The lads return from a stint in Abu Dhabi (much preferable to a weekend in Bolton) doing some of that warm weather training and bonding/integrating stuff. Hand on heart, I can’t say I have a problem with that although I’d have thought it would be tricky to integrate nobody!
Norwich City (a) is undoubtedly the ‘appetiser,’ before the main course on Saturday. In a way it will keep my mind from wandering into the default, all out, panic, dark place of ‘pre Derby’ state for another couple of days, but in the grand scheme of things, the Norwich fixture assumes an ‘obligatory’ standing, rather than a genuine opportunity to kick on, look upwards in the table and adjust our pre-season target of finishing anywhere higher than 11th. That opportunity looks close to having passed with nearly 26 days going by of the January window and some expenditure trimming, via Jonas Gutierrez’s loan move to Norwich, the only activity we have to show.
I take with a pinch of salt the stories in the press about links to this player or that player and even the stories about various players leaving and instead, just look at what has actually happened. And all I see at the moment is Gutierrez has gone out and Gosling’s back, (although not for one minute do I believe that Gosling’s wages were being fully paid by Blackpool whilst on loan at Bloomfield Road) that is not the work of a club looking to aspire to mounting a genuine challenge to gate-crashing the media’s preferred top 7. If it happens, it will happen by accident. Meanwhile, Joe Kinnear, Lee Charnley and whoever else make up our “High powered delegation” transfer team prepare Joe’s programme notes for 1st February using the words “we tried” repeatedly.
Chris Hughton will forever be able to keep his hand in his pocket when standing at the bar, whenever he’s in the company of grateful Mags for overseeing one of the most critical periods in United’s modern history. Newcastle United could, in no way, shape or form, afford to stagnate in the 2nd Division with the costs we had on our books. For him to get us back into the top flight at the first time of asking was a massive contribution and I’m yet to meet any Mag who doesn’t credit him accordingly.
Yet whether he is cut out for Premier League management is still open to debate. Personally, I think he’s probably not, but I can’t think of anyone I’d rather prove me wrong.
He spent some serious dosh in the summer, but players like van Wolfswinkel and Redmond have not delivered. They sit 9th bottom, 5 points above the drop zone, and their form at Carrow Road is better than most of those below them. They’ve won 4 times, vs. Southampton (1-0), West Hham (3-1), Crystal Palace (1-0) and Hull City (1-0). They have drawn 3, vs. Cardiff (0-0), Swansea (1-1) and Everton (2-2). They’ve lost 4 times at home, Aston Villa (0-1), Chelsea (3-1), Fulham (1-2) and Manchester United (0-1). Gary Hooper has 7 goals, 5 in the league and 2 in the league cup. Leroy Fer has 4.
Michael Turner, Jonny Howson and Elliot Bennett are their injury doubts. They have no suspensions. Jonas can’t play due to the terms of the loan system in the Premier League.
Mathieu Debuchy’s 3 game suspension is completed whilst Coloccini is still sidelined.
With Debuchy a shoe in to return at right back, it’s all about who partners Williamson at centre half between Taylor and Yanga-Mbiwa. Whilst Santon appears to be bulletproof at left back.
Cabaye, Tiote and Anita are likely to continue in midfield with Gouffram and Sissoko in the 2 wide positions.
That leaves Remy in the lone centre forward role, although neither Cisse nor Shola Ameobi are really in a position to say they deserve to be starting right now.
Ryan Taylor – Knee – not expected back this season
Coloccini – Knee – due back Aston Villa (h)
Possible Team (4-2-3-1)
1.Krul: 2. Debuchy, 5. Williamson, 6. Yanga-Mbiwa, 3. Santon: 8. Anita, 4. Tiote: 7. Sissoko, 10 Cabaye (Capt), 11. Gouffran: 9. Remy:
Elliot, Haidara, Steven Taylor, Gosling , Ben Arfa, Cisse, Shola Ameobi
Referee: Chris Foy
League History at Norwich
1984/85 Drew 0-0. United were as good as safe and this was our final game of the season, and one last look at Chris Waddle in a Newcastle shirt. Norwich City, Milk Cup winners having beaten the mackems at Wembley were in much greater trouble and this result helped condemn them to relegation. Attendance, 19,399.
1986/87 lost 0-2 We were badly struggling for goals, having scored just 4 times in 9 games. A Kevin Drinkell double increased the alarm with United in the relegation zone. Attendance, 15,735
1987/88 Drew 1-1 By now, Beardsley had headed for the exit door and Gascoigne and Goddard were tasked with carrying the hopes of Mags. That was until, The Boy from Brazil arrived. Mirandinha had pounced at Wembley, to score against England for Brazil and 4 months later, he was making his debut, to huge fanfare, at Carrow Road for Newcastle United.
We’d registered one win from our opening 3 games when we headed to Norwich where, big, Peter Jackson headed in an equaliser. Attendance, 16,636
1988/89 Won 2-0 Relegation had been in the post for some time, but the Bald Eagle was overseeing a very temporary upturn in form. Mirandinha and a Liam O’Brien rocket, seen us head back home from East Anglia with 3 points. Attendance, 22,440
1993/94 Won 2-1 Kevin Keegan’s vision and inspiration had seen us storm through the 2nd Division and during a ‘take no prisoners’ first Premier League campaign, United ripped up a Norwich City side that had sensationally eliminated Bayern Munich from the UEFA cup. Peter Beardsley and Andy Cole added Norwich City to their list of sides they’d dismantled. Attendance, 19,564
1994/95 lost 1-2 We were reeling from the departure of Andy Cole and Paul Kitson was handed the challenge of filling in the void. Sadly, he was never good enough to do it and we’d finish 6th. Ruel Fox chipped in with some crucial goals but his penalty here wasn’t enough and even though the Canaries were relegated, they took 3 points off us. Attendance, 21,172
2004/05 lost 1-2 Our season had crashed and burned the previous week with 2 stinging defeats in Lisbon and Cardiff. When Safri exploited Shay Given’s inability to save shots from long range by thumping the hosts in front with a speculative effort from just outside Norwich’s Train Station, it looked as though the game was up. Yet Patrick Kluivert looked to have levelled it up in injury time, only for a cruel Ashton winner even later. Attendance, 25,503
Safri goal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unEPlwdCXs0
Kluivert 3 mins 20 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikdDOroelU0
2011/12 lost 2-4 Our particularly stupid plan to go through the season with just 3 centre halves came to bite us on the arse when none were available for this one. With that challenge not being tough enough, Dan Gosling’s red card helped make the day a bit of a misery despite Demba Ba’s 2 goals. Attendance, 26,816
Demba Ba’s goals here 1 min 50 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8Wjb2hkMN0
2012/13 Drew 0-0. This was a display that had ‘relegation’ written all over it. However that was nothing compared to the debacle vs. Reading a couple of days later. Attendance, 26,752
I’ve no idea how many will be making the trip on Tuesday but the hashtag will be and running for those who arte.
Elmander has caused us bother in the past. Redman and Pilkington can both create problems from wide areas. Snodgrass seems to be pivotal to them and whilst Hooper is every inch a Scottish league footballer, you can bet your last penny he’ll score on Tuesday. Hoolahan is decent. Expect ex Mag, Bassong to be jeered at every opportunity.
2-0 to the hosts and depression leading us into the mackem game.