Good morning, fellow rank-and-file members of the Toon Army! Apologies for my enforced absence over the New Year holiday, but I'm back in the saddle again and Mehdi To Rumble. (Remember a couple of weeks ago when that was a cute little headline and Abeid was knocking on the door to get into the squad?) So where to start but with a quick whirl around the stories on Tyneside. As always, I'll kind of think out loud as I drop the stories in. Howay We Go, then.
Cabaye, however, is upbeat, believing the disappointment of Anfield will fire them against Man United, who themselves are smarting from a defeat to Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford. "We have to use our disappointment." the midfielder said "We’ll be at home, and we have to play with our hearts, and for the fans, to win the game. I think we have the possibility to win the game, and we have to be focused."
If we're being honest, I'd just as soon not have to play this game now. SAF is going to be piiiiiiiiiiisssssseed, and not the kind of piiiiiiiisssssseeed that I may or may not have the last two nights. Had ManU done the business v. Blackburn, I'd feel .001% better about this match, but instead we have a Newcastle side licking their wounds from a two-goal defeat at Anfield and the Devils coming in pissed from an embarrassing loss to a bad club. The match will come regardless... so here's hoping.
Reflecting on Vuckic’s performance, Pardew told the Chronicle: "I thought Haris grew into the game. "You’d expect that. It is at Anfield, and Liverpool have some great players, but we went toe-to-toe with them. "Hatem was always going to be first choice to come on, but the game had perhaps gone away by then."
I didn't get to see the second half of the Liverpool match, so I am basing my reaction to Haris' Excellent Adventure on what I saw... ehm... didn't see... in the first half. If my critique of a HBA/Ba partnership is that they don't seem to be on the same page and are unable to anticipate where the other is going to be or wants to go, then Haris was just plain in another book. Mr. Vuckic has shown loads of potential and ability... just not at Liverpool. Experiment: Failed.
The Dutchman is already being talked of as a potential target for the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal, but is adamant he will not be leaving St James' Park during the current transfer window. And while 2011 could hardly have gone better for the 23-year-old, he is not about to start taking anything for granted. "I'm playing now, week in, week out, and that's great," said Krul, who will be back between the sticks when Newcastle entertain Manchester United in their opening game of 2012 on Wednesday. "But I won't be resting on my laurels and the manager, quite rightly, will always be reminding me of that.
Tim goes on to say that he's got Harps and Elliott directly on his heels for the starting spot. Harps I believe as he's shown his quality and class several times over. If there is anyone that believes that Rob Elliott is even within binocular shot of Tim Krul's class, make your argument below. I'm listening.
SAMMY AMEOBI will come into contention for a right-wing slot against Manchester United.
Unfortunately, there is a sect within the Toon Army that is meeting this news with a round of drinks and a hearty toast in celebration. I'm as frustrated as the next guy at Gaby's frequent move-killing balls to nowhere, but I think that he's been better than he's given credit for. Not AP Rose-Colored-Glasses good, mind, but good enough to start. I like Sammy, and he works hard and is active... but when he has played in place of Gaby, it feels kind of like a stage set to me. It looks great when you're standing back from it and just perceiving on a surface level, but when you investigate fully front-to-back... parts of it just feel hollow. Again, Sammy's very young and is impressing a lot of people... but for me Gaby still brings a bit more to the table. Good luck, Sammy... prove me wrong, lad! (I hope you can make Patrice Evra look every bit as silly as Gaby did at Old Trafford.)
United could prove to be victims of their own success, and Mike Ashley could ask why investment is needed when the club already looks good for a top-10 finish. That would represent progress, as Newcastle finished 12th last season. If a better finish, and a better balance sheet, is enough to satisfy Ashley, then why spend in a transfer window that’s notoriously difficult to operate in, especially given that the financial rewards of Europa League football aren’t as attractive as those on offer in the Champions League? The days of speculating to accumulate are gone at St James’s Park, with the pitfalls of that policy evident here and elsewhere. But one, or even two, extra players could make all the difference.
Aaaaannd so we return to the familiar narrative of the Mike Ashley regime. Will he spend the money? (Don't forget there are just over £20m laying around from the jettisoning of players to the team that throttled us on Friday.) Every shred of evidence in the world suggests that he won't. Realistically, Hamilton Berger wouldn't even take the case to try to convince a jury that Ashley will spend. (Yes. Yes I did just make a Perry Mason reference. I'm feelin' the flow.)
WHAT does 2012 hold for Newcastle United? As ever there are both hopes and fears in Toon-land. The addition of new blood and seeing the black-and-whites solidify their place in the top eight of the Premier League? A run in the FA Cup with a manager in Alan Pardew who finally takes the competition seriously unlike those who came before him? Or the sale of star names like Cheick Tiote and Tim Krul and a gruesome slide down the table after a promising start from Alan Pardew’s men?
And now we've acknowledged in print the 100% accurate and shared feelings of the Toon Army. Can it be February yet?
I know Newcastle expect me to be out for the rest of the season, but I am hoping to be back for the penultimate match of the season against Manchester City in May," Taylor told the Sunday People.
And in conclusion, one more victory from the Department Of Sensational Headline To Drive Page Clicks Department, TAYLOR EYES SHOCK RETURN. . . two games ahead of schedule. (insert dismissive sound here)
SO, Toon fans. Let's get at it. 2011 was eh... then great... then AMAZING... then fizzled out a bit. 2012 will be different, right? (It's got to. I mean... when the world ends in December, it'll be mid-season, and mid-season honors don't count in the record book.... so this is our last chance! DID YOU HEAR THAT MIKE ASHLEY? SPEND NOW, BROTHER! YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU!)