We're inching close and closer to the new season with Newcastle's first pre-season match exactly one week from today. I think I can safely speak for all of us when I say it can't come soon enough.
It's a tiny step backwards today so far as number of links, and predictably precious little information on the major transfer fronts, but there is the signing of Gael Bigirimana from Coventry to be excited about- he's "one for the future" as they say, but is a former Football League Apprentice Of The Year and is highly regarded.
Also, if your world feels just a tiny bit more at ease than it has in the last several months, I think I can explain that... after the jump.
On Things Being Set Right (At Least Temporarily)
TRADITION returned to Tyneside as St James’ Park was re-installed as the name of Newcastle United’s home ground. Workmen used cranes to drape huge sheeting over the Sports Direct Arena advertisements as the site gears up for Olympic football this summer.
That "rightness" that you may be feeling today is certainly tied to the official return of the name St. James' Park, if only for the Olympics. I'm glad that they have gone to some lengths to make sure that the covering of the "sponsorship" boards on the outside of the stadium look nice... they do look like fairly high thread count bedsheets that they're installing.
Speaking of stadium naming rights, The Roker Report is discussing the relative merits or lack thereof at their little place over there:
You have to wonder if Ashley's plan to rename St. James' as an exercise to generate interest from other investors to have their own name attached to the stadium has now backfired given the fact that no-one refers to the ground as anything other than St. James Park. Hardly an attractive proposition for potential investors as it has now been proven a new name wont stick and this won't have gone un-noticed by investors that previously may have been in the market to splash the cash to name other stadia.
We've had the stadium naming thing out over here (granted it was a forced discussion...) but I have also cherry-picked this comment because it comes down decidedly on my side of the fence of opinion.
Also- let us not fool ourselves here. I seriously doubt there will be anywhere near the kind of reaction if they sell rights (who'd by them, then?) to that stolen-named stadium with the culturally ingrained history of all of 15 years? Let us not compare these two situations too closely... maybe if the scum still called Roker Park home then we could draw some similarities... but that ship has sailed.
And Now... The Rest Of The News
A UEFA spokesman said: "In principle, UEFA is not in a position to change the requested fixture from Thursday to Wednesday or Tuesday. "However, after the draw ceremony for the play-offs, if the opponent agrees to re-schedule the match date to the Tuesday, August 21, the UEFA Administration will be open to consider the request. "Written approval is required from the opponent club as well as the respective national associations of both teams. "Please note that should Newcastle United FC be drawn to play the match on August 23, and the opponent does not agree to change the match date, the match will be maintained as such."
Predictably, the Chicken Little panic about the early season fixture congestion may have been just a tad premature. Perhaps ultimately not unnecessary, but premature for sure. It'll be something to keep an eye on when the draw is made on August 10th (Live thread anybody?).
However, former Newcastle defender Andy Thorn – now boss at Coventry – does not want to lose the player. He said: "Gael’s a good talent, but he’s still got a heck of a lot to learn and I would be really disappointed if he left. "I was a young lad when I went to Newcastle. They are a massive club and if you aren’t careful it eats you up if you go too soon, so you have to be very careful."
I found this quote to be somewhat interesting. I know that Coventry were not keen to see Bigirimana move on, and so that surely is part of what is behind such a comment, as is the Newcastle Reserves Massacre of 2012. He did move from Wimbledon to Newcastle United in the late 80's and was unable to secure a consistent spot in the starting XI, so maybe that's in there as well. Hard to say.
Also, passing up on Hoilett... fine. No bother here.
The Burundi-born 18-year-old midfielder has signed a five-year deal for an undisclosed fee, which it is understood could amount to around £1million. Bigirimana's move was confirmed by the Magpies this afternoon, and follows the arrival of French midfielder Romain Amalfitano. He is expected to go straight into the club's development squad, although the demands of the new Barclays Premier League season and a Europa League campaign mean Pardew may well have to dip deep into his resources.
So we've got two in at an expenditure of £500,000 and two out at an intake of £3.5m ... let's add some of that money and get de Jong in here.