Yesterday we brought you the news that Hatem Ben Arfa had launched his very own website, the content currently only in French but an English option arriving soon.

Writing on his website, Ben Arfa has talked at length about his life in England and discusses red meat, pubs, St.James’ Park, autograph hunters, timing of meals and the press!

It is great to see a player coming through the tough times and then feeling able to express himself both on and off the pitch, a marked contrast to the at times lonely figure we saw making fleeting appearances earlier this season.

The world is quite literally his oyster…in the colours of Newcastle United! (Once more we are yet again indebted to ‘Pierre’ for the translation services)

I Feel Good In Angleterre

The first time I arrived in Newcastle in northern England, I thought, “Me, the Mediterranean, I could never adjust to a city as grey and cold.” Then when I started to live here, I realised that the most important was not necessarily based on first impression.  Eighteen months on, this country and this city, I’m starting to really be a fan!

For those who find it difficult to locate on the map, Newcastle is the second city (after Sunderland), in the north of England, located 1 hour from the Scottish border. Moreover if there is a match not to miss in the season, the derby “St.James’ Park” against the “Black Cats” (nickname of the team Sunderland). The city is very student orientated, with a very busy shopping centre and also full of cultural centres (including the magnificent “Theatre Royal”) and lots of places to party. Here, if you do not like the atmosphere of the pubs, you might as well leave the town! The city must have at least five hundred of them. The English pub, there is no real equivalent in France, you stay there for hours, drinking, eating, chatting, playing games and reliving the matches  again …

On the culinary side, me who is a lover of good red meat, I am still struggling to find my feet. The English are very fond of chicken they eat it with in every possible sauce, be it (ketchup, curry …). Meals are eaten much earlier tha in France (they eat between 18:00 – 19:00) and lunch is just something very basic.

In the street, the English are much more “natural” than the French. Their look is much more relaxed and uninhibited than in France. Especially, I envy them to not feel the cold!

What I realised in discussions, it is the absence of taboo subjects. For example, you do not shock anyone by talking openly about money or health. Another point, the person you are speaking with is listening to you unlike in France. However, to be well understood and to really understand it is best to learn English because few people here make the effort to learn a foreign language.

In the street, when people seek an autograph or a picture, it’s always with extreme politeness and friendliness. Even if you don’t always do it, they accept it with dignity and move on with an apology. On the whole you are forgiven everything as long as “you do the job” on the pitch.

Here, the press is everywhere; there must be ten times as many newspapers and magazines than in France. The English buy them by the kilo and you can also read them for free in any pub. The hate of the players is to be found mentioned in the tabloids, with their limited methods. Your career may suffer suddenly and your image destroyed.

In the club, the relationship with the manager is closer and more transparent than in France. It’s very cool yet very professional. Your manager naturally is owed respect and no one would go against his authority. In this “club culture” any disobedience or misbehaviour  will be fined!

7 comments
DownUnderMag
DownUnderMag

Tim Krul is a top class 'keeper and capable of so much more would he be awarded a back four in front of him who offers even a smidge of protection.  Krul has looked a bit shaky recently, but so would any keeper when they have no idea of what the rest of the defence is liable to do.


Riviere for me shows glimpses of a good player, but is so shockingly low on confidence that playing in the side seems a cruel punishment of sorts.  He is certainly in no fit state to be leading the line of a relegation scrap.


Perez works tirelessly and looks possibly our best player at present, but he needs service which is unfortunately lacking from anywhere on the pitch.


Our set-pieces are woeful.  Not only can we not even threaten the goal let alone score from our own, we can't defend them either.  Now with Colocini out of sorts, Williamson and Janmaat suspended and everyone else seemingly injured, sold or on loan, i'm struggling to see how we are even going to field a back four against the baggies.


Carver though, despite obviously being a huge fan of the club, is very much out of his depth in charge...the players are simply not good enough for him to send out a team and hope they pull through.  There is a clear plan, change of thought processes and tactical intervention required to halt this slide which i'm sorry to say John does simply not posses enough qualities to implement.  Something has to give but him staying is helping no-one.....but there is a huge question mark over who exactly we can get to come to this mess without significant investment n the summer which you have to ask if it is coming at all.  Surely even Ashley can see that things need sorting and that he has finally been found out.

amacdee
amacdee

"Now I am going to be honest and frank, as I hope I always am. John Carver comes across as a genuinely nice bloke"

Sound tactician ? Man Manager ? Prime Motivational Guru ? Sadly being a "nice bloke" gets you absolutely nowhere when you're staring down the barrel of a loaded gun ! 


TBH Brian I would have decked Pinocchio and spent Saturday behind bars which would ultimately have been more rewarding than watching the shlte on the pitch ?

philrenner09
philrenner09

Relegation looks almost certain with form and goal difference. Agree with above I think the only hope is the fans get behind the team for 90 mins on Saturday which is probably the only way we can win. Dont believe that any Mags supporter could really want to see us go down. Love the team hate the owner

philrenner09
philrenner09

@Brian Standen Hope everyone else thinks the same this lot need loads of help !   Going to QPR next weekend as well are you ?

Brian Standen
Brian Standen

The Ashleyout.com group are doing magnificent work and I would back them all the way, but this Saturday the 12th man is needed, and i agree all diffrerences should be put to one side as some passion from the stands might just help get the 3 points that are needed. Relegation could indeed be a disaster too far!

amacdee
amacdee

@Brian Standen Again I would ask "What have we got from supporting NUFC during the last eight turgid years with Fatman in charge ?"

Now all of a sudden it's "OUR club" ?

Sorry Brian and Phil but I'd go with relegation now and again next year until the Fat parasite eventually stops sucking the lifeblood out of this club and finds another host to attach to. 


toon tony
toon tony

Great report Brian. .clearly the club is in as bad a state we all fear.