, smart-phones and i-pads.
Do yourself a favour, get signed up here.
Every week of the season we will be doing a free e-newsletter, the true faith : SATURDAY SPECIAL. Its our fanzine within a fanzine and it is absolutely FREE.
The true faith : SATURDAY SPECIAL is entirely the work of our Deputy Editor, Gareth Harrison, ably supported by Glenn Ashcroft.
Gareth will cast a weather eye over the affairs of Newcastle United but also the wider world of football and his wry commentary will appear in the SATURDAY SPECIAL. It will be delivered as if by magic into your in-boxes every Saturday morning, usually when you are away with the mixer in the land of nod.
I have to say, I love reading the true faith : SATURDAY SPECIAL on my smart-phone en-route to the match (when we’re playing on Saturdays) and to my particular delight once witnessed a lad doing likewise whilst emptying his bladder in a city centre boozer before the game. Who says men can’t multi-task?
Seriously though, it’s perfect match-day reading. Did we mention it’s FREE!
To register for the true faith : SATURDAY SPECIAL, just click here and enter your details.
You don’t need to do anything else.
As you might have seen over the summer, we have taken to knocking out some merchandise. Our intention is to offer an alternative to club shop tat. We were staggered when the city crest badge we did sold out in a couple of hours one Saturday afternoon in July and sales of the Kelly and Peacock Bucket hats have gone down a storm as well.
We will have some new badges for you soon but we still have a very quickly diminishing stock of bucket hats remaining.
To get your hands on one – just click here.
Over time we’ll be adding some more items but we would really rather be confident we have the right quality item before jumping in and punting any old shite.
It has to be tip-top quality or we’re not going to do it.
Watch this space.
Anyway, the phony friendlies are now over. The real stuff starts at St James’ Park this coming Sunday. Pardew has been talking about the Champions League but the second half of last season hinted more of a club heading for the Championship if we’re honest. He’s been in ebullient mood about new signings but there are big gaps on the shopping list so far as I can see.
Like all match-going Mags I’m looking forward to the return of match-day rituals, meeting old friends, making new ones and seeing eleven lads running out in B&W shirts (okay, I know, they could be better) at St James’ Park and representing the greatest football team in the world – Newcastle United FC.
Howay The Lads!
Have a great week.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …