We are heading for the end of January at the top of the division and in a good place so far as an instant return to the Premier League is concerned. We are also getting to the business end of the transfer window and I’ll be honest I thought we’d have secured some deals by now. I think there’s widespread agreement in what we need – a striker, a creative midfielder and some width down the flank. That would appear to be on Rafa’s radar as well.
There appears to be conflicting reports from the only journalists worth listening to regarding Andros Townsend and I’ll be honest I’d love to see this lad back here and picking up where he left off last season. I made him our best player in the run-in and I was sorry to see him leave in the close-season but can understand his thinking from a professional’s perspective. Whether he stays at Palace or returns to Barrack Road is something none of will be able to say until next week but it would be a good signal of intent were he to be signed up and he’d be a proven PL player recruited for us when we do get back where he belong. There is little meaningful chatter about any other players with United apparently having lost out on Tom Cleverley now on loan at Watford and the other credible link to us, Callum Wilson at Bournemouth having drifted well off the radar. The deal-makers are either keeping everything very close to their chests or there aren’t many deals being cooked up. Who knows?
Obviously the media had a field day with the story about Ashley becoming more involved in transfer deals and his appearance sat alongside Graeme Carr, who many had regarded nowadays as a peripheral figure at United, has set a few hares running. On the one hand we all know the man who signs the cheques is going to want to know what is happening at what is essentially his football club and will ultimately rubber-stamp any deals. On the other, by Rafa’s own admission he speaks to Ashley via Charnley whilst Carr has his ear is a curious situation.
We’ve spent ten years being baffled at Mike Ashley’s manoeuvring at United but even he would have to recognise the outstanding work completed by Benitez over the summer in the transfer market and how he has revitalised the squad as well as kept the support onside. Let’s face it no-one would attribute relegation last season to Rafa but plenty would point the finger at Charnley-Carr-Ashley. Few would credit that trio with the progress made on and off the park since Rafa agreed to stay on at the club. Everything that is positive at United has its roots with the work of Senor Benitez.
As Rafa has said himself in press conferences it is he who has the last say on who comes into the football club but if he is pressed to take players he doesn’t want or is unable to recruit to areas he wants to have filled, then you can only see trouble ahead. If despite the safe-guards I am sure Rafa has in his contract about control of the squad he manages, he was forced out by the workings of Carr-Ashley-Charnley, then I’m pretty sure that would be the death-knell for Newcastle United FC. I really don’t think our club could survive another disembowelment of the type we had when Keegan could take it no more. Plenty of us have lost the will to fight any more and I’m one who would simply pack it all up and walk away.
Let’s hope it just doesn’t come to that. It’s too horrible to contemplate.
There has been some good news for Gallowgate Flags this last week with the news the monies have now been raised to put a massive surfer flag on the Gallowgate End. Thanks to those who have made donations, supported the Gallowgate Flags Quiz Night as well bought the fund-raiser t-shirt, funds are in place to purchase the flag and the design to be used is here.
This is the first surfer flag that Gallowgate Flags have funded but it certainly won’t be the last. I’m sure there will be further fund-raising in the next few months and I’d urge you all to support whatever Gallowgate Flags come up with because there is no question the next displays will be something special and we can all take pride in what supporters working together can achieve as well as see a visual demonstration of the devotion there is for Newcastle United amongst the rank and file of its support.
On a more serious note the work of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust, the football club and other supporters groups to support Newcastle Foodbanks is an excellent demonstration of the good that can be achieved by people working together. I am rather conflicted about Foodbanks because in a country as wealthy as our own no-one should be going hungry or be so desperate as to look for the kind of charity my grand-parents might have witnessed in the 1930s, I cannot deny the vital work they play for people in severe need. I also do not doubt the sincerity of the people who work as volunteers in Foodbanks or the vital role they play in our own communities.
This Thursday 26th January 2017 at 7.30 pm, NUFC Supporter Foodbanks will be launched with a special screening of the critically acclaimed film “I, Daniel Blake”, shown with the permission of Director Ken Loach. There will be details as to how to become involved with this work if you wish but if you can’t make it, you can get in touch with the Newcastle United Supporters Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org
I expect there will be more information given on the night but I’d really urge as many people as possible to get along and support this fantastic initiative.
Please see the Newcastle United Supporters Trust Press Release here –
Please see the Newcastle United news item here
I must confess I’m still quite giddy about the idea of United still being in the FAC in the last week of January but we have a very winnable game down at Oxford this Saturday (famous last words I know). Although I do want us to progress in the Cup this season, our first priority is to get back in the Premier League. Our club just cannot afford more than one year outside of the top-flight and despite the filthy lucre that defines the top flight it is the division where the best players want to be in and I believe it’s where our support wants to be and seeing our club attempt to be the best it can be within the limitations it currently has and the advantages enjoyed by others we don’t have.
For that reason I’d like to see Rafa select Sels, Findlay, Lazaar, Barlaser, El-Mhanni and dependent upon the prognosis for Gayle and Mitro, Murphy as well. It would not break my heart to see Sammy Ameobi in the starting eleven too. That should be more than enough for Oxford and the difference with resting a clutch of first teamers for Cup games this season is that Rafa will have the team prepared and motivated in ways Pardew, Carver and McClaren would not or could not.
I hoped you all noticed that we have issue 129 of the true faith fanzine now ready to download. The latest issue is 100 pages of some absolutely fantastic articles and features that are all put together by people like you – people who love Newcastle United FC.
The fanzine is now available exclusively in digital format but it is completely free. To get at the current issue just click on the image below and its all yours.
We all hope you enjoy it.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …