April 2012 Archives

After six years, European football will make a welcome return to Tyneside and the Toon Army will make a welcome return to the continent.

We're yet to see if it will be via the Europa League or the Champions League, but hey it's back and Geordie fans are ready to make the most of it.

After all no matter what happens now - this is more than most fans bargained for at the start of the campaign.

Should James Perch get a piece of the action against Stoke City it could see the down to earth Mansfield lad come full circle in a black and white shirt.

Perch of course netted an own goal in the corresponding fixture when he put one past Tim Krul in the dying stages to win the game for the Potters.

Most people who have played the game at any level know exactly how it feels to score an OG, and Perch probably wanted the ground to swallow him up.

He found it tough at first in Toon scoring not only the OG against Stoke but also struggled to adapt to the pace of the Premier League, picking up four yellow cards in his first four games.

But refused to crumble that day and he's since refused to throw the towel in on his Newcastle career.

It's an amazing fact but Alan Pardew is on course to be the first Newcastle United manager to complete a Premier League season since Bobby Robson in 2003/04.

Graeme Souness, Glenn Roeder, Sam Allardyce, Kevin Keegan, Joe Kinnear, Chris Hughton and Alan Shearer were all given limited time to get it right at St James' Park, despite pleas during their time in charge for "stability" on Tyneside.

Despite those pleas none of them were able to get from game one to game 38 without enduring the dreaded chop.

Don't get me wrong - if Demba Ba is lining up for Newcastle United in a black and white shirt next season you won't find a proper Geordie who isn't happy about it.

But if he opts to move, which some people believe is now looking on the cards - few would be surprised given football's everchanging climate when it comes to recruitment.

Ba has been fantastic in his first season and with 16 goals so far has exceeded many pre-season expectations.

Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in football's vultures circling the Magpies' nest and as the season nears the finishing line.

Ba is understood to be wanted by Paris St Germain while Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Redknapp has also been vocal about the striker in the last few months.

Papiss Cisse's amazing start to life in the number 9 shirt continues with nine goals in his first eight Premier League games.

But despite his sparkling record thus far he must keep up the pace to stay in touch with same sensational start made by Les Ferdinand in 1995.

Sir Les was sitting pretty with nine in eight matches but in games nine and 10 he stepped things up in games

Only Newcastle could get lumbered with a 700 mile round trip on a bank holiday to Swansea but there's every chance that Alan Pardew will be as good as his word when it comes to delivering another top notch performance.

They will travel to Wales with confidence - and so they should.

After all, Newcastle are in their best position at this stage of a season since the days of Bobby Robson in 2002/03 when they managed a top four finish.

And in the shape of Papiss Cisse they have a man in form with only Les Ferdinand being able to boast a better start to his career, edging ahead of the Senegal star with one more strike than Cisse's seven in seven opening gambit.


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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