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Newcastle Utd v West Ham Utd

Filed: Friday, 9th January 2009
By: Preview Percy

Next up is a visit to Newcastle for our annual trip to a club that is possibly the only one that comes near us in the “football club as soap opera” stakes.

Newcastle were the visitors to the Boleyn early on in the season shortly after the arrival of Messrs Zola & Clarke and a combination of us playing well and them playing poorly saw us emerge 3-1 winners. At the time the Magpies were in the hands of Chris Hughton whose tenure as caretaker boss came to an end with the surprise appointment of Joe Kinnear as “Interim Manager”. To date Kinnear’s biggest achievement has been to break the world record for the most swearing in a single press conference.

Since that match, owner Mike Ashley has confirmed Kinnear in post to the end of the season and has withdrawn the club from the market, hopefully leaving someone with a few billion burning a hole in his pocket looking for another club to buy out. The Geordie support has scarcely mellowed towards Ashley over the past few months and he still feels unable to attend matches in person. The “Cockney Mafia Out” banner made an appearance at last week’s away Cup tie at Hull. The banner’s owner got into a bit of an argument with a fellow Geordie supporter, punches were thrown and a banning order ensued. Add to that the announcement made by Shay Given’s lawyer to the effect that his client would rather be elsewhere just now if Mr Wenger is listening and it is clear that all is far from sweetness and light at SJP at the moment.

Newcastle have lost their last two league matches, those being a 2-1 defeat to Mike Dean at Wigan and a 5-1 home reverse against Liverpool, a match that prompted Stevie “Diving Cheat and Friend of Gangsters” Gerrard to go out for a quiet pint or two. This has left them four places and three points behind us in 14th on 22 points.The 5-1 was followed by a 0-0 draw in the cup at the KC Stadium where Given’s goal line save may or may not have crossed the line. The Magpies’ last victory in the league came at Portsmouth who appear to be shipping goals for fun at present. Given will start in goal on Saturday, though admittedly I haven’t checked this out with his legal team yet. Coloccini, Bassong, Jose Enrique and Taylor were the four in front of Given last week though one can only speculate what Enrique thinks of Kinnear’s comments to the effect that he’d have been out on his ear if only Kinnear had been able to convince John Arne Riise to quit Roma.

In midfield they went with Duff, Guthrie, Butt and N’Zogbia last time out. There will be changes in the middle however as Butt will be on his, er, Butt in the stands having picked up a suspension. Guthrie has been unwell with ‘flu all week – that’s real ‘flu as opposed to the mysterious strain that prevents players from turning out at Fratton Park – and is also a doubt. N’Zogbia hobbled off at Hull with a dead leg which may leave Kinnear with only one fit midfielder to choose from in Geremi. Geremi hasn’t exactly been the first name on the team sheet in recent weeks and hasn’t made an appearance for five games so there may be an element of walking wounded about the middle.

There will also be some notable absentees up top for the home side. Michael Owen may not be off just yet though few expect to see him start next season at SJP. He’ll start alongside youngster Andy Carroll this weekend, the 20 year-old Carroll being preferred to Shola “Not Carl Cort” Ameobi. Ameobi has staked an early claim for the 2009 “dim player of the year award” with his latest antics. Recently, he allegedly returned to his flat to find it in such a state that he automatically assumed that he’d been burgled. Eventually the striker twigged that he hadn’t been turned over – he’d just left the place in a really untidy state. Unfortunately, but hilariously, the penny dropped only after the local constabulary had turned up to investigate.

Carroll gets his chance as a result of injuries to Oba Martins, who is popping over to Germany to get a hernia repaired, and Aussie Mark Viduka, who is fat as well as injured. Xisco appears only likely to be selected in the event of every other potential striker at the club getting ht by a passing asteroid – something that is only likely to occur if the former Deportivo la Corunna man happens to pay a visit to the vertigo-inducing away seats at SJP. Rumour has it that Kinnear was looking to ship the Spaniard out during the window to raise funds to strengthen the squad. However, early season appearances for Deportivo in the Intertoto & UEFA cups mean that any deals will have to wait until summer unless Liverpool want him, in which case the usual two clubs in a year rule won’t apply as long as a suitable charitable donation is made to a nominated FIFA official.

For our own part Matthew Upson, whose ‘flu last week appears to have been genuine, is hopeful of a return to action. Those who have either gone or are on their way (Davenport, Boa-Morte, Etherington, Bowyer) were hardly first names on the team sheet material – though LBM has started in recent weeks. So expect to see Tomkins on the bench if Upson is well enough and Parker to come in for Mullins after his suspension - if he’s still with the club. It’s probably a bit early to expect Dyer to return to the starting line-up judging from the knackered expression he wore after his 20 minutes last weekend, but Behrami and Neill also look likely to be available, which may mean the bench for Faubert – another who is being linked with a departure. Cole will start alongside Bellamy, who is another who will be facing a former club, but then he does most weeks doesn’t he.

Optimism reigns in the Percy household for this one. We have a number of first-teamers returning to availability against a club whose injury problems will see a high proportion of kids either in the side or on the bench and the potentially makeshift nature of the home midfield is something that I can see us being able to exploit this time round. We’ve often played better away from the Boleyn and three points from this venue for the first time in a number of years shouldn’t be beyond us if we can get a good start to the match. We’ll have to keep Owen quiet of course given his oh-so-irritating habit of always scoring against us, and getting past Given is never the easiest of propositions. Nevertheless I reckon we can come away from this with a 2-1 win to stretch out the ridiculously compressed middle to bottom section of the table and to start to look a little bit safer. Mine’s a double!

Enjoy the game!

Last Season: Lost 3-1 – the fat Aussie (2) and N’Zogbia score to counter Ashton’s equalizer in a match from which we deserved at least a point.

Danger Man: Michael Bloody Owen – If he’d been playing for them in the famous 8-1 match, he’d have got the one and I’d have gone home all grumpy as a result.

Look out for: The Hubble Space Telescope. It orbits at an altitude a mere seven feet above the top level of the Sir John Hall Stand. Away supporters technically become astronauts on arrival at their seats.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by joppadoni (NUFC)
06:04PM 9th Jan 2009
''Lol, good article. Howay the Toon.''

by Geordie Mac (NUFC)
05:52PM 9th Jan 2009
''Brilliant write up. Laughed my socks off!
You are spot on. Our two clubs could replace Eastenders and When the Boat Comes In as some kind of soap opera. Enjoy the game and smile in defeat.

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