Happy new year...well let's hope so

By Lee Ryder on Dec 31, 07 08:21 AM


The calendar year of 2007 actually promised quite a lot as far as Newcastle United were concerned - but not for the first time in history it eventually conjured up absolutely nowt!

This time 12 months ago we were within swinging distance of the top six, still in the FA Cup and still in Europe.

And going into 2008, a lot of Geordies are already starting to wonder - what next?

Freddy Shepherd has gone and Mike Ashley and Chris Mort are in which delighted the majority of Toon fans yet sadly results on the pitch have not changed a great deal and United are pretty much in the same position they were in 12 months ago - apart from we aren't in Europe this time around.

And although the up and coming January transfer window is a chance to change things as far as Big Sam is concerned there is no golden promise of cash so far from the Toon board meaning, as ever, the next three games are crucial.

Starting with Manchester City on January 2, Newcastle go into the game with supporter unrest as the backdrop for the first game of the year.

And although there have been plenty of calls for Big Sam to go, it appears that the United board are happy to stick with their man - unless a total disaster unfolds.

A total disaster would be Wigan, Liverpool or Pompey type performances in our next few Premier League games and an exit in the FA Cup against Stoke - get ready for clips of Ronnie Radford by the way everybody.

Beating Stoke City would go a long way to easing the pressure on Big Sam no matter what way you look at it.

Don't forget the FA Cup kept Kenny Dalglish's head above water back in 1997/98.

Back then Newcastle were handed the easiest set of draws of all time with the likes of mighty Stevenage beaten after a replay and deadly Tranmere dumped out before a mammoth effort in the semi-final against Sheff United secured a place in the final and in Europe before Arsenal eventually beat the Toon at Wembley.

It was the same for Ruud Gullit a year later but the crazed Dutchman did have a harder run of games before being beaten by Man United.

That's all history of course but the point being, the FA Cup could, just could be Big Sam's saving grace.

And while many fans are desperate for a change in manager a substitution now would not only prove costly for the Toon owner but it would also mean yet another period of transition.

Fact - we could still make this the best season since 1968/69 and Big Sam could be the most successful boss since Joe Harvey.

Yes it's a long shot but this is Newcastle United, expect the unexpected.

I don't expect many people to share this enthusiasm but I hope the players are acutely aware that the season is far from over no matter what happens.

But Stoke have to be beaten first though and I'm sure fans would accept a place in the fourth round coupled with Arsenal type performances against Man City and Man United a week later although nobody is expecting to pick up anything from Old Trafford are they?

Surely it can't get any worse than Wigan though!

Toon fans don't ask for a lot and even though it was against Chelsea reserves on Saturday, the team did put in a massively improved showing at Stamford Bridge.

Lucky us eh? It wasn't exactly hard to beat the JJB experience.

But seriously you have to have a big heart to be a Newcastle fan and going into 2008 it's likely you are going to need an even bigger one!

The fans - the best in the country by miles - of course will always be there - it's what they have always done and always will do.

Yet until they have a team that is back up where it belongs and challenging for honours again they will never be happy.

So, happy new year to all Chronicle and Blog on the Tyne readers - have a good 2008!



Paul Patterson said:

Yes, fully agreed, compliments and best wishes to all for the festive season- and 2008!

I’ve got a hunch, a slightly odd theory, I was idly reading one of those daft rags yesterday, whilst casting an eye over to the Man City V Liverpool game on big screen in the pub (Doing exactly what Allardyce was at the City of Manchester Stadium- Scouting the opposition!)

What I found ignited a thought in my head, the article was about how much it would cost to replace Allardyce (A reported £50m) to include a £20m budget for the new man coming in.

The list of backroom staff was astonishing, including a Pro Zone analysis expert of all things. Now, would it be totally outlandish to suggest that Allardyce has surrounded himself with a huge army of (Expensive) hangers on and with a big contract himself, to basically prevent the board from sacking him? It certainly provides some degree of job security doesn’t it?

The other problem with getting shot of Allardyce, is with two men at the helm, that have no idea on how to run a football club as far as the playing side goes, we have one man who does and can advise them on what to do with regards hiring and firing- Sam Allardyce!!

Rather a cushy number eh?

The replacement- How about rumoured on Saturday- Martin Jol? Attacking, Top 5 pedigree, European experience? Not a bad successor, certainly an improvement, others include Ranieri, personal (Deluded) choice is Mourinho, but I can dream, or even Benitez if the plastic fantastic Yanks don’t want him (And they don’t)

The immediate future, is Stoke have to be beaten, it would be criminal to think that we’d be dumped out by lower league opposition, but sadly I can see it happening, but as for your period of transition Lee, if a new manager was brought in, what better period of transition could he have, than a club that’s out of all competitions and lumbering in mid-table. The rest of the season, then becomes that transitional period, and a perfectly placed one at that.

So that’s the plan- Hold everything till after Stoke away, then re-evaluate, if were still in the cup, Allardyce keeps his job, if were out, I’ll leave the outcome to Allardyce himself- ‘Were in a results driven business’ and to put it mildly, results haven’t been good enough, not to mention rotten performances and fluky last minute winners/equalisers.

It’s an awfully harsh scenario to base a clubs future with a manager on one away trip to Stoke City, but hey, 50,000 supporters crave entertainment and a bit of style, something they are not getting anywhere near to watching at the minute.

All the best!!



Heres my New Year wish Lee-That Chris Mort and Mike wake up to the fact that Big sam has to go. He is not the man to manage Newcastle. His signings have been rubbish and he cannot determine whats wrong playing wise in order to put it right. We need a manager like Keegan who knew how big this club was and thought big in the process. Mike needs to realise Sam is out of his depth- My new year signings would be Berbatov and Bentley -we can dispose of some of the failures we currently have on board- I know Berbatov would cost big money -but we signed Shearer didnt we -and he cost big money- Blackburn would not want to part with Bentley -but they are hardly in a position to turn down big money-Bentley would provide much needed craft and passing ability in midfield -and he is not shy at scoring goals either. Berbatov has always been a Newcastle supporter and Shearer was his idol-according to his mother he followed Newcastle all his life and would relish the thought of wearing Shearers jersey. Time for Newcastle to let every one know they mean business. I am sick of Allardyce identifying more second rate targets on his so called list he has sent upstairs-if they are anything like his previous signings then god help us. Souness. made Freddie gasp when he put Michael Owen on his list -but at least he was thinking as a Newcastle manager. Please Mr. Astley show your intent. Its time Newcastle lived up again to their reputation of being a big club.

Charles said:

2007 will be a nice year for Newcastle as i hope we can shake off the horrible stench that have befallen our club's luck and confidence.

I watched the past game against Chelsea, and was horrified by the result
But still, admit that Sam have not had the best of luck the whole campaign:
-Being jeered by many 'loyal' fans
-'loyal' fans hanging a noose around his neck and blaming him for everything...
-Taking blame for all results, good or bad

Acutually, we should be behind him, but it looks like we ought to run the manager itself. We are like puppeteers, blaming managers after a torrid time and taking another 'puppet', then we will begin to plot his death too...

Face it, newcastle is a team that suppose to hold 52,000 fans that will support them through thick and thin but obviously it looks as though the supporters were paid to support. They go there with smiles and then come back and throw tantrums everywhere not because their team lost...because it wasn't 'good' enough for them...

Lee, i wish to ask a request...Do the 'loyal' supporters here comment like this during Keegan's era because I wasn't well to do during that time and therefore did not do many research, safe for the presence during home games...

I hope you, NEWCASTLE, not Sam the best because you are obviously cursed...
-fans love you and ultimately HATE you
-fans who compare you with Man united
-fans who tell you they're sick of supporting you
-fans that blames everything but themselves
-players that if not injured, perform like being paid to lose and who to clean up after them, the managers (not that ALL the managers deserve the symphaty like the likes of Danglish, Guilt, Souness and his apprentice, Roeder)

And players, if you're reading...please tell all your friends and colleagues, i want to see more tackling on the pitch, not more slacking and passing horrible short and inaccurate passes.

Martins, A very happy new year to you! You are by far one of the best but please seek help from experinced strikers to give you some confidence and scoring prowness.

I think we will end up at least 8th-15th place this season if we continue like this...that is considering god show us mercy...

Happy new year, lads...

mag in boro said:

Happy new year to all well at least the queen only had one annus horribilis seems like come 31st december its an annual event for us but hey we used to it,still gonna fill SJP every other week and have the best away support in the land

Ok so it hasnt been the best 12 months but could have been worse if the fat scrapman was still at the head of procedings

A lot is being said over ashley and morts zero experience in football which is true but as owner and chairman their value is to run a business which both have good track records
They both know things at the moment are not good and doesnt take a wealth of football knowledge to see that

Morts statement that there wasnt going to be a great deal of funds available in january says they are already planning for next season
Alladyce has lost any confidence fans had in his appointment(he wasnt the majority of fans choices but he wasnt ashleys man either)so as much as i want him replaced now dont think it will happen before end of season unless something drastic happens over the coming weeks

We have to beat city and then stoke and that will be tough and i agree paul can see that not going our way especially with the way we have performed in televised fa cup games in recent memory

you mentioned 4 possible replacements
Jose would be everyones dream come true but never gonna happen
Benitez would go back abroad if he left the scousers
Have always thought Ranieri would have been a good choice
But if Jol was interested his teams play good football has proved he can compete with big 4 and would come back to prem with a huge point to prove

So Smith has amnesia so he cant remember his last league goal well neither can we

And to end on a more humerous note some end of year awards

The couldnt score in a brothel award..alan smith

best out of position player..charles nzogbia

good riddance award..Freddie(would love to present it at SJP but you not welcome so its in the post)

come sun rain wind or snow award..To the truly awesome away support

performance of year...1st half against AZ Alkmaar

The goodbye to bad rubbish..albert luque

Will always be a geordie..Nolberto Solano

The Tactically inept(or doesnt know his arse from his elbow)..Big Sam-well you like to win something in first season in charge



Brian Whitfield said:

Simply put, I wish that in 2008 the Toon army leave every game walking on air. I hope that every Geordie heart is filled with pride and that Newcastle United put fans first for a change.
I wish the best fans in the world, the team that SHOULD be theirs.
I wish you, Lee, a very happy and successful New Year.

Andrew Davis said:

Hi Lee

Just had a listen to you and Alan talking about the chelsea game and i was mentioned (Ben & Jerrys Guy) and i have never had a arguement with the 2 of ya and i agree most of the time with your reports on the toon.

The offer of the ice cream social for you and Alan is always available lads.

I hope that the toon play a bit better and i don't agree that the toon played well on sat and the only reason we played better was that charles was playing in his preferred position at long last.

I hope we win at home against city on wed and then pummel stoke on sunday and then we can try and get a few results together.

Happy birthday Lee and i hope Mr Oliver emails me back so i can organize the ice cream for you and hime when you get to the USA.

Cheers and the video had me laughing at the end.


Anonymous said:

Happy New Year!!!!

James 09 said:

In short, major concern for Newcastle United entering a new year - which is something a little too familiar.

So far, this season has been pretty dire. Sam Allardyce may have correctly identified some of the persistent problems that continue to haunt and humiliate Newcastle United, but so far, and taking the season in its entire context, little has changed, and therefore scant, if any progress, has been made.

First things first - we NEED the level of determination and commitment against Arsenal and Chelsea to become a regular in our play. By no means will it get a good result everytime, but this really should be a minimum requirement for the players and staff alike - surely Newcastle United supporters deserve that.

Allardyce is under considerable (and I think a lot of it is justified) pressure which raises the issue of bad, rushed signings in the January window. We MUST avoid such signings, and if he'd utilise the strengths of THIS squad, I really do think we'd see immediate improvement.

Sam Allardyce has to quit wagging his rather large finger of blame at everyone else BUT himself. I happen to have little confidence that he will do so.

Things have to significantly improve from the current state of affairs AND at a decent pace - hopefully that's not being "impossibly impatient" for "instant success" aye.

John Low Fell said:

Happy New Year all, especially those that travel to away matches !! As a result of another mindless bout of charging around the pitch with the intent of showing everyone he tries hard Smith is now injured and might miss Man City. This comes but a match or two early when he would have missed one as a result of his on-going collection of ridiculous yellow cards while tryin hard. Perhaps we'll end up with with a better balanced team ! But probably not.

Dave Russell said:

Well I have just got the Man City Result. Living in Scotland means I have to limit myself to watching Sky Sports Footie program most games.
When BS was appointed I thought it was a great appointment, how wrong was I?
Honestly I thought we could win this one and possibly start a run, how deluded am I? Too many toxins left in the body perhaps after the recent festivities.
Big Sam should be told he has until the end of the season to get things right with NO money to spend in January. He should be a warning for his performance with more to come if things don't improve, you all know we would be on our last warning if we performed like him.
Remember this is the man who told the country that he was a better man manager, a better tactician and a better organiser than the then England Manager a couple of years ago. Give me the job, he said, and everything will be OK?!!!
He moaned that if his name was Allaardici not Allardyce he would get the recognition he deserved.
Well - He has played the previous England Manager twice now, lost both times conceding 5 and scoring 1. He has been out-thought, his team out-played and outfought, his tactics second best and ineffective and his complete lack of organisation totally exposed. The supposed failure that is SGE has bought more players than BFS and has got them playing as a team, winning games and entertaining. Mind you we must not forget that the players that BFS has bought were not his first choices, my god how motivating must that have been?
On top of this we know that Derby have only taken 4 points from 1 team this season to date - yes it's us!! Add the fact that Paul Jewell (Please don't get him as replacement) has taken 1 point from 18 before tonights game against Bolton from, you guessed it, us again!
How can this man claim to be "An expert in his field" as he did over Christmas?
We cannot go on sacking managers but surely we cannot go anywhere with this man at the helm? Let him stay in charge until end of season (unless we get dragged into the relegation fight) then get rid. Believe me this man could not win the premier league if he took over Man United tomorrow.


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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