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Alan Pardew called an unusually early Saturday morning Press conference ahead of Monday's tough clash with Arsenal.

An 8.30am call meant an early night and cup of cocoa for some media men but Pardew's side must show they are alert from the word go at the Emirates Stadium.

The Toon hit snooze twice against Swansea City to deny Pardew's team a much needed victory last Saturday as they conceded goals in stoppage time at the end of both halves.


Alan Pardew told the media otherwise today, but was Hatem Ben Arfa's cameo at Stoke City the last we'll see of the French playmaker?

For some reason Ben Arfa can't get fit, can't get in the team and hasn't been able to get back to his best.

On Pardew's part he has been unable to cajole the best out of the creative ex-Lyon star and it is almost as if he's reverted to type after suffering difficult times at Plaine des Jeux de Gerland and then Marseille.

Talk about most managers that have worked with Ben Arfa, like Pardew, Laurent Blanc or Didier Deschamps, and it simply hasn't worked out well.


It must be confusing if you are a Newcastle United young gun who gets sent out on loan.

After all, the Magpies have made it clear enough that the cups are not a priority at St James' Park.

However, those who have been out on loan in the last couple of seasons just can't seem to get enough of cup glory.


Alan Pardew pointed the blame to the direction of the "local press" after Newcastle United's disappointing 1-0 defeat against Stoke City.

In a post-game press conference that last now more than 129 seconds I asked Pardew if he felt that he could win the supporters back round after they made their protests vocal at the Britannia Stadium.

However, this was met with muted response and a quick turn to his press officer for an announcement that we couldn't ask questions.


Does Alan Pardew find himself on the edge of the Newcastle United abyss going into Saturday's trip to Stoke City?

Or would three points be enough to keep his stock high enough to avoid any vocal unrest from fans?

At the moment it would not be straight-forward for any journalist to simply write that the fans want Pardew out.


Given the amount of gloating Manchester United fans have dished out over the years it is little wonder that most of the country are really enjoying the demise of the Red Devils this season.

As a Newcastle United follower it's fair to say that the rivalry with Man United in recent times has been nowhere near the level it was between around 1993-1998.

That 12-point lead at the top of the title will live with me forever and under the current regime it appears obvious that NUFC won't get near that again.


It's amazing what you can achieve when you have a look around, listen and get a feel for the tradition of a football club.

Well, that's exactly what Brendan Rodgers has done at Liverpool since taking over as boss.

One of the first things he did at Liverpool was ask if the "This is Anfield" sign in the tunnel was the original from Kop's true glory years.

As it turned out, it wasn't, but Rodgers told ground staff to give it a polish and get it back up as he tried to get the club back to the high levels that were once expected.

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There will be no open top bus party after it and there won't be any silverware.

But the day has finally arrived for the Premier League's seventh/eighth place play-off.

Like any other game, a victory for Newcastle United at Southampton today would be gratefully received by the travelling Toon Army after making the long journey to St Mary's.

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Trips to Southampton are generally not a great barrel of laughs for Newcastle United fans.

It's a long old poke for a start and the Magpies' poor record down the decades has plenty of room for improvement.

But that won't stop the Toon Army setting off from Newcastle at 5am for the 644-mile round trip down south.

In short it's just two wins since 1974, one win in the league in 20 visits and not a great deal else to shout about.

The Dell used to be a nightmare as Matt Le Tissier used to raise his game against the Magpies for some reason and while St Mary's has been a tad kinder with a league win and an FA Cup triumph, last season was poor by United


Alan Pardew is confident that Luuk de Jong will come good at Newcastle United.

The on loan Borussia Monchengladbach man is yet to find the back of the net since arriving from the Bundesliga club.

An early goal would have been nice for him, it didn't come.

Then people seemed happy to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was settling in, well fans are still watching that space.

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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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