If you woke up and were still pumped up and perhaps did a little celebration dance once your feet hit the floor, you're probably feeling a lot like I am today. I know that we've got to turn our attention to Blackburn on the weekend, but I'm going to live this victory juuuuust a little bit longer. Predictably (at least judging by some of the English folks I follow on the twitters(, the story line is what Manchester United did to lose, not what we did to win... but anyone with eyes could see that on the day we had superior tactics and superior desire. That said, today's links post is massive, so I'll go ahead and get on with it.
Wrapping the Manchester United match:
HERE is a look at today's Evening Chronicle - available in all good shops and newsagents now.
I really wanted to just leave the links post at this, as it is the most excellent thing I think I have ever seen. Ok... maybe not ever, but it is quite excellent. If you click nothing else, click this one and scroll down until you see the image.
Taylor was unlucky with a first-half free-kick that dipped just over, but after watching Yohan Cabaye fire home the decisive second goal of the night, he had no complaints. "I said to him, I’ll have the first one and he can have the second," he said. "His free-kick was outstanding and I have to take my hat off to him."
I think that it is really easy to overlook the fact that when all of the preferred starting XI are available, we have at least 3 players (4 if you count Davide Santon, whom I believe probably has free kicks in his kit bag...) who can hit world-class free kicks. Simply amazing.
The manager said: "His biggest asset is his personality. He's a winner. "Whatever role I have given him, he has tried to do that to the best of his ability - he has played in two or three roles for me. "His all-round play has been excellent and tonight, he was a leader for the team and put in a performance to match that. "When you compare him to other players, it's difficult because really, he hasn't had that long a time here in the Premier League. "But this year, you would have to put him in the top four or five, for sure." Ba's first-time strike as he ran on to Shola Ameobi's flick-on handed the home side a half-time lead which they doubled within two minutes of the restart through Yohan Cabaye's stunning free-kick.
Let us just first establish that there are some times that Demba has conspicuously disappeared this year... and also realize that it is probably less than 3% of the total playing time this has happened. Once we establish that, we can fawn over Demba all we want as he has just been massive. At some point I may dig out some of my very early season/pre-season comments on the lad and see how they've worked out for me because I'll tell you I was flat wrong.
Pardew was said to be distinctly unimpressed after the closest player Newcastle possess to Rooney came out with what grateful reporters regard as a "killer quote" in newspaper interviews on Wednesday. "Maybe me and the gaffer don't share quite the same philosophy," said Ben Arfa, in the course of a far from accurate complaint that Newcastle's manager plays direct football. Goodness knows what he would say were he ever to find himself working for Sam Allardyce.
This quote doesn't fully reflect the flavor of this piece, so you should go check it out because it is a really interesting read from Louise Taylor, but it is the quote that "grabs the eye" and I think that Louise does a nice job of gently calling shenanigans. Do go read the rest of the piece though, it deals more with SAF and AP and their relationship or lack thereof than HBA's relationship with AP.
ALAN PARDEW says that he could not have asked more from departing duo Cheick Tiote and Demba Ba after their terrific displays against Manchester United. But the Toon boss has now thrown the gauntlet down to his back-up players to do a job in their absence. Ivory Coast star Tiote played like his life depended on it in arguably his best showing of the season, while Ba weighed in with another wonder strike to take his tally to 15 this season.
Honestly, Cheik and Demba really shone yesterday. Part of it was the dead-right tactics that we employed by going right at the center of Manchester United's formation, but let's be honest... neither put a foot wrong all match long. Demba's goal was just dripping with predatory instinct and class. The Devil defense struggled with him all day long. On the flip side, Cheik Tiote was back to his match-controlling best. Overall, every man on the pitch performed as close to their best as is likely possible... and it was AWESOME.
Demba and Cheik are going away :(
Best, who scored six goals in 11 games following Carroll’s move to Liverpool last January, was a substitute against the Premier League champions but could return to frontline duties when Newcastle host Blackburn in the FA Cup on Saturday. The former Southampton and Coventry City player believes that he just needs Lady Luck to smile on him as he attempts to get back among the goals. "When I’m not scoring I just try to contribute, work hard and create chances and I’m doing that. If I’m not hitting the back of the net then I’m getting chances for Demba and other people to take," the 25-year-old Republic of Ireland international added. "That’s part and parcel of football and part of my game. I try to help others. You always want to score but it’s not always about that. Demba and other people are scoring at the minute and my time will come again.
I had forgotten that Leon's form was quite as good as it was following the sale of the previous number 9 shirt. Maybe he'll pull it out again... maybe HBA will get a run. Either way, whomever gets the nod is going to have to put the goals in. We'll see...
Howell said: "He is a natural goalscorer and if ever there was a type of player suiting a particular club, it could be Jason at Newcastle. He is an old-style centre-forward and they have had plenty of those down the years." Killpartrick added: "He is a technically-gifted centre-forward and is definitely worth a gamble. He also has an excellent attitude, which will help him make an impression up there."
I am rooting for this kid unbelievably hard. Not only would it be an awesome story and great for the player, it would be awesome to have a second player with pure centre-forward instincts. I get giddy just thinking about the possibilities!
New Jersey Sponsors and Other Bits Of Awesome
Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Chief Executive at Virgin Money, said: "Now that Virgin Money and Northern Rock are united as one business, it gives us great pleasure to continue the shirt sponsorship of Newcastle United Football Club. "The Northern Rock sponsorship started in 2003 and it is an important link to the North-East which we are pleased to continue. Combined with our sponsorship of the Virgin London Marathon and the Edinburgh Festival ‘Fringe on the high street’, the shirt sponsorship of Newcastle United Football Club embeds our involvement in the communities we serve. "The first 10,000 supporters with 2011/12 season shirts that bring them to the Club shop will receive a free Virgin Money update to their shirt.
I'm pretty happy with this deal for no real reason besides the appearance of continuity. I'm pretty certain Jayne-Anne is the person I read a quote from yesterday that said Virgin Money pretty much thought that St. James' Park should be called St. James' Park. I'll hold out hope.
And Dobbo 47 wrote: "It’s good for both NUFC and the staff and customers of Northern Rock that Virgin are showing financial commitment to the North East by making what I hope is a hefty outlay with this deal." But there were those who complained that the strip had been changed just days after they shelled out as much as £45 for Christmas gifts. Lostprophet wrote: "I’ve just got a new shirt for Christmas and it doesn’t have Virgin on it of course. It means I have an unused, brand new, defective product. What does the club plan to do about that?" DubbleD wrote: "Who cares frankly? One huge sponsor logo is as bad as another. Pretty much all modern football shirt looks tawdry and cheap so having Virgin on the front isn’t going to make it any less undesirable."
It does seem that Ashley and Llambias do seem to be unconcerned with the timing of great decisions and how it might affect the club or support. In this instance, I don't know that they had a choice. On January 1, Northern Rock ceased to be an entity and as such could not fulfill the contractual obligations of the sponsorship deal and the club got Virgin Money to not only step in to honor the remainder of the Northern Rock commitment but also to extend the contract for 2 further years. Hard for me to get worked up about that. I am sympathetic to those who bought kits for Christmas... the 10,000 trade-in deal was a pretty nice deal... too bad for those of us Stateside it would be cheaper to just buy a new kit if we wanted to. Hard to get to the club shop from over here.
The British ex-pat, who is originally from Ashington, Northumberland, emigrated to the scorching state in 2008 to become an IT teacher in Mesaieed International School. He paid 500 Qatar Rials (around £80) for the thobe and is planning a return trip to the tailor to order an away strip version in bright orange. He said: 'I see all the games here on television which is brilliant. Football is growing here with Qatar hosting the World Cup. 'I'm trying my best to convert colleagues and the kids into Toon Army fans so there's a little corner of Qatar that is Newcastle.
This is just chock full of awesome. No word on whether the club was going to update his throbe for free or not... but still.
Notes of ackowledgement
There is a current rumor involving Fabricio Coloccini and Arsenal... it's not hitting the mainstream news yet, but it's out there. I don't think that it has to be discussed how awful a move this would be if we don't have any reinforcements in. Mike Williamson has quietly stepped in and done a phenomenal job (check out this quote from the Louise Taylor piece to understand just how little recognizance Williamson gets):
United's attacking fluency dictated that he was often picked up by Mike Williamson. The defender, only starting due to Steven Taylor's achilles injury, is hardly a household name; indeed Williamson tells a story of being out with his children shortly after joining Newcastle when he was asked for his autograph. "What are you doing Daddy," they inquired. "Why does that man want you to write your name?"
Rooney seemed to find being confronted by Williamson surprisingly stressful, so much so that it was deep into the second period before he saw a shot cleared off the line by Danny Simpson.
At any rate- as I posted quite a while back in my Soccernomics piece, I'll not be surprised at all if Coloccini ends up being shifted... it becomes a matter at this point if we can get another CB in the fold... Saylor's injury may have hamstrung any ability for Ashley to ship Coloccini out. It'll be interesting to see what happens.