Newcastle United v West Ham United

It's Friday which can mean only one thing. But before that Preview Percy takes a look at this weekend's opponents. You might want to give it a bit of a swerve if you're Joe Kinnear. Or even if you're not....

Next up we face a 560+ mile round trip up the A1 to Newcastle United. You can add another mile or two to that distance just by climbing up to the away section of the ground. Kick-off this Saturday is the traditional 3pm. Which is good.

Regular readers will recall that when I do a Newcastle preview I usually go to to one of my oldest friends in the form of Geordie Preview Alastair for a bit of background. In getting ready for this one we met in our local, The Swan and Superinjunction over a pint or two of Allardyce's Best. It was a convivial session with shared memories of our playing days much to the fore. Then I mentioned Joe Kinnear, whereupon my companion went as white as a sheet, pulled out a bottle of those special pills he has marked "to be taken only in moments of extreme stress" and swallowed six of them before starting to weep uncontrollably whilst curled up on the floor in a foetal position.

You see It's been an "interesting" few months for the Magpies, even by their standards. The announcement of the arrival of somewhat bonkers Joe Kinnear would have been sensational enough on its own. However, the manner in which the news appeared was even madder. Firstly, Kinnear went about telling everyone he'd been appointed before, as is usually the case, the club announced it. Then there were the interviews themselves. Kinnear, it seems, has a rather tenuous grip on reality.

I guess you could forgive the odd inexactitude in the interest of bigging up the old CV. Such as having played over 400 times for Spurs (he didn't), having won the Manager Of The Year award three times (he didn't), having made a big profit on John Hartson who he had signed on a free (er, signed for ?7,5m), having signed current Magpies 'keeper Tim Krul for the club (Krul arrived two years before Kinnear) etc etc. Problem is that anyone with a computer could check such facts. So to finish the interview by claiming you're much more intelligent than your supporters is a bit of an own goal.

Kinnear's arrival prompted the departure of MD Derek Llambias. You'd have though that Kinnear might have kept a low profile after first interview. Nope. Back he came claiming to be "head and shoulders" over everyone else. Whilst the manufacturers of a well known dandruff treatment were considering legal action over this comment, Kinnear went into overdrive, He started out by pointing out that every club had a director of football (nope). Then, seemingly oblivious to the old adage "when in a hole stop digging" he went on and on: "I've been a manager for 35 years" proving his grasp of maths is about as strong as his grasp on reality. "I've won every award there is as a player" well, except the league Joe. And the European Cup. And the (much missed) Cup-Winners Cup. And I must have missed the Republic Of Ireland's Euro and World Cup triumphs. "I had two years at Forest" (less than a year), "two years winning promotion at Luton" (one relegation, one promotion), and almost two years at Newcastle (er, 8 months. If you include three of sick leave). There's no justice is there really. I mean Kinnear comes out with all that sort of stuff and it's ME that has to spend my twilight years in the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered!

All this has prompted much speculation over the future of one A Pardew esquire. Certainly, if there have been transfer targets this window there's been little success in getting them in. Carroll was linked with a return to his first club but it has been suggested that a proposed move was blocked by Kinnear. Similarly, all thoughts of signing Darren Bent seem to have disappeared (though frankly that's probably no bad thing). The one big arrival of the summer has been striker Loic Remy from QPR on loan. The Geordies reportedly pipped ourselves to the striker, though their enthusiasm has been tempered by the fact that he is a) injured and b) may possibly be unavailable for "legal reasons" after September when he has ben bailed to return to have a chat with plod in connection with an alleged rape incident. All of which makes one wonder how long our former manager is likely to put up with such interference in his job.

The Geordies' version of kumb is - a web address which our mate Biffa had the foresight to register before it occurred to the club - something that still irritates the people behind their official site. A look through the news pages on there suggests that owner Mike Ashley may be turning his attentions elsewhere. Having already invested in a stake with Rangers north of the border, it has been rumoured that the man who single-handedly dresses 50% of those one might meet at a jobcentre or White Hart Lane (Primark have got the other 50%) may be looking to up sticks and throw his lot all in north of the border. There have also been some intriguing rumours as to who might take over in the event of Ashley's departure - which will only refer to as "Americans". All good stuff.

As if all the madness surrounding Kinnear wasn't enough to be dealing with they then had the Cisse affair. Cisse, you will recall, expressed his major disapproval of the club's new shirt sponsors,, on the grounds that profiting from interest on loans is against Islamic law. So far, so very principled. It got as far as the first XI squad disappearing abroad for pre-season training whilst leaving the striker behind on Tyneside to train alone. With his mates all away he was left at a bit of a loose end of an evening so where better to wind down after a day's hard solo training than, er, a casino. The problem is that everyone has a cameraphone these days and, well, you can imagine the discussions that took place over the finer points of Sharia Law once the Newcastle management returned to resolve the issue.

The fixture computer sent them to Man City on the opening day. Sky told the fixture computer to think again and moved the match to Monday. By that time Arsenal had been beaten hilariously by Villa at home, prompting the traditional early-season moaning from their supporters over their lack of spending, Which, in turn, prompted the traditional early-season attempts at panic buying from Wenger, who offered ?10m for midfielder Yohan Cabaye. ("Johan Kebab" - Joe Kinnear). Cabaye was sent back to the North East by Pardew prior to the Man City match for not being in the "right frame of mind" with Pardew clearly being angry at the timing of Arsenal's bid. Presumably Pardew is equally unimpressed by reports linking the player to a move to French moneybags PSG.

Whether or not Cabaye would have made a difference in the match itself is probably unlikely. In goal Krull was a busy chap, making at least three point-blank saves before the Citizens took the lead. The Magpies' cause was not helped by Steven Taylor's daft cuffing of Aguero around the noggin resulting in an instant red card. They also lost Gutierrez through injury which will put pressure on a squad that would appear to lack depth.

Taylor's dismissal will put paid to all thoughts of a reunion with Andy Carroll - though it seems unlikely that the latter will be fit in any case. They have a chequered history those two - Carroll's hand and Taylor's jaw both being broken during a training ground bust up involving text messages and a woman. Best not to ask.

In defence they will at least have Fabricio Coloccini available for selection. He was linked with a return to his boyhood club San Lorenzo. However, despite alleged Papal intervention, Coloccini has remained on Tyneside, where he is regularly serenaded with that song we used to sing about Christian Dailly all those years ago.

Indications are that Remy is another week away from making an appearance at the earliest. They went with Cisse alone up front against Man City but there may be a place for Shola Ameobi ("Ammamobi" - Joe Kinnear) who, bless him, is still there despite a less than spectacular record in front of goal over the many years that he has been with the club.

Ameobi's kid brother, midfielder Sammy, is also on the books - he came on as sub at Eastlands or whatever it's called on Monday. Ameobi jr was less than impressed with Kinnear's pronunciation of the family name and went onto twitter to say so. At least when Bobby Robson got players' names wrong it was as a result of an endearing absent-mindedness rather than some clumsy attempt to be "funny" - when Shola A. was asked by Howard Wilkinson what Robson usually called him Ameobi is reported to have replied "Carl Cort".

As for us, last week's win was a thoroughly satisfactory 90 minutes. Some might point to a lack of cutting edge from the visitors but you can only beat what's in front of you. It was a solid, nay professional performance featuring two excellent goals. Not much mention of hoof ball in the papers this weekend was there?! I must admit I was even pleasantly surprised by the form of Downing in his brief spell on the pitch. Another player rescued from ruination at the hands of Liverpool?

Other than Carroll and the unfortunate McCartney there are no injuries to speak of which gives the manager the nice problem of having to decide who to leave out. The bench last weekend consisted of Adrian, Tomkins, Rat, Morrison, Vaz Te, Diarra, and Downing which looked pretty strong to me. Add to those the fact that Collison and Taylor couldn't get a look in and we have a bit of depth for once.

The one area which could perhaps do with a bit of beefing up is, of course the striking dept. Maiga looks ok when we play to his strengths but that's something that we sometimes don't do. And with Carroll out we look rather short were anything to happen to Maiga. We'd still have to shift players out to get someone in - Taylor and Vaz Te seem to be near the top of that particular list - thanks to the new wage rules. At time of writing there's still no sign of that happening.

So prediction time then. Newcastle were well beaten against Man City and the big question is how much of that defeat can be attributed to how well the home side played and how much was down to Newcastle playing badly. Clearly, internally, they are a club in some disarray internally at the moment and I would normally think of going for a win under those circumstances. However, with only one game played this season I have no idea whether we're going to be a bit more adventurous on the road this term. So, with an air of caution in mind, the AGORHFTB has borrowed a sum of money (?2.50) from Newcastle's sponsors and we've placed it on a 1-1 draw in the hope that our winnings will enable us to make the appropriate repayment of ?2,226,597 which will be due on Matron's payday.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At St James' Park: Won 1-0 (November 2012).
Nolan's first half effort - turning in a wayward shot from JO'B - was enough to give us all three points - though Jaaskalainen had to make a couple of good saves late on to ensure a rare away win.

Referee: Phil Dowd. Lucky to still be on the list last season after failing the fitness tests. Reports suggest that he's slimmed down a bit this close season which is just as well. Last seen conducting the Bobby Moore Stand's rendition of "you're too fat to referee" in the fixture between the two clubs at the Boleyn in May, before the effort of waving his arms in time to the tune proved too exhausting for him and he had to go for a lie down.

Danger Man: Papisse Cisse ("Sisseeeee" - Joe Kinnear) - difficult to single anyone out so early in the season but Cisse topped their score charts last term. Just don't ask him for a sub until payday.

Daft Fact Of The Week: According to an un-broadcast part of his interview with Talksport, Joe Kinnear was the first man on the moon, can speak thirty-six languages (including Klingon), and is currently also the lead singer with the as popular as they are talentless boy band One Direction.

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 118; West Ham Utd 38, Newcastle Utd 46, Draws 34.

First Meeting
1st February 1908: Newcastle Utd 2-0 West Ham Utd (St James Park, FA Cup)

Last Meeting
4th May 2013: West Ham Utd 0-0 Newcastle Utd (Boleyn Ground, Premier League)

Biggest Win(s)
21st April 1986: West Ham Utd 8-1 Newcastle Utd (Boleyn Ground, Division One)

Heaviest Defeat(s)
5th January 2011: Newcastle Utd 5-0 West Ham Utd (St James Park, Premier League)


They Played For Both
Demba Ba; Lee Bowyer; Franz Carr; John Dowsey; Abdoulaye Faye; Kieron Dyer; Paul Goddard; Shaka Hislop; John Jackson; Vic Keeble; Matt Kingsley; Paul Kitson; Joe Loughlin; Scott Parker; Stuart Pearce; Wayne Quinn; Bryan 'Pop' Robson; George Robson; Keith Robson; Harold Smith; Nobby Solano; David Terrier; David Kelly; Andy Carroll; Kevin Nolan; Les Ferdinand; Craig Bellamy; Pavel Srnicek.

Seeing Red
Julian Dicks (1992-93); Jeroen Boere (1993-94); Steve Potts (1995-96); Paul Konchesky (2005-06 - later rescinded). All dismissals came at St James' Park.

Bossing It
Former Hammer Chris Hughton was the Newcastle manager
between 2009 and 2010 whilst former West Ham managers Glenn Roeder and Alan Pardew have also managed Newcastle. Our current manager, Sam Allardyce, was also in charge of the Magpies between 2007 and 2008.

Memorable Match
21st April 1986: West Ham Utd 8-1 Newcastle Utd (Boleyn Ground, Division One)

With just six games of the 1985/86 season remaining, John Lyall's West Ham were sitting third in the Canon League Division One. The Geordies were having a fairly decent campaign themselves so there were few signs of the annihilation that was to follow as West Ham equalled their record number of goals scored in the top flight. What was even more notable was the fact that centre half Alvin Martin scored not only a hat-trick, but a hat-trick against three different goalkeepers.

Martin opened the scoring after just three minutes when he converted Alan Devonshire's free kick from close range. Further goals were added ahead of the break by Ray Stewart, Neil Orr and Newcastle's Glenn Roeder, who was left red faced when scoring a peach of an own goal. Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Thomas, who had carried an injury into the game, was replaced at half time by midfielder Chris Hedworth as reserve 'keeper David McKellar was also injured. There was little Hedworth could do to stop Martin's crashing header hitting the back of the net on 64 minutes; minutes later he returned to play on field with Peter Beardsley now having a go between the sticks. The England striker fared little better than either of his predecessors and after Paul Goddard and Frank McAvennie had added goals six (81 mins) and seven (83 mins), Beardsley was left to face Martin from the penalty spot (84 mins). Martin stepped up confidently before sending his international team mate the wrong way to complete yet another unique West Ham United achievement.

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