Well everyone, let me start by wishing all Newcastle fans a happy and healthy 2018.

Having said that, in recent games I have found myself getting involved in arguments with fellow Newcastle fans about Rafa, even at half-time while queuing for a beer!

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but to hear somebody say Rafa should be sacked because of his recent record, is in my eyes ridiculous.  Hearing people comparing him to Pardew, John Carver etc…again, it’s incredible.

If anyone could name a better manager who is available, and more so, would be prepared to come to Newcastle, then I’m all ears. FACT – Rafa is a world-class manager and given the right funds could easily turn Newcastle into a team capable of challenging the so-called big four.

I really don’t understand the mentality of fans unhappy with Rafa.

Anyway, back to the on field matters, and while Brighton was disappointing, a seven point return from four games is more than acceptable. Rafa is rotating the squad and while some are unhappy with it, players have looked jaded at times.

The next premier league game is Swansea at home, and it’s another chance to kick on, I know the Brighton game was similar, but the players mostly will be rested a little so hopefully we can get the three points and move further up the league.

This Saturday it’s yet another chance to rekindle our romance with the FA Cup, a very winnable game against an in form lower league Luton Town should see us progress to the next round. However, make no mistake, a fired up Luton backed by almost 8,000 fans will be hard and no pushovers.

I’m looking forward to this one, it has been a long time since such a vast away support has descended on Newcastle and I hope they enjoy their visit, if ultimately leaving disappointed. The FA Cup used to be the pinnacle of every football season but in recent seasons various factors have contributed toward trying to devalue it, for me though I really hope we can put a run together.

Luton Town are an interesting club, I seem to remember them banning away fans back in the early 80s, Kenilworth Road was one of my lest favourite away trips so hopefully it won’t come to that.

A quick word on the Man City game and the comments by various sources, if we had nicked a point the whole tactical thing would have been justified, we didn’t and the vultures circled. OK, Brighton did not help, but the two away performances justified everything, not that Rafa needs any justification.

Away from SJP and our friends from down the road again bought further joy to Tyneside as they followed their away success at Notts Forest with a crushing home defeat to relegation rivals Barnsley, I really fear for them – in a sarcastic sort of way – because if they do go down they could well collapse and burn financially.

Also away from SJP and it’s amusing and annoying in equal measures, to hear the Chelsea manager Antonio Conte bleat on about too many games over the festive period and how his players get tired. Yes, the same manager who has over 30 players out on loan at the moment, shut up you fool and get on with your fight for second place.

What will 2018 bring?

My hope is for us to ease to safety well before the end of the season, an interest in the FA Cup after February, and for Amanda Staveley to finally make an offer acceptable to Mike Ashley.

Here’s hoping.

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  • Mark

    Totally agree, Rafa is one of the best managers in the world. Who do those fans want to replace him? Pep???

    • Leazes

      Probably people who expected a Rafalution…. or a resignation!

      Who would have believed Benitez would fashion a squad made out of papier-mache?

  • Steven05

    “If anyone could name a better manager who is available, and more so, would be prepared to come to Newcastle, then I’m all ears”

    And – also willing and able to succeed under Ashley’s restraint!

    You’re right mate – the people you speak of amaze me too

  • NUFCDan

    The ‘sack Rafa’ brigade really do help feed the narrative they we are bunch of deluded peasant Geordies who think we should be winning the league every year.

  • TheFatController

    Well, we live in a world where the polarities are to build something up with hard work, patience and sacrifice over time, or make big changes and sacrifice someone else as punishment every time something makes you unhappy that life isn’t going perfectly.

    Well aware of this, when we were in the top half and everyone was congratulating him, Rafa joked that it’d be very different when we inevitable hit a rocky patch.

    He knows the territory, but if supporters want to see us win at home like we’ve done away, maybe act like away supporters, and not turn up dumping all your frustrations in life onto a defender who passes back to Darlow. If they can’t cope with that ‘disappointment’ in life without getting hysterical, I wonder how they react to life’s real problems …

  • Leazes

    The cup gives false hope to ‘cannon fodder’ clubs, but the more astute managers will realise that going on a run it is a futile quest which will push you further into a relegation struggle.

    When was the last time a ‘fodder’ club won it and survived the drop and lived to tell the tale?

    The only reason United went for it in the fifties was because we were by then, a struggling club….. we weren’t elite, we were a struggling club who won a tin pot three times and Arsenal fans will claim the linesman was Russian.

    ….We went on to….. struggle, and get relegated, and sell our best players and keep the worst.

    The cup is a con-trick which allowed the Chronicle and Journal to lie to United fans that all was well….. when it wasn’t!

    It allowed laziness and self satisfaction to undermine real ambition that you see with other clubs such as Liverpool or Arsenal, why do you think their fans consider the cup as failure?….. the answer is because it is failure without the league position which in modern times accompanies the trophy.

    For you it is only a distraction, something to take your mind of the awfulness of the league and the lack of direction….. it isn’t a goal….it isn’t even a genuine desire if you are honest with yourself…. its an excuse for you to feel good for 90 minutes and hope to be drawn at home to Lytham St Annes in the next round.

    • Brian Standen

      Check your history the ‘over the line’ v Arsenal was 1932 not the 50s

      • Leazes

        yes bozo…. they’re still upset.

        • Brian Standen

          Anyway you will want us knocked out so we won’t be seeing you there on Saturday!

          • TheNutJob

            they short change the fans every time there`s a cup game
            i wouldn`t go for nowt with a pie thrown in, we`re treat like shyte by Fatty & his minions
            enjoy your day

          • Leazes

            The pie and pint costs as much as entry…. its a tenner for this one.

          • Leazes

            I shall be there.

          • Brian Standen

            Peppers?

    • hetonmag

      Boy o boy you really need to get out of that darkened room mate, been to Wembley 5 times seen 1 goal for and 14 against but still enjoyed the whole day out, them day’s will live long in memory and you are correct I did feel good at the time.

      • Leazes

        Maybe you should buy a house in London….. you’ll be permanently in a state of euphoria.

        • hetonmag

          Couldn’t adapt to life down there it’s ok just to visit for Cup finals.

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    There are only two problems with Rafa otherwise he is a great tactical manager. The first is that when we get off to a flying start and score a goal and go one nil up he seems to push the team back twenty yards and defend and we concede a goal. This happened at Man Utd Chelsea and at home both this season and last. Why not continue to play the same way when you are dominating games rather than go on the defensive. The second problem is his reluctance to bring on Sunbs till the sixty seventh minute. Against Watford it was not working and it was crying out for a change yet we waited till well after we were three nil down and it was to late. Bringing Mitro on with three minutes left is again pointless which he has done a couple of times. Let’s hope he plays a near enough full team against Luton as that is
    the game to keep the season alive.

    • Damon Horner

      Our team’s not good enough to sustain a 90 minutes assault on Chelsea and Man Utd.

    • TheFatController

      On your first point, explain how we created three more chances to score against man united in the first half after the first goal if we were sitting back ?

  • mentalman

    just on the better manager than Rafa, there are countless managers available who may not have the history rafa does but may get more out of our squad than rafa can, nobody will ever know until it happens and before everyone starts with the insults i’m not saying i want him to leave.

    As for who would come, rafa did and i would imagine as he is in the top 10 highest paid managers in europe a lot of managers would be happy with a snip of his wage.

    • NUFCDan

      Stop moaning man, We’ve finally got a top quality manager with great pedigree who very nearly saved us from relegation, got us promoted as Champions at the first time of asking (not easy look at Villa and they’ve spent big) and is now looking like keeping us up with a paper thin squad of youngsters and championship players. If you think things would be better without Rafa your deluding yourself.

    • hetonmag

      I won’t dish any insults out in fact I’m pretty exhausted trying to fight Rafas corner on this forum, this club is in a mess after 10 year’s of neglect, ok Rafa gets highly paid and whatever people say on here he still has the backing of the vast majority of fans. He is at loggerheads with the very person who had single handedly tried his best to ruin this club and destroy the hope of the fan base here, now who else do you think would stand up to Ashley apart from Rafa I certainly can’t think of anyone and as long as we have him we have a chance to progress.

      • Phil

        Nobody who bangs on about Rafa actually comes up with an alternative.
        Apart from the obvious Sean dyche. He has had a brilliant half season! I don’t think you can hire somebody on that basis though.
        Rafa is human and has faults. But he is also somebody we can get behind and appreciate due to the effort he puts in on and off the pitch. That’s my opinion anyway

        • Mitros gotta start

          Howe….dyche…silva…there’s 3

          • hetonmag

            Here’s a clue not one trophy amongst them.

          • Mitros gotta start

            We are in a relegation battle man!….and will be untill fatty sells the club…..how about getting a manager in than can keep us in the league, work with the dross the fat pig supplies us with and knows how to pick the best team from the players available…..we dont need a manager that has won the champions league! We will never be in it anytime soon.

          • Phil

            Out of your 3 candidates 2 of them are currently in relegation battles. Id trust Rafa over both of them. His knowledge and understanding of football will be better than both of the others put together

          • Mitros gotta start

            Watford are in a relegation battle?
            News to me….i would swap places with them

          • Phil

            Anyone in the bottom 10 is in the relegation fight. Watford have 3 points more than us and have won 1 game in 9. They aren’t flying high!! And considering silva smashed our transfer record when buying Gray you would think he would be doing slightly better with those kind of funds available??

          • Mitros gotta start

            Aye….you have convinced me….better go for pep or mourino then

          • Phil

            I couldnt see either of them doing much for us! They are cracking managers when they have nigh on unlimited funds! Don’t think they would be tearing up any trees on fat mikes budget of next to nowt!

          • Mitros gotta start

            My point exactly with Rafa….you wouldnt hire a ferrari mechanic to do oil changes at halfords….why do we need a champions league winner on 5 million a year to fight relegation battles?

          • Phil

            HOPEFULLY we won’t be fighting relegation for much longer. And if/when he is backed we can see what he is really capable of.

          • Mitros gotta start

            Never happen under fatty…..and despite the club being up for sale twice nobody seems interested in buying it either

          • Phil

            Someone will cough up and buy us man! One day… Hopefully.
            Thanks for the well wishes earlier. And just to clarify I am not a mackem. We know the sex of the baby. Hence saying my daughter is due on Saturday! 👍🏻

          • NUFCDan

            If you think we could atract any of those managers you’re delusional. Silva wasn’t allowed to leave for Everton. Dyche and Howe both have safe jobs with chairman who back them more in the transfer market. If Rafa left we’d be left with another yes man like Pardew or some dinosaur like Kinnear again.

          • Kneebotherm8

            1 win in 9 ????……..sack him………..a few on here wanted Benitez sacked for a similar bad run of results…..

          • Phil

            They did. Silly isn’t it. No need for knee jerk reactions. I’m sure Watford like Newcastle will stay up. The doomed 3 are Swansea, Stoke and West Brom I think.

          • Kneebotherm8

            Silva and Rafa are doing a decent job at their respective clubs and no way,as you say,should they be sacked.
            There’s some on here seem to think we should be pushing the top eight with this squad.

          • hetonmag

            Silva didn’t keep Hull up, Dyche didn’t keep Burnley up so how can you say they would be a good bet to keep us up.

          • Mitros gotta start

            And Rafa didnt keep us up

          • hetonmag

            Dyche had full season and Silva had longer than Rafa anyway Silva isn’t pulling any tree’s up at Watford.

          • Phil

            Saying silva didn’t keep hull up is like saying Rafa didn’t keep us up. Both took on impossible jobs.
            What Rafa did do was being is straight backend will keep us up. I don’t think silva could or would of achieved that

          • Phil

            Howe is struggling. Dyche has had a cracking half a season. Silva is struggling.
            Dyche uses similar game plans than Rafa so really don’t understand that one if it is change you are after

    • TheFatController

      On here we used to have the argument from ignorance that is ‘new owners may be worse than Ashley, prove me wrong…’

      Now we have ‘other managers may be better than Rafa, prove me wrong…’

      Clever trick, asking people to justify against a hypothetical, but not a trick that can’t be seen through and exposed.

      So I’m exposing it here.

      • mentalman

        What exactly are you exposing.

        I am in no way trying to trick anyone, i can’t prove that im right and you cant prove that i am wrong

        Just like nobody can prove that new owners will be better than the current until it happens

  • Simon Ritter

    Football is a game of opinions, Brian. I tend to agree with most of what you write, perhaps because we are of a similar vintage. United are lucky to have Senor Benitez at the helm, if only to spare us from the tripe spouted after nearly every match by his predecessors (with the exception of Hughton and Robson in this millennium). Some opinions, however, are more valid than others. To state, as Leazes does, that United “went for the cup” in the fifties only because we were by then a struggling club is utter rubbish. The FA Cup was the biggest prize in domestic football until the Football League champions gained entry to the European Champions Cup. That tournament started in 1955, a few months after our most recent Wembley triumph. I cannot dispute that we have struggled since Sir Bobby left but the belittling of the club’s achievements in the 1950s is ridiculous and shameful, whatever the allegiance of the writer (in this case Leazes).

    • Brian Standen

      I totally agree because yes the FA cup was the pinnacle for every club

  • Kneebotherm8

    As a Newcastle fan I’ve got 3 hopes:-
    1.Ashley fcks off
    2.Ashley fcks off
    3.Ashley fcks off