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Newcastle United Sunday Links: Sports Direct Arena, Mike Ashley, Leon Best and Graham Carr Feature

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Rounding into Manchester City week- a short run of links... perhaps short on quantity but not on quality so far as reads are concerned.  I'll be glad to have a match to focus on and put the early international break silliness behind us.  Ultimately, it has been much ado about nothing... but I've got some thoughts on the entire situation (top-to-bottom) that I'll share separately, but suffice it to say, the players are the only ones that seem to have it completely right.  Hopefully this bodes well for THUNDERDOME™ next Saturday.

Links include:  Graham Carr, Mike Ashley, Leon Best, Steve Harper and also Liverpool and Manchester United making themselves look better at our expense.  Jump!  It's worth it!

Stadium Silliness

Sam Parker: St James' Park - Why Newcastle Fans Renamed Mike Ashley Years Ago

But as Joey Barton pointed out on Twitter this week, all it really proves is that Mike Ashley knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. St James' Park sits at the top of Newcastle like a colossus. I can see it from my window as I type. To a football-mad region, it is reassuring presence - a 52,409 seat monument that stands strong in the whirlwind of madness and mismanagement that has engulfed the club for decades.

(emphasis mine- OSotP)

Even if you're tired of reading and/or thinking about this whole silliness, I think that this is worth your time.  Mr. Parker has done perhaps the best job I've seen of being a Geordie and supporter of the club yet tempering it with rationality.  

Newcastle stadium will revert to its legendary name St James' Park for Olympic games - Football News - Football - Sport -

“Yes, Newcastle got big money for Andy Carroll but it hasn’t gone in Mike’s back pocket,” he said. “The club has ploughed millions into the academy and training ground. Last winter the players could not train outside because of the snow but that won’t happen this time. “He does not expect the fans to like him but he would like them to appreciate what he has tried to do.

A source close to Mike Ashley talks.  A lot of my reaction to this will make up part of my piece for later, so I'm just going to drop this here and walk away.  Do with it what you will.

We won't sell our heritage, insist Liverpool and Manchester United: Nick Harris | Mail Online

Ian Ayre, Liverpool’s managing director, said: ‘We have no intention of exploring naming rights for Anfield. It has been a name deeply ingrained in our ground and our club for more than 100 years and I can’t imagine any Liverpool fan calling the current stadium anything else.

Predictably, Liverpool have used this opportunity to make us look silly and make themselves look better.  Meh.

Leon Best

RTÉ Sport: Best to miss second leg with Estonia

One has to think that it will affect your international chances poorly if you make a stink about why you're not getting called into the setup, then once you do, you end up pulling out of both legs of a major competition playoff.  I'm not faulting Leon's choices, but I don't think you'll see Trapattoni calling Leon back in at this point.

Leon Best: All my mates are in prison | The Sun |Sport|Football

"Me personally, I was caught up in a few little mix-ups myself. I can see how easy it is for people to get dragged in. It's such a thin line but even though it's very hard, you have to make your own decisions. "I had teachers shouting in my face saying that I wouldn't do anything with my life, how I would end up in prison. "From then I knew what I wanted to achieve and even to this day, when I see them they say they are happy for me now. It shows you can get good from bad. I still have friends in prison who I write to. Everything you ever hear from them is how they wish they could change things, how they wouldn't have done what they did. 

This is actually an older piece-- I have no idea how I missed it.  If you missed it too, I recommend that you take some time to read it.  A nice, substantial human interest piece about Leon here.

The Team and Staff

Newcastle United goalkeeper Steve Harper to extend loan spell at Brighton and Hove Albion - Black & White - Jarrow and Hebburn Gazette

This can hardly be a shock, and I'd frankly be surprised if the loan doesn't end up extended the end of the season.  The die is already cast, it seems, with the choice of Rob Elliott as de facto Cup 'Keeper (forgive us)... so I don't see Steve wanting to come back when he's getting games.

Magpie's first XI: The Tyne's not a-changing - Premier League - Football - The Independent

It was one of the late Bill Shankly's standard lines to reporters: "Same team as last season, boys." In the summer of 1966, he had a point: Liverpool had just become champions by using only 14 players, two of whom were reserve strikers who appeared only four times between them. In other words, the title was effectively won by 12 men.

This one is an interesting link on the evolution of squad selection.  Our starting lineup has been remarkably stable which is part of an older-school philosophy while despite that stability, we have used 24 players total when considering sub appearances.  Interesting.

The Big Interview: Chief scout Graham Carr explains Toon revival - Football News - Football - Sport -

Graham Carr speaks on his role within the club.

Hopefully the lads are hunkering down, ignoring all the silliness and getting prepared for THUNDERDOME™-- The match will come one way or the other.  HTL!