An invitation from Alan Pardew landed on The Mag desk, asking if we’d like to go and spend the day at the training ground to watch training and meet everybody behind the scenes. So both Michael Martin (editor of our sister publication ‘True Faith’) and myself happily accepted and rounded it off by interviewing the man in the St.James’ Park hotseat.
Thanks for inviting us up here today….
….no it’s my pleasure, there might be a different culture in the two places but one area where I find great similarities between when I was at West Ham and now at Newcastle, is that the fanzines are very very strong. They’d given me a bit of stick for a year or so and I invited them (West Ham fans/fanzine people) in and I think at times part of the problem is the mystery of it all, why things are happening, why people are saying this and that.
Today Nile (Ranger) has been in court and we are saying to him, look at the people we represent, who pay our wages, have respect for them and don’t bring shame on their football club.
Here at the club we’ve got Willie Donachie, Peter (Beardsley), John (Carver), Stoney (Steve Stone), Andy Woodman the goalkeeping coach, Mickey the masseur, Thommo the kitman and many others. People ask why we have a good spirit and I tell them, it’s because we have got good people here, there’s no great secret to it, all of those people contribute to what we have. It hasn’t been like that at every club I’ve been to, we’re very fortunate here.
I suppose it’s like every organisation, it’s only as good as the people within it and in our case whether the team spirit can be created both on and off the pitch?
It doesn’t have to be ‘you’re a minute late’, ‘here’s your fine’ and all of that, though having said that the likes of Nile have had more than their fair share of fines. It has to be that and a lot more, it is more about the other players not accepting that kind of behaviour, making clear to each other what is expected as a group.
We don’t just expect knowledge of the game either, we expect players to know all about the club and what it stands for. I didn’t know John (Carver) very well before I brought him in but I knew of his reputation and I knew what he could bring to this club both on and off the field. I said to him this morning what I was going to say to the press about the naming of the stadium and I wanted his opinion as he is a fan, as well of course as what he brings as an assistant manager.
Are you looking for a positive with Cheick Tiote’s current injury in that at least it might cut down on his suspensions this season….?
(Big Laughs) I think with Cheick…you haven’t had the luxury of seeing him in training. He’s a player who you can’t just switch on and off, he trains exactly as he plays. You can’t ask him not to tackle and we have a laugh in training as he smashes Dan Gosling up in the air every five minutes. Cheick Tiote is a warrior of a player and a massive part of this team.
What do you see as Hatem Ben Arfa’s best position?
He’s a number ten, playing behind the centre forward. He is a very special player and that’s the only place I see him playing, he’s not a wide player and the only time I would choose to put him out there is maybe if during a game I needed him to do a job and see the game out.
To read the full and exclusive interview you need to get your hands on the latest copy of The Mag, out today to coincide with the Chelsea match. The Mag is on sale outside SJP on matchdays, in 500 newsagents across the north east but the easiest way to get your hands on one is if you go to The Mag online shop