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, 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.

First up is Jamie Smith.

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

Yes. Relegation usually comes down to who has the heart for the fight, and unlike the previous two showers this team has that in abundance. Lascelles is a true captain leading on the field and Rafa is cool in a crisis (see Istanbul 2005), so I expect us to come good in some of the crunch games.

We’ve had our bad patch and hopefully the Man Utd result is the start of a good run of form at the right time.

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

Massive. It’s so tight down there and there’s a psychological element to being mid-table instead of in the relegation zone and beating whatstheirname was a result no one saw coming. Hopefully a breakthrough in form for a few players but the key factor is taking the momentum into the games v Bournemouth, Southampton and Huddersfield.

Anfield is a probable write off and Spurs will be postponed, so capitalising on the Man U boost would be the difference between serious trouble and actually sitting in the top half come Easter.

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 for the most part it was lifting themselves, although Shelvey and Diame are the two I’d say are showing previously unseen form. The addition of Kenedy, who was excellent first half, and critically Dubravka who was worth three points, was the difference between this and previous disappointing draws.

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

It’s tight so it may need 41-42. I can see us getting the 4 wins though and hitting this target.

The away games after Anfield are pretty much ideal, as we have the soft middle ground of the league. Everton, Leicester and Watford are all too far behind the European places but seemingly ahead of the relegation places and should be more likely hunting grounds than the sides who are fighting for their life. Our game plan could well pay dividends at some of these spots. Hopefully Spurs away will be rearranged late enough that they have nothing to play for and their players have half an eye on the World Cup.

Overall I have confidence that Rafa will approach each game in a way that gives us a chance. Under previous managers a defeat would quickly become a horrendous run.

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

Howay, are you kidding? My wife keeps putting it on the telly and I couldn’t give a primate’s knuckle shuffle to be honest.

I’ve got respect for anyone who devotes their lives to being the best but these are very niche sports and I haven’t got the energy to feign interest in them. Especially not after half term.

After this enforced break there’s probably a pointless, tedious international break round the corner to send people miserably trekking round the Metrocentre and visiting the in-laws when we should be at the game.

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

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Shelvey, Merino, Kenedy, Ritchie, Gayle, Slimani.

I don’t think Rafa would agree though.

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?

You don’t need me to tell you he’s a poxy owner, the only concession he’s ever made was agreeing to employ Rafa in the first place and that was borne out of desperation. He’s beyond lucky in that regard, as without Rafa we’d have sunk after relegation and try getting £400 million in that state.

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

I don’t know to be honest. No one does and people who think they can second guess his intentions are delusional. We’ve been on this ride long enough that you couldn’t have genuine faith but I’m not abandoning hope entirely either.

It genuinely feels like the last chance saloon. Stay up and if there is a credible takeover option it could see the shackles off and we can be a real club again.

If the takeover talk is all smoke and mirrors and MA has no intention of selling, people won’t put up with existential misery under another Pardew style yes man, regardless of what division we’re in.

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

Don’t think there’s anyone else out there if the PCP bid turns out to be a red herring, so more by default than anything, I’d say Amanda Staveley.

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

Lascelles, Kenedy, Dubravka, Ritchie, Merino, Dummett.

Probably speaks volumes that twp relatively untried loanees are 2nd and 3rd and I had to stop myself putting Slimani in there too.

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

I’ve written bits about this in the past but I want to take my kids. They’re all under five and it’s something I’m looking forward to, as many generations before have.

It’s also a chance to see my mates at busy times in our lives for a few pre match beers before the football generally spoils it. This personal element is something that I think the miserable old b…….. don’t even consider when they’re mithering about people putting money in Ashley’s pocket. Well you’ve seen Tony Green play and you got a cup match called off with Forest but I’ve checked the law and it doesn’t make you Papa Smurf, so I’m just going to be over here doing what I like thanks.

I suppose I’m clinging on to Kevin Keegan’s words that one day Ashley will be gone and we’ll have our club back, but losing Rafa and a return to a clown shoe manager and a certain slide down the leagues might be the final straw for me and many others. I might hit the point of surrendering the season ticket (a loss of 150 away points!) and attend sporadically if/when we get to that point. Or maybe I’m kidding myself….

What do you think about what is happening at Sunderland?

They should serve as a warning as it’s exactly the way we would have been headed had Rafa not seen the potential and stuck with the project.

It’s a similar state of mismanagement although Short has put money in then decided enough is enough, whereas Ashley has been consistently miserly. Both are owners that came in to make a buck and seem to have priced themselves out of a sale that would be good for the club.

The foolish gloating of the Mackems when we went down, makes it practically impossible not to take some pleasure in their misery, but they were thick because they mocked us despite it being pretty clear their own position was precarious and you could see it going exactly how it has. There’s a message to heed there alright.

Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf

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  • Geordiegiants

    I read this peice and thought it was a very good article, until “It’s also a chance to see my mates at busy times in our lives for a few pre match beers before the football generally spoils it. This personal element is something that I think the miserable old b…….. don’t even consider when they’re mithering about people putting money in Ashley’s pocket.”
    People that come out with that are not worth a light as a real fan in my book, proper bonafide spectators are all they are! Put the club first!

    • kingfisher

      Spot on Geordie 👍👍👍

    • Monkseaton Magpies

      Go to every game and buzzing after the Man Utd game. The Bournemouth game is like a cup final and one of the most important game in years. Yet all the mag does is moan moan moan. Our bus leaves at three in the morning on Saturday proper supporters who love and would die for the club. One thousand three hundred and twenty five people on trains, Car’s and buses whose love will never die. The likes of Jezza will never know what it is like to love Newcastle United he is a very sad man.

  • kingfisher

    Some good points there Jamie,however I don’t agree with the “This personal element is something that I think the miserable old b…….. don’t even consider when they’re mithering about people putting money in Ashley’s pocket,Well you’ve seen Tony Green play and you got a cup match called off with Forest ” statement.I saw Tony Green play and was there in 1974 against Forest and they were great times.
    But with the greatest of respect,until supporters such as yourself “STOP GOING AND LINING ASHLEYS POCKETS” Then you, your mates and more importantly, your kids won’t have a team to be proud of ,either in the Premier League or more likely in the lower divisions. You really should’nt have a go at the older supporters as this is what you will be in later years,and at the end of the day we all love our club.Lets hope that the takeover does happen in the summer, and we can push on from there!

    But I can assure you that if the takeover does’nt happen and Rafa leaves, there will still be thousands of sheep who will blindly go to S.J.P !

    • Geordiegiants

      Read my point below you theif 😂🤣😂

      • kingfisher

        Aye Geordie, I love cut and paste 👍😂

  • Jamie Smith

    In response:

    Financial starvation isn’t going to work v Ashley through the turnstiles as gate money is a drop in the ocean v TV cash, and in Ashley’s case free advertising. Abandoning the match hasn’t seen a quick sale for Sunderland, where the ground has been more than half empty most of the season.

    I think there are better ways to get a point across such as the excellent demonstration by Wor Flags before Burnley or the boycott Spurs protest a few years ago.

    However, I also respect the view of anyone who has jacked in due to consistently feeling taken advantage of and not getting anything out of the match. The point made by Geordie Giants is exactly what I was referring to where there is no respect given to others circumstances or opinions by people who consider themselves to be a master race of NUFC fans, largely just down to age.

    Others might not have small kids in their lives but there’s no pecking order of supporters that appoints them to dictate to those who do. I’m not going to deny my kids the opportunity to ever become fans because of my personal feelings or the opinions of anyone else.

    At some point they’ll make their own mind up and I’ll respect their opinion then as I do others now. It’s people who aren’t capable of that who aren’t worth a light in my book and as I said above I reserve my democratic right to take no notice of them.

  • Mike Adam

    I just love it, one game played for the club and Dubravka is the second coming of Lev Yashin, and one of the six must keep players. It is truely amazing how some players are judged so quickly as great or poor. Is it just the crazy media, and/or the core group of faithful as well? No wonder players around here lose confidence so quickly due to the way they are treated by the manager, the media, and the fans.

  • I think it’s too early to fall for Dubravka that much.
    For me the must keep players are definitely – Lascelles, Merino, Kenedy, Diame, Murphy, Dummett and Clark. I haven’t seen enough effort on a regular basis of the rest to warrant an absolute STAY. If Ritchie and Shelvey pull a Man Utd every week or two they would also be on that list, but that’s not the case. Dubravka is sure to be on the list if he continues with the same passion and work ethic.

  • Benmagpie

    Kenedy is a non starter unfortunately. Chelski will want him back.