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‘The name on the front of the Newcastle United shirt is more important than the one on the back’

4 years ago

With Newcastle United just over two weeks into an enforced three week break, we thought it an ideal time to ask some of the regular/irregular writers on The Mag, the important questions of the day.

Only 46 days until the season ends and so many talking points, including a very busy/interesting summer ahead.

Newcastle United, yet again, appear to be at a real crossroads…

Comments at the end always welcome.

Next up is Geordie 7676:

3 positive words that describe Newcastle United at the moment?

This is an easy one. Stable, committed, passionate.

As crazy as it may seem considering the takeover debate (will it/won’t it) raging on, and the constant Rafa question (will he be backed/won’t he, will he stay/won’t he), I think we are quite stable at the minute. All the players are pulling in the same direction, clearly want to wear the shirt, and have taken on the advice that Santiago Munez did all those years ago; ‘The name on the front of the shirt is more important than the one on the back’. That is what I want to see from the players. We know ability may be lacking a bit at the minute, but the players care, and that passion has got us through games this season where in the past we would of crumbled.

3 negative words that describe Newcastle United at the moment?

Not as simple. I could just say Ashley, Charnley and under-investment because it is easy, but I think they have been repeated so many times over the last 10 years that it would just waste column space.

There’s only one thing that I personally feel any negativity towards (apart from the obvious 3 above) and that is Beardsley’s bullying/racism accusations. I grew up watching the entertainers and that man was one of the players that made me fall in love with football. It will be a very sad day if it is proven to be true. Whatever the outcome, I hope it is dealt with efficiently and fairly.

If Newcastle beat Huddersfield do you think that is safety pretty much sorted? Alternatively, would defeat, or even a draw maybe, put Newcastle back in big trouble, considering it is quite a tough set of matches that remain?

A win against Huddersfield would put us very near to safety, but that has more to do with the current bottom 5 being in absolute freefall. West Brom are gone, of that there is no doubt. I struggle to see Stoke salvaging anything of any substance now, then the last spot is any one of the remaining 3 occupying the bottom 5. My tip would be West Ham. A loss or draw would certainly do nothing to calm the nerves, I just think we have more about us, even with the tough run in.

Jamaal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey not in England squad – discuss.

As someone who sees international football as an absolute bore nowadays, I lose no sleep over Newcastle players being overlooked for call ups. Keep them in Newcastle and ensure they don’t get injured, that makes more sense to me.

However, if I was remotely interested, would I have either of them in the squad?

I think Lascelles has been very hard done to not getting a call up. He gets a bit of stick sometimes, so I always try to remind people that he is a young lad, captaining one of the most recognised clubs in world football. He does it with class, and pride, and that alone should be interesting Southgate, never mind his clear playing abilities. Unfortunately, the England set-up has for far too long been too interested in picking the so called ‘Big names’.

If he isn’t injured, Jack Wilshere will be on the plane to Russia, so will Daniel Sturridge, despite playing next to no football this season. That is just how it is at England. If he played for one of the top six you can be guaranteed Lascelles would be there. Shelvey is a good player, and when he is up for it he can be great, but he is too temperamental for me. On the international stage I just don’t see him having the head for it.

Aleksandar Mitrovic – What is his level and are there any circumstances where Rafa Benitez might be convinced by him?

I am a fan of Mitro’s, and would of liked to see him be given a proper chance, but, something has happened. Nobody knows what, but there has to be a reason why Rafa clearly had zero interest in even giving him a sliver of a chance.

Is he good enough anyway? I think he could be, but only under a certain playing style, and that is a style that Rafa will never entertain. Mitro reminds me of Duncan Ferguson in so many ways, which would make you think that he stands a chance in the premiership, but football has evolved, tactics have changed, and target men are less and less important now (Unless they also have the ability to turn and take a player on, which Mitro doesn’t).

I think Mitro would suit the German/French league, and hope for his sake that he is moved on in the summer.

Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce, John Carver and Steve McClaren…if you had to choose, in which order would you have them back as Newcastle Manager? (No opting out of this question!)

To make it clear, I would rather s… in my hands and clap, than have any of them back at this club, but, in order of preference (I’m shuddering just thinking about it): Pardew, Allardyce, McClaren, Carver. I don’t even want to elaborate.

The live TV games for April were announced at the end of February. Then suddenly on Thursday (22 March) the Everton game has been moved to a Monday night and fans are only entitled to their ticket money back if they can’t/won’t go now, with no offer to cover non-refundable money already paid for travel and accommodation. Sky get a live game and both Newcastle and Everton bank an extra £1.1m each. Is this situation acceptable?

It is absolutely unacceptable, but it will keep happening until someone/something breaks the power hold that Sky has over the clubs/FA in this country. The clubs are too scared to complain in the fear that next season they will be punished with less live air time, meaning less money in the bank.

I love football, but hate the current state that it is in. If there’s a match on that you want to watch, grab a few mates and go to the pub to watch it, don’t give sky your money, and before long their hold will break. Not everyone can do that I know, but those that can, do it.

Your choice of the three Premier League relegation strugglers, in order, that you’d like to see go down?

I think it will be West Brom, Stoke, and West Ham, and I would like to see West Brom and Stoke go, not for any particular reason other than I have found them boring to watch for so long now that I would be happy not seeing them line up against us. My third choice would be Palace. Why? Just so I could potentially one day bump into Simon Jordan and laugh in his pompous, everything-north of the Watford-Gap hating, spitting-image lookalike orange peel face. We can all live in hope.

The Diame/Shelvey partnership has been a big plus in recent games, do you see this as simply a bonus for the remainder of this season, or one that could be more long-term as first choice?

It is a bonus, nothing more. Diame is a good lad, he isn’t a mercenary like some of the similar players that we had at the club in recent years (Sissulko anyone?) but long-term he just isn’t good enough. He has hit a vein of form at a very important time for us, and at the end of the season I am sure that we will be able to look back and agree that his form contributed a great deal to our survival, but he is not what we need to move forward.

Looking ahead to the summer, which three positions in the starting eleven are the priorities for improvement?

Without a doubt we need a goalkeeper, central midfielder and a forward (Obvious really). I really like Dubravka. He reminds me of Mark Schwarzer. Never a world beater but solid between the sticks. The defence would be able to relax with him behind them for a full season, so keep him and I will be happy. When it comes to the midfield and forward lines I don’t know right now who I would be looking to bring in, all I know is that they must be priority.

When the 2018/19 season kicks off what do you think is the most likely scenario, Ashley here but Rafa gone, Rafa here and Ashley having sold up, or both of them still at St James Park?

I think Ashley will be gone, Rafa will be here.

Ashley has always been waiting for the right time to sell. He missed his first opportunity when we finished 5th and failed to build. If we had had a second successful season the year after that without the investment, I think he would of sold then.

Obviously that wasn’t to be (Largely because of his own failings), so I don’t think he will be stupid enough to risk it again. I have no doubt that he will have been working in the background to either secure a sale from another investor, or, more realistically, from Staveley. Until she comes out and says it is off, then it is still on.

Secure premiership status and I think the sale will go through very quickly.


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