Newcastle United Art Forum – The Shearer Statue

Posted September 14th, 2016 by workyticket | 15 Comments

Alan Shearer statue

Looks like something out of a cereal packet

It isn’t very often that I venture off the highway of football to enter the arena of art criticism here on NUFC Blog, but this is one of those occaisions and I am actually more qualified. Having been a figurative artist, a designer and also an art dealer in a very modest sense, I hope I can give a reasonably informed opinion without getting too carried away.

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As you might have guessed from the photo accompanying thus piece, my current musing has been inspired by the recent unveiling of the Alan Shearer sculpture. Named ‘Local Hero,’ it is the second by local self-taught sculptor, Tom Maley for Newcastle United. It follows Maley’s Bobby Robson tribute of 2012, though it was actually commissioned by former NUFC Chairman, Freddie Shepherd before that in 2007 at an alleged cost of around £250,000. There is almost certainly some kind of club politics behind the nine year delay in its unveiling but that is not what this story is about. Continue reading…

Benitez and the ironic change of emphasis at topsy-turvy Toon

Posted September 11th, 2016 by workyticket | 8 Comments

Rafa Benitez and Matt Ritchie

Benitez with Scottish signing, Matt Ritchie.

Like the NHS and the British education system, Newcastle United under Mike Ashley has undoubtedly been the victim of too many top down reorganisations inflicted by those who didn’t have a clue what they were doing. Yet, despite living with the consequences for a second time under Mike Ashley in the form of relegation, we fans have seldom been more sanguine, all because of confidence in Rafa Benitez and his diligent, systematic, trophy winning ways. Now we do have a manager of Benitez’s calibre, Newcastle United are strong favourites for the Championship title and automatic promotion. If you were thinking of having a bet and would like to claim a bet365 bonus code where you could receive a bonus of up to £200, you will find instructions in the following link (how to claim bet365 bonus with promotional code).

I’m not knocking it. As someone who used to holiday in Valencia and watch Benitez’s great side there with the likes of Aimar, Ayala, Baraja, Albelda and so on in the early Noughties, and I was more than a little jealous when Liverpool got him in 2004 as I wanted him for Newcastle when Bobby Robson retired. That was about a month before Robson was sacked and we ended up with Graeme Souness. 12 years later it’s still a case “better late than never.” However, even more, it is just another symbol of the topsy-turvy world that lies down the St James’ Park rabbit hole. In the Premiership, when they should have been appointing someone like Benitez, or Ronald Koeman to pluck another example of someone who would have been very good without being completely out of reach, they throw in a Joe Kinnear or a John Carver just to make things more dangerous and interesting, and then when relegation is all but inevitable, then they appoint a Champions League winner to manage us in the Championship. Continue reading…

A trip down memory lane for Toon fans at Euro 2016

Posted June 9th, 2016 by workyticket | 115 Comments

Moussa Sissoko - Euro 2016

Moussa Sissoko arriving for Euro 2016

Following a disastrous season to forget at Newcastle United, thoughts among some might be turning to the European Championships starting tomorrow. Moussa Sissoko (France) and Rob Elliot (Republic of Ireland) will be Newcastle United’s only representatives there, though bearing in mind that this will be the biggest shop window for footballers short of the World Cup, this might be a good thing.

Some might wonder how Sissoko managed to book his place with one of the more fancied teams after some of last season’s performnances, some might praise Elliot for some good performances standing in for the injured Tim Krul despite everything. However, players like that will not be the focus of this piece. I’m sure that pretty much all of you will know what they have been up to, along with high profile ex-players taking part such as James Milner (England) and Yohan Cabaye (France). Instead, I will look mostly at the “where are they now” players who will be there who used to ply their trade on Tyneside. Of these, the majority of the players (three out of four) will be playing for the two Irish sides in the competition, and another will be managing the Northern Ireland team.

Without further ado, here is the list.

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Will Benitez provide the Yang to Newcastle United’s Yin?

Posted May 29th, 2016 by workyticket | No Comments

Rafa Benítez and Vicente del Bosque

Benítez showing his own coaching app to Vicente del Bosque

Presuming you are Newcastle United fan, or a football fan of some sort at least as you are reading this football blog, you’ll know the usual clichés about Newcastle United – passionate, impulsive, living in the moment and pretty much the exact opposite of new(ish) manager, Rafael Benitez. Words like ‘analytical,’ ‘calculating’ and ‘strategic’ cling to the systematic Spaniard like barnacles to a dredger.

I say all that having been an admirer since I used to visit friends in Valencia when he was manager there. I took in several games at the Mestalla, where he broke the stranglehold of the Spanish big two. In three years there between 2001-4, he won two La Ligas and a UEFA Cup. In those days before he was snapped up by Liverpool, I fancied him as a worthy successor to Bobby Robson when he retired. Thanks largely to Robson we were big club in the Champion’s League and getting a manager of Benítez’s calibre as a successor was not a unreasonable expectation in those days. However, I certainly couldn’t have predicted him coming twelve years later under the current circumstances. An obsessive analyst since his days as a young footballer, when he meticulously analysed his own play, he is so scrupulous and methodical, if he hadn’t had so much success as a manager, he might well have been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Continue reading…

Posted in category: Rafa Benitez, Thoughts and reflections | Tags:

Is it springtime for Rafa and Newcastle?

Posted March 14th, 2016 by workyticket | 165 Comments

Rafa joins the Tyneside madness!

Rafa joins the Tyneside madness!

As relegation struggling Newcastle United face Leicester City at this evening at the King Power stadium, all eyes will be on new manager, Rafael Benitez, and what he can do to turn things around.

Although starting against the League leaders riding a wave is tough, Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City are themselves a testament of what can be achieved against the odds, both at the bottom and the top of the Premier League. Benitez probably won’t need any reminders after what he achieved with Valencia in La Liga, and Liverpool in the Champions League. Though many have commented that Benitez’s record with subsequent clubs hasn’t been quite as good, he still managed to win five big trophies with Inter Milan, Chelsea and Napoli, including a Europa League and World Club Cup. As for Real Madrid, he never got a chance. Hence, one could hardly describe Rafa’s post Liverpool period as wilderness years anyway. Continue reading…

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Will McLaren be sacked after Chelsea game?

Posted February 11th, 2016 by Hugh de Payen | 77 Comments

Is McLaren's Newcastle future doomed?

Is McLaren’s Newcastle future doomed?

Could it be that Steve McLaren’s future depends on what happens on Saturday? After we play Chelsea we have 17 days without a game and that might be the ideal time to change managers.

Of all the things Ashley’s bad at when it comes to running a football club – and there are many – one of his worst is his management of managers. His reluctance to change managers at the drop of a hat is not a bad thing in itself, but only if you have the right manager in the first place and, with the possible exception of Chris Hughton, I’d argue he hasn’t picked the right manager for Newcastle United since he bought the club.

Evidence?

Well, in the seven seasons we’ve been in the Premier League since Ashley bought the club, our average finishing position has been 12.57 (I’ve not counted the season in the Championship) and in the seven seasons prior to Ashley buying the club our average finishing position was 8.14. That might not sound like a huge difference but before Ashley we were, on average, a mid-table team who sometimes flirted with Europe whereas now we are, on average, a mid-table team who sometimes flirts with relegation. And of course in 2008-2009 we did more than merely flirt with relegation – we kissed it, fondled it and knocked it up behind the bike sheds.

The misery inflicted on us can’t be entirely blamed on managers of course. The players we’ve bought, the players we’ve sold and the ethos and sentiment of the club all had a hand in things. But football managers play a key role in the grand scheme of things.

Continue reading…

A chance for Toon to forget the past in their next five games?

Posted November 20th, 2015 by workyticket | 278 Comments

Newcastle United's next five opponents

Newcastle United’s next five opponents

Looking forward to Newcastle United’s next five league games, against Leicester, Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Tottenham and Aston Villa respectively, usually one would be forgiven for thinking that the Magpies should have a good chance in three of those games, against two smaller sides and another troubled giant in Aston Villa. One would also be forgiven for thinking that the games against Tottenham and Liverpool would be the toughest. However, looking at things more closely, it might not be that simple.

For example, Newcastle’s next opponents at SJP this Saturday, Leicester are currently the highest of our next five opponents at 3rd in the League at the time of writing this, and are alone in this group in having won their last three in a row.

After that we have travel to London to meet Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace in 8th, who are still two places above Liverpool, who will be our opponents after Crystal Palace, with Tottenham coming after that and finally, Aston Villa. Hence the relative prestige of the teams isn’t necessarily reflected in terms of recent form. Continue reading…

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Newcastle United, Mike Ashley and eternal recurrence

Posted July 1st, 2015 by workyticket | 335 Comments

Steve McClaren

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Let us think this thought in its most terrible form: existence as it is, without meaning or aim, and yet recurring inevitably, without any finale in nothingness: “eternal recurrence.”

Friedrich Nietzsche – The Will to Power

I quoted the great proto-existentialist philosopher there because it seems such a perfect summary of all that Mike Ashley has to offer Newcastle United fans, in the past, the present and in the future; existence as it is, without meaning or aim, and yet recurring inevitably This includes the humiliation of being lied to and treated as fools on a regular basis, and paying hundreds of pounds for the privilege in many cases. Mike Ashley’s latest alleged overhaul is just as superficial and dishonest as the previous ones, which is why everything coming out of the club must be so strictly controlled. In his hubris, Ashley still hasn’t learned that a Premier League club the size of Newcastle United has to be like Rolls Royce, not Sports Direct. The faces might be different, but the thinking which has taken Newcastle United nowhere is still the same, recurring inevitably. Continue reading…

Newcastle United’s two forgotten players

Posted June 9th, 2015 by workyticket | 68 Comments

Jamaal Lascelles and Karl Darlow

Lascelles and Darlow: “Outstanding lads” says Pearce

In the misery and inertia of Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United, it is good to try and look for the flowers in the cracks of the concrete from time to time to keep oneself sane.

With this in mind, I could have written about younger players like Ayoze Perez, Rolando Aarons etc but then I thought at least we have seen them play in black and white, albeit briefly in Aarons’ case. On the other hand, two more of United’s biggest hopes the the future haven’t been seen at all in Magpie colours. They are the two forgotten men of Newcastle United, 21 year old centre back, Jamaal Lascelles and 24 year old goalkeeper Karl Darlow, who have returned from their loan season at Nottingham Forest.

Signed a season ago from the Tricky Trees for an undisclosed fee which was said to be £6.5 million, the pair were immediately loaned back and forgotten about by many on Tyneside. They are both regarded as very promising players though, and as Alan Pardew used to be fond of saying, ‘It will be like two new signings.’ Continue reading…

The truth of the Patrick Vieira and Steve McClaren to Newcastle stories

Posted June 5th, 2015 by workyticket | 23 Comments

Steve McClaren and John Carver

NUFC: Still no decision on a head coach.

I couldn’t help feeling there was something odd about the story of Patrick Vieira coming to Newcastle, as there is about most unsubstantiated football stories.

Some fans seemed to believe it though, even embroidering it further to their own tastes as it gathered a momentum of its own in a few short days. My curiosity piqued, I looked but I couldn’t find any real evidence that Newcastle United made an approach for Patrick Viera to be the next ‘head coach’ at St James’ Park. Even the guff I’ve read about Steve McClaren coming to Newcastle (and I’ve read alot) seems to be based on the same kind of unsubstantiated “it is understood / sources say” style drivel we see so much of nowadays in the media. Concentrating on the Vieira story first though, I traced the threads of it back to the beginning as I usually do, and in this case it was ‘broken’ by North East Sky Sports reporter, Keith Downie with two tweets below on 30th May, though it seems like longer: Continue reading…