We’re almost there. The win over Huddersfield on Saturday has pushed us so close to achieving this season’s overriding objective – stay in the Premier League at all costs. The 1-0 win was achieved on the back on a performance which drew more effort than art but every single player gave his all for the B & W shirt and as the FT whistle blew there was a definite outpouring of joy and Saturday night in The Toon was everything it should be when the city’s team has just brought home the bacon.
I can’t help but remark on how strong we’ve become defensively in the last couple of months. Whether this is all down to the drills completed on the training ground, Rafa’s tactics or the simple arrival of Martin Dubravka between the sticks I can’t say. I do know Huddersfield barely got a shot at goal on Saturday and as a unit – Dummet-Lejeurne-Lascelles-Yedlin looks solid. When you consider how much we have enjoyed the performances of Clark and Mbemba at centre-half, that says something about how strong we are in that department.
The match was won in the midfield. I can’t wax too much about Mo Diame. The lad has simply made that central midfield spot his own and proven a lot of critics wrong. He must be terrible to play against. He is strong, reasonably quick, awkward and his tackling, blocking and tracking just makes it so difficult for the opposition to deal with. Shelvey is flourishing alongside him. Ritchie and Perez stuck to their tasks and I’m really liking the cut of Kenedy’s jib. Gayle might be criticised for the chances he missed but I think we all know with a more accomplished striker at the club he might struggle to get a start. Like Joselu, he’s an honest lad and keeps trying. That will do for me. As others have commented upon on numerous occasions, this is a very likeable bunch of players who give everything for the shirt. They have their limitations but will do for me. Honesty will go along way at Newcastle United.
I think we’ve done it. From games to come with Leicester (a), Arsenal (h), Everton (a), West Brom (h), Watford (a), Spurs (a), Chelsea (h) I certainly believe there is the potential for possibly 10 points from a potential 21. That even might be enough to lift us into the heady heights of a top half of finish. That isn’t wishful thinking. We are looking solid defensively. We have Slimani to come into the team and offer something different. The team looks fit and fresh. The lads look like they have a strong appetite and are relishing their football. Physically and psychologically Rafa’s Mags look like they are on it. In terms of this season, we are in a good place.
Once our PL status is guaranteed officially for next season then we have bigger fish to fry.
The focus will then turn on Newcastle United’s Mr Invisible, Mike Ashley, a man who has yet to show his ugly mug at SJP this season. It will also turn on Amanda Staveley. When that last point is assured, I don’t see any reason why an honest seller and an honest buyer can’t complete the deal to sell Newcastle United.
All the questions that might have held up the deal have been answered. Unlike launching a bid during the season with PL status looking dicey, that question has been removed. We are a PL club again. There is no need for any relegation clauses. Similarly, the new TV deal has been dealt with and the value of the club is not going to go rocketing a few weeks after selling it.
The price of Newcastle United has been set. All of the due diligence has been completed. All it needs now is for a price to be agreed and for Ashley, Staveley or whoever else to just get on with it.
The business with the HMRC is not going to hold up the deal.
There are some other potential roadblocks however. Number one is Ashley declining to sell even if a decent offer is received or putting his own conditions in on the deal regarding advertising and merchandising – as he did at Rangers and for which he was loathed. The other of course is Staveley not being all that some claim her to be. I can’t believe anything that Ashley says as he is a proven liar and although they only express opinions, some are worth more than others. David Conn (The Guardian) is an arch sceptic about Staveley and articulates his reason for being so very persuasively. There are others too – Luke Edwards (The Telegraph) and Martin Hardy (The Independent). Even amongst the TF writing circle there are those who don’t believe she has the wherewithal to pull this deal off and others who need to be persuaded. On the other hand, as respected a journalist as George Caulkin (The Times) who has spent a substantial amount of time with Ms Staveley believes she is genuine.
I put myself firmly in the “need to be persuaded” camp. But I’ll only be persuaded that Staveley is the business when she does the deal. No more publicity, no more press stunts, leaks to journalists or all of that – just do the deal. Get the club away from Mike Ashley.
I’m inclined to believe Ashley wants to sell. Every part of his strategy appears to have been to get the club in a position to sell it whilst simultaneously getting maximum value from it with advertising and other asset stripping (the Strawberry Place lease etc). Its difficult to identify any other major club which has had so little investment in it. The only money Ashley has put in is that to cover his own blunders. SJP hasn’t had a lick of paint (or even a decent clean of the windows) in a decade, unlike
But my perspective is no more valuable than any other gobsh*te attempting to analyse what’s going on. There are others with persuasive arguments to support other views. Read and listen to them all. One day we’ll find out what’s going on. At the moment, I think even the most informed will give the answer, they don’t know. Beware of people telling you they do. That counts for either a sale or non-sale.
Our dear, dear friends down the road are looking like they are finished. I don’t want to tempt fate but they look shot. To mark their slide back into the third level of English football, true faith has been involved in putting together a Podcast involving Mags who made the trip to Roker Park in the 1986/87 season to gloat in their Play-Off agonies at home to Gillingham. The Geordie Gils will reminisce about the whole day and we are hopeful of having it ready for you just in time for them to go back down to that level just over 31 years since they first pulled off the trick. More news on that soon.
As if that schadenfreude wasn’t enough there goes Alan Pardew now sacked as West Brom manager after a lamentable period at the Hawthorns. Let us get it on the record. We knew Pardew was a dud. You can leave all of the conduct issues and sucking up to Ashley to one side, the man just cannot coach and set teams up to win football matches. Or nurture talent. But he has had a decade and more employed as a PL coach. That says a lot more about the state of the talent of home-grown coaching than Pardew’s ability. But he is on the carousel of doom, a manager clubs turn to when they start getting desperate – Hughes, Pulis, Allardyce, Moyes et al. Whether he’s fallen off that permanently as per McClaren remains to be seen but we can say without any fear of contradiction we were right about Pardew and well, Ian Wright, Paddy Barclay and all of the collected slack-jawed nuggets at Talksport and SKY, well, they were wrong.
We have a new issue of the fanzine out as if you hadn’t noticed. Thousands of you have downloaded it and said nice things about what’s in it. Thank you. Every part of true faith is open to you get involved. We are always after new people to get involved in writing stuff for us and even getting onto the Podcast. If you would like to get involved with true faith just get in touch. Its an open door.
Enjoy your week.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …
MICHAEL MARTIN – FOLLOW MICHAEL ON Follow Michael on twitter here
You will see below that we have a new issue of true faith out. It is TF137. true faith is Newcastle United’s longest running and most widely read fanzine. Since 1999 we have provided the alternative view on life at Newcastle Unitedand the world around it. Despite being fiercely patriotic Geordies, the fanzine is also internationalist in its outlook and that’s why we are always looking into the world of football beyond these shores. In this issue issue you will find articles related to football in Saudi Arabia, South America, Italy and Mags from India coming to SJP.
We obviously cover every inch of Newcastle United in the modern era and in the past. We love our history and retro pieces and hope you agree they provide important interpretations of the history of our club. true faith provides a platform for supporters to articulate their opinions on the club in an intelligent and entertaining manner for a very discerning readership.
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