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Newcastle United v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 15th January 2016
By: Preview Percy

As the temperature drops, if you have elderly neighbours why not pop round and make sure they are ok. Unless you live near Preview Percy in which case we wouldn't bother. Talking of freezing temperatures, he's off to Newcastle this weekend.......

So if we have two away games in a row do they plan it so Bournemouth and Southampton come together? Do they heck. No of course they send us immediately up to Newcastle. I suppose we should be grateful it’s a 3pm kick-off. Even so, the train companies are doing their best to nause things up for everyone. The line between Darlington and Newcastle is shut which will mean that your train journey will either be an hour longer as they divert you round to see the sights of Sunderland (one of those places where the locals still point at traffic lights) or, they will kick you off the train at Darlington and throw you on to a replacement bus. Which, if my experience of South Eastern last weekend is anything to go by, will run as and when the bus company can be arsed. If at all. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Check before you travel as usual.

As ever I shall be travelling to this one in the Sunshine Bus with the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s resident Geordie, Preview Alastair, who is not a happy man at the moment. They currently sit in 19th spot with 18 points after the 21 played so far. This leaves them behind Sunderland on goal difference, the Mackems’ referee-assisted 4-2 win down at Swansea when the offside law was given a mid-season break meaning the two teams swapped places.

As it happens, Preview Alastair has not been happy with his club for quite some time. First there was Pardew who, with owner Mike Ashey, was perceived to be some sort of “cockney” mafia, as judged by their usual flawed geographical logic that anyone who isn’t Scots, Welsh, Irish or a Mackem is automatically a cockney. Pardew stuck it for as long as possible, given the financial incentives relating to his lengthy contract which was only due to expire the next time Preview Alastair bought a round. However, once Palace came looking it was seen as a way for all parties to bow out of things with as much dignity as was musterable.

The subsequent reign of John Carver was no less, er, interesting. Particularly the bit where, after their 8th consecutive defeat, he proclaimed himself to be the “best coach in the Premier League”, words that will haunt him wherever he goes in the future.

Their current position suggests that things have hardly improved much under Schteve McLaren, hence the continued rumblings of discontent from the support which have now been going on for so long up there they probably count as background noise these days. Part of their problems would appear to stem from their (undoubtedly Ashley-led) transfer policy. Now, on the face of it picking up French players on the cheap, keeping them for a few seasons and then flogging them on for big money once they’ve made a name in the Premier League doesn’t seem too bad a business plan. The problems only start to mount up if the players don’t come up to scratch, which, given their current league position, would appear to be the case.

There may also be other problems on the horizon for Ashley. With Spurs supporters having finally worked out that Harry Enfield’s Wayne Slobb is a comedy character rather than a fashion icon, a collapse in the sale of shell suits has seen Ashley’s Sports Direct vehicle issue a profits warning. Ashley himself has had the added distraction of getting embroiled in legal shenanigans over the running of Rangers north of the border – he has a two-day court case reviewing the “fit and proper” status of the current chairman coming up in April.

Technically speaking, Ashley doesn’t have much to do with the day to day running of Newcastle, having removed himself from the board last year. However, if you believe that, please get in touch as I have an investment opportunity to put your way – all I need is your bank details.

Whoever is actually controlling the purse strings they have at least been active since the window opened. Only this week they announced the arrival of Jonjo Shelvey from Swansea, though £12m does seem a tad generous for a player whose credit with the Welsh support had clearly run out, if only he could have understood what it was they had been saying. This culminated with the player appearing to offer one disgruntled member of the taffia outside after the 3-2 defeat to Oxford in the cup at the weekend. Shelvey had already come in for stick from the previous manager over his disciplinary record and when the current boss noted dryly after Sunday’s fracas that “we expect better of him” his days were clearly numbered. In fact he’d probably have taken a pay cut and gone to Dinamo Chernobyl or some such at this stage. The work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles (he’s back having apparently had an acne transplant - thanks to those who noticed his absence last week) tells me that the cap he earned for England v San Marino in the Euro Championship Qualifiers made him the first Swansea player to be capped for England. How fascinating.

They also brought in midfielder Henri Saviet for an undisclosed £5m fee paid to Bordeaux. Saviet is a Senegalese full cap, though all his age-group international appearances have been made through the French youth system. He’s not to be confused with Savio, who, whilst undoubtedly a bad signing for us, didn’t actually cost anywhere near the £9m we are constantly quoted as having paid for him. He (Saviet not Savio) was nowhere near the squad on Tuesday night so it may be that he needs to acclimatise himself to the sub-zero temperatures up on Tyneside. He should try turning up here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered in winter where the central heating has two settings shown as “Off” and “Not On”.

Their last outing was an eventful 3-3 draw against Mike Dean who, once again, proved that he shouldn’t be allowed within ten miles of a football ground on a matchday. One day someone who has lost out on a trophy or been relegated because of this arrogant tosser will do a Sheffield United and take him and PGMOL to arbitration and, on the same principle of logic employed by Lord Griffiths, will successfully get compensation out of PGMOL. Of course you’d need a couple of bent journos to go and lie in court on your behalf but, as we saw in our own case the likes of Winter and Holt are not ones to let truth get in the way of anything, especially if there’s the possibility of cashing in on a few ghost-written book sales, eh Oliver?

The three goals scored on Tuesday night were something of a rarity – they were in fact their first goal in five games in all competitions. Things aren’t helped by their being down to one fit recognised striker at present. Papisse Cisse is out for a few weeks having “undergone a procedure” (or, in English, “had an op”) on a troublesome groin. This leaves them with Aleksandar Mitrovic up top. He’s settled down a bit after a start to his career with the Magpies that saw him booked within 22 seconds of his debut then sent off within 15 minutes of the start against Arsenal – and frankly he was lucky that the 22 second booking wasn’t a red as well. Him and Ginge promises to be a bit tasty then.

The shortage of firepower up front has seen them linked with a number of targets, Loic Remy and Charlie Austin have both been mentioned in dispatches as well as old boy Andy Carroll (yeah right). Although none of those seem likely, they are probably a better bet than Preview Alastair’s preferred option of bringing in Watford’s Troy Deeney, an optimistic punt based on the fact that Deeney allegedly threw his shirt into the Newcastle section of the crowd at the end of the recent Cup-tie between the sides at Vicarage Road. Whatever happens, Schteve remains tight-lipped on the subject of potential targets. Partly because he doesn’t want to be seen as tapping up other clubs’ players, but mainly because the transfer committee who deals with these things up there probably haven’t told him who they are yet.

And so to us. Good second half performance in midweek I thought. In fact up to the point at which Andy Carroll went off we were doing fine. Unfortunately, as we’ve discovered, hamstring is contagious amongst our squad and off he trudged with all the disappointed air of someone whose usual numbers came up on last weekend’s lotto but he didn’t get down to the newsagents in time. It’s a crying shame as there were signs in this match that the player was beginning to get back towards his unplayable best – on recent form I’d certainly say he was worth more than, say, Benteke (snigger!).

Payet’s performance caught the eye and he deservedly won plaudits for his game changing efforts. However, one should not forget those who set up the platform for him to strut his stuff – I’m thinking in particular of Obiang, who has quietly got on with stuff while the bigger names have had their moment in the sun.

On the injury front we are just about due for a return to the squad for Victor Moses, though, frankly he is going to have one hellova job to get back into the side with Antonio having grabbed his chance so impressively. Lanzini and Sakho are probably looking at the second week in February whilst Carroll, well let’s see…

Prediction? Well Preview Alastair points out that (not counting the other night) they “haven’t scored since Moses was a lad” – he’s referring to the Red Sea pedestrian of biblical times of course rather than our on-loan winger. He also points out that the presence of the new signings will also lift the mood. He then predicted a home win, though it should be pointed out that he hadn’t actually had his meds that morning.

They will of course be on a mini high having come from behind to rescue a point despite Dean’s antics and yes I suppose there will be some sort of boost to be gained from the new signings – even though they are, at the time of writing anyway, more of a two-man tent than a marquee in quality. However, I just don’t think he understands the boost of our own that we’ve had from the return of Payet.

Had Carroll been present I’d have plumped for an away win all day long. However, his absence prevents us from invoking the law of the ex in our favour. I’m therefore going to take the £2.50 I was going to use to buy us Christian Benteke as striker cover (I’d want the change mind) and enter into a wager at Winstones the Turf Accountants for the match to finish all square. 2-2 I fancy.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At St James Park: Lost 2-0 (May 2015). A desultory last game of the season that we never looked like getting anything from. There was a set of circumstances by which Newcastle could have been relegated instead of Hull but thankfully it was the sour-faced moaner Steve Bruce who saw his side go down, the Geordies eventually ending up in 15th place. This was four points clear of the drop and, importantly (to them anyway) a point and a place above Sunderland. Sissoko and an emotional farewell goal from Gutierrez were enough to give them the points in what, to nobody’s surprise, turned out to be the last match in charge for both managers. The slightly unhinged John Carver had previously overseen that run of 8 consecutive defeats, something that was never going to see his tenure extended beyond the end of the season. Meanwhile, in the worst kept secret of the season, Allardyce’s departure “by mutual consent” was announced whilst whilst the referee’s whistle was still in his lips.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick Anonymous official who will probably do his career no good by not going out and making a statement every week like Mike Dean. Last seen by us in the 2-2 draw at Sunderland where he dismissed Lens for two bookables.

Danger Man: Daryl Janmaat – according to Preview Alastair, he’s the biggest danger to both teams as he “never looks around”.

Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The Week: : Alan Carr – we did mention him in dispatches as runner-up last time out but someone here at the rest home just stuck a dvd of his on the box. Frankly it’s so irritating it makes me want to stick Cheryl Fernandez thingy’s head through the screen. Two birds one stone and all that.

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.

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