This week is just screaming by. Today's links are a little light as I've got to get on the road early again... if anyone has a great story that runs across their screen, feel free to add it below. It'll be a little audience participation, perhaps.
On a little note of follow-up from the NUWFC / Virgin Money story, Virgin Money have offered: 3 spots in the Virgin London Marathon (for the club to register runners to get sponsored as a fund-raiser), a signed NUFC jersey and a pair of tickets to NUFC for the club to auction off to raise funds. It is a nice gesture, as they're certainly under no obligation to help at all... but it's a little saddening that their attitude is still one of "go help yourselves!" Something truly is better than nothing, though.
Since revealing his fondness for the sweet drink, the club has received regular requests from supporters looking to get their hands on Demba’s not-so-secret ingredient. The club finally tracked down a limited amount of the fruity syrup, and after having the bottles sent over from the South of France, it is now on sale at the Club Store and in Shearer's Bar. Demba, who has 16 goals so far this season, said: "I love this stuff and I will definitely be buying a few bottles for myself now that I can get it in Newcastle. "I normally ask my family to bring some over with them whenever they visit, because I drink it every single day."
... I really don't have anything.
Newcastle United and Sunderland have been fined £40,000 and £20,000 respectively after both clubs admitted a charge of failing to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and/or refrained from provocative behaviour.
So let me get this straight... you can send one of your players out with the express purpose to dangerously tackle one of your opponent's key players within the first 30 seconds of the match and continue with the negative tactics until it flares up 20 minutes later, and still get off with half the penalty of your opponent?
SAMMY AMEOBI is confident that he can help play a part in Newcastle United's European push. The Geordie teenager saw his season harshly interrupted after picking up a knee injury in the reserves against Wigan Athletic back in January, at a time when he was knocking on the door for first-team contention under Alan Pardew. The Toon Army favourite – who burst on to the scene at the end of last season – is now closing in on a return in the last nine games and could be back in a black-and-white shirt next month.
Best had been effectively written off for the season after suffering a serious knee ligament injury in early February, but his return is ahead of schedule and he expects to return to light training in a week. That will put him in contention for a packed Easter programme which may prove critical to the club’s hopes of booking a return to Continental competition. It would also provide an attacking boost to Alan Pardew, who has established Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse as his first-choice partnership but is light on alternative options, after Peter Lovenkrands was ruled out for the rest of the campaign. If Best can impress in those final weeks, he reckons that a place in Ireland’s Euro 2012 plans is still a possibility.
Add Leon Best to Sylvain Marveaux as long-term absentees who hope to be healthy and involved before the end of the season. I surely don't want to rush any of these players back, but it's going to be a tremendous positive if we have all three of these guys available for the fixtures around Easter.
WILLE DONACHIE has urged troubled striker Nile Ranger to "grow up" - before his Newcastle United career passes him by. The Londoner made his comeback from a foot injury for Newcastle Reserves in front of a crowd of just 400 fans last night and set up two goals in a 4-2 defeat against Chelsea. Watched by Alan Pardew and managing director Derek Llambias the Toon rebel showed flashes of skill in the FA Premier Reserve League – a stage he’d already excelled on three years ago before being elevated to first-team level, until his wild lifestyle started to affect his fledgling career.
It sounds as though the club are not yet closing the book on Nile Ranger despite his refusal to stay out of trouble with the law. I understand that his most recent arrest was based on something that, devoid of influence of his other circumstances from the last couple of years, is trivial at best... but something that he had to sit and actively think about before violating the terms of his bail. I don't think that you can make the case that there is hope he'll get it straightened out, or if he does that he'll even get close to realizing his potential. I guess that they see him every day, though...