England’s “Ginger Pirlo” ?

I’d imagine that after a dream move to his boyhood club earlier this summer Jack Colback would be sitting quite comfortably on cloud 9.  A transfer from local rivals Sunderland had Colback grinning like a fat kid in a sweet shop, stating in every interview since the North East switch that he’s overjoyed to finally wear the famous black and white stripes of Newcastle United but i’d imagine receiving news this mornings of a call up to Roy Hodgson’s England squad has overshadowed his eagerly awaited Tyneside move.

News broke that the Killingworth born midfielder had been chosen as part of Hodgson’s squad which will face Norway in a friendly on Wednesday 3rd September.

Hodgson was quoted saying

“Someone who knows him very well called Jack the “ginger Pirlo” … let’s hope that becomes true”

Colback has impressed most on Tyneside just two games into the premier league season, despite Newcastle not picking up a win or even a goal in the first 180minutes of top tier football.

Let’s hope this is just the start of Colback’s international career and he manages some game time on Wednesday evening.




Hatem Ben Arfa – Time To Reintegrate?

For a player who has yet to get near a first-team place at Newcastle United so far this season, Hatem Ben Arfa still attracts an awful lot of headlines.

As a player he excites; as a person he intrigues.

Ben Arfa splits much of the fanbase, but the current situation does not appear to be helping anyone.

The Frenchman’s camp is strongly indicating the player wants to stay and fight for his place at Newcastle, despite the fact he is not wanted by the club.

The reasons behind Ben Arfa’s exclusion from first-team duties are sound enough.

Dressing room arguments with manager Alan Pardew, extremely questionable displays last season and unauthorised ‘press conferences’ with selected journalists led not only Pardew to question the player, but also Ben Arfa’s team-mates.

Patience wore thin, and Ben Arfa’s position as a Newcastle player was judged to be untenable.

The fact he turned up for pre-season apparently overweight certainly didn’t help the situation, and so he was ordered to train with the club’s development squad.

However, no serious bidder has come forward for Ben Arfa’s services, despite the undoubted quality he has.

On his day, the Frenchman can be one of the best players in the Premier League. He’s certainly one of the most gifted individuals to ply his trade at St James’s Park in recent times.

His professional reputation has taken a battering, though, so much so that it appears no club is willing to take a chance on a player who has fallen out with almost every manager he has worked under.

Ben Arfa can be temperamental. He needs to be nurtured carefully, and at times he needs to be indulged.

Does his record at Newcastle suggest he deserves that? Probably not.

He has provided some truly memorable moments, and a handful of performances to take the breath away.

Ben Arfa has infuriated his manager and team-mates in equal measure, though, despite the rare ability he possesses to get fans on the edge of their seat and take games away from opponents.

Is there a way back for Ben Arfa under Pardew? The chances of that appear to remain slim.

Of course, we are not privy to every conversation which goes on behind closed doors, and perhaps there are more reasons behind Ben Arfa’s exclusion which have not yet been revealed.

However, it would help if Pardew was a bit more open on the subject.

He has made every attempt to avoid the Ben Arfa question since the squad returned for pre-season training, but Pardew needs to explain the situation.

With Newcastle looking to sell Ben Arfa, the club would not be happy for Pardew to publicly criticise the player. That could affect his market value.

But if the transfer window slams shut and the 27-year-old remains a Newcastle player, it is going to become a subject Pardew simply cannot avoid.

With one year left on his contract and still picking up sizeable wages, Ben Arfa remains an asset to Newcastle.

Would Mike Ashley accept one of the club’s top earners spending a year training with and playing for the reserves? Unlikely.

Because of that, it’s likely that, come September, Ben Arfa will have to be reintegrated into the first-team squad.

Judging by the reports from the Under-21s’ 5-2 win at Reading earlier this week, he is in good shape.

Ben Arfa is fit, firing and certainly looks like he would improve the first-team squad, which has lacked a cutting edge so far this season.

Only those who have seen him regularly on the training ground will know whether the Frenchman has truly earned a first-team recall, but in pure football terms, it makes perfect sense.

Newcastle have not looked threatening in their first three games this season, and Ben Arfa’s reintroduction would surely help improve that situation.

At one point, his position appeared untenable, and perhaps it remains so for Pardew and some of the senior players.

However, unless Newcastle improve significantly in creating and taking chances in the coming weeks, the calls for Ben Arfa’s return will become deafening.

For fans deeply frustrated with Pardew’s management, Ben Arfa is a stick to beat him with.

There are many more issues with Pardew’s stewardship of the club than just the Ben Arfa situation, but it is arguably the most high-profile.

A player supporters know can win matches almost on his own is waiting in the wings, sidelined by a manager whose standing among the fanbase remains extremely low.

If Newcastle again struggle going forward against Crystal Palace this weekend, with Ben Arfa still nowhere to be seen, his name will be heard around St James’s Park.

It would be some statement for Pardew to reintroduce him to the fore, but it’s becoming increasingly likely that he will be left with little choice but to do so.

Ben Arfa has been strongly punished for all his alleged misdemeanours, and he has surely served his time.

Football needs unpredictability, excitement and players that can truly connect with the fans. Despite all his faults, Ben Arfa ticks all those boxes.

It’s time for the mercurial Frenchman to be handed another chance.


Cissé – Back In Training

News over the weekend, that may have been missed by some fans, is that Papiss Cisse is back in training. According to The Chronicle, the number 9 might not be risked until after the international break in September. Cisse broke his kneecap in the defeat to Swansea City at the back end of the last campaign and it had been feared that he could have been out until Christmas.

Some fans will not be overly happy with Cisse’s imminent return; pointing to his poor goal scoring record in the last two seasons, missing easy chances and his love:hate relationship with the offside flag.

His record may be poor over the last two seasons but there have been other factors that have played their part. Playing on the wing for half a season, somewhere that the striker later confessed he had never played for in his life, and being wrongly used as a target man where balls were aimlessly pumped towards him has not helped. He lost his place with the arrival of Loic Remy on loan in the summer of 2013. To his credit, he never moaned once (in public anyway- who knows what happens behind closed doors) and got on with it; trying his best every game.

Cisse has missed easy chances. One that sticks in my mind is Fulham away in 2013/14 season where he should have scored but it went straight at the keeper and then the opposition went immediately down the other end and won the game. A confident Papiss Cisse from 2011/12 would have buried that chance. Should we worry that he has missed easy chances? Of course it is a concern but at least he is getting in the positions to miss; it would be a greater worry if Cisse was not getting in to the positions.

Papiss Cisse does not know the offside rule- this is a common accusation thrown in his direction. Yes, he is offside more than he should but I think the rest of the team should share some of the blame. Next time Cisse plays for us watch his movement off the ball. He is making the correct runs but it is the slowness of those behind him in getting the ball to him which is causing an issue for me. Once the ball is played the opposition have stepped up meaning the striker is now offside. This should addressed by the manager.

There is talk that the club wish to add another forward before the summer window closes. We definitely need a proven goal scorer. Should this happen I suspect they will attempt to offload Cisse in January. If there are no more signings I hope the club and fans give Cisse a chance to get back to his form that we were treated to when he first burst on to the scene. With new signings Remy Cabella and Siem de Jong he should not be short of supply. I am unsure whether he could form a partnership with Emmanuel Riviere, however, but I am not the manager so I will let Pardew worry about that. I still think Cisse is a good player and hopefully once he is match fit he will be able to put his troubles behind him.


HBA V Pardew – Time To Kiss & Make Up ?

Evidence of a fall out between manager Alan Pardew and ex NUFC number 10 Hatem Ben Arfa are becoming more frequent as the days pass by. What is the fall out exactly achieving for either party ? ….. absolutely sod all and its starting to become rather embarrassing for everyone involved

The fallout seems to have escalated after the rumoured changing room “heated discussion” between HBA and Pardew post NUFC’s 0-4 home defeat to Manchester United, in which Ben Arfa allegedly told his manager to “Go f*ck himself” after being singled out and blamed for the clubs defeat.

Rather than putting it in the past, kissing and making up it now appears as if they can’t even be in the same room as each other, which is pretty embarrassing for two footballing “professionals” .

Fans seem to be split down the middle and either defend one or the others actions rather than taking a step back and realising that they both need to man up and get back to what matters to the fans most….. The Football.  This sudden fall-out is only affecting the club, and neither are really covering themselves in glory.

With the new look attacking Newcastle side, including Rivierre, De Jong and Cabella surely HBA would only add to the attacking nature of the side and the four of them would surely fancy their chances against the majority of defenders in the premier league. For the good of NUFC i think it’s about time that one of them grew the balls to confront the other and say “enough is enough”.

The fallout is unbelievably childish and petulant and it needs to be resolved today, yesterday, last week but sadly I fear that its gone on for too long now and HBA is already an ex NUFC player.


RIP John and Liam – Memorial Flag

Newcastle fans will pay their respects to John and Liam at every NUFC game.

After hearing the devestating news that two of the Toon Army’s most loyal members were passengers on the gunned down Malaysian air craft (MH17)  local lads Josh Young and Kev Moore
started a GoFund account for fellow fans to raise and donate money to contribute towards a large flag in memory of John and Liam.

The GoFund account managed to raise a staggering £7,000  in a matter of days, more than anyone was expecting. The donations flooded in both small and large amounts, each with a touching RIP  message attatched. After hearing about the idea
of a flag being produced I contacted both Josh and Kev with a few designs that could be used for the memorial. We put our heads together in the design process and all agreed with a final design. A small percentage of the money raised was due to contribute towards the memorial flag, but thanks to the kind nature of online flag printers  the piece was produced free of charge meaning that the full £7k+ raised shall be donated to a charity(ies) as requested by both families.



The flag will be making its first appearance at Hillsborough tonight as Newcastle travel to Sheffield Wednesday for their first pre season friendly since their return from New Zealand. The flag will also be travelling to Germany as NUFC compete in the
Shalke tournemant.