February 2011 Archives
The alarm bells were ringing but there was no emergency at Newcastle United's Benton base as Cheick Tiote beamed proudly after signing a new six and a half year contract at St James' Park.
The alarm bells were a false alarm but there was nothing fake about Tiote's delight after signing a new deal.
And as the giant photographic portrait of Sir Bobby Robson provided the backdrop in Alan Pardew's office, it was if he was looking down and giving his very own seal of approval.
Certainly, the powerful midfielder is the sort of player that Sir Bob would have loved to have in his side.
It's a fair bet that Robson would have been delighted to see John Carver sign his new contract just a month after joining the Magpies as assistant boss.
With 11 games left of a season that hasn't let us down one little bit with it's fair share of thrills and spills, not many could quite have believed that going into the final straight of Newcastle United's top flight campaign that a place in the Europa League was even open to question.
Of course Newcastle are still some way off actually achieveing what some might deem unthinkable.
And something others will certainly deem impossible and the Magpies aren't even safe yet.
But should Newcastle beat Bolton Wanderers on Saturday they will go ahead of the Trotters and in that same scenario should Sunderland fail to win their tough game at Everton, it will be United sitting in seventh spot going into the last 10 matches of the season.
Jose Enrique has been nothing short of a revelation in the left-back slot for the last two years for Newcastle United but if he doesn't like life as a Toon hero then he hasn't got much of a choice but to head for the airport.
No player has ever been bigger than the club at Newcastle United so why should it be any different for the Spaniard?
I can understand exactly why he's unhappy.
Newcastle did not invest enough in the January transfer window, they haven't got too many quality back-up players and the void left by Andy Carroll will seem bigger in any game that United don't find the net or finish off a game.
Newcastle United fans filed out of Ewood Park knowing they could be celebrating much more than just a single point and you could not forgive them for thinking if the Magpies had a natural born predator in front of goal then this game would have been won.
There is little point in harping on about Andy Carroll, he's gone and isn't coming back any time soon if ever again.
Even if he was still here, the player is injured and couldn't take part even if that is stating the obvious.
There are still goals in this team...
When Shefki Kuqi walked off the training field in the sunshine at the club's Benton base with his team-mates purring at his supreme shooting powers and hold-up play it was hard to believe that the player had already been branded a "joke" by some and his arrival ridiculed by rival fans.
I agree that a club like Newcastle United should not find themselves scrambling to sign players on a free transfer in a window that resulted in promise after promise that Andy Carroll was staying only for the player to be sold without a reputable replacement coming in.
I agree that Kuqi is a player in the twilight of his career and very much drinking in the Last Chance Saloon when it comes to life in the Premier League - or even the Championship.
But if a man in life can be fully judged and branded a flop or anything else before he's even had a fair crack of the whip, then you have to wonder if football is going to the dogs.
He arrives at Newcastle United with expectations as low as they can be for a new face - but for Sheki Kuqi he has been handed a dream chance to enjoy a wonderful swansong to his career at undoubtedly the biggest club he's ever been at.
For the 34-year-old, it must feel like he's won the lottery and when he pulls on the number 42 shirt as a Newcastle player for the first time he knows he can end his journeyman career on a high.
Most of the game's free transfer signings have nothing to lose, there's no big transfer fee around the neck and for Kuqi, even he helps earn Newcastle one point in the last 14 games, he will have played some part - and for what cost?
It's all gone a bit Paul Kitson for Leon Best hasn't it?
Just 12 months ago, when the Nottingham lad arrived from Coventry City a few comparisons with Andy Cole's arrival from Bristol City were quickly scribbled down at the time as the striker joined United's promotion bandwagon late on.
Like Cole, he came in late and hailed from the same city as the former number 9.
Unlike Cole, the goals didn't come to him straight away and Best found it tough to get past Andy Carroll and Peter Lovenkrands.
And like Kitson, who replaced Cole in 1995 in the not so legendary 28 shirt, he has now came in during the aftermath of the sale of a high profile star in Big Andy.
At best Joey Barton can consider himself mightily unfortunate to be left out of the England squad for the game with Denmark this week - at worst he could feel victimised once again by the FA.
Fabio Capello is not a man of his word.
Unless he's changed his stance, the Italian should at least explain why he didn't select Barton after vowing to pick player's in form.
I guess Newcastle is too far north for him or too cold.
I wonder if we'll be seeing less of Stan Collymore firing home at the Kop now?
You have to doubt it, given the nation's enjoyment of walloping Newcastle United at any given opportunity.
And that 4-3 defeat at Anfield has been rammed down our throats in the same way as Ronnie Radford at blinking Hereford.
I admit it, sometimes, they get plenty of invitation to do so but I just hope that Newcastle United get the credit they deserve for their part in what was the greatest ever Premier League match following the incredible and amazing 4-4 draw with Arsenal.