Michael might be taking a well-earned break from TF (back soon, fret not!), but his weekly gaze at the world through unashamedly NUFC-tinted goggles is most definitely not! To keep his seat warm this week, it’s the turn of the only man you ever need on your football quiz team, the living breathing authority on all things Black and White, @smord84. But enough waffle! With so much to get through, we’d better get going…
First of all to deal with the hottest ticket in town! The Carabao Cup semi-final tickets were always likely to cause an issue, but the club hardly helped itself in a really poorly worded statement. The fact is that more people now want to watch Newcastle play than can fit in the home end for a league game, whilst the increased away allocation for a game of this magnitude means that member sale was going to be short lived and likely leave many disappointed.
I was quite pleased that the club had managed to make the decision (as it appeared originally) that season ticket holders would only be allowed to buy one ticket each. This became one ticket per member, with a belated acknowledgement, after questioning from NUFC.com, that this meant season ticket holders (forced to become members under Ashley) could now buy two. There isn’t an answer to this that will please everyone, and should United be successful in reaching Wembley then I think the club should lay out the ticketing allocation immediately. Be it loyalty points, season ticket holders or a mixture of the two, the sooner it’s ironed out, then at least everyone will know the situation.
The longer term implications are that Newcastle need a bigger stadium, but that will be many years in the making and will be extremely controversial if it means leaving SJP. My lad has been to a number of games this season. I would love to get him to more, but the reality is that it will become harder and harder, so relying on others with tickets will remain the norm for some time to come.
Chris Wood left Newcastle this week on loan to Nottingham Forest, a strange signing I never really understood. We put in about 27 crosses against Cambridge and lost a cup game, so bought a striker who was good at headers and then barely played to his strengths. However, he should be thanked for his role in keeping us up. He wasn’t my cup of tea as a player but he certainly showed some nerve when finishing against Wolves from the penalty spot, and, on the one occasion we did play to his strengths, he scored a fine header against Southampton.
It was the fee that caused the most consternation I think with supporters, but a few things on that.
First, we’re not the ones who had to pay it. We as supporters don’t set the fee. We sing about the brilliance of Joelinton now, but part of the irritation with him was also the forty million involved in that deal. For Wood, the release clause was there, set at that price and we paid it. Second, he can’t control the fee. Chris Wood didn’t ask to be bought for that money. Third, it was worth it. If, as rumours are to be believed, the cost of the permanent transfer plus loan could be close to fifteen million, then a ten million pound loan for twelve months that weakened a then rival for the drop was a sensible spend.
Wood goes with our thanks, knowing he won’t probably play for a bigger club than us again and that his future as a Premier League player largely is based on his ability to keep Nottingham Forest in the league.
Kieron Dyer made a guest appearance on Sky over the weekend to talk about Newcastle. I don’t want to give him any credit for anything that came out of his mouth, but the comment that stuck with many people was about Botman going on in the future to play for ‘a team with real history and pedigree’. Thanks Kieron, be sure to check your own career and clubs with history and pedigree before you start making more comments like this in the future.
Incoming transfers are becoming a concern. Though we want to trust the process, even Eddie was clearly making a point with his comments after the deal for Wood became public and after the potential injury to Bruno. I am less keen on worrying about the issues with Isak and Wilson. Personally I think we should consider starting Alexander Isak for the game against West Ham, or them both together. They both missed decent headed chances against Palace, but they are also quite clearly high quality strikers. It may be a case of keeping our powder dry for the future, but we are creating chances and not scoring them.
Miggy appears to be unable to maintain his previous scoring streak, always likely when you look at his performances before the summer. Joelinton is many things, but can’t be relied upon as a constant source of goals. The impact of Willock seems to be growing, but his regular substitutions would be something worth monitoring. He was not happy at being removed again on Saturday night.
Anthony Gordon has been mentioned as a potential incoming. I have to say that I am not a personal fan of his. Someone else compared him to Craig Bellamy (love him when he plays for you, hate him as an opponent), but I haven’t seen anything to make me think he is an upgrade on what we have. Far better a player like Marcus Thuram who has proven quality over a number of years in a top league.
Gordon would increase our homegrown quota and obviously that has to be considered, but at the moment we would be spending a lot of money on his ‘potential’ and paying both the English tax and the Newcastle tax. If Howe thinks he can get him playing regularly then I will bow to the manager’s far greater knowledge of tactics, coaching and team building.
Finally, the scenes at the end of the game at Selhurst Park did not really gain much traction bar social media. Songs about the Saudi ownership were sung by both sets of supporters at this game a year ago. The uncomfortable truth is it hurts quite a bit, because morally we know it is true, but to whinge after the horse has bolted because it isn’t your club, seems weird. I know Max Rushden said he would stop being a Spurs fan if they bought the club, but that’s because they’re his second team and Cambridge are the team he actively supports. Most of us don’t have second teams to pick up. This is our club and we will have to support it through thick and thin. We’ve done so already and will continue to do so. We don’t have a choice!
As Mick would say… keep on, keepin’ on!
Stephen Ord @smord84