Archive for category: Europa League.

Why Ashley leaving Toon for the Champions League with Rangers is nonsense

January 27th, 2015 | 32 Comments |

Mike Ashley boxing
Mike Ashley: A heavyweight who’s always up for a fight
With Mike Ashley’s recent attempts to take over at Rangers, and specifically his problems with the Scottish FA for having an interest in both clubs, it has often been said recently that Mike Ashley would be willing to leave Newcastle United so he can take over Rangers completely. There have been several hypotheses put forward for why he might do this

Champions League exposure for Sports Direct?

One which makes no sense at all is that Ashley would be willing to sacrifice Newcastle United and the English Premier League to expose his cheap sports goods in that great league of leagues, the Champions League. This would be once Rangers get through the small formalities of getting promoted back to the Scottish Premiership and then beating Celtic to win the Scottish Premiership title. This one is a complete non-starter though as there are two crucial things the proponents of this hypothesis have overlooked.

1. As both Newcastle United and Rangers fans should know from previous European competition, Rangers or any other side are only allowed to display advertising for their shirt sponsors and kit sponsors. There could be no pitch side hoardings or anything else emblazoned with cheap Ashley brands like Sports Direct, Firetrap and all the rest. Only UEFA sponsorship partners are allowed to advertise in both the Europa and Champions League competitions. (more…)


Pardew pooh-poohs Gutierrez’s talk of lazy training sessions

August 5th, 2013 | 39 Comments |

Alan Pardew shrugging.
Pardew: Sticking with his old excuses.
After Jonas Gutierrez publically criticised Newcastle United’s lack of intensity in their training sessions last season, Alan Pardew went away for a while, had a think, and has decided that both his staff and himself “need to be honest about it” and admit that mistakes were made.

He then goes on to suggest that Gutierrez saying training sessions are “a bit too easy” was a little misleading at least by once again pointing the finger of blame at the stresses of playing in the Europa League, injuries and a lack of quality players.

“You’ve got to be open and honest about it as a staff,” the Silver Supremo began, continuing:

“My staff – my immediate staff and myself as manager – need to be honest about it, mistakes were made. You need to be honest enough to admit them and look at when and why they were made.”

Pardew then went on to discount Gutierrez’s critique, falling back on his old chestnuts: (more…)


Pardew: Mike can’t afford to save us from another relegation

August 3rd, 2013 | 33 Comments |

Alan Pardew fist pumping.
Pardew – Fist pumping his way back to the top ten?
Speaking exclusively to Sports Direct News, Alan Pardew saluted Mike Ashley’s “bravery” in saving Newcastle United from the Championship, but also suggested that he may not be able to do it a second time should the club be relegated again.

He also revealed that without the handicap of European football in the coming season, though his first aim will be to avoid relegation, he will be ambitious and go for a top ten finish or possibly even higher. Though how he could aim higher than the top ten, he didn’t explain.

“I think realistically we should look to finish in the top ten and hopefully get ourselves in a position where we can attack higher than that” said the Silver Supremo, adding:

“When it gets to February we’ll have a clearer indication of where we’re going to be.”

Pardew then spoke of how it is relief from the pressures of European football, along with good players which has enabled him to aim so high after last season’s disappointing 16th: (more…)


Mike Williamson the star of Newcastle United’s “team of the season”

June 1st, 2013 | 130 Comments |

Model Newcastle United players.
Who made it? And who didn’t?
Below you can see two Newcastle United “teams of the season,” which I have assembled based on player statistics from whoscored.com, OPTA and transfermarkt.co.uk.

The first (and most important) is based on performances in the Premier League, with the second based on performances in the Europa League. The figures below the player’s names are their ratings from whoscored.com, which are based on a range of performance metrics based on OPTA stats. To put these into some kind of perspective, whoscored’s most highly rated Premier League goalkeeper last season was Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet with an average of 7.0. In defence it was Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen with 7.6 and in midfield the honours were shared between Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla and Tottenham’s Gareth Bale, both with 7.9. Finally, up front, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez narrowly pipped Manchester United’s Robin van Persie (7.8) with his 7.9 rating.

Getting back to Newcastle United though, although the goalkeepers, defenders and strikers were pretty straightforward overall, things became more complicated when it came to midfielders who had been played in several different positions during the season, gaining different ratings in different positions. However, after some work, I have finally managed to sort it out. (more…)


Pardew’s tired excuses don’t make sense, and here’s why…

April 24th, 2013 | 78 Comments |

Alan Pardew.
Pardew: Blaming extra games for failure.
“This was our 50th game today, which goes a little bit unnoticed. With all the travelling involved as well, that’s tough. Clubs will look at us and the impact it can have, because it’s not only the extra games but the injuries we’ve had on the back of that. There’s no doubt that our league position would be greater. We’ve had to pay a heavy penalty on the Sundays, not just for Sunderland but for previous games. Swansea are going to find that next year – it’s difficult, unless you really increase the size of your squad.” – Johnstone’s Paint trophy winner Alan Pardew after Newcastle United’s game with West Bromwich Albion.

“I know one year that Barcelona played with 19 first-team players, as well as a few younger players, and they played every three days. It is possible.” – Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, winner of 15 major trophies as a player and 5 as a manager on Swansea’s entry into European competition next season.

“We have a short squad, but it is my decision that the squad is short because I want a squad of 20 players, no more, with the risks a short squad has, but also with the good things a short squad has. The good things are that the side is competitive, everybody feels part of it. So I hope I don’t read again “Mourinho wants more players,” because I don’t want more players. I’m happy with the short squad I have, with the good things and the bad things.” – Jose Mourinho, winner of 20 major trophies as a manager and whose Real Madrid team played 58 games last season. (more…)






S.L. Benfica – A complete guide for Geordies (part two)

April 2nd, 2013 | 45 Comments |

Estadio da Luz (Stadium of Light) - Lisbon.
The real Stadium of Light.
With the Newcastle United being drawn against footballing aristocrats Benfica for their Europa League quarter final on Thursday, here is part two of my guide to Benfica.

In part one, I took a look at some aspects of Benfica’s history, including it’s links to Newcastle United and the North East in general. In this one, I will looking at things like the club’s current form, it’s coach Jorge Jesus, tactics, some of Benfica’s key players and that sort of thing.

Benfica and Newcastle United have never played each other competitively, so we can get that one out of the way pretty sharpish and take a look at their current form.

Current Form.

Benfica’s form in the Portuguese League is pretty predictable. If they’re doing well they’re top of the League, and if they’re doing not so well they are second, usually behind their fierce rivals, FC Porto. Their other great rivals in the Portuguese “Três Grandes” (Big three) are fellow Lisbon side Sporting Clube de Portugal, but they seem to be in a bit of a pickle at the moment, currently languishing in eighth in a sixteen team league. (more…)