NUFC season review: From Everest to the Marianas Trench.

Show me your war face.

The season is now at a close and already the rumour mill has spurned into gear and started to vomit out the pointless, useless rumours that fund awful blogging sites the internet over – but that isn’t what this is about. It’s a time for reflection, a time to celebrate all that we’ve achieved and most importantly time for us to look to the future and kick on.

Andy Carroll was our number 9 – a local lad who breathed a new lease of life into our enthusiasm and wore the number with pride. Chris Hughton was our manager, the man who stood by the club through thick and thin and saw criticism with a gentle smile and a friendly comment. He had steadied our ship, blooded the youngsters and for once, we were happy with how things were going.

Summer signings included Hatem Ben Arfa on loan, who would later sign a 4 and a half year contract despite having a severe injury, Dan Gosling on a free, James Perch, Sol Campbell and of course the unforgettable Cheik Tioté. Oh yes, the sun was shining on Newcastle all right.

It hasn’t been easy for us this season and we all knew it wouldn’t be easy. The first few games were most certainly indicative of that as we showed our guts against Manchester United with a team that was hardly considered “Premier Class”. Joey Barton began to show why we were right to stick by him, Mike Williamson and Colocinni made the world know that they were a force to be reckoned with and best chums Enrique and Jonas charged up and down the left flank with great link up play.

That’s just a smattering of the positives that were taken out of that game against Man U despite the loss. I could go on for days about how well I thought we played.

The next game saw us take our revenge on the Villa fans for their conduct on Survival Sunday. An Andy Carroll hat trick, a brace from Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton’s first goal of the season saw us take 3 points with a 6-0 victory.

I’m not going to hold your hands as we reminisce about the season and talk you through the statistics, that’s just not my style.

Negatives

The Sacking of Chris Hughton

This is something that took us all by shock. Here was a man who had given some pride back to Newcastle and was considered a gentleman by all who met him. A man who commanded respect by giving it in bulk, a man who understood the hopes, desires and aspirations of the Geordie people and a man who made sure that us fans had our feet planted firmly on the ground.

After a 1-0 win at Arsenal, the side hit the proverbial wall; from 5 games, we lost 3 and drew 2, with a 3-1 loss away to West Bromwich Albion being the straw on the camel with a fairly weak back, and our (adopted) Geordie hero was fired. The man who had given us a team spirit that hadn’t been seen since the days of Sir Bobby and he was fired over a 3-1 loss to a team that was in relatively good form?

The signs, of course, were there. He could not appoint an assistant manager, rumours were rife that he was on the chopping block and then the following day he parted ways with the club. Another problem is of course the appointment of Alan Pardew which should deserve a segment all to itself but there is simply too much to say on that entire saga.

I still don’t believe it was the right decision and I wish Chris all the best in his future endeavours – there’ll always be a spot at NUFC for you.

January Transfer Window

The big one is next so I won’t get into that in depth but the window was a complete and total bust.

In the window we brought in one player – an injured Steven Ireland. Yes we completed the signing of Ben Arfa but how’s that for ambition? After being linked to the likes of Van Wolfswinkel and Peter Crouch, we bring in a midfielder who couldn’t play at the time. We also lodged bids for former Toon man Charles N’Zogbia who is rumoured to have signed a new contract from Wigan.

Later we would buy a player I have a lot of respect for, a man who quietly went about his business and made some good friends in the dressing room – Shefki Kuqi. Yes, he was brought in for depth on a deal that would see him through to the end of the season but his age and experience showered down through the ranks and he certainly helped the likes of Nile Ranger pick themselves up and improve on the pitch. His time didn’t come at Newcastle unfortunately but, in my opinion, the door should be open for a coaching role.

The Sale of Andy Carroll

I’ve said my piece on this before and everything I said still stands but I have never addressed this from a fans perspective. When I heard that Liverpool was bidding for Andy Carroll, I thought it was funny and kind of cute. Hughton’s successor, Alan Pardew, had stated that he was not for sale and will not be leaving the club – why was now any different? As it turns out, money is worth more than passion, loyalty and personal ambition.

When I saw him walking to Liverpool’s training ground, I was absolutely disgusted. My girlfriend who was sat next to me at the time stayed silent, she knew that this was not a good thing, especially as I had just been laughing and joking about it minutes earlier. I felt sick; repulsed that a local lad like him would reject the famous shirt worn by Shearer, Milburn, Supermac, Ferdinand and countless others and that he did it in such an underhanded way… it still annoys me to think about it, if I’m honest.

The story we were told by a rather coy David Craig was that Liverpool had bid a huge amount of money, the interest was noted to Andy who was asked if he wanted to stay or go. Andy requested they meet the contract offer or he would be accepting it, Newcastle refused and then Carroll put in a transfer request and the rest is, forgettable, history.

We can’t forget it fast enough. That transfer is still an open wound and mentioning it is equatable to pouring salt into it – but I do, reluctantly, admit it’s probably a good bit of business given his recent form and injury woes.

Moving on slightly, it came to light that Kevin Nolan had actually recommended the move to Andy and encouraged him to take it, even going as far as talking to LFCtv on how great Andy is and how he will do good things for the club. Seeing as he is Newcastle’s captain, he was bang out of order and though he won’t admit it – he knew.

Inconsistency

There’s no two ways about it, our squad is inconsistent and has been for a long time. How often have we played a great game only to be slapped down by a side like Blackpool? This can all be chalked up to a sense of depth, however – something we sorely lack at the minute. Our squad has been unlocked by important players being suspended, injured or not available for selection for whatever reason.

The best example of this was our win at West Ham – a 5-0 victory where Leon Best secured not only his first goal, but a hat trick! The following game was a few days later in the FA Cup, where we were well and truly beaten by Stevanage.

Now, without further ado, let’s move on.

Positives

Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheik Tiote

I won’t get into the transfer saga of Ben Arfa as it’s worth of a novel but for a reported £7m (£2m in loan fees, £5m for the contract) we have proved that we can still attract top class players. Tioté was an absolute bargain and has been, without a doubt, the most important player for us this season despite all of the yellow cards.

Oh and as an interesting statistic regarding yellow cards, Newcastle United averaged 12 fouls per game this season which equalled eight other clubs in the Premier League – including winners of the Fair Play league, former champions Chelsea FC.

With the rumour mill in full swing, we’re bound to be linked with players that are far out of our depth but even at the very least it shows that Newcastle United are still prepared to compete with top level clubs for some top players. Gervhinho, Sow, Gameiro, Menez – that can’t be a bad thing, can it?

Spirit

The 4-3 victory at Stamford Bridge, the absolutely unforgettable 4-4 draw at St James Park against Arsenal and of course the 5-1 victory against the unwashed – Newcastle United are a team that doesn’t quite understand “defeat”. Yes, there were days when we didn’t show up but the fact is, we have proven time and time again that on our day we are more than a force to be reckoned with.

We have had a terrible second half of the season with the sale of Carroll and players from across the board have had to step up and maybe with the exception of one or two, we can be proud of all the players who wore the black and white this season and showed up. Even Alan Smith shown on a few occasions that he can still play football as he tried his best to snap the cross bar a la Andy Carroll.

The team have done us proud this season, let’s not forget that.

Youth

While Haris Vuckic is still struggling with injuries, Shane Ferguson has proved he is more than ready to deputise anywhere on the left flank, showing pace, strength, skill and maturity in his game and today his efforts were rewarded with a 5 year contract.

Shola’s younger brother Sammy also made a brief cameo, as did Kazenga Lua Lua and both looked like they were very hot prospects. Nile Ranger also had his moments in the sun as he showed composure and quick feet more than once throughout the season. Give the lad a solid run in the Championship and I’m certain he’ll come back twice the player he is.

Of course, this isn’t even mentioning the players coming through the ranks at the academy and development team – Michael Richardson, James Tavernier, Phil Airey (who made his debut in our defeat against Stevenage), Bradden Inman, Ryan Donaldson et al. – we have some great young talent coming through the ranks and that’s not even counting the likes of Yven Moyo and Mehdi Abeid.

Finishing Position

This season was always about consolidation with everything after that being a bonus. Chris Hughton always said “anywhere above 18th” and we took the league on and pushed as hard as we could, at one point even threatening for Europe. Of course our own mistakes cost us in that final game with West Brom but in all honesty, had you have been offered 12th in August, wouldn’t you have taken it

It is a bit disappointing to finish below the unwashed but on the same note, they won by 1 point after having at minimum a year long head start on us. Millions spent on team development and here they are struggling to beat a newly promoted team, I’m glad we caused them some problems!

All in all our season has been full of ups, downs and rarely have we set foot on middle ground but here we are ready to kick on for next season. There’s rumours of Enrique being sold and Barton not being offered a contract but no player is bigger than the club. I’d love both of them to stay but sometimes that just doesn’t work and in those cases we need to cut our losses and keep on going.

The season has been a good one and we have an excellent starting point for the next season.

Howay the lads!

avatar NUFCBlog Author: Thump Some say his bones are black and white but that is yet to be medically proven. Currently writes for a few different publications and likes to assert his imaginary authority on nobody in particular. Beware: eats children. Thump has written 36 articles on this blog.

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22 Responses to “NUFC season review: From Everest to the Marianas Trench.”

  1. 1
    avatar Porciestreet says:

    What a good post Thump. An interesting read and some very good points.

  2. 2
    avatar Beardsleys Boots says:

    If Judas had not gone to L’poo it wouldn’t have made 1 jot of difference to our season, as he has been crocked ever since barring a couple games.
    Its time to move on, and if we can replace him with someone as good if not better, then that should be an end to it.
    At the end of the day he was an unproved premier lge striker that had a great start to the season and got injured. He may never get back to that peek again, and it might turn out to be the best piece of business NUFC ever did. Ha! yeah right.

    If he hadn’t of been a local lad maybe it wouldn’t have hurt us so much. But I cant accept that he was forced to leave. The final decision was his to make. Feck him.

    The big question is tho, can/will we replace him with someone better. The jury’s out and the clock is ticking.
    Personally I cant see fat cash sanctioning a big money move for a quality striker. Hope I’m wrong.

  3. 3

    Great review Thump.

    Funny you should mention Haris Vuckic. I was thinking about him yesterday and that it would be nice if we got to see a bit more of him on the pitch next season.

  4. 4

    BB, I still don’t know whether AC was forced to leave or not. I don’t doubt that Ashley (and AC’s agent) would be capable of exerting pressure on the lad if he wanted to, but in the end it still needs his signature.

    So I dunno.

  5. 5
    avatar Beardsleys Boots says:

    Vukic is younger than Ferguson, his time will come :D

    Then cashley can sell him for vast sums of money :evil:

  6. 6
    avatar Beardsleys Boots says:

    So Shola is also starting his last year under contract, does anyone think he will be given a new one anytime soon?
    Bearing in mind he is 30 this year, I just cant see it.

  7. 7
    avatar Indian Magpie says:

    Vuckic 19, gosling 20, fergie 20, krul 23, could be good times ahead, if only Ashley did not have his brain cells dead

  8. 8
    avatar Beardsleys Boots says:

    what does that mean?

  9. 9
    avatar Thump says:

    Think he’s saying he’ll sell him BB.

    I reckon Shola will hang around if only because he’ll want to stick about. Not sure how I’d feel about him being released if I’m honest.

    As for Carroll, you’re bang on mate. I don’t think he was forced out and I’m still a bit curious to know if those texts even existed – Steve Wraith is a shameless self promoter. The other day on Twitter he started a tweet that made it’s rounds saying that Joey Barton would be on his radio show and to prepare ourselves for some “interesting soundbites”. I tuned in a 6pm as stated and there wasn’t a mention of Joey or even the possibility of him being there. For an hour I listened to the most boring bas*ards in Newcastle rant about something and then Mr. Wraith decided to end his last show on a high by mentioning the band he manages and how we should all buy their new single because “itz airnly a pund!”.

    I stand by the AC transfer being as simple as “more money, you won’t match it, here’s my transfer request”. To be honest, I’d be happier if Ashley sold him off his own back but like I said up there, it was the underhanded way he did it.

    How’s that for ‘passion’, eh?

  10. 10
    avatar AndyMac says:

    “There’s rumours of Enrique being sold and Barton not being offered a contract but no player is bigger than the club”

    I’m wondering what planet you live on when you write this stuff ?

    How in the name of god can you say that no player is bigger than the club and accept that players of the ability and undoubted quality of Enrique and Barton should move on so we “cut our losses and keep on going” ?

    Its fans like you who allow this great club to be phucked royally by every single owner we’ve had in the past thirty years because you’re prepared to accept mediocrity. Presumably you drive a Nissan and shop at Netto ?

    FFS grow a set of balls and write an article that tells it how it really is or just dont bother.

  11. 11
    avatar chuck says:

    Good article Thump

    Agree with most,
    Carroll, get over it, actually for thirty five big ones i wouldda sold him in a NY second !

    Hughton, big mistake, had it been Gus Hiddink, or someone of substance i couldda under stood !

    And yes, we gave a whole new meaning to the word inconsistent.

    HBA & Tiote, we will see !
    How will HBA come back remains a question ?
    Tiote
    The guy needs coaching, when he learns the more subtle
    forms of defense and ball winning,not to mention his passing game where he has to look for the open runner, in order to immediately go on the offensive.

    Disagree on Williamson, spends too much time on his ass
    and tends to ball watch, plus his distribution is awful.

    Who we gonna get ?
    Well Ba is a free agent and we know how Ashley loves freebies, guess he would be a decent buy.
    Gervinho? No way !
    Gamiero ? doubt it!
    Sow? would`nt mind!
    Menez? Decent world cup, take him!
    But we need support across the back line,
    Bassong? for four or fife million, take him!
    Izaguirre ? if Enrique goes, the ideal replacement!
    Upson ? age against him, but for a low fee, a good two years left, you got back up!

  12. 12
    avatar workyticket says:

    This piece turned out very well in the end Thump, very nicely written, though I don’t agree with all the points.

    For instance, I don’t think that we were inconsistent for as long as you suggest when we were beaten by Blackpool. We had only played four games in the Premier League after winning the Championship with 102 points and only four defeats in the whole 46 game season, even runners up, West Brom had seven. Anyway, I’ve made this point several times before, but even under a great manager, it is perfectly normal for a team to be inconsistent when they have just come back from being relegated, their squad has been ripped apart and then rebuilt etc etc. Even Alex Ferguson had that problem in his early years of rebuilding Manchester United (who weren’t even relegated), and yet we expected better from someone who had only in his second year of management, and his first in the Premier League, which is absurd and somewhat typical of Geordie overexpectation if I may say so. It’s the same kind of thinking that has created the Tyneside managerial merry go round which makes us such a laughing stock.

    As for your points about Andy Carroll, I’m not sure that any of us is quite 100% certain what exactly went on there from all perspectives.

    But a really great ‘blog nonetheless. Well done!

  13. 13
    avatar Axel says:

    I also think it’s a good article Thump
    I think in the end the Carroll transfer was just too good a fee too turn down and the sacking of Hughton was down to Ashley’s lack of faith in him to take the club forward . When you look at his transfer dealings they could be right but we will never know , one thing is for sure he did a brilliant job in the time he was here and no other club would have sacked him at that time . If my thinking is right and they sacked him because they had no faith in his transfer dealings that could be a good sign , maybe they don’t just want to tread water and avoid relegation on a shoestring budget but do actually want to invest and kick on .

  14. 14
    avatar workyticket says:

    Axel says:
    May 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    “and the sacking of Hughton was down to Ashley’s lack of faith in him to take the club forward .”

    Axel, If that was the case, I don’t understand why Pardew would be the solution, as he has a history of taking Premiership clubs backwards. West Ham were sensible enough to get a good manager in JUST before it was too late, but Charlton are still languishing where Pardew left them, in League One.

  15. 15
    avatar Thump says:

    How in the name of god can you say that no player is bigger than the club and accept that players of the ability and undoubted quality of Enrique and Barton should move on so we “cut our losses and keep on going” ?

    So what do you suggest, then? Hold the player at gun point until they decide that maybe it is worth staying at the club after all?

    Yes they will be missed but sometimes players decide to look for new horizons and there’s sweet FA we can do about that.

    Enrique: “I’ll sign when we’re safe”

    He hasn’t. Doesn’t that give you the hint that he simply does not want to be here? He’s mentioned how much he loves the club and how much he loves the city and the fans, so why hasn’t he signed on the dotted line? He’s also mentioned his international aspirations and it’s entirely likely that he doesn’t feel he can achieve them whilst he’s at Newcastle United and as a result wants to move on for the benefit of his career.

    Barton: “I want a 3 year deal”

    He was offered a 2 year deal with a 1 year extension and turned it down. Another player who owes us a hell of a lot and yet is refusing what would be a decent length contract (given his age). The complications arising with Joey is entirely based on his agent, McKay – he’s looking for a paycheck and that’s about it.

    I don’t want them to leave any more than you do but if they aren’t playing for the badge, there’s somebody else who will be more than happy to do so.

    As for me not “telling it how it is” – oh yes I am. I’m sorry that it doesn’t follow your opinion and I’m terribly sorry that I like to look on the brighter side of life. Take relegation. As furious as I was when we went down, after I’d had time to settle down I stopped and thought “hang on, this could be just the chance we need” and I stand by that. Sometimes you have to move backwards to move forwards.

    For now though, just keep taking your anti-depressants and seeing your counsellor.

    @Worky: http://nufc.com/2010-11html/fixtures.html

    Results speak for themselves. I’m certain it’s more to do with depth than ability. It was 3 games in 2 weeks at one point and that really does take it out of you.

    Still not entirely happy with the article tbh mate but that’s probably considering the length of time it took me to write the bugger :D

  16. 16
    avatar Axel says:

    worky cant argue about the Charlton argument but at West Ham he did get caught up in a takeover and the new people signed players that he himself did not know about or maybe even wanted . Tevez & Mascherano good players but maybe that upset team morale being them being thrust into the squad on the whim of a new owner .

  17. 17
    avatar AndyMac says:

    “If my thinking is right and they sacked him because they had no faith in his transfer dealings that could be a good sign , maybe they don’t just want to tread water and avoid relegation on a shoestring budget but do actually want to invest and kick on”

    Unbelievable that anybody still believes that Fatman wants to “invest and kick on”.

    ALL THAT THE FATMAN NEEDS IS HIS MONEY BACK AND HE’LL PHUCK OFF. HE HAS NO UNDERSTANDING OF THIS BUSINESS SECTOR – HE JUST WANTS OUT WITH HIS TROUSERS AROUND HIS WAISTBAND AS OPPOSED TO AROUND HIS KNEES !!!

  18. 18
    avatar AndyMac says:

    “For now though, just keep taking your anti-depressants and seeing your counsellor”

    I dont take drugs of any form, I’m a realist Thumpie.

    Wheraes you clearly have your head up your arse.

  19. 19
    avatar workyticket says:

    Axel says:
    May 28, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    “but at West Ham he did get caught up in a takeover and the new people signed players that he himself did not know about or maybe even wanted . Tevez & Mascherano good players but maybe that upset team morale being them being thrust into the squad on the whim of a new owner .”

    As they did with Curbishley, Axel. He stuck Tevez and Mascherano on the pitch transformed the team practically overnight and West Ham were saved in a few games, then they did very respectably in the next season despite even more interference from the board which eventually led to Curbishley’s exit. Incidentally, it was Curbishley who kept Charlton in the Premiership for god knows how long before Pardew comprehensively knacked ‘em in two seasons.

    ps I like Curbishley, can you tell? :-)

  20. 20
    avatar Axel says:

    AndyMac if you read again there is if’s and maybe’s in my comments i am not saying it definatly is so . Just i am rather an optimist than a pessimist .

  21. 21
    avatar Beardsleys Boots says:

    sorry to have to disagree with you Andymac, but I dont think all cashley wants is his money back and then he’ll phuck off.
    He’s made a profit every transfer window, why would he want to stop now?
    No, he is on a mission to prove that HIS way is the right way. He has set his stall out with his 5 year plan to win something and get this club back into europe.
    The club will be worth a hell of a lot more then. He might be a dunbass, but he’s no fool when it comes to money.
    I wonder how you will feel about him then? (IF he makes it?)

  22. 22
    avatar AndyMac says:

    BB says:

    “He has set his stall out with his 5 year plan to win something and get this club back into europe”

    Which 5 year plan are we talking about BB ? Think this may be version 3 ?

    PS Dont apologise for disagreeing BB we are all put on this earth for a reason. Mine is to get Fatman out of my club sooner rather than later :)

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