As you have probably seen, we lent the Geordies a little piece of the TNS brains trust yesterday, so it’s only fair that we get a little piece back, isn’t it? So we dragged in our North East and sneakily Wigan sympathising correspondent @cognoscentinovo shone the DW stadium floodlights in his eyes and threatened to force-feed him Pooles pies until he answered our questions. He resisted until all the chunky steak had gone and then came up with the following.
You’re riding high at the minute, you’ll still end up in 14th though right? (What are your hopes for this season?)
Very probably although Newcastle United have an incredible ability to confound expectation in any and every probable way just to frustrate the supporters. We could be relegated yet or finish in the top ten, at present I predict it’ll be the latter based on performances to date but I’ve been wrong many times before.
We’ve had a phenomenal start to the season after a gloomy pre-season in the minds of many supporters and we do possess some excellent players. However the squad is thin and our continuing performance will greatly depend on how we cope with the inevitable raft of injuries and suspensions we encounter as the season progresses, not to mention the fact that for six weeks we will definitely lose Tiote and Ba to the African Cup of Nations tournament in January. We will need a squad to attack the rest of the season and there are consecutive tough fixtures ahead where we might find points difficult to come by, particularly ManCity (a), Man United (a) and Chelsea (h) in November. However, there are rumours that a couple of purchases are already being lined up to add further depth to our squad in January and I continue to be encouraged by the progress our young and dynamic team is making. Makes a nice change!
How did the fans initially feel when Hughton was sacked and Pardew was appointed?
Many were incandescent with rage, others resigned to the fact that under Mike Ashley nothing ever seems to run smoothly at NUFC. Many walked away at the end of last season as a result of the dismissal especially after the subsequent sale of Andy Carroll to Liverpool. Others, myself included, considered doing so. I was in the group who were very angry, we seemed to have made good progress and Hughton above all else was a good, honest manager who seemed to have principle, a rare commodity in the game today. However, I was never a fan of the tactics employed by Hughton and I would have advocated a change for a superior, more tactically astute, manager with a proven track record. In fact, when it was rumoured that Martin Jol was to take over, his resignation from Ajax coincided with the sacking of Hughton, I would have accepted the decision with only a twinge of regret for a good man who did a good job. But Alan Pardew!? Why!?
Has the mood changed towards old fat mouth?
He is doing ok and is slowly building a positive reputation, no mean feat with some of the challenges he has faced. The team is playing well, there is seemingly an excellent spirit, he handles difficult situations very well such as the departures of Nolan and Barton, we’ve beaten Sunderland (always a boost to a manager’s standing!) and the football is entertaining with pace, passing and movement integral to our approach. He is obviously a competent manager and things such as tactical substitutions have really helped us, they were lacking under Hughton. I’m impressed, for now. The test of his abilities, and his improving standing with supporters, comes when we lose a few games.
How have you managed to actually improve your squad despite losing two of your better players in Andy Carroll and Joey Barton?
We appear to have an excellent scouting network in place, led by Graham Carr a former lower league, professional footballer from the North East who’s most noticeable achievement in his youth was fathering “chatty man” comedian Alan Carr. Our policy is to buy young(ish) at seemingly no older than 25 or 26 and to ensure that players are hungry for success, not the over-the-hill has-beens we’ve previously employed. This has seen us recruit the French international Johan Cabaye who is a play making midfielder, with an eye for a pass, who has slotted well into the team and become an instant fans favourite, reducing the affect of the loss of Joey Barton both on the pitch and in the stands. We’ve also adopted a strategy of maximising value, we signed Cabaye as he had a release clause in his contract at Lille allowing him to move for around £4.5mil. We’ve brought together a young and hungry side over the last two seasons replacing older, more expensive players with bargain buys with potential, players such as Cheik Tiote, Hatem Ben Arfa, Davide Santon and Demba Ba who have had problems with injuries or attitude at former clubs but who we seem to be giving a chance to. For now it seems to be working and long may the improvement continue!
We know you’ve got the best fans in the world, where is your rightful place in today’s football pecking order?
Trick question? I’m not sure we have the best fans in the world, we are very well supported and have won nothing for many years especially relative to many other club of similar stature in the game, makes our crowds all the more impressive. I think anybody who wanders around with a sense of entitlement that they have a “place” needs to look at how easily ManCity, Leeds and currently the two Sheffield clubs have fallen to the third division
, or support Liverpool. At present I think we can hope to challenge for Europe in the next few years and hopefully then on a regular basis and maybe pick up a Carling or FA Cup along the way somewhere, if the latter happens I may revisit my atheist view point!
Who would win in a man-o-man fight to the death on the cobbles between Mike Ashley and Dave Whelan?
I’m afraid Mike would crush him Giant Haystacks style, and I think Dave Whelan has some old playing injury, I may have read that in an interview with him somewhere once.
And Mike Ashley, ale swilling man of the people or the devil incarnate?
To be honest with you he’s a bit of both to our supporters, me included in some ways. He doesn’t talk to the fans or feel the need to have any kind of dialogue with us and I can almost understand that given the stick he has received, a lot of it deservedly in his first few years at the helm. However, there is a grudging respect for many of the plans and strategies he has implemented in the last two years that is winning people over, me included. The problem for him is that many fans have entrenched themselves so deeply in anti-Ashley rhetoric and hatred of him that winning them over on any level may not be possible. He could actually become a popular figure I believe if he spoke to supporters and admitted that he had made mistakes, dialogue is key. I suspect from what I read of his modus operandi in other spheres of business that he is not a man who feels the need to discuss his intentions and certainly not his perceived shortcomings which is a shame for everybody. I’m thankful that he seems to be running the club properly at the time being and I respect him for that when I look at the situations other clubs are in.
Three word answers please on the following:
Small time mindset
b) Steve Bruce
Good job Doubtfire
c) Lee Cattermole
Kick, stamp, whine
d) Titus Bramble
Libel, libel, libel 🙂
Can you briefly describe what a stottie cake is and why anyone would want to eat one?
A flat round bread served with delicious fillings such as ham and pease pudding or sausage, bacon etcetera. You’d eat one because they are delicious of course. How can the people who gave the country Greggs be wrong?
Who’s your favourite Viz character?
Big Vern, reminds me of London football fans.
Which is the best boozer away fans should head for to enjoy a few pre-match liveners/drown their sorrows?
The Bridge Hotel at the end of the HighLevelBridge in Newcastle, around the corner from Central Station. A brilliant pub in a beautiful building with a variety of real ales and some decent lagers that has stunning views over the river Tyne and its bridges.
Is it true that the amount of (sadly, male) flesh on display at St James Park actually increases the colder the weather gets?
Its not, most people I know, me included, are sick of those people doing that and helping the media stereotype us.
Which Newcastle player should we be looking out for on Saturday? (assuming we can make them out from up in the away end)
Yohan Cabaye, a play maker who can put a foot in and will run the game if Wigan let him. A good looking lad as well, caused quite a stir among both male and female supporters earning him the twitter nickname of #cabayedreamboat.
What score do you reckon it will be?
I think on present form 3-0 to us but knowing NUFC we’ll lose our unbeaten run to a team struggling right now.
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