February 2009 Archives
In a season in which the good ship Newcastle United has sailed through such stormy waters that at times have left players and fans alike both traumatised and mentally fragile, relative calm is in the air at the Toon's training HQ in Benton.
An unbeaten February has certainly done Newcastle no harm at all while the return of some familiar faces emerging from the treatment room have at least given some fans hope that disaster can still be averted.
Certainly caretaker Chris Hughton, left holding the baby for the seond time this season, can see light at the end of the tunnel but going into the away trip to Bolton Wanderers the calmness in the pre-spring airs could quickly disappear.
And while United have managed to put a chair up against the cupboard for now, the skeletons that have haunted the Toon this season are still waiting to jump out one by one if the Mags fail to get anything out of the trip to planet Reebok.
The last time I saw Faustino Asprilla was a cold wet day on Merseyside sitting in the Park End with Newcastle United's FA Cup hopes seemingly about to go up in smoke.
It was one of those sinking feelings, not only because I was sitting around Evertonians getting increasingly annoyed by my intoxicated mate who seemed to forget we were sat in a home area, but because one of Newcastle's best talents was leaving the field and didn't look like he wanted to play for the Mags anymore.
You couldn't blame him.
Once again Newcastle United failed to win a home match in the 2008/09 season as Everton left Toon with a point - but despite the efforts of the black and whites on the field, those off it can once again take a bow.
The bloke who bellowed out Howay the lads 23 times in a row in the second half deserves a special mention yet that was only part of a great atmosphere in which the loyal foot soldiers of the Toon Army attempted to urge their team to victory.
It was only half matched by the XI on the field though with Newcastle still not out of the woods as far as the relegation battle is concerned.
Blog on the Tyne is at St James's Park to bring you regular updates from Newcastle United's clash with Everton.
Just click below to follow my coverage of the match.
Newcastle United's future may well be in the balance but amidst the pandemonium surrounding whether fans stay or go at the end of the season, in control of what many now see as a sinking ship is the calm figure of Chris Hughton.
When Hughton arrived at St James's many Toon fans uttered: "not another Cockney."
And while another dubious Tottenham link walked through the door at St James's Park 12 months ago, many were left to wonder who came up with the idea of bringing in Mr Spurs - certainly none of it fitted in with the Keegan way.
When Mark Viduka signed for Newcastle United on a warm summer day in 2007 there couldn't have been too many complaints from Toon fans as they lapped up something of a double whammy at the start of the Big Sam era.
However, just like the ill fated stint of Sam Allardyce at St James's, it has been pretty much the same story for Viduka since he ruffled some feathers on Teesside by snubbing the chance to stay on at the Riverside to move up the road.
And while laughing at Boro was enjoyable at the time, as was celebrating a big strong striker who could partner Michael Owen, his arrival also came with a fear.
You couldn't have written a script for Newcastle United's season so far but the scary thing is for many Toon fans is that there is still 13 games and the best part of four months before we'll finally know just where this nightmare campaign is going to end.
With Joe Kinnear out for the foreseeable future as United manager due to a heart bypass operation it leaves Newcastle without anybody they can really call boss going into the crucial final few fixtures.
Everybody sends Kinnear their best wishes but his haul of 23 points since taking over the hotseat will go a long way to securing Newcastle's Premier League safety.
The weather was freezing outside St James's Park as I looked up at the monster that is the Milburn Stand on Barrack Road - but I was about to climb on to the top shelf of football's hottest oven - the Newcastle United boardroom.
We always knew that some people would not like some of the answers but we did what we vowed to do.
We transported a dossier of questions made up by Chronicle and Journal readers who were all given the chance to ask Derek Llambias exactly what the situation was.
Newcastle United surpemo Derek Llambias is about to lift the lid on life at St James's Park in an exlusive interview with the Evening Chronicle.
The Chronicle put questions submitted by Toon fans forward to Llambias with details set to unfold over two days in an in-depth interview.
Don't miss today's Chronicle for the full interview.
If anybody thought that bringing in Peter Lovenkrands was a risky move from a desperate Newcastle United during the transfer window - they may have been surprised to hear the Dane was given a standing ovation from the Smethwick End after the Toon Army chanted his name into the crisp winter air after beating the Baggies.
The former Rangers man was only handed a start because of injuries to Andy Carroll and Oba Martins but he's now given the Toon management team a tough selection headache for the next game against Everton.
OK, let's got get carried away Lovenkrands has scored one goal and had one good game but at hard times like this, it at least gives Toon fans something to clutch on to.