nufc

Toon’s season to get up and running!

Pre-season ends now...apparently!

Pre-season ends now…apparently!

What can we say that hasn’t already been said about our calamitous start to the season? Propping up the rest of the league Newcastle United finds itself in an unenviable position. With Macca all but conceding that the pre-season targets of a cup run and 8th place finish all but extinguished, sights are now set on maintaining our Premier League status – and that’s only after 8 games!

For what it’s worth, I think we will stay up this season, and that the long trail to survival begins in earnest this weekend with a much needed win against Norwich. 3 points against Alex Neil’s impressive newly promoted Norwich side would provide a welcome tonic for what has been a rubbish few months which have culminated in the crushing news that first choice keeper Krul will be sidelined until the end of the season. Whilst a win won’t suddenly get Krul back between the sticks, it would certainly create breathing room and provide a platform from which we can launch our revival.

With fellow strugglers Sunderland and West Brom facing off against each other tomorrow this would be an opportune time to take maximum points and heap the pressure on one (or both) of these two teams who will most likely be facing a relegation scrap themselves. If Sunderland were to take the full 3 points this weekend, not only does the pressure to beat Norwich mount, but so does the importance of the derby game next weekend increase (even more so!) Р effectively making it be a relegation 6 pointer.

Those that know me know that I am not one for optimism when it comes to Newcastle United. I generally think we will lose most games, and that our chances for any semblance of something resembling success are zero until we rid our club of Mike Ashley. However I genuinely do think we will win this weekend. There have been glimpses of positive play from our lads with Mitrovic, Perez, Mbemba and Mbabu particularly impressing against Chelsea, and the 1st half away to City. Furthermore, Norwich are fairly poor defensively meaning that the need to start with 2 up top, or at least both Mitrovic and Perez on the field, is paramount.

If, on the other hand, we fail to win (or worse) tomorrow, then the Sunderland game becomes a “must win”, and given our recent form against the Mackems, as well as the Sam Allardyce factor, I am not putting my money on it. A defeat against Norwich would be horrendous. Defeats against Norwich and Sunderland would be catastrophic.

Tomorrow’s game against Norwich has not quite reached “must win” level just yet. However, we must not lose this one!

How important are Newcastle’s next 3 games?

Looking worried and with good reason...

Looking worried and with good reason…

It is undoubtedly fair to say that Newcastle United’s start to the season has been nothing short of shambolic. Other than a reasonable home performance against Southampton, a good away point at Old Trafford and 70 minutes of good play against the champions, we have been dreadful. The 6-1 humping we took from Man City – made all the worse given how well we played in the first half – left us with 3 points from 8 games and languishing bottom of the league on goal difference. Our next three games see us entertain both Norwich and Stoke at home with the small matter of a Wear-Tyne derby sandwiched in the middle of those two fixtures. While it is far too early to be talking about “must win” games, if we were to fail to pick up a 3 point haul from any of the next 3 games, we could be in a precarious situation.

Norwich City have been playing some free-flowing attacking football under young manager Alex Neil and have already gained a number of early admirers. Despite being quite poor at the back, they do go on the attack and are good for a goal or two. As a newly promoted club, they are surely going to be fighting the drop this season themselves so beating them at home is obviously essential. The derby follows the weekend after, with Fat Sam seemingly determined to be roundly despised by Newcastle fans (after all, why else would he manage that lot?) This will provide an added incentive (in case losing the last 5 derbies wasn’t enough!) though we have typically done terribly against Sunderland managers who have recently taken over the Mackems so I wouldn’t be surprised if Sunderland made it 6 wins in a row. The following weekend then sees us take on Stoke City at home – Stoke have long since established themselves as a team now beyond our current level now being a top 10 side in recent seasons. Despite a sluggish start to the season themselves, they have signed a few good players – Xherdan Shaquiri namely – and Marco Arnautovic is looking a very good player in recent games.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think it’s essential that we take at least 4 points, hopefully 6, and ideally all 9 from our next 3 games to dispel early season relegation concerns and get our season up and running. Looking at other teams in the league, I do think there are at least 3 sides who are worse than us, despite the fact that we’re bottom – those being Sunderland, Aston Villa and West Brom (with Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich relatively untested in the league, being potentially in the fight later in the season) so I don’t actually think that we will be relegated this season .That being said, the longer we go without picking up some points and a winning mentality and momentum, the more anxiety is going to build on Tyneside.

If we were to lose 2, or god forbid all 3 games, then serious questions are going to have to be asked of Newcastle’s ability to stay in the league.

Even insipid Toon can’t rain on MAOC’s parade

Mike Ashley's Misery Tour is coming to take you awaayyy...

Mike Ashley’s Misery Tour is coming to take you awaayyy…

The wheels on the bus went round and round, round and round, round and round. The wheels on the bus went round and round all day…well for a few hours before kick-off anyway. That’s right, Mike Ashley’s Misery Tour rolled round the streets of Newcastle city centre before the Newcastle United and United game (according to Pardew anyway) and even though Mike Ashley’s rain-dance induced storm tried to rain on our parade, a good time was had by all while a serious point was also gotten across.

The Mike Ashley Out Campaign set out to hold this open-top bus parade for a tongue-in-cheek look at what is the chronic lack of ambition at our club under the stewardship of one Mike Ashley and I for one think they achieved their goal, while raising a few smiles with their self-deprecating approach.

As the bus rolled through town, there were umpteen waves and thumbs up showing support for what MAOC were trying to highlight, as well as many toots from passing cars who responded to the ‘Toot if you want Ashley Oot’ banner hanging from the back of the bus.

There will be some detractors – as there always are – from those who either disagree with the aims of MAOC, or those who agree but are too lazy or apathetic to actually do something themselves, but as far as I am concerned these people believe in something, and not only do they believe in what they are doing, but they are willing to put their hands in their pockets, give up their time and go do something about it. Regardless where you stand on the validity of what they do, that must be applauded.

While the on-field exploits of Newcastle United represented a damp squib, the same could not be said of the protest which was in fine voice from start to finish; including the loan shark against loan sharks, and the rather conspicuous Geordie Arab. Some notable attendees included Kevin Miles – Chief Executive of the Football Supporters Federation as well as Norman Watson – Chairman of the Newcastle United Supporter’s Trust. Which goes to show that it wasn’t just a bunch of clueless knackers who thought this was a good idea worthy of support.

It will be interesting to see what Mike Ashley’s response is to this protest, given that all and sundry were banned following the protest march in October. Our season is over, and has been since January and hopefully this ironic celebration for the end of the tax year will awaken some people to the plight of our great club, and demand more from Ashley going forward.

If nothing else, MAOC managed to raise a few smiles, as well as letting Ashley know that no matter how contemptible he thinks us fans are, there will always be those willing to fight him and keep the pressure on him.

Did you see the Misery Tour around town yesterday? What are your views on this rather ironic celebration?

Renew or not renew, that is the question!

He's got his eyes on your Wonga...

He’s got his eyes on your Wonga…

After reading a very interesting article on the Mag’s website last night, which can be found here, a rather troublesome, but not entirely unsurprising, insight was given into how Newcastle United handle season-ticket renewals.

I must point out from the very beginning that your esteemed editor is not a season-ticket holder, and despite craving nothing more than my weekly fix of the addictive atmosphere of St James’ Park, I do not attend the games on a point of principle. It is within my power to decide if and when Mike Ashley gets a single penny from me.

However, it would appear that season-ticket holders have not been afforded that choice. Apparently, under the 10 year deal, you pay a monthly sum for your season ticket and if you have not cancelled this direct debit by the passing of the renewal date, your season ticket is automatically renewed. As the article points out, the club do not advertise when the deadline for cancelling your season ticket is, and one can only assume that this is an attempt to secure payments for your season ticket without your express knowledge until it may be too late. So before you have even considered whether or not you want to renew your season ticket, you may have no choice if the deadline date for renewal has passed and you have not cancelled.

Surely this is morally wrong? But then again, what can you expect from the hollow shell that is now masquerading as NUFC?

Which begs the question – when is the deadline date for renewing season tickets for next season? TODAY!

I would like to point out that I do not want to encourage people to not go to the games, or not renew their season tickets, but surely they should be able to sit down, weigh up the pros and cons, and then make an informed decision before deciding whether or not they wish to do so? It is wrong to have that decision taken away from you simply as a mechanism to force people to keep paying into a season ticket that they have not decided whether or not they want to have next season.

I must also point out that this only applies to those who are paying for season tickets via direct debit. If you are paying for your season ticket via direct debit, you have until 5pm today to decide whether or not you want to renew – although you can hand in a written letter to the box office on Saturday.

You can e-mail the box office at boxoffice@nufc.co.uk or you can phone the box office on 0844 372 1892

Like I said, I am not encouraging anyone to stop going to St James’ Park to support the team – it is very admirable – but do you really need a season ticket to do that? All a season ticket does is guarantee Mike Ashley gets your money regardless of how well he is running the club, and regardless of how the team are performing.

If you decide to keep going to St James’ Park, surely it would be better to go on a match-by-match basis as you then have the choice whether or not you want to give your money to Mike Ashley. It takes the power from Ashley and puts it back into your hands.

Also, is it not a little suspicious that the deadline for next season’s renewal comes before the transfer window closes? So you have no way of knowing whether or not Cabaye’s replacement has been bought, or if we will be sluggishly limping to a 8th/9th place finish. Question the club, question our future, question Ashley but make your own decision.