Turn on, Toon in, Cops Out!!

By Lee Ryder on Jul 17, 07 08:54 AM

It seems like five minutes ago since we were walking away from Watford on the back of controversy.

Glenn Roeder had resigned days earlier and Charles N' Zogbia and Oba Martins had fell out with Nigel Pearson before the final game of the season.

So, with United's first friendly about to kick off, is it a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire?

Going into United's next game at Hartlepool, new manager Sam Allardyce guides his new team out on the back of yesterday's police raid at St James' Park with Newcastle seemingly at the centre of a corruption investigation, although the club clearly stated "The Club itself is not the subject of the investigation."

But for many the sound of the referee's whistle at Victoria Park will be music to their ears because finally, it's all about the game we love again, for now.

Newcastle won't have Steven Taylor, Albert Luque, Geremi, James Milner, David Edgar or Mark Viduka for various reasons.

But what they will have is Michael Owen, Joey Barton and David Rozenhal at their disposal.

Friendlies mean very little on the scale of the big picture but the sight of Owen scoring for United will be for one, something that we probably thought we'd never see again at one point.

As far Barton, the world waits with interest but there is no getting away from the fact he has got the potential to eclipse both Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, so if he can do it a Newcastle shirt, it's hats off to Big Sam for having the bottle to take him on.

Rozenhal remains an unknown quantity to some but he brings with him bags of international experience after playing for the Czech Republic having played at both the European Championships and the World Cup.

On top of that he has picked up medals throughout his travels so far and brings in a winning mentality.

At £2.8million, he doesn't come here with a stupid price tag on his shoulders like other defenders down the years (Boumsong and Marcelino) so he a no nonsense arrival could be just what Big Sam needs to sort out his defence.

There is still a huge question mark hanging over the back four though and talk from the manager that the delay is nagging him in terms of transfer funds, is a major cause for concern despite the fact that Mike Ashley is said to be keen to splash the cash.

The transfer window shuts on August 31st, but with three defenders needed to bolster the much maligned defence, the clock is ticking.

For now that means players like Peter Ramage, who is often the target for critics, coming into the first game and getting a chance.

And then there is Paul Huntington, who also starts the season at a decent level in the pecking order because of the departures of Titus Bramble, Craig Moore and Gooch Onyewu, all of whom proved to be defensive stooges.

But while there is doom and gloom in the defence, the same cannot be said for the attack.

There must be goals in this lot. Big Sam stated he wanted a team that could score one goal to win a match but there has to more from these hot-shots.

Owen, Oba Martins, Shola Ameobi and Andy Carroll will all be there at Hartlepool with in-form but unfit Aussie striker Mark Viduka to follow.

Elsewhere in midfield, Kieron Dyer has another chance to show he can do the business under a different manager and Nicky Butt, Nobby Solano and Charles N'Zogbia go into the night keen to impress the new boss.

How do you rate the current squad?



jackie w said:

Rating the current squad is probably a waste of time as i think it will be bolstered by at least four hopefully six new signings before we go into the new season.I think the pairing of Viduka and Owen up front picks itself and unless we play a four three three , old Oba will be warming the bench this term,I think we need A left back , right back and at least two centre halves chuck in two midfielders and a token gesture of a superstar for the fans and we will be correctly equipped for a top six finnish. I know this sounds exsessive but if you look at what other top six hopefulls are shelling out we need to raise the bar.I think for now Your top four are out of sight and if you look at Tottenhams spending and quality then you would put them fifth so it looks like sixth is a realistic target and with the amount of cash available to man city villa and west ham to name three, we need to gel and hit the ground running to achieve European football next year. Cant wait myself and have been conting the days since Watford ....Jackie

Chris Wall said:

Attacking wise its very exciting times at Newcastle. All four strikers (even Ameobi) are capable of scoring double figures this season and I personally think we'll see Joey Barton score 10 goals this season from midfield. Its at the back that is seriously worrying me. Reports suggest Rozenhal although not the greatest defender is very tidy on the ball and could be a great partner for an out and out defender like Taylor. With Rozenhal being are only defensive signing (Geremi being a midfielder by trade) eyebrows must be raised by the toon army at who would play alongside him at bolton if taylor is not fit. Both Ramage and Huntington were pretty much awful at times last season. Huntington at Wigan away possibly played the worse game by an individual i've witnessed from a Newcastle player and Ramage for all the effort and passion he shows struggles when up against any sort of physical presence (Jason Roberts & Marlon Harewood prime examples). Right back could be played by Geremi, Solano and if he pulls his finger out Stephen Carr, but its the left back spot that is also most worrying. If Babyraro begins the season as first choice I will be extremly disheartened. He lacks any sort of passion for wearing the black & white shirt and should of been put out his misery by being released. On a final note I like a few others have my fingers tightly crossed that Big Sam dedicates some time to Albert Luque, never have i seen such a waste of talent. My favourite passtime has been to look on youtube at his glorey days at Deportivo and hope he may bring that to St James' Park.

Richie Dee said:

Geordies - Ever the eternal optimists. But I feel this season we have genuine reason to be optimistic. Sam for me has made some shrewd signings - Barton could prove to be the pick of the bunch - Viduka holds the ball up well and is an intelligent player who always seems to pick the right pass out! I have a mate at work who is a smoggie and he was gutted Viduka left which probably speaks volumes.

One or two others as you say need to prove themselves but without the poisoned chalice of a hefty transfer fee maybe they will!

What will be interesting is how Sam deals with Ameobi, I've watched this player 'develop' over the last few years (since his famous 'squaring up' to Dennis Wise) but for me he just isn't good enough! A lovely lad but at best a Championship player!

The defence of course needs attention but the clear out of Gooch, Bramble and Moore has set a precedent and perhaps reminded one or two other players who felt they could rest on their laurels - that in fact everyone needs to battle. And I honestly think that's what Sam will provide a tough team who can hopefully turn on the necessary flare to win a game!

Let's be honest we're not going to win the Premiership, but a top five finish and possibly Champions League should be what we're aiming for!

Bring it on!!!!

Paul O'Neil said:

The players we have are good players and looking like they have a good team mentality but the squad looks waffer thin. We have let go more than 8 players last season and only 4 (better) players have come in. This is not enough as we didn't have enough last season either. We don't need any strikers, we maybe need one defensive midfielder and the rest needs to be defenders - at least 3 and at the very least a new left back before the start of the new season.

But it does at least look to be exciting times and i do believe we will see at least 2 new faces before the Bolton game.

Ian Teasdale said:

Thanks Chris Wall, I thought i was the only one in the world who thought all Luque needs is a chance and a little bit of time and encouragement, and lots of prayers for him to do well.
I too watch the Deportivo glory days on youtube, they only go to show he knows how to score a goal or ten. as with any other player he needs to be happy at his job and he hasn't been happy for a long time.Now Huffy Roeder has gone that might change.He is worth 10M+ when he's on form,and if Big Sam cant get anything out of him then i don't think anybody can. Give him till January of regular starts, even on the left wing as an AMF/ST,and if he isn't scoring enough then look at packing him off again, but give him a bloody chance PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ronnie ( Busker ) Lambert said:

Hold on a minute, only 3 weeks ago I was floating on a cloud, gloating at the smogs and mackems about Mike Ashley's gift of a 50 million warchest to Big Sam. We've got some darza players in from the sale of Parker + one and a half million due to Sam's famous shrewd dealing, and today I read that Sam is anxious about the ' new board's ' reticence in splashing the cash. What's the crack here like? I thought the smokescreens and subterfuge with the fans was over ( not to mention the recent embarrassing disclosures of corruption ). We have suffered too many years of being ripped off by selfish, greedy, lying directors who've lined their pockets at our expense. Unless, Mikey boy has had a big shock at recent developments and cooled his ardour a wee bit. Well, the fans ARE Newcastle United, not any board, team or PLC. Without the fans' guaranteed money EVERY season, the club would have liquidated back in the Riley, Whitehouse, Cunningham days when I really did brave the bloody dark at St. James' Park at the Gallowgate end in the flamin' rain. I can't afford a season ticket now, but this club was built, or rather survived on my fortnightly fiver pocketmoney, due to wor lass's big heartedness, which I opted to spend supporting them rather than have a few beers from my dole money in Thatcher's ' kill the building industry days.' I sincerely hope that any money laundering or other corruption that may come to light, which has contributed to our constant frustration and disappointment all of these years, is severely dealt with by the authorities, and we can seriously make up the lost ground since Keegan's remarkable revolution. The last board treat us Geordies, and our womenfolk with contempt and deserve no pity, even if they go to HMP for a holiday, as opposed to a luxury yacht with prostitutes. I hope Mike Ashley has someone read these letters to keep his finger on the pulse, cos we've had enough of this one-sided love affair. Get stuck in Mike, clean the lot of these parasites out and see if you can't make a success out of this new ' business venture.' It won't fail because of the most decent, honest and best supporters in the world, we will only amaze you if you stick to the deal.

adam said:

Its a shame that we have to put up with all these bungs and inquiries when we are going through an era of change. However I dont think anything can dampen my spirit at the moment what with changes in all aspects of the club currently going on.

I was there tonight for the Hartlepool match and was rather pleased with the performance. We never got out of second gear, kept plenty of possesion and created a decent amount of chances. Barton was putting tackles in like it was an FA cup final not a freindly and Rozehnal didnt put a foot wrong and seems to have an exceptional positional ability (although I understand that todays opponents were not top quality). As for the rest of the team, the defence didnt make a single mistake, the forwards were decent if a little rusty and Owen and Ameobi managed to score ) surprisingly Ameobi was probably the best player on the pitch and didnt look like a 4th choice striker).

As for the squad itself, its full of quality, I dont think we ahve anymore jokes in our team (Boumsong, Bramble etc.) but we just need more players! About 3 in defence and 1 big name signing would see us challenge Spurs next season I reckon.

joal said:

desperatly need two very good centre halves and one good leftback....otherwise i don't see us goin anywhr i the top 8... pls stop adding to attack and midfield and concentrate on defence..don't commit the same mistake thats been goin on for the last's about time we have a decent defence..not one that'll make the opposing fans to cheer everytime we have the ball

Genghiz said:

Pretty good. I just don't think Taylor could anchor the defense. But from the midfield on up to forward, they're looking formidable because they have true stars there.

Johann said:

IÂŜm really shocked no one mentioned David Edgar, when he came on for Ramage and slotted in centre back alongside Hungtington the whole defense changed. Edgar is aggressive and has all the attributes of a good defender in my mind. I look extremely forward to seeing him play more games!


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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