With Newcastle United having their usual FA Cup ‘rest’, we thought it an ideal time to ask some of the regular writers on The Mag, the important questions of the day.

Premier League survival, Manchester United the turning point(?), Rafa Benitez, Mike Ashley, players Newcastle must keep, the plight of the Mackems, the Winter Olympics…it’s all there.

Comments at the end always welcome.

Next  up is Jamie Swan.

Whatever division Newcastle end up in next season, which six players (in order) would you be most keen to keep?

Good question. If I was asked a year ago, not many would have remained.

So I will say in order.

  1. Lascelles.
  2. Lascelles.
  3. Lascelles.
  4. Lascelles.
  5. Lascelles.
  6. Lascelles.

What circumstances (Ashley staying, Rafa going, back to the Championship, whatever), if any, would make you stop going to matches?

The hope of better around the corner keeps everyone going, but that hope has ebbed. Rafa leaving would be a major kick in the balls as who else out there is better?

We all always end up back though regardless of what we say or do. We might have holidays but we always come back and that’s how Ashley has lasted so long due to daft loyalty. Are we part of a self-perpetuating problem? Aye probably.

Players come and go but Rafa is key.

Ashley will go eventually. Just like the Terminator and Jaws – they bite the bullet in the end.

Do you think Newcastle will be a Premier League club next season?

I bloody hope so. Think it’s hyper critical to a number of issues including keeping the manager and hopefully ridding ourselves of that monkey off our back – ie Ashley.

The last couple of relegations you could see reasons why it mightn’t be the worst thing, ie flogging of some of the mercenaries and renegades for plenty of loot and rebuilding a team that gives a toss. This time around the team clearly does give a toss, but we wouldn’t be selling many for big bucks apart from big Jamaal and that would be a monumental gap to plug, not just in the team but his Captaincy.

How big was that win over Man Utd in giving Newcastle a decent chance of survival?

Time will tell just how big it will be and snap for survival. Put it this way it isn’t going to do us any harm! For me personally though it was absolutely massive. I mean that from the lads point of view on the field and the fans. Last week felt good, think we had collectively forgotten what that feels like. Reckon there will be a few little Rafas and Jamaals delivered in the RVI Maternity suite in nine months time, such was the mood that night!

Does the Man Utd match make you believe that we do have a decent number of players who can play much better on a regular basis in the Premier League, or was it more of a classic case of everybody lifting themselves for a one-off match?

I think the players have given everything in most of the games, not just Man U, and not had much rub of the green all season. We have one hundred percent commitment but only 60-70% on the quality stakes. We will rarely have every player play to their maximum but the ones who do have that quality- ie Jonjo and Ritchie need to come to the front with chests puffed out in every match remaining. With that we should have enough to squeak over the line, without tossing a coin.

How many points do you guess will be needed to stay up and how many do you reckon Newcastle will get?

One point more than third bottom will do just fine thanks. Everyone is saying somewhere between 37 and 40 points but it’s stupidly tight and the silly season of results is kicking in where it seems most teams (apart from West Brom) are pulling results from somewhere to keep every poor sod in it.

Only a few weeks back I thought Swansea and West Brom were goners, leaving the wooden spoon place only. I do think Pardew will take West Brom down, but now two places up between the bottom 8 or 9.

With Bournemouth away, Southampton, Huddersfield and West Brom at home we have it in our own hands to rack up points and bury those buggers at the same time. However this is where we have fired blanks all season under pressure.

Maybe a fit Slimani makes the difference and we start scoring more than one in a game regularly? Look forward to seeing it, but not banking on it.

Does the Winter Olympics make up for Newcastle United not playng for two weeks?

I couldn’t give a flying double monkey back flip about the Winter Olympics and nothing makes up for NUFC not playing.

Everybody fit and a game Newcastle have to win to stay up, which 11 players would you pick from current squad?

I thought the two keepers in Darlow and Elliott hadn’t been part of the problems this season and been decent, but Rafa had wanted someone since the summer and with that jaw-droppingly insanely brilliant debut from Dubravka – how can he not start the next few games? Outstanding.

He’s in nets.

We only really have one right back in Yedlin. Not a gifted defender or positional sense but his pace gets us out of danger and he runs up and down the flank all day and is an attacking threat.

Since Dummett has come back in he has been outstanding. Hardly conceded any at all. He aint Roberto Carlos going forward, who is, but the lad can defend and love some of his crunching tackles and clearances.

Captain Lascelles. Been quite outstanding. Doesn’t need an explanation.

Always thought his partnership with Clark would be the best we had, but mistakes from Clark including penalties conceded meant a chance for Lejeune, and he also was fantastic against Man U.

I think Lejeune earns a chance after last week but wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed should Clark come in at any time.

A fit and motivated Shelvey starts, as does Ritchie. But if they are not at it, then they have to drop to the bench as Rafa has done. Hopefully both take up where they finished last week. I’m a critic of Jonjo, mainly because he has quality but doesn’t do enough without the ball and does too much from far too deep. Hope Rafa let’s him watch the Man U performance on repeat as if we get 90% of that in the remaining games he will be invaluable.

Ritchie has consistently worked his pods off but as far as offering something offensively has kept turning inside onto his left from the right to keep possession and keep things tight. Would like to see him giving an option to the full back rather than the other way around and getting him on the front foot taking people on and getting more shots on goal or balls in the box. I know he’s hit the post three times or something but he’s got a hammer of a left foot and more than capable of smashing a couple in before the end of the season.

Wouldn’t mind seeing him play a free role or number ten behind a strong striker but only if Murphy and Atsu both play.

Murphy is coming into himself and Atsu is dangerous. I’d play both and Perez would drop to the bench as sub alongside Gayle.

Slimani starts if fit and hopefully not only relieves pressure by holding the ball up but also notches some goals in tight games against those around us.

Last but not least the most improved player of the season stays in Centre midfield. Big Mo Diame who has been a joke figure has (after being allegedly chinned by the Captain for being lazy) come into the mix like a man possessed. Built like a brick out house he is out powering those around and making a general nuisance of himself. Good on you lad, keep it up until the potion wears off!

What do you think of Mike Ashley’s behaviour towards Rafa Benitez and his ‘support’ for him in doing the job of being NUFC Manager?

If I say my true feelings about Mike Ashley I might get nicked. In a watershed version, the guy doesn’t want the club and never wanted it. He has wanted to hawk his wares via a host body and that has unfortunately been us.

Lies have been the hallmark of his tenure and mistreatment of managers, players and disdain for his ‘customers’ commonplace.

I thought when Rafa came it was a sign he’d learned from his mistakes. The millions of mistakes. But no, not likely.

The keys were given to Rafa to run the club. No they were not. Not what he was sold in the brochure and the fact he is still here is testament to the man and his relationship with the fans.

I think together we could finally see this cretin off, but it’s far more likely that Rafa guides us to safety and then ends up walking due to Ashley not budging. The streets will burn!

Do you believe Mike Ashley is serious about selling the club and do you have faith in it happening?

Everything in life runs it’s course. His tenure was up around ten years ago, but whilst the coin rolls in he sucks tighter and tighter onto the teet.

Only he knows if he is serious. We can only hope as I for one will be doing cartwheels down the street when he finally pi..es off.

I’ve heard behind the scenes squeaks and whispers, and it all seemed genuine, but unless Ashley agrees a sale it’s all pie in the sky. In the meantime Ashley’s acolytes dig dirt and discredit wherever they can, making the water even muddier.

Until his gaping mouthed head is on a pike outside Gallowgate, who in God’s name knows?

If the club is to be sold, do you think it would/could be the Amanda Staveley led bidders or more likely to be somebody so far unknown?

There is only one bidder and it’s taken ten years to get this one. If it isn’t Staveley it’s nobody and we will be stuck for as few years I bet.

Yank, Chinese and Foreign investors are all dubious in my eyes so would always be cautious but doesn’t sound like anyone is waiting in the wings. All lies by Ashley in my opinion to put the pressure on Staveley.

What do you think about what is happening at Sunderland?

I don’t like to dance on the grave of clubs if I’m honest.

But in this case I’ll make an exception. Goodbye and good riddance. They would be crowing like Billy o if the shoe was on the other foot.

They can hang onto their derby day memories whilst playing South Shields in three years time.

You can follow the author on Twitter @JamieSwan1

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  • Wor Lass

    Some good stuff, jamie but did you forget about Kenedy? Completely agree with your choice of six players!

    • colin marr

      we cant keep Kenedy

      • Wor Lass

        Ah, yeah – cheers!

        • Andstertoon

          we will keep Kenedy HE’S TOON NOW LIKE, HOWAY!!_cheers

  • East Durham Mag

    Great article Jamie.

  • Wor Monga

    …I had to read through this twice in order to find out your reasoning on the Q /A you posed by… “Are Newcastle fans part of a self-perpetuating problem?…aye probably”…

    …you answered it then nothing else needed to be discussed obviously!!!…Maybe we should all just stay away like a lot of the muppits on here and just tell ourselves how bad Ashley is over and over again daily…

    …that’s how ‘true’ support seems to be on the Mag!!!

  • colin marr

    I enjoyed the skating, of course we will stop up, some big signings in the summer.

  • thewildchimp

    Not glad for Sunderland in the slightest. Won’t be able to trash them in FIFA and PES anymore…

  • TheFatController

    South Shields! Haha

    Just a thought – I do miss the derby, let’s be honest we would all love the chance for Rafa to plot breaking the spell Pardew seems to have cast on the fixture. But even if Rafa stays, it may not happen any time soon.

    Therefore, maybe any new owner could also invest in Gateshead for Stevie W to take them up one or two Divs and plot his wits against Coleman? Imagine the crowd, spilling out over the running track, The Monkees over the tannoy….

    • Andy Mac

      How the Fk Pardwho lasted six derby games in charge of this club can only be answered by sending a postcard to Mr Blobby c/o Sh;;te Direct