Ayoze Perez – The Vital Man

12 months ago Ayoze Perez was largely unheard of, now he is a vital part of most things that Newcastle do well.

His rise to prominence has been a rapid one after his very impressive debut season. Despite this at the start of this season very few Newcastle fans had him as a choice in their line-ups. Unfortunately for “Ayo” Steve McClaren had the same view.

Perez was unused for the first two games of the season before being played out of position in starts against Manchester United and Watford. Other than that he was only given substitute appearances against Arsenal and West Ham in difficult circumstances.

Finally against Chelsea last Saturday he was played in what would be considered his preferred position of second striker/ “number ten” and what a difference it made.

Ignoring his goal and assist for one moment his general performance was terrific. As ever with Perez his work rate was terrific and combined with the obvious class that he possesses means he has the potential to be an exceptional footballer.

He may not be blessed with great pace but he makes up for that with skill and intelligence. The way in which he turned a hopeful, floated ball from Vurnon Anita into a goal before Kurt Zouma had even noticed him only adds to the confusion as to why he has not been given a real chance until Saturday.

To control the ball on the outside of his foot the way he did and finish so well is something we should all be expecting to see on a regular basis if our attacking players can provide the correct service.

No Chelsea player could get to grips with him. The same however could not be said about our Serbian striker who tossed Perez round like a ragdoll after his opener, before almost pulling Ayoze’s hair off after he assisted Wijnaldum.

The little and large combination that we witnessed against Chelsea should be given time to blossom. The pair have very different styles that should compliment each other very well and at the moment it seems United’s most likely route out of trouble. You know as long as Mitro doesn’t put Perez in hospital.

It may well not work against a very good Manchester City side on Saturday but it is something that McClaren should persist with. The role Perez played on Saturday is probably the most important one given our system and he has set himself up to get an extended chance to prove himself in the starring role that he deserves.


McClaren – Early Crisis

We are only 8 games into the season yet the optimism and hope held out by fans at the start of the season has been shattered, following consecutive home defeats to Watford and Sheffield Wednesday. The magpies remain winless in the league with only Sunderland managing to have a poorer start. (be it only by one goal).

Hopes were high going into the season. The transfer window saw the arrival of Georginio Wijnaldum, Aleksander Mitrovic and Chancel Mbemba, with Florian Thauvin arriving a few weeks into the season. These transfers totalled around £50 million, and was an unprecedented window for the Ashley regime.

Although these players came with pedigree most fans believed more needed to be done, notably in defensive positions. Nevertheless fans remained confident going into the new season with new man Steve McClaren at the helm, and the old dead weight on the coaching bench shifted.

McClaren wasn’t most fans first choice, but would certainly bring something new to the table after 5 years of humdrum football under Alan Pardew. He said all the right things in the media and seemed to bring some fresh ideas to his coaching. For many this was the start of the turnaround at Newcastle.

However fast forward to now and Newcastle sit second from bottom with another early cup exit, with some fans talking about relegation already. Newcastle’s only win in 8 games came against Northampton at home, with the poor form culminating in defeat at home to Watford and Sheffield Wednesday.

Performances have simply not been good enough all the way through the team. Tempo, organisation, creativity, composure, none of it is there at the moment and fans are right to be worried about what has actually changed. The team has not gelled at all in the early parts of the season. There have been one or two moments; the hard fought draw at Old Trafford, the 10 man resilience against Arsenal and the first game of the season against Southampton. However on the whole it has been very poor.

I think most would agree that confidence in the squad is at an all time low at Newcastle; this is especially costly in the final third of the pitch. With a reasonably strong team out, McClaren’s men managed just one shot on target against a weakened Sheffield Wednesday side. Creating chances and scoring goals has got to be top of the list for McClaren.

So the question is now what will the response be? The fixtures have not been kind to us this season thus far, and up next is Chelsea at home followed by Man City away. Fans won’t expect much from these games and 2 more defeats will put a mountain of pressure on Steve McClaren’s shoulders.

You could argue the season starts with the games after Man City; Norwich, Mackems, Stoke, Bournemouth, Leicester and Palace. A decent run in these games is definitely achievable with our squad, and even one win could boost the confidence of the whole club so we can start to play some half decent football.

I’m a patient fan, and I am not willing to call this situation a ‘crisis’ although it is bleak. We have 32 games left in the Premier league this season with that decent run of games coming up, two or three wins and the table looks very different. If that goes to pot, then we really are in trouble and serious questions will be asked once again.

McClaren has his work cut out and hasn’t done much to win over fans so far this season, in fact it seems like we haven’t progressed at all as a team since the end of last season. However I’m positive that it will all click into place for the team in the next month and the rebuild can start, not all hope is lost just yet.

If I’m wrong, it’s going to be a long season.


The Truth – Dear Mr Woodhouse

Dear Mr Woodhouse,

First of all let me congratulate you on what I’m assuming is your record number of hits per article for your recent “Toon Turmoil” post. I understand and believe that everyone is entitled to an opinion, well apart from you when it comes to Newcastle United.

You write that one of the reasons United seem to be struggling at the moment is due to “high expectations” from the Geordie fanbase. You go on to say that “if they aren’t challenging for the top four every year then they need to sack their manager.” But let’s just calm down a little and explain why you are completely wrong and delusional.

Long gone are the days of Newcastle United being a “top four” team, long gone are the days are Newcastle being a top six, seven, eight team and so on and so on. Where do us United fans really see the club in terms of the premier league ? Mid table at best, I’ve been a NUFC fan my whole life 28 years now, a season ticket holder for past 6 and I am still yet to meet one of these fans that you claim are unhappy due to the club not challenging for a champions league place.

At the end of last season a banner was held up at the back of the Gallowgate which read “we don’t demand a team that wins, we demand a club that tries” but I’m guessing you completely missed that like most of your fellow “journalists” that seem to portray us fans in a bad light, the same journalists that have completely wiped Alan Pardew’s disastrous results, performance and attitude from the Newcastle United’s history books.

At the end of the day I’m pretty sure you don’t even believe the words that you are writing, and this was all an attention seeking article which you knew would receive heavy traffic numbers from those in the North East. Well done, you achieved your goal. Newcastle may be a “laughing stock” in your eyes, but in the future please don’t waste your time by attempting to recycle and reuse other journalists work.

We’ve read it all before, your opinion is wrong and its canny boring now.


Social Media – No More Gnomes

Mouse mats , dressing gowns and Garden gnomes all seem to be a thing of the past now as those running the Newcastle United official social media accounts take a diversion in the opposite direction.

Once upon a time the club’s media accounts were used as a platform and a cheap way to send United fans to the club shop to fill their baskets full of random merchandise that would sit on the shelf at home collecting dust or end up in a lawnmower related collision but no longer is this the case, and a major change of direction has certainly caught the attention of the fans.

Over the summer it was clear for everyone to see that talks had occurred amongst those running the official accounts and an update and fresh outlook was certainly needed, and they haven’t failed to deliver off the pitch and surely this is part of the reason that the atmosphere around the fans and club seems a lot more upbeat since the end of last season.

I’m sure now that the club are using social media in the correct way and as an outlet to connect with fans; the amount of abusive messages directed at the ex sliding gnome promoters must have certainly decreased and hopefully that block button is cooling down.

Another bonus is that the media team is more than happy to listen and welcomes fans to contact them with future ideas which can only be a good thing in terms of creating a stronger fan/club relationship.

From Vine to Periscope, team travel to training the club are now being displayed and promoted in a good light across the world, and are definitely catching fellow Premier League clubs up with pace in terms of fan interaction.

We are all quick to slate the club at times but credit where it is due, the club have got this one right.                    Let’s hope they keep it going.



Mitrovic – The Red Mist

Arriving with a bad boy reputation from Belgium, many were left wondering how Aleksandar Mitrovic would adapt to life in the Premier League. Five games in and he has two yellow cards, one red and no goals.

Despite this however, he has already achieved cult hero status especially after his performance at Old Trafford where he was able to curb his aggression more than in any other game so far. That performance was the perfect balance of aggression but
also of control as he worked tirelessly for the team but so far that performance has been a minority.

Before he had even kicked a ball in his Black and White shirt the internet was full of articles calling him out as a “bad boy”.

This wasn’t helped when he was booked after two seconds on his debut. From the second he came on against Swansea he was booed every time he went near the ball by the home fans. Against Northampton it looked like he was ready to come to blows with their centre half despite Newcastle leading comfortably.

He has hardly done anything to dispel the claims made against him.

As such when his first red card arrived on Saturday against Arsenal it did not really come as a surprise as for many it seemed like it was a case of when rather than if he would receive a red card. The manner in which he received his red card did perhaps contain an element of surprise.

By no means was it a good challenge but it is a challenge that had any Arsenal player made, then they probably would probably not have been given a red. Such is his reputation though it appears that Mitro will not be able to get away with things
more understated players might.

Mitrovic’s foul was almost exactly the same as the one Luke Shaw did on Andre Ayew. Luke Shaw was not punished at all. Mitro’s reputation has preceded him and will continue to do so. It wasn’t a great tackle but there will be lesser reputations get away with worse challenges.

Oh and as for the reactions from the likes of Martin Keown and Robbie Savage to the challenge, well let’s just say people in glass houses probably shouldn’t be throwing stones.

Let’s not kid anyone though. Mitrovic is by no means innocent in this situation, but also we should not be too quick to jump on his back and start slating him for this. He has made a mistake and now we must wait and see how quickly he learns from it. It is far too soon to be labelling him as a liability as has been done by some members of the media.

The reputation he has gained is because of his own actions and now he must work to get people talking about his goals rather than his fouls. With time it is almost certain that he will settle down, perhaps once he gets his first goal we will see a more controlled Mitrovic.


But for crying out loud don’t be too quick to judge him as a failure because of his attitude.